My nitrate free and smoke free home cured bacon

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Theres something irresistible about bacon.

Crispy, salty yumminess…

It sings Sunday mornings. School holidays. Summer. Family. Happiness. Freedom.

Yet the story behind bacon is not a good one.  Sad, forelorn pigs locked in cages far from the open paddocks they long for. Unable to turn around. Unable to walk; let alone run. Never having felt the sun on their skins. Our world is seriously f&@# up!!

The heart of my 40 year old self skips a beat every time I walk down the smallgoods aisle of a supermarket. Past the meat section with its open fridges containing long lines of cheap factory farmed meat.  The image in my mind of tortured pigs in cages in dark, cold, sterile piggeries to me are not unlike the pictures from genocide camps in WW2. I cannot, and WILL NOT ever buy this meat!!! I would rather go hungry.

Lucky for me there are choices. If you look hard enough there are options. I firmly believe that by the choices we make everyday within our food stores and our farmers markets we can change the way our food is raised.  Grown.  Produced.  And the way the human race treats it’s animals.

This is why I choose to buy only free range, organic where possible, ethically raised and slaughtered, grass fed and finished meat. The way meat should naturally be.  I don’t believe this is a financial choice only some can make. We all have options.  Reduce your portion size if you need to. Buy direct from farmers at your local market and cut out the middle man. You have a choice. We all have a choice. And if you care strongly enough, like me, have the guts to stand firm on it.

My nitrate free, smoke free, ethically raised bacon

  • A square piece of ethically raised, grass fed and finished pork loin or belly roughly 16cm squared; trimmed and rind scored thinly through to the fat
  • 1/2 cup Himalayan or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Panela, Rapudura or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • 1 dash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 dash of bourbon

Mix together the apple cider vinegar and bourbon I a bowl. Pour mix over the meat and rub in well, making sure it gets into the score marks in the rind. Then mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Cover the entire cut of pork with the dry mix, pushing it into every nook and cranny including the score marks. When you’re happy, place meat into a sealed container or glad bag. Place into the fridge for 3 days (longer for a bigger cut of meat). Toss and turn it everyday until it feels firmer to touch.

When cured, rinse the meat well under the cold tap and pat dry with absorbent paper. Place back into the fridge, uncovered and on a rack, for 24 hrs.

Roast slowly in the centre of your oven at 100 degrees Celsius for around 90 minutes. This is the time where you could also choose to smoke your bacon. (I choose not to due to the carcinogens found in wood smoke). Once cooked, chill again in fridge.

Slice and keep in fridge for a few days or freezer for a few months.  We have bought a meat slicer from eBay as it is a much easier way to slice your bacon. We have found the best results and taste with bacon sliced in 2-3mm slices. Thick slices seem to be quite firm.

Good luck!

xx

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Nitrate-free Corned Beef Silverside

The verdict is in!  The organic beef brisket/silverside that I corned at home a few weeks ago without nitrates was voted by ALL that tasted it as “the best corned meat they have EVER tasted!”

With winter rearing its head here in Australia, we are all turning to yummy, bone-warming meals to warm our souls.  My mother used to do a mean Corned Beef so this is always a favourite in our house.  Previously, we have bought the raw store-corned nitrate loaded version, but after how easy and how yummy it is to do yourself at home, NEVER again will I cook a store bought version.

Picture-14-Modern-Gas-FireplacesNitrate is a preservative found in many meat products including bacon, salami and many smallgoods.  It is considered carcinogenic and has been linked to cancer.  What better reason to avoid it at all cost!

Here’s the recipe I adapted from another who had apparently originally adapted it from Alton Brown’s Good Eats.  It will take at least 10 days in the fridge to fully corn and you can freeze in the brine once done.

Corning your meat

  • 2-2.5kg organically reared beef brisket/silverside
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 cup himalayan rock salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Place the water into a large stockpot along with all the dry ingredients. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. At this point it smells beautiful!

Take brine mixture off the stove and leave to cool to room temperature.

Once it has cooled, place the meat in a zip top bag or large glass container with lid and add the brine.  Seal and lay flat, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 10 days.   Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and flip over to stir the brine.

Cooking your Corned Meat 10 days later

  • 2 white onions, whole and peeled
  • 3large carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 10 cloves

After at least 10 days, rinse the meat and place into a slow cooker or a pot just large enough to hold the meat.  Add the above ingredients and cover with water.

