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I’ve been doing a little housekeeping on the site lately and I couldn’t help spotting a trend: We’re WILD about pumpkin recipes. We absolutely adore this fall gourd (yes, it’s a fruit, too) in all kinds of dishes, from savory curries and soups to quick breads and cakes. (Hint: Our Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with Toasted Pecans may be our all-time favorite!)
It’s no surprise, really. The pumpkin is a national treasure, one of the first things Colonists encountered when they arrived in North America. According to legend, an early Thanksgiving feast was even delayed because molasses wasn’t ready yet to make pumpkin pie.
We’re big fans of using fresh pumpkins. For these recipes, use the little “sugar” or “pie” pumpkins you can find at farmers’ markets and even many supermarkets this time of year. This smaller variety has more tender flesh than the big ole gnarly pumpkins you’d use to carve a jack o’lantern. Stock up on them while you can because they have staying power–fresh pumpkins will last at room temperature for up to a month and in the fridge for up to three months.
And when you can’t get your hands on fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin puree is a great alternative. Just be sure to double-check the label and make sure it’s 100% pumpkin. And try it one of our pumpkin recipes above.
To say we love whole grains at is an understatement! Lia has touted their benefits–for your health, for your taste buds–for years and she has made converts of the whole staff. In fact, winning us over to whole grains may well be one of Lia’s early successes as a NOURISH Evangelist. Not only do we relish the range of of hearty flavors and textures offered by whole grains. In fact, we now prefer them to their refined cousins and our kitchens are stocked with a variety of whole grains for meals from breakfast to dinner and snacks in between.
But if you’re new to whole grains, figuring out what to do with them can be confusing. (What the heck is millet, anyway? Keen-WHAT?) If you’re not sure exactly what a whole grain is, start with Lia’s Gotta Get Your Grains primer. Then dive into our “Get a New Grain” series to discover a world of whole-grain options beyond whole-wheat bread and pasta:
- Amaranth. This teeny, tiny little “pseudo-grain” is packed with fiber and protein, and it’s gluten free. Its delightful, pudding-like texture makes it a luscious side dish or dessert. Learn more about amaranth>
- Bulgur. If you need a quick-cooking whole grain for busy nights, this is it. Find out why bulgur has been a go-to grain for centuries>
- Farro. Hearty farro is one of the so-called “ancient grains” that has recently been rediscovered by modern cooks. Here’s how to use farro in your kitchen>
- Millet. If you’re unfamiliar with this gluten-free grain’s butter-yellow beads, you should get better acquainted. Find out why quick-cooking millet is one of Lia’s all-time favorite grains>
- Oats. This may be one of the most familiar, best-loved whole grains in America. But do you know the difference between steel-cut oats and old-fashioned rolled oats? Here’s the whole scoop on oats>
- Quinoa. You’ve probably heard about quinoa at some point by now—in a magazine, by a chef on a show. But does it live up to the hype? In a word: Yes. Discover more secrets about gluten-free quinoa>
- Wheat berries. These may be the ultimate whole grain because, well, wheat berries are actually whole wheat kernels. Learn what you can do with wheat berries>
And if you think whole grains take too long to cook, think again. Here are 5 whole grains you can have on the table in less than 20 minutes>
I bet I can guess one of your top goals: To eat more whole foods and fewer processed foods. I know this because when we asked our NOURISH Evolution community to take our State of the Kitchen survey, 72% of you said that’s what being nourished means to you. (We’ll reveal all our findings in a future post!)
If you agree, join the October Unprocessed 2013 campaign going on now at Eating Rules. You can also check out my “secret” must-have ingredient for healthy whole-grain baking.
Now in its fourth year, October Unprocessed was created by blogger Andrew Wilder to help people make the transition from processed foods to real food. “This is an exercise in awareness,” Andrew says. In other words, just by taking the pledge you start paying more attention to the food you eat. You decide what “unprocessed” means to you — though Andrew has some really helpful guidelines — and you can try it for a day, a week, the rest of the month or the rest of your life. And when you sign the pledge you can score some great coupons from October Unprocessed’s sponsor, Bob’s Red Mill.
