Monday, August 13, 2012

Blog Migration

I've migrated all three of my blogs back in to one blog. I am going to start posting again ... So go to -

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tomato Aspic ... Grandma's?

I'm researching ways to use gelatin. When first married I made some jellos using gelatin and fruit juices. I even did a coffee one. But now I'm looking for veggie ideas ... and others ... Anyone got ideas?

Tomato Aspic

I had a quart of V-8 style tomato juice from the health food store and wanted to use that. I'm using a quality gelatin. Many recipe I found used lemon jello. I don't want to use jello - totally unnatural and full of sugar. Here's what I settled on ... a good thing!

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (my container says 1 Tb to gel 1 C liquid, so I used 4 Tb, I'm wondering if I can use a bit less)
4 C V-8 Juice
1/2 C lemon juice
1 Tb parsley (fresh or dried)
1 tsp sugar (I used sucanat)
pinch of dill weed
1/2 tsp celery seed
dash of cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp worcestershire sauce (Annie's from health food store since I've not made my own yet. And since hers does not have anchovies in it, which is a must for worcestershire sauce, I added 1/2 tsp fish sauce.)

Dissolve the gelatine in 1 cup of the juice. Heat the rest and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture and stir well. You can pour this into a greased mold, and chill about 8 hours. But you can also add veggies to the mold too.

This time I cut up fine -
about 1 C celery
1 poblano chili
a bunch of chives from my garden (1/4-1/2 C)
1 mashed avocado

Other options could be adding in olives, or artichoke hearts, or shrimp ...

We had dinner guests and they liked it. One man said (for two dishes I served - the other being roasted brussel sprouts) that he's not had this since his Grandma made it!

This post has been linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Food Renegade, The Healthy Home Economist, The Prairie Homestead, Real Food Wednesday, Little Farm in the Big City, Friday Food Flicks, Beyond the Peel.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Soft-Boiled-Eggs, Rosemaling, and Chicks

Rosemaled Egg Cup

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Where do I start this post? From chicks to eggs to rosemaling? I'll start with "I love eggs".

My 10 girls

We had chickens for almost thirty years. When Heather married we got rid of our chickens, as she was my one child who loved chicken chores. I have missed the chickens. I miss fresh eggs. We are building a new coop closer to the house. I will be the one doing chicken chores. I currently have 10 chicks in my dining room. Every morning I sing my "Good morning, good morning ..." song to them and say, "Good morning girls". I want them to get to know me, get to know my voice.

Danish boiled egg holders - egg top snipper

Years ago a Danish friend gave me egg cups for soft boiled eggs and taught me how to prepare them and eat them. I love a 'sunny-side-up' egg with great toast, but I'm cutting down on my bread consumption, so have returned to regularly eating a soft boiled egg.

I have an egg piercer. I pierce the large end, cover the eggs with tap water, sprinkle in some salt, and bring to a gentle boil. In my Hearth & Home I tell you there is a science to cooking eggs. Call it the culinary alchemy of eggs. I always like to know the whys and know my ingredients. In heating eggs in shells, a race begins between the buildup of pressure within the egg and its release of air oozing out the end. If the air pocket is heated faster than the air can escape, the shell cracks. Some eggs have larger pores, some have harder shells, so not all crack. Thus the hole poke. I could go on and on with the science, like why the salt too ...

Egg timer

I also have an egg 'timer' that works for me, in that I know when the dark purple line is at the half-way mark to 'soft' I remove my egg and crimp off the top. If it looks a little underdone, I'll set the top back on and let it sit a bit, otherwise I eat it immediately, with some fresh ground sea salt and pepper, with my little spoon.

I looked in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book for a time - she suggests 3 1/2 minutes, but does not say whether the egg should be room temp or from the fridge. Since I don't have my own eggs yet, but buying pastured eggs (otherwise you should use organic), mine are coming from the fridge to soft-cook.

