mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

beet greens galore . . . and more!

today's bounty from the Northampton Tuesday Farmer's Market! . . .

today’s bounty from the Northampton Tuesday Farmer’s Market! . . .

After staying close to home most of the summer, I took a drive out to Northampton today and visited the Tuesday Farmers’ Market. The sky cleared as I drove and by the time the market opened, the sun was out, it was dry and fairly cool.

When the bell tinkled to allow people to start selling at 1:30 p.m., I was ready to pay for my gorgeous vegetables from this one stand: an assortment of beautiful beets, a small eggplant, three shallots, a sturdy english cucumber and three tomatoes. I paid for them and then walked across the courtyard to buy a dozen eggs, an assortment of arucauna pale blue green eggs and other organic beauties.

That’s all I bought, skirting the booth laden with fresh-baked breads and avoiding the temptation of buying them or some tarts for dessert all of which sadly contain gluten and tons of sugar!

Once home, I decided to roast the washed beets, covered with aluminum foil in a layer of spring water along with oven-fried chicken thighs that I had rinsed, dried, sprinkled with flour, dipped in beaten egg and rolled in seasoned Panko crumbs. In a 400 degree oven, I figured the chicken and the beets would both take about an hour to bake/roast with our dinner hour planned for a little before six o’clock. (The chicken came out 15 minutes earlier and the beets stayed in fifteen minutes longer!)

As I cleaned up the kitchen counter, I was about ready to chuck the beet greens into the refuse bag when I decided to wash them well under running cold faucet and cut off the stems. That left the greens which I cut into thirds.

beet greens before parboiling. . .

beet greens before parboiling. . .

Looked up a couple of beet green recipes online which had the same formula: toast two cloves of garlic in olive oil, add par-boiled greens, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, squeeze a little lemon on top and serve.

Sounded pretty straightforward to me. My variation on that classic recipe was to parboil the greens first and then saute them in garlic and olive oil. Then, I added a sprinkle of Japanese Marukan seasoned gourmet vinegar and an accompanying sprinkle of maple syrup. Mixed the sweet/sour tastes with the greens and served them hot in a bowl. Yum! The dish had very mellow flavors and would be a great way to cook swiss chard too. I think that parboiling the greens first was an essential step. You couldn’t have a huge pan of fresh greens and expect it to cook down enough to add other seasonings. I drained it well and then gave the greens a couple of chops with a knife before I sauteed it with garlic et al. as described above.

Hey, the beet greens that almost got thrown away smelled like the star of the show! Here’s tonight’s dinner!

oven-fried chicken thighs . . .

oven-fried chicken thighs . . .

oven roasted beets with a little butter . . .

oven roasted beets with a little butter . . .

 

 

 

 

 

beet greens ready to eat

beet greens ready to eat

 

 

For the rest of the week, I’m planning to use the a) shallots with some thickly sliced mushrooms to go with swedish meatball stroganoff with noodles tomorrow night and  b) a small eggplant parmesan for two with mozzarella, fresh chopped tomatoes and hand-grated parmesan cheese. The organic eggs will be soft-boiled for breakfast or made into an omelet with grated Irish cheddar cheese and sauteed baby spinach & shallots later in the week for a quick supper. The cucumber will come in handy added to romaine/kale salads.

Pretty nice food for less than $12 for the veggies and $6 for the eggs, right?

 

 

 

looking for fulfillment? . . .

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In our generation, we read books like “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “Catcher in the Rye,” or “On the Road” while we were growing up, looking for what our purpose in life might be.

In today’s Sunday New York Times was an article that describes a course offered at Stanford University called “Designing Your Life.” Instead of prescriptive rules that you should follow, its approach is to guide you through a way of thinking about process as experimental and experiential ~ and that it’s okay to fail along the way to finding what floats your boat in life. It gives permission to make mistakes too.

I haven’t read it yet because it will be released on Tuesday, September 22nd, but I’ve pre-ordered it on Amazon. And I’m also thinking about giving a copy at Christmas to my granddaughter and others in my extended family who might find something useful in the search for themselves.

