Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pearled Barley Lager Summer Stew

Most anything I make is based on availability and craving. The other day soup sounded really good so I threw a bunch of stuff we had on hand into a pot and called it stew. A delicious and hearty vegan-y stew!

I had frozen some leftover vegetable stock in its container before we left for Denver because I made one of those recipes that just calls for 2-4 tablespoons of broth. Really?

A special thing about this recipe is it starts off as a soup but evolves into a stew, thanks to the pearled barley. I bought some pearled barley a few months ago and have been at a loss for what and how to use it. I see on instagram some use it in replacement of rice. The one time I cooked it by itself, I was unimpressed and the bag has sat in the pantry ever since. Soup provides a great solution for transporting almost any grain out of your pantry. I may even buy it again because it was delicious in this soup!

Make use of the bounty of produce available at your farmer's markets to create a 'local' variation of this. I've seen a lot of zucchini and carrots teeming the tables at Portland's PSU farmer's market.

My husband took notice that something yummy in this reminded him of meat - in the texture sense - we finally deduced that it was the plumped up sun-dried tomatoes.

One of the other special ingredients in this is a black lager. I threw in the lager last minute because we had it and I thought it would be interesting. The lager provided a great back drop to the stew's depth of flavor without overwhelming the whole pot. Perfect. Stuff like this will happen when you take a look in the fridge for that one other ingredient you could add. I remember years ago making Guinness cakes and Guinness stew so why not a lager stew? I think a dark stout would also work. Let us know what local brews you used.

I made this on Saturday and we just finished up the last bowls for lunch today.  This stew will only graduate in flavor as the days go on.  Feel free to freeze it if you don't want to eat stew constantly for a few days. If you use ball jars, make sure you leave about an 1" of space at the top to avoid a broken jar and wasted soup - in your freezer.

  •     1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  •     1 cup red/white onion, chopped
  •     6-7 garlic cloves, minced
  •     1 1/2 cups pearled barley, rinsed in a colander
  •     12 cups vegetable broth OR (4 cups vegetable broth + 8 cups boiling water + 3 vegetable bullion cubes)
  •     1 - 12oz bottle of dark lager (I used Baba Black Lager)
  •     5 stalks celery, chopped
  •     3 large carrots, chopped
  •     1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
  •     6 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  •     1 - 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for an hour, then thinly chopped
  •     1 cup cilantro, chopped
  •     1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  •     1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  •     sriracha or cayenne pepper to taste
  •     ground pepper to taste

In a stock pot, heat up the olive oil on medium heat and toss in the onion and garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes, turning down the heat if necessary.
Add rinsed pearled barley and saute another 2 minutes.
Now add vegetable broth and dark lager, bring to a boil.
Add remaining ingredients, turn down heat to a simmer and simmer for about an hour.

Garnish with some additional fresh cilantro and enjoy with large pint!

Michelle Felt
Michelle is a graduate of the Raw Gourmet Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, she has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, where the produce is crazy fresh abundant and the culture is as thick as the Midwest’s humidity. She loves raw foods and advocates for eating with realism and relish. "Approach each eating experience as an opportunity to nourish your body, eating the best you can, in the moment."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How To Find Safe and Nutritious Raw Milk

Raw milk has become a very hot topic in Oregon this spring!  Even though the publicity was started because several people became ill, demand is still increasing as others become aware of this traditional food and its health benefits.

Raw milk farmers in Oregon are very limited in the amount we can produce so when looking for raw milk you may have to call/visit a number of farms before you can find availability.  In our state, raw milk is not regulated by the government, therefore the consumer must be very discerning.  I'm suggesting the following set of guidelines as a tool for all you new-to-raw-milk drinkers who are contemplating adding this wonderful food to your family's diet.

My girls LOVE their raw milk!!

Buying Raw Milk Locally If a farmer follows the proper procedures to produce safe, clean, and nutritious raw milk, it is very easy to do so every time.  When looking for a farm to purchase raw milk from, I recommend the consumer do the following:

1. Ask for a tour. If a farmer won’t let you tour their property then I would not buy milk from them. When you meet the farmer they should be open to sharing their practices and answering all your questions. Do you trust this person, what they say and do? Ask for references of several customer’s names and numbers who’ve been getting milk from the farmer for some time and call the customers.

 2. Look at the cows out in the pasture.  Are the cows on tall (at least 4") green grass vs. dirt? Are the cows clean, is the feeding area clean, is the barn clean, how does the place smell? How many cows are on the property vs. the acres of grass?  Are the cows rotated to fresh pasture daily?  Every 2 or 3 days?  Does the farmer have access to irrigation so the cows are on fast-growing grass for 9 months of the year, or is the grass gone by July, meaning the cows are truly grass-fed only 3-4 months of the year? Tall grass pasture keeps the cows cleaner and therefore the milk safer to produce.

3.  What does the farmer feed the cows, in addition to pasture?  The most nutritious and safest milk comes from grass fed cows on tall, green pasture.  These cows should be supplemented with some kind of grain, perhaps rolled barley or oats.  They need minerals daily and free choice of salt.  Alfalfa and grass hay are the best hay choices if they must supplement or if it's winter and pasture is not available. 

4. Look at the milking area.  Is it clean? A dirt floor in a barn can be a clean place to milk, look to see if it is free of manure and bedding.  How is the milking equipment cleaned? (vinegar/water rinse, hot soapy water rinse, bleach/water rinse).  And how are the milk jars sanitized? Where is the milk handled and is that area clean?  How is the milk chilled? Is it in an ice bath or just placed in a freezer or fridge (cools down much slower which could allow for illness causing bacteria to grow)

5.  Testing.  How often is the milk tested for bacteria? Cows should be tested daily to weekly with the California Mastitis Test and at least monthly milk samples should be sent to a lab for cultures. Ask to see the written results of lab tests.