Why look in Sally's book? My daughter-in-love was just here and little S's first food is an almost raw egg yolk. I cooked her egg like I do mine with my timer and Sarah said it was just perfect. Little S was quite colicky until Sarah started making the raw milk baby formula in Sally Fallon's book - like night to day difference!

Monte's mom used to do Rosemaling like the egg cup I started the post with. Since she no longer can do it, I treasure the pieces we have of hers. I'll end this post with pictures of her rosemaling.

Rosemal over Keeping Room couch

Rosemal over our bed

Rosemal hanging in our entry's stairway

Posted at The Homestead Barn Hop, Little Farm in the Big City, Simple Lives Thursday, Food Renegade, Frugally Sustainable, Real Food Wednesday,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Egg Dish / Casserole / Crustless Quiche

I've been a MOPS Mentor Mom for eleven years now. I occasionally bring an egg dish. So I have paper-clipped several 3x5 cards together filed under "E" for Eggs. This dish is a combination of several recipes I like. I'll give you the basic recipe that you can add anything to really.

Put 1/2C butter in a 9x13 dish and put in your preheating to 350 oven.
Mix together-
1C milk
6 lg eggs
2 1/2C ricotta cheese (1 pt container is fine)
1/2C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Pour over the melted butter and 1# grated cheese 

This is what I do now. I pull out one of my frozen 1/4# bag of greens (typical 10oz would work fine too) I froze from my garden - so either chard, kale, or spinach. Slightly thaw it and chop. I'll add this to the butter that's melting in the preheating oven. Grate any cheese I want to use up for adding to the dish when ready to pour the mixture over.  Mix all of the above replacing the flour with Masa (a corn flour made from corn soaked in lime water before drying and grinding - I use for corn tortillas and tamales). I sometimes use buttermilk in place of the milk. And add a 7oz can of a green salsa (salsa verde). Add the grated cheese to the dish and pour this mixture over. Bake about 45 minutes till set.

You could add chopped green chilies or layer whole green chilies for a relleno. Use broth in place of the milk. Chopped or stewed tomatoes. Use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes
These are high protein pancakes. I typically make only three kinds of pancakes: my sourdough crepes, my rye sourdough pancakes, and these. We don't like the typical doughy pancakes, preferring more crepe/ swedish pancake style.

I made feta cheese and then ricotta from it's whey the other day, so these are using my homemade ricotta.

1C ricotta
4 lg eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3C oat flour (I had a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of oat and barley ground flour in the freezer bag)(you could blend this flour with the ricotta cheese or the added liquid overnight for a healthier soaked grain - better body assimilation)
2 Tb melted butter
pinch of salt
big pinch of nutmet (I have a nutmeg grinder - so very fresh)
2 Tb powdered egg whites (optional)
(I usually add 1/4-1/2C water, buttermilk, yogurt, or whey to thin them some)

Blend all in a blender. I have my large cast-iron griddle preheating while mixing ingredients together. When the griddle is hot enough, grease it. Pour the pancake sizes you like. Cook on both sides till done.

We always serve our pancakes with grade B maple syrup and homemade yogurt. Fruit too. Cook up some healthy bacon ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cream of Roasted Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup, Salad, and Water Kefir Beverage
I got this fresh raw dairy cream and I started craving cream of mushroom soup. It is exceptional because of roasting the mushrooms and garlic cloves!

Roasted portabellas and garlic with butter and lemon juice ready to blend with broth

Cream of Roasted Mushroom Soup
1# of mushrooms - I use portabellas
1-2 Tb fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves - I usually use more, like double!
3 Tb butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 1/2 C chicken broth
1/2 C heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a baking dish layer the sliced mushrooms (I usually cut their stem to a fresh layer and wipe tops across a damp dishcloth or paper towel). Add the lemon juice, garlic, butter and light seasoning. Bake for about an hour till juice is thick and dark. Blend with some chicken broth till smooth. Heat with the rest of the chicken broth and add the cream, cooking only 5 more minutes without boiling.

