Tag Archives: slow food

Let the Canning Commence

Last summer I helped my friend Joan of Olds Farm plant, weed, feed, harvest and shuck her wares. I even dragged the kids along with me a few times. Needless to say, Dylan no longer wants to be a farmer.  In exchange, I received a great bounty of produce and farm-fresh meats. It was win-win.

So, when she called last month and asked me to help her run her tables at the Farmers’ Market for three weeks, of course I said yes. Each week I came home with a giant box of goodies. Spring greens, ground beef, chicken and pork sausages, garlic, leeks, onions and . . . asparagus!

The first week I grilled all the asparagus and spring onions I brought home and consumed them within three days. The second week I brought home a much larger bag of asparagus. I continued to grill and eat large quantities of asparagus, but there was actually enough left over to can and freeze some.

Photo by Tiffany Copeland Godden.

Yesterday, a terrible storm blew in and it rained all morning. At one point, the sky was so black that it appeared to be evening and it was so still I thought there would be a tornado. Yard work was out of the question and the house was nice and cool so  the weather was perfect for canning.

I dragged out the giant bag of asparagus and my pickled asparagus recipe from the Can Jam. The recipe is there in a step-by-step illustrated version, or you can download the printable copy here: French Tarragon Pickled Asparagus Printable

I didn’t get seven jars this time, but I also didn’t weigh/count my spears. I only had these five, tall-ish jars available, so I cut enough spears to fit into the jars. When I was done I had enough asparagus left over for one more dinner and a pint of frozen asparagus.

I’ve never frozen asparagus before and I was afraid it would all turn to mush so I searched The InterWebs for advice. After consulting various “experts”, I decided to take none of their advice and do it my own way. I present to you The Method.

The Method

  1. Clean and cut your asparagus spears.
  2. Fill a CLEAN kitchen sink or large pot with ice and water.
  3. Bring a pan of water large enough to hold all of your asparagus to a boil.
  4. Set a timer for one minute.
  5. Rapidly add all the cut pieces of asparagus to the boiling water.
  6. As the timer counts down to zero-ish, remove the pan from the stove.
  7. Quickly drain the asparagus and add the hot pieces to the ice bath.
  8. Stir the spears around in the bath to quickly cool them.
  9. Remove the cut pieces to a towel to drain.
  10. Spread the cooled pieces onto a plate or cookie sheet and place in freezer.
  11. After the pieces are individually frozen, place them in a freezer container.
1 pint frozen asparagus

Yum.

Okay, so most people blanch their asparagus, but I did it for less than a minute and I was really quick about getting it into the ice bath. Conflicting info from the internet makes me wonder if this will help at all, but I’m hopeful. They look beautiful at least.

Storage count: 2.25 quarts pickles.5 quarts frozen vegetables

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Brined Pork Roast

So, I figured I have a half an hour to kill while the cake bakes.  I could go read Harry Potter, or I could try to get caught up on some of my posts.  I have goals after all.

Hubby has been laid off since Christmas.  While he’s been looking for jobs and applying for jobs, he’s probably going to be unemployed for a while.  Although the drop in income is going to be a struggle, it has been really wonderful having him home.  He’s been cooking and cleaning and doing laundry.  Ok, he always did the laundry, but sweeping the kitchen floor??

Last week I came home from work and was welcomed by a fragrant, savory aroma.  It was brine.  Hubby had been researching brines online all morning and finally came up with this:

  • 1/4 cup Champion Hill Honey
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 1/2 T. thyme
  • 1 1/2 T. parsley
  • 1 whole garlic bulb, skin and all (WHOLE garlic, not just a clove.)
  • 1 T. peppercorns
  • scant 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 4 cups water

Bring water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan.  Mince the herbs and crush the garlic and spices with a rolling-pin or a mortar and pestle.  Add all ingredients into the boiling water, stirring the honey until dissolved.  Bring the entire mixture to a boil and then let cool to at least room temperature before proceeding.

