Category Archives: eating food

The hollandaise was not a mistake.

I’m awake and it’s 2:33am.

I made some bad food choices today. Which is why I’m awake.

It’s funny because I’ve recently been thinking, geez, I’ve gone *months and months* without any kind of gallbladder trouble.

It makes me proud when I realize this, because I know it’s directly related to my commitment to eating real food. So yeah. I guess that’s my first problem.

(Pride? And also, eating well most of the time means that sometimes, you give yourself the freedom to eat totally horrible food, which is really backwards, and I shouldn’t do that anymore.)

So this morning, Ryan and I decided that we wanted to make eggs benedict because I have been making these awesome sourdough English muffins and they were just begging to be topped with poached eggs. So, for the very first time in my life, I poached 4 eggs (and they all came out so well!) and I made Julia Child’s hollandaise sauce. Then we sauteed some spinach and shallots and put together an incredible eggs benedict. Oh, and Ryan sauteed cherry tomatoes in butter and balsamic vinegar, and they were amazing. I kept thinking, why do I ever go to restaurants? I love the food we make.

Okay, so that meal wasn’t a mistake. At all. I know the hollandaise sauce was made with a whole stick of butter, but I believe in butter. Anyway.

Then we went berry picking, which was SO INCREDIBLY FUN and afterwards, we were really tired and hungry so we got yummy food from the outdoor grill: italian sausage dogs topped with onions and peppers (not a mistake) along with fries (MISTAKE).

And then we went and visited with my in-laws, since we were on their side of the city, and that was cool. And then we came home, and I rolled out some sourdough pizza dough and made a yummy cheese pizza with homemade marinara, topped with fresh basil. And that wasn’t really a mistake, but in combination with hollandaise sauce and fries? Kind of a mistake. But it was a mistake that shouldn’t have been a mistake.

I just don’t want to call such a beautiful and delicious pizza a mistake.

Anyway, we ate that pizza with friends and those friends brought ice cream because ice cream is good. And it was called A Piece of Cake Ice Cream and that was really good. But it was ice cream. Which was not good, except that it was good.

Anyway, here we are, 5 hours and some pain-killers later. I feel better now and I’m actually considering jumping back into bed with Forrest and Ryan. Oh, and by the way, Jack got up at 1am and 1:45am and guzzled water down like I’ve never seen him guzzle before. It was weird. But he went right back to sleep each time.

I love that boy. I love the way he guzzles water.

Anyway, now that I’ve given you an exhaustive list of what I ate today (what the heck?) I’ll go. Now.

I still don’t think the hollandaise was a mistake.

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Easy Homemade Vinaigrette

I can’t think of anything more useful than a homemade vinaigrette recipe.

Well, I mean, I’m sure there are lots of things that are more useful than a homemade vinaigrette recipe, but stay with me, okay?

You see, a vinaigrette can be used in so many different ways. Obviously, it’s most often used as a delicious salad dressing. But have you ever eaten roasted new potatoes coated in a garlic vinaigrette? Have you ever dipped a hunk of whole grain sourdough bread into a little pool of rosemary vinaigrette? Have you ever drizzled a shallot vinaigrette over your lightly steamed broccoli, or your grilled asparagus, or your pan-fried green beans? How about over your roasted chicken? (Oh man, I think I’m hungry.)

If you have, you know exactly why a basic vinaigrette recipe can make such a huge difference in your kitchen. It’s so easy to adjust the ingredients according to whatever you’re preparing. Get this down, and you’ll never want to spend your money on store-bought dressing again. Trust me.

The recipe is simple. I mostly eye it as far as amounts are concerned, but this is the general idea…

Basic Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 tbsp dijon mustard
Freshly ground black peppercorns
Unrefined sea salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Thoroughly combine the vinegar, mustard, pepper, and salt in a jar or small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is fully emulsified (or, if you’re using a jar, just combine everything, screw the lid on tightly, and shake, shake, shake!).

2. That’s all. 😉

Variations:

– For garlic vinaigrette, add 2 pressed garlic cloves.
– For balsamic vinaigrette, replace the white wine vinegar with regular balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar.
– For shallot vinaigrette, add 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot.
– For rosemary vinaigrette, add 1 & 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary.
– For bleu cheese vinaigrette, add 1 tbsp crumbled bleu cheese.

You get the idea…right? My favorites, by the way, are garlic and shallot. YUM.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredients – as long as you have the vinegar/olive oil base, you can change it up to your liking! And try it with your meat or cooked veggies, too!

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Heavenly Home Fries

So, we’re actually in the middle of making breakfast right now (Ryan’s day off – woohoo!) and I was helping to prep the home fries…and I thought, These are ridiculously good home fries. More people need to know about these, man! So here I am. It’s gonna be a quickie-post, but now you know that I care. You need the recipe for the greatest home fries known to man.

