“When daily life is directly tied to the ebbs and flows of nature, as they are in agriculture, one cannot help but observe that life and death are forever in service to one another. We nurture the newborn livestock, and we process the ones that are ready for market. We harvest one crop, we plant seeds for another.”
- Shannon Hayes (from Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover’s Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously)

Meat consumption can be a confusing- and polarizing- topic in the health community: many people seem to avoid meat because they believe it to be “bad” for them/”bad” for the environment/”bad” for animal welfare. I personally do not believe meat is “bad” (nor do I believe it needs to be avoided if you enjoy it) and I talk extensively about why in my book. To sum up, meat has a very rich nutritional profile (animal foods are a wonderful source of protein, but also contain additional nutrients that simply cannot be found elsewhere), especially when it comes from animals raised on ample pasture. In addition, I believe traditional animal husbandry is a humane and sustainable practice; I want to support farmers outside of the industrial factory farming system…farmers who truly care for/don’t confine their animals and who allow them to graze as nature intended.

I feel very fortunate that here in NY’s Hudson Valley where I live, I am surrounded by a number of farms where the animals and land are managed in a holistic way. These farms don’t confine the animals, nor feed them a grain-based diet, nor give them antibiotics or hormones. They allow the animals to roam freely in the sunshine and fresh air, grazing on nutrient-dense pasture.

One such farm is Full Moon Farm, and when the folks from the farm asked me if I’d be willing to develop some recipes with their products, I was really excited. Though I don’t post recipes for meat here on the blog all that often, meat is definitely a part of my diet, a diet that I consider to be quite health-promoting and balanced. So of course I said “yes”. This means that in the future, you can expect to see a few more meaty recipes!

Today, I want to share one of them with you: a roasted fresh ham that’s a really nice option for family dinner such as Easter.

About pastured pork/ham:

Unlike cows, pigs are omnivores. Pigs raised on pasture farms do graze, but they eat many other things, too (their diet is often supplemented with grain). Pastured pork is generally much more flavorful-and healthier-than commercial pork because they pigs have access to the outdoors and eat a much more diverse diet.

“Ham” refers to the hind leg of the pork. A roasted pastured fresh ham is very different from the cured/salty/overly sweet hams many of us are accustomed to, but it’s quite delicious in its own right. Keep in mind that a fresh uncured ham will have been frozen by the farmer, a step that is necessary to prevent food-borne pathogens in pork. A well-sealed/air-tight package of fresh ham should keep for 6 months before cooking.

A fresh ham may come in various sizes and may be cured, smoked, or roasted. This recipe calls for a boneless fresh ham that is approximately 4 pounds.

ham top view_
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I’ve been a big fan of the blog Nourished Kitchen for a long time and I’ve always been tremendously impressed by Jenny McGruther’s work ethic. Not only does she share incredible recipes on her blog (many of which I have cooked), over the years she’s created online cooking classes and meal plans, as well. Now she’s also written her first book for print, and I am so excited to share it with you.

nourished kitchen

The Nourished Kitchen cookbook is a love letter to traditional foods. In Jenny’s words, traditional foods are the foods of our great-great grandmothers-the foods of gardens and farms. Indeed the book begins with a chapter called from the garden; subsequent chapters focus on the pasture, the range, the waters, the fields, the wild, the orchard, and the larder. This is an innovative way to organize a cookbook, and I adore it.

book open

The central tenet of Jenny’s approach is that nourishing foods meet the following criteria: they are sustainable, balanced, traditional, and involve community. Jenny is deeply committed to these principles; they inform how she puts meals on her family’s table and how she lives her life. But while she is passionately devoted to traditional foods, something I appreciate very much about her blog and this book is that her writing lacks the dogmatic tone I sometimes see from folks involved in the “real foods” movement. Also, I also often see elitism in conversations about food quality (stuff like: “if you are not eating like us, you are eating wrong”), but there is no elitism in this book. Quite the opposite, in fact: Jenny is all about sharing, and thus reviving, the beautiful, delicious, and honestly pretty simple, food traditions of our past.

I love that this book is very much about balance. There are recipes for grains/breads and beans, fruits and vegetables, fish, muscle and organ meats, dairy, eggs, traditional fats and sweets. Foods are featured in their raw, cooked, and fermented states…and everything looks glorious: Jenny’s photos are absolutely stunning. (In this post are photos I took of a few of the recipes I’ve been making from the book).

sourdough starter_

Sourdough starter in process…the recipe is in the book

bonny clabber

Bonny Clabber (“soured”/strained raw milk sweetened with molasses) in process…the recipe is in the book

Having read Nourishing Traditions years ago, I have been familiar with the Weston Price nutritional philosophy for a long time. It has very much inspired both my cooking and my nutrition/health knowledge (as is evidenced on this blog and in my book One Simple Change). Jenny’s recipes pay homage to the philosophy, yet her take is somehow fresh and hers alone (I don’t know anyone besides Jenny who can make a food like broiled kidneys sound quite so appealing!).

Because of the wonderful recipes, the incredible photographs, and all of the health-promoting wisdom contained within the narrative of the book, I know I will be turning to The Nourished Kitchen frequently in the future. I hope that you will buy the book, too, so you can enjoy all it has to offer. You will not be disappointed, I promise you that.

strawberries in syrup

Strawberries in Vanilla Honey Syrup in process..a riff on Jenny’s Strawberries in Minted Honey Syrup

More reviews of, and recipes from, the Nourished Kitchen cookbook:
Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad with Spiced Kombucha Vinaigrette/My Humble Kitchen
Spring Vegetable Stew/Mommypotamous
Potato and Spinach Soup with Jalapeno/Tasty Yummies
Bone Marrow Custard/Healthy Home Economist
Red Fruit Custard Cake/Food Loves Writing

It’s Friday and today I’m going to try something new. Here’s a list of things I’m into this week…things I want to share with you. (I’m hoping that maybe this will “stick” and I’ll keep doing it on Fridays going forward.) Happy reading and enjoy your weekend!

