Posted by tntmck on Aug 8, 2010 in Weekly
We’ve been grilling and smoking a lot this summer. From whole chickens to steaks, burgers, and fish to pizzas and whole vegetables, the amazing food just keeps coming from our back patio. This weekend I tried something new and great!
With Jonathan really enjoying the grill this summer, we’ve been able to have lots of leftovers for the fridge that are perfect for the weekend meals or lunch the next day. I don’t really know any details to tell you on how he does most of his grilling, but I can tell you it’s good. However, we have done some modified patty melts a few times that are just amazing. There’s nothing special here, but I thought I would detail out the ingredients and how we’ve put them all together. Keep in mind that some of these ingredients may sound a little detailed or odd since we’ve recently made THE GREAT CHANGE.
Outdoor Grill Version Patty Melts
1 onion, sliced in thin rings
1 lb ground beef (grass-fed from our local farmer’s market)
8 slices bread (making your own from soaked grains would be great, but I use the Ezekiel brand or Trader Joe’s Sprouted Wheat Bread)
raw, white cheddar cheese (cut into slices for burgers)
Sauté onions in butter in pan on top of grill (or on stove if needed).
Divide ground beef into even portions. Pat out fairly thin, slightly larger than your bread slices (they will shrink up). Sprinkle one side with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Flip and sprinkle the other side with black pepper and garlic powder only. Grill as you would normally and place cheese on top of patties at the end of grilling to melt.
Butter one side of each slice of bread and toast.
Place cheese on top of patties at the end of grilling to melt. Put burgers on top of plain side of bread. Spoon onions on top of cheese. Put another slice of bread on top of burger and onions, buttered side out. I like the buttered sides out so that I can enjoy the taste. Serve and enjoy.
What I Learned
I had been making these inside on the stove top with my cast iron cookware. But, with the recent heat and desire to grill outside, we moved to doing burgers on the grill. We love the patty melts so much, that we were able to move the exact recipe outside, onions and all.
The boys love burgers and really enjoy the onions, too. We usually have sweet potatoes or baked sweet potato fries with them, so that’s always a big hit as well.
These burgers and all of our other grilled meats outside have just been wonderful! Jonathan is really getting the hang of grilling the grass-fed beef and of course we love a good smoked chicken and homemade pizza (post coming soon).
Posted by tntmck on Jun 27, 2010 in Dairy
This has been a great week for local fare. There’s just something about summertime that makes good things really good.
Both boys continue to eat really well this week and were both little piggies early in the week. A few snacks seemed to be affected by some teething the past few days, but no little boy passes up some yummy ice cream with Pappy, that’s for sure.
Eating locally wasn’t much of a process this week, but more of a fun experience.
- Grass-fed Beef I’ve recently started trying to buy grass-fed beef for our family. If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. yet, you must stop reading this and watch it now! But, as a quick summary of only a single aspect of my recent food overhaul, I’ve chosen to buy grass-fed, pastured beef when at all possible for the following reasons.
- Standard beef today is fed corn and dead chicken carcasses, resulting in poor quality of meat.
- Feeding corn causes health issues such as e-coli which causes them to give animals antibiotics and chemicals which collect in the fat.
- Most of our beef today is from cows that are factory farmed and packed together so tightly they can’t move and stuck in their own excrement. Yes, that’s right and I don’t think I even need to go into why you don’t want to eat meat from that animal.
- I choose grass-fed meats from animals allowed to roam pastures. These animals are healthy and provide healthy, nourishing meats for my family. U.S Wellness Meats is a good online source. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and other whole food stores offer grass-fed alternatives as well as local farms. Click on the Eat Local link on the right column sidebar of this site. If you can’t find grass-fed, at least opt for organic as it is free of chemicals.
This is my purchase that I picked up at my local farmer’s market this week sitting in my trunk just before I put it in my cooler to bring home to the freezer. See below for the contents.
- Ice Cream We went with the grandparents to a local store this weekend. They just recently started selling all-natural, locally-made ice cream. Pappy bought some strawberry to share and the boys only left him a couple of bites. I’m hoping to make some homemade ice cream from real cream and honey this summer.
WHAT I LEARNED
Buying quality, locally-grown produce is becoming easier and easier every day. I was able to buy a sampler pack of grass-fed beef including a chuck roast, rump roast, 2 New York strips, a filet mignon, 3 lbs. ground beef, brisket, and stew meat with just the click of a button on a local farmer’s website and a quick trip to the farmer’s market of my choice on the day of my choosing to pay and pick it up. They even included 2 bars of their uhomemade soap in my package.