Once the brine has cooled, transfer brine to a large, non-reactive bowl and add a 2-ish pound pork roast.  Ours was from the half hog we got from Olds Farm late last summer.

Pork in brine

Brined pork steeping overnight.

 

Cover with a plate or other weight to keep the pork submerged.  Allow the meat to soak in the brine overnight.

After the pork has soaked overnight, remove the meat from its brine and blot it dry.  Let the pork rest for thirty minute before cooking. 

brined pork

Pork brined overnight

 Cook at 350 degrees until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees.  (This took almost an hour, but I started checking every ten minutes after the first thirty.  Let the roast rest for ten minute before serving.

Fully cooked and ready to serve.

This brined pork was delicious!  It stayed very moist and the flavor was incredible.   We’ve already discussed trying other herb and spice combinations but have decided that if we try this particular recipe again we will cut the salt by about half.

Since the pork came from a local hog, it was a perfect Dark Days Dinner when served with my Homemade Gnocchi in cream sauce:

  • Wash about 2 lbs. of redskin potatoes (Westmaas Farms), stab each with a fork a few times and bake until fully cooked.
  • Scoop the insides from the potato skins and deposit them into a bowl. 
  • Run the potatoes through a ricer or food mill.
  • Mix the potatoes with 2 beaten egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups flour (spelt; Organic Bean and Grain) and a pinch of salt.
  • Stir until pliable and roll into 3/4″ tubes.
  • Cut the tubes into 1″ pieces.
  • Pinch each piece to create dimples and drop onto a plate. 
  • Freeze the gnocchi until firm.
  • Cook by dropping into salted, boiling water until the dumplings float or store individually frozen gnocchi in an air-tight container for several months.
Pork with homemade gnocchi

Roasted brined pork with homemade gnocchis in garlic cream sauce.

After the gnocchis were boiled I dropped them into a hot skillet with a Tablespoon of butter, sprinkled them with a Tablespoon of flour and slowly stirred in Shetler’s heavy cream until a thick “Alfredo” sauce was formed.  You could add whatever herbs and spices you like to the sauce but I just added salt, pepper and a little minced garlic.

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January Spice Rack Challenge: Rosemary 3 Ways

I found several different recipes that I wanted to try for this month’s Spice Rack Challenge but in addition to the Spice Rack Challenge, I still have my 101 in 1001 to think about.  So, I opted for recipes that would allow me to do double duty.  Cheating?  Maybe.  Efficient?  Definitely.   Besides, is it cheating if I do three posts with three different rosemary recipes?

Buffalo Stroganoff with Rosemary and Morels over Homemade Pasta

 

All three recipes turned out great.  First I made homemade pasta with rosemary, garlic and cracked pepper.  Several days later I used the pasta as a base for a Dark Days dinner of Buffalo Stroganoff with Rosemary and Morel Mushrooms.

Finished Rosemary-Lemon Marmalade

 I also made Rosemary/Meyer Lemon Marmalade.  I can honestly say it was the best marmalade I have ever made.  It was part of Tigress’ Can Jam round up last year and originally came from Prospect the Pantry.  I should share this marmalade, but I think I will end up hoarding it.

I also made Rosemary Lemon Muffins.  I intended to make Rosemary Lemon cupcakes, but I toyed with the recipe and ended up with more of a muffin.  I found three different recipes for lemon cupcakes and married them.  The result is a light but sweet rosemary/lemon corn muffin.  The flavor is excellent and I think I will make them again, but I will go back to the original recipes and tinker a little more first.

Rosemary/Lemon Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick real butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups corn flour (flour, not the grittier meal)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest from 2 lemons, divided
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 T. fresh minced rosemary, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream melted butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each.  In a separate bowl combine flours, salt and baking soda.  Alternately add 1/3 of dry ingredients and 1/3 milk to wet ingredients mixing after each addition.  Add lemon juice, half the minced rosemary and half the zest; mix for one minute more.

