Sunday, October 31, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with fruits

Everyone raves about this brussels sprouts dish. Though I tend to make all recipes my own with my twists and variations, I rarely tweak this recipe from The Splendid Table, an NPR weekly radio show - I subscribe to their free weekly recipe email from www.splendidtable.publicradio.org/ (have gotten a lot of great recipes from them!).
 

I so crave this dish, that I make it often. We especially like it with grilled, smoked salmon. Monte dumps it on top of his salmon.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
2 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved if small or quartered if large
(A key when roasting vegetables is to have a lot of the ingredients chunked about the same size)
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 apples (any kind, I tend to use Granny Smith), cored and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 firm ripe Anjou or Comice pears, cored and cut
2-3 slices bacon, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp each thyme and sage (fresh is always best if you have it, and use more)
5-6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp spicy red pepper flakes
1 Tb brown sugar (I use Sucanat - unprocessed sugar cane)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Toss all together. Bake in a 450 degree oven on a very large shallow pan (I line it with foil). You want the mixture to spread into a single layer. Stir it a couple times - baking about 40 minutes to an hour till nicely browned.

It, like the smoked salmon, is great leftover cold on lettuce as a salad.

Grilled Smoked Salmon (&/or Chicken)


I often grill and smoke, with wood chips, a large salmon fillet. When Monte is out of town, I always grill either salmon or chicken breasts to have leftover cold on salads. I could eat this way all the time - simple, and GOOD!

After preheating the grill and getting the soaked wood chips going, I like to grill the flesh side of fish quickly on the hot grill. Then I turn it over with the skin side down, sprinkle with pepper seasoning and spread with mayonnaise. Then turn the heat down and let slow cook with the smoke flavoring it. The skin protects the fish from burning and it gets crispy.

If the fish isn't very fresh (which is most often since we don't live near fishing areas), I always do a presoak in the sink with some salt and milk and sometimes some sugar. It seems to help draw out anything 'fishy'. Then rinse (pull out any bones with needle-nose pliers, if any) and dry.

When grilling chicken breasts, I cut them in fairly thin pieces and marinate them in an Italian salad dressing for a bit (like at least an hour, or all day, or even overnight) before grilling. And brush them with the marinade while grilling, so they don't dry out.


Like I said, I will often do this just for me, but have also done it when we've got visiting scientists here for many meals. This will be one of the lunches along with bread and sandwich makings and a large bowl of salad. We usually have most of our meals buffet style with everything around the kitchen island for people to create their own plate's meal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fun Food Books

I just listened to and read some fun food reads.

Every night before going to bed I have a fun book to be reading. Sleep has never come easy for me since I was a teenager. Maybe I don't need much sleep. I've read bios of people who function quite well on little sleep and my uncle is in that category. Over the years I've tried every technique I've heard/read of. Monte thinks I'm funny, saying "my body is willing, but not my brain", a dichotomous statement! - aren't I one whole being?! Oh well ...

My bedtime book I just finished is The Butcher and the Vegetarian - One Woman's Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis. It was fun, and sometimes thought-provoking, and eye-opening. Tara Weaver (she has a blog - Tea & Cookies) grew up in a vegetarian family. As an adult, she found herself in poor health, and trying cures of every kind, a doctor finally ordered her to eat meat. This book is about Tara navigating around this foreign new world.

A fun novel I listened to is Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (I've listened to several of her books - good - love the reader). A Southern food network chef Gina Foxton ends up having to compete with a rival food network chef, handsome Tate Moody (a hunter, fisherman chef) and his dog Moonbeam - paired up by the network for spice for the network. It's packed with Southern flavor and humor.

Then too I listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life, read by the authors: primarily Barbara Kingslover (read her Poisonwood Bible), along with bits by her husband Steven Hopp and daughter, Camille. I bought the book when it came out in 2007, but wanted to listen to it. They left the sunbelt of Tucson Arizona, paddling against the then tide (not the current green tide) to Stephen's dilapidated farm in Appalachia country. It's part memoir, part journalisic investigation, and a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet. Good humored and poetic - I like her writing style. I had to laugh at the chapter on turkeys and their sex life, since we have had turkeys in the past. For one year they vowed to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it - tho each family member chose one item they couldn't live without. I've not gone to their website yet (the book's title), but want to - supposedly lots of links, recipes etc posted there.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Onion, Garlic, Buttermilk Dip, and Another Dip too

I was asked to write out this recipe -

1/2 C mayo
1/2 C sour cream
3 Tb buttermilk powder
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme (more tsps if you use fresh)
1/2 tsp celery seed, ground
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb chopped onion (if I've the time, I prefer to chop a whole onion and caramelize it by slow sauteing until golden brown - maybe about 1/2 hour. Let cool.)

Mix all these at least a couple hours ahead or up to a couple days. It could be thinned with some yogurt. Chives could be added or even blue cheese...

I like making things from scratch. I almost never buy herbs and spices ground, because they taste so much better ground at the moment of use. I have a wood mortar and pestle, and if a lot of spices, I have an extra coffee grinder.

