Beefy Soup

So many vegetables!

So many vegetables! I could just eat them raw.

I’ve been super lucky throughout my pregnancy. I’ve been very healthy through most of it. I’ve only had cravings for healthy food, mostly broccoli. I’ve been working on stocking up some pre made food for after I have my baby. I wanted to make something that would be great from before baby and recovery after baby. This soup is made with marrow bone broth and ox tail, along with a whole host of amazing vegetables. The extra iron and vitamins in the soup will really be beneficial for  any woman but especially the post labor woman in your life. After I made it I realized that I just and to have tomatoes! So I went back and added a few can of diced tomatoes, and some tomato paste. It really kicked up the heartiness of the soup. However, I don’t have any pictures of beefy soup 2.0 so just imagine how great it looks!

 

Beefy Soup

Bone Marrow Broth – go here for that recipe

7 ox tail pieces (give or take your own preferences)

1 medium onion diced

2 red bell peppers diced (about 2-2.5 cups for the next four ingredients)

1 small butternut squash diced

4-5 stalks of diced celery

4-5 carrots diced

a head of garlic chopped (yes a head, it’s recovery soup! garlic is good for that)

1.5 heads of kale ripped up.

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tsp hot peppers or cayenne (remember, recovery)

1 tsp parsley

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp smoky paprika

1/4 tsp majoram

1/4 tsp savory

(2-3 cans of diced tomatoes and 2 cans of tomato paste)

 

meat, meat, meat, yummy meat

Frist brown your meat in a very large stock pot. Everything will be going into this pot eventually so make sure it’s big. I like to brown the meat because it adds a lovely depth to the flavor. These ox tails had a thick side of fat, so I started with that side first to render some fat to cook them in. See? I’m smart. Brown all sides, and set aside.

this is where delicious starts

This is where the magic starts. The bottom of the pan will have all sorts of meat and fat stuck to it. By cooking the onions, the moisture will help loosen up that deliciousness, giving that depth I was talking about. Cook onions until they are starting to become translucent. Note they are not actually browning, that’s the good stuff stuck in the pan adhering now to the onions. Lucky onions.

so pretty

When your onions are soft, add the squash and the red peppers. Keep temperature at medium high and occasionally stir vegetables. Cook for about 4 minutes.

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Add in carrots and celery. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

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Add seasonings, meat, and broth. Look at all that dark rich goodness! Bring soup to a slow boil for about 15 minutes. Add in kale for last two minutes. You can also skip the boiling and cook on low for about an hour. When all the vegetables are soft and your meat is cooked through your soup is done. Now I said above that I decided this soup would be even better with tomatoes. I wish I thought of that first! Add about 2-3 cans of diced tomatoes and two cans of tomato paste when you add in your broth. It gives it a great rich color and really ups the flavor. But this soup was delicious just as it was, but even better with the tomatoes. I left the meat on the bones. It’s a preference thing. If you’d rather not have bones in your soup you can remove the meat after you boil it.

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beefy soup

This makes a ton of soup. I planned on that because I wanted to freeze a bunch for post baby meals. This is a great fall/winter soup that’s super hearty and would make a great gift for a friend in need of a bit of an immune boost.

 


Beef Jerky

I know I’ve blogged about it before here. But, I recently made more beef jerky. Since I’ve become pregnant I’ve really had a diminished taste for things like salt and sugar. Most potato chips are too salty for me. So everything I make lately has a lot less sugar and salt in it. Now jerky is one of those things that you must have salt for. It preserves the meat. Below is the modified recipe. I ran out of cumin so mine didn’t have any but you should add it because it’s smart. I had smoky paprika instead of regular. I think it makes for a great smoky flavor with out the added chemicals of the liquid smoke.

Meat!

Jerky

1 lb of lean beef

1/2 tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp red pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin (I forgot to get more but it’s good in the mix)

1/8 cup of soy sauce (use fancy tamari for gluten-free)
I’m going to try to play around with different flavors because I think I’d like to offer it for sale. This time around I attempted to run a cost comparison on the meat vs the final product. I think I can produce this at a reasonable rate.

