But in almost every part of the world, May Day is recognized as a day celebrating the resilience of working class women and men as International Workers' Day. In keeping with that tradition and with the ethic of community acupuncture to provide affordable care for all people, Jessica Feltz at The Turning Point Acupuncture here in Frederick, MD will join the network of community acupuncture clinics around the U.S. and the world offering FREE ACUPUNCTURE open to everyone on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.
To accommodate as many people as possible, Ms. Feltz is offering both morning and afternoon/evening appointments throughout the day (usually the clinic is only open in the afternoon/evenings on Tuesdays). If you don't live in our neck of the woods, please check out the POCA website to find a community acupuncture clinic near you and see if they will be participating too! If you've been on the fence about trying acupuncture, this is your best chance to give it a shot…. or needle (smile).
The sessions are free on May Day, but you must call ahead to reserve your recliner! Here are the details for The Turning Point Acupuncture's May 1st event:
I know winter is the worst season for buying tomatoes. Living in Maryland, we know for certain they're not local or flavorful this time of year — too often they're firm to the point of being hard though they look pretty enough.
But there is a way to "make lemonade" from these lemons of a tomato, to use their flaw (hardness) as a strength by putting them to work as edible containers for a flavorful filling; and to concentrate and sweeten what small flavor they might have by roasting. The result is an inexpensive and utterly delicious meal for a family of four. When tomatoes go on sale for around $1.99/lb. this time of year, this meal comes together for about $5 (and that's using organic ground beef, even less if using regular ground beef) since you only use a half-pound of meat.
Since the ground beef we use is pre-packaged in 1 pound packages (from Costco), I usually brown the whole pound, and freeze or refrigerate half the cooked meat for another meal. Pre-cooked ground meat is a great freezer staple to make quick work of weekday meal planning. Throw it into a pasta sauce with olives or mushrooms for a quick bolognese, mix it with tofu and peas in a chili garlic sauce for 30-minute Spicy Mapo Tofu over rice, or scramble with eggs and your favorite greens (we love watercress or spinach) and fry as a fritatta. But I digress...
First the ground beef is browned with aromatics (onions and garlic) and herbs. Next the pan is deglazed with broth or water which is then added to the roasting pan, so maximum flavor is extracted from a mere half-pound of ground beef! When the beef is mixed with cooked rice and dried fruit, you have a versatile filling that is equally good stuffed in chayote squash, zucchini, and eggplants as in tomatoes. Whichever veg you use, be sure to have lots of bread to sop up the tasty sauce!
ROASTED STUFFED TOMATOES
For the tomato shells:
8 medium tomatoes
Cut off top ¼ of each tomato and keep aside. Line a large plate with paper towels.
With a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds and insides of the tomatoes. Place each tomato upside down on the paper towels to drain. Chop up the tomato innards and keep for the sauce.
2 TBL olive oil
½ medium onion, finely diced
3-6 cloves garlic
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
¼ -½ cup raisins or currants
4 cups cooked cold rice
1 cup broth or water
3 TBL olive oil
Last Saturday we woke up to an expected high temperature of 60F degrees and sunny, blue skies. So we decided to take advantage of the unseasonable weather, put the home renovations on hold, and headed out for a walk and picnic lunch. Fortunately, I had been forced to bake a sourdough bread the night before, so we threw half a loaf together with some cheeses, cold cuts, and roasted tomatoes and headed for the Trail. That's the Appalachian Trail, by the way, which is about a 10 minute drive from our house. This was our picnic view from the base of the original Washington Monument (did you know there was more than one?!) on South Mountain, which straddles Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland, and over which the Appalachian Trail traverses. The town of Boonsboro lies just beyond the treeline, and in the distance are hills in Pennsylvania (to the right) and West Virginia (to the left).
And this is the view of our serendipitous picnic.
One of the truths of caring for a sourdough starter is that it does force you to innovate. With regular feedings, you end up with use-it-lose-it-or-give-it-away sourdough every 4-5 days. This is where I was last Friday, while in the midst of home projects that did not allow for the careful timing of no-knead sourdough bread or for testing the bookmarked and drool-stained new recipes for sourdough pancakes or crumpets.
What I wanted was something relatively quick and a recipe I was already knew — so I adapted the method for the sourdough multi-grain loaf and substituted all bread flour and kalamata olives. Without too much thought or planning — Voila! a nice olive bread just waiting for an occasion.
