Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harvesting Peas, etc

My sugar snap peas have been beautiful this year, the best ever. I planted them early this year for the first time - my veggie garden just happened to be ready early this year. Timing: weather cooperating and husband/son cooperating. The compost piles were screened and piled for me to distribute. We had manure ready. And then a beautiful day. So I tilled, planned my gardening layout, and planted lettuce, spinach, kale, greens, radishes, carrots, and onions. I say early for me, but really not early according to the books. Those things are cooler tolerant plants. Then a visiting friend said my climate is good for those veggies - cuz, if you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of summer, and in most places these veggies would be fried. But then my timing between frosts is typically 90 days. And that's why I can't grow some HOT weather veggies - it's why most of my tomatoes are in walls-of-water, and I might get a couple peppers before frost.

Monte decided to help me freeze the peas by picking them. I froze 3 lbs. Sugar snap peas give you pea choices: eat them like snow peas, in the pods, or let them get large and shell the fresh peas. I thought I'd shell these, so I'd left them. Monte said, "No. Let's have them for stir frying over winter." AND I really don't like shelling peas. I like to do it for an occasional meal, but not for doing a bunch for freezing.

Either boil or steam blanch for 3 minutes 1lb of peas at a time (I didn't wash them or anything, just removed blossom ends).
Cool quickly by either very cold water (which our mountain tap water is - I often need a bit of warm water running too if I'm washing much, like lots of spinach, cuz our water freezes my hands!) or an ice water bath.
Drain and pat dry on a towel.
Distribute on a tray and freeze.
When frozen solid, pack in a freezer bag.

These frozen do not retain their crisp texture. They could be removed from the freezer, cut in bite-size pieces, and added to a salad a few minutes before serving. We typically use them in stir-fry: slightly sauteing veggies.

Now for the rest of the story ... Monte often hates to get rid of good stuff. Just like my baby veggie starts from the greenhouse. He made new planting spots for extra kale, broccoli, etc this year that I had so much extra of (I always have extra and he just happened to be around this year helping). I tried to tell him the price of seeds - like 30 plants - is the price of buying a 6-pack of the veggie at the nursery. So we can throw them in the compost. I know, it is hard even for me. Some years I've frozen 30+lbs of broccoli, and I get tired of kale! So we had this leftover water we'd boiled the peas in ...

Monte loved the taste of this water and wouldn't let me throw it out. It's in a large jar in the refrigerator. When Dawson came home from his mountain bike ride, Monte told him to try the "Pea tea"! The next morning Monte tried it cold saying it would be better sweetened, thus, "sweet pea tea"!!!! ;-P

Our table grapes in the greenhouse are almost ripe. This year there's probably a hundred clusters! - some hanging down at head level and Monte ties up higher, since I'm often busy doing my textile art dyeing in there. I called them table grapes differentiating them from wine grapes. I used to trim them back hard like you have to if you want a lot of wine grapes. This process did not give us grapes, so I had to research. Now I don't trim them, but for cutting back the too long ends wanting to take over the greenhouse. I just bang down the dead leaves in January or February.

Raspberries are now producing. Tho I've now planted raspberries, everbearing ... and we'll see how they do. The raspberries we've got are wild. But they're growing in two of my flowerbeds. They are my oldest flower beds and Monte had brought dirt up from the woods by some springs (that's why we called our road Singing Springs Lane). The raspberries came from that dirt. They try and take over the beds. I do pull out a bunch periodically and last year I cut them all back in the spring. I thought our wild variety were everbearing. But no. We didn't get any raspberries that year. Everbearing bear on current year branches and bear throughout the growing season off and on. Others on older canes. I don't mind them mixed in with the flowers. My gardening style is 'cottage' and I've got veggies and fruit co-mingled with perennials.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yogurt Ice Cream

Whenever Monte and me are in Ft Collins Colorado, visiting our son Travis, wife Sarah, and now little Emery, we always want to visit a family operated Yogurt Ice Cream place. They sell by the weight and there's lots of flavors and topping choices. The mechanism instantly freezes fresh yogurt, and it's not too sweet (unless you add tons of sweet topping). So I got to thinking ...

