Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog Burned

Ok, so the can jam burned feburary entry was not accepted, March's topic was alliums, I could have created something, but nothing would have been in season and I would also have a bunch of stuff we likely would not eat, and April? April is herbs-I mean really? So I have decided that this is not for me and have dropped out. It made me so mad however that I just quit blogging all together for a while.

So I'm gonna try to get back on the horse. Also gonna try to unclutter my life and put more time into interesting things instead of well, wherever it's going now....Lastly, I'm following along with my mother and sister's new diet plan. Definitely not as strictly as they are; I just don't have the willpower or support they do. Also, I don't belong to a gym, don't really want to and am working on some avenues for excercise that are actually meaningful instead of stairing at a wall while running on a treadmill.

In happier news Aaron and I turned over half the garden last weekend (getting sunburns in the process) and planted some "cold" weather crops-although nothing about the weather we're currently having is even remotely cold. I think I will get some more compost to line the rows of new plantings and we'll have to turn over the other half, but all in all the garden is in good shape.

The seedlings I planted the 3rd week of Feburary are HUGE!! Like 18in tall already. I began hardening them off last week in preparation for planting next week. They spend the day outside, but on the covered porch and come in at night. I think this weekend they may start spending the days out "in the yard", and maybe by the middle of next week they will be ok to go out all night.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can Jam Posting #2-Feburary: Carrots

 {Photos coming soon}

The suggestions were pickled carrots and chutneys-neither was really for me. I love pickles, but really could not come to terms with sweet carrots and briny pickles-I'm sure they're tasty, but I dunno...And as for chutney I have never really found a way to incorporate them into our everyday meals. So I (having access to a lovely pH meter and intending to make an enitrely liquid mixture anyway) decided to go for a fruity and lovely roasted carrot soup. I combined flavors I love and thought would mix nicely, adjusting the spices and tweaking the pH took a little time and I wouldn't recommend canning this without checking the pH level, but it's also just a great comforting, but light and healthful soup.

Roasted Carrot and Apple Soup
Note: Despite the fact that I have used bottled lemon juice this is NOT a USDA tested recipe and should not be canned unless you are able to reliably test the pH of your specific mixture.

2lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
2 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
1 large onion, in eigths
4 medium shallots, peeled and halved
1T salt
1T basil
3T ground coriander
1 large head garlic
4-5T olive oil

6-8c vegetable stock
6T lemon juice

Toss veggies and toss with olive oil and spices. Cut garlic head in half lengthwise and coat exposed cloves with olive oil. Roast all at 400 for 20-30 min or until garlic begins to edge out of papery covers. Transfer roasted veggies to a large dutch oven, squeezing garlic cloves into the pot when cool enough to handle. Add enough vegetable stock to cover solids and bring to a boil. Let boil or hard simmer for approximately 30min more or until veggies are very limp. Use an immersion blender to puree to your deisred consistency (if canning mixture must be fully pureed for an accurate pH reading).  Add lemon juice to taste and serve warm with crusty bread or a dollop of sour cream and scallions.

To can, hot pack into hot jars and place lids. Process pints for 20min. Process 6oz jars for 15min. (This may be slightly longer than actually required, but I wanted to make sure they sealed and this is what I used successfully. I based my estimate on a tomato ketchup recipe in the Ball Blue Book, that has about the same consistency and I would estimate a similar pH.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Asiago Cheese Biscuits Two Ways

Asiago Cheese Biscuits
Note: These were adapted from Joy the Baker's Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour (use all-purpose if you don’t have whole wheat)
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
1 cup grate asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a mixing bowl, sift together flours, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can do this with a fork if you're like me and recently discovered your lack of a pasty thingy). Add the cheese and black pepper and toss to combine.  In another bowl, combine egg and milk and beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into 2-inch rounds using a biscuit cutter or cut into 2×2-inch squares with a pizza roller.  Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Serve hot with a fried egg and bacon for a yum my breakfast sandwhich or with the sausage gravy below for yummy bad-for-you-ness.

Sausage Gravy
Note: This is fairly simple recipe, but one I never measure with. I learned by touch from my grandmother, but sometimes you just have to taste it. I used a mix of milk and cream, but if all you've got is milk that's fine too. The mount of fat (butter or oil) you need to add is also dependent on your sausage: if it produces enough grease on its own you may not need to add any at all. The amounts listed below are what I added using Jimmy Dean sausage from a roll.

1/2 pound regular or sage pork sausage
2T butter
3T flour
1c milk
1c cream
2T black pepper

Cook and break up sausage. Add butter if necessary and melt. Add flour and pepper to the top of the sausage and stir in, cook for 2-3min to eliminate any "floury" taste. Stir in milk and cream. Simmer on low for 15-20min or until gravy has thickened. Taste and season to your taste.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate-Orange Ice Cream Sandwhiches

So a post on these is long overdue-this was our new year's treat! Lots and lots of appetizers and one fabulous dessert to top it off. At least that was the idea...

These were tasty-but 2 days later. There I was, ready to ring in the new year with ice cream dripping off my hands and all over the stem of my champagne glass. My first bite shot the ice cream out the sides and it ended up everywhere: hair, clothes, floors, you name it. I should have known that hot cookies and softened ice cream would need time to set up, but somehow it totally escaped me. Once they finally did harden, the cookies were kinda tough to bite through-not sure how the comercial ones are so soft....I might care, but honestly right now cookie conquest is not high on my list. Despite all the issues though, they were certainly tasty.