Simmering chicken broth

I had roasted some chicken breasts the day before so to debone the meat for a chicken salad. And then cooked up the chicken bones for broth. I always cover them with plenty of water and add celery, carrot, and onion chunks, then a few whole cloves, some peppercorns, a Tb of apple cider vinegar (for getting more nutrients like calcium from the bones) and some salt. Bring to a boil and cook simmering all day. Then strain the broth. I always have some handy in the fridge and freeze whatever's left.

Posted at: Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Early Spring Greenhouse Gardening

I went away several weeks leaving a snow mound on the north side of the house this big -

And now it's this big -
Most of the snow in sun exposed areas melted.

I need to remind you that I live at 8000 feet outside of Denver, so kinda in the mountains (tho many of Colorado mountains are over 14,000 feet and Denver is a mile high). So while most of you are starting your gardens, mine starts in the greenhouse to get a head start. And outside I do lots of tricking mother nature with creating mini-climate zones with plastic, rocks, walls-of-water ... Wish it were easier, but then I don't get bugs. Now with an electric fence I don't have the elk and deer pests, but just pocket gophers and voles. I could write my own $64 Tomato book! Lots of stories.

Hot houses on south of greenhouse
Last fall I planted salady seeds in my hot houses that were on the south side of my greenhouse and had been full of tomatoes all summer. I hooked a soaker hose to a barrel that gets the roof-run-off and ran it down the center of the hot houses. Then we covered those with another plastic hung from the roof edge for shedding snow. That plastic finally ripped off with all the extreme winds we've had this winter. But I'd left this area to do what it wanted all winter and just opened them up when we got home. Voila! lots of snow peas on the edges and clumps of salad varieties. So I separated their roots and replanted the space adding some radish seeds.

Replanted clumped lettuces

I had extra lettuces, so planted them in pots in my greenhouse. I can't start planting my outside garden with these early seeds until early May, so this will give us early salad pickings. Two winters ago I had done it all winter in my greenhouse and it was too labor intensive and expense of heating, grow lights, and watering - not worth it!

My greenhouse set up - heat coils and grow-lights

I do overwinter my deck flower pots (which I add annuals to each new summer season) and a fig and lime tree and some herbs. I've had a seedless grapevine growing in here for years and the jackmani clematis is taking off.

Lemon and Fig trees and herbs overwintered in greenhouse

Seedless grapevine with twining Jackmani clematis in greenhouse

Overwintered deck's flower pots in greenhouse - and door into our greatroom

These potato pot pics are from several years ago. Growing potatoes in pots are supposed to work great. I'll try it again this year, but did not buy seed potatoes - using what's sprouting in my pantry. And the key to my problem will be putting them where I can water them easier - thus more often. Where I had them before, I now planted blackberries, more strawberries and interplant with purslane, kale, mustard greens, and of coarse flowers.

Potatoes in bottom of 15 gallon pot. Will keep adding dirt as they grow to the top.

My greenhouse a couple years ago. There's a sink to the right.

Click here for past greenhouse post.

I have lots more seeds to plant. My youngest is getting married in our meadow this summer, with his brother marrying them, so I'm starting more flowers. BUT how to have them flowering at the time will be the trick. I'm going to research. Will most likely keep repotting to larger pots and force feeding them more nutrients. We'll see ...

Posted at Homestead Barn HopHealthy Home Economist, Food Renegade, and Gnowfglins

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chickens Again!

I have so missed having chickens. I love fresh eggs! My boys didn't like chicken chores; Heather did. When Heather got married we stopped having chickens. Monte was traveling more and the coop was far away, and I didn't want to be doing the chores in the winter.

But I just ordered chicks. I'll be picking them up April 6. I am so excited! We've figured out a new spot closer to the house for a new coop. I go to bed dreaming of it's plan - improving upon our old coop.

My new friend has found a source for organic feed. That was another piece of having chickens that Monte and me didn't like - the typical bagged feed. A lady makes it and every 6 weeks we'll have to go scoop it into containers ... So what containers will be easiest for little 'ole me to work with? I'm only going to get 10 chicks this time ... How much feed for 6 weeks?