Why not make our own yogurt ice cream. I make yogurt all the time. So with the last making, before even refrigerating it, I mixed
- 4 cups of the yogurt with
- 3/4 cup of sugar till it dissolved and refrigerated it till ready to make ice cream
- (I suppose a bit of vanilla flavoring would be good too)

For years we had a hand-crank ice cream maker - not the kind needing ice and salt - but an insert you keep in the freezer. We still have it for an extra, but it doesn't work as well (dented or something for an improper fit). Now we still have one with an insert for the freezer, but it's electric. While the guys were still enjoying sitting on the deck talking and watching the birds, and I was putting away pizza and salad makings, I dumped the yogurt mixture into the machine and let it run till it was frozen thick. We ate it along with the fresh strawberry grilled dessert pizza.

Our favorite frozen desserts have been pureed fruits - like mango and lime juice. Last year we did some with our garden's currents and greenhouse grapes. Lazy me no longer likes to make up the cooked ice cream bases. Last night's yogurt ice cream was fantastic! We'll be doing it all the time now. Monte often likes to cook up older fruit sitting about and old jam jar bottoms into what he calls a Swedish word for a fruit sauce- 'crem'. This would be good on the yogurt ice cream. The next time I make this I'm going to try substituting the sugar with 1/2 the amount using Agave Nectar.

Freezing Produce

A friend in Florida posted on Facebook about putting up peaches, commenting about all the work blanching to remove skin, and slicing. I commented on what I've done now for years, and thought I'd post some comments here.

First off! ... I've never peeled my fruit, whether canning, freezing, or drying. I figure that's where the majority of the nutrients are. The books say to, but after 30 years, we and guests are still very much alive and well! I suppose tho, that putting tomatoes thru either my hand cranked berry press or my Bosch one, the peel along with the seeds get eliminated, and too with apple sauce and pear sauce. But beyond those types of things, I don't work at removing the skin. Call me lazy. I like pies and cobbler, etc with fruit skins in the equation. When we'd eat canned peaches, the skins often fell off anyway, but in eating them they'd be full of flavor.

I don't can anymore. Canning loses 40% of produce's nutrients. Freezing and Drying only loses 15%. If I were to still can anything, it would be tomatoes, but with the two of us, and Costco having organic cases, and my garden doesn't produce that much of tomatoes (our 1st frost is early to mid September - so I pull out tomato plants onto a tarp and pull the tarp into the garage and pick off for eating the ripe tomatoes on into November). The best book for these techniques (tho they still peel stuff) is the classic Stocking Up. I love all the Rodale Press books (tho it may not be published by them now), having learned so much from them. Mr Rodale in the 70's was a maverick for health when American culture was moving into modern processed foods, and poor agricultural practices (A great book on the story of food is The Omnivor's Dilemma - I like all of Michael Pollan's books - I'm currently reading his older book Second Nature).

I've been freezing peaches whole now for quite some time. Since I don't cook a ton of desserts, we use them mostly "fresh" on granola/oatmeal/cereal, mushing on toast, frozen yogurt, in a smoothy ... Just take out however many peaches you want. If you don't want the skin, it slips right off. Slice and use.

Today, since it's cooled off quite a bit with cloud cover and forecasted rain, I'm going to be pulling up all the volunteer kale I let grow in my kitchen garden. It's been helping shade the garden soil all over the garden, so it doesn't dry out so fast, but it's now needing to be pulled out. I'm going to be freezing up a bunch.

Some veggies need to be blanched before freezing. I've not blanched corn in years since an old-timer told me she never blanches hers. But the Stocking Up book has done studies on testing produce's nutrients over time and found that most veggies hold nutrients better if blanched a bit. I freeze a lot of kale and spinach every year (and I get plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, and beans to freeze too). I like pulling out a little bag of kale or spinach, chop it up and thro in spaghetti/lasanga sauces, stews and chilis, or even just saute up a bit and put on a bit of lemon juice and parmesan and eat. Kale has more vitamin C than does citrus.