Chocolate-Orange Ice Cream Sandwhiches
Note: Cookies adapted from Smitten Kitchen's "brownie roll-out cookies". Allow at least 8hrs for your cookies to harden-or your ice cream will be everywhere. If you want them to not stick together-at all, you might consider freezing them on a tray and then transfering an airtight container. If you don't mind a little wiggling to get them out you can just freeze them in that container. The ice cream flavor is up to you completely, as for an appropriate amount-also your call. I used about 1/4c for the biggest ones and less for the smaller, but it also depends on your ideal height .:)

3 1/2c. flour
1/2t salt
1/2t baking powder
1c (2sticks) butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2c buttermilk
3t orange extract
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa

1 quart ice cream, your choice or flavor (we used classic vanilla)

Whisk dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together, add eggs one a time as they incorporate, followed by buttermilk,  orange extract, and cocoa. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until smooth.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill (at least 1 hr).

Preheat oven to 350F. Using a scoop or spoon divide out balls of dough. Flatten balls and place on parment lined baking sheets. (Cookies will not expand much so make them about the final desired size. We ended up with some big, medium, and small which was great and cooking time was similar for all three. Just make sure you make them in pairs!). You can try rolling out and making shapes, but it will likely require quite a bit more flour. Bake about 15 min until puffed and no longer shiny on top. Allow to cool 20 min or so. Place an appropriate amount of ice cream on the underside of one cookie and top with another of equivalent size. Place in freezer and allow to harden (8hrs min I would guess).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Split Pea Soup

More soup on the menu last week-it was cold. And since I'm writing this while it is snowing, windy and chilly outside, I want's hardy, easy and tasty. One can exclude the bacon and the cheese for healthy and/or veggie only soup. Next time I might take out some of the peas before pureeing or just puree less to provide more texture, although it was fairly thick. You might also top with a citrus infused sour cream or whipped savory cream...mmm....

Split Pea Soup
Note: The peas will need to cook between 20 and 40 min depending on their size and dried-out-ness.

6 slices bacon
1 med onion, chopped
6 c veggie stock
2c split peas, rinsed and picked over
2c loosely packed baby spinach leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
Cheddar cheese

Cook bacon until crispy and remove to towel to drain. Reserve 1T grease in pan and add onion. Cook until just translucent. Add peas and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 30min. Test that the peas are firm, but edible. Add spinach, cooking for another 5min until spinach is wilted. Puree with immersion blender. Stir in lemon juice and more salt if desired. Top with bacon and cheese to serve.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Corn Chowder


A late holiday recipe- we made this Christmas day, evening. After our huge brunch we decided just to do soups and sandwiches for dinner and it still ended up being a huge meal. Between calico beans, szechuan avocado salad, corned beef, turkey, butternut squash soup and this corn chowder we were well set for dinner. I think this is gluten free (my uncle who has celiac disease didn't have any trouble with it) but no guarantees.  It's also good for those picky people as it doesn't have any wacky ingredients.

Corn Chowder
Note: You could use fresh corn if making this in the summer, but as it was the dead of winter (we were literally snowed in), all I had was canned. I used red potatoes, b/c they were on hand, but any kind of potato will do here; you also don't HAVE to peel them, I was trying to please my audience. You can choose to use olive oil instead of reserving bacon grease, but this isn't a low fat recipe anyway and the grease adds more smoky, bacon-y flavor. It takes A LOT of salt to flavor this guy b/c of all the milk and potatoes, but add to your desired saltiness. Last but not least I like to crumble the bacon individually for each bowl to avoid sogginess, but you could do the whole pot (as above) too.

4 cans (12oz) sweet kernel corn
1 pkg (16oz?) bacon
2c. whole milk
1c heavy cream
1 small onion, diced
4-5 stalks celery, diced
2-3 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
4-6T salt
2t coarse black pepper
2T butter

Cook bacon until crispy in a large skillet.  Remove to paper towels to drain. Reserve 2T of grease in the skillet and transfer 2T of grease to a large soup pot. In pot, add celery, onions and potatoes. Cook over low heat stirring frequently to avoid sticking to bottom of pot, you want to have them crisp tender by when the corn mix is done. Add 1/2 the corn to skillet. Stir over medium heat for 5-10 min or until heated through. Add milk and cream and puree with an immersion blender. Add remaining (unpureed) corn to soup pot, followed by puree. Stir all together well and bring just to a simmer. Add butter and allow to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with crumbled bacon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stuffed Chicken with Veggies

As so many people are in the new year I'm on a quest to eat more healthfully. This is hindered by my frequent desire for sweets, but I'm hoping to temper it with vegetables and portion control. I think I may have finally learned that being drastic doesn't work for me...and that maybe gradually changing things over to fewer sweets, more veggies and adding exercise that has a point (ie: hot yoga, rock climbing, fencing, cycling, gardening) might help me improve my health. So, this meal is a transition-it still contains some bad for you stuff but its also full of tasty veggies to fill you up.

Stuffed Chicken and Sauteed Veggies

2 chicken cutlets
2T olive tapenade
2 slices provolone cheese
1/2 c fresh baby spinach
1/4c shredded parmasean

Lay out cutlets, spread 1T tapenade on each, top with one slice of cheese and 1/4 spinach. Roll and secure with toothpicks. Sprinkle tops with parmasean. Bake at 350 for 25-30min or until chicken is cooked through.

1t olive oil
1 head of broccoli cut into florets
1/2 c sliced red bell pepper
2 artichoke hearts diced
1/4 small onion diced
1t cumin
1t coriander
1T tamari

Sautee veggies in olive oil to your desired doneness (I left mine a litte crunchy in the broccoli department). Add seasonings. Enjoy.