Saturday, October 27, 2012

For quite some time now I've wanted to get a food dehydrator, or rather, a GOOD food dehydrator.  A few years ago I bought an almost-new dehydrator off my neighbor but it wasn't a very good one and was more trouble than what it was worth.  Every couple of hours you had to rotate the food and flip it etc and it took forever to dry anything.  With 5 kids in the house at the time, who had time and energy to babysit a dehydrator?  I ended up selling it in a yard sale. 

I'd  long had my eye on the Excalibur brand as I had heard nothing but good things about them from people who owned them and the design made sense.  They may seem a little costly but in reality are less expensive than a stove/oven and if you are a raw foodie the cost is easily justified.  And if you're not?  Well, it is an excellent way to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables while still retaining their nutrients. Some organic produce is only available in season and some gets very expensive out of season so it is possible to save money by preserving it in season.

However, justifying this to yourself and justifying it to your spouse are two different things!  Since my spouse does not do the grocery shopping and really has no idea how much stuff costs that argument would not have worked - I had to find an angle that appealed to his understanding.   About 6 weeks ago I got the thumbs up and sent away for my Excalibur and have since then been dehydrating everything under the sun and we will be well prepared in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  He is utterly amazed at how light and compact dehydrated food is!

sweet potato chips

tomato slices with Italian seasoning

crisp seasoned zucchini chips

sweet pineapple
sprouted buckwheat

Besides the above I have also dehydrated red and green peppers, carrots, parsnips, celery, onions, hot peppers, apples, plums, shredded coconut, cranberries, cabbage, turnip, corn and a few other fruits/vegetables.  I've used it to make beef jerky, and to dehydrate my soaked nuts and sprouted grains.  I have a yogurt maker that I use, but I could take the trays out and culture my yogurt in it.  The fruits and vegetables that I've done can be re hydrated and used as you would fresh in recipes or you can just snack on them dry.  I especially love the pineapple - it's so sweet and chewy like a fruit roll-up!  I think the dried and seasoned tomato slices would make a great  pepperoni on a vegetarian pizza.  You can use them as you would sun-dried tomatoes.  The texture and concentrated flavor make them an interesting snack if you just want to eat them as is.

What I also like about the dehydrator is that you can use it to prepare food for a raw food diet.  I've made a couple of different kinds of raw granola as well as a few different kinds of cookies.  Delicious!  I will be posting some of these recipes at a later date

sprouted chocolate buckwheat granola

apple walnut raisin cookies
I am loving my dehydrator and will be enjoying many, many hours of usage!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted.  I have been busy or lazy or maybe a bit of both.   I don't know if this is an age related thing but it seems to me that time has sped up - it just zips by and I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want.   I can't remember the last time I was bored and had nothing to do!

 On this side of the big pond and north of the red white and blue border, it's the Thanksgiving long weekend and tho I'm not overly fond of turkey myself, for some reason my kids insist I cook one anyways and they all congregate at my house to partake of it.  With their spouses of course and at different times.  Two will come at dinner time, one will come by after his work shift around 8 tonight, and one will come over tomorrow for leftovers.  So between dinner time and now I have to prepare turkey, stuffing, a gallon of gravy,  mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, turnip, carrots, green beans and a pineapple upside down cake from scratch to go with the pumpkin pie (which I bought).  Thank goodness I had the foresight to make my cranberry sauce yesterday!

Since it is cranberry season and it's about the only time of the year you can find organic fresh cranberries in North America I decided to preserve a few.  I made a simple cranberry sauce and canned a few small jars for other occasions, and as well I dried a bunch in my dehydrator to use in salads and baking.  I did not add any sugar to the dried ones and they are quite tart but I like them that way -  natural.  I can soak them in fruit juice to plump them when I use them in salads.

The pineapple upside down cake did not turn out too bad.  I used a fresh pineapple I bought already cored.

What would a turkey dinner be without stuffing...this is how my mother and her mother before her made it.  In my family we always make the dressing outside of the turkey in a separate dish and we use torn fresh bread and cooked potatoes, mashed without milk.  I like to use the stuffing bread with the herbs baked into it.  The potatoes keep the stuffing moist while it bakes and prevents the fresh bread from "gumming" up into a doughy dense mass.  Then I add sauteed celery, onions, chopped sage and savory, salt and pepper to taste. Every family seems to have their own way to prepare this yummy traditional dish!

Thanksgiving (and other holidays) is not the time to be starting a diet or for flatbelly eating!  That doesn't mean it has to be a free-for-all either.  It's a time to celebrate the season's bounty with those close to us and we should enjoy all of our favorite foods on such an occasion.  Keep portions small and don't go back for thirds!