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Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2011’
Day 1 – Egg Plant

Yesterday was day one of my journey into a plant-based diet.  I’m not calling it vegan or vegetarian.  That sounds too much like I joined a cult.

Expensive

We went to the new health food store near our house.  I thought they’d have vegetables and such but it was just a bigger version of every other health food store I’d ever been in.  You know, dried over priced, packaged, grains and sea weed.  We bought some organic vinegars and soy sauces.  I found my favorite pickles, Bubbies.  They had Kosher Dills and bread and butter chips.  We got both.  I got a honey lemon-aid and Darlene got a regular.  I did find black and white Quinoa and a couple of different rice mixtures, nothing special and it was 75 freak’n dollars.  Looks like the transition to a complete organic diet is going to be delayed for a while.

Lunch

I had Red Quinoa for lunch seasoned with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  I was satisfied then, I’m not so sure I can speak for another round today.  I do drink a lot of water, which seems to help fill me up.

Dinner

I tried to be interesting for dinner.  I fried egg plant slices in my newly acquired toasted sesame oil with sweet onions in rings and a clove or two of garlic.  I arranged a nice bed of alfalfa sprouts on a plate covered with rocket arugula leaves as a nest for my eggplant.  After pulling the eggplant from the skillet (possibly a little to late) I added the remainder of the Quinoa I had for lunch to the hot pan with the onions.  I tossed those around a little and seasoned everything with tamari sauce and plated it.  The meal was ok, but neither of us went for more and Darlene didn’t eat all of her onions.  I finished the meal with a pot of hot tea.  I was far from full, but not hungry either.  I didn’t photograph the process or the final product because I was embarrassed.

Conclusion

I conclude that there must be better, more satisfying plant-based dishes out there and I intend to find them.  If you have a special sauce or dressing for your greens, please let me know.  I don’t want to sound like a whiner but I’m pissed that the system has screwed up everything, even eating, and that I have to forage for food that won’t poison me or clog my arteries.  I’m in the first stage of grieving but I’ll get better.  Hang in there with me, I’ll still be looking for interesting meat recipes, I’m just trying to correct for years of improper diet right now. – jughandle

I Think I’m In Trouble

Hello my name is Jughandle and I’m addicted to food.

Meat in particular

I’m in trouble because I enjoy writing this blog to my followers and I’m afraid that what I’m about to tell you might change that.  A few of you might not like what I have to say and will switch me off.  Please find out what I’m talking about before you do.

First I’ve got to mention that the mission statement for the Fat Farm is to shoot straight, point out and encourage anything that  supports healthy living and good food.  That last part is where I’m afraid I’m going to lose a few hard line carnivores.

Forks over Knives

If you, like me, are a touch over weight, maybe even obese and even those that seem to be healthy but are big meat eaters, then listen to what I’m telling you.  We are in serious trouble.  I haven’t checked my cholesterol in years, not because I’m an ostrich with my head in the sand, but mostly because I am among the 30,000,000 uninsured in this country.  No matter what the doctor would tell me, all it would do is worry me.  I can’t afford the drugs or the tests.

The movie Forks Over Knives is a HUGE Wake-up call.  Please watch this movie or read the book.  Please.

The movie points out that we can take charge and REVERSE the effects of diabetes, heart disease and even CANCER!

Studies show that test rats on a 20% animal protein diet tend to develop various cancers.  When the same rats are put on a 5% animal protein diet, the cancers stop developing and go away.  When returned to a 20% diet the tumors return.

Cha, cha, cha cha changes

The tone of Jughandle’s Fat Farm Blog is going to change to focus more on a plant-based diet.  I’m not yet comfortable with giving up meat completely, and I hate the term Vegan.  All I’m saying is that I’d like us to work together to save each others lives.  Who among us does not know some one that suffers from diabetes, heart disease or cancer, or is just plain fat?

This never was  intended as a light easy reading blog.  This blog is intended to make a difference in all our lives.

I really want you all to watch the movie, Forks Over Knives.  It is full of evidence to show that we need to eat a heavily plant-based diet not to save the animals (a noble cause), but to save our children and ourselves.   Watch the following trailer:

 

 

If I’m wrong about this please write and tell me. Or better yet, write me and tell me how to make this happen.  I’m a meat lover, I need your help – Jughandle

 

Matcha Green Tea – Super Tea?

