Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

These simple sweet chocolatey little bites were made in Sybil’s Vegan Demo, recently posted, and they are the perfect tasty finish to her Popeyes Chicken-inspired vegan Chicken and Biscuit dinner.

Sybil says that at home, these cookies spread beautifully. Something happened in translation in the clubhouse oven and they did not spread, but no matter! They are still tasty and cute as-is. However these cookies come out, they will be good! Sybil made several batches and could not make them fast enough for all the little hands AND adult hands waiting at-the-ready to grab them up.

To follow is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe from Sybil’s Vegan Foods Demo

Check out Sybil’s Demo Posted Here with Louisiana Spicy Fried Chicken Style Seitan

You might also like these recipes for vegan Mac and Cheese and Southern Biscuits.

Super Simple Cookie Method

Creaming the coconut oil and sugar…

Stirring in the other wet ingredients. Dry ingredients get combined in a separate bowl.

Then everything goes into one bowl together.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll cookies balls, place on parchment, flatten slightly, and bake.

This is vegan food… feel free to quality control (taste your food) at every step. 🙂

After a few minutes in the oven…

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Daily Rebecca – check out her original post here. These are the tasty cookies used in Sybil’s Vegan Foods Demo.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (please note alternate flours WILL change the outcome of the recipe!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s chocolate chips are accidentally vegan!)

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream (aka thoroughly mix) together the coconut oil & brown sugar, then add the almond milk & vanilla. The mixture may be really “liquidy” this is OK.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Combine the wet & dry ingredients (it WILL BE crumbly – this is OK), then fold in the chocolate morsels & any other mix-ins of your choosing.
  5. Roll into Tbsp sized balls & place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (or on a sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet), then flatten them out a bit with your palm. The dough may be a little crumbly, but just smoosh it together and it will work fine!
  6. Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Vegan Buttery Biscuits

These buttery biscuits are as delicious as promised.

… by both my friend Sybil, who recently hosted a Vegan Foods demo and made these yummy baked delights (preciously posted here) and by The Minimalist Baker, who developed the recipe. Even if you are feeding meat-eaters, they will not miss a thing!

Jeff Smith, aka The Frugal Gourmet, used to say that if you still buy biscuits in a can, he is ashamed of you.

Why? Because homemade biscuits can be so easy and fast to make. These vegan biscuits fit that bill. Without only a little effort, they turn out great! Buttery, fluffy, with a soft crumb on the inside, and slightly crispy on the outside, what’s not to love?

‘Worth the few minutes it takes to make dough.

To follow is the Vegan Buttery Biscuit Method and Recipe from Sybil’s Vegan Foods Demo

Check out Sybil’s Demo Posted Here with Louisiana Spicy Fried Chicken Style Seitan

You might also like these recipes for vegan Mac and Cheese and Chocolate Chip Cookies. (links coming soon)

Quick Biscuit Method as easy as…

Mixing, barely kneading, cutting the dough.

Panning, buttering (yum!), baking the biscuits.

And that’s it!

Vegan Buttery Biscuits

From Minimalist Baker. These biscuits served with Sybil’s Popeye’s-inspired Vegan Chicken, create a happy marriage of texture and flavor. Check out the Minimalist Baker Biscuit post HERE.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened PLAIN almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups (272 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp (7 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp (56 g) non-dairy, unsalted butter (I use Earth Balance)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C), and add lemon juice to almond milk to make “vegan buttermilk.” Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. Add cold butter and use fingers or a pastry cutter to combine the two until only small pieces remain and it looks like sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, stir gently while pouring in the almond milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined – it will be sticky.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself 5-6 times – hardly kneading.
  6. Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible.
  7. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter or a similar-shape object with sharp edges (such as a wine glass) and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows, making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the dough and cut out one or two more biscuits – you should have 7-8.
  8. Next brush the tops with a bit more of melted non-dairy butter and gently press a small divot in the center using two fingers. This will also help them rise evenly, so the middle won’t form a dome.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fluffy and slightly golden brown. Serve immediately. Let remaining biscuits cool completely before storing them in an airtight container or bag.

Enjoy!

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Sybil’s Demo No-Cheese Creamy Mac and Cheese

Easy breezy cheesy and creamy Mac and Cheese without any of the effects of dairy. Just as important as what this recipe leaves out, is what it adds in… What you tell the kids about this is entirely up to you.

Veggies

Yukon Gold Potatoes, not only create a creamy smooth texture, but they also bring potassium to the table, and a little protein.

Carrots add sweetness and color, but are also rich in beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is generally grown on blackstrap molasses and is very high in B-vitamins, making it an excellent addition to a vegan diet. The added perk is that it tastes kind of parmesan cheesy.

Note: Not all n. yeast is created the same. Be sure that yours contains the B-vitamins you want. Some are made without B-12.

Cashews

Cashews add both creaminess and nutty, cheese-enhancing flavor notes to the dish. Per nutrition, they are rich in good fats, vitamin E and minerals, particularly magnesium and zinc.

If you have a nut allergy, you can eliminate cashews and substitute with more carrots and potatoes.

The girls are so ready for Mac and Cheese, please.

To follow is the Mac and Cheese from Sybil’s Vegan Foods Demo

Check out Sybil’s Demo Posted Here with Louisiana Spicy Fried Chicken Style Seitan

You might also like these recipes for vegan Southern Biscuits and and vegan Chocolate Chip cookies. (links coming soon)

Now, for the Mac and Cheese

Make pasta according to package directions and cook the veggies.