Grilled Corn and Pesto Pizza

Monte's geology partner from Arizona flew in yesterday and I echoed grilled pizza from a previous post. But I tried some new things, learning more. We know Stan says he likes a pizza with anchovies, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, jalepenos, olives, and hot sausage. I'd have to try each of those things individually to test, but the pizza was too salty. I think the biggest culprit was the chorizo sausage I'd pulled from the freezer and crumbled and browned. I used it on another pizza with mushrooms and onions and mozzarella and that one was too salty too. The other night's pizzas were not too salty at all and all of the combos were good. In the future I'd just brown up ground meat and season it myself.

The best pizza last night was one I spread with pesto sauce, instead of the spaghetti sauce. I make up pesto from fresh picked basil every year and freeze, without parmesan, adding in fresh parmesan when using the pesto. Then I tossed on chopped tomato, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

I did do a dessert pizza - good flavors but didn't work. I'd mixed some orange liqueur and orange peel into mascarpone cheese and spread on the pizza, scattering sliced fresh strawberries. The cheese started melting off the pizza. So I think this one would work with more of a crust lip, or not spread it to the edges. Too, because of the cheese running, we let it sit quite awhile to let it cool and not be so runny. But I also mixed up some yogurt ice cream, which I'm going to post next, which was a hit!

The grilled corn was a hit with Stan. In the summer I grill corn all the time. I've read lots of recipes, and even have my son Travis's opinion, on grilling corn, and have tried probably all the options. Since I don't want to baby the corn and brush on stuff, I leave it in the husk and let the husk char black, with occasional turning. BUT I do peel off some of the outer husk and cut off the tip of silk and husk close to the corn top. Some will tell you leaving the husk on just steams the corn. Removing some of the husk eliminates this complaint. By charring, the silk is no issue either. So it's the simplest method for me.

I mixed up a butter for the corn. Plan on 1 Tb butter per ear of corn. So I did -
4 ears of corn
4 Tb butter
1 large canned chipotle with some of it's adobo sauce (I always keep this in a jar in the fridge), chopped
(1 Tb mayo - 0ptional)
1 Tb chopped cilantro

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Grilled Pizza

I've been wanting to try grilled pizza and finally did last night. It was GREAT! ... and the guests, I wasn't planning on, loved it too. My last post mentioned our Velveteen House (from an old post on my old blog)(look at last post for the link). Well ... 5pm approached and as I was grinding wheat flour for the pizza dough, Dawson walked in, along with Tim and Gary ... and then Matt came, right when we were eating and pulled up another chair to the table on the deck ... and then while cleaning up, Splarah (Dawson's girlfriend) and Lizzie, scaring mommy and baby elk on their way up our road, ate more pizza, and said it was great ... and as I started, prior to this long sentence ... not expecting guests, but they arrived, I doubled the pizza dough and made 4 large pizzas instead of 2 on the grill. Monte picked salad greens from the kitchen garden, I'd made a dressing, and sitting on the deck eating and yacking with these young adults - a nice meal.

-1C warm water
-1 tsp yeast
-pinch of sugar (I used succanat)
-1C flour
Slightly work the flour in, put the lid on the bowl (I'm using a Bosch Universal) and let sponge for 10 minutes, it should be bubbly.
Then add
-1 tsp salt
-(I added 1 TB of the Italian spice mix I mentioned in my last post)
-More flour (about 2 1/2C) till mixture starts cleaning the bowl and let knead for 6-10 minutes. (With WW flour it's best to have the dough still a bit tacky, not sticky, otherwise you've added too much flour and your bread will be dry. But this isn't as noticeable with pizza dough. I'll have to post bread making with fresh ground whole grain flour sometime. Detail bread making is in my cookbook.)

Turn on the grill to preheat.
While leaving the dough in the mixing dough to do some rising, get your pizza toppings ready. I had some natural pepperoni I'd removed from the freezer, a bit of ham left over, grated pepper jack, mozarella, and parmesan cheese, chopped some pineapple, sauted some onion and mushrooms, and opened a jar of spaghetti sauce. Also have a bowl of olive oil ready with a brush in it. And too, you need to oil the grill grate.

