Road Tripping in the Time of Corona: Bring Your Own Food

Needing a summer break at the beach, despite media hype about dirty rest stops and potentially infectious hotel rooms along American highways, our family of four took a 48-hour (4-hour drive with mid-week traffic) trip to the beach in Virginia. As we usually do when we travel, we took all our food with us in the car. The readout: we stopped at several “clean looking” restaurants for bathroom pit stops and the hotel was as clean as could be expected, so, a non-issue. But we did bring all our own food and water. Here’s how we did it.

Example of how the French “Eat In” on the Mediterranean/Cote D’Azur

What To Bring For the Road: A Tale of Two Coolers

Pack a big cooler for the trunk with ice packs and a smaller cooler for the car with lunch and snacks. The small cooler goes between the kids in the back to maintain car seat real estate lines and proper physical distancing. As every mom knows, kids who are close enough to touch elbows don’t last long on car trips. A picnic lunch for a park bench at an outdoor rest stop might consist of already cubed cheese and sausage or ham and chopped raw vegetable sticks. Maybe some chips, if you don’t eat bread, but most chips are made with industrial vegetable seed oils, so read the label before you buy. Canola oil among the ingredients? No. Put it back on the shelf. Safflower oil? Nyet. Soybean or corn oil? Nein! Same goes for any bread you might consume. Check the label. Danke.

Dessert BYOF Ideas

For dessert we travel with chopped fruit (and picks or forks), raisins, peanuts,  and dried prunes, apples, oranges, and homemade date bars (chopped dates, chocolate, nuts and seeds flattened with a rolling pin and cut into squares – no expensive packaging or industry messaging needed.) Pack napkins or paper towels, cutlery, either plastic or real, and an extra trash bag or two. We pack individual water bottles and large refill water bottles, no soda. Ever. Remember your wallet? What about your blood sugar levels? And let’s not kid ourselves about “diet,” sugar-free chemical sodas.

Fruit bouquet received as a gift the day before our road trip

Okay, So Let’s Get To The Meat Of The Meals!

Pack that big cooler with prepared food from home as well as raw and frozen ingredients, preferably organic where possible, voting with your dollar for food and soil not treated with synthetic, hormone-disrupting chemicals. Here are some ideas and what I packed on our trip, besides what I have already mentioned above: Frozen Russian ravioli (pilmeni), grass-fed beef hot dogs, frozen grass-fed ground beef, frozen homemade broth, pork and duck leftovers from various meals (packed in glass Pyrex bowls), along with a small container of duck fat, three cans of tuna, Kerrygold butter, Polyface Farms pastured eggs in the carton, small bottles of avocado oil and olive oil, salt and pepper shakers, half a bulb of garlic, sour cream, macaroni noodles, small container of homemade sauerkraut, several organic tea bags, organic ketchup, in-season cherries, a box of organic mixed greens, whole mushrooms, ice cream (which inevitably melted in the cooler by dinner time), grass-fed milk, and cream (for my tea!)

What?! No Mayo?!

Most store-bought mayonnaise is made with industrial seed oils. So I make my own! It’s so easy you’ll cry: Separate one egg, use the white for scrambled with the other eggs you brought, and whisk the yolk in a measuring cup (which was packed along with the whisk), while slowly adding a third of a cup of avocado oil. Presto! No industrial seed oils here, either. And just enough for those three cans of tuna. (Yes, the eggs are raw. If you are sourcing your eggs from a trusted farmer, you will not get salmonella. Instead, you will be supporting a small farmer while nourishing yourself with real, whole food. A win-win.)

Hello, How Am I Going to Cook All These Meats and Eggs in a Hotel Room?

Easy: Pack a good quality Cuisinart hot plate, the answer to all your eating in problems. Plus, call ahead to get a room with a refrigerator, or else make sure the ice machines are working in the hotel to refill you cooler! We used the hotel microwave only once – to heat up a pork chop because we had run out of pans and to save time. Other items you will need: A small pot and a medium pot, a medium frying pan, one or two small cutting boards, several good cutting knives of different sizes for slicing and paring, four real (unbreakable Corelle-style) plates and bowls, three kitchen towels, a wooden spatula, a small bottle of dish liquid, and a sponge.

