Military Family, Food, & Fitness Fenestrations

Raising the Bar on Personal Expectation

Archive for Recipes

Bacon and Spinach Frittata

yumThis was a hit with both Germans and Americans at our son’s 3rd birthday party last weekend. Super easy to prepare, and all-primal, of course.

Ingredients:
2 cups raw spinach, thick stems removed
12 slices or so raw bacon – we buy Dörfleisch from the local Metzgerei (pronounced Duh-flysh), and specify we want it thinly sliced (Dünn geschnitten)
1 tomato, diced
1 small/medium yellow onion, diced (can also use 5-6 spring onions)
2 tbsp organic (buy German “Bio” butter)
6 Freiland Eier (cage free eggs)
1/4 cup feta cheese, unseasoned

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté onion and bacon in butter for a few minutes then add tomato and cook until bacon starts to shrink. Add the spinach 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to wilt slightly before adding the next 1/2 cup. Transfer mixture to oven-proof low-sided casserole pan if your skillet is not cast-iron, and spread evenly. Whisk eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste, then pour over the other ingredients. Sprinkle feta cheese evenly over top & pop in the oven. Heck, I don’t know how long it cooked, around 10-12 minutes. You’re looking for the egg to be puffing up, the cheese to be melting, and a nice brown tint over the top. There are tons of combinations for breakfast frittatas out there, and you really don’t even have to eat it for breakfast. I took the picture for my frittata from the MDA site. He provides a different mix of ingredients than I (sun-dried tomatoes, goat & parmesan cheeses), and he has the great idea to pour the frittata ingredients in a muffin tin for “grab and go” convenience – Try out different combinations of meat and vegetables and find your family’s favorites…you might just be making a regular batch of this stuff. Take note of other busy-family-friendly recipes on Mark’s site & his related Primal Breakfast Suggestions for People on the Go.

Advertisements

Warm Soups

Our “reasonable price” for a home made upgrade requirements inevitable. Our single-wage-earner income restricts freedom to do so….at least until after we muscle through all the one-time-but-significant fees associated with purchasing a home in Germany (detailed blog post to come on that subject). Insulation is hanging from the unfinished ceiling of our toddler son’s room and he has no heat in there, but anyway there is currently no distinguishable temperature difference from the rest of the home being that we’ve run out of oil and spend evenings huddled around wood scraps the former owners left us.

Over the past couple weeks we’ve grown a deep appreciation for basic heat. We close the rouladen shades tightly at night, yell at each other when doors to infrequently-used rooms are left open, and though an infinitesimally-cracked door shove the dog in and out at tightly controlled intervals during the day so that he can answer nature’s call. Ah THIS is how Europeans live! I was informed by civil employees in charge of utilities (water & electricity) here in town that we would be charged a little more per month than the average German family in anticipation of our greater use of resources. We are American, after all. This actually might be one of the easiest areas where we can defy expectation and prejudice, but I dunno….we do have a sauna (yea)! We will keep you posted.

We’ve tried to use this experience to kindle a sense of adventure in our son. When he wakes and complains about the cold I explain we are living like early pioneers only much, much better: we have TV, a pressure cooker, running (cold) water, and one working automobile. No mortal danger sources surrounding this docile neighbourhood save from a 400% increase in traffic due to careening white Polish vans in search of hot SpärMüll deals. I’m not complaining – bulk trash pickup is only scheduled twice per year, and anyway we’ve personally benefited: I’ve found a perfectly good soccer ball and sturdy shopping basket people threw out on their curbs so far.

Anyway, no scarcity of subjects to blog about, and I will be regular now that we are moved in.

