Veggie Salt!

May25

I have always been a big fan of veggie salt.  It was an item in the house when I was a kid, and I have been a loyal purchaser.  Veggie salt is fantastic to spice up cottage cheese, eggs, avacado or any other place that you might use salt.

This winter, we were still getting a CSA share with tons of veggies in it.  Being pregnant and ill, we were not able to eat all the vegetables that we were getting from the CSA, and many of them were veggies I was not familiar with.  We were getting a lot of celery root, greens and rapini.  In a desperate attempt to try to use all of these things, I decided to try something different.  I searched the Internet for resources that would help me be able to make veggie salt, but for the first time ever, I was unable to find one single thing.  I decided it was time to go of into experiment land.

I had on hand a  few bunches of rapini, a bunch of kale, some carrots from the garden, my overwintering spinach (which turned out to be a lot) and two celery roots.  I chopped everything up really fine and put it in the food dehydrator.  I dehydrated the heck out of everything.  Most of it was greens, so as soon as it becomes paper like and breaks easily, it is ready.  The celery root was a little more difficult as were the carrots.  I eventually got them all to the consistency that would allow me to turn them to veggie salt (you want them DRY).

When everything was dry, I threw it all into the food processor and processed it until it was pretty fine.  Some of the celery root didn’t process down very well, so after processing it for a while and realizing that it all wasn’t going to turn into a powder, I put it through a sieve to take out any big chunks.  It made about 3/4 of a quart of powder.  I then added 1/3 of a cup of salt and 1/4 cup of oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil.  The final touch was about 1/2 cup of onion powder.

The veggie salt is fantastic.  You should try making this.  These veggies were going into the compost if I didn’t get really creative, and now I have a bunch of veggie salt that I can put on anything that I want.  It sure is tasty, and it doesn’t look to bad either.  This is one more place that I got creative and saved money from our budget while making something useful and tasty.

I apologize that this is not an exact recipe.  I am sure that you could mix and match the ingredients involved in the recipe.  These were things I happened to have on hand that I needed to use up.  I find that each ingredient has added their own flavor and the combinations of veggies you could use are limitless.

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Too Yucky

May22

I’ve worked really hard to expose Daphne to all kinds of different foods so she wouldn’t be only willing to eat potato chips, PB&J and macaroni and cheese.  I must say that I’ve been blessed with a baby who is really willing to try to eat anything that I put in front of her.  In fact, she ate the greens I made the other day (rather poorly I might add) without any fuss at all.

I’ve learned recently that she dislikes potatoes very much.  I’ve tried feeding them to her in many different situations, but they always get spit out.  I made her and Oregon burrito today with some potatoes in it.  She spent time picking them out, and when I asked her what was up, she insisted that they were “too yucky!”

I guess I learned my lesson.  I can live with a kid that eats rapini, kale, collard and mustard greens and refuses to eat potatoes.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

May21

I’ve been meaning to clean the car for a long time.  It back back from California with a lot of food bits everywhere, and it really just needed a good cleaning.  Being the pregnant nesting woman that I am, of course I’ve been worried about the dust that has collected under the place where the glass hatch opens in the back.  I spent an hour this morning cleaning out the back half of the car.  It is much improved, but I still know there is a lot to be done.  I spent another hour in the evning before dinner cleaning sections of the outside of the car that were dirty.  There sure were a lot of bugs stuck on to the front of the car, and I’m not sure that all of them are ever going to come off.  A girl can dream can’t she?

It was doctor appointment day.  Jared had his yearly appointment with his surgen and I went to the midwife and to the imaging people to get an ultrasound.  I haven’t posted a lot lately about the Gestational Diabetes I’ve been working with.  That is partly due to the fact that I’ve been processing a lot and partly because I have little to nothing figured out.  It seems that the problem is my 12 hour fasting levels much more than my levels after eating.  On Saturday I eneded up eating a hamburger, fries and fried asparagus at Burgerville.  Though it was pretty good food, it really sent my blood sugar out of control.  I got really worried, upset and overwhelmed by it, but it turns out it wasn’t even that bad (167, 2 hours after eating).  I am still sorting out what to do.  After seeing the midwife today I feel more comfortable.  It turns out that there is NO glucose in my urine, not even the amount for normal people.  That is a good sign because it shows that things aren’t terribly out of control.  I think the hardest part of this whole thing is that I have had to break my sugar habit.  I have been addicted to sugar for at least 6 years.  The fact that sugar could be really harmful to me and my baby and ruin my VBAC has really stopped me from eating any of it.  Though I still LOVE to eat sweet things, I don’t really have much of an urge to sit and eat sweet things all day long.  On the flip side, I’ve really lost interest in food in general, so it has become more of a chore to eat than the culturally wonderful thing that it used to be for me.  I’m sure this will improve over the next couple of months.  Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a watermelon slice if someone offered it to me, and I do plan to pick strawberries tomorrow, so I do have some guilty pleasures still, just not the chocolate cake and ice cream of yesteryear.