Since so many young people are around our house, I've found they don't eat many fruits or vegetables. People will always eat more of them if they are prepared for nibbling before meals. And they'll eat more veggies if there's a dip (me too). There's always the typical carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, peas, and cherry tomatoes (always think 'wide variety of color' for a wide variety of phyto-nutrients). I like to parboil green beans too. And then the veggie that is everyone's favorite is to have chilled, but boiled till soft, baby potatoes (or just slice boiled small potatoes).
________________________________

The above is from my old blog. We had a houseful Saturday and I'd gotten some baby fingerling potatoes, so made up a dip again. But I didn't follow the above dip, I created a new one -

Cottage Cheese - was probably around 2 Cups
Chives from the garden, cut up into blender
1 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
1/2 tsp ceyenne
1/2 tsp lemon peel
1 tsp pepper
Juice from one lime or lemon
maybe some parsley
I pureed this in the blender and needed to add a few Tb cream to help it puree.

Everyone loves the boiled, cooled potatoes the best!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fruit Flies

Monte's been asking me questions - so I've been researching. He's been so tired of fruit flies and trying to attract them to get rid of them. I tell him every end of summer, harvest brings fruit flies. This year's infestation came with peaches.

Question 1: "How can we trap them?"

Putting old fruit in a container and then trying to lid it and take them out, doesn't work. If you'll notice, they tend to walk around the rim of the container most of the time and once the lid comes close, they fly away. I had put a small bit of wine in a glass close by for him to see that some will go there and drown. But the BEST trap I found is to put plastic wrap tightly over a bowl with some fruit in it and poke fork holes. It's amazing how many get trapped in one day! and the sound when you get close is eerie! He empties it after several days in the compost and starts over.

Question 2: "What's their life cycle? Are we just breeding them?"

Years ago when schooling the kids we did do a fruit fly experiment, but I forget the facts. I knew they have a short life span, but didn't think they grow overnight! I LOVE the internet! Diagrams, facts, tips, videos, virtual tours ... I took a movie with my little cannon elf. This is the first time trying to post my own movies! You'll notice the flies still walking the edge, so they never get back to the holes to fly out.



video

Saturday, October 9, 2010

COUSCOUS

Monte wanted me to share his creation. We had some couscous leftover from a supper, so the following morning he simply added some egg till it held together and then dropped spoonfuls onto a heated oiled griddle or skillet, flattening them out. Cook on both sides till golden brown.

We've tried it a few times more. He's added a no-salt seasoning full of herbs. I've added some cinnamon and vanilla, and of course topping them with maple syrup.

Love the simplicity, since couscous with added hot water is done in a minute. And love the bit of crunch!

________________________

A salad we really like is with couscous. My taste buds were having quite a craving for it for awhile.

In a bowl put
1 cup couscous and 1 tsp salt.
Mix in 1 1/3 cups of the hottest tap water and come back and stir it occasionally while mixing up the rest of the ingredients.

Anything can be mixed in, but for starters, try this:
Chop 2 cups loose parsley
Mix with
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb olive oil
6 green onions chopped (green tops included)
4 cups spinach cut in ribbons

Make dressing and add as much as you like:
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup half&half

I like to add cherry tomatoes
&/or roasted red pepper chopped
or mint, making the dressing of orange juice, zest and vinegar
. . . . . . .

I only use olive oil in all my cooking. I buy three kinds. The cheapest kind in a large container is virtually flavorless. A virgin kind I use for sauteing. Then I have a more expensive extra virgin kind for salads, and other times it's not cooked, and for dipping bread in - yum!!!! Good flavored olive oil with a seasoning and great whole grain bread--I crave! but can't eat a lot of or I'd be a fattened cow.

I always have a pretty wooden bowl or basket of lemons and limes. We use these ALL the time--whether just in water or squeezed onto salad alone with the good olive oil...

I also love green onions.

I love lots of things...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Coleslaw

I was asked to write out a coleslaw recipe. But as I said in the last post, use grated broccoli and/or cauliflower stems with or in place of the cabbage.
  
Coleslaw Recipe

1 lb shredded cabbage (about 6 cups)
1-2 carrots shredded
4 scallions or some red onion, finely chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tb lemon juice (or whole lemon)
1/2 c yogurt
2 Tb each mayo & sour cream
1/4 tsp dijon style mustard
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
(finely sliced celery)
(finely chopped green pepper)
(1/2 tsp sugar or 1 Tb maple syrup)
(cilantro and lime juice can replace the thyme and lemon)
(vinegar can replace the lemon juice)
(I like options--depending on the 'mood' of my taste buds)
(other veggies too--like radishes, turnips, cucumbers)

Mix these all together well and serve.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicken Divan & Broccoli Stalk Coleslaw

Chicken Divan, Artisan Bread, Broccoli Stalk Coleslaw
We have had SO MUCH COMPANY!!!!!!! A friend emailed today asking how my hermit soul was doing?! This Velveteen House is turning into a retreat center. We've had investors and geologists overlapping with  visiting friends. Currently a couple who used to live here but are now in Florida are here. Tomorrow a family is coming to cut firewood and are bringing pizza for lunch.