Ready for the oven

 

Combine remaining zest, rosemary and 1/3 cup sugar.  Reserve.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.  Fill each tin half full. Sprinkle Rosemary-Lemon Sugar onto each muffin.  Bake 17-20 minutes.

Rosemary Lemon Muffin

I used jumbo muffin tins so mine needed to cook 23 minutes.

Feeling inspired?  Have a good rosemary recipe?  There’s still time for you to join the Spice Rack Challenge.  Hop on over to Mother’s Kitchen to sign up and post your recipe before Friday January 21st.

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Dark Days Dinner: Buffalo Stroganoff with Rosemary and Morels over Rosemary Pasta

Stroganoff is a classic dish.  I don’t think I have ever followed a recipe for it the way I was supposed to.  Some things require recipes.  Baking for example is science.  You can’t mess with chemistry and have it work out the same every time.  Sauces are different.  You can play with the seasonings, adjust the thickener or the cook time and it’s all good.  So, as usual my “recipe” is more of a set of guidelines to follow.

Buffalo Stroganoff with Rosemary and Morels over Homemade Pasta

Buffalo Stroganoff with Morels

  • Cube a buffalo sirloin steak (8-10 oz.) and place the chunks in a non-reactive dish.  Cover the steak chunks with plain yogurt (about a cup and a half, but enough to cover all the pieces)  Allow the meat to tenderize for 4-6 hours.
  • Heat a cup of stock (I used homemade chicken, but beef would probably be better.)  Add 8-10 dried morel mushrooms to the stock and allow to soak while meat tenderizes.
  • Sautee a small, diced onion and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic in hot oil.
  • Add sirloin to skillet (reserve yogurt) and sautee until browned.  Add salt and pepper to taste and about a teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary.
  • Roughly chop morels and add them to the pan (reserve stock).
  • Sautee until heated through and add enough flour to thoroughly coat meat and mushrooms. (Probably about a half cup.)
  • Turn heat to high and add stock reserved from mushrooms stirring continuously to avoid clumping.
  • Reduce heat and add reserved yogurt.
  • Add a cup of heavy cream and simmer until thickened.  Add another half cup or so of yogurt to tang up the sauce.
  • Serve over hot egg noodles or homemade pasta.  I served ours on homemade rosemary garlic pasta.

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September Can Jam~Spiced Peach Jam

I love peaches.  Mostly I love them fresh, but grocery store peaches in the winter shipped from who-knows-where are not tasty so I don’t buy them anymore.

I also love jam.  So, what could be better than peach jam?  Spiced Peach Jam.

I love this jam so much that I had to make another batch after I tried the first.   I buy my peaches at the Farmers’ Market.  I have a favorite booth for stonefruits and tomatoes.  They always have a peck of peach “seconds” for me.  I think I paid $3 for a half peck of soft peaches.  We always eat a few but I got most of them into the jam:

Spiced Peach Jam

  • 3 lbs peaches skinned and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 coins of candied ginger chopped into little bits (almost minced)
  • 2 tsp.  lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
Spiced Peach Jam

Yum!

Combine all in a large, non-reactive pan and simmer until set.  I always use the chilled plate method to test my set. 
Sterilize your jars by boiling in a hot water bath.
Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized jars and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.

The jam improves with time as the ginger diffuses into it.  I like it on PB&J sandwiches, but I love it in homemade yogurt!

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Simple Lives Thursday

My Thursday posts on and off for a while have been “Stuff I Love”.   Now that I’ve joined the Simple Lives Thursday BlogHop, they’ve morphed a bit.  Sometimes the “Stuff I Love” is simple and the post can serve dual duty like last week’s Ecomower post.  Sometimes though, my simple posts don’t really involve “stuff”. 

Today’s post is completely “stuff” free, but is simple. When I say it is ‘simple’, the recipe is both easy and can fit into part of a simpler life of  “slower” home cooking without processed convenience foods.   My friend, Stephanie, always tells me my recipes are too fancy but I promise, anyone can make this. 

