Posts Tagged ‘buttermilk’

Okra Scramble

It’s about time I posted a new recipe. Here’s one I came up with tonight because we had a surplus of eggs and okra from our local farmer’s market this week.

OkraIMG_0156
1/2 onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 Tsp oil
1 yellow squash
1 poblano pepper
chana masala or other Indian curry
coriander chutney
6 eggs
1/3-1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large tomato or several small ones

Cut up okra into 1 inch or longer slices. I left the smallest ones whole (after cutting off the tops. Chop onion and garlic. Sauté onion and garlic in skillet with 2 Tbs of oil. Add okra once the oil is hot and continue to sauté for several minutes.

Cut yellow squash into thin pieces by slicing lengthwise and then turning 1/4 turn and slicing lengthwize again into thin strips. Cut these into 1 inch pieces, about the same size as the okra. Dice the poblano into medium pieces. Mix pepper and squash into the okra and continue to sauté. Add chana masala (or an Indian curry with cumin, garam masala, etc.) and coriander chutney or (other green Indian chili mix with coriander/cilantro, mint, green chili). Keep sautéing and stirring occasionally.

Mix 6 eggs and 1/3-1/2 C buttermilk in a bowl until well combined. Pour into the okra mixture and let scramble, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes once the eggs are nearly set. Sauté until most of the liquid has boiled away.

Serve over white or brown rice.

If you like Indian spices, this combination is very good. If not, you could easily substitute any savory spices that go well with eggs.

Should you give your dog buttermilk?

A year ago, I wrote a post about our dog, who was suffering from autoimmune hemolytic anemia. At one point during her disease, she had stopped eating, and I thought to give her some buttermilk. She lapped it right up, then began eating again. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, she still succumbed to the disease, but I still think the buttermilk helped her through a rough patch.

Since then, I’ve noticed a lot of hits on that page, so I assume people wonder whether buttermilk is good for dogs. I won’t claim that it is for all dogs, but it’s been helpful for two of ours. We have a new dog now, and recently she was refusing her food. Everything else seemed fine, so I wasn’t too worried, but I gave her some buttermilk. Again, she lapped it right up. We also got her some new food, and she began eating healthily.

Now, I don’t know if she was sick or just out of sorts (we had been traveling and had given her some motion sickness medicine in the recent past). I don’t know that the buttermilk helped anything, but I do know she liked it.

Since then, I’ve read up on it a little. Many discourage giving dairy products to dogs because they may be lactose intolerant. Buttermilk is lower in lactose than regular milk, and it does contain bacteria that may help the digestion of lactose. Of course, it’s possible that the two dogs I’ve given it to are not lactose intolerant, so they wouldn’t have trouble with regular milk. I haven’t experimented with that, and I probably won’t.

If your dog has lost his/her appetite, giving a little buttermilk probably won’t hurt, but I wouldn’t give a lot at a time. Start small, and if your dog likes it and tolerates it, then it ought to be okay. If it seems to upset your dog’s stomach more, then I would definitely stop and try something else.

As always, it’s best to consult your vet, but if your dog doesn’t seem very sick or if you can’t get to a vet right away, then buttermilk might be a home remedy to try in small doses until you know your dog tolerates it.

How I May Have Saved My Dog’s Life with Buttermilk

Disclaimer: Okay, I’ll never really know if buttermilk saved her life or if it’s just a coincidence, but if you ask me, it helped. And it makes a catchy title. I’ll give the real credit to our vet and only partial credit to buttermilk.

First a little background. Last week our dog, Zinneke, was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. If the name isn’t enough to scare you, then the symptoms would be. Essentially, her body has started fighting her own red blood cells, so she was lethargic and wouldn’t eat. If you know Zinne, then you know there’s something seriously wrong if she won’t eat. So we took her right to the vet, but certainly weren’t expecting anything as serious as this. She’s 7.5 years old, and other than some bladder problems due to a birth defect when we first got her, she’s been as healthy as they come.