I made chicken divan for supper tonight along with an artisan bread and a coleslaw made from the broccoli stocks I refrigerated when I harvested and froze all that broccoli. Did you know you can grate broccoli stalks for a coleslaw? When I don't want to slice stuff real fine for a slaw, I put chunks in the blender, cover to floating with water, pulse, so to keep it somewhat chunky and not pureed, then pour in strainer to drain off water. So I chunked the broccoli in batches, then some garden carrots and radishes, and then a batch of red onion. Mixed them all together in a large bowl and made up a sauce with homemade yogurt, mayo, a bit of sour cream we had left over with chives from baked potatoes the other night with guests when I baked meatloaf. Then just added some mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, and parsley.

Draining blended red onion - the EASY way!!
CHICKEN DIVAN
2 - 10oz packages of frozen broccoli or use fresh
2 C cooked chicken or turkey pieces
4 Tb oil
4 Tb flour
2 C chicken broth
1 egg
1 Tb lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 seeds cardamom
3 cloves
3/8 tsp whole cummin
12 peppercorns
18 coriander seeds
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
(Probably not in your typical grocery store. This is the spice that makes the curry flavor in curry spice. In fact, all the the ingredients from cinnamon down make up typical curry spice. I don't buy it, making up my own from scratch, grinding whole spices in a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder I have for spices. You could use a couple teaspoons of curry spice.)
1-2 C shredded cheese
a few slices old bread, blended to make crumbs

Arrange broccoli in a casserole dish and cook a few minutes in the microwave. Place chicken on top of the broccoli. Make a white sauce with the oil, flour, and broth - heating in microwave, stirring till thickening. Wisk egg in a little bowl and add some of the warm broth in with it, which prevents the egg from cooking, wisk, then wisk this mixture back into the heated white sauce (Most recipes just use a cream of chicken or mushroom soup can and add mayo. The white sauce and egg are creating this combo.) Add the spices and lemon juice - pour this over the chicken. Mix the bread crumbs with the grated cheese and sprinkle over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. We like the top to get browned.

Last night's was made in a larger casserole and I had 1 1/2# of broccoli and more chicken, so did a larger batch of everything. And I hardly measure anymore!

I love chicken divan. It took a long while for my kids to acquire a taste for it.

Breakfast Bread/ Challah & Sukkot

Last weekend I baked bread for gift-giving. The Jewish Fall Festivals were in my thoughts: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (click on each of those and they'll take you to posts about them on my other blog). The calendar days stories are so ingrained within me ...

In my cookbook, my Dinner Rolls recipe makes great Challah bread. It's a bread made with eggs and eaten every Sabbath and for many festivals. Original Challah has seven ingredients and it's shaped as a braid. For Rosh Hashanah it's formed into a circle. For Sukkot, as a harvest festival (what I believe the pilgrims, with the first Thanksgiving, were celebrating), raisins are often added. So I thought of my Breakfast Bread in my cookbook with soaked raisins and a whole orange pureed in the bread's warm water. So I made it and in the process decided I'd give some of the bread to some people at church. I also copied my blog posts on the Jewish Fall Festivals, ending with Simchat Torah, to give with the bread, along with a bag of Kale Chips (recipe posted here).


I gave my gifts and by Sunday evening we had an invite from a Rabbi from a local Messianic Church - they refer to themselves as Fulfilled Jews. So I waited to post about all this and the bread recipe until we celebrated Simchat Torah with them Thursday evening, which ends Sukkot. I was so excited! I'd been to this church last year - where my CSA farm share was delivered each week. So I'd seen their sukkah booths in the parking lot. This year I asked to look inside. Apple tree branches, with some attached apples were hanging from the rafters and pictures adorned the particle-board walls. There was a couch, table and chairs, sleeping cots, and harvest produce as decoration (read my posts in above links). I'd given one gift to Ron, who loved my writing - so he called a Rabbi friend, and talked to him about me ... There's a book they read and pray from during the week of Sukkot, like Passover has it's book. Once that was done some old Torah's were brought out and the dancing around the room began. I was standing clapping the rhythm watching the Torahs passed around and more and more people joining the dancing. Eventually the Rabbi handed me a Torah to dance with too! They had tambourine circles with the star of David in the center and streamers and the kids started dancing with them. Many of the families had been sleeping there all week. We left talking about the impressions ingrained for the kids, and the dedication, especially in today's society.


My Bosch Bowl
BREAKFAST BREAD/ CHALLAH
Put 3 C hot water in a blender along with
1 C raisins and
1 whole orange, quartered & seeds removed (do not peel - I'd use organic)
Let these soak awhile and then puree, then pour into the mixer bowl. Add
2 Tb instant yeast (that's what I use)
1/3 C oil
1/3 C honey
4 C whole wheat flour (mine is fresh ground)
Pulse this a bit to moisten most of the flour. Then put the lid on and let sponge 10 minutes.
Then add -
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temp
& enough flour to clean the bowl.