Blend veggies with cashews, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and some cooking water, until smooth. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Sybil would probably like for you to take a moment and enjoy the aroma.

Stir all that cheesy goodness into the pasta. So easy!!

Yep… that works.

Single servings.

And in case you are wondering if vegan mac and cheese can be any good…

This beautiful young woman was having a moment with the mac and cheese and a dash of hot sauce, and my camera caught it! 😀 Kinda proud of that.

Vegan Mac-N-Cheese

Sybil uses this delicious recipe from Plant Strong Mom. Be sure to check Plant Strong Mom’s post for more nutritional information. 

Ingredients

  • 2 12oz boxes of Pasta
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 white or yellow onion quartered
  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • A dash of liquid smoke
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Boil potatoes, carrots and onion until potatoes and carrots are soft. Place cashews, nutritional yeast, cooked veggies and their water (start with a small amount and add more as needed, to get the right consistency) into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain pasta and then pour sauce over the pasta. Stir and serve. You can also use the pasta water instead of the vegetable water in the blender to make the cheese mixture more “cheesy”.

Enjoy!

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Sybil’s Louisiana Spicy Fried Chicken Style Seitan

Author of the beloved Priscilla the Great series, devoted wife and Mom, and my friend, Sybil, takes an approach to vegan cuisine that is all-encompassing. She makes everything, and has become a master in an area in which I have only dabbled, faux meats. Full disclosure: I have never been a fan of faux meats. Making meaty food from plants, yes! But foods like seitan, tempeh, and a lot of soybean products are not a prevalent part of my diet or culinary POV.

So why share this?

Because… Sybil. Sybil is one of those people who gets an idea and then takes it to its highest heights. Learn a language, get a degree, homeschool the kids, write a novel… no problem… BAM… she will have it done in no time, and it will be phenomenal. Only a couple of years ago she was excitedly stunned to learn that a person could make their own seitan. She quickly realized that she could make her own anything… and she actually did!!

And now, Sybil is one of only a handful (or less) of cooks who can offer faux meat and I am there with a fork. If vegan meat substitute conjures up in your mind images of chick’n, tofurkey, and beyond meat burgers, you can let that go. Freshly prepared seitan with flavors infused can be extremely flavorful, tender, and juicy. This food does not even need to be considered a “meat substitute”… it is just really good food.

We are all just waiting for her to get a food truck and start serving up mouth-watering indulgent belly-filling guilty pleasures. (She is probably tired of hearing me say that.)

You can read more about Sybil’s story and her personal journey to vegan life here… www.sybilnelson.com.

Another thing you might need to know about Sybil is that before transforming her diet to vegan, she loved Popeyes chicken. Not wanting to give up those mouth-watering familiar Louisiana flavors, she compiled and mastered recipes and techniques for all of her family’s favorite items on the menu.

In a recent demo, Sybil made all of these delicious dishes. Links to all the recipes are on their way!

Here’s how the Fried Seitan Louisiana “Chicken” is made…

After vital wheat gluten is combined with tons of flavor and made into a dough, it is ready to knead and cook.

Kneading the dough. You can control the finished texture by the length of time you spend kneading dough. Because gluten develops and tightens during kneading, the longer the dough is kneaded, the more dense and chewy it will become. Because Sybil wants a tender chicken-like texture,  she does not knead for very long… about 2-3 minutes.

Broth is seasoned and prepared for boiling seitan pieces.

Dough is portioned and pieces are dropped into boiling broth. Once cooked, out they come, ready to be dredged and browned.

Getting ready to prepare the dredge. Hot sauce, if you please.

Next, the dredging station, where cooked seitan pieces are covered in flour, then the spicy red sauce, and back into flour. This makes for a delightfully crunchy skin with a soul-warming heat.

Frying… let’s just take a moment…

Fried and ready to eat!!

To get the full way-better-than-fast-food-whole-meal experience, add fresh made buttery biscuits, creamy mac and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies on the side…

Sybil’s Louisiana Spicy Fried Chicken Style Seitan

Adapted from The Edgy Veg

Fried Seitan “Chicken”

Dredging Station Seasoned Flour

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Creole seasoning
  • ¼ tsp sugar

Dredging Station Sauce

  • ⅓ cup hot sauce
  • 3 eggs worth of egg replacer (Sybil uses flax eggs)
  • Oil for frying

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, onion powder and poultry seasoning (I used vegetable broth seasoning).
  2. In a larger bowl, combine hot sauce and tahini and whisk until smooth.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet and stir until well combined.
  4. Knead the dough until it is elastic but not dry. Sprinkle some additional gluten flour if you find you have made your dough too sticky.
  5. Divide the dough into chicken size pieces. Keep in mind they will grow to about twice their size, so make them a bit smaller than a normal chicken breast. You can do nugget size at your own risk. They never work for me, just always fall apart. I have also had success with cutting it into strips and making chicken tenders.
  6. Place the nuggets in a pot filled with boiling broth, ensure they are totally covered.
  7. Cook nuggets in broth for 1 hour at a low boil, stirring every 15 mins.
  8. Remove from broth and place on a paper towl to dry.