For those that wish to make it themselves above is the recipe I recently used (notice the smaller amounts of salt and soy sauce). I think it gives plenty of great flavor without so much salt. Also no sugar! I don’t understand why all jerky contains sugar, drives me crazy. If you’re looking to save money get a larger lean roast. Partially freeze it, and cut it by hand. You need a pretty steady hand and a very sharp knife. Make sure to trim all the fat.

cut meat and trimmings

I saved my trimming for adding to ground meat or maybe awesome dog treats. Our local HEB sells very thin top round and Milanese style cuts of beef that are perfect for jerky if you don’t want to hand cut it. It does make life easier but you pay more for the precut meat. Mix seasoning well and pour into a zip bag with your meat. Make sure all the pieces are covered with the seasoning, then refrigerate over night.

mmm gooey

mmm gooey

you will soon be delicious

The time varies greatly on how long it takes to full dry. The thickness of the meat, the ambient humidity, and your dehydrator will all play a factor in this. If you check it every 1-2 hours your first time you’ll have a better idea how well your unit runs.

Playing Tetris with raw beef is fun!

The thinnest pieces will be finished at 4 hours the thicker ones at 8. I make sure to rotate the trays to allow for even flow of air every two hours. When I rotate I check the pieces for dryness. I also live in a very humid place so my times maybe longer than yours.

You can buy extra racks for it. It was a reasonable price and highly rated. I have no affiliation with this brand but I definitely would recommend it.

You can buy extra racks for it. It was a reasonable price and highly rated. I have no affiliation with this brand but I definitely would recommend it.

glorious dried meat

For storage we prefer to vacuum seal the meat into snack size bags. In a regular zipper top plastic bag, in our climate, the meat lasts around 2 months. (I found some in the back of the cabinet that had gone bad, so sad) but the vacuum sealed bags lasts longer than that.

I still have yet to find how long that is. The only preservative is salt so there will be a shelf life. But, if you’re stocking up for Armageddon, might I suggest vacuum sealing and then freezing? Otherwise for normal consumption a batch like this is fine in your cabinet until consumed.

T has taken to cutting it up and adding it to the homemade trail mix. Great clean energy all day long!


Baby Showers

This weekend T and I had a baby shower for the taco super hero. 

Chalupa Batman

Chalupa Batman- taco superhero!

She’s got approximately one month left of incubation before she’s ready for the big world. It’s all very exciting. I’ve never done this before so it’s all been a learning experience too. Well one thing I knew before I ever got pregnant was I hated baby showers. I hate the games. I hate the abundance of estrogen and light pink or baby blue. It’s just all too girly for me. So when it came time to start talking about our own baby shower I told T I would prefer a BBQ where all of our friends could feel comfortable to hang out. Not just the ladies. 

So in planning the number one thing I stressed was this going to be a little bit different. We had some great food. Tons of awesome friends, and for the most part it was everything I wanted in a shower. The only thing I was unable to get away from was the dreaded opening presents. I’ve always been uncomfortable opening presents in front of people, especially if I was the only one opening. But that’s tradition right? That’s the reason you give the gift, to see the person open it. But, the things I’m thinking are am I making the right face? Did I express how grateful I was? How bored is everyone else at watching me? It’s all very stressful. 

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totally adorable outfit, terribly ridiculous face

 Then there’s the pictures! Let me just say I’m so glad I wore shorts, otherwise there’d be some terrible crotch shots. (do you know how hard it is to reach the ground with a basketball in your lap?)

Tiny helpers make the ground closer.

Tiny helpers make the ground closer.

We were so lucky to have such amazing friends. We got a lot of presents. I’m not that super emotional pregnant lady, but if I were, I would have cried from the love that I felt that day. I’ve always been a sucker for those gifts that are homemade. Have a unique story. Are hilarious because of some inside joke we have. The part I did like is when that person came up and told me a little story to go with the present, some personal reason why the present was special to them. So, while I could have taken them all home and opened them there, I’d have missed that personal touch. I received a present that had among other things hand written birth affirmations. This did make me tear up a bit. See, I’m having a hippie birth (I’ll make a post on that later) one of the things I keep stressing to myself is the positive. This woman got it. She made cards to help me focus on those positives. It really meant a lot to me. 

This is birth.

