Saturday, September 13, 2008

These little earthy pearls

Recipe: Lentils and Onions

Beans are funny. I can’t say I really love beans - I find them interesting in certain dishes, tasty in others, but I never find myself thinking - ‘God, it’s been too long! I want some beans for dinner!!!’

My appreciation for beans runs more along the lines of:

‘We’ve been eating heavy foods for a few days now, let’s go for something lighter’. This is usually in my husband’s voice.

‘We’ve been spending lots of money on meals, let’s have a cheap one.’ Hmmm, this could be in my husband's voice, too.

‘I forgot to defrost the chicken/lamb/beef I’d wanted to have for dinner, lentils cook quick and easy.’

As I’m learning more about traditional diets, I’ve been fine tuning my approach to these little earthy pearls. I’m not fond of intestinal discomfort, but just figured it came with the territory. I’d tried soaking, adding Kombu (seaweed) to the cooking water, ginger, asafoetida - and honestly none of it really worked. I’ve tried all of the above at one time, and I can say that the results were better than cooking a pot of beans from raw without soaking, but it never completely got rid of the gas.

When I was first introduced to the new/old approach outlined in the cookbook ‘Nourishing Traditions’, I soaked beans overnight with a little lemon juice, added all the amendments listed above, and then cooked them long and slow, six to eight hours. The acid soak and long cooking helps convert anti-nutrients in the raw bean. (For more about the science of perfect bean cooking go to I’m not a scientist, and most of the details of why go in and out of my head fairly quickly.

But, honestly, it was a headache! Soak first in boiling water poured over the beans, add lemon juice. After soaking eight hours, drain, add fresh water, bring to a boil, skim off the scum, and simmer for six hours. Keep skimming off any scum that develops, make sure they don’t stick, make sure the liquid doesn’t boil away. Cook them longer if you can. Change the water a couple of times.

Who has time? I’m fine with learning to plan ahead, but having to be on hand for hours to make sure something doesn’t boil dry or stick to the bottom of the pot and burn is just a bit more ‘back to the old days’ than I’ve got in me. Unless you've got a slow cooker - but we're off the grid, so heating elements are anathema.

I tried a few times. I’d make big batches and freeze a few mason jars full to use in future dishes. I told myself it was workable, for the pleasure of not having to pay for hours after each meal with a bloated belly, and knowing that we were absorbing as much of the nutrients from our food as possible. And it really worked to reduce gas - unless I added a bunch of garlic - but that’s another topic.

I finally realized I was making things much more complicated than needed when I was again researching the science of why, and one of the articles I read casually mentioned that sprouting beans would get rid of the phytates, and create vitamin C and other desirable nutritional changes.

Well, duh. Why was I cooking these things for hours, when I could sprout them and cook them for about 15 minutes or less in most cases?

It works like a dream. Takes a little more planning than before - I soak beans in cold water in a mason jar beginning at least the morning of the day before I plan to cook them. Soak for 6 to 8 hours, then drain. It’s helpful to have a sprouting screen for your jar, but I’ve set them to drain in a colander with a flour sack cloth towel thrown over it, too. Rinse every six to eight hours. By the next afternoon you should see little sprouts poking out. Lentils take less time to sprout, I usually start them the night before rather than the morning before use. At this point they cook extremely quickly, compared to what you’d expect with ‘normal’ practices, and they don’t need the hours of simmering to take care of gas producing elements. You can cook them briefly in stir fries if you like a firmer texture, or cook them longer for a traditional softness, as you would use any bean in a recipe. Flavor’s great.

Funny thing, I’m more excited about eating these beans than before. There’s something about knowing they’re alive and growing before I cook them. A bit akin to the joy of cooking and eating produce fresh from the garden within minutes of picking. The connection to food’s vitality becomes more palpable. I can feel it’s aliveness when I’ve watched it sprout, coming to life before my very eyes.

I’m not sure why there’s so much written about the slower, more labor intensive method. And I’ve found that I don’t really have to plan ahead so precisely if I just put a jar of whatever bean or legume I haven’t cooked for a while to soak and sprout, and when they’re barely sprouted, pop the jar in the fridge, (making sure they go in the fridge after a period of draining rather than after just rinsing or they’ll get slimy). I usually have a couple or three days leeway to cook them, so I can still be bit spontaneous with my meal planning. I’ve prepared lentils, black beans, chick peas, and black eyed peas this way, with great results. And zero gas (unless I’ve put in garlic and onions....).