My husband and I went to Jamaica on a honeymoon twelve-and-a-half years ago.  The island was beautiful and romantic and we had an amazing time snorkeling, walking on the beach and enjoying the local cuisine.  We sipped endless cups of Blue Mountain coffee and sampled curried goat, pepper shrimp, pulled pork and endless plates of jerk chicken with rice and beans.

jerk chicken

jerk chicken with rice and beans

We pestered the locals for jerk recipes.  They wouldn’t divulge their secrets.  Finally we found a Jamaican woman willing to share with us her recipe for jerk chicken.  It’s actually more of a non-recipe.  I’m sure mine isn’t exactly the same but this is what has worked for me:

Jerk Chicken

  • One whole chicken or cut-up pieces of chicken.  (Today I used four thighs and four drumsticks from Olds Farm.)
  • garlic~ four cloves, crushed
  • scallion~ (I cut some green tops from my not-quite-ready to harvest onions.)
  • ginger~ one good-sized knob, minced
  • thyme~ I cut a clump off my plants bordering the patio
  • browning~ there is an actual “browning” sauce that you are supposed to use but I have used soy sauce for years with no ill effects
  • allspice~ four or five
  • scotch bonnet or Habanero pepper~ I never use chilies that hot; I used two of my little, purple, Bolivian chilies
  • oil~ olive or whatever you ordinarily cook with
  • beer or water~ Red Stripe would be most authentic, but use any beer you have handy or some water; enough to mostly cover the chicken while it marinates.
waiting

marinating chicken pieces

Mix it all up in a big bowl and let it marinate until you are ready to cook it.  The chicken can be grilled or baked but I usually grill mine.  Everything but the ginger, beer, soy sauce and allspice came from my yard except the chicken which came from my farmer-friend Joan who lives twenty minutes away.  If you don’t garden, you could easily find all the produce at almost any Farmers’ Market.  This can easily be prepared the night before and grilled when you are ready. 

I make a sauce that isn’t strictly authentic by pouring the marinade into a saucepan, adding some honey or sugar, molasses and ketchup and boiling until it is thick.  This can be done while the chicken is grilling.  If some of your family prefers hotter fare, more chilies can be added to the sauce without making the chicken itself fiery-hot.

I always serve my chicken with traditional rice and beans.  You can use canned beans, but if you are going to marinate your chicken overnight, I highly recommend you soak your own dry beans. 
Cook rice with water at a ratio of two cups water to 1 cup rice.  Salt to taste. (If you cook up a big pot of plain rice you can set aside and season half of it differently for another day’s dinner.)   Cook beans until tender and add to rice.  Pour a little milk into the rice/bean mixture, sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon and simmer until the milk is absorbed.

Good food really can be simple.

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday and Family Food Fridays hop over to see what everyone else is doing to simplify their lives!

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Nibbler

Last week I introduced you to our new doe rabbit, Fiona, and told you about my hare-brained scheme (Yeah, I really just said that.) to start raising meat rabbits.  I can’t raise cattle in town.  At present, I can’t even have a goat, but I can have rabbits because they can be raised in small, urban spaces and are considered pets by most people.  

I can, and will continue to buy sustainably raised meat products from farmers I know and trust, but raising my own meat rabbits is financially a better option for me.    Besides, rabbits are greener; they are very efficient converters of plant biomass into meat.  If you don’t believe me, read this research paper by Wayne Cook from the Warner College of Natural Resources of Colorado State University.  It’s really long and unless you’re versed in the science, probably difficult to read so I’ll just share this statement:

“Calculations for comparisons among herbivores show that rabbits can utilize the herbage biomass potential better than sheep or cattle and sheep are considered more efficient than cattle.  (The data) shows that rabbits are about 2.2 times more efficient than sheep and about 2.8 times more efficient than cattle.”

