Friday
Apr182014

Book Review: The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther

Book Description: 

A cookbook from the author of the popular website Nourished Kitchen, featuring 175 recipes based on the "traditional foods" philosophy of eating, which emphasizes whole grains, dairy, red meat, organ meats, and fermented foods. 

The traditional foods movement is a fad-free approach to cooking and eating that emphasizes nutrient-dense, real food, and values quality, environment, and community over the convenience of processed, additive-laden products that are the norm on grocery store shelves. 

Based on the research of Weston A. Price, who studied the diets of indigenous peoples to understand the relationship between nutrition and health, a traditional foods diet avoids processed ingredients, but allows meat, animal fat, and grains. It embraces cultured dairy, such as kefir and yogurt, that contain beneficial bacteria; fermented foods, such as sauerkraut  and kombucha, that are rich in probiotics; and organ meats that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It also celebrates locally grown foods. By choosing ingredients from nearby sources, you create a stronger connection to your food, and have a better understanding what you’re eating and how it was produced. 

In The Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther guides you through her traditional foods kitchen and offers more than 160 recipes inspired by  the seasons, land, and waters around her. In the morning, fuel up with Eggs Poached in Fiery Tomato Sauce. On a hot summer day, Cucumber Salad with Dill and Kefir is a cooling side dish, and on a chilly fall evening, Barley in Broth with Bacon and Kale offers comfort and warmth. Old-Fashioned Meat Loaf with Gravy makes a hearty family meal, while Chicken in Riesling with Peas can be the centerpiece of an elegant supper. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Maple-Roasted Pears, and quench your thirst with naturally fermented Vanilla Mint Soda. With the benefit of Jennifer’s experience, you can craft a loaf of Whole Wheat and Spelt Sourdough Bread and stock your kitchen with Spiced Sour Pickles with Garlic.

The Nourished Kitchen not only teaches how to prepare wholesome, nourishing foods,  but also encourages a mindful approach cooking and a celebration of old-world culinary traditions that have sustained healthy people for millennia. Whether you’re already a practitioner of the traditional foods lifestyle or simply trying to incorporate more natural, highly nutritious foods into your routine, you will find plenty to savor in The Nourished Kitchen.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon: The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Kindle: $11.99 Hardcover: $17.74

Review:

Things are a bit topsy-turvy this week at Not Starving Yet which is why I'm running a little behind with today's review. I've been gearing up to photograph my little brother's wedding and it has kept me much busier than I had originally anticipated. I'll be working with a fabulous photographer out of the St. Louis area and we've been hashing out our strategy since neither of us has worked together before. Can I take a minute and gush a bit? My baby brother is getting married!

Ok, now that that is out of my system.

This week I'm extremely excited to have a chance to review The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther. I've been following her blog, Nourished Kitchen, for a number of years now and have been counting down the days until her cookbook was released. Not only has her blog been a great source of recipes, but it has also changed the way I cook. I can't say that about many blogs. In our household we don't live a dedicated traditional foods lifestyle, I am after all prone to eating a Lean Cuisine when I'm pressed for time, but I do make the majority of our food from scratch and many of my recipes are similar to the ones found in this cookbook.

I've mentioned this before, but just after my wedding nearly six years ago I begged my mother to turn loose of her mother and grandmother's recipes. I was met with a resounding no. You know the one I'm talking about, the one that all mothers have. In this case it means you'll have to pry them out of my cold dead fingers, in fact, she told me almost exactly that. We tend to have a dark sense of humor in my family. Instead of turning loose of the original copies of these treasured family recipes my mother spent days scanning everything for me. I've got the best mother ever!

Why did I bring this up again you ask?

Well, while these may not be the types of dishes your mother made, they're certainly the types your grandmother or great grandmother made. These dishes are from a time when everyone grew a garden and put up the reserves to eat over the long cold winter. If your crops failed that year then you learned to barter for what you needed or do without and stretch what you did have. There were no supermarkets to rush to, no imported fruit from Mexico or Chile, and most importantly, no worries of what was really in your food. A large part of me wishes we still lived in those much simpler times. While I don't grow a garden myself, I am fortunate enough to have the Dane County Farmer's Market where I can buy fresh produce. There I can talk with local farmers about their growing practices and understand exactly where my food comes from.

