Special Dish for the Week: Brine Fermented Dill Pickles

One of this week’s Special Dishes for the Week is the super healthy and super easy summer treat:

Brine Fermented Dill Pickles

Brine Fermented Dill Pickles

Brine Fermented Dill Pickles

Among the thrills of the downtown farmers market is the availability of fresh dill and small fresh cucumbers, perfectly sized for “pickling”—or to be more precise, for fermenting in brine.

The accolades of fermented foods are listed in the post on Fermented Beet Juice, praised primarily for their ability to boost immunity and aid in nutrient and mineral absorption.

Brine Fermented Dill Pickles Ingredients

Brine Fermented Dill Pickles Ingredients

The ingredients include:

  • 2L water, boiled and cooled
  • 1-1.5 tbsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • 1-2 bunches fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic per jar, peeled and halved
  • 3-4 lbs pickling pickles (small cucumbers), washed but not scrubbed or peeled—to maintain the needed starter bacteria

Also needed are several small or large glass jars (reused honey or peanut butter glass jars work great). I give the jars and their lids a bath in boiling water for a few minutes to reduce molds and other unwanted creatures that might compete with the desired lactic acid-forming bacteria that reside on the pickling pickles.

I layer about 2 halves of garlic cloves with about 2 springs of dill on the bottom of each jar. Then, I pack the small cucumbers vertically in the jars. (In taller jars, I lay horizontally a layer of 3 or so smaller cucumbers before packing the rest of the jar vertically.)

TIP: It is best if the pickles are packed rather tight (requiring some muscle power to fit them in), since they soften and give way a little as they ferment, possibly floating up above the brine level. While not desirable (the tip spoils this way), it is not a large problem, since the tips can be cut off before serving once they are sufficiently fermented.

I then pack another 2 halves of garlic and another spring or two of dill near the top of the jar, again preferably packing them tightly between the pickles, so that they also stay submerged below the brine level. Finally, I add the brine (water with dissolved salt) to each jar nearly to the top (entirely covering the pickles but allowing a small space for escaping gasses to collect).

I loosely cover the jars with their lids (to allow excess gasses from fermentation to escape), and let them stand on the counter for several days to begin the fermentation process.

Storage: After about a week or so, depending on how warm it is indoors and how quickly the brine begins to turn cloudy, I place the jars in the fridge, still keeping the lids loosely covering the jars.

Shelf life: The fermented pickles keep in the fridge for several months, possibly even years. The increasingly cloudy brine and growth layer on top of the brine are harmless even it possibly unsightly. The growth layer on top can be skimmed off, and more brine added, if needed, to keep the pickles entirely submerged.

Special Dish for the Week: Chicken Liver Pate

As I slowly try introducing a little more meat into my diet, in order to see if this source of nutrients helps my energy levels and muscle fatigue a little more than the more vegetarian diet I have transitioned to over the past several years, I bring back an old favourite in this Special Dish for the Week:

Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Livers, Yam and Sauerkraut

Chicken Livers, Yam and Sauerkraut

Organ meats are apparently some of the best sources of animal protein, vitamin and mineral nutrients—and chicken livers are by far my favourite of organ meats, and only if they are accompanied by vast amounts of onions, which are also super healthful for their sulfuric content and antibacterial effects—whether eaten raw or cooked. I have tried turkey and beef livers, as well as beef kidneys, which are all much less tender and more chewy. I also tried eating a chicken heart—but perhaps it best remain at the heart of a soup. Local, organic organ meats are best, and they are said to contain good amounts of vitamin B, iron, copper and creatine, which generally help the body to produce energy for itself from nutrients and to keep the brain well oxygenated and functioning well.

Chicken Livers, Yam and Sauerkraut Dish

Chicken Livers, Yam and Sauerkraut Dish

I like to treat myself once in a while to a dinner of sautéed chicken livers and onions, before I blend the left over chicken livers into a paté. This week, I enjoy my chicken livers and onions with a yam and sauerkraut, both of which I drizzle with walnut oil—a new oil that I am trying out and rather liking: it is more flavourful than olive oil but not as potent as toasted sesame seed oil or peanut oil, all of which I also like.

Naturally, I sip a little red wine with this tasty and colourful dish.