In a pot, bring to the boil over low heat and simmer for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender.

In a slow cooker, set to low and leave for 7-8 hours.

Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.  In our house we serve it with the onions, carrots, white sauce, mashed potato and peas.  Yummo!

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xx

Our Homegrown Tomatoes…

Tomatoes.  So easy to grow. So rewarding to grow. So fun to grow…roma_tomato_6-20-12

We are picking close to ten tomatoes every few days off the three vines we have planted in our garden.  Such a bountiful crop!  Traditionally considered a fruit, tomatoes are packed full of Vitamin C, vitamin A and Lycopene.  Lycopene is not an essential antioxidant required in the human diet but it is non-toxic and has been linked as a potential fighter in the prevention of certain cancers in the human body.  Tomatoes also help the body in fighting our harsh Australian UV rays.

Here’s a little fact.  Tomatoes have four chambers within them.  And so do our hearts.  Funny that, as it must be nature’s way of letting us know how good eating tomatoes is for the health of our hearts!P1010415

We grow Roma Tomatoes as both my family and myself are susceptible to salicylates.  Roma tomatoes contain the lowest levels of salicylates of all tomatoes.  Almost all foods contain some form of salicylate.  It’s a substance that acts as a natural preservative and insecticide.

What better way to celebrate your beautiful home-grown tomatoes than with them taking pride and place on top of your own home-made pizzas!

P1010422I will share with you soon my husband’s fabulous gluten-free pizza dough.  He is a fabulous home-taught breadmaker and his doughs, pastry and breads are divine!

xx

My Merry Christmas

“Living Green in a Modern World” is not about going without.  It is not about foregoing quality and a modern way of life.  It is about choosing ethically, choosing responsibly, choosing with a conscience and most importantly living consciously through every moment in every second of every minute of every day.  And about being consciously aware of where we all sit in this web of life.  And this universe.

Christmas is a time of mass.  Mass consumerism, mass spending, mass expectation.  For the general population, everything is large!  For me, Christmas is much richer than that.  Christmas is a time to stop and celebrate life. Celebrate love.  Celebrate family.  Celebrate the fine thread of life.

Three years ago my family had a very different Christmas.  A Christmas spent in an Intensive Care ward, watching and waiting for that fine thread of life to choose whether it would hold on or snap.  This Christmas, 2012, is the first Christmas since that my family can and will all come together and celebrate that fine thread and the choice it made three years ago…. It chose “Life.”

I must say I am a tad excited!

Sure…. We buy presents for each other.  We have a big feast.  We stuff ourselves silly and then spend the rest of the afternoon rolling around on the grass trying to rid ourselves of the agony in our bellies.

In my house, we don’t have a different Christmas.  We have a responsible one.

Presents are chosen because they are actually wanted or needed.  They are bought responsibly, from independent quality retailers and small designers.  All Australian.  Beautiful wrapping paper is folded up and reused again.  Ribbon is collected.  Packaging is recycled or goes into our compost.

Our designer menu is selected with seasonal produce in mind.  Fruit and veges are bought through local farmers at our local Farmer’s Market.  Any cut of meat is chosen responsibly and ethically.  It is then bought directly from the farmers who raise the animal responsibly through a free range, organic method that has given THE best life to that animal. The meat is then cherished and respected for what it is.  A life that has been sacrificed for our table.

Off cuts of food feed our compost.  Leftovers are kept.   If not homemade, condiments are bought in jars not plastic.  Herbs and selected veges are picked fresh from our garden.  Food is prepared fresh, not out of a packet.  No food goes to waste.

The table is decorated with flowers from our garden and gorgeous beeswax candles.  Our tablecloth is linen.  Our napkins are linen.  Our crockery ceramic. Cutlery, a mix of stainless steel and silver.  Glassware always glass.  Nothing is landfill here.

Beautiful Christmas carols are downloaded online rather than bought as cds.  The atmosphere is euphoric.  We are comforted knowing that our electricity bill is going towards green power.