I divided the dough in 4ths and rolled them out on parchment paper. As you can see in the picture I stacked them on my pizza peal to take outside by the grill. Have everything ready by your grill. Have your salad and plates ready. Have a large serving board with pizza cutter ready. And beverage choice ready, sipping while cooking or waiting to eat.

Make sure the grill grate is clean and oil (I always keep a shallow bowl by my grill with a folded paper towel and oil). I kept one burner on high and the other side on medium. Put one pizza dough on the high burner. It'll start bubbling up. Check it for burning, but it seemed I left it there for 1-2 minutes, then turned it over onto the medium side. Immediately brush with olive oil and spread several spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce on and add toppings. Close the grill lid and cook till the cheese is melting - which seemed about 3-5 minutes. I pulled it onto the bread board for the guys cut it up while I began the next pizza.

You might ask, "You, Karey, are grilling? Don't guys usually do the grilling?" I always do the grilling. I love grilling. Monte never has grilled, unless helping me.

See the elk beyond our electric fence?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Monte's Tortilla Egg Sandwich

It's hot outside, which is unusual for our neck-of-the-woods. Lots of people are leaving Denver (supposed to be 100 tomorrow - we're always 10 degrees cooler) for the mountains for the weekend! I've been sitting out on our back deck at the umbrella table reading, drinking iced tea I sweeten with a few drops of Agave Nectar, which has a low glycemic index in comparison to sugar!. Until supper, Monte and me usually eat separate. Sometimes he goes directly into his office upon waking ... since he works at home, he's coming and going around the house and eating at varying times than me. While I was resetting the sprinkler for the veggie garden, he brought his creation out for me to take a bite of ... and proceeded to email Travis and Sarah and me his recipe, with a picture of the seasoning he used taken with his iPhone. So I just made it for my lunch and took a picture.

From the guests we had the other night we've got leftover flour tortillas. I think we primarily stay Costco members for their uncooked flour tortillas. I know ... some of you will say, "but you grind your own flour and make everything from scratch with it!". If I'm going to make tortillas from scratch, I'll do corn tortillas. We use these for our many guest meals and Tostada Egg (in my cookbook and I'll post here someday). So many high school and college kids end up around here (I have posts from my old blog called "Velveteen House" [-click that phrase if you want to read it]), especially over school breaks, I never know who might have spent the night till mid morning. And I often do Tostada Eggs when they're around - they like them, cut in wedges, dipped in salsa. And an easy on-the-go meal to grab.

-Heat small skillet for cooking one egg.
-Fold cooked flour tortilla and toast in toaster (watch closely).
-As Monte said, "break egg yoke and shape to fit half of a tortilla."
-Sprinkle on Chef Prudhommes' Magic Italian Seasoning (I get this from Costco too).
-Flip egg till desired doneness
-Spread a bit of mayo inside toasted tortilla
-Slip egg inside.

I did. Along with an avacado half with fresh sqeezed lime juice.

You'll see in the picture a fork. I didn't need the fork - cuz of course we pick it up to eat. But it reminded me of the many times we've had Norwegians here for geology meetings. Unless they copy us, they'd eat it with a fork and knife as they also do with sandwiches, and everything. Monte and me have gotten used to keeping our fork in our left hand for eating along with a knife in the right hand, as do Europeans.

Mexican Zucchini Salad

We had house guests: investors interested in Monte's swashbuckling geology. It was an all-of-a-sudden event, and one, the only one we knew, stayed the night. Our typical first meal for guests is Mexican and usually I'll grill stuffed poblanos (I'll post that recipe another time), but didn't do that this time. Since it was a quick throw-together we repeated our mexican chuck roast and radish salsa meal I recently posted about. I did a rhubarb crisp, already posted too, along with rhubarb-ade, and tea. I also made another favorite guests like - Mexican Zucchini Salad. (Monte told me I better take a picture of his plate - he always makes a great presentation of food!)

I have a cookbook from when we were first married, so thirty-five years old, that this recipe idea came from (idea... since I don't totally follow). When Travis got married, Monte and me catered the rehearsal dinner all the way to Ft Collins from our Evergreen home - a Mexican fiesta! This salad was one of the dishes well received.