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the package of kombu, and couple bottles of ground asafoetida I have hanging around now. I’m sure there’s some other use for them.

The recipe is an adaptation (actually combines ideas from two different recipes) from Deborah Madison’s ‘Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone’. For a decidedly non-vegetarian household, I cook from this book a lot. It’s a great resource, over 1400 recipes using vegetarian ingredients, with a lot of info about how to buy, what to look for, etc. I’m characterologically incapable of following a recipe, but I get lots of inspiration from cookbooks, and this is one well worth investing in. You can add meat on the side of almost anything if you like.

Lentils and Onions
gluten free, dairy free (if you don't use the ghee), egg free (if you omit the eggs) salicylate free. NOT low carb.

1 cup (dry measure) french green lentils, slightly sprouted (this will expand to nearly twice the dry measure. Use it all.)
1/4 cup or more extra virgin olive oil, or olive oil and ghee (dairy) mixed (Don’t try to reduce this amount of fat or you’ll lose a lot of the flavor.)
2 - 3 yellow onions, sliced in 1/4 inch thick rounds
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bunch chard, washed and sliced in 1/2 inch ribbons
choice of mineral salt and pepper to taste
4 organic, free range hard boiled eggs, (optional) chopped roughly

Boil sprouted lentils until just cooked, 10 - 15 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

While the lentils are cooking, fry the onion rounds with a little salt and pepper over medium heat in oil, or oil and ghee mix, until browned, in a wide, heavy bottomed, cast iron or good quality stainless steel pan. Reserve on the side, leaving whatever oil hasn’t been absorbed in the pan.

Adding more oil if needed, add garlic and fry for a minute. Add the chard. Cook until softened. Add lentils and cook briefly to incorporate the flavors, using some of the reserved liquid if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix half of the fried onions through the dish, and spread the remainder over the top. Scatter the boiled egg over it all.

Serve with basmati rice, preferably cooked with ghee and chicken stock. Nice with toasted sourdough bread, and salad.

Serves four.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Salty and strange addictions

Recipe: Multi National, Multi Mineral Sauerkraut

I am prone to fascinations. Fetishes. Strange addictions.

Colored glass items, mainly cobalt. Vessels, especially glass, especially carafes, the 50’s type with graceful shapes and gold or silver foil paint on the outside. Stainless steel and cast iron pots and pans.

I’ve had to make agreements with my husband that if it doesn’t fit in the cupboards, I can’t get it. If I do get it, something has to go.

He has to check with me before recycling any different style bottle or jar. And I’m disconsolate when he forgets. ‘Where’s that little square jar? Where's the tall soda bottle with the plastic lid? I only bought it because I was going to keep it!’

My latest fixation is salt. It’s been growing for a while.

I was first introduced to alternatives to Morton’s in India. Certain Hindu holidays require specific types of fasting, and often only certain types of salt are permitted in these fasts. I still have a couple hen's egg sized salt crystals in jars high up on my spice rack. One is black and sulfurous smelling, and one a beautiful pink. I’ve had them for at least 14 years, and I never knew what to do with them. I’ve put them on altars, smelled them, held them up to the light. I always related to eating them as a religious practice that wasn’t my own, but the aesthetics of the crystals were fascinating to me.

Black hawaiian salt was offered to me at an altar I adorned a couple of years ago, and after the ritual, when the altar was taken down, the salt was not gathered, cast on the earth. I was sad. I wanted that salt.

I purchased a Himalayan pink salt crystal candle holder awhile back. It adorns our dining table, and I catch my kids licking it fairly often.

You must be living under a (salt) rock if you haven’t heard of gourmet salts as the latest rage. Himalayan pink (which is probably the pink crystal high on my shelf), Black Salt (probably the sulfurous one), Celtic Salt, Coarse Salt, Flake Salt, Fleur De Sel, French Sea Salt, Grey Salt, Grinder Salt, Hawaiian Sea Salt, Italian Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, Organic Salt, Sea Salt, Smoked Sea Salt, Table Salt.

I’d been reading about the depletion of the minerals in our soil, leading to the depletion of minerals in our food supply. And I’d been pricing trace mineral supplements for the family. Yikes. I’m not sure I can face adding another supplement to the lineup on the counter every morning anyway. Not to mention the hint of mutiny from the kids whenever something is added to the list.