Coating and Frying

  1. Combine the hot sauce and water and egg replacer in a small bowl.
  2. Combine the flour and all spices in another shallow bowl, and whisk until well combined.
  3. Working with one piece of seitan at a time, coat each piece with the flour, then dredge it in the hot sauce mixture, and coat again in the flour mixture.
  4. Set aside until the rest of the seitan is breaded.
  5. Heat up plenty of oil in a skillet, or heat up your deep fryer. When hot (350 degrees) fry the pieces for 8-12 minutes or until they are light brown and crispy.
  6. Drain on paper towels or a rack.

If desired, serve with biscuits, mac and cheese, and cookies.

Enjoy!

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Turkey Gravy – Gluten Free and Paleo

This recipe uses the aromatic vegetables and scraps left over from all those beautiful developed stock flavors, as the thickener. This is a simple solution for reducing waste in the kitchen and preserving nutrition and flavor. Love it!

And… it makes you gravy paleo and keto friendly.

During the holiday season, when organic free-range, healthy whole fresh turkey is available, we buy one or two for portioning and freezing. Oh how I love a good make-ahead. Because meals in my home are plant-centric, even for my meat-eating son, we make use of our freezer and one or two turkeys will last over many many meals.

Here’s how:

First, process your turkey and make stock. See how here. You could use prepared stock, but homemade is deeper and gelatinous, nutritious, and provides you with your next ingredient.

While making stock, be sure to save all your veggies and scraps. This is your secret key ingredient. It will thicken your gravy and add so much savory flavor.

Blend broth, veggies, and cooked turkey bits together. It may not look so pretty in the blender, but we are not done yet…

Transfer the blended flavorful mixture to a pot and heat through.

If you like, stir in pan drippings from a roasted turkey, and almond milk for creaminess.

If you want to make it a giblet gravy, add those in too.

Salt and pepper, to taste. Done!

Turkey Gravy – Gluten Free and Paleo

This gravy is made using scraps leftover from homemade turkey broth.
Alternatively, you could purchase prepared turkey broth or chicken broth, and cook down the veggies in the stock, or roast them. If you have cooked turkey scraps, throw those in the mix too for deeper flavor and texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup turkey broth, the more gelatinous the better – recipe here
  • 2 cups veggies and turkey scraps left over from making broth – see notes below
  • optional, but recommended: pan drippings from roasted turkey
  • optional, for creaminess, 1/4 – 1/2 cup almond milk (or another appropriate plant milk)
  • optional: giblets, cooked and diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. In a blender, blend turkey broth and veggies, until smooth
  2. Add blended veggies and broth to a pot and heat through
  3. If you have pan drippings, add some in. This will intensify flavors, and color.
  4. If you like like a bit more creaminess, add milk
  5. If your gravy is too thick, add liquid (water, plant milk, broth). If your gravy is too thin, simmer until it is reduced and thickened.
  6. If desired, add giblets.
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste

This recipe will make a good 3 cups finished gravy.

Notes: While making broth, when you strain out the liquid, in a separate bowl, reserve turkey scraps form the bone, pieces of garlic, onion, and celery. You may also wish to keep some of the carrot. A little carrot adds color, nutrition and a slight sweetness. Too much carrot will make you broth very orange and taste like carrot puree. Discard bones and bay leaves. They have done their job.

Enjoy!

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Levi’s Anti-Inflammatory Synergistic Green Power Smoothie

With so many great green smoothie recipes available in recipe books and online, this is the kind of thing I would usually save for a Food Theme Party or one-on-one coaching. In that environment, I can work individually with clients to focus on their particular needs and tastes. Green drinks are a popular and effective way to consume nutrients, and it is so easy to tweak the flavors. Every individual in my family has their own personal blend.

Because there have been many requests for this post from people who are difficult to refuse, here are my preferred basics for an anti-inflammatory power green drink.

This version is tailored for my son. However, these ingredients are phenomenal for pretty much everyone. At the core of much disease is inflammation. This smoothie is packed with powerful anti-inflamatory agents AND it is tasty enough to get my son to consume every single day.

What goes into Levi’s Green Smoothies

The goal is to pack this smoothie with vitamins and add highly anti-inflamatory properties. Turmeric root, ginger root, black pepper, and dark leafy greens provide a powerful nutrient bomb. A couple of additional ingredients are used to add nutrients and just make it yummy.

Synergy: the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects

In food, that means making every nutrient work harder for you, using preparation methods and combinations to get even more than the sum of its nutrients working in your body.

Dark leafy greens

Alternating greens prevents boredom and adds nutritional variety. We use organic spinach, kale, collards, chard, and sometimes we even replace the leafy greens with green veggies in season, such as broccoli rabe… use what you have, what looks good, or what your body needs.

Depending on the greens you use, you will get varying amounts of essential nutrients, including fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C and folate.

Orange or another vitamin C-containing fruit or veggie for Synergy

Some greens already contain vitamin C. Why do we care? If you are using something like spinach for your green, adding vitamin C will help your body to absorb MORE iron from the greens.

A few Vitamin C foods: peppers, papaya, kiwi, mango, strawberry, citrus fruits, and even brussel sprouts and broccoli

Turmeric root

To make this smoothie highly anti-inflamatory, turmeric is a key ingredient. Raw organic turmeric root is optimal. It is a whole food. It is also a beautiful bright orange food that will stain everything, so be careful when working with it.

Turmeric powder is also wonderful, but when using turmeric in dried powder form you may wish to add a fat, like coconut oil. The curcumin in turmeric is its anti-inflamatory power component. Curcumin is absorbed much better by the body when fat is added. Whole turmeric root already contains some natural good fat, so no need to add more.