Matcha is a fine ground, powdered, high quality green tea and not the same as tea powder or green tea powder.  Matcha is also used to flavour and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi.  Blends of matcha are given poetic names called chamei (“tea names”) either by the producing plantation, shop or creator of the blend, or by the grand master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of some tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master’s konomi, or favoured blend. – from Wikipedia


Production

Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves.  Several weeks before harvest, tea bushes are covered to prevent exposure to direct sunlight.  This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids that make the resulting tea sweeter. Then only the finest tea buds are picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder which is known as matcha.

It can take up to one hour to grind 1 ounce of matcha.

Note that only ground tencha qualifies as matcha, and other powdered green teas, such as powdered sencha, are known as konacha.

The highest grades of matcha have more intense sweetness and deeper flavour than the standard or coarser grades of tea harvested later in the year.
The most famous matcha-producing regions are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka, and northern Kyushu.

Grades

Matcha is generally expensive compared to other forms of tea, although its price depends on its quality. Grades of matcha are defined by many factors.

  • Location on the tea bush –  Where leaves destined for tencha are picked on the tea bush is vital.  The very top would have developing leaves that are soft and supple. This gives a finer texture to higher grades. More developed leaves are harder, giving lower grades a sandy texture. The better flavor is a result of the plant sending all its nutrients to the growing leaves.
  • Treatment before processing =  Tencha leaves are traditionally dried outside in the shade and are never exposed to direct sunlight.  Modern drying has mostly moved indoors. Quality matcha is vibrantly green also as a result of this treatment.
  • Stone grinding –  Stone grinding is an art form in itself. Without the right equipment and technique, matcha can become “burnt” and suffer degraded quality.
  • Oxidation – Oxidation is also a factor in determining grade. Matcha exposed to oxygen can easily become compromised. Oxidized matcha has a distinctive hay-like smell and a dull brownish green color.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of green tea and matcha are widely acclaimed. Consequently, matcha and green tea can be found in health food products ranging from cereal to energy bars. In 2003, researchers from the University of Colorado found that the concentration of the antioxidant EGCG available from drinking matcha is up to 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from other commercially available green teas.  Matcha is said to boost metabolism and not just because of the caffeine which is 1/2 the amount found in coffee.  It is known to also help reduce cholesterol levels when consumed regularly.   The aforementioned health benefits of matcha green tea can largely be attributed to the fact that the whole tea leaf is ingested, as opposed to just the steeped water in the case of ‘bagged’ green teas. This means that it delivers a much higher potency of catechins, chlorophyll, and antioxidants. Matcha contains more antioxidants than blueberries, gojiberries, pomegranates, orange juice, and spinach.

There is evidence from clinical studies that suggests that theanine, when consumed by drinking Japanese green teas, may help to reduce or moderate mental stress responses.

Research has also shown that the EGCGs which are a group of antioxidants called catechins, speed up the metabolism, helping the body burn stored body fat.  Not to mention it significantly delays the onset of cancer as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 1  All antioxidants inhibit the aging process by restoring cell tissue and reducing inflammation.

As far as caffeine goes, Green tea contains tannin witch slows the absorption of caffeine into the blood releasing it over the course of 6-8 hours, unlike coffee.

Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one – Ancient Chinese Proverb

Matcha tea is now available from the Farm Store here.  Don’t worry, the price through the Farm Store is no higher than any other price from Amazon.com – Jughandle

 

 

Sugar Destroyer – Gymnema sylvestre

Better known as just Gymnema, this natural herb has been a treatment for diabetes for 2000 years.  It is widely known and used in Asia and the far East and has just recently been introduced to Europe and the United States.  The active parts of this herb are gymnemic acids.

Uses

Keep in mind that much like most herbal remedies, modern science has done relatively little research on its properties and effects.  That is not to say that gymnema isn’t a powerful natural drug and should be used with restraint and caution.

That said, Gymnema which means “sugar destroyer” has been used to treat, diabetes, high cholesterol, stomach ailments, constipation, water retention, liver disease, not to mention obesity and “sweet tooth”.

For Weight Loss

Gymnema lowers the desire for sweets.  Some say this is done by blocking the sugar or sweet receptors in the tongue.  This effect lasts for about 2 hours after ingesting Gymnema.  Studies have confirmed that people given Gymnema have less desire to “snack” than those who haven’t, under the same conditions.