Fortunately, there is a treatment. Steroids can block the immune system’s response and manage the disease. It will likely shorten her life, but she could go on for quite awhile. Or she could die quickly, according to the vet. Our research online showed 40%-60% of dogs die from the disease, but it seems crucial to get past the early stages.

That’s where the buttermilk comes in. When we got her home, Zinneke would eat some chicken and some rice. As the days went on, though, she started eating less and less. We tried different dog foods; we tried human food — pancakes were still a hit on Saturday, but by Sunday, she was hardly eating at all.

Monday morning, out of desperation, I thought to give her some buttermilk. I’ve heard that it can help with ulcers and stomach upsets due to cancer, etc., so I figured it was worth a try. She lapped it right up, better than anything I had given her in days. After the buttermilk, she was more interested in wet food and would also eat rice soaked in buttermilk. Eventually she got back to eating chicken and even her own dog food. By tonight, she has been eating out of the bowl (and not my hand), and has regained much of her appetite.

Now did the buttermilk really save her life? If it turned her appetite around, then I believe it helped, at any rate. Of course, it could be that the steroids and antibiotics had finally kicked in and that’s why she was more interested in the buttermilk in the first place. You be the judge.

Of course, there are other tricks that have helped, like giving her her pills in peanut butter. That’s something I learned from our humane society vet, and it really works if you need a dog to take medicine. Once they start licking the peanut butter, they don’t taste the medicine, and they can’t stop licking, so they swallow whatever’s with it. I cut the pills up small enough so they aren’t much bigger than a peanut chunk. Other suggestions I’ve used are to wrap the pill in deli chicken (which worked at first), or cover it in cheese (but Zinneke turned her nose up at cheese, as hard as that is to believe). Peanut butter proved irresistible, especially once I got a little on her tongue and she started licking.

So if my dog stopped eating again, would I give her buttermilk? No. I would take her to the vet and find out what the problem was. But if she’d been to the vet and was being treated and stil wouldn’t eat? Then I’d be sure to try buttermilk again. With any luck, now that she has her appetite back, she will regain her strength and the vet can reduce the steroid dosage until it’s manageable. She’ll be back to her old self or close soon.

Mushroom Stroganoff recipe

Here’s a quick recipe for mushroom stroganoff (plus the variation I made tonight).
The basic recipe is easy with simple ingredients:
Mushrooms
Onion
Garlic
Olive Oil and butter
Buttermilk (and/or milk, sour cream, cream, etc.)
Flour
Salt
Sesame seeds (optional)
Egg noodles (or other pasta)

I think that’s all I used the last time I made this.
Boil salted water for the pasta. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil and butter. Add sliced mushrooms and brown. Add a teaspoon or two of flour once the mushrooms are cooked. Stir until flour is mixed in the oil, then add a little pasta water to make a thick sauce. Add buttermilk (or other milk/cream). I like a stroganoff with a slightly sour taste, so buttermilk works great, though sour cream or yoghurt works well if you don’t have buttermilk. Watch that the buttermilk or yoghurt doesn’t separate. Keep the heat low when you make white sauce, and it helps to have started the sauce with pasta water so that it thickens up right away. Add sesame seeds (optional) and salt and pepper to taste. (Actually, I usually start with a little salt in the oil when I sauté, so I don’t add much later, if any.)

Variation:
Tonight, we had lots of greens, so I did the basic recipe above, then added cut kale, kohlrabi leaves, and swiss chard. To cut, I washed the greens, shook dry, then rolled and sliced them thin in one direction and then again in the other direction. I added these and simmered a bit before adding the flour. Then I added pasta water, a little crushed tomato (maybe 1/3 cup), crushed red pepper, and then buttermilk. I mixed the egg noodles in with the sauce and let simmer just a bit at the end, then served with a little parmesan cheese.