My start with chickens years ago is a hilarious story! A friend of mine (she had been Miss/and Mrs beauty pageant queens, and quite the city/glamour girl, and had sang for Bob Hopes' troup tours where she met her fighter pilot husband) - we ordered lots of chickens of differing kinds, including a turk chicken that had a bare neck. We drove over an hour to pick them up. I had no coup. We were still building our home and living in the downstairs. So where to put them? Why in the unfinished upstairs, of course! We stapled a ring of chicken wire to enclose them. Monte and me were sleeping in what is now our guest room, underneath them, so woke to little pecking noises.

I started building the coup in our driveway's parking area one early Sunday morning. Monte came out and said my door and windows were not square. I said, "it's only a chicken coup!" He helped me finish it. When we built our bigger coup, this one was attached to the back and became the future space for new chicks with it's own run next to the bigger coup run. It turned out to be a great idea! as the baby chicks grew up in close proximity and view of the larger chickens, so they could be introduced together with ease.

Another funny story is that we live with deer and elk always present. When it's mating season, the elk buggle. The rooster and elk would "talk" back and forth!

I'm not getting a rooster this time. Who knows, maybe we'll miss one. But then again no - they start crowing at 3-4 in the morning. When guests were sleeping in the bunk house, they did not appreciated that rude awakening. If crowing at dawn, that would be fine.

So YEAH to chickens! I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Raw Milk

I've joined a farm and got my first raw milk, creme, and pastured eggs today. We'll occasionally get grass-fed meat shares as well. I'm so excited! I want to make some cheese, besides eating way more nutritious foods.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I was gone for two weeks - my daughter had her second baby - this time a girl - Bridget. What did I do the day I got home? I pulled out my Water Kefir grains and Sourdough starter from the fridge. Soaked nuts to dehydrate. Started the soaking process for Cold Cereal and Sourdough Crackers. And then got a batch begun for sourdough bread (which I'm going to have to post about). Those are now staples I always have on hand.

Bridget Lynn

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Water Kefir - Best Soda Ever!

I am hooked on water kefir (keh-FEER). A friend of mine gave me some fresh kefir grains about a month ago. They look like a juicy gummy candy (or some describe them as 'cauliflower looking pieces'). It comes dried for purchasing and starting - like from Cultures for Health. There's quite a few videos on youTube - like this one. Kefir is so healthy - full of probiotics (see link for list)! Here's another link with lots of info.

A basic recipe for WATER KEFIR -
1/4C kefir grains
2Tbs-1/4 sucanat (pure dried sugar cane with nutrients) (it will work with white sugar too)(I've been using just 2 Tbs)
fill to 1" of top of a quart jar with water (best to not be chlorinated or with flouride)

Some people dissolve the sugar first in some hot water. But don't pour hot water onto kefir grains or you will kill them. So let it cool. I haven't done this process yet. I stir the sugar and grains and a bit of water with a plastic spoon (can use sterilized wooden spoon - never use metal) until it seems dissolved. Add the rest of the water and cap. I'll tighten the lid and periodically shake. Then store in place with no direct sunlight for 24-48 hrs. The kefir grains will have multiplied. Taste. If too sweet, sitting longer eats up more sugar. Eventually it starts making alcohol (very slight). Strain the liquid into another jar - eliminate some of the grains and start over.

Eat the extra grains. Throw them in your garden. Compost them. Share them with friends.

You can experiment with flavorings. I've only tried adding sliced ginger so far, cuz I so like the plain kefir. You can add some molasses, and vanilla flavoring. Try orange juice. Try raisins and sliced lemon. Try other fruits. But do these additions after straining off the kefir grains so you don't compromise their integrity - you could call this a second ferment. Let sit another day and strain to refrigerate.

Vacation? Your jar with sugar water and grains will keep in the fridge several weeks. Freezing works too. And since it comes dry in packets, it must be able to be dehydrated.


