Monday, August 26, 2013

Grass-fed Beef Stroganoff

For my mom's bday feast, we made one of her favorite dishes - Beef Stroganoff. Turns out it was her late father's favorite recipe that he liked to prepared for special occasions. This time around, we opted for making it as simple as possible because a) we were crunched for time preparing a big feast for friends and family on a Friday night (hence the lack of pretty pictures), and b) we wanted it to be dairy free. Just like the classic Russian dish calls for, we served Beef Stroganoff with mashed potatoes. We don't shun resistant starch in our household, as long as it's accompanied with fat and healthy acid. So grass-fed beef served with mashed potatoes topped with butter, and a glass of vino with dinner makes for one delicious and complete meal! 

Grass-fed Beef Stroganoff Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of grass fed chuck roast, cut beef across grain into 1/4 inch thick strips - 2 inches in length (can't stress enough how important it is that the meat is high quality grass-fed to yield the tastiest results). If a raw chuck roast is hard for you to slice into strips, opt for either slightly freezing it first or using more tender cuts like grass-fed tenderloin or sirloin. 
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup filtered water (or homemade beef stock if you have it on hand)
  • Real Salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of fat of choice (we used coconut oil)

  1. Heat coconut oil in deep skillet/Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the chopped white onion and sauté until translucent. 
  2. Throw the beef strips in with the onions and cook until brown.
  3. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and stir to get the seasoning on all sides of beef.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of filtered water or homemade beef stock. 
  5. Cover and simmer 30 minutes until meat is tender and ready to add to mashed potatoes that you prepared in the meantime. Enjoy!

Spicy home-marinated tomatoes in vinegar sauce are delicious with
Beef Stroganoff and white potatoes 

NOTE: We didn't have quality dairy on hand so we just excluded it all together. If you tolerate dairy or want to give coconut milk a try, Mark's Daily Apple has a tasty traditional recipe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

BBQ Beef Jerky Experiment

Fresh BBQ flavored beef jerky.
We decided to experiment with a new flavor of beef jerky. I wanted to learn the jerky making process and had a preference for trying a barbeque flavored product. Barbeque sauce beef jerky ended up being an excellent option for those who enjoy/tolerate sweeter foods and want to try a much sweeter type of jerky. We followed the traditional preparation methods used at a USDA facility today when it comes to slicing, marinating, and racking the meat. However, since we dried the meat at home, we used equipment that is different from the professional dehydrator ovens and safety regulations applied at the USDA facility. - Jonathan, Sophia's summer assistant

  1. 4 lbs of meat
  2. 1 cup of Annie's Organic BBQ Sweet & Spicy sauce (Water, tomato paste, cane sugar,distilled white vinegar, sea salt, garlic, caramel color, onion, natural smoke flavor, chili pepper, cayenne).
  3. 2 tbls of salt
  4. 1 tbls dry mustard
  5. 1/2 tbls onion powder
  6. 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
  8. 1/2 cup water
  • Pre-freeze the meat for about 2-3 hours for easier slicing.
  • Cut the meat using a sharp knife or a slicer.
Slicing the meat.
  • Measure out the spices, sugar, and water in separate bowls.
  • Mix the ingredients.
  • Stir until the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the main bowl.
  • Add the meat into the bowl with the liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat all sides.
  • Refrigerate the meat overnight.
  • Evenly rack the meat onto dehydrater trays making sure to not overlap pieces.
Racking the meat.
  • Dry the meat at 145 degrees for 5-6 hours or until desired hardness is reached.
  • Enjoy right off the trays or store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Finished product.

Over the course of the last month and a half, Jonathan, an incoming junior in high school, was helping me over at the business. I offered him a summer internship, not knowing what to expect exactly. Fortunately, Jonathan's punctuality, diligence, and passion to help shined through immediately. He picked up new tasks with ease and made an effort to always contribute with ideas on how to bring more traffic to the site and get people excited about a clean beef jerky product. It was a joy to have such a smart intern around the office! I was touched by the following short, but sweet post he wrote about his experience:

"As summer draws to close, so does my internship at Sophia's Survival Food. It has been a great experience as I learned unique knowledge about the beef jerky industry. I shipped and packaged orders, wrote blog posts, and we even made a new beef jerky recipe.
            Overall, the experience I have gained from this internship has given me riveting knowledge about the beef jerky industry and hands-on work experience for the first time." - Jonathan

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fermenting Cucumbers Recipe

Upon learning that my summer assistant Jonathan is a fan of cucumbers, especially pickles, I wanted to make sure we got to making them ourselves before his internship was over; Jonathan goes back to Junior year of high school in just a week. Where did the summer go? In the midst of processing orders last Friday, we picked up fresh ingredients from the local Farmers Market for our home ferment. I'll let Jonathan take it from here with his summary of the recipe and experience.

Farmers Market Pickling Cucumbers.

About a week ago, Sophia and I choose to avoid the preservative-filled pickles sold in major food stores and traveled to the local farmers market in search of ingredients to ferment cucumbers. We purchased 8 cucumbers and sprigs of fresh dill to supplement some other ingredients.  
  1. 3 - 4 pickling cucumbers
  2. 2 sprigs of fresh dill
  3. 1 - 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt per 2 cups of filtered water until all veggies are submerged.
  4. 1 bunch of organic dill
  5. 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  6. 1 grape leaf (recommended to give the crunch, but we opted out because we couldn't find any fresh leaves)
  7. 1 optional teaspoon of whey to speed up the process.
Fermented Pickles.

To actually put the ingredients to work, first prepare a sterile, glass jar that can fit the appropriate number of cucumbers. Add 1.5-2 cups of water depending on the amount required to fully submerge the cucumbers underwater. Then, include the right ratio of salt, you can even taste the water to make sure it's salty, but not to a point that you can't drink it. Make sure the salt is properly stirred and is evenly dispersed throughout the container. Lastly, add about 2-3 sprigs of fresh cucumbers, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, dill, grape leaf, and potentially 1 teaspoon of whey and be certain to thoroughly mix the ingredient-filled water. Now, there is nothing one can do but wait to see how their fermented pickles will turn out to be in about a week's time.
After four days of fermentation, our pickles turned out to be delicious but just a tad under-salted and less crunchy then desired. To ensure crunchier pickles, be sure to leave the pickles in the jar for a couple days more ( 1- 2 weeks) than we did and add a fresh grape leaf.
       Overall, fermenting cucumbers is a great way to prepare a homemade nutritious snack that promotes good digestion due to naturally occurring live cultures.