We could all use a little of this, couldn’t we?

farmers’ market ‘gold’ . . .

butter

On Saturday mornings, I like to go to the farmer’s market in town because even though there aren’t that many participants, Fivefork Farms, a CSA flower farm from Upton, MA. serves as the anchor, drawing lots of customers from our town and nearby places. And I like to go to chat with Grace and her Dad while picking out some flowers to adorn the kitchen table for the week.

Today, I found this wonderful Fall bouquet of mixed flowers . . . AND walked by a new vendor from a Jersey cow farm in Lunenberg, MA. who had a few bins of freshly made BUTTER from grass-fed Jersey cows. I commented that I had never seen butter offered before and the fellow said they usually sell all of it to a local bakery and had a few bins left that he brought to the market.

Wow! – what a wonderful find! Having fresh filet of sole and asparagus for dinner tonight too! – with lemon (fresh!) butter!

YAY!

 

miracle . . .

a "little lady" miniature maidenhair fern that arrived yesterday . . .

a “little lady” miniature maidenhair fern that arrived yesterday . . .

Well, even if you were tired of reading so many posts about making bone broth recently, here’s an update. I was discouraged on Monday morning when I weighed myself as a baseline before starting the mini-fasting regimen. It seems I’d gained about seven pounds from earlier in the year due to stress-related reasons, I think.

Anyhow, that was on Monday. Today is Thursday. I’ve been having warm bone broth for two meals, breakfast and lunch. Some tamari almonds as a snack. For dinner, I’ve been eating light hi-protein and vegetable meals. Nothing after seven p.m.

Today on Thursday, I stepped on the scale and looked down. Stepped off it and then came back fifteen minutes later. Yep, I’ve lost FIVE POUNDS in less than four days.

P-L-U-S, I will confess that I cheated a few times because of high stress levels due to stuff you don’t even want to know about and had some Magnum chocolate almond ice cream bars from the freezer too.

STILL LOST WEIGHT! I’m (really) psyched!

FYI, Dr. Kellyann’s 21 day diet claims you’ll lose fifteen pounds and four inches if you fast two days a week for the three weeks you’re following the plan. That’s about five pounds a week, right? Truly amazing. I wouldn’t believe it if it didn’t happen to me right here during the first week! Hope it continues!

 

 

‘sticking our necks out! . . . ‘

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Giraffes are wonderful creatures aren’t they? When the Market Basket employees went on strike a couple of years ago, they chose a stuffed giraffe as their mascot because they were “sticking their necks out.”

They won their cause and Arthur D. Demoulas is now in charge of the business. Whew! Here’s a link to a NYTimes article today that indicates there are four species of giraffes, not one. If you take a moment to look at one for awhile, you will see what extraordinary creatures they are!

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down the learning curve . . .

2nd time around. . .

2nd time around. . .

You know how frustrating it is and full of obstacles the first time you go somewhere and don’t know how to get there? Or trying out new equipment that doesn’t turn ON even though it seems like it should be a piece of cake by just pushing a button? Well, if you’ve been reading my posts about making bone broth, you’ll be able to see in this post that it’s all downhill the learning curve from here! YAY!

First of all, I got to take my first precious cargo of bone broth out of the freezer this morning and to my relief, the fat had all risen to the top and congealed into a waxy pod that was easily removed by sliding a knife around the container. Next, I was glad to see that underneath it, the broth was gelatinous just the way it’s supposed to be in order to be healthy. Finally, I warmed some up and drank it in the nice cup that C. gave me a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t as bland as I had feared and the taste was satisfying. I plan to have it when the spirit moves me throughout the day with a light supper tonight. That’s less than 500 calories which meets the quota to count as a mini-fasting day.

Then, I got the idea of doing fasting with the bone broth more often than twice a week. How about semi-fasting most days at breakfast and lunch, then eating a light high-protein supper with a salad or small serving of vegetables? Sound good? It did to me.

So I took out 3 lbs. of marrow bones and beef ribs from the learning-curve-1freezer this morning and put them into a big pan to roast for an hour and ten minutes at 425 degrees. Afterwards, I’ll cut up the carrots, celery, onion and start up the Instant Pot to 75 minutes.