I mentioned the pressure cooker…. our stove (circa 1980) protests with a loud CREEEEEAK and flying rust each time we open the door. The electric cooktop is more emotional than even I – there are numbers on the dials but they don’t seem to correspond with any degree gradient of temperature increase. Of COURSE as you can imagine, my sladky-approval rating on cuisine has suffered accordingly, but I’ve come to rely on ole faithful pressure cooker. So in its honour, here are two soup recipes I made in the last two days which earned the highest rating from mein Mann just in time for Thanksgiving

Cauliflower Cheese and Mustard Soup I altered a recipe I found from Nigel Slater. Mine serves 2-3 if you use it as the main course.

1/5 slice from block of German bio (organic) butter (50g)
1 red onion sliced thin
3 cloves FRESH soft purple garlic (any garlic will do) minced
2 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
a small potato, sliced relatively thin
1-2 tbsp mustard
1 bio vegetable bouillon cube or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
salt
pepper
50g parmesan cheese, diced
50g Emmentaler cheese, diced
2 tbsp Crème fraîche

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Dump the cauliflower in and stir well to coat florets then add potato, mustard, bouillon and water, seal pressure cooker and find a good red wine….(I will blog soon about some excellent sources we found in our neighbourhood).

After about 10min on level II (or cook according to the settings/recommendations of your personal pressure cooker) I removed the soup from heat and released the steam. I threw in cheese chunks and used an immersion blender to blend before adding a little more pepper and a couple tablespoons of Crème fraîche. Nigel recommends frying bread cubes in butter (croutons) and sprinkling them on top (yum) but I forgot and we were hungry….remember everything is healthier without bread, anyway! We grilled steak and zucchini, and this soup was the perfect accompaniment.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

1/5 slice from block of German bio (organic) butter (50g)
3 cloves FRESH soft purple garlic (any garlic will do) minced
2 medium broccoli, broken into florets
a small potato, sliced relatively thin
1 bio vegetable bouillon cube or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
salt
pepper

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the garlic and fry until soft. Dump the broccoli in and stir well to coat florets then add potato, bouillon, and water, seal pressure cooker and cook for about 10 minutes on level II, or according to the settings/recommendations of your personal pressure cooker. Immersion blend and season to taste – I served with roasted chicken and mushrooms.

Enjoy!

Voilà Dinner in 15-Minutes

We are moving into the house we bought in Waldfischbach starting this Saturday, so we’ve got a fair amount of monetary stress at the moment… sure you may be able to empathize somewhat if you’ve ever been a homeowner – but then multiply by a factor of 10 for purchasing a home on foreign soil using a foreign language. It is not really a question of whether we neglected to consider some tax or fee – it’s a matter of exactly when that surprise tax or fee will hit our bank account.

Monetary stress provocations strike in clusters of four, I’ve found, and the last seven days proved no exception. We had to take our Subaru Outback to the repair shop last week on Thursday because a stream of smoke was coming out from under the hood. The incessant blinking “check engine” light has been a function of its operation since the 13th month following its purchase in 2000, along with a near-infinite number of other issues from which multiple Subaru (and other) dealerships have profited – but as yet not been conclusively able to resolve. I believe seething ire regarding misadventures with our Subaru could easily be the subject of its own future post, but the main point for now is just that at long and excruciating last the vehicle could actually in earnest be in its final throes of existence.

Then, last Saturday a tire blew in our BMW (a one-series which we purchased in used condition, so please banish any idea that we are some sort of atypical wealthy military family). We had run-flat tires so were able to limp into the nearest automobile dealership which happened to be AUTOHAUS HÖBEL VOLKSWAGEN + AUDI HÄNDLER in Waldfischbach. We were extremely lucky to find them, and I would unreservedly recommend their service (of course especially if you own a Volkswagon or Audi). They advised against attempting to drive our car to the nearest BMW dealer in Kaiserslautern explaining helpfully that we could go to German jail if something were to happen, and then they recommended purchasing two run-flat tires because not only was one completely kaputt, another one was inexplicably not run-flat. Autohaus Höbel went to enormous pains attempting to get two Pirelli run-flats in time for me to make my Tuesday morning fitness class and I am extremely grateful, but I missed the class anyway and now owe them and the BMW dealership in Kaiserslautern an apple cake (the Volkswagon dealership had to promise cake in order to insure prompt tire delivery). I will provide the recipe on the blogsite later – a delicious German-style apple cake, but not at all low-carb… don’t worry, at some point I will blog about the necessity of “cheat” days/meals.