Garlic Mashed Potato Recipe

Tonight we had leftovers from Chistmas, but since the garlic mashed potatoes were so popular, we needed to make more, so I duplicated the recipe I created the other day. Undoubtedly this has been done before by others, but here’s how I decided to make them.

Ingredients:
Yukon Gold Potatoes (or other potatoes for mashing)
Water
Garlic
Salt
Butter
Buttermilk

Peel and cut up potatoes. (Peeling is optional.) Put in pan and fill pan to half the level of the potatoes (or less). (Typically, you add more water than this when boiling potatoes, but I don’t see why you should waste water and the good liquid, especially since it would lose some of the garlic flavor.) Add whole cloves of garlic (peeled). I used 3 for enough potatoes for 9 people, but you can judge based on how strong you like the flavor. This wasn’t too noticeable — I might try it with more another time. Add salt.

Boil potatoes, garlic, and salted water 20 minutes or more until the potatoes are soft enough for mashing and most of the liquid has boiled away. Remove from heat.

Add butter and buttermilk to make mashed potatoes. (You can use milk or cream to replace buttermilk, but buttermilk will give a creamy texture and slightly tangy taste, while still remaining low in fat, especially if you use low fat buttermilk instead of whole milk buttermilk.) Of course, the butter is optional…

Mash with a potato masher. As needed, add more buttermilk and salt to taste and to get the texture and flavor you want. If necessary keep the mashed potatoes on a very low burner to keep warm or to thicken up the mashed potatoes. Your garlic will mash in with the potatoes and not be noticeable other than the flavor.

On Christmas, I actually used milk and buttermilk when mashing the potatoes, but tonight I decided to go with just buttermilk, since I had plenty that I wanted to use. I liked it better tonight, though both were good and everyone liked them.

Broccoli Casserole Recipe

It has turned cold again in Mississippi. Okay, I know it’s not really cold, even though we had a chance of snow last night and it’s supposed to get down below freezing tonight. That’s nothing for most of the country, but for Mississippi, it seems like winter is knocking at our door, and it’s a good time for some comfort food.

That, and having most of the ingredients on hand, got me to make a Broccoli Casserole. Now, I know the traditional recipe probably calls for Cream of Mushroom soup or something, but that isn’t something we keep in the cupboard, so I decided to improvise. We’re trying to cut back on using canned foods, anyway — they tend to have too much salt and too high levels of BPA — so even though we don’t use much canned food, we try to find fresh alternatives whenever possible. That’s where this recipe comes in. I worked from memory and intuition to concoct a recipe that didn’t involve soup. My apologies in advance, since I tend to cook without measuring much, so there’s a little guess-work in the proportions.

Ingredients for 3-4 servings as a main dish:
Brown Rice (1 cup)
Water (2 cups)
1/2 Onion
1 clove Garlic
Broccoli (about 1 head, plus the stem, peeled and sliced)
Spinach (about a cup)
Olive oil (2 Tbs or so)
Four (1/4 cup)
Milk (a cup or so)
Buttermilk (a cup or two)
1 egg
1/4 Lb Cheddar Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pecans, ground for topping (or bread crumbs, if you prefer)

Cook your rice as directed. For Brown Rice, use 2 parts water for 1 part rice and simmer for 45 minutes on low until done. Or use leftover rice if you’ve got some (about 2 cups would be good).

Preheat oven to 350, 400, or 450 degrees (depending on how soon you want to eat!)

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add Broccoli stems and sauté, then add Broccoli florets. Let simmer briefly, then add 1/4 cup flour and stir so it mixes with the oil. Add a little extra oil if necessary to make the flour mix in. It should have a paste-like consistency.

Add a cup or so of milk to make a thick white sauce. Turn down the heat so the mixture is barely simmering, then add 1-2 cups of buttermilk to make a creamy white sauce. Be careful not to let the buttermilk get too hot, as it will separate if it comes close to a boil. That’s not the end of the world, but the consistency is nicer if you keep it under a boil as it mixes in the white sauce. Once it’s mixed together and begun to thicken up, turn off the heat.