Having access to fresh, locally grown food means I'm one step closer to being able to completely eliminate processed foods from my family's diet, ensuring we receive the necessary nutrition from our foods and not a bunch of added chemicals. The Nourished Kitchen is a great resource for the traditional recipes you expect, but the author provides her own 21st century twist with combinations of ingredients you grandmother never thought about. There are so many recipes in this book I want to try that I don't even know where to begin. Do I start with some of the basics such as sour cream or slow-cultured yogurt that I've been meaning to try making myself, or do I jump right in and make the sourdough blueberry pancakes with buttered orange syrup that make my mouth water? It's a tough decision, but I do know that I will thoroughly enjoy working my way through every recipe in this book.

Disclaimer:

This book was sent to me for review by Ten Speed Press through NetGalley. As always, all opinions are my own. 

This post contains referral links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Please keep in mind that this is a necessary evil to cover my expenses in running this blog so I can continue to provide you with quality content.

Thursday
Apr172014

Honey Glazed Carrots

Easter will be here in a few short days. I don't know about you, but I'm still working on the menu for our holiday meal. This year I've decided to keep things simple, which is why these honey glazed carrots are absolutely perfect. With only a small handful of ingredients needed for the recipe they come together in no time at all, which means I can spend less time in the kitchen cooking and more time enjoying the day with my family. If you're still looking for an easy side dish to round out your holiday feast, then give these delicious carrots a try.
Honey Glazed Carrots
serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

½ Cup water
1 pound baby carrots
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ginger, ground
½ teaspoon dried parsley

Directions:

  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat melt butter, add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then add carrots and cook for 6 - 8 minutes.
  • Add honey, sea salt, dried parsley and ginger then continue to cook for an additional 4 - 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat the carrots in glaze. Once carrots are fork tender remove from heat and serve immediately.

Notes:

These carrots are best when served immediately, but you can make them several hours in advance then reheat them just before serving.

Tuesday
Apr152014

Tuesday Tea - April Selection Club - Simple Loose Leaf

It's that time of the month again, my April Box from Simple Loose Leaf has arrived. This month I had trouble deciding which two of the five teas I wanted sent to me, so I opted for smaller samples of all five teas. I love that this is an option, it's perfect for those times when I'm completely indecisive. Simple Loose Leaf has come a long way in the eight months I've been a customer and I have to say, I love most the changes they've made as they fine tune their subscription service. 

Plan Description:

When you join Simple Loose Leaf you will tour the world and explore the wonders of tea. Our members embrace the discovery of new passions and rekindle their forgotten loves through our carefully curated menu of teas. Select a plan, make tea selection, and get a package!

Where to Purchase: 

Simple Loose Leaf - Not Starving Yet readers, use coupon code 1DOLLARMONTH to receive your first month of the Selection Club for only $1.

April Selections:

Gen Mai Cha Green 
English Breakfast Black 

Madagascar Coconut White
Hazelberry Pu'er
Cranberry Breeze Herbal

Gen Mai Cha Green

Review:

As you can see from the photo above this is a very unique looking tea. It contains brown rice which has been toasted, allowing it to puff up and occasionally pop open like popcorn. This is why many tea drinkers new to this style of tea refer to it as popcorn tea. Although I've tried several different types of Gen Mai Cha, so far I haven't really developed a taste for it. I did enjoy this more than most, but I don't tend to care for the deep toasted, almost nutty flavor from the puffed rice.

This tea is best served hot without sweetener. It also pairs very well with salty meals or anything containing a lot of soy sauce.

My Rating: 75/100

Would I order this again? No, but I'm not a fan of this type of tea. Even so, this is a nice example of Gen Mai Cha and those of you who do like this type of tea will likely enjoy it.

English Breakfast Black

Review:

English Breakfast tea has been one of my preferred summertime teas for as long as I can remember and we never had any shortage of it in the house when I was growing up. These days I don't tend to drink black tea as much, but I still go through several pounds of it a year making iced tea for my husband, we always have it on hand in the fridge. When I opened up my April Box I knew that my package of English Breakfast tea was destined to be made into a huge pitcher of iced tea. I only managed to try one cup of this hot, but now that I've tried it I wish that I had opted for the larger size.

This English Breakfast tea stands out above many that I've tried, it's a great all-purpose tea that is good hot or cold and can be served morning, noon, or night. This rich black tea is made up South Indian Flowery Orange Pekoe, Ceylon Black Tea and Chinese Whole Leaf Black Tea. The combination of the three types of black tea give it a nice bold flavor without any astringency. It's really nice to see that Simple Loose Leaf offers such a great variety of black teas. While I still consider this a bold tasting black, it is much more mellow than Four Horsemen Black, which I reviewed back in January. 