We just got back from an incredible camping trip in Hope Valley, Calif., and I wanted to share some of the tricks and tips we’ve gleaned about “gourmet camping” over the years (to see our full five-day menu, click here).
With the right camping gear you can turn out amazing, easy camping food in mere minutes, which leaves lots of time for Uno, stories and s’mores. And, when your gear is strategically doing double duty, you’re not loaded down with an excess of camping equipment. Here’s how we set up our camp kitchen.
Photos (clockwise from left): Our big helper, Noemi. Our trusty Coleman in the foreground, and our “drying rack” in the background. Awesome first night dinner of Sticky-Spicy Eggplant over a Village Harvest wheat berry mix. (I heated the wheat berries first, then put them in a bowl above the pot to keep warm while reheating the eggplant that I’d made at home and packed in the cooler in a zip-top bag)
1) Make everything you bring do multiple duties. Tongs = fire pokers. Metal mixing bowls = pot lids. Foil = wrapper and makeshift cookie-esque sheet for grill grates.
2) Get a knife roll to hold your kitchen equipment. Trust me, it is by far the best (and safest) way to keep your kitchen gear together.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Our “drying rack” of screen mesh. The top loose ends of the mesh folded over the rope and secured with clothes pins. Our knife roll … everything for the camp kitchen together in one place.
3) Set up a drying “rack.” Here’s how: String a rope between two trees roughly 8 to 10 feet apart. Fold a 5-by-4-foot piece of standard window screen mesh in half so it measures 2-1/2-by-4 feet. Fold both edges of the long side opposite the fold over the rope by 3 inches and secure every 6 inches with clothes pins. Tuck clean, wet dishes into the mesh pocket to dry.
4) Think of “evolutionary meals.” Our Greek salad turned into a panzanella for a picnic the next day with leftover stale bread, which then disintegrated into a sort of rustic gazpacho that Noemi gobbled up as an appetizer before dinner.
5) Make hurricane votives from mason jars.
Photos (clockwise from left): Hurricane mason jar “votive.” The beginning: Greek Salad. The end: rustic, post-panzanella gazpacho.
6) Cook for more than one meal when you can. When you’re boiling pasta, make enough–and plan for–another meal as well. Pasta, rice, oatmeal … all double super well and can be dressed up with different toppings the next day for an almost instant meal.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Cooking double the pasta–half for the melted squash, half for tomato sauce the next day. Grilling a breakfast peanut butter and banana quesadilla over the morning campfire. Pasta with “Melted” Summer Squash (I’d made this ahead of time and packed it in the cooler in a zip-top bag … it’s even better after a few days. Then just reheat in the pot with the pasta).
7) Use the campfire when you can. For s’mores, of course. And souvlaki, cheese–and even peanut butter and banana–quesadillas, too. Place a piece of foil on the grates above the fire for extra gooey dishes, or to keep foods warm.
8) Bring two wash tubs. One for hot, sudsy water and one to rinse.
Our Camp Kitchen Equipment List
- Coleman 2-burner stove (plus propane)
- Cast iron griddle
- Medium skillet
- Medium pot
- Large black kettle
- Cutting board (1 large, 1 small)
- 3 metal bowls
- Mesh food covers
- Knife Roll
- Tongs (2 pairs)
- Stiff spatula
- Stirring spoon
- Can opener
- Small serrated knife
- Small chef’s knife
- Zip-top plastic bags
- 5-by-4-foot screen mesh
- Mason jars
- Votive candles
- Plates, bowls, cups and cutlery (1 set for each camper)
- 2 wash tubs
- Environmentally safe dish soap
We’re packing up for a trip to Hope Valley in Tahoe (click here for a peek at our camp kitchen), and as we were planning our menus it occurred to me that y’all might enjoy seeing what’s on our list. Planning meals for a camping trip is a lot like planning meals for a busy week … only with a heck of a lot less refrigerator space. I have to give big props to my husband for taking the lead this year. Thanks, honey!
