Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree

I went out to cut a tree today.  There weren't many choices that would actually fit in our house, so I chose:

It has single branches radiating from the trunk which allows you to actually hang ornaments vertically instead of on a fat bushy tree...this can also be nice, but I really like a sparse tree.

And then Rosie came to join me.

I put on Christmas music, A Robert Shaw Christmas, and made Orange Blossom Cookies from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion Cookbook.  I never would have picked this recipe because I especially like chocolatey or carmel things for parties, but Sam made these at work and they are really delicious.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Ferments

I spent an afternoon making fermented vegetables out of my purchases at the Farmers Market:

I began with Giardiniera.  That's the half gallon on the right.  It has cauliflower florets and stems, carrots, onions, red peppers, garlic, and mixed peppercorns. I salted the vegetables first to make them wilt a bit so they would be easier to pack into the jar.  I then added well water to cover them.  I put a little jar on top as a weight.  These are two days old and bubbling madly.  I had more than a half gallon, so I put the rest into the far left jar and put carrots on top of them.

The blue crock is from my friend, Melissa.  She hand threw this fermentation crock with a little reservoir for water around the rim to seal it and keep from air entering.  It works beautifully.  The half gallon in the center is nappa cabbage sliced with red peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, and hot pepper flakes.  I tossed these vegetables with 3 T salt and when I packed them in, they had made their own brine.

The jar just to the left is zucchini with carrots, onions, oregano, garlic, red peppers, and salted brine.

The back two are only carrots and garlic in brine.  I didn't have dill for them.

These will be so good when they are done and full of probiotics and lactic acid.  They will actually be "pickled" with their own generation of lactic acid and nicely sour.  There is no sugar in these.

The little jar is leftovers which will ferment just fine in their recycled jar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I just went to a Sandor Katz Fermentation Seminar

I came home incredibly inspired to ferment everything.  Sandor Katz is the national guru of fermentation and he was at the Friendly City Food Co-op tonight.  He mentioned lots of interesting combinations to ferment:

Apple, Cranberry, Cabbage Kraut

Cabbage, Corn Kraut

Cabbage mashed potato Kraut, yes, cooked potatoes, mashed and added to cabbage, then fermented.

He suggests just salting to taste and then fermenting. 

I am so excited about this.  I got to talk to lots of fun people who want to learn fermentation.  We desperately need this bacteria in our systems because of the over use of antibiotics and germ-phobia.  Fermented vegetables and cultured beverages are a lovely way to do this.

Some tidbits:

The head of the USDA says there have not been any incidents of food poisoning from fermented vegetables.

Fermentation pre-digests food which is beneficial for our gut.

Nutrients become available during fermentation.  Nutritional Augmentation. (I love that description).

B vitamins become available through fermentation of vegetables.

Ferments are full of unique micro nutrients good for the digestion.

Fermentation detoxifies phytic acid which otherwise binds with minerals preventing you from absorbing them.  Phytic acid is in grains.

Traditionally, water has been made potable by adding a little sugar and fermenting the liquid and in that process, the alcoholic  result kills the bacteria.

Babies get their first bacteria from the lactic acid which is in the birth canal.  They have sterile guts and bodies in the womb. 

Chlorine kills beneficial bacteria in our bodies when we drink treated water.

Eating fermented vegetables replenishes the beneficial bacteria.

Fermentation is a "Natural Phenomenon That Is Inevitable" .

Put ferments in smaller and smaller jars as you use them to keep the air space to a minimum.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fixing the lawnmower with bread dough

Bread dough inserted just to the left of the red gas primer.

The gas tank actually broke off its mount and began to splash gas around and stopped.  The whole machine rattles terribly due to a slightly bent while it is hard on the arms and wrists, I prefer to get the most out of this mower before I buy a new one.  I wrapped wire around the tank, hooked bungee cords into the wire and stretched and attached each to something on the other side of the mower.  Then I mixed:

1/2 C. King Arthur all purpose flour
3 T. Water
1/4 t. yeast

I kneaded this into a paste and pressed it into the cracks around the break.  I figured the yeast would help it expand and seal the tank.  IT WORKED.  I was able to mow the lawn normally without the tank splashing up and down losing gas.  The seal remained flexible enough to jiggle without breaking.