My Rating: 85/100

Would I order this again? Yes! If you're in the market for a black tea that is bold, but not slap you in the face bold, then this is your tea.

Madagascar Coconut White

Review:

This blend was such a treat and ended up being my favorite of the five teas I was sent this month. Even though I love coconut I'm not normally a fan of coconut flavored teas. More often than not the flavoring is overpowering and highly artificial tasting, but in this blend everything is perfectly balanced. The subtle, sweet coconut flavor and Shou Mei white base with its buttery texture left me thinking of coconut cream pie. This is a nice guilt-free treat that I can enjoy all day, I only wish I had ordered more of it.

My Rating: 80/100

Would I order this again? Yes, this is the perfect tea to drink on a hot day. I'm tempted to toss a paper umbrella in my cup, then head outside to kick my feet back and enjoy the warm sunny day.

Hazelberry Pu'er

Review:

I realized as soon as I saw the April selection list that Simple Loose Leaf had decided to add a new wholesaler to the mix. This doesn't come as a huge surprise to me as Maya Tea doesn't offer a large selection of oolong or pu'er teas, but I am a little confused at the choice they made. I was expecting another small purveyor of quality teas similar to Maya Tea, not Adagio, which I can buy locally. With this addition I feel that they've taken a huge step in the wrong direction. I've been incredibly happy with the oolong teas I've tried from Maya Tea, I can't say the same of Adagio.

This isn't the first time I've had the opportunity to sample Hazelberry Pu'er, I ordered a sample from Adagio a year or so back when I first began my discovery of this type of tea. At the time I had yet to acquire a taste for pu'er although my feelings have slowly changed over time. What hasn't changed are my feelings about this particular blend, I don't love it, I don't even like it a little. Rather than the strong earthy flavor I expected from the pu'er I was met with something more akin to dirt; it wasn't a particularly pleasant flavor. Masking this taste somewhat is a large amount of tart berry flavor, which is rounded out a bit by the addition of natural creme and hazelnut flavoring. Perhaps I've been spoiled by high quality pu'er I've ordered elsewhere, but I still find myself unimpressed with this blend. Of the five teas I was sent this month this was my least favorite. 

My Rating: 40/100

Would I order this again? No. This isn't the quality I've come to expect of Simple Loose Leaf, it left me very disappointed.

Cranberry Breeze Herbal

Review:

I have a rather shocking admission to make to you today. Even with a toddler running around I rarely allow juice in the house. I'm a habitual label reader so I found it rather surprising that many popular juice blends contain 27% fruit juice or less. While there are blends that contain 100% juice, I still don't consider them a healthy beverage for myself or my toddler since they're chock full of sugar and other ingredients I prefer to avoid. This is how, much to my husband's disappointment, we came to have a juice free household.

So what does that have to do with this tea you ask? 

When I first banned juice from the house I looked for options that might be a good compromise for me on the occasions I wanted juice with breakfast or brunch. I discovered fruit based herbal blends early on in my search, but most of the blends I've tried haven't appealed to me. They tend to be incredibly tart and more often than not I end up adding sugar to them, which in my mind completely negates the healthy aspects of drinking them in the first place. Because of my previous experiences with fruit based herbal blends I did not have high expectations for this one, but it's another blend that left me pleasantly surprised. I expected this to be fairly tart since it contains rose hips, hibiscus and cranberries, but the cherry flavoring adds a bit of sweetness that balances out the tartness nicely. 

This may be an option for me for those occasions when I'm craving something other than tea, it certainly helps that I love cranberries. The only thing that really bothers me is that I have no idea how much sugar is contained in a fruit based herbal blend. While it is much less sweet than juice, I have no way of knowing how much sugar is contained in the flavorings. Since this isn't marketed as sugar-free I'm it is safe to assume there is some, but I have no idea how much.

My Rating: 80/100

Would I order this again? Yes. I loved the combination of cranberry and cherry, I may have the perfect blend for the days I'm craving juice, but don't want to consume a lot of sugar.

Overall Box Rating: 72/100

Would I order this again? Yes. I would reorder 3 out of the 5 blends I was sent this month, so even though I didn't enjoy everything, I would still sign up for the service again because it's a great way to discover new teas.

Not Starving Yet readers, use coupon code 1DOLLARMONTH to receive your first month of the Selection Club for only $1.

Disclosure:

In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that Simple Loose Leaf has provided me with three free months of their new subscription service. As always, all opinions are my own.