3 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and again in 1/4" slices. In a bowl, salt these with the salt, toss to mix, then spread on several layers of paper towel to sit and drain for 30 minutes. Pat dry before adding to bowl mixture.

Combine in a bowl-
5 Tb vinegar (I like to mix some balsamic, red wine vinegar and maybe brown rice, apple cider, sherry vinegar - the recipe uses all white vinegar - how boring!)
2-3 cloves minced garlic (instead of recipe's 1 - I always do more garlic in recipes)
1/4 tsp dried thyme (use more of garden fresh thyme)
1/2C good tasting olive oil
1 can drained garbanzo beans
1/2C sliced olives
1/2C+ sliced green onions (I always do more green onions and love the green tops)
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo, seeded and minced (I always keep these in a jar, once a can is opened, and when I take out a chili I make sure to shove all the chilis into the adobo for better keeping)
1/2C crumbled queso anejo (which I don't usually have, so I use cows milk feta [we don't like goat feta - fresh goat milk and cheese is good, but something happens to it in the processing and time])

I'll make this a bit ahead 30 minutes to 4 hours, and occasionally stir for the flavors to marinate.

After supper, and a rain sprinkle, we walked around the gardens, enjoying the flowers, texture, and mountain air. I had them all eat a sweet cicely seed pod - an after dinner mint. The plant is behind my tarragon plant - both a type of licorice/anise flavor. Sweet Cicely is very ferny and mine has been reseeding (I think last year's moist summer did it) so I moved them about the garden this spring.

An artist friend, Sarah, and me made my Sculpy Dough herb labels last year. They are weathering just fine - I didn't know how they'd hold up. Garden twine holds them to bamboo poles.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hummingbird Nectar

I just mixed up some more sugar water for my smallest hummingbird feeder. The feisty rufous hummingbird has arrived and the activity level has escalated. The rufous copper color in the sunlight is spectacular. Tho my feeders all have many feeding holes, once the territorial rufous shows up, he doesn't like to share the feeder. I read one will take over a feeder, so this year I've got three feeders, and I'm seeing more rufouses than ever!

I've read of boiling the nectar. I don't. Never have. Nor do I put in red food coloring. I've been feeding hummingbirds every summer for years, cuz they're here all summer, from mid May till Labor Day weekend. And noisy they be - their chips and high pitched humming sound is heard from afar!

So how I mix my sugar water works. I just use hot tap water and stir till sugar is dissolved.

Hummingbird Nectar
-1 part sugar
-4 parts water
(So 1C sugar to 4C water is my typical amount I'll make up)
-Have part of the water hot tap water till sugar dissolved, then add the rest as cold water.

I'll use this filling time to rinse the feeder in the hot tap water too. I do have a bottle brush for feeders if need be.

I so enjoy seeing nature utilize my environment I've created for their enjoyment.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Radish Salsa

I made up a recipe several years ago I called "Salad on my Chip", made with lots of radishes. So often radishes get too big or hot and I thought they'd make a good salsa. Well, I'm needing to use up garden radishes again and Googled "radish salsa" and found lots of recipes. I used from the varying recipes what I had on hand - most from the garden - and it was great!

I'd cooked and shredded a chuck roast in the crockpot using 1 tsp Mexican spice mix called "Alan's Spices" in my Hearth & Home cookbook, about 1-2C beef broth, and 1 16oz jar 505 Organic Green Chili Sauce. It had some spunk, but when mixed with black beans, sauted slivered roasted poblano chilies, sour cream, and the radish salsa on top ... yummmm! ... The first meal was with homemade from masa corn tortillas, the next meal was with crisp corn tostadas. And too, we'll put some of all the leftovers on a large lettuce leaf freshly picked from the garden and eat as a lettuce wrap - so lots of options. All yummy!

-1# radishes - amounting to about 2 cups chopped in food processor
-small wedge of cabbage - maybe about 1/4-1/2C chopped
-1/4-1/3C chopped cilantro
-1/2C chopped chives
-1 tomato chopped
-2 minced cloves garlic
-pinch each of salt and pepper
-2 Tb lime or lemon juice (I used both, using up halved pieces sitting on cutting board, which is what Monte always uses on his salads, and in water with ice to drink)

I wanted to put some jalepenos in it but didn't have any fresh or jarred in the fridge. But then, with the poblanos and spunking chuck meat, I didn't need any. Eating alone, it was still great without jalepenos. Also in the past I'd added a bit of cider vinegar, but prefer the limon juice better.

