Lamb Roast: From Grocer to Table

There are many things I consider when I cook lamb for dinner. Will I be the only one eating? Do I want leftovers? What spices do I want to use? And, will I cook it slowly or quickly?

My standard (and favourite) mix of herbs and spices will work for any cut of lamb as seasoning. Use it liberally, rubbing it onto the meat itself.

Lamb Seasoning
2 tbsp. oregano
3 tbsp. parsley
5 tbsp. mustard powder
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
10 tbsp. coarse sea salt
1 tbsp. powdered sea kelp (optional)
<span “font-size:14.0pt;=”” color:#020202″=””>1-2 cups of Dijon mustard to coat the lamb (optional)

Choosing the Right Cut
When choosing the lamb, I look for a cut that’s large yet still within my budget and fits my plans for the meal. If I want leftovers, I pick a large shoulder or leg of lamb. These larger cuts of meat provide the convenience of relatively hands-free cooking as they can be cooked over several hours.

Shoulder Cutslamb roast
Shoulder cuts are usually quite large and contain lots of meat and fat. Slow cooking shoulder cuts helps to keep it tender. I liberally rub it with Lamb Seasoning, adding some chopped mint. Then I put it in a roasting pan, add some liquid (water or stock), cover it, and cook it at 300ºF for four to six hours. It comes out of the oven falling off the bone

You can also add onions, chopped or sliced, carrots, and celery. Parsnips and turnips work well also. Cut any of these vegetables into big chunks and add when there are 3 hours remaining. They can be eaten with the roast or alone as leftovers the next day.

Leg of Lamb
A leg of lamb, on the other hand, is usually more expensive, has less fat and has lots of meat. I use the spices and herbs in the lamb seasoning only, and skip the Dijon mustard. You can either sear the leg on the stovetop, or cook it in the oven at 400ºF. Cook until it’s a golden brown all over. This will take approximately twenty minutes to seal in the juices, and then continue to cook for two hours at 250ºF in the oven.

I also like to add bulbs of garlic with ½ inch cut off from the top stem side. I cut enough to expose most of the bulbs of garlic. This will allow the garlic to roast in the pan (hence roasted garlic) and by cutting the tops – topping the garlic – you can easily squeeze out the garlic when it’s cold. Add the garlic buds in the last hour of cooking.

Lamb Shanks
Lamb shanks are a good one-meal cut of lamb. If I’m cooking just for myself or don’t want leftovers, I’ll choose a lamb shank or two. They are smaller cuts of meat with a lot of bone and they cook quite quickly. Once I’ve coated them with the lamb seasoning (above), I quickly fry them on the stovetop to seal in the juices. Then, I add ½ cup of stock, cover them, turn down the temperature to low, and simmer for 15 minutes (I like them medium rare).

Other Seasoning Possibilities
Sea kelp powder is a nutritious addition to any roast, as it has a high mineral content. Ginger also works well to add flavour to lamb. Rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano and sage can be added to the pan to make it really tasty. You can also tie stalks of fresh herbs in a bundle and put them in the bottom of the pan.

Gravy!
Strain the pan drippings when the roast is done and cooling. Remove any large chunks of fat or veggies so you can make a smooth gravy. Put it in a small saucepan and reduce the stock at a gentle boil uncovered. The more you cook it at this point the thicker it will get. For example, I cook two litres of stock down to 1/8 cup and it is nice and thick. This process intensifies the flavour and produces a great gravy. I add a dollop of butter just before I serve the gravy to add shine and richness. Another approach is to cool the drippings in the fridge before you use them so you can easily skim off the fat.

~ by Matthew Craig

Understanding Immunity – Our Healing Power Within

When we support the natural processes in the body with a healthy diet, a low stress level, and less exposure to toxins, we are rewarded with a strong immune system and a responsive healing power within. On the contrary, a poor diet, daily stress, and exposure to toxins in food, water and the environment, all cause a deficiency in immune system function, ultimately leading to degenerative health, illness, and premature aging.

A healthy immune system fights every invasion on the body from a scrape on the skin to deadly illnesses, such as HIV and cancer. It keeps us healthy. A weakened immune system is less effective and results in an increased susceptibility to every type of illness. Common signs of an impaired immune system include fatigue, frequent colds and infections, chronic inflammation, allergies, slow wound healing, listlessness, accelerated aging and cancer.

One way for invaders to enter the body and take hold is through the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. An imbalance in this area, of beneficial to harmful bacteria, can be caused by the use of antibiotics, eating food from animals treated with antibiotics, the birth control pill, NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, cortisone), sugar, and chlorinated water. This colon microflora, often referred to as “the garden within,” is one of the major sites of immune function, and is necessary for health and disease prevention. Supplementation with probiotics can help to replenish beneficial intestinal flora and heal the intestine.