Eating In

By eating in, BYOF traveling or not, corona or not, you are saving money, saving time, and eating when and where you want to without making others “serve” you. (Yes, the restaurant industry is huge, but it is overfed, so to speak, while the concept of cooking at home is disproportionately underrated in the US, in my opinion.) Eating in also produces much less waste of resources. Think about carbon footprints of the restaurant supply chain versus a family meal at home. By eating in you are also avoiding the involuntary consumption of inflammatory industrial vegetable seed oils (you know the kind – canola or safflower oil, with the halo around their necks), ubiquitously used in restaurants, from cheapest to glamorous. (Dr. Catherine Shanahan, who wrote the foreword to my book, The Bordeaux Kitchen, goes into the biology of the century-long damage these oils have incurred on Americans in her books, so I won’t go into it here. Look up The Fatburn Fix and Deep Nutrition.) Restaurants rely on cheap oils to remain profitable. The consumer is the one who pays the price in health bills after eating the cheap food. Granted, our family doesn’t eat out (pretty much ever), and I cook daily, even on vacation, but taking your food with you on vacation is doable and definitely healthier (for you and your wallet) than eating out.

But Yes, We Ate Out

The hotel served breakfast: terrible scrambled eggs and alluring, extreme-sugar sausages, along with waffles, bagels, cereal, and OJ, which my kids loaded up on because they don’t get much of these at home. (Sue me.) I made eggs in our frying pan in the room on the second morning. And on the way out of town we stopped for lunch under an outdoor tent to taste the local broiled seafood (no industrial oils, hopefully, in the broiling process). It was mostly worth the wait, though the waitress was stressed with all the tables of tourists like us she had to serve. We thanked her effusively. We had also stopped for Mr. Whippy’s soft serve once or twice and again on the way out of town. It was July, after all.

Mr. Whippy (that’s not my cone…)

Had I Overpacked?

Yes. We did not use the garlic, ground beef, or bit of duck fat, but I used them for a quick dinner upon arrival at home.

Am I Crazy?

No. Well, maybe a little. But this is what we do. (And I am talking about taking pork roasts and containers of fruit on international travel! We learned our lesson with broth, though. TSA will confiscate it.) Yes, there is clean up. Yes, my husband kindly did the dishes in the hotel bathroom sink. Nevertheless, we found we had more good, high quality food, more time to play and read and argue and discuss things, and more time to generally be “on vacation,” rather than having to go out and spend money on low quality, expensive food at every meal. We went home with empty coolers, two souvenir t-shirts, and slight sunburns from all the extra time we had to play in the sun! BYOF!

(These are my own opinions, which is why I am posting them here on my own blog. You may disagree, and that’s okay! Thanks for taking the time to read!)

…And now a little plug for my Etsy store of handmade pastured tallow and lard soaps and creams…

Kitchen Sink Borsch

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Kitchen Sink Borsch

First and foremost, I hope you and your family are well and able to cope in these uncertain times of La Corona.

While on a recent “stocking up” grocery run, I picked up a nice plump red beet that was calling to me from the produce shelves. The beet is mostly what makes the borsch a borsch, as opposed to another kind of soup.

Because it may not be possible to obtain certain ingredients at the moment, I’m calling this version Kitchen Sink Borsch, as you could really put whatever you have into a big pot and boil it. This is much like the French pot au feu – a soup containing all the vegetable, meat and bone remnants from the week, stewed continuously during the week, so as to not waste a single ingredient or leftover: #nowaste !