The kitchen garden is looking beautiful! Along the picket fence you see the tomatoes in walls-of-water. At my altitude I can get tomatoes if they have the benefit of extra warmth, so I leave them on the entire growing season, whereas most people just use them for early spring, and remove them. I'm trying exposed tomatoes in-between this year. So far, those in the walls are growing bigger. We'll see how those out of the walls-of-water produce ... like will I pick the first tomatoes just before our first frost?!

I plant all sorts of lettuce varieties and greens. I love a bit of spunk in my salad that a few mustard greens provide. We use a lot of spinach and kale. Lots of phytonutrients! Kale has more vitamin C than citrus. And eating fresh spinach and greens is the best defense against disease and heart attacks. All our food choices should be as fresh as possible and THINK COLOR! - lot's of variety of color.

Now to sit on the deck, under the umbrella, read a bit drinking tea, and eating my second breakfast of yogurt and fruit and sprouted dried flax seeds and a bit of granola, and enjoying all the flowers and birds. Then back to my textile art work (fun!).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cowboy Caviar

I've been a MOPS Mentor Mom for almost 10 years now. Last week I went with some of the gals on an outing. For lunch, one of the moms brought Cowboy Caviar. I knew once I saw the ingredients, helping with the chopping, and then tasting ... yummmm ... that this would be something I would make for our family's 4th of July get-together. But of course, typical me, I altered her recipe some. I just now Googled it to see the variances. So what did I do?

1 can black beans
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can corn
(I grilled, in the husks, 3 ears of corn till the husks blackened, then cut off the grilled flavored corn)
2-3 chopped tomatoes
2-3 chopped avacados (we love avacados)
several green onions, including the greens, chopped (I love green onion tops!)
a whole bunch of cilantro chopped
probably about 1/2+ cup of salsa
1-2 Tb balsamic vinegar
2 Tb red wine vinegar

I had also made a buttermilk half sour cream and mayo dip. So I'd brought tortilla chips and potato chips and lots of veggies for the dips.

Looking at some of Google's recipes and back at the original given to me, I didn't use a hot sauce, but the salsa instead. I'd add lots of garlic next time and some lime juice. I was supposed to add some oil too, but forgot. For proportions, around 2/3C grn onions as well as the cilantro is given in one and 2 Tb vinegar and 1 1/2 tsp oil. Another used canned diced tomato and added chopped bell pepper. Monte wants me to add jalepenos next time and one recipe adds 1/2C chopped pickled jalepenos (which I often use when I don't have fresh). Another adds Italian salad dressing for the vinegar and oil, and frozen corn. And I used more avacado than suggested. So you see, there's lots of possibilities with this recipe.

Travis's first bite comment was "Complex". Everyone liked it. So here's the recipe everyone who asked for it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


A beverage I make often for company and family gatherings is rhubarb-ade. It's my made-up version of lemonade utilizing rhubarb we harvest and freeze. It's gotta be made from frozen rhubarb, otherwise you'd need to break down the rhubarb by cooking. I think I already mentioned in the Rhubarb Crisp post that I freeze rhubarb in 2 quantity sized bags: either a heaping quart measure (so more like 5+ cups) for my rhubarb custard pie (in my Hearth & Home cookbook), or a heaping 2+ cup measure, for the crisp.

From the pie bag measure of rhubarb I make a gallon of the ade beverage.

Nuke (microwave) the frozen rhubarb a bit - starting to thaw with some liquid, but still somewhat frozen with the rhubarb cut chunks intact. I put this partially thawed rhubarb in my blender along with a couple cups of hot water. In a large pot or bowl have 1 cup of sugar. Blend the rhubarb some. I don't totally puree it, but break it up more. This mixture I pour into a colander I have sitting over the pot with the sugar in it. I'll add a bit more hot water, if when stirring, the sugar doesn't seem to be dissolving. Always pour the added water over the rhubarb in the colander to gather the rhubarb flavor. Some of the rhubarb strings, pulp, will end up in the beverage.