Friday Shares

Recipes I want to make:

Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Strawberries (The Tomato Tart)
Tea Smoked Shrimp Salad (Eat the Love)
25 Recipes Featuring Edible Spring Flowers (The View From Great Island)
Spaghetti Carbonara (Damn Delicious)
Boozy Green Lemonade (With Food and Love)
Homemade Marshmallow Peeps (Molly Yeh for Food52)

Books I am currently reading:

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa – the Health Food Eating Disorder

Cookbooks I am currently cooking from:

The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle (I’ll be reviewing this one soon!)
The DIY Pantry: 30 Minutes to Healthy, Homemade Food(I’ll be reviewing this one, too!)
Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover’s Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously

Giveaways of my book going on right now:

Gourmande in the Kitchen
Oh My Veggies

Miscellaneous (lifestyle-related):

Are You Programmed to Enjoy Exercise? (New York Times)
Calorie Denialism: Why It’s Hurting Your Fat Loss Efforts (Tom Venuto)

Thanks for checking out my Friday shares. If you’ve got something you want to share with me, please tell me about it in the comments!

Disclosure: Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you make a purchase via one of my links, I make a small commission. This helps me support my blogging activities…thanks in advance.

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Organic Choice. All opinions are 100% mine.

As I mentioned in a recent post, we purchased our home because of the property: we were so excited by the gardening potential of our sunny lot. As we got going in our gardening endeavors, however, we quickly learned that the soil here isn't great… it contains so much heavy clay. So we built raised beds and we've trucked in a heck of a lot of good quality soil that we've amended in many different ways over the years. We've learned first hand that the success of a garden depends so very much on the quality of the soil.

In a future post, I will definitely talk more about how we amend the soil in our raised beds. But since not everyone has the space or inclination to garden in raised beds, today I want to focus on another form of gardening that's potentially more "do-able": organic container gardening.

Organic container gardening is great because the only thing you really need to get started is a bit of outdoor space (in the city, this could be a balcony or rooftop) and some sun (6-8 hours/day). Many people are accustomed to growing flowers and maybe herbs in containers, but you can absolutely grow organic vegetables in containers, too. The vegetables that do particularly well with organic container gardening include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and zucchini (ratatouille, anyone?). Many types of greens including lettuce varieties and Swiss chard should also do well in containers.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

-Because plants such as tomato and eggplant can get quite large, look for varieties that are meant to go in containers. The names connote smaller stature such as "patio", "pixie", "dwarf", and "compact".

-Most herbs will be successful in containers, but I’ve read that dill and tarragon are two that prefer to be in-ground (unless you are able to use a very deep pot).

Choosing a Container

You can go with a standard plastic or terra-cotta pots for organic container gardening, or use your imagination: take your pick from gorgeous ceramic urns to food-grade plastic pails and buckets. I have heard of opening up a bag of potting soil and planting vegetables directly into it- you can't get much simpler or less expensive than that. And I've seen some fantastic vertical container gardens made with upcycled pallets: I took this photo at a Sustainable Living Fair recently. (This pallet garden was made by a local company called Earth Designs and features flowers, succulents, herbs, and greens.) 

pallet garden | healthy green kitchen

Make sure you have holes at the bottom of your container for adequate water drainage; if you don't, the roots of your plants may rot. It is often suggested that you line the bottom of your pots with something such as small pebbles to keep your potting soil from from escaping and to promote good drainage.

Note that tomatoes and eggplants need to be in large containers- figure about 5 gallons per plant. If you plant them in a smaller container, they may not be very happy. It is very tempting when the plants are small to want to put more than one plant into each pot, but for the most successful organic container gardening, refrain from doing this- your plants won't do well if they are crowded.

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Homemade fruit curds always surprise me. Each creamy spoonful contains so much bright, sweet flavor. Even though I have been making my own fruit curds for some years now, I still think it’s pretty amazing that such simple ingredients can turn into something so special.

When I found Marisa McClellan’s brand new book Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces in my mailbox a few weeks ago, I immediately checked the index to see if there was a citrus curd recipe inside. The answer was, happily, yes! And the recipe- Orange Cardamom Curd- was so intriguing that I had to make it right away.

curd3_text

Do you follow Marisa’s blog Food in Jars? If you are interested in food preservation, then you must, must, must check it out. Having met her in the flesh, I can attest to the fact that she is a lovely person; Marisa is also a truly fabulous resource when it comes to canning (Preserving by the Pint is her second book; she is also the author of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round). I really like her small-batch approach. I think it’s wonderful for those new to preserving, but I have to stress that Preserving by the Pint is not just for novices. I, for one, really enjoy making small amounts of preserved foods…I don’t always want to make 6, 9, or 12 jars of something…I don’t always feel like “swimming in preserves”, as Marisa puts it.

book

Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces contains recipes for so many things you’ll love: from jams to chutneys to pestos and pickles. I plan to use this book a lot and I highly recommend it.

oranges and eggsorange cardamom curd | healthy green kitchen

I love this curd swirled into plain yogurt (with some nuts sprinkled on top); I also think it would be great on these orange date oatmeal scones. Marisa mentions using it on whole wheat biscuits…use your imagination!
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