A Message of Hope from Long Ago

My grandfather at Mount Rushmore, summer of 1936.

Greetings, friends. My summer was spent in quiet contemplation. I worked enough to pay the bills, but also read much and wrote much, took many walks in the woods, and cherished fresh, simple meals with Dave at the the end of every day. Wherever you are, I hope your summer was equally gratifying.

Recently, I happened upon this photo that my grandmother took of my grandfather, at Mount Rushmore, in 1936. Look closely. Two of the four faces are not yet present. Indeed, the story is not yet finished.

My grandfather was a farmer in Greene County, Iowa, and that summer, severe drought caused his crops to fail. (“We were burned out that year,” was the way my mother always told it.). There was little to do on the farm that summer that the one hired man couldn’t handle.

My grandfather at Mount Rushmore, 1969.

So, what did the family do? Grandmother, grandfather, and the four kids piled into a car with a canvas tent and a camp stove and went on a road trip, all the way out to Yellowstone Park and back. My mother would describe the way they’d simply camp alongside the narrow two-lane roads — the boys sleeping in the tent and Mom and Grandma sleeping in the car; grandmother would make bacon and eggs, there by the side of the road, for breakfast in the mornings.

As they neared home at the end of the trip, my grandfather reached into his pocket and showed his family the sum of all the money he had in the world: One dime.

I’ve always loved this story. What faith they must have had that things would turn out all right in the end. And they did turn out all right. As with all families, there were hardships and heartbreaks over the years, but my grandfather continued successfully making a solid living off of his modest 160 acres until he died at the age of 97.

During these times of uncertainty, of wondering “what’s next,” I try to be guided by this story of hope and daring.



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How to Braise Beef in a Braiser

Yes! Maybe it will be my Seven-Bone Pot Roast in the braiser tonight.

Yes! Maybe it will be my Seven-Bone Pot Roast in the braiser tonight.

File under: Beef braising recipes, how to braise beef in the braiser, best beef braiser recipes, French recipes for beef.

When that slant of late-afternoon light hits my kitchen in a very specific spot this time of year, I can always tell braising season has begun. And right now, I’m setting out to inaugurate the season’s braising with beef–glorious beef.

So, how do you cook beef in the braiser? Here are my six all-time favorite recipes on this site for beef in the braiser:

My French Pot Roast (Pot au Feu)—in the Braiser
How to Cook Boeuf Bourguignon in the Braiser
Braiser Recipe for Bottom Round Roast with French Onion Gravy
Seven-Bone Pot Roast Recipe for the Braiser
Smothered Steaks Recipe for the Braiser
Braiser Recipe for Beef Carbonnade

PS: If you’re still wondering why j’adore my braiser, this post says it all: What is a braiser? What is a Dutch Oven? Should I invest?



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Four Tips for Eating Well During a Meat Shortage

Why not turn the recent news reports of possible meat shortages into lifestyle changes for the better? Here are some of my tips for cooking with less meat, or better meat, or not meat at all — during these times.

My pot roast with coriander and cardamom is an amazing recipe for grass-fed beef.

1. Order Direct from Farmers Who Sustainably Raise Meat

Like many people, I’ve been trying to cook with less meat in general. And when I do cook with meat, I try to find meat that’s sustainably raised. I don’t always succeed, but it is a goal. While I often head to Whole Foods, I’m not doing that so much lately.

My meat farmer here in Iowa is Nick Wallace of Wallace Farms. If you live in Iowa or Chicago, he drops off meat at several locales in these areas. If not, he’ll ship meat directly to you. Check out the Wallace Farms website — he makes it so easy to source sustainably raised meats from grass-fed animals that there’s really no excuse to not at least give it a try.

The Wallace Farms website is a one-stop shop for just about every kind of animal protein: pork, poultry, seafood and beef, in all kinds of cuts – from chicken breasts, pork chops and roasts to offbeat items, like chicken backs and beef marrow bones. They even sell pet food, too.