In my cookbook I walk you through bread making. With whole wheat flour, I get the flour incorporated in, in a minute, because flour added later will make the bread dry and sawdusty. I stop the machine and feel the dough. It shouldn't be sticky but a bit tacky. Let it knead for 5-6 minutes (with whole white winter wheat - otherwise 10 minutes). Then I oil the counter top and my hands and dump the dough out, forming it into a nice round blob. Cut the dough into however many loaves you want to make and shape. This recipe can make 3-4 one pound loaves. I braided mine. Let rise on greased baking sheets.


Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
You could use this dough in loaf pans, or make cinnamon rolls.

Here's another link about Tashlich. And then tomorrow on the Christian Calendar is Guardian Angels Day, click and read about it - are you thankful there's guardian angels? We've passed Michaelmas Day. I should post a pic of Michaelmas daisies that bloom this time of year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe Inspirations

A great read!
I've mentioned some sources I get recipes from and inspiration, since I often improvise on recipes with my own ingredient choices. I like what I eat to be the most nutrient rich possibility. Which is why I research as to what foods should most definitely be organic. I always think WHOLE! Whole herbs and spices for freshness and optimal seasoning - I grow herbs and keep potted herbs in the house over winter - I buy spices whole as much as is possible and grind in a mortar and pestle or an extra coffee grinder I have for grinding seasonings. I grind my own flour from a wide variety of grains, so I usually cook from scratch. I'll preserve foods by freezing and drying over canning because of nutrient retention (I used to can). We eat as fresh and local as possible too. I love my kitchen gadgets, i.e. "servants" - and use them! I've been learning all this stuff over 35 years, since I didn't know how to cook when I got married. I love to read and research and experiment (like I read about how to make marshmallows ... and decided I didn't want to make them, nor eat them!)(how did they make things before Cream of ... soups, instant puddings and jellos, cake and everything else mixes?).



Speaking of experimenting and researching, the first place I look now for cooking info is from Cook's Illustrated- books and magazines. I have all their magazines bound from their beginning so to have an overall index. Whenever I'm about to cook something new, I consult several cookbooks and pull together a recipe taking bits from several sources. But to do this you have to understand your ingredients. My next favorite cookbook is The Joy of Cooking. My book is an older version and falling apart. I think the older versions have a little more old basics that have now been edited for our more modern approach to cooking. The Joy of Cooking has a chapter titled "Know Your Ingredients". My favorite part to read in all books are prefaces and introductions - that's where the why's and wherefore's are. Rodale Press books are another rich resource for me. They all utilize whole food varieties. My favorite is The Rodale Cookbook by Nancy Albright, and then her Naturally Great Foods Cookbook. I have all of Martha Stewart's older cookbooks. I collect Rick Bayless Mexican cookbooks too...

For putting up foods, again I have Rodale Press books like Stocking Up, Root Cellaring, and their gardening and compost books. I collect fancy pantry books, lotion & potion and soap making books (I'm about ready to make soap again - I do it about once a year). And then a book I used to consult all the time is Carla Emery's The Encyclopedia of Country Living. I have a newer edition but I also have her very first mimeographed, many colored pages book in a three-ring binder (almost 40 years old!) - the following editions edited out a lot her ramblings and personality!

Nowadays I Google recipes. I get once-a-week recipes from SplendidTable.org - Lynne Rosetto Kasper has great recipes. I get daily recipes from AllRecipes.com where I have a recipe box. And I have a recipe box at FoodNetwork.com too. I used to get emails from the Gourmet magazine, but it's gone by the wayside.

I'm currently exploring wine making, as I've posted about the amount of chokecherries we picked. Then, with reading, I hear raspberry wine is good too and it'll be a perfect use for older hand-picked raspberries I have in the freezer and not wanting to throw out. I'm going to make crabapple wine too. And some year soon, we're going to have a bunch of elderberries ...

I'm open for more suggestions and people's favorites ...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Fiction

I finished a fun fiction full of food book ;-) ... Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs. The popular food show host, "Gus" Simpson, a widowed mother of two adult daughters, is faced with having to host a live cooking show with a saucy younger beauty queen Carmen Vega. Her daughters, along with ex boyfriends get roped into the show, and viewers love the live drama. The food talk/competition was great. Jacobs is more known for her first popular book, The Friday Night Knitting Club - which I enjoyed too. As a knitter I've enjoyed several knitting stories: like The Knitting Circle, and knitting mysteries by Ft Collins Colorado author, Maggie Sefton.