I am glad that I got to meet with the midwife today.  She will not be working during the month of June, so I will likely see her next time at the birth and that is all.  I have 2 midwives, so someone is always available to me, it was just nice to meet with her and get things sorted out.

One thing that is cool is that I plan to make a birth sling that can be attached to the ceiling at the birth center.  It is something that has been used for many hundreds of years in other cultures, but it is not common here.  It is something that can be leaned on during labor or pushing to make things easier.  I am making it for me to see if it would be helpful in my own labor, but I plan to donate it to the birth center when I am done.  In exchange, they are going to set up the hardware for it to hang from the ceiling securely.  That’s a pretty good deal.  This is the room that I plan to have the baby in.  The tub is wonderfully HUGE!

Daphne came to my appointment with me.  She was really good as long as there was something to occupy her.  You have no idea how much fun a tourniquet is until you are a 2 year old!

I am very much interested in an intervention free pregnancy.  It recently was brought up to me that I might want another ultrasound to determine the placenta placement and try to see how the baby is doing.  We want the placenta and the cord to be as far away from the scar as possible.  It turns out that everything looks fine.  It was nice to see the baby and make sure that everything was fine.  I am measuring a little bit ahead, but that means nothing, it is all based on averages, and everything is well within normal range.

When we got home this afternoon it was time to dig in to make some bread.  The dough was a little bit wet, which is odd because it was a pretty dry day.

Daphne seems to think that bread dough is the best thing to eat in the house, and I couldn’t keep her away from it.  I don’t really mind at all, and it makes for a happy baby..

Look at all the dough and flour on her face!

The bread turned out perfectly though!

After dinner I turned the table over to clean it.  We got a new table from Jared’s grandma Lois.  It is a big of an heirloom.  I love the table, but it was a bit dirty, so it needs some cleaning (and possibly a sanding and restaining.  Daphne found a new use for the table.  Looking awful medieval.

Thing 1 is turning into a much better mama.  She jumped in to nurse the babies today both times I took her the box, and it made me feel better.  I think she trusts me more now.  My decision to keep them inside was confirmed when one of them held on to the teat while Thing 1 jumped out of the box.  I was busy feeding other animals and didn’t notice for a while.  The baby was very cold and limp when I got back to it less than an hour later.  I let it nurse again and then put it in with its litter mates.  It seems to be doing fine, but if I had not gone to take the box back away from her, the baby would not have made it.  This has happened on at least 3 other occasions with Daisy as well.

They are still small, but they are all getting fed and they are growing nicely.  I think we are out of the clear on losing any of them at this point, but I wouldn’t put any money on it yet.

Here is a comparison of the two boxes.  The older bunnies sure do show a difference in growth.  They have started to spread out over the litter box, and they get comfy.

All of the black babies have their eyes open now, but none of the white babies.  All in good time, I am not worried about it.  I also discovered yesterday that one of the black bunnies is not actually black.  It might be chocolate or agouti.  I need to wait a bit and ask some people who know more than me.  If it is a chocolate torte, I will keep the bunny in my own herd.

They look like little baby rabbits now rather than hairless rats.

I found a snake in the back yard today, so Jared was sent out to cut the grass.  Even though it was a harmless snake, I don’t like them, and they tend to make feasts out of baby rabbits when possible.

Strawberry picking tomorrow as well as some other gardening projects.

Until then…

Fresh Baked Bread

May12

Since I got pregnant, I have been on the lazy bandwagon. Even though I had been working so hard to make so much of our food, I hit a brick wall when pregnant. I wasn’t ever strong enough to stand in the kitchen for so long, and even when I did manage to get in and get something done, I felt very nauseous, and I was never able to eat the foods that I had made.

I have been determined to get back to bread making because I wanted to find a 100% whole wheat bread recipe that really worked for me. We like to eat toast and sandwiches around here, and though I know that it is not possible to get as light a crumb with whole grain bread as with white bread, I knew it was possible to make a decent loaf of bread that is 100% whole grain. Besides, we don’t have any flour in the house except for that which I grind with my flour mill. I’m trying to get a hold on how much money we have been spending on food lately, so making my own bread out of the grains I currently have seems to be the solution.