When immunity is low, organisms usually found in the body at normal levels, such as candida, or oral thrush, thrive and overgrow, wreaking havoc with the immune system. Candida overgrowth contributes to digestion problems, causinunderstandingimmunityg increased permeability in the gastrointestinal lining or “leaky gut” leading to food allergies and other maladies.

There is a link between food allergies and a weakened immune system. Because people with food allergies have compromised digestive tracts, undigested food enters the bloodstream causing an immune reaction, diverting attention away from the white blood cells (or phagocytes) usual job of defending invaders and cleaning up inflammatory debris. Over time, the immune function becomes increasingly impaired resulting in health problems.

The topic of free radicals must also be addressed when talking about immunity. Our immune system naturally releases “internal” free radicals to destroy viruses and infections and our body in its wisdom, releases antioxidants to keep these free radicals in check. It is, however, the “external” free radicals that overwhelm our immune system and are considered harmful. These free radicals are volatile, unstable, oxygen hungry molecules that attack and destroy the body’s cells. They are produced in the body when exposed to toxins, viruses, germs, or fungi. They are found in the air, water, in various forms of food and in all sources of radiation. They are known to accelerate the aging process and severely compromise the immune system leading to degeneration and disease.

We cannot always prevent exposure to “external” free radicals but we can neutralize these scavengers by including antioxidants in our diet. Antioxidant nutrients include vitamins A, C, E, B (complex), selenium, zinc, and bioflavonoids. These can all be supplied by the diet in a variety of foods, namely grains and organically grown fruits; such as blueberries and grapefruit, and vegetables; such as broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, green leafy vegetables, garlic, and onions. Whole food supplements, high in antioxidants, are also recommended and include Royal Jelly, chlorella, spirulina, and wheat grass concentrates.

Protecting your immune system is an important way to maintain or regain control of your health. Having an awareness of what affects your immune system; paying attention to how your food, surroundings, and level of stress make you feel; and taking action to prevent degeneration, are critical ways to begin building your immunity. Your body knows what it needs to be well. Are you listening?

~ by Nancy Hall, R.H.N., Level 10

Vegetables!

Lately I’ve been eating lots of Brussel Sprouts, green beans, swiss chard, kohlrabi & jicama.  Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the unique quality of each vegetable.
vegetables
Jicama
I often refer to jicama’s taste & texture as a mix between a potato and an apple; starchy, juicy and crisp. Carefully peel or remove the skin with a knife. Cut into sections – I like them thick – and eat raw. Makes a great salad when mixed with grapefruit sections! Totally yummy. Also great with a curry dressing  or a light vinaigrette (lime/lemon juice and oil).

Kohlrabi
Slice it up thin, eat it raw with a dip or steam it lightly and mix with other vegetables.

Brussels Sprouts
These got a bad reputation in my childhood – nobody wanted to eat them, let alone go through the fuss of making them. I recently revisited this misaligned vegetable with magical results.

With a sharp paring knife, I take the bottom ½ inch off, peeling any dirty leaves with it, and mark the bottom deeply with two strokes, making an ‘X’.  It is best to steam or boil these babies.  Make sure you watch the time. Steaming often takes as long as 10 to 12 minutes. Boiling takes 5 or 6 minutes. I then coat them in either butter or extra virgin olive oil, squeeze some lemon juice on top and a healthy dose of salt. Voila! Eat it hot and enjoy.

Swiss Chard
Nice and easy, both to prepare and to eat. I take a bunch, cut the stems down to the leaf, wash very well and steam for 3 to 4 minutes. Once cooked, slice it up thin. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, some salt and yum.

The best for last? Tough to prepare – cut both tips off and wash well. I keep a bag handy for the ends as I tip them off, paring knife in one hand, bean in the other.

Easy to eat – steam for 6 or 7 minutes and then serve with salt and pepper – and chunks of cheese. My preference is soft goat cheese. If you’re making a salad, you can shock the green beans once cooked. I do this by running cold water over them.

Your imagination is the limit. Experiment with abandon!

~ Matthew Craig

Row Your Boat

Such a simple little song that was so fun to sing all together, in rounds, over and over.
Just thinking of rounds, I realized that this simple song is actually the quick guide to successful living on this planet. Let me break it down for you….
rowyourboat1
Row, row, row
– the repetition gives away the importance of this. We must take action, and more action.
Your boat – the key being ‘your’. You have absolute control over where you go in your own boat. But there’s no way you can row someone else’s – maybe steer a little – but at what cost to your own song?
Gently – this word should be underlined a few times. Always gentle with yourself. You are the most important person in your world.
Down the stream – not upstream or against the current, not across the flow – always with the flow.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily – Yes. This means more joy than action. Joy in action.
Life is but a dream – this is not a metaphor. It’s really all a dream. And we each create our own dream as we see fit.

So what is the recipe for success by rowing? How do I dream heaven on earth? I take responsibility for my own boat, rowing with the flow, full of joy and laughter and totally aware that this dream that is my life is my own creation.

~ by Nancy Marsh