My favorite Wallace Farms cuts are the pork chops, ground meats, and the pot roasts. Try them in these recipes:

Pork Chops with Orange and Thyme
My French Pot Roast
7-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander and Cardamom (use any pot roast for this — it doesn’t have to be 7-bone!)

Of course, sustainably raised meat is more expensive than CAFO-raised meat … but it’s like that old advertisement for good Scotch. Remember? It said: “Drinking less? Drink better.” Same goes for meat: Eating less meat? Eat better meat.

2. Eat More Seafood

If you, like me, live in a landlocked state, it can be tough getting great seafood, especially in these times when you don’t always want to go to the the best local seafood shop that’s too crowded for comfort.

That’s why I recently signed up to receive monthly boxes of wild-caught, sustainably raised, flash-frozen fish from the Wild Alaskan Company.  I gotta, say, I’m hooked (pardon the pun!)! A box of 12 individually wrapped frozen filets arrives every month. You can choose from all salmon (a mix of Coho and Sockeye), a combo pack (salmon and white fish) or all white fish. So far, I’ve received all-salmon and the combo back, I’ve been very pleased with every cut so far. Find out more on the Wild Alaskan Company website.

Here are a few of my favorite French recipes for fish:

Best French Method for Cooking Fish (Meunière style)
Roasted Salmon with Pernod Sauce
Salmon Pasta with Creme Fraiche
How to Cook Salmon in a Braiser

Honestly. I thought the Chick Pea Tinga Tacos from Hello Fresh would be a bit boring. They were outa sight … and meatless.

3. Order Occasional Meal Kits from Hello Fresh

I know. It seems really weird for a food writer and cookbook editor to order meal kit services. But the thing I like about getting the occasional box from Hello Fresh is that it makes me cook things that I don’t normally cook.  I also like the way each delivery stretches the time between visits to the supermarket.

In keeping with my goal of trying to eat less meat, I often try their vegetarian recipes. As you know, sometimes the world’s more creative meatless recipes call on a long list of ingredients — ingredients I don’t really feel like chasing down at the moment. That’s why I like getting them all in one box.

Two meatless recipes I’ve adored recently — which tasted infinitely better than I expected when reading about them, were Crunchy Curried Chick Pea Bowls (with pickled golden raisins, pickled cabbage, and kale), as well as Chick Pea Tacos. Seriously — I thought both sounded kind of drab, but ended up just thrilled with these meatless meals.

I’ve also enjoyed many other recipes, both with meat and without. They do really good things with chimichurri and Bibimbaps, especially!

Another thing I like about Hello Fresh is that with each order, you can do “add ons” of extra meats and sides: Ground beef, chicken breasts, Italian sausage, plus salads, breads and casual desserts. That’s a total boon during these “I don’t want to go to the store” kinds of days.

By the way: If you order through a link on this blog post, you can save $40 on on your first delivery. Note that if you use this link, I get a kickback of $10, but believe me, I’m not telling you about this because of the kickback! I truly like this service (and I’d never lend my good name to something for a kickback!).

4. Eat Plant-Based Meals

I saved the most obvious for last! A great response to the current meat shortage is to simply eat less meat. With all the great cheeses and vegetables and worldly seasonings out there, meatless meals are just SO much better than they were back when I went meatless for a year in high school! Lately, I’ve been cooking a lot of Indian, Thai, and Middle Eastern cooking, all which lend themselves beautifully to meatless cooking. But the French do good things sans meat as well. A few recipes on this blog:

French Goat Cheese Alfredo
Asparagus Crêpes with Goat Cheese
Piperade (Great for serving on omelets or baked eggs!)
Market Day Tagliatelle with Goat Cheese (pictured)
Tagliatelle with Morels

Shop Amazon to support this site (simply click on the ad link below — I will get a small commission on anything you order, without it adding to your costs whatsoever.) And, as always, thank you for visiting Chez Bonne Femme.

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