So, even though I don’t have space for sheep or cattle, I can cleanly, humanely and efficiently produce my own meat.  Rabbit meat production doesn’t require much space or equipment and the start-up costs are minimal.  I’ve done my research.  I know there are breeds of rabbits more suited to meat production based on their size, body shapes and growth patterns.  Fiona, our doe, is a Palomino rabbit.  Palominos are considered a good breed for meat production.

Young buck rabbit.

Our new buck.

This is Nibbler.  Nibbler is a 9-week old buck that we purchased at the fair last Wednesday and picked up yesterday.  The kids selected him.  I like that he looks like a wild rabbit.  My only criteria for rabbit selection other than suitability for meat production was that we couldn’t have any of those zombie-eyed albino rabbits.  I’ll be honest, they creep me out. 

Nibbler is a mutt, but he is a blend of several varieties of rabbits that are of a good size and shape for meat production.  Not all the breeds in his gene-pool were on the “preferred” list for meat production, but most of them were and his parents were of a good size (9-11 pounds).  I’m not raising pet rabbits, so I don’t need pedigrees.  By diversifying my gene pool, I will actually end up with heartier stock not prone to genetic defects common in straight-breed rabbits.

When we started with chickens I didn’t keep excellent records of our costs because saving money on eggs wasn’t my goal.  However, I want to show that rabbits are affordable, sustainable meat that anyone inclined to could raise.  We won’t have any meat from our pair for a while because they are young, but I will keep you updated on the expenses as we move forward in this venture.  Check back soon for a post about rabbit housing!

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Fiona

Meet Fiona. 

Palomino Rabbit

Fiona enjoying some time in the yard.

Many of you will look at this post and think, “Aw, how cute!”  That is the natural instinct when one sees a bunny.  They are fluffy and sweet.  Generally, they are gentle and quiet.  If you are a gardener, you may be thinking, “What a pest!” or “Great fertilizer.”  But, as fellow blogger Annette of Sustainable Eats writes: Bunnies are Fluffy and So Much More

Some of you will read this post and decide not to come back.  That is because Fiona is the first step in my venture towards meat independence and another step towards more sustainable food.  I started by shopping at the Farmers’ Market.  I joined a CSA.  I got chickens and planted a garden.  I ordered, paid for and received half a hog from my friend Joan at Olds Farm and signed up for a raw goat milk share. (Mr. Hippie isn’t ready to let me get a goat.  Yet.)   I make yogurt, cheese and bread.  All these things help reduce my carbon footprint and my food miles.  They increase my self-sufficiency and make me feel better about where my food is coming from.

I have a friend who is a vegetarian because she doesn’t feel right eating meat if she can’t kill it herself.  She should feel that way.  We all should.  We come from a long line of hunter-gatherers.  We are designed to hunt and kill our own meat.  Somewhere down the line agriculture was developed.  This was a good thing.   It provided food security and allowed us to settle down and form commmunities.   Homo Sapiens  has been very succesful.  We are intelligent and learn fairly quickly how to do things as efficiently as possible. We learned to work together and trade with our neighbors for the things we didn’t have.  All these innovations have made life easier although I wouldn’t argue that it is simpler.  Most of us never kill an animal for food.  Some of us, mostly children, don’t realize that a hamburger was once a living, breathing entity.  There is such a disconnect between us and our food that we don’t have to think about the unpleasantry of actually killing the animal that provides sustenance.  We even have different names for slaughtered animals than we do for livestock.  Pigs are pork, cows are beef.  Even deer become venison. 

This post is not a rant about the ugliness of industrial agriculture or the wrongs of factory farms.  This is not a post to try and convince you that you should raise your own rabbits or chickens.  I know that not everyone can or will do that.   This post is about me making a conscious choice to know where my food comes from.  When three of our four chickens turned out to be roosters, I needed to make a decision.  I could find them foster homes or I could eat them.  Like my vegetarian friend that won’t eat meat because she can’t kill it, I knew that if I couldn’t eat those roos, I had no point eating chicken at all.  How can I justify walking into a grocery store to buy a plucked, cleaned chicken and eat it when I can’t eat my own?  I’ll admit that I didn’t personally slaughter those chickens.  I wasn’t ready yet but it was a first step which brought me closer to where I am now.