This is birth.

On top of those kind gifts there were tons from people in the know. This thermometer is great for babies? I have no idea about baby thermometers, but I know one night down the road when Chalupa is sick and crying, and I’m frazzled and scared, that thermometer that doesn’t have to be inserted into an orifice, will be a godsend. Those breast pads? Right now they just look like funny ice packs, but when I’ve been nursing for three days and my nipples are on fire, I’ll be so grateful they exist. 

I also had a long distance friend send me a picture. He said “You’re going to be getting a bunch of stuff for the baby. This is for you two.” The picture has come to represent that we are still people, adults, humans that came around a long time before this tiny wonder. It’s a really nice reminder to me that without us as people, Chalupa couldn’t have been a people either. I don’t know if he meant for it to have that much meaning, but that’s what I see. 

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“Don’t forget, you are still you.”

The biggest thing I learned from the baby shower, is there there is a small army of people who love us, support us, and want to be here for us. It’s still so overwhelming. We may be far from our biological families, but out here in the great state of Texas, we’ve cultivated an amazing family from our friends. If I haven’t said it enough I want to reiterate it just so you know,

I love you guys, and thank you thank you thank you!

 


Raising Chickens

It’s been a few years since we first brought chickens home. It’s been an adventure. I have funny stories, I have sad stories, I have unexplainable stories. I love having chickens. I wouldn’t change that for anything, but having chickens is hard and easy at the same time.

The big coop with vines added for sun protection and bushes for dog protection.

The big coop with vines added for sun protection and bushes for dog protection.

Inside with various stages of boxes, waterers, and feeders. It's a learning process.

Inside with various stages of boxes, waterers, and feeders. It’s a learning process.

This year I had the baby fluff itch and bought 10 new hatchlings in the spring. As odds would have it 5 turned out to be roosters, of the 5 hens only three made it to adulthood because our dogs got ahold of them. We decided this go round we would keep one rooster for potential breeding purposes. So a few months back when the crowing got to be too much and the roos were big enough (sort of) we slaughtered them and froze them for food. A lot of people ask if it’s difficult for us. My response is always that I know the chickens have had a good life and they’re slaughtered humanely. It’s a lot easier to kill a chicken than you’d think. The best advice I have for you if you decided to eat your chickens, is to never view them as pets. They are livestock. Over the years I had some chickens that I’ve become attached to and I was very upset when they died (illness or predator attack). But, the rooster and most of the hens are livestock to me. When it’s their time it’s their time.

Well back to this year of chicken. The rooster we kept, Doplh, was not very bright, and hen pecked, but we liked him in all his goofiness. He was kept because he had an excellent 80’s rock mullet of feathers and a comb over. This weekend he was acting strange, and died. I found him lying down and separated him from the ladies just in case he was sick. We really have no idea why he died, but have a theory about his crop being full. I disposed of him before I learned of this potential cause so I have no way of inspecting.  So we are back down to just the ladies.

We also received 4 baby chicks from a friend a few weeks back. One of them died, and we were worried it was coccidoisis, however, it never spread to the other chickens so I’m unsure why. We only learned of the potential of cocci after they had been introduced to the main flock. The friend who gave them to me also lost a few of her babies, and we both observed bloody stools. Typically if there is a risk of it you want to quarantine quickly, but since all the remaining flock appears to be healthy we’ve left them together.

Unfortunately the baby drama doesn’t end there. One of my broody hens, Jack, attacked one of the babies and nearly killed her. So Jack and the baby have been in quarantine for the last week. Jack has received a lot of submissive training because she decided to start attacking me too. After a week she seemed to calm down quite a bit and has been slowly reintroduced back to the flock. During her time in lock down she started picking out her feathers, so I worried she was stressing too much and actually moved her jail (dog kennel) inside the big coop.

Jack in lock down

Jack in lock down

Now she seems okay, but we’re watching her aggression. The baby she attacked is a survivor, so we named her Gloria Clucker. She has healed well but is still recovering. I’ve moved her out of quarantine in the garage and back into the coop. She is not yet ready to be part of the big flock yet but hated being alone so she is in the dog kennel that Jack used to be in.