Added later note: I'm now making it with organic white sugar and a tsp of blackstrap molasses and 1/2 of a washed egg shell, for added minerals - still in quart jars. I have a second jar with bits of fresh ginger in it too. I'm now always adding a teaspoon of vanilla, after straining the grains and about to refrigerate the drink - tastes like cream soda (actually, it doesn't need to be refrigerated if you're a room temp beverage drinker - like me - like I prefer room temp flavored beer - I guess I'd make a good European). So I've ordered Madagascar Vanilla Beans to make my own vanilla extract, and will post about it. There's lots of flavoring ideas out there.

Another new note: Sticking with the basic recipe but now in a 1/2 gallon jar.

Since I'm going to be doing a raw milk piima culture (probably similar to the dairy kefir), I've been reading more. Just in case you are "brewing" differing strains of things in your kitchen ... Separate them by at least 3 feet, so no "cross-pollination" (gardening term). Once bottled in fridge there's no problem.

Newest note-  Am going to start making the dairy kefir too. As I've researched more, it's the only strain that will keep reproducing using raw milk. All the other cultures (Villa, Piima, yogurt ...) require a sterile milk mother culture which requires heating milk to at least 160-180 degrees and refreshing this culture. Then you use 1 Tb per Cup of raw milk to culture at room temperature.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brined Brisket -From Scratch- for St Pat's Day

I've had corned beef and cabbage for St Patrick's Day and always say, "I want to make my own corned beef". But you have to plan ahead since the brisket needs to brine for about a week.

I'll look for about a 4 pound beef brisket. From my research so far I'll be bringing to boil -
1C water
1/4C salt (salt is salt when dizzolved, so I'll use regular sea salt instead of 1/2C of Kosher salt.
1/4C apple cider vinegar (I never eat white vinegar)
2 Tb sugar (I'll use sucanat)
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
a couple cloves
(I'll partially crush the whole spices to better release their flavor)
Let this cool once it's come to a boil and add 2, cut in thirds, garlic cloves. Then add the meat. Make sure the meat is covered by the brine - maybe cutting meat in pieces if need be. This could be stored in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 6-7 days.

You could cook this by itself for a meal. But I want to cook it with the traditional cabbage, potatoes and carrots.

The meat will cook first for several hours in large pot along with an onion. Then add a cabbage head cut in wedges, 6 potatoes quartered, and 4 carrots sliced - cook till tender. Then add 1/4 C fresh parsley and a few Tb of butter. The meat should be shreddy.

Enjoy, and tell St Pat's story.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Healthy Cold Cereal

Homemade cold cereal atop my homemade yogurt, unsweetened flaked coconut, and fruit

As I've said before, I've been reading in depth Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book I've had for years, and now there's many gals writing blogs with recipes following her (The Weston Price Foundation) - Wise Traditions. This cereal recipe is from Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist. She tells you this is the only type of cold cereal you should be eating - get rid of all that processed boxed cereal!

My cookbook has some cereal recipes. I do them like crackers, rolling thin on cookie sheets, baking till crispy, and then breaking up in pieces. What I'd do differently with them now is soak the grain for at least 8 hours so it's healthier - easier to digest.

Oat and Barley flour mixed with yogurt to soak
This recipe soaks for 24 hours in yogurt - homemade yogurt of course. It's a keeper ... meaning we really like it. Next time I'm going to lesson the cinnamon amount and not use the maple flavoring. And I only used 1/2C of maple syrup. We're getting used to things not so sweet. And I'd like to taste the grain more. The freshly ground grain I made this from was oats and barley. Next time, Monte wants me to use the 7-grain mix. So again, as I've said before, you don't need to use wheat.


6C freshly ground flour
3C plain yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or clabbered milk

Mix together in a large glass bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and rubber band and leave on the counter for 24 hours.

After soaking, mix the following into the batter -

3/4C coconut or palm oil
1C Grade B maple syrup (I used 3/4C)(1/2C and 5 drops stevia may be substituted or honey)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple flavoring (not using anymore)
1 Tb cinnamon (I'm using 1 tsp)

Mix all together and pour, spreading in 2 - 9x13 pans and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (I used my 11x17 pans and baked about 20 minutes since thinner).