I have a cookbook from Bob’s Red Mill. I love the company. It is based in Oregon, and whenever I am out of grains I head to the store and buy them in bulk. It works fantastically, and they really seem to be a company that is interested in helping the common man incorporate more whole grains into the diet. I’m using the basic recipe for whole wheat bread found here. It does require an overnight soak of the flour. This helps bring out nutrition in the bread as well as allowing the natural sweetness of the bread develop.

My only qualm with the recipe is that it takes 8 cups of flour, which is a lot, but it made 2 big loaves of bread that lasted us an entire week the last time. Besides, the ration of grains to flour is about 1:2, so it only take a little over 4 cups of wheat kernels to get 8 cups of flour.

The other benefit to the bread is that since I am now having to watch everything I eat closely because of the gestational diabetes, I don’t have to worry so much about the bread that I eat because it is all complex carbohydrates.

This is what my delicious bread looked like when I got it out of the oven today. These are not the greatest photos, but I’m still working on how to take fast photos of things in the kitchen that look good. I managed to get these photos done before Daphne reached up and took a bite out of the loaves!

The crumb of the bread looks really nice, and it’s got a nice shape to it for sandwiches. I am also impressed at how light it is for a whole grain bread. It doesn’t have the density of some of the other loaves I have made.

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Spunky Mashers

October6

This is a recipe to spice up those mash potatoes that is simple and yummy.  I’m so glad I made enough for leftovers.

2 parsnips

5 potatoes

1tbsp salt

2-3 cloves garlic

A few grinds of freshly grated black pepper

Put a 4 quart pot on to boil.  Peel the parsnips and chop into 1/2 chunks and put in the boiling water.  Peel the potatoes and cut up into 1/2 chunks and add them to the boiling water with the parsnips.  Boil the vegetables until they are fork tendar.

Pour the parsnips and potatoes into a colander and allow to drain.  When the water had drained off, put the veggies into a food processor and add about 1 tbsp of salt and the garlic (minced).  Add about 1/3 cup of half and half and pulse until incorporated.  Depending on the size of the potatoes and other factors, you may have to add more liquid. Continue adding liquid until the potatoes are the correct mashed potato consistency.

Recipe Notes:

Put the parsnips in to boil first because it will take them longer to soften.

You don’t want to over process the mashed potatoes or they will get gummy.  Try to get them to the correct consistency as quickly as possible.

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Impromptu Veggies

September21

Last night I knew that I had to make dinner, but I didn’t have a hankering or a craving for anything.  I looked in my fridge and just started pulling things out.  It turned out that I made a very fantastic meal.

6 pieces of bacon precooked.

2 tbsp garlic

4 tbsp butter

2 cups shelling beans or other cooked beans

1 head of broccoli

6 mushrooms sliced

Shell the beans and put them in a pot of salted boiling water until tendar.  If you have no shelling beans on hand, you will want to soak the dry beans beforehand and then cook them when you are ready to make dinner.

When the beans have become tendar to a fork. Cut up the head of broccoli and put it in the pot with the beans.

Melt the butter in a large skillet until brown and then turn off the heat.  Add the garlic, the bacon and the mushrooms.  Stir to combine and then put a lid on the skillet.

When the broccoli is tendar, drain the beans and broccoli into a colander and allow the water to mostly drain off.  Toss the broccoli and beans into the skillet and mix to combine.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

Make sure you get as much water as possible off the broccoli and beans.  You don’t want a soggy, runny dinner.

I served this with a side of avacado, and it worked out to be just right!

Fish and Chips

September19

Our eating took us across the Pond last night, and oh what a treat it was.

We had some pretty fantastic fish and chips, and I thought I would share the recipe.  Fish and Chips has always been one of my favorite things to eat, but I never thought I would be able to make a BETTER version at home than I was able to find out in a resturant.

They had a beautiful red snapper at the store, and I decided to use it, but this would work well with cod or any other white fish.

1 fillet of white fish per person

1 potato per person

1 cup beer (the more stout the better)

1 cup flour

2 egg whites

2 quarts oil

Pinch or two salt

2 tbsp onion powder or dehydrated onion

Pinch smoked paprika

Cut the potatoes into french fry thickness (think McDonalds).  Leave the skin on.  Heat the oil to 300 degrees.  Blanche the potatoes in the hot oil for 3-4 minutes until fork tendar.  Pull them out and allow to drain.

Heat the oil up to 350 degrees.

Debone the fish if necessary and cut the fillets up into smaller strips.  Mix the batter by combining the beer and the flour.  Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold them into the batter.  Dip the fish in the batter and fry in 350 degree oil for a few mintues until golden brown and delicious. Remove and sprinkle with a bit of salt.

Add the French Fries to the 350 degree oil and allow to cook until golden brown.  Mix the smoked paprika, the salt and the dehydrated onion in the bottom of a bowl.  Add the french fries after removing from the oil and toss until coated.