Another book I read this past year connected to food was Clementine in the Kitchen by Phineas Beck (Samuel Chamberlain). Prior to WWII the Chamberlain family lived in France and Clementine presided over their kitchen. She so loved the family and them her, that when they had to move back to Massachusetts, she moved with them. With her not able to speak much English and used to fresh markets, her shopping experiences in America are fun ... and thought provoking ... A fun entry is her first exposure to America, a stopover at a family friend's home before they settled into their own home. The Yankee breakfast was her first eye-opener: orange juice, cornflake cereal, ham and eggs, along with muffins and cinnamon rolls, and pale, watery coffee. She couldn't get used to ice water instead of a glass of wine at meals. And then at the Sunday evening barbecue, she had her first hot dog and beer from a can poured into a paper cup, sharing this meal with the delighted son Phineas. The Americanization of Clementine had begun. The Chamberlains and the Childs crossed paths. I listened to Julia Child's My Life in France and couldn't wait to watch the movie "Julie and Julia", and ended up buying her Mastering the Art of Cooking two volume cookbook set.

I listen to tons of audio books while working in the kitchen, around the house and garden, and doing my textile arts. A local author, Diane Mott Davidson, has volunteered helping a caterer so to be a fly on the wall in many settings that have helped her write her murder mystery novels. I've listened to everyone she's written, getting them from the library. I like to start with author's first books so to grow with the author and the characters, as many of them carry on with a main character or theme. Since this blog is focused on food I'm not going to tell you all my favorites, maybe someday on my other blog. But Diane Mott Davidson writes about the food being prepared in the midst of the story and shares recipes at the end of the book. She's got titles like Killer Pancake, The Last Suppers, Fatally Flaky, Dyeing for Chocolate ...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

White Chili Chicken Soup; Chicken Broth & Roasted Green Chilies

White Chili Soup with Avacado
This soup is an all-time favorite!

Chicken Broth
Since I'd made the grilled "Dancing" chickens a couple nights ago and planned on a chicken left over, we'd put all the bones in a large pot and covered them with water. I always add a quartered onion with 3-4 whole cloves stuck in each onion piece, I cut off the leaf tops of celery I always keep in the fridge along with one of the older stalks cut up,  I look for the oldest carrot or two in the same fridge bin and cut up, then toss in some pepper corns and a tsp of salt. Simmer for at least an hour, then strain ... putting all in the compost. This is the way I make chicken broth all the time and freeze what's leftover. I like to freeze in pint sizes and whenever a recipe has a cream of ... something soup can, I make a white sauce of a couple TB of olive oil and WWflour in a sauce pan and stir in the thawed chicken broth till thickened. Because these bones and deboned chicken meat had been smoke-grilled, the soup flavor is even better ... and the chicken meat makes the best sandwiches ever too!

WHITE CHILI SOUP
3 16oz cans northern white beans
4 c cooked chicken
1 Tb olive oil
2 medium chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
2 4oz cans chopped green chilies
2 Tb ground cumin
6 c chicken broth
3 c  grated jack cheese

That's how my good friend Jeanie, who's moved away, gave it to me. Now I'll tell you what I do:
I usually use canned navy beans, but might at times cook the beans from scratch, which would probably be about 2 cups of dry beans. I prefer the smaller white beans. I usually cook up a whole chicken, both for the meat and the broth. Otherwise I use organic chicken broth. I usually have cooked chicken and turkey in the freezer from past meals, but in a bind, I've used canned chicken. I can't tell you the sizes, but I think I used three cans.

Roasted Green Chilies Frozen
Saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil. I always add more garlic than recipes call for. Then add the chopped green chilies. We always have frozen roasted anaheim chilies in our freezer from the farmer's market. I get a bushel roasted and usually 3 chilies equals 4 ounces. I don't remove the blackened skin when freezing, but remove it when thawed and I'm readying to chop them (and don't like washing it off, as I think I'm washing away good flavor, but just run my fingers down the chili to remove the skin, stem end, and seeds, then I do have to wash my hands to remove it all from them!). And the cumin, I grind fresh. I rarely buy pre-ground spices, preferring their fresh ground flavor. My cute little wood mortar & pestle sits on my kitchen windowsill.

If I'm taking the soup somewhere, then I put the cheese in it too. At home, we grate cheese and put some in our soup bowls and ladle in the soup. From another chicken soup recipe, I fell in love with fresh avacado cut in chunks and added to the soup bowls. When we have guests (some guests having had it more than once - and they love it!) we typically set up meals buffet style on our island in the middle of the kitchen that the stove is a part of. So the soup pot stays on the stove and there'll be a wooden bowl with wooden tongs of grated cheese and a bowl of cut up avacados (with fresh squeezed lime juice to keep them from browning). Homemade bread and salad top off the meal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Potato, Onion, Zucchini Soup & Zucchini Flowers & Fried Green Tomatoes

I made this soup last night, and many times over the years. It freezes well, and tastes so good, pulling it out for a quick winter meal. (Another good use of garden zucchini surplus.)

ZUCCHINI, ONION, POTATO SOUP

3/4 virgin olive oil (I don't measure, just let it form a good puddle in the pan)
3 onions, sliced
2 potatoes, diced
3 large zucchini, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
juice of 4 lemons
2 bunches of cilantro (you don't really taste it, yet it adds SO much)
salt to taste

Saute onions for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Add potatoes (when organic, I wash and keep the skins on) and saute a bit more. Add zucchini and tomato paste. Barely cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low till everything is soft. Remove from heat and add cilantro and lemon juice. Puree in pan with an immersion blender, or in batches in blender. This is good hot or cold. I didn't think this would be so great without an added broth, but it doesn't need it! I like to serve it with some dollops of my homemade yogurt.



