Monday, February 17, 2014

'Get rid of your cold', Beet Juice Cocktail

I need a rebound. A vacation. A little pick me up. Everyone I know, and their children, are sick with the flu, cold, scarlet fever, or strep throat. Seriously. It's gross. Instead of succumbing to the inevitable fate of becoming sick myself, I've launched a battle against the germs. I am winning! But not in the beginning....

At first I thought that consuming enough caffeine and sugar would  help get me through. Constant pick me ups. It seemed to be working for a little while. Then I crashed. One can only consume so much dark roast before it seems to reverse its affects. It's puzzling to me how that works, but that is exactly what happened. Not even the best made latte could snap me out of that 'I have a head cold and my head is really fuzzy feeling'. It's the worst.

Then I made juice. No, like I really juiced some fruits and veggies to make a delicious juice cocktail that helped ward off evil doers and the cold. I did some research on beet juice, and it is what Superman survived on, I'm pretty sure. It has been shown to help the body respond better to exercise, by balancing oxygen use and increasing stamina. Beet root juice is one of the richest sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. These naturally occurring nitrates improve blood flow throughout the body, which in turn helps lower blood pressure.  Woo-hoo!! The juice was great! I used a blend of fruits and veggies that I had on hand. Carrots, beets, apples, lemon, ginger, and kale is the ingredient list. I am very partial to beets, and besides their amazing health benefits, they lend a sweet and earthy flavor. While ginger makes everything better, the lemon rounds out the flavors and adds a dash of refreshing citrus. The juice isn't overly sweet, so if you prefer a sweeter tasting juice, add another apple or two to the blend.

I use the word 'cocktail' leading you to believe that this beverage could contain alcohol. I think it would be really great if you used this juice as a base for cocktails. Cocktails are not what they used to be. Beet juice has its place in say a whisky and ginger with extra lemon muddled in. Or maybe blended with grapefruit in a salty dog with a rim of smoked sea salt. Or what about a wonderful Bloody Mary with tomato and beet juice and extra horseradish? Fresh juices are not only super great for you, but they are fascinating, and they lend another venue for culinary deliciousness.

'Get rid of your head cold', Beet Juice Cocktail
makes 4 servings

4 medium sized beets, scrubbed and cut into manageable chunks
2 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped
2 apples, chopped
2 inch nub of fresh ginger, sliced
1/2 bunch of kale, chopped
1 lemon, quartered

Organic fruits and veggies seem to carry the most flavor. If you have a stash of root veggies from your garden, use those. Fresh from the garden is best, but this is a juice made up of storage veggies, and it's winter in Minnesota. Do your best to source the best produce you can find. It can be tricky this time of year!

Scrub the carrots and beets. There is nutrition to be found in the peels, so I leave the skin on. Just be sure to scrub them up  a bit. The other prep is just to make sure to chop the fruits and veggies into manageable chunks for your juicer.

Run the above ingredients through your juicer. You'll be amazed at the amount of juice extracted from the beets! Your end product will be a crimson juice full of everything nice, with hints of ginger and lemon. Give it a taste. If you want to adjust the flavors do so by adding more apples, ginger, or lemons to the mix. A glass to start your day makes the colds go away! Belly up!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

the right amount of rural/ the right amount of urban and smoked lake trout pasta

it's a balancing act really. life, i mean. we struggle through the work day only to be left juggling the rest. life happens, hopefully for most of us, and i can barely keep it all contained. which is a good thing. i get bored easy, have a short attention span, and find multi- tasking thrilling. with that insight, you can possibly understand how i worry about getting in the right amounts of rural and urban. what i mean is that i love rural life. i love running into my friends while snowshoeing up a frozen river, only to take a moment to chat about raising pigs and ice climbing. i can't get enough of this life. wide open spaces with room to roam. then there's the pleasures of urban life. i love when we visit friends in the city and we eat beef tongue tacos from the 'Taco Taxi' food truck, look for buried treasures at architectural antique stores, eat lobster poutine and drink local brews during happy hour, all the while soaking up art and culture. i love them both. a whole bunch!

living in an slightly isolated harbor town can be challenging. finding my bliss in sub- zero temperatures while struggling with the rigorous chores of rural life can be one of the days biggest challenges. i've learned to improvise. a lot. it makes your mind more creative and your hands more callused. and bliss can be found. weather it's in fire wood stacking, creative snow removal, or finding the chicken eggs before they freeze- bliss is there. there is also bliss in travel which is a must for us. the lure of the unknown and the never before tasted. getting away. it's a much quicker and more satisfying way to a good bliss buzz. a way to break up the day to day. it's how i incorporate the right amount of urban.

right now i'm surfing airlines for tickets to key west. after a phone conversation with a friend who makes his living fishing the beautiful blue sea, it took little convincing that i needed to retreat to stone crab season and sun on my skin. stone crabs are amazing! they are also a sustainable resource. the fishermen who catch the stone crabs are only harvesting the claws, which then the crabs regenerate within a year. i like that story. it makes me feels good about covering a table with newspaper, getting out a mallet, and going to town on fresh stone crab! but as our friends in the keys will tell us, even they come down with cabin fever, or island fever as they say. it turns out that when you're living in extreme climates in isolated areas, it gets the best of you. when our friends joined us in grand marais for a visit this summer, during the peak heat of the keys, they were thrilled with our local fare as well. they loved the locally caught lake trout we dined on! it made me  realize that everywhere you go, there is good food to be had. and some of the best is right under my nose, or in my freezer- like smoked lake trout.

 lake trout are found in lake superior as well as deeper, colder inland lakes. they are a thrill to catch, but even more thrilling to eat. the pink flesh of the lake trout always reminds me of salmon, and i often cook them the same. smoked lake trout is my favorite. i like a sweet and salty brine and a slow cool smoke. it makes for great smoked lake trout, and the flesh of the lake trout is hearty and can hold up to bold flavors. once smoked, fish stores well in the ice box. it's a treat to find in the dead of winter, when all one can think of is being somewhere else. there's a multitude of things you can do with smoked fish, but one of my favorites is a simple smoked lake trout pasta. this is what our friends from the keys enjoyed, and as i may not be able to be there right now, i can still eat this dish in front of the wood stove and dream.

Smoked Lake Trout Pasta

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup dry white wine
1- 8 oz package cream cheese, cubed
1/2- 1 cup heavy cream
8-10 oz smoked lake trout, flaked
salt to taste
1 pound dried pasta- something hearty like penne, tagliatelle, or paparadelle
garnishes: zest of 1 meyer lemon, fresh chopped herbs like lemon thyme, basil, chives, italian parsley, grated parmesan

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onion until golden and it starts to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cherry tomatoes and saute for about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the cream cheese whisking until melted. Whisk in the cream and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat slightly and add the smoked lake trout. Cook ,stirring frequently, until the sauce is quite thick, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.

Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain the pasta reserving a little bit of the pasta water. In a large bowl, or the empty pasta pot, toss the pasta with the sauce, adding some of the pasta water as needed to help the sauce coat the noodles evenly.

Serve immediately, with the garnishes. This sauce doesn't reheat very well, which is a great excuse not to have any leftovers. Belly up!!