Spring Is Here!

I’m swamped with work today (not necessarily a bad thing), so this is sort of a “quickie” post, but I thought I’d share a little of our absolutely gorgeous Saturday with you.

It was a day for:

Pink Tulips

Pink tulips…

Raised Beds

…raised beds…

Barefoot

…running barefoot in the grass…

Strawberry Chocolate Coffee Cake

…and strawberry-chocolate coffee cake.

There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than a clear Spring day in northeast Ohio.

Has Spring sprung in your neck of the woods yet?

Mango-Avocado Salsa

The three recipes I have for you this week are really all part of the same recipe – you just need the first two to make the final dish.

Isn’t that clever of me?

Seriously, though, I thought it would be better to break it down this way, rather than throw a single seemingly long and complicated recipe at you all at once (although it’s really neither long nor complicated).  Besides, each component can be either enjoyed on it’s own, or as part of other dishes.

You’ll see what I mean when it’s all said and done.

The first part of the final dish is today’s recipe:  Mango-Avocado Salsa.

I love a good salsa, of which the evidence is in my basement – we canned about 20 pints of the stuff, both spicy and peach, last summer (and I better get on to eating it all if I want to make more this year).  Fresh raw salsas are my favorite, though, and this one may be the best so far.  It could not be more delicious, or more simple – and just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

It is also Whole30 and vegan.  Everybody should be happy.

Mango-Avocado Salsa. Sweet, creamy and spicy, this salsa is a great addition to your Cinco de Mayo table!

Mango-Avocado Salsa
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • the juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Lightly toss the mango, avocado, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice together in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 75 calories, 4.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4.2mg sodium, 224mg potassium, 9.2g carbohydrates, 2.9g fiber, 5g sugar, 1.1g protein

Sauerkraut

I have never liked sauerkraut.

I’m sorry, but it’s nasty.  Or at least the commercial stuff is; you know, those bags of limp cabbage in sickly green liquid you can often find in the pork section of the meat department around St. Patrick’s Day and New Years (at least here in Ohio you can).  It’s salty and vinegary and has an awful, slimy texture and I’ve NEVER been able to develop a liking for it.

So when we began fermenting we started with kimchi, which we both happen to love.  I then moved on to fruit chutneys – cranberry-orange is my favorite so far, although I did a peach chutney last summer that was really, really good – but I still resisted making sauerkraut.  I just couldn’t believe that I’d like it.

But eventually Beloved and my Young Diabetic Friend (who adores sauerkraut, even the commercial stuff) talked me into making some.

To say that I was astounded at how good it was is a bit of an understatement.  It is crisp and tangy and livley; nothing at all like the crap you buy at the store.

And I was hooked.

I tend to make ferments a quart at a time because the last time I made multiple batches I had to toss some – despite claims that you can eat kimchi months and even years after it’s been fermented, I’m a bit of a worry-wart and tend to err on the side of caution; as much as I believe in the numerous health benefits of fermented foods, I am not too crazy about the idea of contracting botulism in the process of obtaining all those lovely probiotics.  So this recipe makes just a quart – a good amount, especially if this is your first foray into homemade sauerkraut.

It’s quite simple, too; it’s just thinly sliced cabbage, kosher sea salt (I use RealSalt), caraway seed and filtered water.  You can add whey if you want, but I’ve not had any problems with it fermenting without it – it’s usually bubbling away in 3 days, although it’s taken as long as 5.  After that, I stick it in the fridge and we eat a little bit every day (or try to, anyway).  It is absolutely spectacular on Applegate Farms Grassfed Beef Hot Dogs with a little mustard.  So much so that it’s become my favorite “quickie lunch” lately.

The size of the cabbage I use are generally slightly larger than a softball.  It will seem like a lot of cabbage for a single quart jar once it’s been sliced or shredded, but once you begin to pound it down into the jar, it does all fit.  I top the kraut with extra-virgin olive oil to keep it submerged under the liquid while it’s fermenting; it can be poured off – or just stirred in, which doesn’t hurt the flavor or texture at all, once you begin eating the ferment.