FRIED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS & FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
I'd mentioned earlier about wanting to fry up some zucchini flowers - the ones with the long stems are male flowers that will not produce 'fruit'. So I finally picked a few and tried them. I'd stored some extra egg mixed with milk in a little bowl in the fridge and a bowl of flour, corn meal and salt from trying fried green tomatoes, so used those same batter ingredients for the zucchini flowers. Just dip in the egg mixture (green tomatoes are 1/4" slices, and zucchini flowers kept whole), then dip in flour mixture and pan fry in a skillet with a bit of heated oil. Both were very good! but then almost anything battered and pan fried are good (believe me ... Dawson used to be a bug enthusiast and had me try battered fried Mormon Crickets! ... another story of "man eating bugs"! [that IS the name of a book]).

The bug man could tell me what this is ... I'm guessing it's a moth and not a butterfly, on a purple coneflower

Monday, September 20, 2010

Grilled Dancing Chickens

"Dancing Chickens" on beer cans - grilled
We had overnight guests and I did my beer-can grilled chicken. When I made it for guest Norwegians a couple years ago they all (5 of them) had to get their cameras to take a picture of them on the grill! Travis gave me this recipe and made it for us a few years ago, and I named them "Dancing Chickens". I always do an extra chicken for leftover sandwiches and soup - the bones make the greatest broth that I like to use for my white chili chicken soup (which I'll be making soon and posting the pics and recipe. We've got more company coming for supper tomorrow night, but she's bringing most of the meal, so I'll probably make it Wednesday. Tonight I'm cooking and freezing the last of my large zucchini as a soup, and I'll be posting it's recipe ... it's actually a bit hard to think of soup when the weather is abnormally hot and dry for this time of year, but gardens often dictate menus.)

My greenhouse sink
GRILLED BEER CAN CHICKEN
Start soaking, in the morning, various chunks of wood for providing great smoke flavor. Since this slow cooks a long time I use large wood chunks with some smaller. Usually I use Hickory, but sometimes mesquite.

Brine the chickens for at least 3 hours. I often put the frozen chicken in a bucket and pour the brine over, and let brine overnight in our cool to cold garage - if it's warm weather, I  brine them in a cooler. If the chickens are snug in the container, I think this brine can cover up to 3 chickens.

1 gallon water (1 qt hot first, for dissolving salt and sugar, the rest ice-water)
3/4 C salt
2/3 C sugar (Travis uses brown sugar)
1/2 C soy sauce
several tsps of herbs: thyme, rosemary, bay, pepper, onion and garlic powder
1/2- 1 C olive oil
Submerge with a plate with a weight for at least 3 hours.
Rinse

Initially we did this with just the beer cans holding up the chickens, then I found the wire can holder with legs, which helps it not be so tippy. Open the beer cans and pour off half of the beer - poke, with a can opener, two more holes in the can top. Put the can up into the rinsed chicken. Sqeeze lemon juice over the chickens and stuff the lemon half in the neck hole. Sprinkle a herb seasoning mix over the chickens.

Make sure the grill is preheated on high for 15 minutes. Put the drained soaked wood chips on one side of the grill and leave this side on high the entire cooking time. Turn the burners under the chickens to low and close the grill. You want the inner grill temp to stay around 300 degrees. I cook the majority of the time with the burners off under the chicken, so their grease drippings do not catch on fire. But when I open the grill for occasionally turning the birds I'll turn their burners to high until I close the lid, turning them to low a bit and then off again, leaving one wood chip burner on high the entire time.

1 chicken cooks in about 1 hour.
3 birds in about 2 hours, but I plan for 2 1/2 hours.
Last night I did 2 birds and planned on 2 hours. My propane tank emptied some time in the midst, so they probably would have been done in 1 1/2 hours.
Pull the done birds off the beer cans to a serving board and enjoy!

Brining is good to do with a lot of meats. Salt pulls moisture out and after a little while it equalizes pulling moisture back in. So you're seasoning the meat thru-ought and not just the surface.

Monte 'stir-fried' veggies and greens in our cast-iron wok, but with no seasoning (therefore no chinese seasoning, leaving it for us to put what we wanted on ours), for the side dish. I had an artisan bread loaf fresh from the oven, with pesto and chopped tomato and chives in it for putting on the bread. George had to have one slice with honey on it. I'd made a rhubarb crisp and the electric ice cream maker churned the fresh yogurt ice cream (recipes posted here earlier).

We had sourdough pancakes for breakfast. And let them try the kale smoothie I posted. We sent them off with sandwiches of the deboned yummy chicken from last night on homemade bread.