For breakfasts, we’ll keep it simple with oatmeal, granola and cereal with nuts and fruit. Lunches will be strategic amalgamations and re-vamps of our dinners. And dinners themselves need to be as close to one pot (or grill) as possible. So here’s the plan:
* SUNDAY NIGHT — I’m making Sticky-Spicy Thai Eggplant before we leave with the bunches of Asian eggplant we have hanging in the garden. We’ll heat that up Sunday night with some quinoa I have leftover in the fridge. Dessert will be fresh plums from the farmers market.
* MONDAY LUNCH — I’ve got a big batch of this “Melted” Squash on the stove right now, and it will play a couple of different roles on our trip. For Monday lunch, I’m going to cook up an omelet with half the squash as a filling and a bit of feta cheese (the rest of which will be used Monday night in the Greek salad).
* MONDAY DINNER — Souvlaki has somehow become a camping standard for us. Christopher has cubes of pork marinating in olive oil, garlic and oregano, all ready to go onto skewers and over the campfire Monday night. He’s making a garlicky Tzatziki and I’m making Melizansalata Eggplant Dip, both of which will only get better over time. We’re also bringing up the makings for a Greek salad from our garden. Dessert … s’mores.
* TUESDAY LUNCH — Leftovers from Monday dinner–marinated Greek salad, Tzatziki and chopped pork–will go into pitas for an easy lunch.
* TUESDAY DINNER — The rest of that Squash will get tossed with pasta tonight (we’ll make extra pasta for Wednesday lunch), and any leftover feta.
* WEDNESDAY LUNCH — Christopher is making a nice, chunky tomato sauce that he’ll freeze (one of our strategies for keeping the cooler cool). We’ll toss it with the leftover pasta on Wednesday for lunch.
* WEDNESDAY DINNER — The last night is our classic “cookout night.” Hot dogs, sausages and baked beans. I’ve got a big batch of beans frozen, along with the hot dogs and sausages, that we’ll let thaw Wednesday. Dessert … definitely s’mores again.
You might notice an “arc” to these menus. First, the perishable dishes are used right away. Second, “marinated” stuff–dishes that gain flavor as they sit–gets used mid-trip. Third, frozen items help keep the cooler chill, and then are defrosted and used at the end of the trip.
I’ll be checking in with pics on Facebook if I can get service. Otherwise, I’ll post pics of our sweet kitchen setup (wait until you see our “dish rack”) next week.
We’ve put together a nourishing plate for you with these July 4th recipes. All your favorite barbecue food–potato salad, baked beans, tomato salad … even pickles and ice cream–along with one of our best BBQ recipes (try Lia’s Best Barbecue Ribs). Happy July 4th from NOURISH Evolution!
Getting into the right mindset: The July 4th is a celebration, and some of these dishes are heftier than everyday fare. But not to worry–it’s a good, healthy thing to enjoy a celebratory meal once in a while. Here’s our plan for how to load your plate so you don’t feel stuffed: Pile up with the tomato salad and cucumbers (the lightest picks of the bunch); enjoy a dollop of beans and potato salad and few heavenly bites of corn bread (a good bit heavier) with a few barbecue ribs (a little goes a long way) in which you take unbridled pleasure. Then finish with a bowl of cool, refreshing sherbet — all part of our nourishing collection of July 4th recipes.
You have to promise not to laugh when I tell you this, about how many years this corned beef recipe was in the making. I’d always wanted to make corned beef from scratch, but I have a tendency to forget about St. Paddy’s day until the day of, despite all the leprechauns and clovers sprouting up in every store. So given the grueling three-day rigamarole that’s normally involved in making corned beef, I missed out year after year.
And then I got really into my pressure cooker. One night, I was experimenting with pressure cooking spare ribs in the marinade I’d normally soak them in to see if the flavors permeated the meat (they did), and I thought … “hmmmm, I wonder if this would work for corned beef too …” So I jotted down a note to give it a try the following March.