When it’s done, I’ll have three more containers of rich bone broth to cool and put into the freezer. One difference I noticed is that yesterday, I manually vented the steam early since I was anxious to look at the broth. Today, I let it “cool down” on its own and the heating part went on for another hour. Lo and behold when I opened it up, strained the broth and poured it into the containers, it was much darker than the batch yesterday. Richer looking. I don’t know if the extra gestating time had to do with that but I’ll know more when I compare the taste too. In any case, I’m going to follow the slower regimen that I did today – and see how the next beef broth batch comes out. I also harvested all the cooked marrow and beef bits although I don’t have any idea what to do with it besides chucking it into the freezer and figuring it out later.

Then, I’ll be able to experiment with a) how hungry I feel; b) whether my body wants solid food or not; and c) how to balance the two out as the days go on the remainder of the week. If it feels manageable, I think I’ll try out the semi-fasting with bone broth for two meals awhile and see whether it makes an impact by Thanksgiving (about 11 weeks from now.) (This morning, I ate a few tamari almonds to slake any boredom that might hit with just the bone broth.)

It’s so interesting (to me at least) to observe and learn something new like this with new equipment to boot. The true “reveal” will occur when I see what this does to make me feel healthier and to lose some weight. Fingers crossed and results to come!

 

serving bone broth . . .

For anyone who might be thinking of trying this at home, I thought it might be helpful to see what the broth looks like when it is stored and served.

bone-broth-servingsThis photo shows containers holding approximately 3 cups of broth in each one. The one in the middle is fresh from the freezer where you can see a congealed layer of fat on the top. It comes out easily after running a knife around the edge and looks a little like wax.

The container on the right shows the gelatinous broth before it is thawed completely. And the cup on the left contains warm broth.

By the way, it tastes good. Enough flavor to make it satisfying to drink. It’s also not too bland. I’m waiting to see whether I go through all three containers today or not.

Probably will. Worth it too.

additional bone broth notes . . .

bone broth . . .

bone broth . . .

Okay, so I just opened up the Instant Pot and peered into the soup to see if it was cooked sufficiently. The beef was falling off the bone so I am now able to confirm that 75 minutes pressure cooked is long enough. There was a layer of fat on top when I took this photo.

I then began to rummage around the stock to see how the bones fared. And it suddenly struck me that bone marrow – such an English delicacy that antique marrow spoons were made to enjoy it – was still left in the bones! So I fished them all out and decided to harvest the beef and the marrow before discarding the bones. Unlike some broths made on the stove – like chicken – the beef was tender and not tough, and also still had some taste. I’m going to think about what to do with the harvested marrow and beef later on – and will freeze them for now.bone-broth-2

After the broth cools enough for me to pour it through a sieve, I’ll then divide it into quart soup containers and put them in the freezer – the fat should rise to the top to be skimmed off before heating it up and drinking it on my first mini-fast day. Cheers!

Postscript: Just realized that with all the hoopla and marketing for this “21-day diet that will change your life by mini-fasting 2X a week on homemade bone broth” that it’s ONLY SIX TIMES that one is drinking bone broth instead of eating during those three weeks!

So depending upon how much each serving you drink, 6 X a day, you’ll probably be making bone broth 3-4 times altogether. After the 21 day diet, I do plan to continue with more beef bones/ribs that I have in the freezer. Just wanted to give readers some sense of scale of this whole thing.

The biggest lesson learned of all that I experienced with all this activity is that the Instant Pot is an absolutely great cooking machine, once I figured out how to turn it ON using the manual button rather than pre-programmed ones!

It’s made of high quality material with a substantial stainless cooking pot. It’s quiet, it’s safe to use and it works FAST relatively speaking. I’m planning to try it out to make a veal ragu to serve with pappardelle noodles for a piano party we’re having in mid-October. And maybe Irish oatmeal in the mornings that usually takes half an hour on the stove when the weather gets colder.

writing a ‘last letter’ . . .

Here’s a link to an article about “Writing a Last Letter (while you’re still healthy.)”

 

 

bone broth diet: minus day one

marrow-bones-in-the-cooker

It’s Sunday and my Instant Pot arrived from Amazon mid-morning. I’m going to open it up, rinse it out and read the directions for making beef bone broth.