 

A little side note: I concentrated on Russian Studies at my university and studied Russian in the US, Russia, German, and France, and lived in Kazakhstan for two years. But it wasn’t until I visited a friend in Ukraine while living in Moscow around 2012 that I learned from her lovely mother – a doctor treating and following Chernobyl victims – how to cook Ukrainian borsch. Notice I have not spelled it with a “t” at the end (not sure why this is usually done in English?), because the Cyrillic word borsch – борщ – ends with a kind of “w” looking letter with a tail, making the sound “shch,” as in “fresh cheese.” If a Russian-style soup has potato and cabbage, and no beet, my understanding is that it is usually called “schi.” – щи. (Both words in Russian end in this same letter, but in English, you would not want to put a “t” on the end of the cabbage soup name…!)

 

The ingredients below go into the traditional borsch, and I may have missed a few, but you will get the general idea. I used what we had in the refrigerator at this particular point in time. I used ground beef because that is what we had, but you can use steak or chuck “stew” beef. Chuck cuts from the front quarters of the animal require longer cooking times because they tend to be tougher. Why? From my butcher apprenticeship I learned that since herbivores spend their time bending down eating grass, much of their weight is on the forequarters, building stronger muscles in the front, while loin and steak come from more tender parts of the animal.) That is why stew meat is called stew meat – it needs more time to stew. Chopped small enough, though, you may be able to get away with a shorter cooking time. You can substitute some of the water with bone broth, especially if you do not have a marrow bone. Like butter, lard, tallow and duck fat, I try to keep a few marrow bones in my freezer for uses like this. People joke about how creative the Russians and Ukrainians are with using dill in a dish. I had none available, so I used fresh chopped green onion, but dill really makes your borsch the real deal.

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)

½ red onion, chopped

½ white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 pinches coarse sea salt

1.5 to 2 pounds ground or chopped beef (80-85% lean, grassfed if possible)

¼ red cabbage, chopped

1 medium carrot, diced

1 large beet, diced

14.5 ounce (115 g) diced tomatoes

6 to 7 cups water (or combination of water and broth)

1 large bay leaf

6 small potatoes, chopped (about 1/2 pound)

1 beef marrow bone

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream (called Smetana in Russian), for garnish

Dill or parsley, and/or green onion, chopped, for garnish

 

Instructions

Heat the olive oil or butter and salt in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, add the salt, and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the meat and brown it, stirring frequently. Add the carrot and stir for a few more minutes. Then add the cabbage, beet, tomatoes, potatoes, marrow bone, bay leaf and water.

Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the potatoes are soft, at least 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with sour cream, dill, parsley, and/or green onion. To your health — Na zdorovie!

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Inspiration for the New Year 2020 with The Bordeaux Kitchen

Would Julia Child approve of The Bordeaux Kitchen?

I know we are all busy this month, nevertheless, here is the link to my Year End Newsletter with all the fun news and reviews about The Bordeaux Kitchen…..

One new link not in the newsletter is to EPIC Provisions’ IMPACT Journal 2019, which featured my article about a Swiss hunter, Martin Baumann and his dogs. I also had a recipe and photos in the journal — I took up the first 6 pages! Something I love to do is learn from those with very earth-based occupations, like hunters, farmers, vintners and butchers, and this was one of those opportunities to capture in words and photographs what I learned.

Martin Baumann and his dogs

In 2020, I hope to learn more recipes and put them on this blog — wish me luck, as I am not the most reactive online, it takes so much time for each post! Next year I am also considering launching a hand-crafted creams business, as my family and i can only use truly natural ingredients for our skin, and I have been sharing my balms with a few friends who also seem to like them. Stay tuned! Wishing you a healthy holiday season, Tania

January-February 2019 Newsletter

Time is flying, it’s almost March for crying out loud! Here you will find the latest update of The Bordeaux Kitchen Newsletter for January and February.

In this VIDEO clip from my book event in September 2018 (which I just received and wanted to post), Garrett Snyder interviews me about how The Bordeaux Kitchen book came about and how the French Paradox is not a paradox! (Video courtesy of Kevin Concepcion of Now Serving LA.)

paris eiffel 2003

PARIS IN SPRING!

