In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Roasted veggies

My new favorite way to fix veggies is to roast them. Flavors are intensified when veggies are roasted instead of boiled.

Here are a few simple recipes -- perfect for this time of year when I love to bake, and the oven is a welcome source of heat and good smells!

Note: Use oils that can take the heat: I use "light" olive oil-- not the extra virgin which smokes when heated -- I save that for salad dressings and drizzling.

Roasted Red Potatoes w/ Garlic
(Wolf's Favorite)
Red potatoes, skin on, washed, dried and cut into quarters
Olive oil
Salt, pepper
fresh squeezed garlic
Rosemary, optional

Toss the taters with oil and spices, then roast in 375/400F oven for a good long while (depends on how done and shrivelled you like them -- at least 30 min, preferrably 45.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into cubes
S&P, as desired
Optional: slivers of either onions or orange, for extra flavor

Toss and roast in oven --takes a little less time than potatoes.

Roasted Carrots
carrots, cut into big chunks
butter (or mixture of butter and olive oil)
balsamic vinegar, optional
brown sugar or maple syrup (Thanks, Patty P!) -- add near the end to prevent scorching

Toss and roast in oven. This takes less time than you think (less than potatoes) -- check w/ fork.
Note to self: don't bake in cast-iron pan -- gets too hot and burns.
Here's a great description from Chef Doughty on how to glaze carrots on the stove-top for a similar result. Carrots never tasted this good in the old days of boiling...

Roasted root veggies and sausage
Olive oil
carrots, turnips
celery root
green beans or other green veggies that don't go mush!
Optional: sausage, such as Kjelbasa or Reindeer sausage

Cut up veggies, not too small. Potatoes can be smallish cubes, but keep faster-cooking veggies sized a little larger. Fry up the sausage, using oil as needed. Add veggies, coating well with oils.
Roast for 30 minutes or so...

Roasted cauliflower
Cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil
curry spices

There are lots of other veggies that do very well roasted:
Jerusalem Artichokes
Brussels Sprouts
squash (summer or winter varieties --cooking times vary greatly)
Celery Root

Toss with a good oil (light olive oil or one of the nut oils, such as walnut or hazelnut), and experiment with spices (oregano, thyme, basil, fennel, even wasabi or mustard) -- but often best plain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberries at Thanksgiving

We like our cranberries here in the North, and this year there will be not just one, but 3 sauces at our Thanksgiving table.
First, the traditional, standard
Cooked Cranberry Sauce
2 c whole cranberries
1 c sugar
1 c water

Combine in sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, stirring occasionally, and cook for 10 minutes. Keeps well.

Next, NPR's Susan Stamberg shares this recipe every year at Thanksgiving, and I've always wanted to try this unusual Pepto-Bismal pink relish!
Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

2 c whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")

Grind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," Stamberg says. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind, not a puree.") Add everything else and mix. Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.") The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. ("OK, Pepto Bismol pink.") Makes 1 1/2 pints.

Last, if not least,
Cranberry Orange Relish
1 medium orange, washed, preferrably organic
2 c cranberries
1 c sugar
cinnamon, optional

Cut oranges, skin and all, into sections, and remove seeds.
Chop all ingredients in food processor. Serve raw, or you can cook this too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Three Sisters: Corn, beans and squash

November & Thanksgiving time is a good time to plan meals around indigenous American vegetables -- and the 3 sisters are perfect! They all store well, and not only do they complement each other well in the garden (see below), they also complement each other well nutritionally:

CORN - in its unprocessed form, corn is a great staple, but it lack two essential amino acids - lysine and tryptophane - as well as riboflavin and niacin. However, these are supplied by beans.
BEANS - good carbohydrates, low in fats. Most beans contain at least 20% protein, and provide essential B Vitamins and Iron.
SQUASH - are rich in carbohydrates, great source of vitamin A, and their seeds provide quality vegetable fats that corn and beans lack.

Here's a description of Native American "Three Sister's Garden" from the Gardening101 website:

Women of the village would hill up the soil and plant corn (maize) in the center of the hill. Once the corn came up, probably about two weeks, they would then plant the beans around the corn seedlings followed by the squash seeds at the furthest distance from corn seedlings.