Besides, nutrition is best in the form of food. Gee, what an idea. I’m interested in finding ways to throw the jars and bottles away, thank you. Not my beautiful vessels, mind you, but the vitamin bottles.

And there’s a piece about our bodies being of the earth. Bones, flesh, hair, nails, pieces of earth. What more natural thing to do than eat the earth. These are the missing pieces of our food, the colors, flavors, aromas in these salts.

But I haven’t figured out how to get them all in our diet. There are different minerals in all the different types of salts, and I’m sure we’re depleted of all of them as a race, unless you’ve been blessed to grow up in one of the rare areas of the earth where there are large humic shale deposits, and all of your food was grown where you live. Ha. Likely.

Suddenly the five pound bags of white sea salt I’d been buying as a healthy alternative to iodized is just oh so yesterday. I still use it to brine my poultry and salt my pasta water, because in those cases most of it ends up down the drain.

Part of the challenge is I want convenience, too. And I’ve got repetitive stress issues, so I haven’t pulled the whole crystals down off the shelf to use with a grater. I don’t like numb fingers in the mornings. And I don’t have an endless budget with which to buy salt grinding apparati.

Slowly, slowly, I’m working new types in. Real Salt from Utah is a staple. It’s finely ground, comparable to table salt. I use it most times when I need more than a sprinkle, and when I need it to dissolve completely and quickly. In veggies, cooking for crowds, and baking. Pinkish grey, it leaves a slightly gritty residue that I’ve gotten used to in my pickles. Chewing earth.

I have a black ceramic grinder on the dining room table filled with Celtic sea salt, moist and grey. Also a shaker with Real Salt.

On my kitchen counter and shelf over my range I have decorative glass jars (vessels again) of coarse ground Celtic sea salt, Real Salt, and regular sea salt. An electric grinder (with a light!) pilfered from my mother, (a gadget freak) of Himalayan pink.

In a bin in the pantry I have a few ounces of Hawaiian black. I had to get it, after losing the sack full gifted me a couple years ago. I haven’t figured out how to incorporate it yet. I think I need another grinder.

I envision a row of ceramic grinders gracing the dining room table, with elegant labels denoting the part of the earth and the color of the mineral inside.

Maybe I’ll begin to use a mixture of two or three different salts in my pickle ferments. I’ll give you a recipe for one now! Making it up off the cuff, let me know if you try it.

Multi National, Multi Mineral Sauerkraut
gluten free, dairy free, salicylate free, egg free, low carb, GREAT for candida

1 medium head cabbage; green, purple, or mix of the two
1 tsp Real Salt from Utah
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
or whatever mix pleases you

If you are already familiar with making kraut, have at it with your favorite method. If not, I offer one method here, but know that there are many methods, and all have their merits.

Shred your cabbage. I like to cut it in quarters, cut off the core pieces, and either slice the quarter pieces as thin as I can with a large chef’s knife, or pass the pieces through the slicing blade in my cuisinart. Sometimes the pieces need to be cut down a bit to fit into the feeder tube of the cuisinart. I don’t recommend actually shredding it, but some people like their kraut that way.

Place the cabbage into a stainless steel or glass bowl and scatter the salt into it. I’d recommend breaking the salts down to a fairly fine grind before using if possible, although coarse might work just fine.

At this point you have a choice. Most people either massage the salt into the cabbage until the cell walls start to break down and release their liquid, or pound the mass with a wooden mallet or other suitable tool until the liquid is released. (This last method is not recommended with a glass bowl.) I have repetitive stress injury however, so I just toss the salt through the shreds, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and leave it for a few hours. When I come back, there’s already a bit of liquid in the bowl, and with a minimum of massaging I’ve completed the process.

Stuff the cabbage into a mason jar - it should be just about a quart. Have an extra pint jar available in case your cabbage was bigger or denser than average. Make sure to add all the liquid in the bowl, including the minerals that have separated out of the dissolved salt. Push the cabbage down firmly with your fingers or a spoon, until the liquid rises above the level of the vegetable. Seal the jar(s) and put in a warmish, darkish place for a couple of days. Burp the jar(s) and taste. When you get the spicy zing! on your tongue, the kraut is fermented, although it is fine to leave it on the shelf for a few days more for a different flavored product. Burp it occasionally (burst jars are no fun, and they do build up pressure), taste it, and when you feel like it’s done, put it in the fridge or cool storage. Eat it immediately or store for a while for the flavor and texture to mellow. Fresh kraut is usually very crisp and squeaky on the teeth, aged is softer.

