Monday, October 17, 2011

Real Food Recipe: Beef Stroganoff

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The weather is cooling down. I resume knitting and start baking every day again. Summer clothes are packed away, sweaters and thick socks find their way into our drawers. The trees change colors. And I begin making our families' favorite dinners in earnest: soups, gravies and sauces.

Beef stroganoff is one of those tasty comfort foods that gets a bad rap. Of course, anything that comes out of a box with a package of powdered flavoring made with rancid oils and MSG is going to be disappointing.

My Beef Stroganoff is the real deal. Made with grass-fed beef, lots of nourishing fats, beef stock and fresh ingredients, this classy version will be an instant family favorite. It is mildly flavored, so children will love it, though still rich enough to satisfy our more sophisticated adult palates.

This is one of my go-to meals when I need a quick, nourishing dinner and I am too tired or busy to spend an hour in the kitchen. I can have this on the table in 25-30 minutes and clean-up is a cinch.  

Serve this Beef Stroganoff on its' own or over sprouted flour noodles, a baked potato, mashed potatoes or with sourdough bread. (Don't forget true sourdough bread is not made with yeast, but with a sourdough starter.)

 I like to serve sauerkraut and sliced tomatoes or cucumbers as accompaniments.

Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4-6

1 pound grass-fed organic ground beef
1 stick grass-fed butter (raw is not necessary, as this is a cooked dish)
1 small organic onion, finely diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1/2 cup sprouted organic flour
2 cups raw, grass-fed milk OR 2 cups homemade beef stock OR 1 cup raw, grass fed milk AND 1 cup homemade beef stock
1 cup natural sour cream ( make sure your sour cream does not have any additives, Daisy is a good brand, and quite easy to find)
dash (5-6 drops) fish sauce or all-natural worcestershire sauce
cracked black pepper
sea salt

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, brown the ground beef in the butter over medium heat. The grass-fed beef I buy tends to be very lean, and I must add butter to get it brown properly. Regardless, browning the ground beef in butter imparts a rich, beef flavor to the butter, which in turn imparts a deep, rich flavor to your sauce.

Remove ground beef, leaving butter and drippings in the pan. Next, saute the onions and mushrooms over low-medium heat, until they become tender and aromatic. If you chose to use garlic, you would add it after the onions and mushrooms have cooked, sauteing until garlic is aromatic. Take care not to burn or brown the garlic.

Turn the heat down to low. At this point we are going to make a roux. Add the flour and stir vigorously until butter and flour are well combined and bubbly. Cook for 1-2 minutes while continuing to stir vigorously. We want to cook out the flour taste.

Slowly add in the raw milk or beef stock. Stir constantly until well combined. Add the ground beef back to the pan. Keep stirring until you have a nice thick sauce. Add the fish sauce or worcestershire now. Stir to distribute throughout sauce. Turn off the heat and add sour cream. Mix in thoroughly. If the sauce is too thick for your taste, add extra milk, stock or sour cream. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Story of Stuff

This is a great 20-minute movie about the cycle of "stuff". It takes us on a little journey showing how raw materials are obtained, how it gets into our hands and how it all ends up in the landfills. A behind the scenes look, if you will, revealing the true cost of cheap stuff.

One shocking statistic I learned from The Story of Stuff is that 99% of what we buy today ends up in the landfill in six months. Hard to believe? Next time you go shopping and get home, look at what you've purchased and ask yourself: Is all this stuff still going to be in my home in six months? I did that very thing, and sadly, even with all our family does to be sustainable, much of what we buy does end up in the trash. Sounds like we have some serious work to do.

I learned something else very shocking. Did you know that stuff is actually engineered to break? Yep. What we've all suspected for years is true. But there's more to it than that. An even darker side. You'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

My 5 year old thoroughly enjoyed The Story of Stuff and asked me a zillion questions about why society and people are the way they are.  I feel this movie is great springboard for family discussion.

Check it out here: The Story of Stuff

Have you already seen it? Great! What did you think? Are you outraged yet? Outraged more than before? Good! Let's do something about it. There is only so much that we can do, but our actions can show our love and respect for our fellow humans and the earth. By examining our habits and the manner in which we care for our family, I am certain we can all make changes to foster good stewardship of our natural resources.

Are we asking ourselves "Is this a need or a want"? An oldie, but a goodie, as they say. Often times, this can stop us from buying something unnecessary that will not only be thrown away in the near future, but expose our family to toxins in the meantime.

Are we using reusable bags when we shop? I recommend 100% cotton cloth bags. Those cheap ones at the stores are made of chemically treated, highly flammable polyesters. If you already have some of those ones, by all means, keep using them and do not throw them away. But from now on, choose only 100% cotton bags. They will last forever and can be repaired if they rip, unlike the flimsy polyester numbers. Also, many of the polyester ones cannot be washed. Yuck! I wash my bags after I shop. They have been in my car, in carts, on the floor. They need to be washed. I have been using and washing the same cotton bags for almost 10 years and they still look great.