 Bunnies are fluffy and cute but throughout history they have been prized as a source of meat.  According to David Taylor in his Rabbit Handbook, “By medieval times, rabbits were much valued for their meat, skin and fur.  . . .  A fine buck rabbit fetched as high a price as a suckling pig.”  I buy rabbit meat from the Farmers’ Market.  I know where it came from and that it was treated well.  I also know that it is lean, high in protein and very “green”.  Rabbits are very efficient converters of plant material to meat so they put very little strain on our already stressed out food system.  But, rabbit meat is fairly expensive to buy.  It is often considered a gourmet or specialty meat so it demands a high market price.  I can raise my own rabbits for a relatively small investment. 

Fiona is a Palomino rabbit, a variety recommended for meat production.  Fiona will probably never be eaten but she is breeding stock for future rabbit meat.  Fiona is not old enough yet to sart breeding so this venture is on hold until then, but the foundation is in place.  Until then, I do have another source of fertilizer for my ever-expanding garden.  We went to the fair yesterday and picked out a young buck.  Nibbler is a “mutt” but has nice coloring, a good shape and will grow to a good size for a meat rabbit.  We’ll pick him up on Sunday, so you can meet him soon.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop.  Hop on over and check out what everyone is doing.

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Happy Birthday Gwen

 

Hope she made a good wish.

Gwen on her fourteenth birthday.

 

The arrival of my daughter, Gwendolyn, fourteen years ago today was a surprise; she was five weeks early.  She was ready for the world despite everyone else’s schedules and is the same way now; she wants to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it.

Life with a teenager is different.  I could spend hours telling you of our adventures through life but as you probably are already aware, everything a mother does embarrasses a teen; she wouldn’t approve.  So, instead of telling you all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful moments we’ve shared over the years I’ll share the birthday dinner.  It will still earn me rolled eyes but it’s been awhile since I’ve done a food post.

Gwen has been a vegetarian for over three years now.  There was a short stint in the middle when I could get her to eat locally raised and sustainably produced meats but she’s since reverted to her diet of cheese and bread.  Actually, she eats fish and eggs and dairy.  She’ll even eat a lot of vegetables, but when I start combining them into balanced vegetarian meals she turns up her nose. (Ratatouille anyone?)  Since both the boys in our house are devoted carnivores, it makes dinner interesting to say the least.  Generally what happens is that the boys get a protein with a vegetable and grain or potatoes on their plates and Gwen gets the same plate without the meat.  She doesn’t particularly enjoy soy-based meat replacements and I’m not sure I agree with them anyway given how unsustainable they really are.

But, it is her birthday.  Did I mention neither of the boys like fish?  So, in addition to cake I got to make not one, but two dinners today.
Let’s start with the common elements.  

Grilled corn and flatbread

Folded flatbread with an ear of corn grilled in its husk.

 

Everyone had an ear of grilled corn from Olds Farm and a grilled flatbread.  Leave your corn in its husk and soak it in water for an hour or two before you throw it on the grill.  I made grilled breads a lot last summer but since I’ve started using spelt or whole wheat flour, they’ve waned in popularity and nobody cheers when I cook them anymore.  I’ve been tweaking the recipe trying to find a balance of white and whole grain flour that everyone will eat; these were pretty good and nobody complained although I probably could have increased the white flour a little more.  The recipe is below.

Garden fresh Ceviche

Halibut Ceviche with veggies from our garden.

 

Gwen’s entrée was ceviche.  I’ve never made a ceviche before but I was very pleased with the results and will definitely be making it again.  Every time I grill fish Gwen asks, “Do we have anymore lemon?” so “cooking” the fish in the lemon seemed like a natural thing to do.

Grilled Dinner

I want my baby back, baby back.