Note: about 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric equals 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Or more precisely, 1 tablespoon of fresh root equals 1 teaspoon of dried ground turmeric. It converts at about a 3:1 ratio.

Curcumin properties:

  • anti-cancer
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-allergic
  • antioxidant
  • pro-immune

…which means that it is powerful for fighting and preventing disease, including arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, liver disease, digestive disorders, even depression.

You can order whole raw organic turmeric online and store it in your freezer. To me, whole turmeric is so much more pleasant and less bitter than dried.

See more fun food tips here.

Black pepper for Synergy

Black pepper exponentially increases bioavailability of anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, so a dash of pepper goes in. Men’s health magazine says its bioavailability is multiplied by 1000%! Some sources say 2000%!

A general recommendation is about 3% black pepper to turmeric.

Click here for a great little short video. 

Ginger

The anti-inflamatory, anti-fungal, cancer-fighting, pain and nausea reducing, digestion-supporting, immunity-boosting, healing properties of ginger have become very well-known. It does, however, have a spicy bite, so go easy on it until you know how much your body needs and can tolerate.

Coconut oil or another plant fat

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. Many smoothie makers will blend in a spoonful of a good quality coconut oil. If you are using a good chunk of turmeric, you are getting a little good fat already.

Banana, berries, and other add-ins

Of course, banana brings its own nutrients to the table, but honestly, we put it in our smoothies for better flavor and texture. It kind of smooths out the smoothie, and if you use enough frozen banana, it begins to feel more like a frozen treat than a healthy drink… not a bad thing.

Strawberries are a favorite add-in for my son. If we have fresh berries around, he will throw them in for flavor. Which makes me so happy… all those beautiful antioxidants.

We will throw in virtually ANY fruit or veggies we need to use up, or just feel like adding for flavor.

Easy Prep

My son will drink the smoothie.
Often, he will request the smoothie.
He will even clean the blender.
But for some reason, he will not make the smoothie.

So I prep them. This could not be easier! Enter beloved mason jars.

Prep as many jars as you need by filling them with ingredients. Start with greens, nestle in turmeric, add everything else, except for your liquid, put a lid on it and refrigerate. It is that easy!!

When somebody wants a smoothie, they need only to put about 3/4 cup juice or plant milk into the blender, add the contents of one smoothie jar, blend, and enjoy!

Your jar, with the blended smoothie, may only be about 3/4 full. I added more apple juice to fill it up for its photoshoot. Adding  more juice is, of course, completely optional. You can use just as much or as little juice as you need to create a nice consistency for drinking. Pictured below is my actual result, using 3/4 cup organic apple juice, which is fine with me! I could probably drink two. 🙂

If you have a powerful blender, it gets a bit frothy.

Levi’s Anti-Inflammatory Synergistic Green Power Smoothie

Measurements need not be precise. Experiment with ingredients and ratios to find a balance that works well for you.

Ingredients (for each smoothie jar)

  • fresh greens, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups, loosely packed
  • raw whole organic turmeric root, about a 1 inch chunk (no need to peel)
  • black pepper, 2-4 dashes
  • fresh ginger root, one small slice (no need to peel)
  • A few slices of orange, or a chunk of any vitamin C fruit
  • 1/2 banana
  • optional: 1 teaspoon good quality coconut oil, if you feel your blend needs it
  • optional: berries, veggies, seeds, nuts, whatever you would like to add to fill up the jar

When ready to make your smoothie:

  • about 3/4 cup liquid, such as organic apple juice, or a plant-based milk, whatever you like

Method (using 2-cup mason jars)

  1. Fill a mason jar loosely with greens; it should be about 3/4 full
  2. Add turmeric, nestled into the greens. This keeps your jar or container from turning yellow.
  3. Add all other ingredients, except for your liquid.
  4. Put a lid on it and store it in the fridge.

When you are ready for a smoothie.

  1. Add your liquid to a blender.
  2. Add all contents of your smoothie jar.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour smoothie back into your jar and enjoy immediately.
  5. Refreshing sigh. 🙂 You have done a great thing for your body and mind.

Tips:

  • The refrigerator life will only be as long as your most perishable ingredient. Making only 2 or 3 days worth at a time to keep everything very fresh is advised.
  • This freezes very well! If you wish to make more and are happy with a cold smoothie, freeze your smoothies portions. They will last for months.
  • Wide mouth mason jars are perfect for this because it is easy to add contents and pour them out, without having them get stuck at the top. But, of course, use whatever you already have or like best!

Enjoy!

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Information on foodhighs.com should not be taken as medical advice. Please make your medical decisions with your healthcare professional of choice.

Golden Make-Ahead Turkey Broth

Homemade nutritious flavorful gelatinous broth beats the pants off of any store-bought stock in a box. You get to control the quality of ingredients, and if you are roasting a turkey anyway, you are essentially getting the broth for free! You can use some of this broth right away for a savory gravy to complement your turkey, and then portion and freeze the rest for soups, stews, gravies, whatever you like.

Here’s how…

If you have made a centerpiece showbird, you can still salvage all of the bones – provided nobody has chewed on them and they have not sat out too long – using the method below to get a good broth.

The following method is for breaking down and processing a whole turkey.

Starting with a whole fresh turkey, the spatchcock method works great. Do this by using good kitchen sheers or a sharp chef’s knife to remove the spine.

Stock pot One: I like to go ahead and start my first stock batch simmering with the spine and neck, while I work on the rest of the bird.