Let cool and crumble into small pieces (Sarah calls it "coffee cake" at this stage) and dry it at 200 degrees for about 12-18 hours (my dehydrator's highest temp is 155). Mine didn't take that long to get crispy.

The maple-cinnamon scent was sure strong throughout the house!

Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Mine is in a crock on the pantry shelf for now - it's disappearing fast!

FLAKE CEREAL (from my cookbook)
2C flour
(oat, barley, corn, buckwheat, rye, wheat ...)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb honey or molasses or maple syrup
1/2C milk

Combine. At this point, I rolled it thin on cookie sheets and baked at 350 for about 10-20 minutes till lightly browned. But now I'd suggest letting it soak at least 8 hours before rolling it out and baking. Crumble when cool and dry.

Eat these as you would your store-bought cold cereal and enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sourdough Cheese or Plain Crackers

Rye Sourdough Cheese Crackers

I've been making homemade crackers for years. In fact I've got four recipes in my Hearth and Home cookbook I wrote seventeen years ago. Plain wheat thins and adding grated cheese have always been my favorite. I've often brought them places along with homemade mustard and/or a good cheese. The only thing I'd change now-adays would be soaking the flour in the liquid overnight, as the more I read the more I think that's the healthiest way to make anything with flour, unless you use sprouted grain flour. And as I wrote in my book ... think beyond wheat flour. We consume enough wheat in breads - everything else can be made from other grain flours. Our favorite crackers now are -

1C sourdough (click here for recipe)
1/3C melted butter or olive oil
1 1/4-1/2 flour
Mix this till a stiff dough, not too sticky, but tacky. Cover the bowl and let it soak for at least 8 hours.

When ready to make the crackers, preheat the oven to 350. I usually grease the counter with olive oil and my hands, then flatten the dough onto the counter. The hope, is to not be too sticky. If it is then you'll have to mix in some more flour till not too sticky. My sourdough is made with rye flour. When adding the flour I use a 7-grain flour. Once the dough is flattened on your counter, add -

1/4 tsp each salt, garlic, and onion powder (any seasoning you desire)
1/4 tsp baking soda

Knead to incorporate, then knead in
1/2C grated cheese

Divide in half and roll out thin to cookie sheet edges. Score, cutting into small squares - I have a fluted rolling tool, or you could use a pizza cutter. Bake 15 minutes. I often just turn the oven off at this point and leave them in the cooling oven. You want them to be crispy-done.

Any cheese can be used. We love flavored goudas - like smoked, or chipotle. Another favorite is with a garlic cotswold. I've even used a fancy cheese that had strips of stilton blue cheese - that was great too!

I have some old cracker tins I store them in. My other tin has crackers made from sprouted wheat flour, or was it flour soaked in yogurt ... I don't remember. Homemade crackers are so easy to make, why buy them!!!!

In case you don't have sourdough started and are dying to make crackers, here's my Wheat Thins recipe from my book -

3C whole wheat flour (any grain actually)
1/3C olive oil
1C water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together. You could add other spices or herbs. Knead as little as possible till it makes a smooth ball. At this point I'd roll thin on ungreased baking sheets, cut into squares and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until crisp. But now I'd let it sit covered for at least 8 hours before rolling out and baking. Sometimes, depending on your oven, if outer edges are getting too brown, remove them and return to baking.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sourdough Crepes

Once done I flip the sourdough crepe onto a plate
I like calendar days that contain stories and meal suggestions. For many years I've made crepes on Fat Tuesday/ Mardi Gras. My blog post on Mardi Gras into Lent is here. My crepe recipe is here. This year I made sourdough crepes.

Actually, since I found this crepe recipe (I bought the A to Z Sourdough eBook) I'm making them quite often. Sometimes for breakfast with unsweetened grated coconut, homemade yogurt, fruit and maple syrup. Sometimes for lunch or supper with leftovers of meats and veggies. These crepes can even be fried crisp like chips - use for nachos!

