I made this toast for the first time last weekend. When I told Mike what it was his reaction was just what I expected.
“I know they called me Jasper Raisin Toast when I was little but I don’t think I actually like raisins in my toast.”
No surprise, most of my new recipes are met with this kind of excitement. It almost never goes to waste either. This was no exception. We prefer it toasted with extra butter and maybe a little bit of honey.
In my quest for more magnesium in my diet, without using a supplemental pill, I have turned my attention to the dark leafy greens of winter. I am a fan of the hearty greens year-round. Seasonably speaking and eating, these are put into the cold weather crop variety. Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale, Turnip Greens to name a few. These can all be eaten raw, but in all honesty, they are a tougher green. Rather than the “rabbit-type nibble” one may use for tender lettuce, greens of the hearty type can render a “cow-cud chewing method”. Although effective, no one is going to want to join you at the table while you’re chewing your cud so to speak. As a firm believer that meals should not be eaten alone, these greens are best eaten prepared in one way or another.
I mentioned magnesium above, it’s a rather important mineral responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our body and it’s estimated 90% of the population is deficient. I have found that when I don’t have enough my headaches turn to migraines and I get both more often. Low magnesium can also result in morning sickness for expecting mamas. Magnesium affects more than just that. Low magnesium cause or increase anxiety and depression, cause muscle cramps, high blood pressure, hormone imbalances and more.
A side note Soapbox: All these farmers that are using chemical fertilizer are not helping the situation. Chemical fertilizer depletes the soil of many naturally occurring minerals causing the food grown in them to be less nutritious. God bless them for growing food for the masses but large scale is not always the answer. For more on soil depletion dig into how composting works and the effects of chemical fertilizer on the naturally occurring organisms do the dirty work of breaking down that leaf pile into black gold that contains multitude of nutrition when used to grow your vegetables. Done.
A cheap cut of meat and some aromatic vegetables. This used to be thought of as a poor folks dish. An inexpensive way to feed a lot of mouths for little cost. Slow food revolution, back to basics cooking, whatever you want to call it, this pot of humble beginnings is what it’s all about. I haven’t seen it make the comeback that it rightfully should, but in time I’m sure it will.
A rich aroma that passes through the house gets anyone within reach feeling hungry. The warmth of the oven makes the kitchen a cozy place to wander in and stay. Second only to bread, a dish made in a single pot can warm a house and gather everyone to the kitchen before they are called for the meal.
I am not talking about hotdish (for you non-Minnesotans, casserole) although, those can be good and an easy way to use up leftovers, a humble pot dish is so much more. In the way of comfort food there is really nothing better. The meat- super tender and juicy, some of the vegetables- cooked down until they reach a rich, flavorful sauce, the rest have soaked up all sorts of great seasoning. Everything mingles together in one pot. No single ingredient more important than another (except salt, that rules all).
Recently, I have been making these more and more. Mostly because I work full time in town and still want a decent homemade meal for my family. A humble pot dish can be started the night before or morning of and placed in the oven with a timer and left to cook for the better part of the day. Some people use crockpots for such dishes. I do sometimes, but more often than not, I find it is not roomy enough to get the full potential from the ingredients inside. The vegetables need space to cook down and work with the added liquid of choice. I prefer to use cuts of meat that have the bone in tact, not only does it add richness to the dish but it also adds more nutrients too. Even a small roast or bird take up a considerable amount of space when coupled with vegetables and broth.
For all of these dishes I use a heavy enameled cast iron pot. The whole thing can go into the oven, lid and all. The lid is important; a foil covered dish just doesn’t make the same results. I think it has something to do with how the lid retains more of the steam and helps the insides to keep a more even temperature… or I am just full of it. It’s just a guess. In addition to the collection of cast iron skillets in my kitchen, I also have a variety of these pots as well. In a perfect world I would set up a pot for each weekday on Sunday, place them in the fridge and have them ready for the week. Maybe someday, if we end up with an extra refrigerator, right now there is no room in the one we have.
I must admit, not every humble pot I make looks very pretty, in fact most don’t. The taste more than makes up for the lack of visual appeal. Honestly, over time the look doesn’t change but the dishes start to look better and better just because of the anticipation of the deliciousness to come. I know it’s possible to make such a meal vegetarian style, I have yet to make one as such. Considering we just made the last chicken in the freezer, this may be something to look a little closer at. I can and have “offed” a chicken on a meal by meal basis, but it’s not something I would like to make a habit of. I would like to stretch the beef supply as long as possible. I really don’t want to have to start getting meat at the store. I could. I don’t want to.
The method is simple:
Start with a combination of aromatic vegetables, most common around here is onions, carrots and celery in a 2:1:1 ratio.
Sauté the vegetables.
Add any herbs, spices or seasonings.
Add meat. ( a cut with the bone in tact will produce more flavor and nutrition)
Add dry rice, par cooked beans, or raw potatoes or squash.
Add liquid. (water, broth, wine, beer etc.)
Cover and cook slowly until done.
With this simple “recipe” there is an endless amount of meals that can be made.