I didn't need to buy a new lawnmower today.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rhubarb Pickle

Lacto-Fermented Rhubarb
I was given some rhubarb tonight.  I don't usually use it because it requires so much sugar to make palatable.  Then I thought of lacto-fermenting it.  I diced it up, added sea salt, hot pepper flakes and onion.  I tasted it and it's deliciously sour and I can imagine eating it as a condiment with most all meats and fish.

Diced rhubarb to fill a quart jar....and a little more as it turns out.
2 T plus 2 t. unrefined sea salt
1/2 t. hot pepper flakes
1/2 Spanish onion

Stir all together, pack into a quart jar with a little more for a tiny jar, seal and wait.
I'll burp these morning and evening so that pressure doesn't build up too much.  I've never heard of using rhubarb in this way, so please wait until I report back to let you know if I was successful.

 Update: May 7- After 2 days of "fermentation", no bubbles have appeared and there is no pressure building.  Perhaps the rhubarb is so very acidic that that won't happen.

Update: May 11, This rhubarb did not actually ferment, although I have read about people using it to flavor kefir soda.  I did not add any whey which may have helped.  It is very tasty as a condiment, but since I made it, I've read that rhubarb isn't all that useful as a nutrient.  It's worth making a little in the spring I think.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lacto-Fermented Carrots with Garlic and Dill

10 lbs. organic, peeled carrots yielded 3 half-gallon jars and 1 quart jar.  After I peeled and trimmed the ends, I cut them on the diagonal and put them in the jars along with dried dill weed and garlic cloves which I simply cut open but did not peel. I added 3 Tablespoons of unrefined sea salt to each half-gallon.  I filled each jar with well water, but you can use filtered tap water....the chlorine can be a problem so filter it out.  To cover, I put a metal canning type lid inside my plastic lids and screwed them on tight.  I'll "burp" them a couple of times in a day to release the pressure.  This lasts for about 4 days at this cool time of year.  After that, I refrigerate and hold on to them for a year or more depending on how fast we eat them.  I use them in salads, on top of rice stir fries and just to eat because they are so deliciously sour, tasty, and full  of pro-biotics.                 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian

I visited Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian on Sunday.  I got a few good photos in spite of the Plexiglas barrier.  I love how her kitchen reflected her specific needs in the kitchen.  She had little cup hooks up the window frame for all of her Pyrex measures.  She put in wall lights to shine down on the counter/sink area and there are no cupboards above the sink, so she didn't have any bulky things to bump into.  I love that.  I hit my head on my cupboards regularly when I am concentrating and lift my head....oops. She had framed cat pictures attached to her cupboards which show in the above photo.  She didn't have cupboard doors on all of her shelves, so she could just grab a pot and not need two clean hands to get it out.

I think the Flame Orange pot-bellied piece is a Descoware enameled cast iron pot.  She used masking tape to label everything and it's still intact.  This is the most eccentric kitchen I've ever seen and I've been twice because I adore it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Baked Pumpkin, Sausage, and Cheese

I cut a "lid" like you do for a Jack-O-Lantern and scraped out the seeds from a 4 lb. pumpkin I got from my winter vegetable vendor. 

1 1/2 C. eggs (five very large eggs)
1 1/2 C. Chicken broth
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
Whisk together the eggs, broth, and seasonings.

3/4 lb. Fried, crumbled sausage plus or minus to your taste and add to empty pumpkin.
2 C. Shredded cheddar or Swiss divided.  1 1/2 C. goes into the pumpkin now.

Pour egg/broth mixture over the sausage and cheese.

Put the lid on the pumpkin and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours in a pan with sides to contain any liquid that runs out, then remove lid.

Add reserved cheese and bake without lid for 1/2 hour. 

Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.  Scoop out filling and pumpkin for each serving.  This is better served after cooling to bring out the flavors.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Something with a cup of Tea

Smoked Oysters, lactofermented dill garlic pickle,
local raw cheddar cheese, croistini, gala apple,
hardboiled egg, and olives.
I needed something to make a cup of tea special.  When we get home from work, we sit down and have a little tea party, so I put together this:

Canned smoked oysters
Lactofermented dill and garlic pickle from local cucumbers this summer
Local raw cheddar cheese from the Eberly dairy
Gala apple
Hardboiled eggs from my favorite local farm
Croistini from a sourdough sub roll from work with olive oil, salt and pepper
Green Olives

This went extremely well with a cup of black tea.

Scalloped Vegetables

Here is the recipe that I jotted down for scalloped potatoes. I liked the simplicity of the white sauce with cheese poured over the vegetables.  I made the potatoes for Christmas but found out then that 1 hour was not enough to fully cook it.  I now think that it should be baked 1 hour and 10 minutes and be covered for the first 40 minutes.

Original recipe

4 C. potatoes sliced
3 T Butter
3 T Flour
1 1/2 C. Milk
1 t. Salt
Cayenne to taste

1 C. Sharp Cheddar stirred into sauce
1/2 C. Cheddar for the top

Make a roux, add the cheese and pour over
 4 Cups of vegetables.

4 Cups sliced carrots, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes,
kale, onions, and Swiss chard.  Very vitamin dense.

Pouring the sauce onto the raw vegetables.  I used chicken
and tomato broth combined instead of milk.

Ready to bake covered for 40 minutes and uncovered for 30 minutes.

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

I made this for breakfast and enjoyed it immensely.

In a stainless steel skillet:

½ Onion-medium, sautéed
3 Garlic cloves sliced or chopped
1 C. Kale or any greens sautéed with onion and garlic

1 ½ C. Tomato Juice
2 t. cumin

Let simmer until reduced slightly by about 1/4th and add salt.
½ t. salt or to taste.

4 Eggs brought to room temperature. Put these in a measuring cup with a spout and pour each one into the sauce spaced out. Put a lid over the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes or more until the eggs are done how you like them.

Serve in a bowl with sour cream on top.

This is just delicious.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beef, Mushroom, Tomato, Rice Soup

This soup turned out to be so flavorful.  Sometimes they don't even when I've added so many good nourishing ingredients so I was delighted at the rich full flavor.

1 Onion diced and sauteed in
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. hamburger fried in the onions
5 cups beef broth
1 quart tomato juice
3 cups dried mushrooms
2 cups precooked brown rice.
1 1/2 t. sea salt

Simmer gently.

I make beef broth by cooking bones slowly in my crock pot for 48 hours.  The broth I used for this was very jelled and rich.  I found commercial  tomato juice in bottles which I'm pleased about.  Sometimes I can my own but not this year. Sometimes I tire of my own cooking but this recipe will be a repeater. I also liked the hamburger in this and didn't mind the texture which is similar to the rice. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Morning Hot Chocolate

Scale the recipe up or down from these amounts:

4 C (1 Quart) Milk
2 t. cornstarch
4T Sugar
4 T Cocoa
Dash of Salt

Pour 1/2 C milk into a small saucepan with the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and cocoa.  Heat until it bubbles and cooks for about 30 seconds while whisking.  Remove from heat and let sit for 2 minutes. 

Add remaining milk and heat to 160° while whisking.  Serve in warmed mugs with whipped cream floating on top.

For the whipped cream, I use a very thick (so thick I have to dig it out of a jar) local dairy cream.  In order to whip it, I mix it half and half with milk.  For a several mugs of hot chocolate, I use:

1/2 C Super Cream
1/2 C Milk
1/2 t. vanilla
2 t. sugar
dash salt (for non-commercial milk)

Whip until soft and spoon over hot chocolate.

This hot chocolate has a nice "mouth feel" and is superior to the hot chocolate I make using chocolate chips.