Are we choosing items that have little or no packaging over heavily packaged items? Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but many times if we spend a scant minute or two looking, we can find an alternative to a heavily packaged item. Toilet paper is a good example. Do we buy the individually wrapped rolls? Or do we wisely choose the packages that have the least amount of wrapping? Some families even use cloth wipes. What a way to cut down on waste! Buying in bulk is a great way to avoid heavy packaging too. I also have much of what our family uses shipped directly to my door. From food buying clubs like US Wellness Meats and Azure Standard, to Amazon and, I save our family thousands of dollars each year, while also cutting down on the amount of packaging circulating the earth.

Are we buying second-hand or hand-made if possible? Furniture, clothing, appliances, vehicles, books, toys, can all be found for a fair price and better quality than new. One huge bonus in my book to buying second-hand or hand-made items is that many of the toxic chemicals have out-gassed already, leaving you with a less toxic or non-toxic product.

Are we grouping our errands together? It's widely known that when you do one big shopping trip each month you buy less. When we run to the store several times a week for this and that, we are more apt to buy unnecessary stuff, and contribute to the sad cycle of consumerism. Doing one big shopping trip each month forces us to plan our purchases carefully. I have been doing this for years now and it works wonderfully for our family. I do go to the store to pick up produce and perishables once per week, but I eliminated a weekly Target/Grocery Store trip many years ago.

How are you a good steward of the earth? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

~Mindful Quotes~

I would like to start a new Wednesday tradition: ~Mindful Quotes~. 

Wednesday's thoughtful tradition, ~Mindful Quotes~: A quote you find resonates with your soul, a way to live your life, an inspiration. 

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Food Recipe: Butterscotch-Coconut Brownies

YUM! I found this recipe at Baked Alaska while looking for new and exciting ways to get coconut in our diet. I adapted it to Real Food standards and it is absolutely delicious.

Butterscotch-Coconut Brownies are a healthy treat you can feel good about feeding your family. Why? Pastured butter, eggs and coconut are full of important fats our bodies and brains need to be healthy. Sprouting your flour removes dangerous phytic acid. Phytic acid inhibits nutrient absorption. Sucanat sugar is a healthier sugar because it has not been processed heavily. It is whole and full of minerals.

Properly preparing your food and buying nutrient dense traditional foods may seem pricy, but truly, it is the frugal thing to do. Why? Because it is cheaper to feed your family Real Food than it is to pay high medical and dental bills. Even if you have great health insurance with low or no deductibles, your quality of life is lower when you are not functioning at your best level of health.

Another reason to buy and properly prepare traditional foods is that you will be getting the maximum amount of nutrition from your food. If your body is not able to pull nutrients from the food you are eating, the cost of your food goes up, because you need more of it to feel full and get the nutrients you need.


Butterscotch-Coconut Brownies

1 stick unsalted pastured butter (raw butter isn't necessary as this recipe is baked)
2 cups sucanat sugar
3 pastured eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sprouted flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons sea salt (1 1/2 teaspoons if you used salted butter)
1 cup shredded, unsweetened dried coconut (make sure your coconut is free of sulfites and preservatives)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan. I used a roasting/lasagna pan, made of stainless steel.

Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir in the sucanat until incorporated. Cool slightly. Beat in the eggs carefully, you don't want to cook the eggs. Then stir in the vanilla. Sift dry ingredients into the saucepan. Sir vigorously to incorporate the dry ingredients thoroughly. Fold in the coconut, stirring to distribute evenly.

Pour and spread into prepared pan. The mixture will be thick and sticky - this is exactly what you want. Try to restrain yourself from eating the batter. It smells divine.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Don't overbake these babies.

Cool. For at least 30-45 minutes before cutting. This step is important. If you try to cut into the warm brownies, they will just go everywhere. Cut into desired size. They will keep for about a week, tightly covered, if they aren't all eaten on the first day.

Some of you may be concerned about the amount of sugar in this recipe. Those who are sensitive to sugar may be concerned about having a hypoglycemic reaction. Because this recipe also calls for lots of butter, eggs and coconut, these healthy fats will slow down the release of sugar into the body, and you should not see a hypoglycemic reaction.


I am joining the Healthy Home Economist for Monday Mania with this recipe.


Thank you so much everyone who participated. I enjoyed reading your comments, tips and goals. Blogger has a new interface and for some reason I can't figure out how to comment on each of your comments. But rest assured, I read each one and am so excited about the way each of us are edging towards sustainability. If you didn't win this month, I have another great giveaway planned for next month, and I hope you'll be back!