If your kraut seems dry, you can add brine to it - about 1 tsp salt of choice per cup of filtered water.

Experiment with more or less salt, depending on your taste. Some salt is required, to inhibit the growth of nasty bacteria, and allow the growth of good probiotics.

Enjoy! Eat it along side meats, mix into salads, or munch all by itself. You now have a multi mineral food based supplement!

Now, if I could just get my kids to eat it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The chicken, the whole chicken, and nothing but the chicken.

Recipe: Potato Pancakes

For a while my husband and I were talking about moving into town. We live off pavement about two miles, about 23 miles from town, and because of how schedules (don’t) work, find we’re making an average of ten trips to town per week. And that doesn’t count in trips to see my family or friends on the coast occasionally.

Generally we’re talking about an average of $600 - $800 in gas a month at current prices.

And we found that our recent stint as ‘refugees’ from the wildfire smoke here in Northern California, when we stayed with my family who live in a quiet town a ways south of us, that the kids loved it. Loved being able to ride their bikes on the street and play with neighborhood kids two houses away, walk to the grocery store.

Actually, I loved it, too. Unlike the kids, however, I wanted to come home.

Because we have this house. We built it. We visioned it, designed it, birthed it. There are sacred scriptures, sacred objects, photographs of saints and holy people inside the walls. The menu and prep list I created to feed the Dalai Lama is in the kitchen wall to the right of the range, I know exactly where it is, behind the drywall, all marked up as the prep got done with various colors of highlighters.

A lot of love and intention went into this house. Not so easy to leave, we found, as we explored the idea.

So the question became, how can we stay?

This is all a long prelude to what I did yesterday.

I learned how to kill and dress out chickens. I figure at $17 a pop for organic chickens, four chickens a month, 8 - 10 dozen organic eggs a month at $4 each, we could definitely save some money there.

But my husband was very clear that he would be doing no killing, thank you. And I’ve got this quirky thing, that I touched on in my last blog entry, about having the courage to truly step into where I stand in the food chain.

So I offered to help our local meat guy at his next scheduled kill day. He agreed, and offered to give me all the information I wanted on the economics and other how-tos of the process.

I suspected I’d be okay with it. I feel fortunate that my spiritual teachers have not been the ‘practice and your life will get easier’ types. I’ve always gone for the ‘practice and your life will get more real’.

Real isn’t easy or nice. It’s just real.

And real, in my understanding, says ‘humans are omnivores’.

The whole thing really felt like adding the logical missing steps of preparing chickens that I’d learned years ago in the catering business. I knew in my bones the anatomy of a chicken, where to cut for various cooking applications - but I knew the anatomy of a chicken without head, feet, feathers and innards (unless you’re referring to the little paper bag in the body cavity of store bought poultry).

Well, now I know it all. (If you’re squeamish about these kinds of things, you might want to skip the next paragraph or four. Or nine.) I know that a chicken feels different when you pick it up by it’s feet, the weight is different in your hand. And, they’re warm when they’re alive, warm and dry. They’re really not very bright, not a predator instinct in there, unless you’re a bug. But they do want to live, it’s obvious. I can’t say there’s no struggle when they’re hung upside down, and their main blood vessel cut in their throat. I think, if we do move forward with the idea of raising our own, I’d probably invest in the poultry cones I’ve heard about, they keep the wings hugged to their sides. The birds were obviously calmed when I held their wildly flapping wings to their bodies. They didn’t always flap, some were just calm and probably confused.

I know that after being bled to death, they’re dunked into hot water to loosen their feathers, about 130 degrees is ideal. Then they’re plucked. He has a mechanical plucker, a rotating wheel with stiff rubber fingers whizzing around that sends the feathers flying. I’d be plucking them by hand, a somewhat more laborious prospect, but doable.

I know how to cut off the feet and heads, where to slit to get into the body cavity, I know to not feed the chickens their last day of life so their first stomachs are relatively empty and easier to remove. I know to carefully cut the liver and heart away from the dangling intestines and other organs, so as not to pierce the gall bladder. I accidentally nicked it a couple of times and violent green liquid spewed all over my hand and the liver I was holding. ‘It’s bitter’ he said, ‘and I’ve seen it stain skin.’ Put everything is ice water as soon as it’s done being ‘processed’.

