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Brining for Juicy, Yummy Meat

Brining for Juicy, Yummy Meat

I have discovered brining. I had no idea what I was missing. Brining uses salt water to suck moisture and flavors into the meat. The key is to use enough salt. If you use too little it sucks the moisture out instead. At least, that’s what they say.

Making the brine:

Use 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt for every cup of liquid.

Heat your water and mix in the salt until liquefied.
Add other seasonings, such as garlic powder, onion powder, and whatever you like.
Cool the brine by setting the pan in cold water, or set it aside until it cools.

Brining the meat:

For indoor cooking, we cut the meat into strips or bite-sized pieces before brining. Obviously that s not a good idea for grilling, unless you’re making shish kabobs.

Place the meat in a sealable container.
Pour in the brine, completely covering the meat.
Refrigerate.

Timing your brining:

This depends on the type of meat, but I have found that overnight, or even two nights, works fine for beef and chicken. They say chicken only takes a few hours and that beef can take twelve.

Cooking brined meat:

You must rinse the meat or it will be unbearably salty. Rinse it in cold water, and rinse it thoroughly. Some say to rinse for a full 30 seconds and do it twice. Then dry it well with paper towels. After that, I usually coat mine in olive oil or butter before grilling or cooking in the skillet.
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Easy Salisbury Steak

Easy Salisbury Steak

Patty ingredients:

1 ½ pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons brewer’s yeast
1 to 2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 to 2 table spoons onion powder
2 teaspoon steak sauce (optional)

Sauce:

Strong beef broth (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all patty ingredients and knead together until well blended. Form into very thin oval shaped patties. Brown the patties in a skillet and remove with a slotted spoon or spatula. Place patties in a glass baking dish. Pour sauce over patties. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

You can add green onions to the patties, or just in the pan with them before baking. Also, top the patties with sliced mushrooms before baking, if you enjoy mushrooms.
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Lasagna Style Enchiladas

Lasagna Style Enchiladas

1.5 lbs seasoned, browned, ground beef
1.5 lbs shredded cheese
18 small corn tortillas
1.5 cups enchilada sauce

Beef seasonings:
Worcestershire sauce
Salt
Pepper
Chili powder
Cumin
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Oregano

Diced tomatoes and onions

Preheat oven to 350. Lay six corn tortillas in the bottom of a glass pan, slightly overlapping, top with 1/3 cheese and ½ beef. Repeat to make a second layer. Cover with the remaining six tortillas, pour in enchilada sauce, top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Top with diced tomatoes and onions immediately before serving, or before baking.

Serve with refried beans and Spanish rice.

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Fried Rice

Fried Rice

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 – 1½ cups peas and carrots
1 – 1½ cups leftover meat (cooked)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Ginger
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 eggs
Tamari sauce (or soy sauce)

Heat coconut oil in skillet on med-high. Add meat, vegetables, rice, onion powder, garlic powder, and ginger powder. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Beat the eggs. Make a well in the center. Pour in eggs and cook for about one minute. Gradually incorporate the egg into the rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until egg is done. Add tamari sauce to taste and cook for 2 more minutes.

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Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!

Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!

Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!
by Jo Robinson
Printer Friendly Version
In my Grandma’s day, there was no such thing as a bad fat. All fat was “good” simply because it tasted good. My Grandma fried her eggs in bacon grease, added bacon grease to her cakes and pancakes, made her pie crusts from lard, and served butter with her homemade bread. My grandmother was able to thrive on all that saturated fat—but not my grandfather. He suffered from angina and died from heart failure at a relatively young age.

My grandfather wasn’t alone. Population studies from the first half of the 20th century showed that Americans in general had a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease than people from other countries, especially Japan, Italy and Greece. Was all that saturated fat to blame? The Japanese were eating very little fat of any kind, while the people of the Mediterranean were swimming in olive oil, an oil that is very low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated oils.

So, in the 1960s, word came from on high that we should cut back on the butter, cream, eggs and red meat. But, interestingly, the experts did not advise us to switch to an ultra-low fat diet like the Japanese, nor to use monounsaturated oils like the Greeks or Italians. Instead, we were advised to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated oils—primarily corn oil and safflower. Never mind the fact that no people in the history of this planet had ever eaten large amounts of this type of oil. It was deemed “the right thing to do.” Why? First of all, the United States had far more corn fields than olive groves, so it seemed reasonable to use the type of oil that we had in abundance. But just as important, according to the best medical data at the time, corn oil and safflower oil seemed to lower cholesterol levels better than monounsaturated oils.

Today, we know that’s not true. In the 1960s, researchers did not differentiate between “good” HDL cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Instead, they lumped both types together and focused on lowering the sum of the two. Polyunsaturated oils seemed to do this better than monounsaturated oils. We now know they achieve this feat by lowering both our bad and our good cholesterol, in effect throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Monounsaturated oils leave our HDL intact.