Is a strong Antioxidant

Gymnema researchers in India where it has been used for centuries, have found that it has strong antioxidant properties

Other possible benefits

How Gymnema Works

Theories have it that Gymnema suppresses the blood glucose level by inhibiting glucose uptake in the intestines.  For weight  loss it is believed that Gymnema reduces the body’s craving for sweets which in turn lowers caloric intake.

Side Effects and Interactions

Side effects of Gymnema are low when taken as recommended.  When taken in large doses Gymnema can cause hypoglycemia in people prone to that.  Always tell your doctor everything that you are taking because Gymnema can interact with prescription antidepressants, other herbal products like St. John’s wort and salicylates like white willow and aspirin by enhancing the blood sugar-lowering effects of Gymnema.  Some stimulants like ephedra may reduce the effectiveness of Gymnema.
I am blogging about Gymnema because I found it offered in combination with Matcha Green Tea at one of my tea sources.  Neither I nor the Fat Farm are recommending that anyone use this herb.  I am only offering this information to benefit both you and I.  I have not used either Matcha or Gymnema yet. – Jughandle

 

De-Boning a Whole Chicken

De-Boneing and stuffing a whole chicken is from  Anna Maria Volpi   at www.annamariavolpi.com

Learn How To De-Bone A Whole Chicken

De-Boneing and stuffing a whole chicken has become a tradition for my family for Thanksgiving.
Before stuffing the chicken we must remove the bones.  Most chefs slice the chicken open to access the bones, then sew it back as with the video later in this blog.  The technique I’m going to describe here via Anna Maria Volpi different and most spectacular.  Her technique is a little more elaborate.
The bones are removed from the opening in the bottom of the chicken, without cutting or breaking the outer skin.  The result is the original chicken’s shape!
She learned this technique from her butcher father.  It is not easy, but worth doing for a special occasion.
The best result is obtained by using a chicken, about 5 – 6 lbs.

Widen The Neck

Widen the neck opening until you find the junction of the wing and the rib cage. Cut the ligaments with a sharp knife to separate the wings.
Using your fingers and a knife separate the wishbone.  After freeing the wishbone,

Cut The Cartilage Holding The Breastbone

Cut the cartilage that holds it to the breastbone.  Insert the hand in the neck opening, and separate the meat from the bones all around the rib cage and backbone.  Turn the chicken over as necessary.  Use a knife to cut the white cartilage from the skin.

Separate The Rib Cage

Separate with a knife the rib cage from the skin and the breast meat where necessary.

Remove The Wing Bones

Free the wing bones and remove them.  Now all the the bones of the rib cage and the backbone are fully separated from the skin and can be removed from the bottom opening.

Separate The Skin From The Legs

Cut the skin around the end of the legs to separate it.  From the bottom opening scrape the meat from the thighbones and remove them.

You Are Ready To Stuff The Bird

The chicken is now completely boned and ready to be stuffed.
Thank you Anna Maria for such great information – jughandle

The following is a great video on the normal way to de-bone a chicken

Marinades, Brines and Rubs

Marinades

Marinades are flavor-infusing liquids best suited for tougher cuts of meat. In addition to herbs, condiments, spices, and oils, marinades typically include an acid, like lemon juice, wine, vinegar, even dairy.

Adding sweet ingredients to the marinade can help form appealing caramelized, crispy coatings on grilled meats.  The acids in the lemon juice, wine, vinegar, butter milk, etc will actually cook the protein in the meat by chemical reaction.

Always marinate in the refrigerator. And remember, if you’re basting with a liquid in which raw meat marinated, do not apply it during the last three minutes of grilling.

The good news:

Chicken, turkey and fish will take on marinade flavors much more quickly and effectively than red meats.  Fish only need to marinate for 30 minute to an hour.  Chicken and turkey 2 to 3 hours.  Red meats need at least 24 hours to work at all.  The more acid in the marinade the better and quicker it will work.

The bad news:

Marinades only penetrate the meat 1/8 inch at the most no mater how long you soak them.  Think of marinades as a sauce and don’t waste money on expensive ingredients for your marinades.  If you use sugar the sugar will tend to burn on the surface of the meat.  If you like charred meat, fine.  Don’t use alcohol either.  The alcohol will only cook the surface of the meat sealing it from further penetration of the other flavors.  If you use salt in the marinade then you are actually brining your meat.  See Brines below.


Brines

Brines are salty solutions that help lean meats hold their moisture so they stay juicy and tender during grilling.Brining is a popular method for preparing poultry, particularly turkey, and lean meats, like pork, that tend to dry out on the grill. Sugar, spices, and herbs are sometimes added to the liquid as well.Soak meats in a container large enough to submerge the meat completely without allowing it to float in the solution. Store in the refrigerator.