After dinner, while sipping the rest of my red wine and letting a sliver of dark chocolate melt on my tongue, I get busy turning the left over chicken livers and onions into a paté.

Chicken Liver Pate Ingredients

Chicken Liver Pate Ingredients

The ingredients for the paté include:

  • sautéed chicken livers (or other organ meats, local and organic, if possible)
  • sautéed onion, thinly sliced
  • coconut oil (or butter, for sautéeing)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • herbes de Provence, a dash
  • finely shredded or powdered kelp (optional)
  • white wine, brandy, or any mystery spirit you have in your cupboard (optional)
  • yogurt (or sour cream)
Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate

I use my hand blender to purée all the ingredients, try a little of this fresh taste sensation, and leave the rest in the fridge overnight, to set and for the flavours to diffuse. I like this paté on its own as a snack (like you might eat yogurt, peanut butter, or chocolate almond butter straight out of the jar with a spoon), or as a meal on a whole wheat filone baguette, or even as a dip for carrots or other veggies.

Meal ideas & recipes from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner

Slowly feeling more festive, having heard my first Christmas carols a few days before, I enjoy a Sunday night dinner with good friends—feeding the taste buds and the soul—serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat like queens and kings, comprised of 4 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner Menu

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner Menu

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Upon a small toast of Apothic Dark red wine to greet my guests’ arrival, I begin serving the previously featured Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup. This time, I use green Thai curry and one of each: yam and sweet potato, instead of the suggested ingredients. The soup is purposefully a little less spicy than my usual to please the palate of a guest, and a little less sweet and colourful with the introduction of the sweet potato in place of one yam—and it still most delicious!

The hors d’hoeuvres are accompanied by “a little something from the chef” (i.e., not specified on the menu), which turns out to be Fermented Beet Juice.

Beet & Red Cabbage Hors d’Hoeuvres

Beet & Red Cabbage Hors d’Hoeuvres

The hors d’hoeuvres consist of a small serving of Beet and Red Cabbage salad served on a bed of arugula and sprouts, sprinkled with a dash of sesame oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Peanut Sauce Stir Fry main course (le plat principal) is accompanied by red lentils, prepared with a tablespoon of wakame flakes (a type of seaweed), which I add during cooking of the lentils. The lentils are pre-soaked overnight in order to induce the germination process previously explained.

The Peanut Sauce for this dish is a mildly spicy sweet and sour sensation is a “Maggified” version of a dish inspired by a personally made recipe book from some good friends. The ingredients for this sauce, all mixed and lightly heated in a pan, consist of:

  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (Adams 100% Natural)
  • 1/3 cup of water (or more, for desired consistency)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 red Thai chili pepper (or more, for desired spiciness)

For the stir fry, I shred, dice and slice the following ingredients:

  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • carrot, thinly sliced
  • red and orange peppers, diced
  • green onions, chopped
  • pre-cooked chicken, shredded
  • coconut oil
  • cilantro, on the side for garnish
Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Just before serving le plat principal, I combine the separately heated stir fry ingredients and the Peanut Sauce. I serve the Peanut Sauce Stir Fry together with the wakame lentils, and trying this dish for the first time, it is a tasty success! Next time, though, I think I might try bigger chicken chunks rather than shredding the chicken, for more some defined texture to the dish—although the chunkiness of the peanut butter assists this goal too.

For dessert, I serve little dollops of Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed, which I recently re-discovered and have been experimenting with varying its flavours and textures.

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book, the “Food and Love” book, from Whole Foods Market, from “The Wahls Protocol” book, and from the Budwig Diet.

Special Dish for the Week: Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad

I make a surprisingly delicious discovery at this year’s downtown farmers market, which has been supplying my beet, greens, sprout, egg, and sauerkraut needs over the summer—I find red sauerkraut, made with 1/2 white and 1/2 red cabbage—and it is delicious and ever so colourful in this salad that I “cook up”:

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad 

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Ingredients

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Ingredients

Simply delicious, nutritious, and delightful in colour and texture, into this salad I mix the following ingredients:

  • red sauerkraut (it works just as well with typical white sauerkraut)
    • Sauerkraut is not to contain vinegar, only salt—and possibly herbs—for the cabbage to ferment in its own microbes rather than to pickle in vinegar
  • carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • cilantro, finely chopped
  • basil, shredded
  • olive oil
  • herbes de Provence or other herbs
  • black pepper

I mix by hand all these ingredients, and enjoy the salad on its own as a snack, or as a side-dish to a meal, or as an ingredient for a super salad. A small glass of rosé wine pairs very well with this salad.