And the winners are:

Crews Family:



Email me at tangledoakroots (at) yahoo dot com within 48 hours with your shipping address, and I will have your gift sent directly to your door. That's it!

Thanks again for participating, it was fun!

Friday, October 7, 2011

{this moment}

Today I am joining Amanda Soule at SouleMama for {this moment}.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Our First Giveaway

I am excited to announce our very first Tangled Oak Roots giveaway! As we are all about sustainability, frugality and keeping things natural, we are giving away three prizes that I have found very helpful in our headed-toward-sustainability household. Yep, you read right. Three prizes!

First up, a fantastic book, The Backyard Homestead. I love this book and I think you will too! It shows that even with a very modest urban backyard, you can grow thousands of pounds of food for your family every year. It really is simple. For example, when landscaping your yard make sure to choose plants that will give you food, herbs or edible flowers, instead of choosing plants for purely ornamental purposes. Make your yard work for you! Not all of us can have a dairy cow or chickens, but there are many other ways we can all become more self-sufficient, and this book can get you started doing something sustainable you'll be happy about.

Our second prize is a Pyrex 1 Quart Pourable Measuring Cup. I love this thing! It's perfect for mixing up pancake or waffle batter, serving gravy or making chicken, egg, or shrimp salad for sandwiches. Even if you already have one of these babies, a second one would come in handy, I'm sure of it. And it's glass! Most of us know that plastic leaches nasty chemicals that affect our brains, lungs and reproduction systems. The less plastic touching our food, the better. I know, I know there is BPA-free plastic and even so-called inert plastic, but I think many of us would agree that's it's only a matter of time before more harmful chemicals are "discovered" in plastics. Glass is the way to go.

Lastly, we are offering a Winter Vegetable Seed Collection from one of my favorite sources of untreated, open-pollinated, non-GMO, heirloom and heirloom quality vegetable, herb, fruit, cover crop, grain, flower, compost and carbon crop seeds: Bountiful Gardens of Ecology Action. They are fairly local to those of us in Northern California, having a farm in Willits and a supply store in Palo Alto. Check them out! I think you will be excited about the possibilities for your garden.

How To Enter to Win One of These Fabulous Gifts:

Subscribe to my blog and leave a comment telling me you did. Hint: Look to the left bar of my blog toward the top of the page for a Subscribe box. Just enter your email address, hit Enter and you'll be subscribed. You can unsubscribe at any time.

That's it!

Want Even More Entries?

You know you do! 

The fine print: You must leave a separate comment for each extra entry.

1. Blog about my giveaway and link back to my giveaway on your blog. Be sure to add the link to your blog post in a comment below.

2. Leave a comment to share one thing you have done in the past week towards sustainability OR a frugal organic housekeeping tip OR a Real Food recipe your family loves.

3. Email 3 friends about my giveaway, making sure to include the link to my giveaway in your email. Leave a comment letting me know you did.

4. Subscribe to my Feedburner updates. Look to the left and you will see where you can enter your email address to subscribe to my Feedburner updates.

That makes 5 total possible entries for each person.

I like those odds!

Entries will close midnight Sunday, October 9th (PST). I will use a random number generator to find the winners. Check back here Monday morning for an announcement of the three winners (one gift per winner, first number: the book; second number: Pyrex; third number: seeds).

And don't fret, this is just the beginning of the monthly giveaways. Next month I will be giving away some fabulous handmade and organic toys, like playsilks and wood animals. And in December, how about some luscious yarns for you fiber artists? It's another good reason to subscribe to my blog, you won't miss a giveaway.

Have fun!

Questions? Comment below.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Seeds of Change Organic Chcocolate Giveaway

I love giveaways, don't you? I also love learning about Real Food. My favorite Real Food blogger, Sarah, at the Healthy Home Economist, is hosting a fantastic giveaway, consisting of a huge Seeds of Change package. What will you win? Lots of organic chocolate, organic salad dressing (without rancid oils), organic brown rice, a rice and beans mix (Sarah points out you need to soak this before cooking), organic fall garden seeds (Woo!), garden gloves and more!

If you are just starting out in your Real Food journey, or have been traveling your road for awhile now, I highly recommend The Healthy Home Economist. Sarah has an admirable knack for turning any daunting Real Food kitchen task into a simple and do-able job. She also has kids and understands that they like simple food, not complex flavors, so many of her recipes are very kid friendly. Sarah is not afraid to tell the truth about food and I greatly appreciate her expose of many subjects regarding food and health. I have learned much from her and I hope that you enjoy her blog as much as I do. I feel she is providing a valuable resource for us Real Foodies and Weston A. Price followers. I don't know about you, but I try to use every resource available to me. Zara loves her video classes and we include some of them for our homeschool curriculum.

Pop on over to the Healthy Home Economist and enter the giveaway. Cheers to your good health!