This form of growing these three vegetables worked very well because the three plants complemented each other and made great companions. The corn gave beans a place to climb, the beans provided nitrogen to the corn roots and the large squash leaves provided shade and living mulch which helped to deter weeds and hold moisture in the soil.

For recipes combining all 3, I had to search a bit.
But 2 out of 3 is easy: think of how many Mexican dishes combine corn and beans!
Here are some other ideas: look for Stuffed Squash recipes -- there are plenty -- bake a winter squash with a filling of wild rice and beans.

Combining all 3 sisters is usually in the form of a stew or soup.

Three Sister's Stew

(from the website Vegetarian Kitchen by Nava Atlas)
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin or 1 large butternut or carnival squash (about 2 pounds)
  • olive oil
  • onion, bell peppers, celery, garlic
  • can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 cups cooked or canned pinto beans
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 cup homemade or canned vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 or 2 small fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Cut the pumpkin or squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and fibers. Cover with aluminum foil and place the halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan. Bake at 400F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife but still firm (if using squash, prepare the same way). When cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp, and cut into large dice. Set aside until needed.

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic, other vegetables, and pumpkin and all the remaining ingredients except the last 2 and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If time allows, let the stew stand for 1 to 2 hours before serving, then heat through as needed. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. The stew should be thick and very moist but not soupy; add additional stock or water if needed. Serve in shallow bowls.

There are many other soups based on squash and beans, such as the Chilean national dish
Porrotos Granados
1 pound cranberry beans (traditional) or other beans
1 winter squash or pumpkin
2 c frozen corn kernels
olive oil
onion, bell peppers, garlic, carrots, chopped
fresh basil
paprika or ground chili
salt & pepper, to taste
water or broth
"Pebre Sauce" optional

Soak beans overnight, drain and cook until nearly tender.
Separately, saute onions etc in olive oil, add cubed squash, corn and beans. Cook on low until squash & beans are done. Shortly before serving, add spices.
This may seem like an ordinary soup, but wait till you've added a good helping of this fiery green
Pebre Sauce
(keeps in frig for 1 week+, good also on grilled meats, fish, eggs, etc)
2 T olive oil
1 T wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 c water (* or less)
1/2 c cilantro, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 t salt
4-6 habanero chiles, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients, and allow to sit for a couple of hours.
*If using pre-processed cilantro, then don't need much water (I sometimes use a cilantro paste by "Gourmet Garden", available in the produce section at Safeway).

Last, but not least, don't forget about serving some simple baked squash, beans, and cornbread with your next meal.
Simple Corn pudding
3 c corn kernels
2 eggs
1 c milk
1c grated cheese (gouda, cheddar)
2 tbs parley
1 tbs marjoram
S & P to taste

Combine and bake for 25 minutes.

Martian Heads (a.k.a. Brussels Sprouts)

My vegetable of the week :

Most people I know, my own kids included, will make funny faces when you announce Brussels Sprouts for dinner. It is truly an under-appreciated vegetable, and when overcooked, frozen or tough, it is indeed one of those "suffer thr0ugh the veggies to get to dessert" foods.

But Brussel Sprouts can be delicious, really.
First of all, let's have some fun re-naming them. My kids get a giggle out of their dad calling them "Martian Heads", and this first recipe's name sure got their interest piqued. All these are new recipes I'm planning on trying this week (after all, I got a whole stalk of them in my CSA box this week!)

screaming heads

(recipe from Glacier Valley CSA's newsletter GG#46)

Not your basic gratin by any means. And it is a little caloric heavy, but it is fun to splurge every now and then. This comes from and was featured on their Thanksgiving special.

Brussels sprouts with mustard & caper sauce

(recipe found at GG#45)

This recipe is based on a recipe from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, from Alison and Dan’s Rise and Shine Bakery website. It is a great resource not only for whole grain bread featuring Alaskan ingredients, but fantastic recipes!

Roasted brussels sprouts with dijon, walnuts and crisp crumbs

(recipe found at GG#44)

The mustard-Worcestershire seasoning is a tangy counterpoint to the sprouts. You can do the crumb topping hours before serving. This is a version of a recipe out of Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase.

photo credit:
where I also learned a great deal more about these miniature cabbage heads:

The forerunner to the modern Brussels sprout was probably first cultivated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts, as we now know them, were grown as early as the 1200s in what is now Belgium. The first written reference of the Brussels sprout dates to 158 7. During the sixteenth century they were popular in the southern Netherlands and eventually spread to the cooler parts of Northern Europe.