Before grilling, rinse brined meat to remove excess salt and dry it with paper towels.

Remember high school chemistry? Yeah, me neither.  But I do remember something about osmosis.  But I remember that in osmosis through a semi permeable membrane like the flesh of the meat, water or other liquid will flow from a lower concentration of salt to a higher one, back and forth until the concentrations are equal.  So first water flows out of the meat and salt flows in which starts to break down the proteins in the cells.  Additonal water will flow into the meat as the protein breaks down causing the meat to be more moist.

The brine can also be used as a vehicle to carry other flavors into the meat with the dissolved salt.  Hence the sugar (to balance the salt) and other flavors that will dissolve in water.

Obviously, there’s more going on than simple osmosis. It is true that salt enters the meat (it tastes more salty after brining). But why is it also more juicy? Well, when water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat.

How Stuff Works has a short article describing osmotic pressure with a diagram that may be helpful to visualize the water flow.

What has happened is that through brining, we’ve caused a state change in the cells so that they will draw and hold more water than before. As we cook the meat, the heated proteins will begin to draw in tighter and squeeze out water, but, hopefully, enough water will remain to produce a juicy, tender piece of meat.

Always start with a cold brine.  Refrigerate or ice the meat while brining to prevent bacteria from forming.  Brine for 2 hours per pound of meat and cover the meat with a solution of 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water.  The other stuff like sugar and herbs are just bonus flavors.

Rubs

Rubs are seasoning mixtures rubbed on meats before grilling to add spicy or smoky flavors. The best rubs enhance the flavor of the meat without being overbearing and are often blends of strong and mild spices and herbs. When oil or another wet substance is included, it is called a wet rub. A little moisture helps the rub adhere to the meat.

Rubs are an easy way to infuse the surface of your grilled meats with exciting ethnic flavors–from Cajun to Korean.

Setting aside rubbed meats for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight allows the spices to permeate the meat as much as possible.

Rubs are most effective when used on slow cooking meat as opposed to a fast grilling method.  Slow cooking allows the meat’s juices to blend with the rub while high heat grilling only burns the rub on the surface.

 

Good luck with your flavoring methods.  Here at the Fat Farm we almost always use either McCormik’s lemon/pepper or just plain salt and pepper.  We let the meat speak for it self – jughandle


Beef Wellington – How to make it tonight

Want to make a killer presentation to your guests tonight try this –

Yes, it looks extremely difficult, but it isn’t.  Beef Wellington is beef tenderloin covered in a layer of prosciutto ham, a button mushroom paste then wrapped in a coat of puff pastry.  Easy.  This isn’t a soufle, you’ll get this right the first time.

At the Store

You are going to make Beef Wellington in a green peppercorn sauce with fingerling Potatoes and warm wilted winter greens.

Purchase:

for the mushroom paste

for the beef
  • 1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 pound puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator – keep it cold
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Minced chives, for garnish
for the green peppercorn sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 box beef stock
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup green peppercorns in brine, drained, brine reserved
Directions:
for the Mushroom paste
  • Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat.
  • Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • This paste should be fairly dry so as not to make the pastry soggy
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
for the beef
  •  Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil – about 2 to 3 minutes if you want your meat med rare.  Cook 2 -3 minutes longer for med.
  • Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board.
  • Overlap the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef.
  • Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of the mushroom paste.
  • Season the surface of the paste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
  • When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the mushroom paste covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together.
  • Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic.
  • Set the beef in the center of the pastry upside down and fold over the longer sides, brushing the pastry with egg wash to seal.
  • Trim ends if necessary then brush the ends with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef – saving the scrap ends to use as a decoration on top if desired.
  • Top with coarse sea salt.
  • Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash to brown, then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife – this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. If the beef is a little low remember it will continue to cook while resting.  It is more important to not burn the pastry.
  • Remove from oven and rest 20 minutes before cutting into thick slices.
  • Garnish with minced chives
for the green peppercorn sauce
  • Add olive oil to pan after removing beef.
  • Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then,
  • off heat, add brandy and flambe using a long kitchen match. Please keep your hair and face out of the flame
  • After the flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half.
  • Strain out solids, then add 2 cups cream and mustard.
  • Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add green peppercorns.

 How to Roast Vegetables

 

 

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