I grew up and live in Montana and work as a Personal Chef and Caterer.
I am passionate about food and living the most flavorful life full of adventure with food and travel. My husband is an avid outdoors-man which means I cook a lot of wild game in addition to domestic. You'll also find us hand picking huckleberries and morels when the times are right.
So, come along and explore flavor with me.
Years ago I had a wee issue with high blood pressure.
Well, maybe not so wee...
I was put on medication. Problem was it made me feel like I was walking through mud. I could barely think
straight. As the owner operator of a restaurant at the time, working a minimum of 70, sometimes up to 90 hours a week, being fuzzy headed and mud-slow was not feasibly functional. My doctor tried lesser doses, different brands,
etc., with the same result. The doctor said I was just going to have to figure out how to deal with the “slow feeling.”
Instead, I decided to get in control my BP starting with food and healthy habits. If you’ve
ever read labels in canned or processed “healthy” foods you’ll see two distinct things:
high sodium and/or high sugar.
If they reduce the fat then they increase sodium and/or sugar (fructose/sucrose/dextrose/syrup).
Neither salt nor sugar are good for heart health or BP. Because of this I started eating only lean proteins and steamed vegetables. I have personally been successful in lowering my BP this way. (This is NOT a medical opinion
or diagnosis, always check with your own doctor regarding medications.)
It has not been easy but rather a focused effort on a daily basis. It is also what started my own journey to start making more things from scratch. At the restaurant, I started to create
our own season-all instead of buying the over-the-counter expensive varieties. I discovered through research, trial and error, how to reduce salt through utilizing other spices and techniques to enhance flavors.
one thing I missed was taking a spoonful of peanut butter or spreading some on a celery stick. Store bought natural or organic peanut butters still had 90mg of sodium per serving and added sugar. Plus they're twice as expensive as the others.
I had seen these posts of how easy it is to make your own nut butters. I tried it with standard food processors (all I had at the time) and they always turned out gritty. Even when I had soaked
the nuts overnight like some recipes suggest. I’m a creamy not chunky fan. Then I bought a new high-speed blender (FYI - mine is a Ninja-Chef, cost me about $100 at Walmart, and I do NOT receive any kickback or payment from them). You can get whatever brand you want. What I really liked about this one is the fact that
it has an automatic setting for things like nut butters.
This means you don’t have to pause after a 30 seconds and scrape the sides. You don’t have to reduce the speed, then increase the speed. This machine takes all those steps
and does it for you automatically. BRILLIANT !
I took pictures of the different stages so you can see
(some are blurry because its through the plastic pitcher
of the blender).
I oven roasted 16oz bag of spanish peanuts, unsalted of course, with the skins on.
350F for 10 minutes
Oven roasting helps to release the natural oils and also add a toasted flavor which helps off-set the lack of sodium :)
SECOND: I placed the cooled roasted nuts onto clean lint-free dish towel and began rubbing together with the towel and my clean hands to remove a good portion of the skins. Honestly, this was the most time consuming aspect.
I didn't remove all of them, but as you can see, quite a few came off.
(Too many skins will dry out your nut butter and you may have to add oil to loosen it up.)
I then placed the reduced skinned peanuts inside my high speed blender. Turned the dial to Nut Butter and pressed Start.
Half-way through the automatic 2 minute nut butter cycle. . .
I used the tamper that came with the blender to knock
down the sides a little. It wasn't really necessary as the machine was
cycling from high to medium speeds and really doing all the work for me.
But it made me feel like I was doing something important :)
Three quarters done. . .
After 2 minutes, just look at this beautiful creamy texture.
I added 1/2 tsp of sea salt in last 15 seconds of blending.
After, trying a teaspoon full, licking every delectible speck off, I declared SUCCESS!
Redaction: EASY PEASY SUCCESS!
I love my high speed blender.
I then used my new raw peanut butter to make some Oatmeal Peanut Butter
Snack Balls with a little toasted unsweetened coconut flakes.
I added just enough honey to these to make them stick together and for some natural sweetness*.
Next time I’m going to try them using Medjool Date paste which is another way to get a little sweetness. I’ve made this paste from scratch before too.
*NOTE: Naturally derived sweetness from fruit or maple syrup and honey are easier for your body to digest; hence it doesn’t have as bad of side effects as refined sugar. Still, moderation in all things;
especially sweet and salty, that’s the best for all around health.
Montana Flavor Chef Shelly So, I had heard this idea on one of those TV food shows then googled it.* Apparently, its nothing new, where have I been that I only just learned this??? It made perfect sense, logically. Which means I had to try it for myself and see.
Yup, it works! The idea is roasting your turkey on its breast side instead of the backbone. The logic is that while the meat roasts, the juices are naturally drawn down thru gravity. Because white meat cooks faster than dark meat, the breasts have a tendency to dry out when cooked upright. Plus, when the dark meat is directly exposed to the dry heat, it cooks faster.
There are many ways to prevent dry white meat: - brining, cover breasts in cheese cloth, roast in a bag, etc.
I've tried all of those but this one is the EASIEST to achieve moist breast meat with that CRUNCHY skin. This is the way I did my Upside Down Roast Turkey:
STEPS 1. Pat your thawed turkey dry with paper towels, inside and out 2. Gently rub an herb compound butter under the breast skin (I used herb clarified butter because I'm on a Whole30 diet with no dairy at the moment) 3. Rub the same compound butter all over the outside of the turkey 4. Place, on a rack, breast side down, in your roasting pan (I stuffed mine with 1/2 of red onion and 1 lime, quartered) 5. Bake uncovered in preheated 350F Convection Oven (air)* according to size/weight (after 1.5 hours, rotate pan 180 degrees - the door is farther away from the fan so the meat facing the door gets less color, rotating gives more even color) 6. When cook time is 1 hour away from done, carefully remove pan from oven and utilizing silicone oven mitts (clean easier) flip the turkey onto its backbone so breasts are right side up. At this stage, they will look nothing like they end up so don't be discouraged by the lack of color on the skin. Return to oven. (repeat the process of turning 180 degrees after 30 minutes.) 7. When an instant read thermoter inserted into thickest part of the thigh reaches 165F, and juices between leg & breast run clear, your done. 8. Remove, cover with vented foil and let rest for 20 minutes 9. Carve & enjoy.
Honestly, it was GREAT! It cooked faster than I anticipated, 20# in 3 1/4 hours.
Cheers! Chef Shelly
NOTES: * idea first seen on Food Network show "The Kitchen" * Convection baking vs. Conventional oven uses a fan to circulate the hot air in the oven. This provides a more even cooking process. Awesome for baking pastries, cookies, cakes, pies and roasting meat & veg. Know that cooking times are faster and temp is hotter with convection so convert your recipes to 25F less and 25% less time. This will depend on your ovens' calibration so watch & take notes for next time.
Montana Flavor The appeteazer
Hi all! I am a Montanan and Certified Chef cooking all kinds of cuisines including the wild game that my husband brings home.
We enjoy travelling and trying new restaurants as well. I will be writing about my adventures both at home, in the gorgeous Bitterroot Valley of Montana, as well as our other travels, sharing some insights and recipes along the way.
I hope you and your taste buds will be delighted as well as inspired to try new things.