Recipe Notes:

The fish will go soggy if left for too long because it still has moisture in it.  Avoid this by cooking it last.  You can use any spice on the French Fries, but I found that the one above was quick and tasted delicious!

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Apple Cider

September18

I’ve just finished canning 6 quarts of apple cider, and I thought that I might post the recipe for anyone else that was interested.

I don’t own a cider press nor do I have the funds to buy one now.  I picked WAY too many apples last week, and with the leftovers, I decided to make apple cider.

Apple Cider

Apples

1/4 cup Cider Mate per gallon of juice

Run the apples through your jucier to get the juice out of them.  I have a Jack Lalaine Juicer, and I had to run them through very slowly to get the maximum amount of juice out of them.

Set the juice aside in the fridge.  The foam will separate out to the top.  When this has happened, pull the juice out of the fridge and skim off the foam (my chickens really liked it).  Pour the juice into a saucepan.

Tie the cider mate in a cheesecloth and put it in with the juice.

Bring the juice to a boil and let it boil at least 10 minutes.

Pour the hot juice into hot sterilized jars (specific for canning) and process for 5 min at sea level.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage–Dinner and Breakfast

September18

We are big fans of corned beef around here, so I make it at every opportunity.

Though I have attemped to corn my own corned beef, it has not turned out just right yet, so I am stuck buying it for now in this recipe.  When I do perfect my own corned beef, I will post the recipe because I find corned beef to be of the highest order of food!

Dinner:

1 head of cabbage (green or red or a combo of both)

8 ounces of Corned beef

1/3 cup sesame seeds

2-3 tbsp of soy sauce

Pinch salt

Cut the cabbage in srips being careful to remove he core and any damaged or “ugly” outer leaves.  I cut the cabbage into bigger strips, but you could cut it into smaller strips.  Just remember that it will reduce down a lot.

Put the cabbage in the bottom of a 4 quart pot filled with about a quarter inch of water.  Add the soy sauce.  Put the lid on the cabbage pot and allow to cook until the cabbage is VERY tender.  Add the salt.

Cut the corned beef into strips and add it to the cabbage until it is warm.  Stir in the sesame seeds.

This makes a great meal for dinner with corn on the cob or some other vegetable on the side.

Recipe Notes:

Make sure the corned beef has already been cooked, you can buy uncooked beef that has been corned from the store.  It is fine to use, just make sure that it gets cooked before adding it to the recipe, since you are simply reheating it here.

Save any leftover for your breakfast the following morning.

Breakfast:

My daughter loves this “hash” for breakfast.   It is the only food I have yet seen go into her mouth before making it onto the floor.

3 Potatoes

Left over corned beef dinner

Scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on.  Cut them up into bite sized pieces and throw them into a skillet (cast iron of course) coated with oil.

Add the corned beef dinner leftovers onto the top of the potatoes.  Cover the skillet with a lid and allow to cook.  Stir often until the potatoes are soft.  Add salt to taste and serve.

Recipe Notes:

Don’t let the hash brown too much or get crispy like traditional hash.  The cabbage doesn’t take well to carmelization.

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Chai Ice Cream!

September16

I usually steal all my ideas from other chefs, but I have now finally come up with a good idea of my own.

I made Chai Ice Cream tonight and I wanted to share the recipe with you all, since it tasted incredible while it was still in the churn.

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

1/4 cup of honey (or to taste)

2 teaspons vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean

2 teabags of your choice (I used chai)

4 eggs

Mix the cream and the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add the honey and then the teabags.  Allow the tea to steap as long as you like.  Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds.  Add them to the chai mixture when the heat has been turned off. Put the mixture in the fridge to cool.  You will want it cold when you go to churn it or it will not set up well.

When the mixture is cool, beat the eggs until they lighten in color, about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract.

Pour the egg mixture into the cream mixture and mix.

Pour the base into the ice cream maker and turn until it has a soft set.  Put in the freezer for 2 hours to set up.

Notes: I always have a lot of vanilla beans on hand, so I tend to use vanilla extract AND a vanilla bean.  I love the taste of the vanilla bean, and it is also nice to get the alcohol soluable flavours out of the ice cream.

You could use any kind of tea you like.  I am an Oregonian, so the Chi was fantastic, but it would also be good with Good Earth or even peppermint!

Most Philadelphia ice cream bases call for 2 cups of cream and 1 cup of milk.  I turned this around to reduce the fat content of the ice cream, and to use up more goat milk.  It seems to work fine that way, and I am now changing over to using that ratio for my Philadelphia ice creams.

Enjoy!

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