Thanksgiving Onion Dip

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You know those Facebook recipes, right?  The ones that people share and share and probably don’t ever make?  Well, they’re usually loaded with highly processed fake food.

Last year, I ran across one such recipe, a recipe for Turkey-shaped onion dip.  I decided to use the facebook recipe for inspiration, but make a real food, or real food-ish, onion dip.  So here we go:

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
1 half stick butter
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
2 ounces cream cheese
2.5 cups sour cream

Directions:
1. Melt butter in a pot or crockpot.
2. Add your onion and caramelize.  You can do that in the pot and watch it for about an hour. You can do it in the crockpot for about 8 hours and only check on it and stir it periodically. (I go with option two since I have little ones that need my attention.)
3. Add the cream cheese so it softens.
4. Add your spices. (Feel free to tweak these to your own preferences.)  Stir it all.
5. Add the sour cream and stir it all in.
6. Remove it from your pot or crockpot and put it in a bowl that you can use for serving.  Cover it.  Refrigerate it overnight.
7. The morning of serving, cut up your veggies and arrange them around your dip bowl to look like a turkey.  There is no wrong or right way to do this.  In the above picture, I have cauliflower, green pepper, celery, rainbow carrots and cucumber.  I used a yellow bell pepper to make the turkey wings and beak, a cucumber slice for the head and carrot sticks for the feet.

Would it be better real-food-wise if I made my own sour cream and cream cheese from raw organic milk?  Sure it would, but this isn’t bad.  It’s cute, it avoids the processed “soup mix” type dip and it’s really not hard.

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Using the Whole Cow: Spleen Vastedda Recipe

Today I made vestedda. I’m going to share to recipe here as well as three reasons vastedda is important.

If you’re new here on this blog, let me tell you that my name is really Laura and I really do live in a little house on the prairie.  I am a Jersey girl to the core and I live here because of the enticement of cheap land and the opportunity for my children to farm land that their ancestors (on my husband’s side) have farmed for generations.  I struggle all the time.  Although New Jersey, Brooklyn and the Colorado Prairie are all part of the United States of America, I sometimes doubt this.  I am also 100% Italian.  To say that there is a lack of Italian culture on the prairie is an understatement.  Most people here don’t even know how to say “Italian”. I’ll chalk it up to the dialect or the accent or something, but many people here say “Eye-talian” and it drives me nuts.  Where I grew up, it seems most families were Italian, Irish or Jewish.  We had a strong Italian culture.  I miss it.

Both of my parents are from Brooklyn.  I grew up visiting both my grandmothers in Brooklyn frequently.  Although I was born in Staten Island and that perhaps means I loose street credit, I’m a Brooklyn girl, too. I grew up with Brooklyn pizza and Joe’s. Joe’s of Avenue U is in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. They have been in business since forever in the same location.  They sell Sicilian Italian food.  I am half Sicilian.  I miss Joe’s.  My favorite dish at Joe’s is vastedda.  Vastedda is basically a spleen sandwich.  I miss vastedda. Making vastedda, copycatting Joe’s, is a small way to alleviate my homesickness.  It’s an ethnic dish, right on the prairie.

Joe's of Avenue U is a good 1700 miles from the short grass prairie.

Joe’s of Avenue U is a good 1700 miles from the short grass prairie.

Vastedda is spleen, which means it’s offal.  We try to follow the Weston A. Price diet. A big pillar of the Weston A. Price diet is the consumption of offal. The experts can explain the whys and wherefores of the benefits of offal.  Logically it makes sense that since people have eaten offal for millennia, and we should, too.  Our bodies and biology haven’t changed.  If offal was good enough for my great-great grandmother, it should be good enough for me.

I am a cattle rancher.  I raise grass-fed, grass-finished organic beef on the beautiful prairie of Colorado.  Shouldn’t I use it all?  We eat our own meat of course.  Isn’t it most efficient to use all of the meat?  The steer, after living a happy life eating grass with constant access to pasture and sunshine, looses his life to provide us with food.  Isn’t it being a good steward to eat all the offal?  Didn’t Jesus Himself tell everyone to gather up the scraps after He fed 5000 men?  Is spleen a scrap?  A scrap that can feed my family four more meals out of a steer than we would have otherwise.  It makes economic and environmental sense to eat vastedda. Or maybe I’m just cheap.

So let me recap why everyone should eat vastedda:
1. It is a way to bring Sicilian Italian culture to your own kitchen, even if you don’t live in Gravesend in Brooklyn.
2. Vastedda is spleen which is offal.  Mankind has eaten offal through the millennia.  Weston A. Price people say this is a good thing.  It just makes good logical sense.
3.  Vastedda is a great way to make an animal stretch, especially if you buy your meat by the whole animal.  Why not turn the otherwise unused spleen into a few more meals?  It makes economic and environmental sense and doesn’t cost extra.

So now that you have a hankering for Sicilian cuisine, yummy offal and a desire to be a good environmental steward, here is the recipe for Vastedda (which I have adapted from here)…

Ingredients…
cow spleen
tallow (which can be doubly cool if it’s from the same animal as the spleen)
yummy rolls of your choice
parmesan or other cheese, shredded
ricotta (of course homemade is best)
milk

Procedure…
1. Soak thawed spleen in milk to remove the organ-y taste.  Change out the milk twice.
2. Boil the spleen for about 30 minutes.
3. Slice it thin.
4. Fry the spleen in tallow.
5. Prepare rolls by slicing in half.
6.  Place spleen ricotta and parmesan cheese on rolls and bake them in the oven until just hot.

You have copycatted Joe’s of Avenue U.  You have eaten good-for-you offal.  You have stretched your beef into a few more meals.  This is a win-win-win.

 


Posted in Culture Clashes of a Jersey Girl on the Colorado Prairie, Laura's Little Kitchen On the Prairie, Recipes, The Irony of a Food Desert Surrounded by Farms and tagged , , , , by with no comments yet.