Note:  Do not use tap water when making ferments; the chemicals, which aren’t good for you in the first place, can hinder – even prevent – the fermentation process.

Sauerkraut. Tangy, crisp and flavorful, homemade sauerkraut is as delicious as it is nutritious!

Sauerkraut
Serves: 16
[i]Yields one quart.[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 small cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Have ready a clean, dry 1 quart glass jar.
  2. Layer the cabbage into the jar until it is about 1/4 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the cabbage begins to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a bit of the caraway seed.
  3. Repeat layering the cabbage, salt and caraway, pounding in between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add filtered water to cover the cabbage if necessary. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
  4. Top off the sauerkraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged. Cap tightly and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the sauerkraut begins to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  5. Eat within 3 months.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 12 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 713.5mg sodium, 79.6mg potassium, 2.7g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, 1.4g sugar, <1g protein

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks

Saturday night we hosted my Young Diabetic Friend for dinner.  It wasn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last – he’s been my “unofficial kid” for years.

Since he’s been controlling his diabetes with exercise (he’s been attending the local Crossfit box four days a week for the last 10 months) and a Steve Cooksey type diet (mostly meats and healthy fats with very small amounts of low carb vegetables), it gave me a bit of a challenge.  What could I make that he could eat and we’d all enjoy that was very low carb?

Well, I’ll tell you:  deviled eggs, guacamole, Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs minus the glaze and these: Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks.

It was a remarkably satisfying dinner – even The Young One was scarfing down deviled eggs, something I’d never seen him do before – and reminded me of how we ate when we first changed our diet.  We were never hungry back then; indeed, it took me until mid-morning the following day to become hungry at all after this dinner.  It’s had me thinking I should ratchet up our fat intake again, if for no other reason than it will go a long way to controlling our hunger.  I’ve gotten too complacent with my white potatoes and peas lately.

These drumsticks were just wonderful and we absolutely demolished them – The Young One ate four.  (Plus some ribs.  And deviled eggs.)  They’re spicy from the chipotle chili powder, but not unduly so, and the coconut sugar helped balance the flavors, but you can leave it out if you prefer.  It’s pretty low carb as written; 3 grams of carbohydrates with a gram of fiber per serving and if you leave it out the carbohydrate counts will be negligible, although you’ll miss a little of the depth of flavor it imparts.

And did I mention easy?  Yes, easy.  Rub those legs up and throw ’em in the oven for 45 minutes.  You could also grill them if you prefer.

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks. Juicy roast chicken legs coated with a spicy Mexican dry rub.

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 10)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a small bowl. Rub the drumsticks with the spice mixture, covering each as completely as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Place the drumsticks in a single layer in a glass baking dish large enough to hold the chicken without the pieces touching. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
  4. Allow to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 308 calories, 16g total fat, 147mg cholesterol, 733.9mg sodium, 421mg potassium, 3.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.6g sugar, 35.4g protein

Apple, Meet Tree

It might surprise you to learn that my kids are a bunch of, well, smart asses.

Then again…maybe not.

This week’s Spin Cycle is “Apple/Tree.”  I could carry on about how my kids are just like me (especially in the smart assery department) all damn day, but it’s all been pretty well documented here.  And here.  And here.  (And several other places that I don’t have time to hunt down.)

They’re all tremendous geeks, as well; something else they come by honestly.  I’m a huge fan George Takei and his internet memes and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  So when he posted this the other day, I just had to share it on my own Facebook wall:

Yesterday's Tribble

It didn’t take long for Oldest Son to comment.

“And now it looks as though they’re here to stay…until Scotty beams them over to the Klingon vessel.”

He and Darling Daughter are flying up to Ohio in June to watch their baby brother receive his high school diploma and so we can celebrate Oldest Son’s 30th birthday.  If I give them enough beer food, I may convince them to let me make a video of a family sing-a-long of Yellow Submarine while Darling Daughter accompanies us on the ukelele (trust me, it’s funnier than it sounds – have I mentioned that they’re all enormous hams, too?).

Our license plate reads “WEIRDOS”  for a reason, you know.