We liked this bread so much that I will probably make another loaf this week when it's time to feed the starter again. A subtle tang from the sourdough, and plenty of savoriness from the tapenade, olives and olive oil — this bread is an olive-lover's dream. Alone with cheeses and/or cold cuts, or to sop up a savory stew or soup, this is a loaf that will turn any occasion into an event!
By the way, here's what the first Monument dedicated to our first president looks like — it was erected by the townsfolk of nearby Boonsboro in 1827, and is just a couple hundred feet off the Appalachian Trail. We actually didn't think about it on Saturday, but last weekend was Presidents' Day weekend, commemorating the birthdays of our first president, George Washington, as well as our sixteenth, Abraham Lincoln.
Bake some bread — you'll be prepared for anything! (Yes, we're talking to YOU!)
Makes one 2½-lb. loaf
Before you begin, you will need a sourdough starter. If you choose to make a starter from scratch, it may take 7-10 days before it is ready to use so plan ahead. If you already have a starter, this is a good way to use even a groggy starter or some you are ready to cast off. The sourdough lends more flavor than leavening since active dry yeast is also included.
½ cup sourdough starter
½ cup lukewarm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 TBL olive oil
3 TBL olive tapenade (optional, but highly recommended)
(if using, taste for saltiness and decide whether to include sea salt with dry ingredients)
In a large mixing bowl, stir together well.
250g bread, aka strong, flour (Typ 500)
½ tsp sea salt (optional, may not need if using tapenade)
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
In a separate bowl, mix well to combine, and add to sourdough. Attach dough hook, and knead for 7-9 minutes. Or knead by hand for 10-12 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. If kneading by hand, the dough may become stickier as you knead so sprinkle board and top of dough with more flour if it becomes unworkable. By the end of the kneading time, I did find the dough a little tacky but not clinging to my fingers.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic, or a shower cap. Set in warm, draft-free place for first rise, about 2 hours, or until about double in size.
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, about 100g
Punch down the dough and gently knead to stretch. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Gently flatten dough into a large rectangle. Add half the olives, fold dough over and flatten out again. Add remaining olives and fold dough over. Gently knead to distribute olives.
Allow dough to proof, about 2 hours, or until you can press the dough and the imprint does not immediately spring back.
About 15 minutes before the dough will be ready, pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.
Remove cover, and score dough, if desired. Bake on middle rack of oven for 40-50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190F/88C, or the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles.
Remove from oven and brush with olive oil. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.
More sourdough bread recipes:
No-Knead Sourdough Boule
Sourdough Multi-grain Bread
New York-style Light Rye
After a long hiatus, I'm finally baking bread again. This is actually the second loaf of the new baking "season" — a Sourdough Multi-grain Bread adapted from a recipe on the King Arthur flour website. This is an easy sourdough recipe since it does not rely on the starter for leavening; in fact, it has as much yeast as a typical bread dough. Instead, the sourdough gives this bread a tang and chewy texture like an artisan loaf, but has the quick rising time (2 hours) and softness of a good sandwich loaf. Best of all worlds, really.
This is a great way for sourdough starter "guardians" to make use of that excess sourdough you find yourself with when it's time to feed the starter. You can use that "unfed" starter in this recipe because you'll also be using yeast to give the bread its rise.
King Arthur is our default choice for baking flours — we keep KA all-purpose, whole wheat, and bread flours as pantry staples. King Arthur flours are neither bleached nor treated with potassium bromate, a flour enhancer that is a possible carcinogen and has been banned in many countries, including the European Union, Canada, and China. It is allowed in the U.S. because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 1958, before it was identified as a carcinogen (particularly linked to breast cancers) in the 1980s. For some reason, the FDA continues to decline to ban potassium bromate, and instead "urges bakers not to use it"… what?! In California products containing bromated flour must carry a warning label! (Source: Wikipedia and Livestrong)
This is the third time I've made this loaf. It is every bit as chewy, soft and scrumptious as described in the original recipe. It is divine completely naked, or dressed in a coat of butter and dab of boysenberry jam. It is a soup's best friend, and is an equally great companion to a plate of cheeses with fruit or chutney. Oh, and yes, it holds a sandwich together with some pizazz, too.