6. Ask if they use organic and/or sustainable farm practices.  No hormones; occasional antibiotics only when necessary, 50% or more of the feed coming right off the farm.  Regular vaccinations should be used following an organic dairy plan. 

Overall, be an informed consumer. Be confident in the choice to drink raw milk so you can educate your friends and family who will ask how you can be sure it’s safe. If you follow these procedures then you will be assured the milk you bring home is safe to drink. Once you bring your milk home make sure it’s kept covered in its container and refrigerated to 37-40 degrees F.
Oregon law allows raw milk sales on the farm only, and only if you are milking fewer than 3 cows or nine goats.  With so few cows I am able to look them over thoroughly twice daily to be able to be confident in their good health.  I have the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the animal and the equipment because there are no industrialized or huge automated pieces of machinery that might fail.  Food produced by hand on such a small scale is very safe if you have an educated farmer who’s passionate about high quality.  If profit takes priority over quality, then the quality suffers.  Get to know your farmer and where their values lie in regard to this topic.

Consumers of raw milk in Oregon also have the responsibility to educate themselves on the high costs involved with producing hand crafted food on a small scale.  If raw milk dairies are following the proper procedures for feeding and handling the cows and the milk, they are lucky if they cover the costs of production.  It is a very difficult lifestyle to own dairy cows on this small scale.  If you plan on enjoying the remarkable taste and health benefits of raw milk, plan on paying what it’s worth.

Milk mustaches rawk!!

Editor's Note: Charlotte is now serving on the Executive Advisory Committee for the newly formed Raw Milk Institute alongside Sally Fallon Morell, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and several other excellent champions of real food. It's been troubling to watch the news of controversial raw milk issues in Oregon from so far away, but I'm grateful to know that farmers like Charlotte are more committed than ever to educating consumers and producers and protecting the rights of the public to access safe, clean, raw milk.

Charlotte Smith
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which are also teeming with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3 and a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Real Food Round Up June 2012

Hello, friends!

Just popping in to post a little Sustainable Food for Thought Real Food Round Up... It's mostly an excuse to share a few of my favorite recent reads and to say hello to those of you I haven't chatted with in a while. I miss the food group gals! Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the coming summer season.

If you're looking for a few interesting reads, take a peek:

City Gardener on the Prairies from Down the Rabbit Hole We Go...
"Before I got into the non-profit activist work that I am currently involved in (Friends of Medicare & Public Interest Alberta), I thought that I would champion for food security, which has long been one of my passions.  I realized many years ago that you could be poor on a farm, but not go hungry, whereas you could be poor and hungry in the city.  The difference is that on a farm you generally have the resources and access to land, pasture, sheds, etc. to raise and store your own food.  Also, I think that the rural tradition of canning and freezing your own produce, and hunting or raising your own meat, has outlasted that of the city dweller's."
Alison writes about the satisfaction she's felt when gardening and preserving her own food and talks about the dreams she has for projects bigger than her city lot. See her great list of books, video clips, and website resources.

With the McItaly, did McDonalds Truly Go Local? from
"In Italy, home of the Slow Food movement, the new sandwiches were named Adagio and Vivace (names that Marchesi says represent an integration of two competing philosophies: slow and fast). They were both made with some local and traditional products, such as eggplant, spinach, and the Italian cheese ricotta salata. Several of the products were DOP certified, an acronym that stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, a widely recognized certification of regional authenticity."
Where's the line between commendable efforts and brash greenwashing?

Over on my blog of travel tales, I've been sharing stories Northern Italy's food culture in my Traditions of the Land series:
It's impressive to learn about the centuries of craft that have been fine tuned and preserved and carried on for generations. One of my absolute favorite visits was to the Spigaroli Family's gorgeous rural property outside of Parma, Italy (Part I). Their kitchen gardens were full of peacocks and fresh gorgeous.

Ecstatic Raw Chocolate from Sarah at My New Roots
"This chocolate is the real deal. It melts in the mouth, it’s rich and satisfying, and has a deep, dark aroma that can only be described as divine. Surprisingly, it only contains three basic ingredients, and is gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and raw. Yup, you’re welcome."
I love that this story is all about how Sarah and her new friend Elenore were brought together through the internet and eventually spent spent happy hours together in the kitchen sharing their love of beautiful, delicious food...

Sharing is Contagious from the Himalayan Institute
"...joining or starting a network is only half the fun. Meeting up and sharing your gifts is what truly inspires and connects us. Ho herself was encouraged to start LA Food Swap after watching a video on Cooking Up A Story about the Portland-based food swap group, PDX Swappers. 'One by one we inspire each other,' she says, a sentiment clearly shared by scores of others who continue to use Facebook, Twitter, and other websites to promote their own meetups. "
A short little piece lauding the beauty of swapping resources, ideas, and knowledge with friends and neighbors...

And on that note, I'll leave you with a reminder that the next PDX Food Swap is coming up on June 17th. Hope those of you nearby in Oregon are able to attend! I'll be looking forward to the day when I can return and swap again...


Sustainable Food for Thought Co-Founder & Editor
Landscape Architect & Kitchen Tinkerer
Bethany's spending 2012 fulfilling a crazy dream of traveling the world with her husband, Ted, and recounting adventures at She's asked some terrific friends and writers to continue sharing their real life, real food encouragements and experiences on Sustainable Food for Thought while away from home and kitchen comforts. Enjoy!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...