Monday, July 30, 2012

The Tuesday Kitchen (A week late)

In spite of the fact that my blogging end of the new endeavor is...less than consistent, the actual meal-makeing is advancing rapidly towards the habitual stage, albeit not yet with the degree of excellence I aspire to.

Last week's family time around the table was augmented on Tuesday night with family friends.

Lessons learned? Lessons I heard before, but was obliged to learn the hard way nevertheless.  Don't get me wrong; the company was of the best kind and the fellowship blessed, and that makes all the difference.

I simply didn't maintain the stress-free environment I could wish to.  In this case, more preparation time was we learned from Chef Francis Foucachon at the Food Conference.

The food itself, I am told, left little wanting.  This was largely due to the fact that I "cheated" by having Daddy do the grilling (another genius suggestion from Chef Foucachon), and of course everyone else helping get the other food on the table.
The finished product?

Grilled Caprese Chicken with Salad (again the lime cilantro dressing served us well) and Zucchini "hotdish" and green beens again as sides (they are in season!).
Our homemade whole wheat bread rounded off the meal and Blueberry Fool (which was consumed so promptly that it escaped the camera) sweetened our palates as dessert.  I made a double recipe and decided that I will make more of the cream mixture and less blueberry next time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guess What's in Season?

Actually, Mama was harvesting and cleaning some broccoli one morning and suggested we make something with our Venison Butterfly Steaks for supper. We attempted an Asian-style dish and feasted sumptuously on mounds of steaming savory broccoli and thin tender slices of beef (excuse me; venison).
We've included the recipe this time fully confident you will find it scrumptious!
Thaw 3lbs. of venison and slice into 2 inch pieces, 1/8 inch thick across the grain. Add 3 T. soy sauce and refrigerate at least an hour. Cut 2 1/2 lbs. of broccoli in bite size pieces and set aside.
Thaw 3/4 cup chicken stock (we save chicken drippings in the freezer every time we cook a whole chicken) and add 2 T. Worcestershire Sauce, 2 T. Rice Vinegar, 1 T. Sesame Oil, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 4 t. cornstarch.
In another small bowl combine 1 head (or 12 medium cloves) pressed garlic, 2 T. minced fresh ginger (requires approximately a two-inch root), and 2 t. sesame oil.
Heat 2 large skillets with 2 t. oil in each till hot and rippling. Put 1/4 of the meat in each skillet and cook for one minute without stirring, then stir and cook an additional one to two minutes till it is barely cooked through. This sears the meat retaining moisture and keeping it tender. Set this meat aside and repeat with the remaining half.
Add a bit more oil, heat again and cook half your broccoli in each skillet for 30 seconds. Add about a third cup water, cover pan and cook an additional two - three minutes turning broccoli now and then to make sure it is cooking evenly. Push broccoli to sides of pan and saute ginger/garlic mixture for about a minute in the center stirring occasionally and then mix with broccoli. Whisk your sauce mixture and pour over each half of the broccoli. Toss in the venison and cook a few more minutes to thicken sauce. Serve piping hot with brown rice. :o)

Flowers Em picked to grace the table:
An additional Zucchini Hot Dish (translate casserole) and Dilly Macaroni Salad for sides:

We were thankful for Mr. M's and Grandpa and Grandma H's company. Mr. M. comes all the way from England so we enjoyed our annual update on his life and his insightful perspective on the spiritual/political state of Europe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From the Lenz Family Kitchen...

Our family is glad to be home after a week-long trip to San Antonio, Texas for Vision Forum's Reformation of Food and Family Conference.  The event was wonderful on so many levels, and I think all the Lenz's came home stuffed with "food for thought."  One of my intentions following the lessons learned there is to post weekly food creations I contribute to the family diet.  The primary purpose will be to keep a record of successes, failures, discoveries and old favorites.

Many friends and customers have asked our family to explain the method we have for maintaining a healthy diet.  In some ways, we are not the best people to ask because we are spoiled.

Living on a farm means the fresh clean ingredients for any meal are literally at our fingertips.  Watching families we know source good food from multiple local farmers while we grow it a short walk from the back door has often forced me to question whether I would be as diligent and consistent about my food sources if I didn't live on a farm run on principles of health and land stewardship.

Ultimately, I believe an attitude of gratefulness for whatever God chooses to give us for food is essential.  At the same time, being purposeful about the food we eat is, as I am learning, an act of obedience and worship to our Creator and should not be taken lightly.

Our method?  The inspiration for most meals comes from whatever is in the garden and freezer.  Meal planning is established around a few seasonal ingredients on a daily or weekly basis.

This week we had cabbage and we were tired of cole slaw.  So I made big salads.  A Six Arrows Farm chicken went into the crock pot Tuesday morning and Daddy brought home a few ingredients we don't grow, like a lime and an avocado.

I tried a new dressing...Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, a recipe site we love.

Next time I will be adding more lime a bit more pepper than the recipe calls for and cayenne pepper (something we were out of at the time.)  It was very good, even so, and we don't have any leftovers!

An excellent piece of advice from Chef Francis Foucachon at the conference concerning cooking was to be prepared ahead of time for a meal.  This meal was not even planned until noon of the same day.  My "excuse" for being less than prepared was the fact that we arrived home from the Food Conference about 1:30 Tuesday morning.  Things missing, in retrospect, were a little red onion and black beans (I had them and forgot until we were past the first few bites.)  :)

After clean up Tuesday night, I mixed up a batch of a family favorite, baked oatmeal, to have for breakfast Wednesday morning.  I love the recipe because of the make-ahead style.  Because I put it together the night before, I can stumble into the kitchen half-awake and turn the oven on and breakfast is ready about fifty minutes later.  Ingredients in baked oatmeal are also inspired by whatever we have in the house.  Some favorite additions are coconut, raisins, apples, walnuts or almonds, and dried dates.  This time we ate it with delicious Apricot syrup Aubrey canned last fall.