Before I jump into the recipe I have to start from the beginning, a very good place to start. My sourdough starter is made from rye flour. I used to have a starter I made from potatoes and wheat flour (it might have used a bit of yeast at the beginning, I don't remember) from an Alaska Sourdough book. When I bought Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book in the early 2000's I started my rye starter. I use this starter for everything including the sourdough pancake recipe I got from the Alaskan book. My starter how-to along with the Sourdough pancakes I've made for years is here.

Starter in jar and crepe ingredients
1 C sourdough starter
3 Tb butter or oil
3 eggs
pinch of salt

I usually start with melting the butter in a 2C Pyrex mixing bowl, then mix in the eggs and starter. I use a silicone whip, keeping it in to periodically stir while making the crepes.

Pour a few Tablespoons batter and tilt pan to spread batter

Crepe ready to flip, this one looks a bit thicker than I usually make them
Have a very well seasoned smaller cast iron skillet preheated. First add a bit of oil and swish it around by tilting the pan. Then add a few tablespoons of batter depending on what size pan you're using - mine is an 8" (and sometimes I'll use a 6" pan). Wait till the crepe develops little bubbles all over, then with spatula quickly flip it over. It doesn't need to cook on this side for long, like just a few seconds and then flip out onto a plate. The crepes can stack till you're done with all the batter. This amount will make about 10 crepes.

I've put leftover crepes in a zip-close bag and frozen. It works great. No need to put waxed paper between.

Happy crepe-ing. Sharing of crepe filling ideas could be numerous, so how about you? what have you tried, and what's your favorite?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Dehydrator - an Excalibur!

9 Tray Excalibur Dehydrator
Yeah! I got a new dehydrator! I posted a bit ago about soaking nuts overnight and the pictured dehydrator was my very old round white one. It's noise was getting irritating and sounded like it wanted to croak.

The Excalibur is very well rated and gives you so many more options and space. If you wanted to dry very lofty things, like large flowers, you can remove some of the shelves. Some people use it as a warm place to raise bread, or make yogurt, removing all the shelves. And it has more temperature options.

I like how it evenly dries with a fan at the back. I always shifted around my other's drying trays to be closer to the bottom heat source. And round fruit leather with a center hole? Before that one I had the Magic Mill dehydrator (which is now the improved L'Equip) and even tho I shifted around it's shelves too, at least fruit leather was rectangular - easier to wrap and roll up in plastic wrap.

Years ago my dehydrator was running non-stop as summer waned. I stored most stuff in zip-closure bags and had jars in the pantry I'd refill for easy access. Like now I've got the nuts in jars that I keep refilling. I'm telling you ... dried corn, or peas, or broccoli ... are like candy! I like having dried mushrooms and onions and herbs handy.

I stopped canning when I learned about the nutrient loss (I may do tomatoes when have access to a lot). Nutrient loss for canned produce is about 40%; freezing about 15%, and dehydrating, depending on your process is almost nil.

I used to make jerky in the oven. Now I'm anxious to dry it in the dehydrator. And raw foodists have great ideas for dehydrator usage. I going to be dehydrating my kale chips now. I'll be drying more of my garden produce and herbs next season!

Soaked and dried pumpkin seeds, almonds and pecans

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Yogurt Makings

Yogurt maker, Yogurt in jar, Yogurt Cheese strainer, and Yogurt cheese
My married kids have been making yogurt, but tired of the typical small jar yogurt makers. After searching eBay, I found a 1/2 gallon yogurt maker like mine doesn't exist. I probably got mine over 20 years ago from a second-hand store. After researching I bought them both another yogurt maker, after trying it myself. Though it comes with the small jars, it has an optional taller dome and will fit many sized jars. I've put my 4C Pyrex pitcher in it when making a quart quantity for yogurt ice cream, when needing that little bit more. What we're using now is 4 wide-mouth pint jars to make 1/2 gallon of milk into yogurt. 3 qt jars will fit in this too; or even one wide jar. I like options.

