Friday, April 16, 2010

In the Kitchen

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Throughout my ordeal with various health issues, there has been one thing I was unwilling to give up. Cooking for my family.

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It’s a non-negotiable for me right now. It’s therapy. Yes, even if I must have a stool and can only use one arm at times.

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I wouldn’t feel good about feeding my family convenient processed foods. Especially in light of my own health issues.

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So, I cook for us. Everyday. It’s a good thing we like simple food. We know food doesn’t have to be fancy to taste good.

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We’re true southerners. We like our fried fish (I only fry occasionally). We like our biscuits. We like our grits and scrambled eggs.

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Comfort food. I’ve learned to cook in a healthier way. I use organic coconut oil for frying and for shortening. I use real cream.

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Fresh, organic, local (for the most part) produce and meat. No pesticides. No preservatives. No unnatural ingredients.

It just tastes better. And it makes me feel better. Seriously. I feel healthier when I eat this way. All of those additives we consumed for years wreaked havoc on my digestive system. They’re poison, I tell you. Eating this way, I’m virtually cured of my Crohn’s disease. (Do not click if you are faint of heart. Graphic pictures are included in the description.)

And I feel really good about nourishing my family.

Here’s a simple, easy recipe that’s versatile, and it’s sure to get even the most finicky of eaters to eat their veggies.


Cheeseburger and Veggie Bake

3 medium potatoes

1 head of cauliflower or broccoli

1 medium onion

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Garlic, salt, and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, add coarsely chopped onion, ground beef, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. (You can use a couple cloves of finely chopped garlic, or a couple tsp. of powdered garlic. In this recipe I like to use powdered because the fresh garlic burns easily. I use about 2 tsp. of  sea salt and 1 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper.) Cook over medium-high heat, crumbling the ground beef as it cooks, until the onions are translucent and the meat is no longer pink. Set aside. In a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish, layer thinly sliced potatoes (scrub ‘em good and don’t worry about peeling them. The peel is good for you!), coarsely chopped cauliflower on top of the potatoes, and the ground beef mixture over the top of everything else. (Between the layers of vegetables, I also like to add a little salt and pepper.) Now, pour heavy cream evenly over the top of everything. I usually don’t measure, just eye-ball it. Can you ever have too much cream? I think not. And top with parmesan cheese (sometimes I use regular cheddar cheese, it just depends on what I have on hand.) Cover with foil (or a LARGE lidded casserole dish works here) and cook at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Delish! Even my picky eaters (my husband and Sara Lynn) eat this meal up with delight.

You can see pictures of the layering process and finished dish in the third row of pictures above. I served it with freshly snapped green beans on the side. (Do you recognize my newly found soup bowl? Perfect for serving this meal! We southerners love our food served up in a bowl. Yum!)

And to prove the versatility of this dish, I served it later in the week with potatoes, yellow squash, and chicken breast. You don’t even have to cook the chicken first. Just layer the raw breasts (I used 3) on top, cover, and cook the same way. (Pictures above as well.) I also substituted mozzarella cheese for a change. There are no rules here. You can’t go wrong with garlic, onions, cream, and cheese. And for those rare times that I have no cream in the fridge, I just substitute about a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  It still turns out fabulously.

Is there anything easier than a one dish meal? Gotta love it.

One more thing, I simply must share a recipe I found from GNOWFGLINS for Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits. They are nothing short of amazing. And because all southerners know that biscuits are supposed to be round, that’s how I made mine. Pictures in the 6th row above. (All pictures can be clicked to view a larger image.)


Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Hello Melissa! I hope you're having a better day today with less pain. I really like those bowls with handles that you bought recently...they remind me of something similar I had back in the 70's...very earthy and handy. I think we're heading into town today so if I can find Blueberries I'm going to make your muffins this weekend and this Cheeseburger and Veggie Bake sounds like something my hubby and I would both like....thanks for sharing the recipe! Have a wonderful day and weekend! Maura


Crohn's?! Our friend is still battling that. He was a professional football player and this really twisted him down to size. My brother has suffered with a milder ailment called colitis. Glad you're on the mend.

Ann said...

Your 'foodie' pictures look great!

Graham had colitis, he has had 'the operation' it was so bad, so I know what you are talking about.

Love what your DH got for you, very loving of him:>)

Melissa said...

Maura, I did feel a little better yesterday. My husband and I went out to dinner... without the little ones! It was a special night. :)

Maybelline, unfortunately, I do have Crohn's. But I've been so much healthier since I started eating organic. I also cut out white flour and white sugar. I believe that's what made the biggest difference for me. I hope your friend and your brother are able to find relief, too.

Ann, it's always good to see you here! I hope Graham is doing much better these days. I've heard what a difficult surgery that is. And yes, my husband is VERY good to me!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Add my DH to the Crohn's list. After a lifetime of digestive ailments, he was finally diagnosed at age 50! Between food allergies he has, and his Crohn's he has a terrible time getting enough nutrition from his food. His ND believes our wholesome homegrown food has kept him from being sicker all these years.

So glad you are getting some relief!

Melissa said...

So sorry that your husband suffers with this terrible disease. It is such a strange illness, to feel allergic to so much of the food you eat. Miserable. I CANNOT IMAGINE going that long undiagnosed! I'm sure that the high-quailty food you all produce was absolutely the reason he wasn't any sicker. This is the second year we'll have a vegetable garden, we just purchased 18 chicks, and hope to raise livestock some day. The wisdom you share on your blog is invaluable to me.

A turning point for me was reading the book Nourishing Traditions. I find I can eat many more foods now without having flare-ups. I soak my grains, and use organic where possible. Preparing foods the traditional way has changed my life! Just before changing my diet, I spent 5 days in the hospital and received 4 1/2 units of blood. I was determined to never have that happen again, if I could help it. I'm happy to report that I haven't had to be admitted to the hospital (due to Crohn's) since that awful time. I take vitamins daily now. Calcium and B vitamins are especially important for me, as I am now having trouble with my bones due to the lack of absorption. I hope your DH is able to avoid that.

I appreciate you comment today!