Adapted from baker Clay Miller's recipe on the King Arthur Flour website
1 TBL raw sugar
1⅓ to 1½ cups (132g-150g) all-purpose flour
(start with the smaller amount and add 1 TBL at a time, up to an additional 3 tablespoons)
½ cup instant potato flakes
½ cup (65g) whole wheat flour
1¼ tsp sea salt
4 tsp vital wheat gluten (optional, but helps rise for heavy doughs)
⅓ cup blend of seeds and rolled whole grains
(see article above for some suggestions)
Combine all dry ingredients.
⅔ cup sourdough starter
⅔ cup lukewarm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 TBL olive oil
Place starter, warm water and yeast in large mixing bowl. Stir to blend. Add dry ingredients and olive oil.
Secure bowl to mixing stand, and attach dough hook. Stir on low speed until dry ingredients are incorporated, then increase speed to medium and knead for 7-10 minutes.
The first two times I made this bread last year, the dough was pretty sticky by the end of the kneading time, even after the full 1½ cups of all-purpose flour was added — this was predicted in the KA recipe, and is okay as long as you can handle the dough with floured hands. But this last time the dough came together as a solid dough with no stickiness at all with only 1⅓ cups flour.
Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rise for 1½ -2 hours. The dough might not double, but it should rise significantly.
Lightly oil a 9” loaf pan (the original recipe calls for an 8½” x 4½ “ loaf pan, but this is the smallest I have). Punch down the dough and shape it into a loaf to fit your pan. Cover pan with a disposable shower cap, or greased plastic film. (Disposable caps are a genius tip I learned from the original KA recipe — they give the dough plenty of space to rise. You can find multi-packs of these cheap shower caps in dollar stores. They are like the ones you find in hotel toiletries too.)
Set in a warm room, and allow to rise for 1½ -2 hours, or until the dough is well over 1” over the rim of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough shouldn’t spring back right away and should leave a slight impression. Because this dough will not get a dramatic rise once it’s in the oven (known as “oven-spring”), it’s important to give it a good chance to rise in this final proof.
In the last 20 minutes of the proving time, pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190F/88C. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can use the tried-and-true method of pulling the loaf out of the pan and giving it a good knuckle rap on its bottom — if it sounds hollow, the loaf is done; if it sounds like a dull thump, put it back for a few minutes more.
Remove loaf from pan and cool on a wire rack. Let bread cool completely before slicing. Resist the overwhelming temptation to cut this loaf while it’s hot. You get gummy bread slices — I speak from hard-headed experience. This loaf does have a most heavenly aroma, and it’s really, really tempting to just tear into it when it comes out of the oven. I had to leave for a meeting after taking it out and had to bribe T. with a promise that I would bake him a small roll next time if he promised not to cut this loaf while it was still warm.
Pairs perfectly with a bowl of your favorite soup
(turkey vegetable soup, anyone?)
and/or with some flavorful cheeses. Bon Appetit!
The first bread I made to kick off the new baking season was the No-Knead Sourdough, which is easy but requires a long lead time. A variation on a straight sourdough are these rye breads: NY-style light rye and sweet raisin-rye.
So far this season, we've enjoyed an incredibly mild winter in Frederick County, Maryland — here and there a night of snowfall, maybe freezing rain and ice on a few mornings. On the whole it's been mostly sunny, with temps in the 40s and even 50s throughout December and January. Of course, this is after we had that freak snowstorm in October!
But today the sky is the color of slate, our high will be right at freezing, and it's snowing — not the pretty powder snow we've seen so far this winter, but heavy leaden flakes. And they're blowing horizontally! Winds are gusting about 45mph according to my Weatherbug app, but I think they really must be over 55mph — did I mention the snow is flying horizontally?! OK. So it's snowing, big deal. Punxsutawney Phil did predict 6 more weeks of winter, after all. And if you can't trust a groundhog to predict the weather, who can you trust?
So why am I whining about the weather? Maybe because the daffodils are beating out the crocuses in blooming this year; maybe because I've been stealth-purchasing seeds for herbs and greens already; maybe because my Pacific Rim roots are yearning for an ocean breeze. Whatever the reason, I'm in serious need of some comfort food. So I pulled open the freezer and found some turkey necks that I stocked up after Thanksgiving. Ah, yes… turkey vegetable soup. Simple, light, and loaded with vegetables. What could be better on a day like today?