Add the rice, egg, spinach, and most of the cheddar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir together. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan (or whatever size you have that this mixture will fit in). I used butter, but you could use oil or skip this step. It only helps keep the casserole from sticking. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese and chopped nuts or breadcrumbs on top and bake for 20 minutes or so until the casserole begins to brown slightly on top and bubble.

Last night I served this with a side of steamed, buttered carrots and rutabaga (we had half of one that needed to be used, and it was very good with the carrots). It made a filling meal, and brought back memories of comfort food. Baking on a cold night helped warm the kitchen, as well.

Making the white sauce instead of using a can of soup was pretty easy, and the texture was perfect. You wouldn’t have to use buttermilk, if you don’t have it on hand, but we keep it around for making pancakes, and it gave the sauce a slightly tangy taste that I like. Substitute milk, if you don’t have the buttermilk. It hardly took me any more time to make the white sauce than it would to open a can of soup and add water until it was the right consistency. And by making it myself, I know more about what went into what I was eating.

That’s the best way to control your calories (which I never bother to count) and keep unwanted salt, sugar, fat, preservatives, and other chemicals from creeping into your diet without your knowledge. If you cook it yourself, you’re less likely to overdo it with salt, sugar, or fat, even if you do add some for flavor, and if what you cook is fresh, there’s no need for preservatives or chemicals from the canning process. Do wash your vegetables, and whenever possible, buy locally grown and/or organic food. It’s less likely to have been mistreated before you got it.

From the time I started the rice until the time I took the casserole out of the oven took about an hour and a half. Of course, I got to do other things for about half an hour while the rice was simmering, and you wouldn’t need any of that time if you use leftover rice (make a little extra next time!). Making the sauce and baking the casserole took 45-50 minutes. While the casserole was in the oven, I made the side dish and helped clean up. It’s a pretty easy recipe, and you could substitute just about any vegetables you want, if you don’t have broccoli or spinach. Usually there’s no spinach in broccoli casserole, anyway, I just added it for an extra vegetable. If it doesn’t turn out exactly the way mine did (or if mine doesn’t turn out the same next time), it will still be good.

Muscadine Sherbet

I’ll admit it; I really ought to measure when making up new recipes, but I rarely do. Today was no exception.

Having some muscadine grapes from the farmer’s market that really needed to be used, I decided to boil 2-3 cups of them in a cup or less of water. I filled a pan half full of grapes and about a quarter full of water, picking the grapes that were a little softer than the others, so we’d have a few to eat raw, the way we love them best.

I boiled these with a little lemon juice for about 5 minutes, just until the skins started to split, and then let them cool for awhile, long enough to do a little cleaning. Then I ran them through the sieve on our Kitchenaid stand mixer. Though we don’t use it too often, the attachment set we got for this as a wedding present (hoping to make baby food some day, which we did briefly) has come in very handy over the years. There is a screw that pushes the fruit pulp through the sieve, and all the seeds and harder parts of the skin come out the end, making quick work of seeding grapes, among other things.

I put the resulting juice in the refrigerator for a few hours until it was cold, then added 1/4 cup powdered sugar (based on a recipe tip) and some honey, after thinking better of the sugar idea. Next time, I’ll probably just use honey.

I briefly waffled between making sorbet and sherbet, but after estimating how much liquid I would need, I decided to go the sherbet route by adding a little buttermilk. I poured it in until I had the color I wanted (just a little creamy, but not too light). Tasted to be sure it wasn’t too tart, then poured it in our ice cream freezer, and turned the paddles now and then, according to the instructions. After 20 minutes or so, out came some beautiful and delicious sherbet.

The grape flavor was intense, sweet and tart with that typical muscadine edge that is hard to describe, a little bitter perhaps, almost metallic. It was an excellent finish to our dinner of butternut squash and basil risotto, topped with toasted garlic and Jerusalem artichoke slivers, but that’s a recipe for another time, perhaps.