They grow like buds in a spiral array of 20 – 40 on the side of long thick stalks th at are 2–4 ft in height. The stalk matures ove r several weeks from the lower to the upper part of the stalk and averages about 2 pounds per stalk. In the ho me garden, "sprouts are said to be sweetest after a good, stiff frost."

Whatever cooking method is employed, care must be taken not to overcook. Overcooking releases the sulphurous smelling glucosinolate and, sinigrin. This is the reason many people profess to dislike Brussels sprouts; only ever having tried them overcooked with the accompanying sulfuric taste and smell. Generally 6–7 minutes boiled or steamed is enough to cook, without overcooking and releasing the sinigrin.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hurrah for Northern vegetables!

After a summer of shopping for produce at the Farmer's Market and growing our own garden, we're now back to getting the CSA box again! Here's what came this week:

From Alaska’s Glacier Valley Farm, VanderWeele Farm: Alaskan beets | Alaskan Brussels sprouts | Alaskan onions | Alaskan parsnips | Alaskan carrots From Outside: certified organic Red Canal pears | certified organic Cameo apples |certified organic cremini mushrooms | certified organic red kale | certified organic Honeyboat delicata squash | certified organic parsley

The CSA box comes with recipes (also available on-line), and there once again, there are some fantastic recipes!

Here's what this week's Glacier Grist #47 holds:

acorn or delicata squash filled with wild rice, golden raisins, & pine nuts

beet roesti with rosemary

parsley salad

honey glazed roasted parsnips and carrots

sauteed kale

I already made the squash with left-over quinoa instead of rice, and it was delicioso: the fennel flavor is wonderful! I also highly recommend the honey-glazed turnips & carrots!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

In search for the perfect Northern Meal

In honor of Eldest return from Germany, we searched for the perfect welcome-home-to-Alaska dinner. And then we said: "Duh, SALMON!"

Here's a couple of delicious dinners that are, in my book, perfect combinations of foods grown or caught (but hopefully not mined) in the North.

Baked salmon, roasted potatoes, braised greens
BBQ salmon, Bulghar wheat pilaf w/ cheddar cheese, glazed carrots
Salmon souffle, "Screaming Heads" (Brussel sprouts gratin from GG#46)
Halibut tacos (gotta get this recipe from Mountainpulse!!)
Kale and sweet potato Quesadilla a la Kingsolver from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Here's the pilaf & cheddar recipe, given to me by a dear friend: it's easy, and a crowd pleaser!

Bulghar Wheat Pilaf w/ cheddar
1 c bulghar wheat (a.k.a. cracked wheat)
1.5 c liquid (water, stock, wine, or combination)
butter or olive oil, for sauteing
optional: onions, mushrooms, garlic
salt, pepper
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, cubed (optional)

Saute veggies and cracked wheat in butter or oil.
Add liquid and spices. Cover and cook over low heat until tender (about 25 minutes).
When done, poke cheddar cheese cubes into dish & let it melt.

Pork Tenderloin

Tonight we tried a new recipe that turned out scrumptious delicious!
Last week my hero (husband) did the shopping, and came home with a smoking deal on pork tenderloin, and I, never having cooked such a beast before, consulted the Oracle "Google" by typing in: pork tenderloin. And since I have a half-dozen jars of homemade apricot jam in the pantry,which did not do the "jam" thing (did not "gel"), this recipe was a perfect choice!

Recipe from the website
My only adjustment was to use less BBQ sauce, only about 1 Tablespoon.

Chili Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Apricot Ginger Glaze

  • 2 (1 pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • Spice Rub:
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  1. Place chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a jar; shake to blend. Rub spice mixture onto pork tenderloins. Cover tenderloins and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
  2. Prior to grilling, melt apricot preserves in saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in remaining glaze ingredients. Place half of the glaze in a serving bowl and hold for service.
  3. Prepare grill at medium-high heat. Grill pork tenderloins for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. When approximately 4 minutes of cook time remains, brush the pork tenderloins with the apricot glaze remaining in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, turn the pork tenderloins and brush glaze on other side. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove pork from the grill and let set for about 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved glaze.