So anyway, both my husband and I have been riding our bicycles all over Pfälzerwald due to both automobiles being out of service. The ride from Queidersbach to Waldfischbach is approximately 15k, and I’ve made it three times in the last two days with the child-trailer attached and fully-loaded (our son is in the middle of potty-training) thinking the tires would arrive and I could return with the BMW. Yesterday morning, about 5k short of Waldfischbach, I ran over a fragment of a branch cloaked by fallen leaves and crammed with inch-long spiked thorns which slid like butter into the left tire of the child-trailer…pop. I left the branch in, and made it all the way to town. On the bright side, we do already have a spare tube.

Anyway, I know many of you have days just like mine, and really one of the best things to have on hand is a 15-minute dinner for four, so here it is.

whisk together in first bowl:
3 small freerange eggs
1/8 c cream

Chop 1.5cups macadamia nuts (but not-too-finely) in a second bowl

Take 4 Turkey breasts (pound them flat with a tenderizer or get them at your favorite Metzgerei and specify they will be used as schnitzel) you’ve covered with salt, pepper, and suβ Paprika according to your taste, dip first in egg mixture and then in nuts. Fry in simmering butter on medium heat approximately 5 minutes each side. Voilà.

Steam some broccoli around 5 minutes. In separate frypan sauté one minced garlic clove in butter or preferably bacon fat for 60 seconds and then add steamed broccoli – stir well and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes. Inspired by Dr. Eades’ foray with macadamia nut encrusted chicken breast in The 6-Week Cure . Both chicken breast and turkey breast are fail-proof.

…and more Meatballs

Finding a good Metzgerei is such a huge priority for me, so it was to my absolute delight that I found Pfeffer Metzgerei in our very own town: Waldfischbach-Burgalben. Johann Karl uses all-natural ingredients (including, yes, a prudent application of pepper), and no sweeteners, which I’ve never encountered before in a German Metzgerei. No glucose syrup, no sugar, and completely delicious. The quality and taste of his meat cuts and wursts are out of this world, and worth every bit of the current 20-minute drive 3x per week to get there. Our new house is a bike-ride away from his Metzgerei, and I don’t know who is more tickled over the prospect, he or I.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday he offers raw bratwursts for sale, and below I’ve provided a very powerful use for them inside a recipe I found on Mark’s Daily Apple (MDA). I altered the recipe slightly to suit our own tastes, but it’s a near-duplicate. MDA has color photos of the finished product. Used wisely, this recipe will insure you are forgiven any number of sins (overspending, slothfulness, forgetfulness, loss-of-an-expensive-item, etc).

1/2 lb ground sirloin (just because we needed to use it up)
2 lb Pfeffer Metzgerei (or other) raw bratwurst (sausages)
3 cloves minced garlic
a pinch of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced thyme
a couple shakes of dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
3 small eggs, whisked
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 twists black pepper
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan

Remove sausage from skins and combine with other ingredients. Fry in a 1/4 cup or so bacon fat. Pfeffer Metzgerei sells bacon too (Dörfleisch, pronounced Duh-flysh…it is a bit salty alone, and perfect for use in this recipe with no extra salt needed). How quick, easy, and (more importantly) Sladky-approved.