As I'm writing this it's clouding up! YEAH!!!!! We might get some rain. We've not had rain for 1 1/2 months!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kale and Banana Smoothie

I'm eating this right now! This is the second large batch I've made so to have in the fridge to eat bits of off and on. I just had Splarah and Dawson taste these latest exotic things I've made lately with the kale. They're here for the evening, sitting side-by-side at Dawson's desk - Splarah working on her computer doing homework (she's in nursing school) and Dawson's editing shots he took for some people's school photos. They love the kale chips and wanted me to leave the bowl. This so-called smoothie ... they could eat their spoonful, but didn't want anymore, so I'm finishing it.

I think I put more kale in it then called for - how do you measure ripped kale leaves, or basil leaves for pesto ... other than weighing it?!

KALE AND BANANA SMOOTHIE
1 banana
2 C chopped kale
1/2 C milk
1 tsp maple syrup
1 Tb flax seed

Puree in blender. They pour it over ice cubes and serve. Mine doesn't pour! I think I used 1 Tb maple syrup.

You could use any type of liquid other than the milk, like even water, and more of it. Adding any other fruit you have on hand plus the banana would make it even better.

Splarah and Dawson said it tastes ... nutritious!

Roasted Squash Seeds

I'm baking one of our volunteer winter squashes right now just to see what it's like. All season we've watched them grow, not knowing what they are. This month they turned orange ... so are they pumpkin? They're not large, so could they be the smaller sugar pumpkins for pie? I actually make 'pumpkin' pie from all winter squash. I've got some recipes in my cookbook, including "Impossible Pumpkin Pie" which was the first pumpkin pie my kids liked.

Since winter squash season has just begun I thought I'd tell you about roasting their seeds. I can't throw away the seeds! I think my method of making crispy seasoned winter squash seeds is unusual. Most recipes have you toss the seeds with oil or melted butter and season and bake on a cookie sheet, stirring occasionally. Rather than mess with a lot of loose seasonings, I prefer to simmer the flavor into the seeds. I'll even do the seeds of a squash I bake whole.

ROASTED SQUASH SEEDS
Measure the amount of seed from any winter squash, then in a saucepan, barely cover them with water.
Per cup of seeds use about
1 tsp of a seasoning salt
(like a premixed kind, or mix salt with granulated garlic and onion)
(Add some olive oil or butter to the pan)
Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring occasionally till almost simmered dry.

Spread on a cookie sheet. Since the oven is/was probably on for baking the squash, put the tray in the oven. If the oven is on, occasionally stir them and check for crispiness. If the oven's been turned off, I'll often just leave the tray of seeds in the oven till the next morning.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Extending the Gardening Season

I'm currently cleaning my greenhouse, getting ready for winter. I've been deciding what potted plants I want to bring in and have them live longer for either their pretty flowering or produce they'll give us. Doing this usually introduces insects into the greenhouse. Tho they don't look to have insects outside, and the cooler temps keep them at bay ... bring them into the warm environment and voila, bugs! I usually spray them some with a safesoap for awhile, before deciding to add them to the compost.

I made some "cloches" of PVC piping and clamps and floating row cover (remay) material. I've put some in the kitchen garden over the peppers for a little warmth boost and frost protectant. Some are covering the bed on the south side of the greenhouse. I used to have a coldframe there, which produced salad greens most of the winter. Now it's a nice rock-lined raised bed. There's some pepper and eggplant plants there and two grapevines, but I planted some salady seeds.

I've put the same white material over lots of the tomatoes in the garden. Travis, I'm not growing Brandywine or Caspian Pinks (heirloom) again! I can probably start you some, but I've gotta grow smaller tomato and shorter season varieties in my neck of the woods! I've got to start looking up green tomato recipes! It sounds like the green tomato pie is like an apple pie. I've never cooked green tomato anything. I will be pulling out a lot of the plants eventually on to a large tarp and pull them into the garage. Then one-by-one most of them ripen.

In the greenhouse I've already got seedlings sprouted of carrots, raddishes, beets, green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, spinach, kale, mustard greens and lettuces. I'll be transplanting these to permanent bigger pots and planting snow peas too. I've got heat coils, and grow lights. This is the first year I'm going to see how growing over the winter in there works. It does get cold at night and hot in the day and sometimes freezes, but we'll put heaters in then for preventing freezing plants (and the sink pipes). Monte's going to do some insulation. I've started my garden seedlings early spring, but never fall planted for winter.

I'm pulling in (the big pots are on casters) a lime and fig tree, jasmine vine, four potted eggplants, two large pots of acorn squash plants, and herbs. I love gardening!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baked Kale Chips

WOW!!! Another recipe from AllRecipes.com. My first words after first tasting, and eating more and more while waiting for my Artisan bread to finish baking and we'd sit down to eat supper - "Addicting"! What a good thing to be addicting: kale!! Kale is probably the most nutritious green you can be eating. All year round we add kale to our salad making. I blanch and freeze my garden kale for adding to stews, soups, lasanga ... or just sauteing.

