Mexican Ham and Squash Soup

Posted on October 1, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Soup Made Simple | Tags: , , , , , , |

Food - Butternut Squash and Ham SoupAt the farmer’s market Saturday I wanted bacon from my farm family meat providers.  They are all out until November.  I protested because the tomatoes are perfect now and I want the most perfect BLTs now!  So, sadly I perused the freezer and spied smoked ham.  I asked about it for tacos.  Tammera said to boil the small ham and then take it from there.

Next day I did just that.  When it reached 160º I let it cool a bit before breaking it down.  I removed the fat and bones and shredded it.  Then I tossed it with Mexican oregano, cumin, chili/garlic powders.  This became the basis for tacos with fresh avocado, cheese, and garden-fresh tomatoes.  Oh my.

After getting the meat sorted out I had some fat, bones, and cooking liquid in the pot.  Hmmm…looks like pork stock to me.  I put it all back in the pot, added water and the same spices as above.  Then I brought it to a simmer for about 30 minutes.  After cooling a bit I strained out the solids and I was left with a lovely golden, smoky broth.  I put it in the fridge.

Next day I pulled out that broth and skimmed the white creamy fat from the top (only a little, pastured animals never have excessive amounts of fat, they have the healthy kind and much smaller amounts than factory-farmed animals.)  That fat went into my soup pot with 2 chopped onions to brown and carmelize.  After scraping the brown bits up I poured in some more of the broth, added cooked and mashed butternut squash, then the rest of the broth.  I heated it through with more of the spices listed above; topped with the leftover meat and some more fresh tomatoes it made a satisfying meal all by itself.

The flavor of these two meals was the best part, but another bonus was the price.  That small ham yielded 3 taco dinners and 4 soup suppers all for $11 (meat price alone.)  I call that a bargain in all departments:  support of a local family farm, support of locally produced food, support of artisanal, small-scale pork production, cooking at home with controlled ingredients, and healthy small amounts of high-quality meat.  Voilà!

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The Vegan Who Ate a Pork Chop

Posted on May 22, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , |

Food - Pork ChopYou may remember that several months ago my new doctor wanted me to become a vegan for a few months to, “Give my body a break and reduce inflammation” in my body while my body was grappling with perimenopause.  She referred me to “The China Study” which I have since found out to be very flawed.  I made it one week and even that wasn’t completely vegan as I still enjoyed cream in my morning coffee.  Even the doc admitted there is no substitute for cream in coffee!

Since then I have been reading, “The Vegetarian Myth:  Food, Justice, and Sustainability” by Lierre Keith.  This book has rocked my world.  The author has thoroughly explained how industrialized food products are the real culprits in the standard American diet (SAD for short) which produce a whole host of illnesses including the inflammation my doctor was trying to reduce in my body.  This author also explains how agriculture which produces the foods vegetarians eat causes more environmental havoc than any way of eating before it was instituted.  I also now thoroughly understand how I developed a binge eating disorder in my young adulthood; a result of fasting, vegetarianism, and extreme dieting which depleted my brain of serotonin, a crucial brain chemical which can radically alter mood, cravings, and overall health and well-being.

And all this brings me to the luscious dinner I enjoyed the other night!  Just look at that pork chop above.  It was juicy and tender and full of fatty flavor.  My brain and body rejoiced to have eaten it.  I knew this by the great sense of well being I enjoyed afterward.  This is no small thing.  People in other places like France understand that the after affects of eating something are part of the overall food experience.  People here eating the SAD tend to equate the bloating, lethargy, gas, ongoing physical hunger, depression, achiness and more as completely separate from the low quality food that they are consuming, but the two are intimately connected.

So here is my super simple pork chop method:

Pork chops – locally produced, raised on pasture – this is crucial – pork chops from the average American grocery store are completely different – they are from tortured pigs raised in horrifying conditions, so cramped, they cannot turn around, force-fed industrial food waste-products namely corn and soybeans which are not the pigs’ natural food!

organic ketchup

garlic powder

salt + pepper

coriander + rosemary

Squirt a little ketchup on all sides of the chops.  Sprinkle spices and herbs all over.  Put into crockpot on low for 4-8 hours, longer just makes it more tender!  Enjoy with a big salad, complete with olive oil and vinegar.  Your body will rejoice when you consume gorgeous food like this!

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