Did I remember? No.
But I did the next year. The light bulb went off, and I got all excited and scurried off to the store on St. Patrick’s Day to buy myself a beef brisket. I enthusiastically rattled off to my butcher what I planned to do with the brisket, and he nodded knowingly and handed me a shrink-wrapped piece of meat. I eyed it suspiciously. “This is a brisket?” I asked. “Are you sure?” He nodded that same knowing nod. “Yep. That’s what you want.” So I went home, put my little experiment into action and pulled the meat out less than two hours later. It was succulent, it was flavorful … it was like sucking on a salt lick. He’d sold me a pre-brined brisket. So I missed out that year too.
Absolutely determined to get the bottom of my “hypothesis” (6-year old Noemi is throwing that word around a lot lately, with a science fair coming up), I marched back to that butcher the next day and made him sell me a straight-up, unadulterated brisket wrapped in good-ole butcher paper. And guess what? My little experiment turned out splendidly. Now, umpteen years later, I can finally state that you can forget St. Patrick’s Day until the day of and still have your corned beef too.
I spent over a quarter-century not having the fainest clue what kohlrabi was. The first time the root vegetable registered on my radar was in a friend’s garden when I asked what the Sputnik-like things were poking from the ground (a name that stuck for us Hubers). She answered “kohlrabi,” I went “huh,” and that was that. Until I spotted them, years later, at a farmers’ market and asked the farmer what on Earth she did with such a vegetable.
Whole kohlrabi “Sputniks” (top); raw kohlrabi wedges (bottom left); steamed kohlrabi wedges (bottom right)
I listened carefully, bought a few, then went home and followed her advice, steaming wedges of the bulb and dressing them with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Initially, the stinky feet cabbage-like smell turned me off while they were steaming (it’s actually the hydrogen sulfide emitted from all brassica oleracea vegetables–like broccoli and cabbage–when cooking), but all that was forgotten on first bite.
It had the texture of a perfectly cooked potato mingled with a raw carrot, and an earthy, complex, spicy-sweet flavor that was unlike any other root vegetable I’d tasted — like I’d added a dash of soy sauce or soaked porcini to the bowl. Wow, I thought. And so kohlrabi became a staple in my home. I steam kohlrabi for a snack; I make pickles from it; I roast it; and I substitute it whenever possible for potato.
How to Choose and Store Kohlrabi
You can see from the pic above that kohlrabi comes in both purple and greenish-yellow hues. When peeled, though, the flesh is always light green. Choose small to medium bulbs; I’ve found the larger ones to be more fibrous. Cut off the leaves as soon as you get home (you can zip them and use them like kale or chard), and you can store the bulb in the crisper for weeks.
How to Prepare and Cook Kohlrabi
Cut off the top and bottom, then peel off the outer layer with a Y-peeler until you get to tender flesh. I like to cut them into thin wedges for steaming or chunks for roasting. They’re also great raw; grate the bulb into salads or marinate matchsticks in brine and vinegar for quick pickles.
Give kohlrabi a try … these little Sputniks might just rock your world like they did mine.
We’ve assembled our best Thanksgiving dinner advice here to take the “frazzle” out of your feast. For 2 full-color e-books (including one for stress free “other” meals); a 5-step Surthrival Guide; hands-on daily checklists and more, get our Holiday Surthrival Kit!
Before the Feast
Test Your Leaveners — Before you start baking, run your baking soda and baking powders through these simple tests so your desserts won’t fall flat.
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts – Five delicious, seasonal options that you can make at least two to three days ahead and savor throughout the holidays.
All About Heritage Turkeys — What they are, why you’d want one, how they’re different and how to cook them.
Talking Turkey — A decoder for all the terms out there, from “fresh” to “natural” to “free-range” to “kosher” to help you decide what’s right for you.
Why Brine? — A primer on brining for a succulent bird.
During the Feast
Slow Down and Savor the Feast — These three tips will help ground you in the ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’ part of the holiday meal.
After the Feast