 

The boys had baby back ribs.  We ordered a half a pig from Olds Farm this year.  It was processed last week and we picked it up on Wednesday.  It feels really good to have a freezer full of good, local meat but at the rate we’re eating it, I’m not sure it will last long.

Sneaky Cake with chocolate chip ice cream

Nobody will ever guess the secret ingredients.

 

I should have made homemade ice cream to go in Gwen’s ice cream cake but since I was already cooking two separate dinners and baking a cake in a 90 degree house, I cheated and bought some. 

Everything was a hit (even the sneaky cake) and Gwen had a great birthday.   Here are the recipes:
Grilled Flatbreads

2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm whey (or water if you haven’t made cheese recently)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups white flour plus more for dusting

  1. Combine yeast with whey or water and sugar and let stand about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in oil, salt and flours to form a dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl; add more flour as necessary.
  3. Knead the dough with your KitchenAid mixer until the motor dies or the dough is smooth and elastic, whichever comes first. (My mixer died at just about the same time the dough was ready so I guess I got lucky there.)
  4. Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and drizzle the top with oil.  Cover with a damp towel or cloth napkin and let rise until double.
  5. Punch the dough down and roll it into a two-inch cylinder.  Cut the cylinder into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and keep covered with a damp towel.
  6. Preheat the grill to high.
  7. Roll each dough ball into a thin disc about 8″ in diameter.
  8. Drizzle each disc with oil and sprinkle with salt before placing onto the hot grill.  Flip when the breads bubble and the bottoms brown nicely and cook until the other side has browned.

 

Birthday Ceviche

About 2 lbs. Halibut from Alaskan Premium Seafoods cut into 1/2″ chunks
1/2 cup lime juice
two small onions pulled from the garden along with some of the greens finely chopped
a medium yellow and two small Roma tomatoes pulled from the garden and chopped
two small hot peppers pulled from the rainbow pepper plant minced
several lime basil leaves finely chopped
2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.  Stir gently to blend and place in refrigerator.  Stir again every hour or so to ensure all parts of fish come into contact with the lime juice.  The fish is ready when it turns from translucent to opaque.

Scoop into bowls with a slotted spoon to remove most of the juice and serve.
Ribs

There isn’t really a recipe for my ribs.  I had the oven on for the cake so I rubbed the ribs on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic and dumped them in a glass baking dish.  I poured half a beer in the pan, covered it with foil and threw it in the oven while I prepared and baked the cake.  When the cake was done I left the ribs in while the oven cooled and then finished them on the grill with the corn and the flatbreads.  My sauce is also very complex:

  1. Dump the drippings and beer from the ribs into a sauce pan.
  2. Add a liberal amount of brown sugar and a big squirt of ketchup.
  3. Boil until desired consistency is reached.

 

Birthday Ice Cream Cake

1 quart ice cream
1 1/2 cups purple puree*
1 stick butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 C. sugar
2 C. whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Chocolate frosting *

* Purple Puree is something the Sneaky Chef does, but mine is a little different.  Last summer, in an effort to use all the kale I was getting from my CSA, I decided to use purple kale to make a puree to add to my cakes.  It’s a little coarser than I think a spinach puree would be, but I haven’t had any complaints.  
In a saucepan, heat 1/4 cup water to boiling.  Chop a large bunch of purple kale (3-4 cups chopped) and add it to the boiling water.  When the kale is thoroughly cooked, add it and the water to your blender or food processor with two cups of blueberries and a teaspoon of lemon juice.  Puree the mixture on high-speed until it reaches a smooth consistency.  This will make over 2 cups of puree; you can freeze any extra.

Before mixing your cake, remove your ice cream from the freezer to soften (unless you just made your own and it is already soft) and line a 9 inch cake pan with plastic wrap.  Scoop ice cream into the lined pan and smooth it down so that it takes the shape of the pan.  Place the pan in the freezer to allow the ice cream to harden.

Preheat oven to 340 degrees.

