Pork and Pumpkin Stew

This simple stew is satisfying and delicious.  It is best with an heirloom variety of pork like Berkshire.  Pork has a reputation for being unhealthy. Indeed factory farmed pork is full of unsavory chemicals.  Organic, vegetable-fed pork from small family farms is a much better choice. Pigs serve and important function on small farms, eating the scraps that people don’t want.  Because pigs are not ruminant (grazing) animals they don’t produce very high levels of greenhouse gasses.  Raised in this way, pork is lower in saturated fats and many toxins than either beef or lamb.  Of course, it is always a good idea to trim the fat off of meat before cooking.

-          ~ 3 lb. of stewing pork, such as loin chops or Boston butte

-          2 teaspoons of sea salt

-          1 medium onion, chopped

-          2 cloves of garlic minced

-          1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, minced

-          1 tablespoon of olive oil

-          1 large bunch of kale or collard greens, chopped

-          ½ of a sweet kabocha pumpkin (or use another type of winter squash) peeled, seeded and chopped onto 1 inch cubes

-          (Optional) 1 cup of additional chopped vegetables such as celery, carrots, turnips or green beans .

-          3 cups of water

Dice the pork into bite sized cubes and toss the pieces with the salt, coating them evenly.  Set them aside.  Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pot.  Add the onions and sauté them over medium heat until they are golden brown.  Add the garlic and rosemary and continue to cook the mixture until the garlic just begins to brown.  Add the meat cubes and stir them into the onion-garlic mixture.  Continue to cook the meat uncovered for ~ 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add the water and kale.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stir it well and then reduce it to a simmer.  Cover the pot and allow the stew to cook over low heat for ~ 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Taste the stew and add more salt if desired.  Then add the pumpkin and additional vegetables.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer again.  Cover the pot and cook the stew for an additional 30 minutes.  Test the meat and make sure it is tender; if not simmer it for an additional 30 minutes.  Salt to taste and serve. This stew may be served alone or over a whole grain like brown rice, buckwheat, millet, or quinoa.

Variation #1 – Instead of pork, try grass-fed beef or organic turkey thighs

Variation # 2 – Replace the rosemary with 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

Pickled Beets

This tangy side dish is an excellent liver and gall bladder tonic.  The brine is lite.  If you want a stronger pickle just increase the ratio of vinegar to water and add a bit more salt.

-          6 medium beets washed and trimmed, but not peeled

-          1 cup of apple cider vinegar

-          1 cup of filtered water

-          1 teaspoon of salt

Place the beets in a pot with water to cover them.  Bring the water to a boil and then simmer them for ~ 30 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain the water and allow the beets to cool to room temperature.  Peel the beets and dice them (note: Beets should slip out of their skins easily after they are cooked.) Place them in glass container with a tight fitting lid.  Mix the apple cider vinegar, water and salt together.  Pour the brine over the beets and stir it well.  Refrigerate the mixture for 2 or more days shaking it occasionally. Remove the beets from the brine before serving.

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