I learned about using turkey necks to make soup when I was a student in the 80s (ahem… stop doing math in your head, please) from a kindly butcher at the Safeway supermarket near my school in Santa Clara, California. I was staring at the packaged necks in the display case and wondering to myself what on earth one would use turkey necks for, when the butcher came out to re-stock the meat display and saw me staring. "Soup," he said, reading my mind. "They make the best soup. Lots of bone and a little skin for flavor. And you'd be surprised how much meat is on them if you care to take the meat off the bones. Everybody loves chicken soup, but I think turkey makes the better broth. Do you make soup?" At that point in my life, I had never really made soup from scratch before. So he gave me a quick rundown of the basics of homemade broth, and sent me on my way armed with a pack of turkey necks. I've never looked back.
The biggest difference in the way my broth-making has evolved from the butcher's instructions is that I almost always include ginger in my broths, whether it's turkey, chicken, beef or pork. Ginger not only adds a nice flavor note, but it is a "warm" spice that many traditional medicinal practices (including TCM and Ayurveda) recognize as stimulating — heating the body from the inside out and supporting or even boosting the immune system. Could be just what the doctor orders when the mercury starts to head south...
Thank you, Mr. Butcher, whoever you are, for a lifetime of homemade soups that started with your generous and helpful suggestions that early winter morning in 1987.
Serves 4-5 people
So many folks are intimidated by the idea of making soup from scratch. No need! Soups are a great way to make hearty and heart-healthy meals from the toughest cuts of meat — or even better, bones! While it does take some time to extract the most flavor from bones and meat for a broth, much of the cooking time can be done on a back burner or even in a slow-cooker while you do other things. Or if you're very clever and set up a slow-cooker before you go to bed, while you're asleep! And while I often chill chicken, pork and beef broths so the fats solidify and are easy to remove, that step isn't necessary for this broth because turkey necks have very little skin and therefore almost no fat.
You'll notice that the soup has few seasonings other than onion and ginger in the broth, and sea salt, black pepper and chervil in the finished soup. Most of the rich flavor comes from the vegetables. Frozen vegetables are fine, but use as many fresh vegetables as you can since they will give the greatest depth and sweetness to the soup. In the soup pictured here, the zucchini, carrots, mushrooms and beans were fresh; the peas and corn were frozen.
3-4lbs. (about 1.3-1.8kg) turkey necks
1 large onion, halved and papery skin removed
3-4 fingers of ginger, sliced (to peel or not to peel is up to you)
1-2 bay leaves (optional, the butcher recommended this, but I usually don't use it for turkey broth anymore)
Place turkey necks, onion and ginger in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients by an inch. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Once it starts to boil, turn heat down to medium low. As impurities rise and form a frothy scum, skim them off and discard. Once the broth is cleared of impurities, you can cover the pot, turn the heat down to low and attend to other things in the kitchen (prep the veggies for the soup, or maybe bake a loaf of bread) while time works its magic on the broth, about 4-5 hours.
If doing this in a slow-cooker, set the temperature to LOW and just ignore the whole thing for 8 hours.
Strain the broth, setting aside the necks and discarding the onion and ginger pieces. Remove as much meat from the bones as you can. Rough chop the meat and keep aside.
3-4 lbs (about 1.3-1.8kg) of fresh vegetables of your choice
(In the soup pictured here, we used 1lb. of zucchini/courgettes, ½lb. cremini mushrooms, ½lb. green beans, ¼lb. peas, 1lb. carrots and ½lb. corn niblets. If we had any broccoli or potatoes in the house today, I would have added them in too, and less of some of the other vegetables. Other veggies you might use: sweet potatoes, collard greens, kale, butternut squash, leeks, celery, cooked garbanzo or navy beans [any bean, really], parsnips, spinach, whatever vegetables you have on hand)
1 tsp. chervil (my choice),
or ½ tsp. oregano + 1 tsp. basil (the butcher's choice)
fresh ground black pepper
Return strained broth and chopped meat to the pot, add vegetables and seasonings, and bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the soup is boiling, turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste and correct seasoning.
Serve hot with slabs of a nice hearty bread like this is sourdough multi-grain (next post).
Nutty cheeses round out the meal — goat Gouda and raw milk Emmentaler from Trader Joe's.
More soup ideas?
German-style Green & White Beans Soup,
Potato, Leek & Rainbow Chard Soup,
Chicken Soup for the Soul,
Creamy Sweet Corn & Shrimp Soup,
Snert (Dutch Split Pea Soup),
Portuguese Bean Soup (it's really Hawaiian),
Krautsuppe (Orange-scented Sauerkraut Soup)