So, the RhubarbAde recipe proportions:
1 heaping quart of partially thawed and blended rhubarb
1 cup of sugar
1 gallon of water

People like this beverage and I often have it requested by guests. I took it this past weekend for our 4th of July gathering. Years ago when Monte was telling a Wisconsin uncle about the drink, he laughed, thinking it sounded like silage (green farm fodder stored in silos for winter animal feed). I don't know if he believed us that it could taste good!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sarah's Baked Beans

Every time our family gathers for summer meals (typically 4th of July) at Travis and Sarah's, Sarah makes this dish (or I'll request it). Now I'm finally getting the recipe recorded for my own personal use.

Can Butter Beans (drain all the beans)
Can Garbanzo Beans
Can Lima Beans
Can Kidney Beans
Can Northern Beans
1 large can Baked Beans
1/2# bacon, cut up
1 onion, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

Cook in crockpot all day or bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Sarah says when it's just her and Travo she'll just do a couple of the beans and other bits in a saucepan.

Sourdough Pancakes

I'm currently at my son Travis and Sarah's home, sitting at the dining table with the back sliding glass door open to the back kitchen garden. We came yesterday for a 4th of July family bar-b-q meal using my grandpa's sauce on ribs. I'll have to post that recipe - it's in my cookbook Hearth & Home. We spent the night ... were going to go to fireworks, but it was pouring rain. Sarah's Mom and Dad drove in last night from TX and we made sourdough pancakes for breakfast.

Sarah's sourdough starter came from my starter (below). The pancake recipe comes from an Alaska Sourdough book.

Monte making sourdough pancakes
The Alaskan sourdough is made from potato water, sugar and flour (maybe yeast initially?). I've never made sourdough using milk like some recipes use. The current recipe I'm using is from the book Nourishing Traditions  by Sally Fallon. She claims the best results for sourdough starter are obtained from rye rather than wheat flour. And that's fine with me since we consume so much more wheat than any other grain. Her reasoning is because rye contains a lower phytate content (don't ask me what that means cuz I haven't researched it yet).

Rye Sourdough Starter
Start with mixing 2 cups rye flour and 2 cups water and cover the bowl with cheescloth and let sit out on the counter (I've got my bowl covered with a dish towel and rubberband). Each day for a week add another cup each of rye flour and water (or if you do have potato water left over from boiling potatoes, use it), then it's ready for bread. (I'm still working on creating a favorite sourdough bread.) Once your starter is created you can jar some of it up and refrigerate it, then take it out the night before, or a day or two ahead depending upon how much you need, for your next batch of pancakes.

So, from the Alaskan cookbook-
Sourdough Pancakes
Start griddle heating.
Mix together:
(I typically double the recipe all the time and it feeds 4-6 people)
2 C starter (I've been using 4C in a 2 quart pyrex bowl - it'll bubble up, so bigger is better)
2 Tb (sucanat) sugar
1 egg (I've used both 2 or 3  when doubling, and either works)
4 Tb oil
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together: 
1 tsp soda
1 Tb warm water
and fold into batter and let set a bit to rise.
Using a ladle, pour the pancakes to cook on an oiled griddle.

They are best with maple syrup. Sometimes we'll make up a rhubarb sauce. I often cook up berries or old fruit, adding in any old jams needing to be used up. The fruit syrup is good with yogurt (I always have homemade yogurt on hand). Leftovers are good - spread with almond butter and raspberry jam, and roll them up for a quicky meal when running errands.

The Alaskan cookbook tells historic stories and it's said a special place was always made in their cabin/tent/cave/home for their starter and that they'd rather live a year without their rifle than without a sourdough starter. I also found it interesting that a ball of starter could be stored in the midst of flour in a flour sack, like if you were crossing the prairie in a wagon. Think about it ... no stores, no yeast (except for wild yeast, and that's another story that I have from my own experience) you'd sure love biscuits and bread rather than just crackers or tortilla like flatbread all the time.

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