I know to rinse, rinse, rinse. Clean the sink and buckets with peroxide to start and to finish.

And I know that there’s a smell to the warm flesh and organs. It’s different than the smell of a cold chicken on your kitchen counter, it’s musty. And pervasive. Not bad, not very strong, but a bit intense nonetheless.

It stayed with me all the way home, even though I’d rinsed off as well as I could. I figured it was in my clothes, on my hair, I’d gotten sprayed a couple of times with blood and other effluent. When I got home, we chucked the ten chickens we’d purchased into the deep freezer, and the two bags of feet and bag of heads (for stock), and bag of livers and hearts (for sneaky organ meal additions) into the fridge. I drew a deep hot epsom salts bath.

After soaking a little while I added Hauschka Lemon Bath, because I could still smell it. I dunked all of me under, getting my hair wet in preparation for washing.

When I came up there was a chunk of something swirling in the water near me. Looked like something from one end or the other of a chicken’s digestive tract.

You’d think that after killing and dressing out 6 or 8 chickens I wouldn’t be too concerned about a little nugget of reminder from the actions of the day. But that little squishy thing quickly dissolving in the hot water that my body was soaking in was far creepier than anything I’d encountered at the kill. I’m fine killing a chicken, but not bathing with any part of it. Maybe a feather would be okay.

When I got out it was time to start dinner. We weren’t having chicken.

We had Potato Pancakes, and they were yum!

Here’s the recipe:

Potato Pancakes
gluten free, dairy free (if you use the coconut oil to fry), salicylate free, sugar free, but NOT low carb

2 1/2 pounds yellow potatoes
1 yellow onion
3 eggs
1/4 cup gluten free sourdough sponge (or flour of choice)
1 T chopped flat leaf parsley
1 T chopped fresh marjoram
1 t chopped fresh thyme
mineral salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
ghee or coconut oil for cooking

Grate potatoes and onion in food processor, or by hand if necessary.

If you have time, toss the potatoes and flour (if not using sourdough) with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice or whey and let sit for 8 or 10 hours to enhance digestibility. If you’re starting more last minute, proceed to the next step.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Heat a griddle or large, well seasoned cast iron frying pan over medium high heat with some ghee or coconut oil. Place spoonfuls of the pancake mixture on the heated pan and flatten slightly. Keep an eye on the heat, you may have to turn it down if they're browning too quickly. Turn when golden brown on one side, and press down a bit with a spatula. Add a bit of ghee or coconut oil if necessary. When golden on both sides, place on a plate in a 200 degree oven until all pancakes are done and you are ready to serve.

We ate them with creamy goat cheese sandwiched between two at a time. (Except for my youngest boy who can’t have dairy, and he rolled up his hot dogs inside.) They’d be good with creme fraiche, yogurt or straight sour cream, too. Green salad, chicken sausages for the adults, and chicken hot dogs for the kids.

I guess we had chicken after all.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Aweful offal, yum!

Recipe: Braised Lamb

I've been reading a lot lately about the problems with our standard american diet (SAD). I'm sure I'll rant on and on about the various aspects of this on this blog - it's one of my passions.

Tonight *ta-ta-ta-da!* I'd like to focus on how we've moved so far away from healthy ways of eating animals. Aside from the fairly well known fact that commercially grown animals are raised in unhealthy circumstances with unnatural foods (did you know that corn is bad for a cow? 'Corn fed beef!' has been a prime selling point in the industry for many years - and it's one of the factors that has led to the overuse of antibiotics in the poor animals). Then we cut off the fat, take off the skin, make sure it's cooked to death, and above all - throw away the icky bits.

Well, I'd like to focus on the icky bits. I'm really trying to get used to the application of what I've learned, that our forebears enjoyed better health because THEY ATE THE WHOLE ANIMAL.

I'm all for treating animals humanely. Most of the animals my family eats, as my supplier says 'only have one bad day'. I've gotten into the habit of making bone broth, slow cooked for 24 hours until the bones are soft and the broth is solid gelatin at room temperature. And I love leaving the skin on and the fat intact, using any rendered grass fed animal's fats for cooking other meals in - I get the concept that all the nutrients in the plants that they eat (and the toxins!) are concentrated in the fat on their bodies, that I'm helping my kids developing brains with the good omega 3s, etc., etc. It's easy to act on this knowledge, because, well, ... it tastes good. I like fat. Good mouth feel. Satisfying in the belly. Just plain YUM. Broth, too, great to cook rice in, great for braised stews and roasts, great as a base for veggie pasta sauces.

