Category Archives: Cooking Helps

Canning Squash


Yesterday I put up 14 quarts of zucchini squash.  Since squash is one of those perfect GAPS/SCD foods and they are abundant this time of year.  If you do not grow your own, see if you can find a friend that has extras, or go visit a Farmer’s Market, by the end of the season they can be almost hard to give them away.   But I have a mindset to never let food go to waste if I can help it.  So I put up as much food as I can and often accept peoples leftovers for the purpose of keeping my pantries stocked and my freezers full.

Up front I have to say that the powers that dictate what we are and are not supposed to do tell us that Squash is something that we are not supposed to can.  I am a rebellious maverick in the kitchen…refusing for modernity to tell me that I cannot do something that my grandmother could have done.  I have to wonder some times how our grandmothers managed to raise all of those kids.

Over the years I have done squash in several ways. I did consider just doing them plain so they could be made into soups…but in the past I have found that doing them in tomatoes seems to produce the best long term taste.

The process is simple.  You wash your squash, cut them into chunks, and pack them into jars.  I add a little less than a tsp of salt to each jar and a good sprig of fresh basil.  (if you do not have fresh herbs, you can add your favorite Italian dry herbs..or skip this all together.)   Some years I add garlic but simply did not feel like messing with the garlic yesterday and decided it could be added later on when I reheat the squash for consumption.

In a large pan, I added some tomato sauce, three small cans of paste and some water.  (I have done this many ways…and if the tomatoes in the garden would have been a week further along I would have just used fresh tomatoes.   I got the tomatoes boiling and added a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every jar that I planned to process.

You must keep the tomato juice boiling, ladle this hot fluid over the squash, run a knife down the sides of the jar releasing air…wipe the jar tops and put on the lids. If you are inexperienced  at canning…please do more research on the canning process to better understand how it all works.

Use a pressure canner and process at 10 lbs of pressure for 40 minutes.

Later on when I reheat these I will add them to a sauted onion and some garlic.  Or I will add them to some soup.

Here is a link to another sites that gives you a different idea for putting up squash.  This one has you hot pack the squash.

and here is another that gives a bit more precision to the process for those of you that like “exacts”.



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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Cooking Helps, Squash


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Roast Beef with Butternut Gravy

It is pretty much agreed that gravy goes well over pot roast.  So today, I took the time to plan the meal with gravy.  Since the GAPS/SCD diets do not allow flour or cornstarch one has to take another approach to making gravy.   This then means that gravy cannot be an afterthought but something we have to plan.

There are all kinds of suggestions for making gravy using blended veggies.  And really any veggie will work.   I had extra butternut squash cut up and ready to use in my refrigerator so I tossed that in with my roast, carrots, and mushrooms before baking my in the oven.

After the roast was done, I took the butternut squash out of the roasting pan and smashed them up with a fork.  I added about a cup of broth and a package of plain gelatine. (Blending it all together well.)   In a skillet, I placed three or four tablespoons of coconut oil and fried two onions until tender.  Once done, I stirred in the smashed up squash, added salt , pepper, and garlic to taste.   For a smoother gravy (or for people who do not like the texture) the onion could have been blended as well.

I cut up the roast and placed it in a serving dish, then added the other veggies from the roasting pan.  I poured this wonderful gravy over the top.

Because winter squash do not have a lot of flavor they make a great binding agent for gravy.   I have used zucchini’s before and found that they changed the flavor a little more than I liked.  I have also made gravy with coconut flour.  It tastes fine but I really don’t like the gritty texture.

So the next time you want something with gravy, take the few extra minutes to make one with a blended vegetable.

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Beef, Cooking Helps, Gravy, Helpful Tips, Squash


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What are your favorite spices for meat?

Fresh potted herbs are fun to grow!

What a fun topic to tackle!! 

I confess that I dress and eat by my moods.  That means that what I use to season my foods with varies greatly from day to day.  And because I have lived in several various cultures and picked up the tastes of those cultures I am a fusionist. 

Yet there are some very basics that I use and then some tricks that I will share. 

This is the way I like my spice drawer.

 For starters, when you open up your spice/herb drawer or cabinet start to consider the ones that you know that go well together. (Combinations you see in standard recipes.)   For instance, if we have a craving for Italian food I season ground meat or chicken and eat it with zucchini noodles.  Italian spices are basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram–too much of any of them can be overpowering and ruin the whole meal.

Or if I am going for a Mexican flavor I will add a variety of spices depending on the flavor I am after:   oregano, cumin, corriander, cinnamon, paparika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.  (Lime juice will add some thing very special to these spices!)   The neat thing about cooking with peppers is that using a variety adds uniqueness to the flavor.  For instance, paparika is a pepper and usually is the base for most chili powders…and likewise, black pepper (which is actually a spice) adds not just heat but enhances the flavor of other types of peppers.  And cumin also blends well with peppers….At one time I hated the flavor of cumin, it is one of those spices I had to learn to like and now I use it a good deal.  BUT, I don’t always use it in my Mexican food because like the great United States, Mexico has different regions and their foods vary a good deal in flavors.

Asian food uses a lot of ginger, pepper, ground mustard and hot peppers.   They also use anise which has a licorice taste but can quickly become over powering if you get too much.  Both Asians and Mexican cultures use star anise when slow cooking beef and pork.  One piece of star anise in a pot roast gives a uniqueness that is quite good. 

My bulk spice shelf.

Okay, now on to something perhaps a bit more practical.  There are some certain blends of spices that go well together with particular types of meats.  These are some of my favorites but may not be yours.  The goal is for each individual cook to develop flavors that suit them and their family.

Beef: cinnamon, cloves, corriander, black and white pepper, garlic and salt. I once worked with a chef that said,”Beef is not beef with out garlic!!”  I am of the same opinion. 

Pork:  sage, black and white pepper,paparika and salt  or I might use: ground mustard, tumeric, paparika, salt and a touch cumin.  And while I use a lot of garlic on most everything I usually do not put it on my pork.  I might put it in a sauce that I use on the pork but rarely do I cook garlic with my pork.

Chicken/Poultry: oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic, paparika, salt and pepper or I could use tumeric, paparika and a little sage.  Poultry is so versatile that you really can put just about any spice/herb combination with it.

Fish: salt and pepper, dillweed, maybe a little onion powder and always paparika. Seafood needs a lighter seasoning to accompany the lighter textures and flavors.   

Lamb:  rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.

These are by no means hard and fast rules with me.  I just pull out spice jars and boxes and create as I go along.   A little trick that I learned a lot of years ago is that if you take a whiff or small taste of what you are cooking and then quickly take a whiff of a particular spice or herb you can sort of get a sensory feel for what it might taste like.  I keep a wide variety of herbs and spices and only use some of them once in a while.  Salt is essential to bring out the taste in spices so everything gets salted.  And when freehand cooking (not tied to a recipe) always start with a little at first and remember that it only takes a little bit to get too much. You can always add more but you can’t take it out.  A prime example of this is tarragon. Tarragon has a unique flavor that really is not bad at all but a tad too much will send me pushing my plate away.     

One last thing about seasoning meats.  A splash of wine can enhance meat that is slow cooked.  The best rule for that is red on dark meats (beef, lamb) white on light meats (pork and poultry).   Distilled liquors can also add a uniqueness to foods.    

This perhaps has not been as clearly written as I would have liked. (I started it several days ago and have been interrupted numberous times…) Yet, I hope that it was useful.   Have fun creating your own favorite blends!!

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Cooking Helps