4 wide-mouth pint jars for 1/2 cups of yogurt

I've found non-homogenized milk heated to 145 degrees, so not ultra-pasteurized (eventually I may be getting raw milk! - found a source). Raw milk yogurt makers often don't cook they're milk, but it won't be thick. Yogurt recipes have you heat the milk to 180 degrees. This will help in making a thick yogurt. Then let it cool to 110 degrees before adding your starter. I have my recipe posted here. What I'd add, is that letting it remain in your yogurt maker for 24 hours eats up all the lactose for those who are lactose intolerant.

Heating milk to 180 degrees
 I make yogurt every week. I have it every morning with fruit, unsweetened coconut and sprouted flax. I'm using it more and more. Like I have a yogurt cheese strainer. Yogurt cheese is awesome all by itself. It's made a great cheesecake which I'll post about later. Mix in some herbs, or as my daughter-in-love made - mixed with chopped green pepper, pineapple and pecans - a great dip! And then I'm using the drained whey for many things, including my sourdough bread making. More on this later.

Friday, February 10, 2012

BLT Soup

BLT Soup
BLT sandwiches have always been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. And oh do I look forward to them come summer with fresh grown tomatoes!!!!! Well, the other night I craved this soup, and I had some tomatoes needing to get cooked.

4 slices thick bacon, or maybe 6 if regular bacon
You can fry this till crisp and crumble it back into the soup. But I typically cut the bacon into my soup pot with 1 Tb butter and let it start cooking while I chop
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (my favorite is a poblano)
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (I used 3 smaller sized)
After the bacon was getting close to being cooked I'd start adding in the chopped ingredients one at a time. So I'd let the onion and pepper cook awhile with the bacon before adding the rest. Then add -
1 Qt chicken broth (mine is always homemade, as I'm always cooking up chicken and then the bones further). Simmer for about 10 minutes. With the bacon, I never add salt and pepper, but you do your own taste test.

Just before serving add some chopped romaine lettuce. You can add 1/2 C cream. I typically slice the lettuce (any kinds, including arugula, kale and spinach - whatever I've got handy) and put a helping in each soup bowl and pour the soup over, then serve with a dollop of homemade yogurt. That way, since we'll have it as a leftover, we'll add fresh lettuce the next time we eat it.

You could top it with some croutons.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Soaked and Dried Nuts and Breakfast Porridge

I've started soaking nuts this year. I've had Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book for years and am just now getting around to reading all the great information - lots of it! - and doing more and more of it's recipes, believing it's philosophy.

For any recipe utilizing grains, it's suggested to soak them for at least 8 hours. I've had a hand grain rolling machine for years and now have it set up in the pantry. The night before, if we're wanting to cook up a cereal for breakfast, we grind it and soak it. Monte's having fun picking different grains I have in jars in the pantry. His proportions are 1/3 C of rolled/cracked grain to 1 C water. You can add a pinch of salt if you like. Nuts could be added to this soaking mixture. Then in the morning gently bring it to simmering. Differing grains take differing times to soak up the liquid. Then we'll add fruit, unsweetened coconut, whey, and sprouted flax meal to it. And of coarse my homemade yogurt.

Soaking Nuts
Why soak nuts? They contain enzyme inhibitors that can put a strain on the digestive system. Let them soak at least 7 hours or overnight (I prefer 12 hours - especially for the almonds). Drain. Spread to dry in either a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12-24 hours till dry and crisp; or dry in a dehydrator. My oven doesn't go that low, so the dehydrator is back in use.  Other than walnuts, that are susceptible to rancidity so should be stored in the refrigerator, all nuts can be stored in airtight container for months. They make great snacks!

4 C nuts
2 tsp sea salt
water to cover
Like I said, soak at least 7 hours or overnight, and then dry.

Crispy Pepitas (4 C raw soaked pumpkin seeds with 2 Tb sea salt)

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