BAKED KALE CHIPS
1 bunch kale
That's all they say. Most store bunches seem about the same size year round. I should weigh a bunch to see how much kale it actually is. You should wash and spin dry store-bought kale. They cut out the thick stems and rip up; I just ripped the leaves up and away from the stem, putting them in a large bowl for tossing with -
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp salt
Bake the spread kale on parchment lined baking sheets at 350 for 10-15 minutes, till edges brown but not burn.


I sprinkled them with granulated garlic too. Next time we don't want to use the salt, just the garlic, or our Chef Prudhomme's spunky Italian Seasoning. We froze some and it remained crispy! So guess what? ... I've still got tons of kale in the garden! and I'm going to make tons of these kale chips, bag in sandwich bags, and freeze in a box or one of my freezer baskets - so they don't get squashed.

I'm munching on a bag I test-froze right now as I'm writing this post. Yummmm .....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Italian Meatloaf in Zucchini

volunteer squash at bottom - chipmunk planted sunflower
We are having the warmest September ever, and still no rain for over a month. Watering just doesn't compare with rain. I planted so many salady type seeds for fall to winter harvesting, but the ground is so dry from below, it's just immediately sucking away anything I contribute, so I'm not seeing many sprouted seedlings. And we did get a little frost - like a ghost frost that whipped about at ground level nipping at some things. I've got these volunteer squash I let grow at the kitchen garden's edge, and their leaves took the brunt of the frost, as did most of the zucchini leaves. Basil and beans, which are tender, are still going, as are the tomatoes. I've got most of the tomatoes covered now with a white 'floating row cover' material. You can see some of the material over the peppers in the garden picture.

So I think my zucchini season is over. I've got several large zucchini sitting on the counter for making a zucchini, potato, onions soup, which I'll eventually post. This soup tastes great over winter as I pull portions from the freezer.

Every year I say I'm going to batter and fry squash blossoms. But I still haven't. The flowers with long stems are male flowers. Those are the ones you'd harvest. The short stemmed flowers are the fruitful females.

This recipe is from AllRecipes.com. I get daily emails of recipes from them, giving me great ideas.

ITALIAN MEATLOAF IN ZUCCHINI BOATS
1 large zucchini
Cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle these halves with 1 tsp garlic salt. I don't use garlic salt, just granulated garlic. I got to thinking that if you don't grow zucchini, you rarely find large zucchini in stores. This time, because of a smaller zucchini than they must use, I had enough meat mixture that I tried filling a halved pepper to see how it would work. It tasted great. So I think smaller zucchini and peppers can be used in the baking dish. Eggplant slices would be good too, I bet.

Saute 1 chopped onion in
1/4 C olive oil
Mix together -
1 pound ground beef (they use 1 1/2# and I never have)
2 eggs
1 1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs (I never buy bread crumbs, using my homemade bread, dried and ground in the blender, and season myself, so used 1 tsp of an Italian seasoning mixture)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tb dried basil
1/4 C grated carrot
1/3 C grated parmesan
add in the sauted onion, mixing all well and mound in the zuccnini

Pour a jarred spaghetti sauce over, covering the meat and letting drip over edges. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes till meat is cooked thru.
Sprinkle 1 C grated mozzarella cheese over all and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
You can serve with more spaghetti sauce if you want.
These are great leftover!

Sedum turning from green to soon, a deep rust red

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chokecherries

Monte and me harvested the chokecherries today. The bushes are on the edge of the woods, edging my lower garden. We figure they were planted 100 years ago by a homesteader, along with our rhubarb. Only the clusters on the garden side exist. Bear, deer, and elk have eaten all of them on the woods side. The chokecherries weigh in at 30 pounds! There used to be aspen trees over them, so they'd not always fully ripen. Colorado has it's droughts and several years ago was a bad one and lots of aspen trees died. We're in another drought this year cuz we've not had rain for 1 1/2 months and there's been wildfires.

I used to make chokecherry jam and syrup, but I don't like the amount of sugar it takes to make them palatable, so I stopped harvesting them. This year I decided I'm going to try making wine of them. We have a friend who's made wine from just about everything - like even beets! So from her trials and reading, chokecherries make a great wine - and I'm going to jump in. The chokecherries are bagged in the freezer for now - which is the best way to start the breaking down process for developing the 'must' and not crush the pits (which are undesirable).

I'll probably post pics of the process, but I can't report on the results for a year!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Defrosting Freezers

Insulated plywood box
I usually defrost my freezers once a year - every September. I'd read that it's a good thing - for the life of the freezer - to let it totally defrost, like maybe 24 hours, to let the freezer walls thaw too. And I did say "freezers". We used to have three, two of them, uprights, we got used, so who knows how old they were/are. Now we're down to two.

My garden and cookbook shelves are above the freezers
When we moved to Colorado from Arizona, Monte made this large insulated box so we could bring his hard-earned game meat (bow-hunting). That was twenty seven years ago, and we still have the box. I've stored jarred things in there in the garage for years. Now our garage is insulated so things don't freeze, but I still store some things in the box. Then every September it's moved by the freezers so I can defrost them.
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