Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Baked potato with sour cream is a nice side.

Baked potato with sour cream is a nice side dish.

Yesterday I made steak for dinner and since I had some mushrooms I added them to the gravy. I make steak at least once a week because it’s quick and easy and the leftovers are good for making into other meals. The longest part is getting the steak ready to cook.

Steak with Mushroom Gravy

I usually make this with petite sirloin, but last night we had top sirloin

  • Steak
  • Butter
  • Broth or water
  • Mushrooms (I used canned)
  • Rice flour (works with white wheat flour too)

I’ve found steak needs to be at room temperature when cooked to make sure that it cooks through. When steak is cold it takes too long for the heat to penetrate, leaving the middle raw or the outside overcooked. The easiest way to make sure its at room temp is to let it sit uncovered on a plate for a few hours. This is actually quite safe because bacteria only can land on the outside of the meat which is going to be cooked.  If I don’t have time to bring the steak up to temp the slow way it can be put in a shallow pan of warm water for twenty or twenty minutes. Sometimes the water needs to be changed once to keep it warm. This works, although the meat looses some of its juices and looks sort of pasty.

I use a eight inch stainless steal frying pan and once the steak is at room temperature I heat the pan up for five minutes or so. Its crucial that the pan be hot, but not so hot that it will burn the meat. I flick water on the bottom to tell, if the water droplets form balls and stand in the pan its too hot, if they take one or two seconds to sizzle off the bottom into steam, its perfect.

Once the pan is hot I add the meat and cook it for five to eight minutes on each side. I like my steak still pink in the middle but its easy to cook it longer it you want it well done.

After the steak is done, I transfer it to a plate to sit, and add a tablespoon or two of butter to the pan. Once melted I add the mushrooms and cook them through. If the butter was absorbed by the mushrooms (which it usually is when using fresh mushrooms) I add more before stirring in a tablespoon of rice flour to form a roux. When the flour is completely stirred into the butter, I add enough broth or water to cover the bottom of the pan, about a half cup or less. Then I scrape up the brown bits into a sauce. When the sauce thickens I pour it over the steak and serve.

In the picture you can see I had baked potatoes on the side.  Without including the time the steak spent warming up, the whole recipe took twenty-five minutes to prepare. If the mushrooms had been fresh it would have taken about ten more minutes to brown them. It’s best if I have all the ingredients for gravy at hand when the meat comes out of the pan because the gravy goes together in a minute or two and seconds are critical.

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Chicken Liver

Today I want to talk about chicken liver. It is one of the best foods that a pregnant or nursing woman can eat. It has tons of vitamins, one of which is folate. Yes, that stuff which everyone is always telling women that they should get from green leafy vegetables. Funnily enough, greens have little compared to chicken liver.

I know a lot of people don’t like the taste of chicken liver and I used to hate the stuff but it can be yummy when cooked right. Also, it can be added easily to casseroles or other savory dishes where it adds flavor without being overwhelming and the texture is disguised.

Cooking Chicken Liver

  • One to two pounds of liver
  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons butter

The important part about chicken liver is that it can’t just be thrown in a pan and heated. It needs to be prepared first and cooked right to taste good.

Choose livers that are one single color and have no green patches on them. Green signifies it has been contaminated by bile and it will taste horribly bitter. There are basically two colors of liver that I have eaten and like: a light sort of cloudy pink and a dark red. Both taste good, although I lean towards the dark red. Liver has veins, blood clots, bits of fat, stringy parts and other not so tasty bits that need to be trimmed off before it is cooked. Trim off those parts and cut the livers into one inch chunks. The leftover trimmings, minus any green bits, can be given to your cat or dog.

Once the liver has been prepared, heat up your saute pan to medium high heat. When it is hot, add the butter. You want enough butter to completely cover the bottom of your pan and coat each piece of liver. A tablespoon and a half or so for each pound of liver usually works. The butter will foam up. Once the bubbles have died down, add the liver chunks. They should sizzle. Cook for two to three minutes on one side and then flip and cook until the liver is brown but ‘bleeding’ red dots on the outside. You don’t want it to be raw, but if you overcook liver it will become rubbery and disgusting. It’s a delicate balance to get it done through yet still soft and tender. Once it is cooked, you can move it onto a plate and serve, or add it to other dishes.

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Baby Formula and Oils

I know that breastfeeding is best for babies and I have been successful at breast feeding my child but I have found in the past few months that there are times it would be very nice if there were some other options to feed her on occasion. I have found I can express milk and it does keep for five months in the freezer. But thinking about it, I wondered what if I couldn’t express milk at all for some reason? Say a fatal car accident for example? What would my family do? Obviously they wouldn’t want to be feeding my kid oils, because there is every chance that because I can’t eat them, my child could have problems with them, too.

Yet every commercial baby formula I have looked at contains industrial seed oils, even the excellent ones containing organic milk that need to be imported from Germany. I was interested to note that it is not just people like me who need to avoid these oils, research shows that specific industrial oils are actually bad for ALL or most babies. A few examples:

Canola (aka Rapeseed oil) was been banned in baby formula for depleting vitamin E from the body. Although more recently the EPA reversed that decision and I noted that quite a few formulas actually list canola (aka rapeseed oil) in their ingredient lists.

Palm olein (usually listed as palm oil) creates soaps in baby intestines by binding with calcium. These soaps cause constipation and hinder bone mineralization. Studies show that infants fed this oil often are slower to develop than children not fed palm olein. I noted that many formulas contain it.

The kind of DHA and ARA added to most brands of infant formula are extracted from factory-produced C. Cohnii and M. Alpina one of which is an algae, the other a fungus. Parents have complained of babies experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and gastrointestinal distress when they use formulas with these oils, only to have symptoms clear up when using the same formulas without them.

Websites where I found this information:

So after a fruitless search for a commercial formula without oils, I looked up homemade versions and found this article stating why you should never feed your baby a home made formula. I agree with the article that infants in their first year get all of their nutrition from milk and it can be dangerous if they do not get enough nutrition or the wrong kinds of nutrition. Babies can and do die from parents feeding them the wrong things. The article quotes the FDA assistant to the directer and the International Food Information Council, who both say that commercial formula is the only safe thing a parent can feed a baby. I would like to point out that the FDA has a revolving door policy with food manufacturers and many things (including additions to formula) are approved by them that shouldn’t be. I take their promotion of commercial formula for what it is: a financially and politically motivated statement to cover their legal rear ends. As for International Food Information Council, Source Watch states that they are a public relations arm of the food industry and many of their board of trustees include representatives form companies such as Mars Inc., Coca Cola, General Mills, and Kraft Foods, so their claims are also suspect.

Industrially made and sold formulas can be harmful despite what the FDA claims, and homemade formulas can be, if made correctly, almost as nutritionally balanced as commercial formulas. Unfortunately there is always danger when feeding infants any food other than breast milk, both of improper nutrition and the introduction of molds and/or germs. Any parent has to weigh the risks and make the right decision for themselves and their baby.

For me, I feel that its important to have some options available to me that don’t contain oils and the only way to do that is homemade formula. I will not use a homemade formula as my baby’s entire diet unless absolutely necessary.

Despite the fact that most of the people who have switched to homemade formulas talk about how bad industrial oils are for babies, every recipe I found for homemade baby formulas included industrial seed oils of one type or another. I have decided that if I do make any of them I will leave these oils out and substitute other fats for them. One thing to remember is that human milk changes its contents daily and some times hourly. So there won’t be a ‘perfect’ blend that will match it completely.

Here are the recipes that I found for homemade formulas.

Homemade cows milk recipe

Homemade goat milk option

Homemade liver/bone broth option

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