In hindsight, it’s not surprising, then, that our death rate from cardiovascular disease remained high in the 1970s and 80s even though we were eating far less butter, eggs, bacon grease, and red meat: We had been told to replace saturated fat with the wrong kind of oil.

During this same era, our national health statistics were highlighting another problem, this one even more ominous: an increasing number of people were dying from cancer. Why were cancer deaths going up? Was it the fact that our environment was more polluted? That our food had more additives, herbicides and pesticides? That our lives were more stressful? That we were not eating enough fruits and vegetables? Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

But there was another reason we were losing the war against cancer: the supposedly “heart-healthy” corn oil and safflower oil that the doctors had advised us to pour on our salads and spread on our bread contained high amounts of a type of fat called “omega-6 fatty acids.” There is now strong evidence that omega-6s can make cancer cells grow faster and more invasive. For example, if you were to inject a colony of rats with human cancer cells and then put some of the rats on a corn oil diet, some on a butterfat diet, and some on a beef fat diet, the ones given the omega-6 rich corn oil would be afflicted with larger and more aggressive tumors.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, we were getting a second helping of omega-6s from our animal products. Starting in the 1950s, the meat industry had begun taking our animals off pasture and fattening them on grains high in omega-6s, adding to our intake of these potentially cancer-promoting fats.

In the early 1990s, we learned that our modern diet was harboring yet another unhealthy fat: trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids are formed during the hydrogenation process that converts vegetable oil into margarine and shortening. Carefully designed studies were showing that these manmade fats are worse for our cardiovascular system than the animal fats they replaced. Like some saturated fats, they raise our bad cholesterol. But unlike the fats found in nature, they also lower our good cholesterol—delivering a double whammy to our coronary arteries. “Maybe butter is better after all,” conceded the health experts.

Given all this conflicting advice about fat, consumers were ready to lob their tubs of margarine at their doctors. For decades they had been skimping on butter, even though margarine tasted little better than salty Vaseline. Now they were being told that margarine might increase their risk of a heart attack!

Some people revolted by trying to abandon fat altogether. For breakfast, they made do with dry toast and fat-free cottage cheese. For lunch, they ate salad greens sprinkled with pepper and vinegar. Dinner was a skinless chicken breast poached in broth. Or better yet, a soy burger topped with lettuce. Dessert? Well, after all that self-denial, what else but a big bowl of fat-free ice cream and a box of Snackwell cookies. Thank goodness calories no longer counted! Only fat made you fat!

Or, so the diet gurus had told us. Paradoxically, while we were doing our best to ferret out all the fat grams, we were getting fatter and fatter. We were also becoming more prone to diabetes. Replacing fat with sugar and refined carbohydrates was proving to be no more beneficial than replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated oils.

At long last, in the mid-1990s, the first truly good news about fat began to emerge from the medical labs. The first fats to be given the green light were the monounsaturated oils, the ones that had helped protect the health of the Mediterraneans for so many generations. These oils are great for the heart, the scientists discovered, and they do not promote cancer. They are also a deterrent against diabetes. The news came fifty years too late, but it was welcome nonetheless. Please pass the olive oil!

Stearic acid, the most abundant fat in beef and chocolate, was also found to be beneficial. Unlike some other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise your bad cholesterol and it may even give your good cholesterol a little boost. Hooray!

Then, at the tail end of the 20th century, two more “good” fats were added to the roster—omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, the fat found in the meat and dairy products of ruminants. Both of these fats show signs of being potent weapons against cancer. However, the omega-3s may be the best of all the good fats because they are also linked with a lower risk of virtually all the so-called “diseases of civilization,” including cardiovascular disease, depression, ADHD, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

So, some of you may be wondering, what does this brief history of fat have to do with grassfarming? Few people realize that all omega-3s originate in the green leaves of plants and algae. Fish have large amounts of this good fat because they eat small fish that eat smaller fish that dine on omega-3 rich algae and phytoplankton. Grazing animals have more omega-3s because they get the omega-3s directly from the grass. In both cases, the omega-3s are ultimately passed on to humans, the top of the food chain.

Products from grassfed animals offer us more than omega-3s. They contain significant amounts of two “good” fats, monounsaturated oils and stearic acid, but no manmade trans-fatty acids. They are also the richest known natural source of CLA and contain extra amounts of vitamin E and beta-carotene. Finally, grassfed meat is lower than feedlot meat in total fat and calories, making it ideally suited for our sedentary lifestyles.

I don’t believe it’s a matter of luck or chance that grassfed products have so many of the good fats but so few of the bad. In fact, I’ll wager that the more that is discovered about fat in the coming years, the more grassfed meat will shine. The reason for my confidence is simple: our bodies are superbly adapted to this type of food. In the distant past, grassfed meat was the only meat around. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors either brought home a grazing ruminant such as elk, deer, or bison, or a predator that preyed on those animals. Either way, the nutrients found in grass made their way into the animals’ flesh, and ultimately, into our own.