Stock pot Two: After roasting the dark meat, legs and thighs, those bones get removed for a second batch of broth. Add turkey wing tips. You could also add roasted bones from your white meat, raw or roasted. Even after bones have already been cooked, there is still a lot of flavor and nutrition that can be pulled from them. Why waste it?

About giblets: giblets can go right into one of the stock pots with the bones an veggies, or they can be simmered on their own with some of the same veggies, depending on how much you like offal flavors. They could even be roasted with your turkey. Be sure to pull them out when they reach 160°, tent and allow residual heat to bring them up to a safe 165°. Chop them up and add to gravy.

After your broth is simmered and strained, this is what you get. Well, this plus at least another cup or two from one batch.

And also this… from my other batch…

After broth is cooled and fat is removed, it can be portioned and placed in freezer bags for later use. Freezing the bags flat makes them fit easily in the freezer and easy to use too. You can break off the amount you need when you are ready for it.

Placing a paper towel between each bag keeps them from sticking together while they freeze.

But wait!! There’s more!!

From the roasted turkey, broth with pan drippings, chilled. So much flavor.

Golden Make-ahead Turkey Broth

This recipe is based on a 20 pound turkey. So, of course, if you are using a smaller bird, you can reduce your veggies too. Broth method is very forgiving. 

Ingredients:

  • turkey bones (I used both raw and roasted, see notes)
  • 1-2 medium onions, halved or rough chopped
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole (I smash them too)
  • 4 stalks celery, rough chopped
  • 2 whole carrots, medium to large, rough chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • optional: dried thyme, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

Method:

  1. If you have two large stock pots, add half of each ingredient to each large stock pot. Fill each pot with water, covering all ingredients by a couple of inches. Alternatively, you can cook half at a time.
  2. Bring pot(s) to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 1/2 hours. After about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, you have extracted just about all the flavor you are going to get.
  3. Allow to cool just enough to handle safely. Through a fine-mesh strainer, strain out the liquid into a large heat-safe bowl.
  4. Place broth back into a cleaned stock pot and simmer with the lid off until it is reduced enough to concentrate the flavor. Again, this is very forgiving, but for a 20 pound turkey, if you have used all the bones, aim for about 10-12 cups broth. If you have used only the spine, neck and wing tips, aim for about 6-8 cups.
    If, after straining, you already have less liquid than this, that is fine; your broth will have great flavor. No need to reduce.
  5. Allow the broth to cool (see notes below), cover and and refrigerate. Leave it in the fridge until thoroughly chilled. Overnight works great. As the broth cool, the fat because it will separate itself. You then need only to use a spoon to remove the chilled fat from the top and discard it.

Your broth is ready for a plethora or recipes. Use immediately, or refrigerate, or freeze.

Note: If you do not wish to bother with the roasted bones, you can use just the spine, neck, wing tips, and giblets if desired, plus half of all the other ingredients to make one large pot of broth. You will end up with a good 6 cups or so of flavorful broth.

How to safely cool broth:

Leaving broth out for hours can cause foodborne illness. For safety, cool quickly and refrigerate.

  • Pour broth into shallow pans for more rapid cooling.
  • Prepare an ice bath in your sink or a large container. Put broth in a kettle and place the kettle in the ice bath. Stir for quicker cooling. Of course, never place a hot glass bowl into cold water.
  • Ice cubes. If you reduce your broth even more than indicated in the recipe, you can add ice cubes right into the broth to help it cool.

Saving veggie scraps!

Optional, but recommended to flavorful gravy later: In a separate bowl, reserve turkey scraps form the bone, pieces of garlic, onion, and celery. You may also wish to keep some of the carrot. A little carrot adds color, nutrition and a slight sweetness. Too much carrot will make you broth very orange and taste like carrot puree. Discard bones and bay leaves. They have done their job

Enjoy!

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How to Get the Most from Your Whole Fresh Turkey

During the holiday season, when organic free-range, healthy whole fresh turkey is available, we buy one or two and make them last many meals. If you like, one can be your showbird centerpiece for family and friends. (Keep the bones and scraps from this turkey for broth.) The other can be broken down to get lots of roasted turkey slices and pieces to freeze for easy dinners and lunches… pot pies, quesadillas, sandwiches, all those wonderful leftover turkey meals. And tons of broth! From a 20 pound turkey, I get a good 10-12 cups of broth, PLUS all the pan drippings. Nothing is wasted.

Because meals in my home are plant-centered, even for my meat-eating son, we make use of our freezer and one or two turkeys will last forever.

How you can get the MOST out of your turkey.

Step One: Breaking down the turkey

The best thing about breaking down a turkey like this is that it does not have to be pretty. You can do it fast without worry. Nobody will ever know if your butchery is not not neat and even. Nobody will care. Every bit will be used in some way.

Starting with a whole fresh turkey, the spatchcock method works great. Do this by using good kitchen sheers or a sharp chef’s knife to remove the spine. I like to go ahead and start my first stock batch simmering with the spine and neck, while I work on the rest of the bird.

Next, press down heavily on the breast to flatten it. This will take some strength, but it will allow for even cooking. You can go ahead and roast the whole flattened turkey, see how here. OR… separate the dark meat from the white for easier cooking. This way you need not worry about varying cooking times needed for white and dark meat. Everything comes out tender.

Cut away the leg questers. Separate the legs and thighs. Place them all on a large roasting pan, season as you like.