Of course, we know that we are lucky to be able to afford these choices.  But then for the small cost, what kind of world would we have if we didn’t?  We all have a choice…

At the end of the day, we will choose to sit outside under a beautiful star lit night.  Under the moon.  And remember our place in this universe.  And give thanks for that thread of life.  For life would not be worth living without it.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas.

xx

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My wickedly healthy, awesomely yummy banana smoothie

There is no better way to start the day than with a fresh and super healthy smoothie.  Here is my favourite banana smoothie…

SARE’S WICKEDLY HEALTHY, AWESOMELY YUMMY BANANA SMOOTHIE

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2 bananas

150ml biodynamic apple juice

1 handful of ice

1 tespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon agave syrup

2 good tablespoons of natural greek yoghurt

Whack it all in a blender and whizz!! Yummo!!

For a chocolatey version, just add a tablespoon of raw cacao powder.  Tastes just like a Boost King William smoothie but LOADS healthier!

xx

Organic meat vs conventional farmed meat

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Why eat organic meat?

There are many reasons to choose organic meat over regular farmed meat.  Both health wise and ethically.

  • You will find more Omega 3s in grass-fed pasture ORGANIC meat.  As we all know, Omegas 3s are essential in reducing risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.
  • ORGANIC meat contains up to five times more CLA, a fatty acid called Linoleic acid which reduces your risk of cancer.
  • A 170 gram ORGANIC steak has 100 less calories compared to a regular steak.  It also contains less saturated fat.
  • ORGANIC meat is free from toxins, antibiotics and hormones.  Because ORGANIC animals are not fed animal by-products there is no risk of mad cow disease to you or your family!
  • ORGANIC meat poses a low risk of carrying E.coli.

Not to mention the ethical reasons!

  • ORGANIC farms use renewable resources, conserve water and don’t require the growth, transporting, waste and use of bulk feed.
  • ORGANIC free-range animals are free to roam, socialise and show their instinctive behaviour 365 days a year.

There is no denying it…… ORGANIC meat IS unfortunately more expensive to produce and that is why it is more expensive at the counter. By paying that little bit more at the counter, you can sleep easy knowing that your money is going into the health of you and your family.  Knowing that you are making a difference to the lives of our livestock animals when you put your money where your ethics are.

You can even go one step further and choose your meat by choosing the farms that you trust.  Choosing farms that look after their animals humanely.  Choosing farms that protect their animals from stress all the way through the meat process.   Choosing to shop at local farmers markets where you can talk to the farmers who love their animals.

Why not choose one or two days a week for your family to go meat-free?  There are fabulous vegetarian recipes that will have you not even missing meat they’re so good!!!  The animals will love you and so with your health.

The most fabulous farm I have ever come across for ethically raising their animals is Pasture Perfect in Australia:

http://www.pastureperfect.com.au/organic

Have a good look around their website and their FAQs page.  You could not ask for happier, healthier animals!  Pasture Perfect are just about to open an online store so you can order directly from them.  I don’t eat much pork at all as I have always had trouble digesting it, but I can tell you this pork is DIVINE and no trouble on my stomach!  Their Chrissie hams are THE BOMB!!

I am sure there are many other fabulous farmers out there doing similar work.  I would love to hear from you about your favourites!!

xx

PS Did you know that pigs have the cognitive ability of a three year old child and that chickens can recognise up to 100 different faces?  Amazing hey!

Kale…The super food

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I have recently discovered Kale.  This superfood is amazing!!

my-new-roots-kaleKale contains amazing levels of Vitamin A,  Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin K, alpha-lipoic acid and lutein.  Therefore, it’s an important food in the fight against stroke, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and depression.  It fights infections and regulates blood clotting.  In fact, research conducted by the Angiogenesis Foundation in Massachusetts suggests that kale may be effective in blocking angiogenesis, making it much harder for cancer cells to grow and multiply in the body.

Therefore, why wouldn’t we all include kale in our daily diets!!!

Here are two recipes for a breakfast smoothie that are just divine!!

Blueberry Banana Punch

1 banana

A handful of frozen blueberries

Half an apple

A small handful of kale

200mls of biodynamic apple juice

Teaspoon of chia seeds

Ice.

Whizz in blender.

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Monster Juice

A decent handful of Kale

1 cheek of frozen organic mango

1 banana

200ml of biodynamic apple juice (if you can’t find, the Nudie nothing but apples is good)

dash of coconut water water (100mls ish)

squeeze of lemon (this releases maximum iron from the kale)

A handful of ice.

Whizz!!

YUM!!!!!

xx