As mentioned in my last post: If you are in or can get to Paris in April, please come to my book presentation (in English) on Wednesday April 3rd, 2019 7:30pm to 9pm at the American Library in Paris!! Address: 10 Rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris. Book purchase and signing. Free event (with Bordeaux wine and French cheeses, mais oui!)

Happy New Year / December Newsletter & Event Video

It’s a new year, and I have not been able to keep up with blog posts very often, though I update the rest of this blog behind the scenes in all the tabs almost every week (see Press, Events, Praise…)! The newsletter takes a lot of time, so why not post it as a blog entry, with pretty photos, etc., so you know I’m alive and working! Here is the December Newsletter, with details about my book launch event in Bordeaux and links to the previous newsletters on it! And for your viewing pleasure (and laughs), please see below also the video of the last few minutes of my presentation of The Bordeaux Kitchen book at the event in Bordeaux, in French (yikes!)

Bonne Année!

 

PS – SAVE THE DATE: If you are in or can get to Paris in April, please come to my book presentation (in English) on Wednesday April 3rd, 2019 7:30pm to 9pm at the American Library in Paris!! Address: 10 Rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris. Book purchase and signing. Free event.

Rabbit With Prunes – Lapin aux Pruneaux

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RABBIT WITH PRUNES — Lapin aux Pruneaux

Season: Year Round

Preparation Time: 5 minutes, longer if you are chopping the rabbit or bacon bits yourself

Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves 4 to 5

It’s been a while (2 years!) since I posted a recipe, my goodness! But that is because I have poured everything into The Bordeaux Kitchen book! I have been adding to the other pages at the top of the home page, slowly but surely. Now, for a recipe! This one is not in the book, as I just made it recently with my lovely friend from Nice, France, Joelle Luson. We did Beef Burgundy together, as well as several other recipes, which you will find in the book.

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Paleo Breaded Veal Sweetbreads

Ris de Veau Panés

Tania Teschke Photography-RisDeVeau-2934

This recipe can be used for both Veal or Lamb Sweetbreads. The photos in this post depict Veal Sweetbreads. The flour used in this recipe is organic chestnut flour, locally-sourced, Paleo-approved!

Prep Time: 35 minutes (plus up to one hour if you wish to soak the sweetbreads first in water)

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Total Time: 45-50 minutes

 Serves:  4

Description: Sweetbreads are the thymus gland of the animal. They have a light texture, like very tender meat and are not chewy. In France, they are a delicacy, as they have a very subtle flavor and are nutrient dense. They are also rare and therefore expensive, as there is only one pair of thymus glands per animal. This recipe can be used for veal or lamb sweetbreads. This can be served either as an appetizer or a main course.

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Stuffed Guinea Fowl

La Pintade Farcie

Tania Teschke Photography-Poulailler D'Augustin Pintade Farcie-2117

Serves 4-6

The Pintade is a wild breed of bird (un oiseau sauvage) which began to be imported into France in the 1900s and has since become domesticated and raised in France and other countries. The taste is more pronounced than chicken. It also dries quickly when being cooked, therefore it is usually tied up to retain not only the stuffed contents but also the juices. The fat in the stuffing also helps keep the bird juicy.

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Poached & Sautéed Lamb Brains

Cervelles d’Agneau Pochées

Serves 1 per person

Tania Teschke Photography-cervelle rebecca-1655

I can say that it was a little hard to swallow the first bite or two, as the smell was subtle but new to me, and the texture a bit mushy. To my co-chef and former neighbor, Rebecca Pinsolle, the scent takes her back to her days visiting her grandmother. This is the same effect that smooth pork liverwurst has on me, it transports me to my childhood when I would smear that liverwurst on dark German bread for my breakfast. I am truly grateful for that small indoctrination into “strange” foods, as I think it has helped me to be able to enjoy other foods like chicken livers paté or just plain old liver. And foie gras, of course.

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