Mama Rissa’s Silly-Good Home Fries
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced
2-6 potatoes, diced (amount depends on size, i.e. 2 large russet potatoes, 4 large red potatoes, 6 medium yukon gold potatoes…ya know what I mean?)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Unrefined sea salt
Filtered water

Directions

1. Bring a large saucepan of filtered water to a boil. Add diced potatoes and boil for about 5 minutes or until mostly cooked through. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic, sauteing until the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized. Set aside when finished.

2. Drain potatoes in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Add onion and garlic mixture to potatoes. Mix thoroughly and add filtered water, a tablespoon at a time, until the potatoes look creamy but not watery (you’ll probably need about 3-4 tablespoons). Grind some unrefined sea salt into the potatoes and mix thoroughly again.

3. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in your cast iron skillet or griddle over a nice, high heat. Transfer potato mixture to skillet/griddle in heaping scoops, creating 1 patty per person. Allow to cook, without moving, until very nicely browned on one side. Then flip each patty, keeping the potatoes in one piece (just keep thinking patty). Allow the other side to brown and serve immediately, alongside fried eggs and refried beans and a huge cup of French-pressed black coffee! YUM!

That’s all for now – my breakfast is ready (I love a husband who cooks – mine in particular)!

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Leek & Potato Soup: a Budget-Friendly Meal

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved leek and potato soup. Without fail, I’m overcome with the warm fuzzies each time I eat it. The taste brings with it a flood of memories from my childhood and, even better, I now get to serve it to my family while creating our own memories centered around this deliciously simple soup.

Maybe those memories will only be something along the lines of, “Remember when we didn’t have any money and we ate leek and potato soup every week?” Still, be that as it may, it does taste good, and memories full of good food seem to cancel out the money-less aspect quite a bit. 🙂

From what I’ve gathered over the last few years, most young families start off in one or all of these situations: 1, the need for food often seems to exceed the supply of money, 2, the wife (or husband, or both, depending on who likes to cook) doesn’t have a lot of experience with cooking frugal and healthy meals, and/or 3, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to properly prepare a healthy meal on a regular basis.

My leek and potato soup is the solution to those problems. 🙂 So, without further ado…

Mama Rissa’s Leek & Potato Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients (please choose organic!):

2 large leeks or 4-5 medium/small leeks, white parts only, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
4-5 medium potatoes (russet potatoes are cheapest, but yukon gold is a delicious choice), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large shallot (optional), finely diced
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 quart free-range chicken stock/broth (homemade is best, but if you use store-bought, be sure to choose low-sodium)
2-3 cups filtered water
Unrefined sea salt
Freshly ground black peppercorns
Cultured butter or cultured cream (such as creme fraiche, piima cream, or sour cream – raw is preferred!)

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium-low heat. When the butter slides around the pot easily, slowly incorporate the leeks by stirring in a handful at a time. The leeks should gently sizzle – if the butter begins to sputter, turn the heat down. Stir in the shallot, if using. Cover, but stir frequently, until the leeks are soft and translucent (do not let them brown).

2. Slowly add the potatoes by stirring in a handful at a time so as to keep the pot evenly heated. Pour in a little bit of chicken stock and cover, stirring frequently, until the potatoes begin to soften just slightly (they should look translucent around the edges). Add the rest of the chicken stock slowly, along with the filtered water, until you’ve achieved your desired liquid-to-solids consistency.

3. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Season with sea salt and pepper. Optional: use an immersion blender to puree the soup (my 2-year-old prefers to eat it this way).

4. Serve with a pat of cultured butter or a dollop of cultured cream and enjoy!

If you make this soup, I’ve love to hear about it! Did you change anything? Do you think you’ll make it again? 😉

Also, if this post tickled your fancy, be sure to check back for more wholesome and budget-friendly meals!

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Focus, now!

One of the most difficult parts of writing on this blog is figuring out what to write about.

The problem isn’t really coming up with something to say, because I do have a lot to say. It’s deciding which of the somethings to write about on any given day. It’s not an easy task, I tell you.

In an effort to simplify and make things a little easier on myself, I’ve been asking myself a very straight-forward question: what do you like to talk about most of all? what comes easiest?

My immediate, no-brainer answer is always food. I am most definitely, absolutely, positively in love with learning to be a good wife and mama, homemaking, crafting, our journey into Orthodox Christianity, and simple living (not necessarily in that order, but you know). And if you think about it, all of those things revolve around food. They really do.

I’m aware of many people who, in an effort to not idolize food, choose to give it a very small piece of their attention. I do believe that idolizing food is wrong, but that’s not what this is. You see, I can’t seem to separate God and food. He created it, after all. He created us, and we are dependent on it. And we’re not just dependent on edible substances – we’re dependent on whole, nourishing, healthy food. In our Western society, it can be incredibly difficult to recognize the difference between the two. I am on a mission to not only recognize whole, nourishing, and healthy food, but to also learn to prepare it and serve it, thus allowing my family and myself to flourish.

By the way – in case you’re wondering, yes, our bodies are temporary dwelling places for our souls. But that doesn’t mean we should fill them with trash.