I told T recently that after all this craziness, we’re not getting any new chickens for awhile! We are currently at 10 large hens, and 3 babies. Below are the pictures of all the ladies with a quick introduction to their personalities. Not pictured are Dusty Chickenfield and Snowflake, they’re part of my March babies, and are super fast! They’re small game chickens and not very personable closer to wild birds than the friendly livestock nature of my others.

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Bridgette on top- partially blind, incredibly spastic, achieved pet status by being so very strange, no eggs yet born in March, possible rooster? Pollox on bottom

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T-bone and the two babies- T-bone is my smallest full grown hen, she’s a silkie about 1.5 years old, and she’s adopted the two easter egger chicks as her own.

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Jack out of lock down, minus some feathers- she’s incredibly broody, recently aggressive towards people and chickens, in training to hopefully fix her of that.

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Bandit- smaller black and grey hen. one of the head ladies, decent layer, friendly Big Red- she and bandit are in charge and often found together, Red comes running every time she sees me because she knows I bring the kitchen scraps. Red is one of my oldest ladies.

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Monday- shy, large egg layer, stays to herself mostly.

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Castor – Pollox’s sister, likes to catch lizards, more dominant and less broody than her sister, very noisy hen.

She's a survivor!

Gloria Clucker- She’s a survivor! She is a buff orpington, pretty tame, and recovering very well.

Finally the terrible eat beasts! Despite every enhancement we make to the coop to dog proof it, they find a way to get a couple a year. To be honest sometimes it’s our fault for not double checking the count and finding the chicken before letting them out.

We eat mommy's chickens!

Dagney and Roark- We eat mommy’s chickens!

It’s a long one but so much is happening on the chicken side, I had to update. Keep an eye out for the next one.


I’m Back

After two years, I’ve decided to dust off the cobwebs. So much has changed lately in our lives over here at Leetsstreet. T and I are currently expecting a tiny person, baby girl Chalupa. At 8 months pregnant I’ve had a lot of changes personally and physically. I do believe that I may be smuggling sporting equipment under my clothing.  We’re very excited, nervous, and confused about all things baby. Ever the hippies, we’re going to use cloth diapers and breast feeding, as well as our own strange blend of personalities to raise this tiny bundle of energy.

Our little flock has grown to 13 hens and one rooster. (with many planned and unplanned deaths in the last two years) They provide a lot of interesting adventures and lessons on how to raise animals. We’re constantly learning and being challenged by our fine feathered friends. This spring we want to start hatching our own baby chickens for sale or eating. Stay tuned for that little bit of fluff and excitement.

Of course I’m still doing a lot of cooking, but it’s not as paleo as it once was. We still eat fairly healthy but some aspects of our meals have changed.

I’m excited to share my new life with you. Please feel free to comment with topics and ideas you’d like to see covered in the future.

-Cassie and the Leetsstreet family

T, Cass, and Chalupa

T, Cass, and Chalupa B


Hiatus

Okay, so I’m sure it’s become pretty obvious that the posts have dwindled to a bare minimum lately. I don’t feel like I have anything new to share lately. I’m going to take a month off. I’ll leave this up so you can reference old recipes and posts it you like. I’ll update the Facebook occasionally and use that to let you know if/when a new post comes up.  I’m worried I have nothing interesting left to post about or discuss. I may change the focus of this blog in the future. For now, though, I’m just going to step back and figure out if this is still what I want to do.

Thank you for all your support.

much love,

Cassie that girl down south


Chicken Coop 2.0

We’ve been sweating our behinds off lately refurbishing a boat covering into a chicken coop. A huge chicken coop. Here are some pictures of the progress.

 

We added support with 2×4’s across the middle and extra 4×4’s in the middle of the long sides.

T also built a very nice functional door.

We moved the concrete parking blocks into the middle so the grass would grow in and the house had something to rest on.

The house was built out of scraps we had lying around the house. We’ll add hay for the ladies to lay on. We also have a large rod secured in one corner for the gals to roost on at night.

We intend to add lattice to the two sides that the dogs have access to so that the walls are more secure. The other two sides are cordoned off and inaccessible to canines. I also moved a potted plant that likes to creep up lattice to one side for some more curb appeal.