“Sladky approved” Quiche

Spinach-feta Quiche from Mothering Magazine March-April 2009, Makes 8 slices

Crust
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp organic (bio) butter (buy from Wasgau)
2 tbsp coconut oil (or lard – ask your local metzerei for schmalz)
2 tbsp ice-cold water

Filling
1 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half
4 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup feta cheese
1/2 ripe tomato, cut in thin slices

Preheat oven to 375F

Crust: Put flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Cut butter and oil (or lard) into flour with pastry cutter or two knives until crumbly. Slowly dribble water into flour, blending with fork (Alternatively, fat can be mixed with flour and salt in a food processor; then, while pulsing, slowly add water to make dough). When dough is moist and pliable, gather into a ball. On floured surface or piece of wax paper, roll out dough into crust. Transfer to 8 or 9 inch pie pan and trim edges

Filling: scald milk to hasten baking time. Let milk cool, then whisk into it eggs and salt. Sprinkle spinach and feta over bottom of crust, then pour egg mixture on top. Decorate top with tomato slices in pleasing arrangement. Bake 35-40 minutes, until top is golden. Insert knife for doneness. It should come out clean. Let cool slightly before serving.

Preparation: 15 min (40 for baking)

For babies 10 months and older: Remember that egg whites are inappropriate for infants younger than 1 year. Egg yolks, however, are an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Boil an egg 3-4 minutes, peel, discard white, and serve warm yolk mixed into baby’s cereal.

“Sladky approved” Buffalo with Brussels

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

I don’t care if you never thought you liked brussels sprouts in the past – if you don’t like them after trying this recipe, then you simply didn’t add enough butter, onions and bacon! First, I put a steamer-full of water on to boil and washed and halved my brussels sprouts. You must cut them at least in half – bigger brussels sprouts should be quartered. Steam brussels sprouts for 8-10 minutes depending on their size. While brussels sprouts are steaming, sautee 4 spring onions or shallots in 2 tbsp butter in frying pan, and add 4-6 strips diced raw bacon. Add brussels sprouts to frying pan and mix thoroughly, chopping up so that they absorb the yummy juices from the onions, bacon and butter. Cook just another few minutes or so on low. This is one of our son’s favourite things to eat.
Buffalo Meatballs with Cheese Sauce

My meatball inspiration came from Free the Animal (FTA) blog and am certain it would be just as delicious as he prescribes, but my variation turned out amazing:
I bought a 1lb package of ground Buffalo meat and shaped it into small balls – made them extra small to cook fast because we were hungry. I heated bacon drippings from breakfast and a little bit of butter (would’ve used lard but we were out…). Removed meatballs after they were thoroughly cooked & kept them hot on a covered plate next to the oven. Added juice/fat I’d reserved from Friday’s 32 Garlic Cloves with Chicken meal to the pan now containing bacon and buffalo meat juices as well as 2 tbsp butter. (I drank the red wine FTA recommended adding). I added a long-pie-sliver of blue cheese I’d purchased from the German market which amounted probably to around 4-5tbsp, heated and stirred until thoroughly combined and then added the meatballs back in. Had planned on adding crème fraîche, but the smell was incredible and the brussels sprouts were ready….

Stock Recipe

I save all the lovely juices and little solid bits produced after cooking in little plastic containers. After 3 days of non-use they go in the freezer, and drive my husband crazy for some reason I am completely unable to understand. In order to keep the peace, I do my best to integrate them into the next day’s dishes, so after Ian went to bed Friday, I made stock with the leftover cooked chicken bones. So easy to make stock, as long as you use some sort of food processor or chopper. These are the ingredients I used this time, but feel free to vary them in accordance with what you have on hand:

Chicken Stock

Leftover Chicken bones or chicken carcass
5 stalks celery – diced
3 carrots – diced
1 hot red pepper (or to taste) – sliced thinly & deseeded
5 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
2 leeks
2 bay leaves
parsley – 4 branches
thyme – 6 branches
a bit of fresh grated pepper
about 4 quarts of water

I use a pressure cooker to cook my stock – it takes 30 minutes opposed to 3-4 hours, and the flavours are better preserved. Drain the stock into freezer-friendly containers, really mashing the solid parts into your sieve to get every last drop of the liquid. I keep chicken stock up to 3 days in the fridge and no longer than 3 months in the freezer (insure you label containers with both the contents and the date).