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Dish

Red Sauerkraut and Carrot Salad Dish

Special Dish for the Week: Algerian Chicken Dinner

After several out-of-town family visitors, and a long and slow recovery from various computer meltdowns, I enjoy a Friday night dinner with good friends—feeding the taste buds and the soul—serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat like queens, comprised of 4 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Algerian Chicken

Algerian Chicken Dinner Menu

Algerian Chicken Dinner Menu

Fig and Peppercorn Soup with Yam

Fig and Peppercorn Soup with Yam

Upon my guests’ arrival, I begin serving the previously featured Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup. This time, I introduce a couple of twists. In place of the cream, I use coconut milk, and I add a yam, which thickens the soup and brings to the soup more of an orangey colour. Both of these additions sweeten the soup considerably, particularly appreciated by those with a sweet tooth!

The hors d’hoeuvres are accompanied by “a little something from the chef” (i.e., not specified on the menu), which turns out to be pickled asparagus that surprises even the uninitiated chef with its texture and flavour. It tastes just like a pickle! The pickled asparagus comes from the gift basket that the chef had been prized at the Kayaking to InspireHealth event.

The hors d’hoeuvres consist of two small servings of salads served on a bed of arugula and sprouts, sprinkled with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. One of the salads is a Beet and Red Cabbage sensation, and the other a Red Sauerkraut and Carrot delight.

Beet & Red Cabbage and Red Sauerkraut & Carrot Hors d'Hoeuvres

Beet & Red Cabbage and Red Sauerkraut & Carrot Hors d’Hoeuvres

Algerian Chicken and Quinoa with Wakame

Algerian Chicken and Quinoa with Wakame

The Algerian Chicken main course (le plat principal) is accompanied by tri-coloured quinoa, prepared with a tablespoon of wakame flakes (a type of seaweed), which I add during cooking of the quinoa.

The quinoa is pre-soaked overnight in order to induce the germination process, which alters the chemical properties of several substances in grains and legumes that otherwise contribute to increased inflammation and block the absorption of minerals.

The Algerian Chicken dish is very colourful, flavourful, a little bit spicey, and nutrient-rich, consisting of the following ingredients (selected to be organic, where possible, and the chicken to be unmedicated and free range, when organic is not available or is cost-prohibitive).

The ingredients for this dish comprise:

Algerian Chicken Dish in Progress

Algerian Chicken Dish in Progress

  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
    • Tip: Mince garlic and let sit for 15 minutes to allow sulfur to stabilize.
  • 3 chicken thighs, cooked in water (making broth to add to this dish), de-skinned, de-boned, and shredded
  • 1 medium can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (alternate: 2 cups sliced leeks)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (from cooking the chicken thighs)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (alternate: red Thai chili pepper)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp wakame flakes (alternate: 1 tsp kelp powder)
  • 1 zucchini, diced (alternate: 4 cups green beans or asparagus)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble

For dessert, one guest shares her delicious apple crisp, and for beverages, one guest supplies the requisite red wine, while the chef serves organic sparkling cranberry juice (also from the gift basket that the chef had been prized at the Kayaking to InspireHealth event).

A feast for the queens!

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Queens

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Queens

Meal ideas & recipes from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Fermented Beet Juice

This week’s Special Dish for the Week combines the benefits of two of nature’s culinary marvels: fermentation and beets—in a drink that I remember running away from as a child, but now, I find myself enjoying even:

Fermented Beet Juice

Fermented Beet Juice

Fermented Beet Juice

Fermented beet juice—also known as sour beet juice, or beet kvass—is made by a process called lactic acid fermentation—as opposed to ethanol (alcohol) fermentation and yeast or mold fermentation. The process is anaerobic (not using oxygen), and requires a certain type of bacteria to get going and to generate desired results.

Although perhaps sounding highly technical, the preparation process and ingredients are very simple!

And despite the rather strong but not unpleasant aroma, the juice is tasty—if a bit on the salty side!