Hopefully this is a happy home for our fine feathered friends. We’ll know soon enough and report back!


Chorizo Stuffed Pork Loin

Cassie, what’s with all the stuffed meat lately? Well, glad you asked. It’s delicious and fun! Meat inside of meat? It’s like Epic meal time up in here. Don’t follow this link at work, some of the language is bleeped by a bird.

After the success of the spinach-bacon-chicken I searched my fridge for new ingredients to stuff inside a pork loin I had laid out. I found some chorizo in the meat drawer, score! Now what kind of vegetables go well with Chorizo? Why orange ones! Don’t ask me why it works, it just does. I wanted the seasoning on the outside  to match the chorizo inside. Read along for another amazing meat in meat recipe:

Chorizo Stuffed Pork Loin

1 pork loin ~5.5 lbs

1 package of chorizo 10oz

3 carrots diced

1/2 yellow onion diced

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 sweet potato cut in chunks

1tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic

1/8 tsp of cumin

1/8 tsp of ground oregano

In a frying pan cook the chorizo on medium heat. While that cooks dice your onion then add it to the chorizo. Dice your carrots and again add them to the pan. Cook this mixture for another 5 minutes.

While it cooks prep your sweet potatoes and cut your loin. I time my cooking by how long it takes me to slice up my veggies. If you feel the need to prep your veggies ahead of time, cook each for about 2 minutes before adding the next ingredient. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool down. When it is cool enough to handle, stuff inside your pork loin.

Fold meat back together.

Place loin inside of a ring of sweet potatoes (any one hear Johnny Cash right now?) In a well oiled baking dish. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over top of loin and potatoes. Toss the potatoes a bit to coat with seasoning.

I baked the loin in the oven at 400 uncovered for 1.5 hours while I rocked Grace at the gym.

This was too hot and too long. The meat came out tough and dry. Next time I’ll cook it at a much lower temperature for a longer time. That’s usually my MO, but I wanted to try something different. If you are making this at home, and you should because the flavors are wonderful, make sure that the fat side is up. Bake it covered at 200 for at least 4 hours.  As always check internal temperature before eating. You could definitely make this in a crock pot or deep pot and let cook low and slow while you are at work. I will make this again but much slower.

The flavors were awesome and as I said before, orange vegetables go great with chorizo! Are you hungry why not try this out?


Spinach stuffed Chicken Breasts

If you are a fan of my creamed spinach, you will LOVE this dish! My friend Rebecca is just starting her paleo journey and came up with this. I tweaked it a little for my own preferences, but I’m so thankful she gave me the idea for this. It was super tasty.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

4 pterodactyl breasts (or enormous chicken breasts)

6 pieces of bacon diced

1 package of spinach (the frozen brick is 80 cents at my grocery store)

1 yellow onion diced

5 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup and 1 table spoon of coconut milk

1tbsp red pepper

A few dashes of the following: Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1tsp xanthan gum (omit this if you prefer)

Cook up the bacon bits in a pan on medium high until crispy.

Remove bacon and keep the fat in the pan. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until they start to soften. About 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the spinach and red pepper and toss the pan a few times until evenly distributed. Remove from heat and add to the bacon bits. Mix and set aside to cool.

While your spinach cools, slice your chicken (pterodactyl) breasts in half making sure to keep one side still attached. If you are feeling particularity skillful try to only cut from the top so you have what is essentially a chicken breast mitten. When the stuffing is cooled enough to handle, stuff the breasts with the spinach mixture.

Place them in a well oiled baking dish. Pour the 1/4 cup of coconut milk on top of the breasts then season them with your remaining seasonings.

Bake covered in an oven at 400 for approximately 45 minutes. Check with a thermometer that the internal temperature is 180.

When done pour out the pan drippings into a stock pot, turn temperature to medium high. Add the remaining coconut milk and xanthan gum. Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.

We ate ours with roasted brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts and noticed they were super cheap at the store in frozen dinner sized packs so I bought a few. Apparently I thought this was a good deal last week too. We now have a LOT of frozen brussel sprouts. T told me not to buy any more for awhile. Ooops.

This meal is so amazing! Try it today.


MMM meat

Just a delicious picture of smoked pork shoulder.