Nourishing One Another

Do you read the sidebars in Nourishing Traditions? This one gave me a chuckle. First, Sally Fallon quotes Jacques DeLangre, founder of the Celtic Sea Salt Company:

When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgement and understanding, peace and happiness result. She thus controls the family’s health and destiny, also her husband’s mood, disposition and feeling, and assures the futures of her children.

Sally then goes on to re-write the quote:

When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgement and understanding, she watches with satisfaction as her children grow up capable and strong and her husband maintains the good health and disposition that allow him to succeed in his work. She also maintains her own good health into middle age, the period of her life when, her family duties accomplished, she can plunge vigorously into meaningful work and community service in order to bring peace and happiness to the world, while her husband, retired with satisfaction from a successful career, supports her endeavors and cooks with good judgement for her.

What stage in life are you at? Who is doing the cooking in your home?

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Cooking Moist and Tender Pastured Poultry

Pastured Chicken in Brine

 Nutritionally, a pastured chicken is far superior to traditionally raised chicken. Chickens that are running around on pasture eating insects, worms, and forage have a great taste, but they also have muscle tone. And chickens with muscle tone are not tender. With a lot of trial and error, I have learned the secret to cooking a tender chicken. The answer is simple. Brining the chicken results in moist and tender meat. There are numerous scientific explanations available on the internet as to why this works. Whatever. I’m interested in how. To every gallon of water, I stir in 1 cup of sea salt. I find that a gallon of water is generally just enough to cover an average size chicken. Sometimes I add onion or bay leaves to the water. Sometimes I don’t. I don’t find that it makes a huge difference. I add the chicken to the brine and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. I then remove the chicken and pat it dry. I season according to the recipe I am using but I omit the salt in the recipe.

Before I learned this secret I was slow cooking the bird in order to tenderize it. Every meal tasted like chicken soup. I like chicken soup. When I’m eating chicken soup. But not every time I eat chicken. I find that I can now cook chicken a variety of ways with success. For roasting, it is generally best to cover your roasting pan. The dark meat lends itself beautifully to braising and the boneless breasts are wonderful for stir fry. Or I may cut the chicken into pieces and grill it or roast it covered in homemade barbecue sauce.

Let me know if you try this method and what you think. And if you have any tips, let me know. I’m always open to new ways of cooking pastured poultry.

Update: A reader, Diana, commented and provided some extremely helpful information that is worth adding directly to this post:

We raise free-range, pastured poultry, and yes, they have more muscle tone. BUT they are still extremely tender. Not tough at all. One thing most people don’t know is that the chicken needs to “rest” in cold, but not freezing conditions, for 1-2 days before freezing. Many processors boast that their birds get frozen immediately after processing, and customers get the impression that this is a safer, better product. All it does is make for a tough bird that needs brining. The chemicals responsible for rigormortis have to break down a little before being frozen. That said, we usually roast ours whole. No brining, just some olive oil or butter, herbs, usually some lemon. Trick is to start with a HOT oven, (425) for 15-20 minutes, then push it down to 350 for the remaining 45 minutes. Thermometer in breast has to read 165, at least. THEN, let bird rest again for 10 minutes before carving, to keep more of the juice inside the meat.

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Strawberry Maple Jam

There is so much to love about this jam. There are only two ingredients, both of which are available in my local area. It’s simple to make, it’s healthier than jam with sugar, and it’s delicious. The maple flavor does not overpower the strawberries, but remains subtle. According to Janie Quinn, author of Essential Eating: The Digestible Diet, maple syrup is “the easiest-to-digest natural sweetener because it digests very slowly, thereby avoiding a sugar rush into the bloodstream.”

To make the jam, simply mix 3 cups of strawberries, hulled and quartered, with 1 cup of pure maple syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Cool, and enjoy. Let me know what you think.

Update: I’ve also used this recipe to make huckleberry jam, and raspberry jam. Each was just as wonderful as the strawberry. 

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