The ingredients—and the reasons for selecting them just so—include:

  • 3 medium beets*, washed but not scrubbed or peeled—to maintain the needed starter bacteria
    * beets can be red, yellow, white, or a mélange of colours, a.k.a. rainbow beets
  • 1/2-1 tbsp sea salt—to keep the fermentation to the lactic acid type, to help pull out the juice out of the beets, and to add additional minerals
  • 1 cup of freshly boiled water—to quickly dissolve the salt
  • 5 cups of room temperature boiled water—to ensure that beets don’t cook and that enzymes and bacteria don’t get wiped out or don’t get contaminated with other organisms potentially in tap water (depending on the tap water source and treatment)
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (optional)—for added flavour and nutrients
  • spices (optional)—for added flavour and nutrients—a cardamom pod, a knob of ginger, a star anise, or a clove, to be tried in future batches
Beets for Fermenting

Beets for Fermenting

Various recipes exist for how to cut, store, and start the fermentation process of the beets. Here is my way:

  1. Cut each beet into 8 “cubes”.
  2. Mix sea salt and 1 cup of freshly boiled water in a clean 2 L wide-mouth glass container.
  3. Add a few icecubes to cool down the brine (now salty water).
  4. Add 4 cups of room temperature boiled water to further cool down the brine.
  5. Place the beet cubes in the brine.
  6. Add the optional garlic and/or other spices.
  7. Add final cup of water to top up the contents up to 1/2 inch below the top of the glass container.
  8. Cover the glass container with a small plate.
  9. Place the glass container on the counter in a spot out of direct sunlight.
  10. And let it do its thing for 3-7 days*—it seems to do just fine to take a few peeks under the plate to ensure no moldy film is developing and that the smell is right! Sour!
    * If fermenting the beets for more than 3 days, place the fermenting juice in the fridge after 3 days to slow down fermentation and other bacterial growth.
  11. Strain and funnel the fermented juice into preferably screw cap dark bottles from wine, vinegar or olive oil, to make it easier—and more fancy—to pour each serving.
  12. Place the fermented juice in the fridge.
  13. Enjoy 1/2 cup (125 mL) twice to 3 times per day over about an hour each time to slowly absorb the live and healthful goodness.
  14. Compost the fermented beets, or some suggest that they too can be enjoyed on their own or in a salad (see Bonus Project in Source #4).

So, what’s so good about fermented foods, and beets in particular?

Fermented foods:

Fermented Foods

Fermented Foods

Fermented beet juice:

  • Fermented beet juice alkalises the blood, which is beneficial for many health issues.
  • It cleanses the liver.
  • And it detoxifies and protects healthy cells from radiation.

Beets:

  • Beets are high in betacyanin, which can dramatically increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood, starve cancerous tumors and hinder cell division.
  • They are a great source of healthy nitrates that convert during digestion to nitrites and nitric oxides, which, in turn, widen the arteries, increase the oxygen content of the blood, and reduce blood pressure.
  • Beets also help increase one’s energy by helping the energy-producing mitochondria in the cells operate more efficiently and by supplying the body with a healthy energy-dense carbohydrate source.
Rainbow Beets

Rainbow Beets

I thoroughly look forward to incorporating in my meals more fermented foods, such as fermented beet juice, sauerkraut, brined pickles, miso, kefir, yogurt—and wine, naturally!

And thus getting back to my roots, I also plan to enjoy all types of beet dishes, such as beet salads, barszcz (beet broth), beet greens soups, cooked beets, beet dips, and beet juices: fermented and pressed.

Fortunately for my ethnic background, I already love most of these foods!

 

And if one must, then cheers to “beeting cancer”, one sip and mouthful at a time!

Sources & Resources:

  1. The Writer’s Parents and their curative Polish cuisine knowledge
  2. http://www.integrativecanceranswers.com/side-effects-of-radiation-natural-protection-from-fermented-foods/
  3. http://hiddenpondllc.com/beet-kvass
  4. http://sofakingnextlevel.com/2014/01/28/beet-kvass-nbd/ – recipe ideas
  5. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/benefits-beet-juice
  6. http://www.curejoy.com/content/want-to-build-up-endurance-boost-your-energy-and-increase-your-speed-24-more-reasons-to-eat-beetroot/
  7. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49