Over the eons, our bodies began to “expect” the kinds and amounts of fat found in grassfed meat. Our hearts counted on the omega-3s to stabilize their rhythm and keep blood clots from forming. Our brain cells relied on omega-3 to build flexible, receptor-rich membranes. Our immune systems used the omega-3s and CLA to help fend off cancer. And because wild game is relatively lean, our bodies weren’t burdened with unnecessary amounts of fat or calories.

When we switch from grainfed to grassfed meat, then, we are simply returning to our original diet, the diet that is most in harmony with our physiology. Every cell and system of our bodies function better when we eat products from animals raised on grass.

Jo Robinson is a New York Times bestselling writer. She is the author or coauthor of 11 nationally published books including Pasture Perfect, which is a comprehensive overview of the benefits of choosing products from pasture-raised animals, and The Omega Diet (with Dr. Artemis Simopoulos) that describes an omega-3 enriched Mediterranean diet that may be the healthiest eating program of all. To order her books or learn more about grassfed products, visit http://eatwild.com.

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Quick Reference – Meat, Beans, Grains, and More

Quick Reference – Meat, Beans, Grains, and More

I get really tired of searching for basic information every time I make certain foods. So, I asked one of my cooking groups if anyone knew where to find all the info in one easy to use place, and got a couple of very helpful links.

Proportions and cooking times for beans and grains can be found at Vegetarians in Paradise.

This USDA Safe Food Handling Page has everything from doneness temperatures of meat to how long leftover pizza will keep when refrigerated or frozen. There is a lot of helpful information here. However, I must warn you, the doneness temperature information is incomplete. Roasts, whole birds, etc., raise in temperature by about 10 degrees after you take them out of the oven, so if you wait until they reach the desired doneness to remove them they will be overcooked. Also, they don’t list rare beef because it is not longer considered “safe”.

You can find more information on temperatures and times for roasting beef at What’s Cooking America? They explain the beef doneness issue –
“To satisfy government home economists, the Beef Council says rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Well, that is ok if you like well-done and dry meat. If you like moist, rosy meat (like I do), rare begins at 120 degrees F. and starts to become medium rare at 125 to 130 degrees F.”

There is a great article on the Mar Jennings Site that explains more about meat and your health. Here is an excerpt:

“While many people will eat red meat well-done, it is not the healthiest option. It destroys the enzymes and denatures the proteins. What does that mean? Raw food in its natural state contains enzymes which help you digest it. When you fiddle with the food by cooking it, you destroy the enzymes and make your body work harder to break it down so that you can utilize the nutrients. It’s the same for protein. When proteins are denatured, it means that the protein molecule structure has been altered from its original state. Combine this with a high saturated fat content and you don’t exactly have a health food. Therefore, I always recommend eating red meat rare or medium rare. Well done meat is dead food and is best avoided.”

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Valentine’s Day – Keeping it Simple

Valentine’s Day – Keeping it Simple

This Valentine’s Day I wanted to relax and not spend all my time in the kitchen, but I still wanted to eat well and we did not want to try and eat out.

Today we are having a late lunch of steak and salad. Later we will have snacks and finger foods – sharp cheddar, pepper jack, black olives, strawberries, popcorn, etc.

The steaks are amazingly quick and easy and when paired with just the salad, not too heavy. Plus, we’re eating our biggest meal early enough that it won’t make us sleepy for the rest of the evening.

I am pairing a shiraz with the steaks and pinot grigio with the snacks.

We also have individual, heart shaped chocolate cakes (I very rarely do desserts). These were a last minute thing from the grocery store.

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Stuffed Green Chilies

Stuffed Green Chilies

Stuffed Green Chilies, by Sandra Yvonne Duke

4 large green chilies
1 lb ground beef
10oz muenster cheese (shredded)
1 small Vidalia onion
4 large cloves garlic
Oregano
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Green chili or green chili enchilada sauce

Brown meat, drain, and season with oregano salt and black pepper. While the meat is cooking, cut up onion and garlic (I use a food processor). Slice the green chilies open lengthwise – DO NOT cut in half, just make a large opening. Pull the guts out of the chilies and cut up with the onions and garlic. Add the meat to the mixture and allow to cool for a few minutes. It can be warm, but not too hot to handle. Add most of the cheese (save a little to sprinkle on top). Preheat oven to 350. Stuff the chilies with the mixture. Try to fit all of it in if you can. Place the stuffed chilies in a baking dish. If you have any left-over stuffing put it on top. Pour the sauce over the chilies. I use a large can of green chili enchilada sauce. Homemade is better if you have it! Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover and bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Remove cover and bake a few more minutes.

Serve with jasmine rice (cooked in a chicken broth), refried beans (with a little cheese melted on top), and salsa. I will be post a simple salsa recipe soon!

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