But first, I read this great article which helped me to decide to ROAST the beef bones first before putting them with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and apple cider into the Instant Pot. So I took out a pack (about 3 lbs.) of beef marrow bones from the freezer which I bought yesterday and heated them up in the microwave to defrost them. Then, I put them into the oven and roasted them for about an hour, turning them over midway – smelled divine.

Then, I opened Dr. KellyAnn’s book, “Bone Broth Diet” which arrived in the same delivery as the Instant Pot. I decided the Instant Pot could wait until I read through the parts of the book that I needed to get started. I thought it was written well with lots of supporting nutritional information and anecdotes. The most important thing I noted is that her recipe for beef bone broth included beef short ribs in addition to the bones which would enrich the broth and enhance the flavor.

Since I also needed to buy carrots, I went to the grocery store and bought a pack of beef rib bones and some spring water to replenish our supply. Back home again, I turned on the oven from roasting the bones and put three pieces of beef rib bones in to roast for about 45 minutes.

With the beef bones/ribs roasting away in the oven, I sat down to read the manual for operating the Instant Pot. Looked pretty simple to me: open the lid, fill not too high, close the lid, push the right buttons to cook “soup.”

After waiting a half hour for some steam to come out, it didn’t look like the pot was heating up or building any pressure. I looked online at some Youtube videos about how to turn the pot on properly. Not much help. I then stopped the machine by pushing “cancel”, unplugged the pot and opened the lid. The liquid was barely warm. Baffled, I put the lid back on, plugged it in and pressed “soup” again. I then tried to add more minutes but suddenly, there were 3 beeps and the LED window showed “ON.” Well, that was an improvement. I then learned online from a very helpful guy that he NEVER uses any of the pre-programmed buttons like “soup” or “stew.” He just presses the manual button, adds on the time he wants and the machine beeps and turns on to what he’s programmed. Why wasn’t that obvious from reading the manual or watching the videos? Go figure.

Back to the diet book while waiting for the Instant Pot to act “instantly,” I also noted that in addition to making and mini-fasting with the bone broth two days a week, that this miracle diet requires you to do what every other diet in the world requires you to do:

  1. Drop gluten foods – breads, flour, pasta
  2. Drop glycemic vegetables – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kabocha squash
  3. Drop sugar, fast food and anything that we all know is bad for us.

DO eat high-quality protein meats (grass-fed beef, organic chicken, etc.)

DO eat lots of organic vegetables. Tons!

DO eat organic eggs with bacon (yep!)

DO NOT EAT english muffins, toast, sandwich bread, rolls with hamburgers, pizza crusts, (you get the picture.)

So, outside of the bone-broth twist, (because there have been 2-day mini-fast diets around too,) this seems like most diets out there: Paleo et al. that caution low carbs, non-gluten, no sugar etc.- including getting off the couch and getting some exercise even if it’s limited to walking every day or so.

Meanwhile, I am encouraged to report that the aroma alone of roasting beef bones and ribs in the oven almost justifies making the bone broth whether you’re on a diet or not. Can’t wait to taste it after it’s had its run in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, false starts and all! If it makes the 2-day a week mini-fast endurable, it might all be worth it!

[Maybe the glitches in getting the machine to work is due to Mercury still being in Retrograde until the 22nd, eleven more days from now.]

Note: Here’s a ‘bare bones’ recipe without all the editorializing above:

  1. Take 3 lbs. marrow bones and 2-3 pieces of beef ribs; roast in 425 degree oven for an hour, turning pieces halfway thru
  2. Cut up 3 organic carrots, 3 stalks of celery, a small whole vidalia onion and 1-2 cloves of peeled garlic (I used 1 cut in half)
  3. Place bones/meat/vegetables into cooker pot
  4. Add spring water to an inch lower than “maximum”
  5. Add 1 tablespoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 bay leaf

Turn on Instant Pot manually to 75 minutes. See if that’s long enough once the pot pressure has vented and you can take a look at the broth. Cook longer if desired. Cool, pour through a strainer; store in quart containers and freeze.

Honestly? the aroma of it smells like this beef bone broth could be an elixir for life! I’m glad that the ‘unseen hand of the Universe’ led me to it!