So: God created food. He created us, and we have to eat food to stay alive. He also created us to multiply, which means we have families. Since we have families, we must feed those families as well as ourselves. And, well, we want to serve our families nourishing food so that they can live long, healthy lives and in turn, continue to fruitfully multiply and serve their families nourishing food. We also want to eat in a way that honors and preserves the rest of God’s creation (the earth) because he didn’t just create it so that we could fill it with trash, either.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I make food every day. I strive to learn more about traditional methods of preparation and cooking every day. I try new recipes every week, and most of the time, we like them. I always take pictures of the process and the final presentation because I love to express my creativity through the art of food.

I really, really, really like to talk about food.

Let’s bring this full circle, shall we?

My conclusion, as a result of all that (sorry), is to shift my blog’s focus to mostly food. I’m still going to blog about life as an utterly devoted wife and mama (which includes natural birth, cloth diapering and babywearing), and I’ll still post copious amounts of photos of my (adorable ahem) children, and I’ll even share about various crafting projects, our journey into Orthodoxy, and ideas for natural household and personal products. But my main focus will be food.

You can expect to find posts about recipes I’ve tried, cookbooks (or food blogs) I like, plenty of photos of food, the reasons behind the way we eat, helpful resources, and everything in between.

Most of what I’ll say won’t be new – in fact, it will almost always boil down to traditional methods of preparation, cooking, and eating. I do pray that I’ll be able to find a helpful, refreshing, authentic, faith-filled way to present it.

So stick around, will you?

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on what inspires me.

If given the choice between a trip to the mall with an endless amount of money to spend on a new wardrobe OR a trip to an enormous farmer’s market with an endless amount of money to spend on incredible food, I’d choose the food. Seriously.

It sounds silly because yeah, technically, a new wardrobe would last me a lot longer and who cares that much about food, anyway?

The thing is, it’s not an issue of food-snobbery, but rather that food simply amazes me. I am awed by gorgeous green-striped tomatoes, multi-colored carrots and purple potatoes the size of my eyeball. The blue, pink and brown eggs dazzle me and I can’t get over the deep, dark amber color of the honey. The fact that God created these things and we get to eat them – well, it brings me to my knees. I cannot get over it.

The artist in me awakens when I’m surrounded by beautiful food. I want to mix my paints to the exact hue of that orange stem on the rainbow chard and I want to sketch the beautiful curves of those glorious eggs. The intricacy of the wild mushrooms, the enormity of the juicy, ripe strawberries – they inspire me.

Not only do they inspire me to paint (which is something I rarely have time to do with two little boys to tend to), they inspire me to cook, which is something I have to do, anyway.

I used to shop with specific recipes in mind. I had a list of ingredients and I was afraid to wander off into the world of spontaneous shopping. It’s not that I don’t have a budget, but nowadays, I build recipes off of what I can find at the market.

When I see a pile of golden beets or bunches of dinosaur kale, my heart sings. There are so many meals waiting to be created, and I just don’t care enough about a new wardrobe to miss the chance to partake in an amazing part of God’s artwork.

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Refined

If you read my post on the cookies I made with Jack last week, you know that I have been trying to steer clear of {refined} flour and sugar. In addition to that, I’m trying to get a handle on my sweet tooth {I don’t constantly crave sweets, but when I do, I go overboard}.

In an effort to really do this, for real, I have decided that I’m officially not going to consume any refined flour or sugar starting right now, and I’m also not going to eat anything sweetened over the holidays.

To be perfectly clear, I’m not trying to lose weight. I mean, I’d like to get back down to my pre-pregnancy size, but weight loss isn’t the only reason I want to do this. I want to be healthy. I want to take care of this body I’ve been given, and I want to do what I can to live a full and happy life. I want to be around to meet my grandchildren and I don’t want to be a sickly burden on my kids. I know that the food I consume makes a huge difference in this, and I feel completely responsible to monitor every little thing I consume.

I know that many people operate along the lines of “everything in moderation,” but personally, I see several holes in that statement. First of all, if something {say, refined sugar, or cigarettes} has a negative effect on my body, then even in moderation, it’s not good for me. If something {say, wine, or fruit} can be good for me in small amounts, then I see no problem with consuming these things in moderation. My hope is that everything I consume is beneficial to my body. Refined flour is never good for me. Refined sugar is never good for me. As far as I can tell, there’s no way around that.

To be fair, I have been aware of this information for a long time now, and I’m only just now officially living it out. I don’t expect everyone to jump on the wagon with me, especially considering that sugar has been found to be more addictive than cocaine. It’s hard. I’ve been fighting a battle with myself for weeks now – I’ve so desperately wanted to be free of the need for more sugar, but I always ended up just eating more and more and more. Finally I realized that I needed accountability so I told Ryan about my frustration and poor self-control. He agreed to hold me to the commitment {and is even committing to it with me!}, so here I am!

Also, in case you’re wondering, I don’t feel deprived. I feel happy and free. I feel like I have a challenge to pursue – how can I feed myself and my family well without these ingredients? I know it’s possible, and I’ve done it to some extent before. I want this to become a part of my lifestyle, and I’m thrilled that I’ve finally made a solid decision about it all.

And, naturally, I’ll be keeping you updated how it goes!

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