Step Two: Roasting the turkey

Prepare your turkey however you like. My family likes a simple salt and herb rub on a dry turkey (letting it sit uncovered on the bottom shelf in the fridge away from other foods will allow it to dry). For added flavor and browning, you can brush the turkey with melted butter or even duck fat, if you have it. Keeping flavors neutral allow for many uses later.

Roast your flattened turkey uncovered, in a preheated 375º oven, until it is golden brown. Then tent with tin foil to stop the browning and allow the turkey to cook through. You will need to keep an eye on your turkey. Depending on your oven, and how flat is your turkey, it may brown in a short time, or it may take over an hour.

After about an hour and fifteen minutes, or so, you will want to insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh – NOT touching the bone. When the internal temp reaches 160º, remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest. Carry over cooking will bring the turkey up to a safe 165º.

Alternatively, and if you have a REALLY big turkey, you could even roast dark meat legs and thighs, and then roast the white meat, breast and thighs. Then it is even easier to get even cooking and browning.

Btw… duck fat or butter gives you color like this. ‘Would be even better if this were spatchcocked!

Harvesting the Meat

Here are 3 of the 4 pans of turkey meat that came from one 20 pound bird! Most of this will get portioned and frozen.

Giblets

No way are we wasting giblets!

Giblets can go right into your stock pot with the bones an veggies, or they can be simmered on their own with some of the same veggies, depending on how much you like offal flavors. They could even be roasted with your turkey. Be sure to pull them out when they reach 160°, tent and allow residual heat to bring them up to a safe 165°. Chop them up and add to gravy.

btw… those bits and pieces in the container on the left came from the stock bones.

Now Broth

Which is pretty much like an amazing nutritious FREE ingredient when you fabricate your own turkey. How much do boxes of stock cost now, anyway? And prepared stocks and broths cannot hold a candle to broth you make yourself at home.

Plus, it is so easy! Put it in a stock pot and it makes itself.  Click HERE for a method that gives you even MORE broth by using your roasted bones too.

From a 20 pound bird, using neck bone, spine, and bones from you roasted turkey, along with veggies, you can get a good 10-12 cups of really good gelatinous broth. So much better than the watery box stocks and broths.

Freeze portions flat for easy future meal prep.

Pan Drippings

Save every drop of those dripping to add flavor to… well, anything!

See how gelatinous homemade stock is… and this one is a beautiful golden brown because it has intensely flavored roasted turkey and garlic pan drippings in it. Seriously, my son will consume multiple kale smoothies for just a little of this stuff.

Gravy

This gravy uses up all the veggie scarps and bits of turkey from the broth. Yep… no need to waste those either.

With a freezer full of turkey, broth, and if I am feeling really industrious, turkey pot pies and a few other make ahead meals, the only thing that gets discarded are bones which have given all their nutritious marrow and flavor.

And, by doing this all at once, I have saved myself a whole lot of cooking time later.

Time for a coffee break. 😀

Enjoy!

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DeDe’s OK State Fair Award Winning Chocolate Cake

Okay… yes, this is a “sometimes” food. But it is a “sometimes” food that has won over 22 blue ribbons and 4 best of show ribbons at The State Fair of Oklahoma over the past 20 years.

This family recipe comes from DeDe Beavers-Howard. It was handed down to her from her mother who was a fabulous baker.

DeDe says, “Mom got it from the mother of one of the girls she was in high school with and it quickly became our family recipe. I was the first one to enter it in the fair and it won. Since then everyone in the family and a few others have entered it at least once.” To me, this cake tastes like childhood… those days when Mom would make cake and then send you out to play until she called you in for dinner.

DeDe bakes up all manner of cake for the Oklahoma State Fair square dancers. She says they are her taste testers. Apparently, they dance off all the calories and DeDe takes home the blue ribbons. 😀 Win-win! She says, “I just do it for the look on peoples faces when they are satisfied. I guess you could call it labor of love. But it’s really not much labor when you enjoy it so much.”

My son, apparently driven by a sudden cake craving, baked up this recipe. There could have been more pictures, but every last piece of this cake mysteriously vanished in the middle of the night. I woke up to find an empty pan with hardly even any crumbs left. hmmm When he made the cake, we did not have the oil brand called for in the recipe, so he mixed unrefined coconut oil, evoo, and Irish butter to replace the fat. It should also be noted that my son is NOT a baker. Still, this came out rich, chocolatey, and delicious, especially the edges where the chocolate flavor intensifies.  DeDe says this recipe is very forgiving. If it survived my son’s baking, it is!

They call this simply “The Chocolate Cake”.

So for all those who requested this recipe…

“The Chocolate Cake”

by DeDe Beavers-Howard

Ingredients:

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c cocoa (packed)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1c buttermilk (**see note below if you don’t have)
  • 1c Wesson oil
  • 1c hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method

  1. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt).
  2. Mix together wet ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, oil, hot water, vanilla)
  3. Combine wet ingredients with dry.
  4. Pour into greased and floured pan
  5. Bake at 350• for 35 minutes. Toothpick test may not come out totally clean as this cake is very moist.

**To make a substitute for buttermilk: take 1c regular milk pour 2Tbs vinegar in the cup and let set for 15mins. Then use in place of the buttermilk. This cake can be iced or left plain because it is so moist. I usually take and lightly heat some frosting (turning it to semi-liquid)and drizzle on the top in crisscross pattern then sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles. Or you can dust with powdered sugar when serving. When we enter it in the fair we make it in round pans and use a plain buttercream chocolate icing.