I haven’t tried any of the beef yet, but it’s safely in my freezer, just waiting for my meal planning. I can say that my reaction to the price was one of delight. As a comparison, we recently purchased grass-fed brisket from a chain store for $7.99/lb. The one in this pack was $4.99/lb. I don’t think I need to even say, but the boys loved, loved, loved some strawberry ice cream at the Nolensville Feed Mill with Pappy.
Live it up! Enjoy summer. It comes and goes so quickly and even though it’s really hot, get out. Enjoy the lake, the shade trees, the pool, the ice cream, and of course the sound of the crickets and flashing lights of the lightning bugs at night. I’m sitting out here right now in the dark and loving every minute of it!
Please share your thoughts or ideas!
Posted by tntmck on Mar 27, 2010 in Overall Diet
I’ve added a new gadget called “Eat Local.” You can see it below, but it will live in the sidebar. Just scroll down to see it below the Archive. It’s a great way to find out what’s fresh near you.
Posted by tntmck on Mar 16, 2010 in Overall Diet
This is one of those things that I struggle with every time I grocery shop. Organic produce seems so much more expensive and hard to find on sale. Do I need to spend the money? The regular produce is right next to it and is much cheaper. I debate, go back-and-forth, question, wonder, and randomly make a decision. I get home and wonder why I bought some things organic and others not. So, I’ve decided to put together more information to gain a better understanding of what I’m buying and why. I have also downloaded the iPhone app listed at the bottom to use while I’m in the heat of buying in the store and don’t know exactly what to do. SIDE NOTE: I love my phone!
WHAT IS ORGANIC?
Farmers who grow organic produce and meat use alternative methods to fertilize, manage weeds and prevent disease. Organic farming also conserve soil and water and reduce pollution. Farmers use natural fertilizers such as manure or compost; use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease; rotate crops, till, or mulch to manage weeds; give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors using rotational grazing, balanced diets and clean housing to minimize disease.
These items have all been found to be high in pesticide residue based on statistical analysis of testing conducted by the USDA and the FDA. The following lists are put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
These “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that carry the highest pesticide load. If you’re going to be buying these, make sure they’re organic:
3. Sweet Bell Pepper
10. Grapes – Imported
The “Clean 15″ are the lowest in pesticides.
3. Sweet Corn
7. Sweet Peas
15. Sweet Potato
MEATS & DAIRY
In addition to the notes in the WHY ORGANIC section above, here are some reasons to choose organic meats and dairy products.
- No bovine growth hormones (BGH) are allowed to increase milk production in cows.
- No genetic mutation or irradiation is allowed.
- No antibiotics are permitted. If an animal is treated, it will not return to the herd for a year to be sure the antibiotics are out of its system.
- Organic animals must have “access to pasture.”
- Organic milk stays fresh significantly longer than regular pasteurized milk. That is because different process is used to preserve the milk called ultra high temperature (UHT) treatment.
- No preservatives.
- Organic grass-fed beef has more Imega 3 fatty acids, higher vitamin E content, and a higher conjugated linoleic acia (CLA) content which increases metabolic rate, immunity to diseases and muscle growth.
- 100 percent organic – completely organic (can use USDA seal)
- Organic – at least 95 percent organic (can use USDA seal)
- Made with organic ingredients – contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients (can’t use USDA seal)
- Check PLU numbers at the store – a number beginning in 9 means organic, 8 means genetically modified.
- Buy produce that is in-season to ensure the highest quality.
- Go locally to the source. Buy from your local organic farmer or farmers market. (I will be exploring the option of CSAs in the future.)
- Don’t be fooled by the terms “natural” or “grain-fed.” These may be fine for what you’ve decided to buy, but don’t think that they are certified organic. There are no standards for these types of terms.
- “Free range” does not include any guidelines for the animal feed
This is a great site where you can find local farms that deliver to your local groceries, sell at farmers markets, or offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) near you.
This will give you all of the information you ever wanted to know about the USDA laws and regulations on organic certification.
A great iPhone app to help you choose and store produce as well pesticide levels from worst to best.
The Organic Trade Association is full of detailed information. It is geared more towards the trade, but could be just what you intellectual-researcher-types are wanting.
Do I buy all organic? No. Do I understand all of these terms and differences in what is truly good or bad for you? No. I approach it in a manner of what makes sense to the budget and what seems natural. Since I depend on others to raise, grow, and package my food for me, I must sacrifice much control. But, I want to get it as close to how it was put on this earth for my consumption.
In conclusion, I can’t say that I have a complete grasp on what types of foods to buy for my family yet, but I’m getting there step by step. The produce list above is definitely helpful, but I’m still trying to figure out meat and dairy as well as some packaged foods. I guess it will just take time to learn and understand.
Please share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.