But, I'm not so sure about liver. Kidneys. Brains. Heart. Spleen. I know, there are restaurants popping up in the upper eschalons of the culinary world that focus on offal, and I enjoy a nice chicken liver pate on occasion. But what I've been reading is that it's beneficial to have organ meat on a regular basis, a few times weekly at the least, and I just haven't done it.


As I was digging in the freezer this afternoon for our evening protein source, I pulled out the big plastic bag of nicely wrapped portions of pastured lamb that I bought from our wonderful local farmer. It's getting pretty light, which I knew, I'm set to pick up another bag full later this week. Inside is a small packet labeled 'lamb stew', another labeled 'shanks', and a third labeled 'heart'. There's a fourth with 'liver' stamped on it. So, you see, I've been avoiding these two packets for a few months.

Before I have a chance to talk myself out of it (again) I grab the stew, shanks and heart.

I figured if I cut it into small pieces and cooked it with the rest of the braised meat, maybe no one would notice.

Really, I don't personally mind the taste of organ meat. But I'm obviously still affected by the cultural *eewww* *shudder* reaction, since I'm assuming that my kids won't like it. My husband won't like it. And 'I don't personally mind the taste' is not the same thing as saying 'God, I love liver!'

The really interesting thing is, I'm realizing that my kids have somehow escaped the cultural *ick* response, for the most part. We keep them quite protected on a lot of levels, not much exposure to tv, they have various food sensitivities which means they aren't exposed to much processed, mainstream food, and to them, meat is meat. They didn't question that some of it had a slightly different texture than the rest, and when I casually mentioned that some of it was heart, neither of them blinked. Went right on eating. My oldest was fighting with me over one of the marrow bones, chewing on the cartilage, seeing who could get out the little marrow morsel inside.

Then I realize, we're changing the cultural conditioning. Right here, right now. My kids will eat organ meat, they don't have anyone telling them that it's 'gross'. They know where their food comes from, it's not a mysterious plastic wrapped blob mom bought at the supermarket. They've picked up the chicks that grow into the chickens that they've watched bleed to death head down, waiting to be plucked, bagged and weighed, and put into our cooler, and then our freezer at home. They're excited at the prospect of raising our own animals.

It's me that's not quite there yet. Me not too sure about the amount of work it would take, not to mention if I'm up for wrestling with a live creature with the intention to take it's life that we might live well. That's a leap of willingness that I aspire to. Am I ready to truly acknowledge and act on the knowledge that I stand HERE in the chain of transformation, of life becoming death becoming life?

Well, I did eat lamb's heart tonight. I can't say I liked it as much as the shank meat, but I was conscious that I was doing something good for my body, and the body of my family. And I'm proud that my kids didn't shrink from the idea, not to mention the reality of it. They ate their food, nourished their bodies, in trust that I'd made them something good.

Oh, the recipe -

Braised Lamb
gluten free, dairy free, low salicylate, egg free, NOT low carb. Maybe if you pick around the potatoes, but I wouldn't eat it if you have candida.

1/2 pound lamb stew

2 lamb shanks
1 lamb heart, chopped in half inch pieces, tough bits trimmed off
a dollop of bacon grease
1 onion
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 sprig rosemary
1 T dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 couple handfuls baby carrots
1/2 cup lemon juice (red wine or balsamic vinegar would be great, too, but I've got a kid that can't have salicylates)
2 cups poultry bone broth (lamb would be better, but I'd run out)
1 1/2 pounds yellow potatoes, half inch diced
sprinkle of potato flour to thicken

Brown the meat in the bacon grease over medium high heat in a cast iron dutch oven. Reserve the meat on the side and sauté the onions, garlic, and herbs until beginning to brown. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice or wine, add the meat, carrots and broth. Cook two and a half hours at a low simmer on stove top or in the oven at 325 degrees. Add diced potatoes for half hour or 45 minutes more. Strain out the solids, return liquid to pan, bring to a boil and sprinkle in potato flour while whisking steadily. When desired thickness is reached (a little potato flour goes a long way!) return meat and veggies to the pot and serve.

We had it with steamed artichokes and homemade mayonnaise. There's four of us, and we ate the whole thing.