Enjoy!

Minimalism – What to do About Photos

A rare Foodless Friday post.

Before SD cards and digital photos, there were rolls of film… rolls of film which were developed in an actual dark room to produce stacks of photos. If you were a lover of photography, you probably had piles of rolls… so many rolls… and many stacks of photos, probably in duplicate for sharing, putting into albums, and for “just in case” something happened to the single copy.

With enough photos, you needed photo boxes. Stacks of photo boxes. And more albums. More storage space. Whew!!

Life became so much simpler with the advent of SD cards and digital storage. No more worries about degrading yellowing photo paper, expense of photo development, or fire or water damage… provided you have all your digital files backed up or in the cloud. No need for all the storage space. So much better! Still, many of us are left with all those photos, envisioning ourselves trying to decide what to save in case of an emergency of some sort, especially if you live in hurricane, tornado, or earthquake zones.

Solution and Perks

Scanning my photos and saving them to digital files has been a project on my to-do list for years. The most intimidating part of this, honestly, was just getting started. I worried about things like choosing the wrong scanner, and finding the time to complete the project once started. Finally, after jumping in, I am elated! So many little perks come from this process. If you have been putting this off, delay no longer. You will not regret it.

Why digitize?

  • Photo preservation
  • Free up storage space!
  • Digital photo albums are so much easier to make than physical albums, and require no dining room table space.
  • There is something cathartic about taking bad memories, tucking them away on a digital file, and tossing the photos from one’s living space.
  • There is something beautiful about selecting those precious photos from the bunch and elevating them to a treasured place of honor.
  • If you have many years of photos, this process can provide a nostalgic emotional cleanse.
  • And did I mention… SPACE! You need less real estate and are free to go anywhere and not worry about loss… as much.

If this is on your to-do list, to follow are a few simple tips, and hopefully motivation. You CAN do this!

Choosing a Scanner

It is well worth the investment to purchase a decent scanner. You will want one that will process photos quickly (a relative term) and will create good clear images. I worried about this way too much. During all that time I spent worrying about choosing the “right” scanner that will preserve my precious photos, my precious photos were degrading!

Based on reviews and pricing at the time, I chose the Epson Perfection V370. I have no connection to Epson and there are probably many other photo scanners out there that are well up to the task. This one allowed me to also scan negatives. This was a good feature for me because I have some old negatives inherited from my dad from his Vietnam days, and our first meeting when he came home, as well as many of my own negatives. This scanner worked well for various negatives sizes, and gave me digital files that looked better that the yellowed paper photos.

A few quick tips on scanners:

  • Avoid using an MFP scanner. A separate piece of equipment that only scans without all the printing, faxing, jumping through hoops, bells and whistles, will more likely provide better efficiency and quality.
  • Auto mode is a very good thing if you have tons of photos to scan.
  • Generally, you do not need to set your photo resolution over 300 dpi (dots per inch) or pixels per inch. I tried a higher resolution; it did not really make any difference but it took much longer to run each scan. At over 12,000 scans, those few seconds matter!
  • Check out reviews. Look for user-friendly scanners if you do not wish to spend a lot of time learning features.
  • Consider spending a little more on the scanner, and then selling it when you are done.

Check out this article for more great tips.

There! The hard part is done. Now comes the time-consuming part.

Most Important Tip

Tip One: If you take nothing else from this post, please take this: Make peace with the fact that this project will take a lot of time. Pace yourself. You will be sitting by your scanner for a long time, if you have a lot of photos.

For me, 12,308 photos scanned.
Averaging about 85 scans per hour (with steady flow) = 145 hours over 28 days.

Make a pot of coffee or tea before beginning a session. Find some light reading you would like to catch up on. Make Netflix your photo scanning buddy. Do not choose anything that will take your attention away and make you forget your steady scanning pace. For me, old Star Trek episodes that I have already seen, food documentaries, listening to NPR games shows, and reading online articles, kept me entertained and moving forward. Find what works for you and get comfortable.

About sitting comfortably… this is no joke… if you do not use good posture, you may end up with shooting pain through your back and scanning arm that wakes you up in the middle of the night. Please take care!

Being self-employed, there are extremely busy months in my year and slower months. I chose to tackle this during the slow time. I also kept my food preparations very simple and let the house go a bit, focussing most of my time and attention on the project. It certainly helps that my kids are self-sufficient, and I can channel my inner OCD side.

My starting point. This is MOST of my photos. Those albums in the back are full and there were a couple more boxes. Final count was 12,308.

More Tips

Tip Two: You may experience unplanned trips down memory lane.

If you are fine with extending this project over time, then enjoy taking the sideroads and enjoying the memories. You may even wish to do some journaling. However, if efficiency is your goal, hang tough and remind yourself that you can enjoy reminiscing any time you want after the project is complete.

Tip Three: Anticipate the possibility that this may be an emotional experience. 

After about five days in, my heart found a nice comfy little spot on my sleeve. If you are working with decades of photos, there will no doubt be joyous memories, births and graduations, vacations and adventures. But there will also be reminders of loved ones lost and less happy times. There may be photos that make you laugh and those that make you cringe with embarrassment. If you are working quickly and not taking time to process any emotion connected to the many photos, you may find yourself on a roller coaster.