  1. Melt a stick of butter with the chocolate chips in a large, microwaveable bowl.  I used milk chocolate chips because I had them on hand,  but I would advise semi-sweet for a more chocolatey cake.  Stir the chips and butter until blended.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups purple puree, vanilla, sugar and eggs and mix well.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Mix until blended.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients into the larger bowland mix until combined.
  5. Grease two 9″ cake pans.
  6. Divide batter evenly between pans and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Allow cakes to fully cool before assembling the ice cream tower. 
  8. Invert one cooled layer cake on a large plate.
  9. Remove plastic wrap from ice cream and stack onto cake.
  10. Top ice cream with second cake layer.
  11. Frost with Chocolate frosting *
  12. Place cake in freezer until ready to serve.

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick room temperature butter
powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a ratio of about 4:1
splash of vanilla

  1. Dump softened butter into medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 C. powdered sugar and a T. of cocoa powder.  Stir until mixed.
  3. Add a splash of vanilla and stir again.
  4. Continue adding cocoa  and sugar until the frosting reaches a workable consistency. 

This post has been added to the Family Food Fridays bloghop.  Check it out for a selection of delicious recipes!

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May Can Jam ~ Pickled Asparagus

I have to admit that until now I’ve never actually eaten a pickled asparagus spear.  I love pickled cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.  Pickled onions are yummy and “dilly” beans are delicious.   Up ’til now, the occasion has just not presented itself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love asparagus.  I was sure that I would love pickled asparagus.  I have looked at expensive little jars of pickled asparagus, but couldn’t bring myself to spend $6 for one little jar.  So, when the Can Jam ingredients were announced, I knew what I was going to do.  

I googled recipes; bought tall, 12 oz. jelly jars; picked up five pounds of asparagus from Olds’ Farm at the Farmers’ Market and created this: 

Tarragon Pickled Asparagus 

(Makes 7 – 12 oz. jelly jars.)

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

  • Start with about 100 spears of asparagus trimmed to fit into tall jelly jars.  (I started with five pounds, but I only used the top four inches or so of each spear for my pickling and had enough spears left over to serve with dinner the next day.)

  

For the Brine: 

  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • 3 cups water

To each jar add: 

aromatics

Seasonings to be added to each jar.

  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1 allspice
  • 30-40 brown mustard seeds
  • 3″ sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 wild leek trimmed to fit

I did not blanch my asparagus first.  I found recipes that called for it and recipes that didn’t.  I contemplated it, but decided that asparagus turns brown enough when you cook it so it doesn’t need  a minute of cooking in addition to the ten minutes in the boiling water bath.  The only benefit I can see to blanching is that the spears are more pliable so that you could fit more spears into a jar. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Place canning jars into canning pot, fill with water and set on stove to brings to a boil. 
  2. If you haven’t already, wash asparagus and trim to fit the height of your jars.  If you use the tougher bottom ends of the asparagus, you may need to peel them but the tender top bits shouldn’t need to be peeled.
  3. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan.  When the water bath comes to a boil, bring the brine to a boil.
  4. Remove jars from canner one at a time and start packing:
  5. Add peppercorns, allspice and mustard seeds to the bottom of the jar.  Fill the jar about halfway with spears (tips up), tuck a sprig of tarragon into the jar and finish packing.  Once the jar seems full, shove the leek between the spears bulb-end up.  This will help keep the spears from moving around.

    Asparagus ready to be brined.

    Jar packed and ready to be filled with brine.

  6. In the picture above you will notice some asparagus “bottoms” visible.  Some of my spears were long enough to use both the bottom and the top of the spear so I peeled the bottoms of the longer spears and added them to the jars.  Once the jar is full ladle hot brine into the jar leaving head space and seal the jar.
  7. Work quickly to pack the rest of your jars; by the time I finished packing the seventh jar, my first jars were already browning.  Once the jars are full, return them to the boiling water bath and process for ten minutes. 
  8. Pull the beautiful jars out and wait for that rewarding, “Pop!”
Finished Jars of Pickled Asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus Spears

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