A week or so into the project, all those images became fractured in my dreams and there were nightmares of the borg assimilating my children when they were small. I cut back on Star Trek after that. But when our Monday 21, 2017 path of totality eclipse experience was drowned by clouds and rain, I sunk into depression for a few days and became rather  miffed at the universe for its betrayal.  It’s okay. The Universe and I are working through our issues. 🙂

If you experience anything like this, remind yourself that this is temporary and worth it! You have control. You can keep in your physical space those memories that bring you joy. And file away for safe-keeping, in digital files, everything else.

Tip Four: Choose Your Organization and Scanning Methods

If you have kept your photos organized over the years, you are golden! Your job will be less time-consuming and relatively easy. If, however, there have been many hands in your photo boxes over the years, they may not be in chronological order; you have the task of conquering the chaos. Your photos have been used and enjoyed over the years. No need to feel bad about a bit of chaos. It will be manageable.

Two basic approaches:

  • Method One – Organize all your photos first so you spend less time scanning. This is the smart way. This is not the way I chose.
  • Method Two – Scan everything fast and mindlessly, in no particular order, so as not to become sidetracked. Don’t even make eye contact with the photos. Organize them later.

I do not regret starting with Method Two because I got a lot done fast and was able to maintain motivation because the momentum was so good. But about halfway through, when I grew so tired of sitting at the scanner, I switched to Method One, sorting and organizing, removing any double copies that were mixed in.

There is no right or wrong way to sort your photos. Do this any way that makes sense to you. Create groups of photos by year, or years, such as “middle school to graduation” or “the 1980’s” – which will be easy to identify because of the big hair and all. Or sort photos by events, or locations, whatever floats your boat.

If you sort your physical photos before scanning, then you will not need to do much once they are in files on your computer. Just put them in files labeled anyway you like.

Give yourself rewards and breaks between each batch. Each batch is an accomplishment. Feel good about it!

Tip Five: Mindlessly multi-task

Sitting at a scanner for hours can become oppressive. So give yourself something to do while scanning. It should be relatively mindless. If you become too intrigued by the second task, it can become a distraction and slow you down. Some ideas: binge watch on Netflix, scroll social media, do meaningless quizzes, read light articles, plan life, make lists, organize, sip coffee or tea, compile recipes to make later… give yourself a variety of side tasks to keep you moving.

And then get into a scanning flow. Try to avoid letting seconds go by between scans. Seconds add up.

I realize that if you have small children, this is asking a lot. I simply waited for mine to grow up. If you have cute little distractions, accept the possibility that this may be a longer term project. No need missing current precious moments to preserve old ones.

Tip Six: If you need a break, take it! Do not allow yourself to burnout.

Tip Seven: Keep your end goal in mind. How will you or your family benefit from your success? What will you gain by simplifying? Let that goal move you forward.

Tip Eight: Label and stack as you go. Manilla envelopes are not photo-safe. They can be used for purposes of temporary sorting. Sticky notes will allow you to reuse the envelopes after your paper photos have found their new homes.

When you have finished organizing and scanning, and you know what you want to keep, purchase photo-safe sleeves for compact and organized storage. I like clear sleeves so I can see my pictures and grab the ones I need when I need them. You can order these online, any size you need!

Tip Nine: Backup your photos! It would be heart-breaking to do all this work and then somehow lose your photos. I had scanned 1000’s when my computer glitched. Trying to unfreeze the thing, I kept clicking and almost deleted every photo I had scanned or ever taken! … including all my blog photos, and family digital photos with no copies anywhere. One more little click and they would have all been gone.

You can buy an additional hard drive to put them on, use sd cards, used a paid storage fee service, make albums on facebook and on Shutterfly, share copies with friends and family… just get them backed up some way.

Tip Ten: Enjoy the digital photos and as many of the paper photos as you would like to keep and Rehome everything else.

  • Ask family and friends if they would like your paper copies. If they want them, they get first dibs. Package them up neatly and give them away.
  • If you are a craft person, use photos in collages, picture frames, or under a glass coffee table. Pinterest probably has no shortage of ideas for this. Sticky pages from a large photo album, no longer needed, can be used to assemble framed photo groupings. If you are honestly never going to do this, consider rehoming a different way.
  • Some photos, and postcards by the way, can be donated to school art rooms. Nature photos, flowers, trees, animals, can be repurposed by creative little hands.
  • With your photos all saved to digital files, and backed up, it is also okay to throw paper copies away. You have already preserved them, and paper copies will eventually degrade anyway.

Rewards!!

All the old packaging, envelopes, and albums with yellow pages, get to be gently tossed! Many of my photos were rehomed and will be properly treasured. It was so good to get rid of all this mismatched storage!

Besides having peace of mind knowing that all my photos are safely stored and physical real estate (shelving) is freed up for other purposes, I now have so many ways to enjoy my photos.

A facebook group just for family allows me to share my photos, and for family to share with me! I get to enjoy photos I have never seen before, old photos that have been tucked away by family members from many locations, all together on one page. With all the old photos come old stories and connections with loved ones. It is a good thing.

Some photos have been around for a very long time. These REALLY needed to be preserved, shared, and treasured.  Now they can be!

And this…

Shutterfly and sites like it, can do some pretty cool things with your digital photos. Putting together an album at your computer requires no table space. You can work on it any time you like, clutter free! And you can pick and choose the most meaningful photos.

I absolutely love this! Here is a little album made using Shutterfly and gifted to someone very special.

 

Btw, if google translate is accurate enough, the Chinese script should say “Live long and prosper”.

 

 

 

feeding our families real food

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