Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

When I was a little girl, there was a big lilac tree at the side of the house, as well as a little lilac bush in the back yard. For a couple of weeks in springtime, we would gather big armfuls of flowers for the kitchen table, and I just loved that smell. I loved it so much that I experimented with ways of preserving it to enjoy later. I dried flowers to make sachets, but the scent faded very quickly – a few weeks later, they just smelled dusty. Another year, I tried soaking flowers in alcohol and almond oil in an attempt at making perfume, but that didn’t work, either. Eventually I just gave up and enjoyed them for a couple of weeks in the spring time.

 

lilacs

 

We have lots of lilacs here at the acreage. When I say lots, I mean probably a half-mile or more worth of lilac hedges – they run along the driveway, plus a long hedge out front of the house, as well as a random lilac hedge north of the goat barn. In springtime, I gather armloads of flowers, stuff them in quart jars, and put them in every room.

 

A couple of years ago, I canned up a batch of wild rose jelly. While I find it too strong to just eat on toast, it’s lovely in baking, in, say, thumb prints in shortbread cookies. Every time I open a jar, I get a whiff of June! This year, I thought I would try preserving the lilacs that way, as well. I gathered a few extra armloads of flowers, and made lilac jelly and lilac simple syrup.

 

For both recipes, you need to pull the lilac flowers from the stems, and make sure no green parts remain, or apparently they will make the finished product bitter.

 

lilac flowers

 

Watch for beetles and worms, too!

 

worm in lilacs

 

The color is quite pretty when you’re ladling into jars, but for some reason, it fades in the processing. Nevertheless, the final products taste great! The jelly is less overpowering than the wild rose jelly was, and the flavor reminds me of tutti-frutti. The simple syrup is already in steady use as a sweetener for home-made iced tea, for a novel flavor twist in our favorite summer drink.

 

lilac jelly and syrup, before and after processing

 

Lilac Jelly:

Really, this is just an adaptation of the recipe for Rose Petal Jelly;  you could use any edible flower you liked, and someday, I will try other variations, I am sure!

 

1 quart (4 cups) slightly packed lilac flowers, green parts removed

1 quart water

juice from 2 lemons

1 packet pectin

5 1/2 cups sugar

 

Simmer the lilac flowers in the water for about ten minutes. Strain out the flowers. Add lemon juice, and pectin. Bring to a boil (as per pectin packet instructions), add sugar, return to a rolling boil, and boil for one full minute. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. Process jars in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes for pints.

 

lilac flowers

 

Lilac Syrup

 

1 quart lilac flowers green parts removed

1 quart water

4 cups sugar

juice from two lemons

 

Simmer the lilac flowers in the water for about ten minutes. Strain, return to pot, and add lemon juice and sugar. Return to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar. Ladle into jars, and process fifteen minutes for pints.

 

lilac flowers in jar

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Well, it is almost zucchini season. I am almost afraid of it, this year – we planted a bunch, and I am expecting a literal ton of zucchini. Besides grating them into pasta sauce and cakes (which I can’t have these days, with the gluten restrictions and all) and giving them to neighbors, I don’t know of all that many things to do with zucchini. However, I actually like them just grilled on the BBQ, to eat as a side to my burger.

 

Of course, my ‘burger’ can’t be beef, anymore, nor can I have real (cow-based) cheddar on it, or put it on an actual bun. I can’t finish it off with ice cream, either. This kid’s allergies are killing me! My vegetarian sister introduced me to great recipe several years ago, though, that actually is quite possibly tastier than burgers anyhow, so I really can’t complain too much. Instead of hamburgers, she eats barbecued portobello mushroom caps.  While not dairy-free or vegan in my recipe, it is easy to make them so – just use Daiya or other vegan cheese, and (for vegans) skip the mayo – an easy way to accommodate a range of dietary needs at a backyard barbeque.  These are satisfyingly hearty, and fit perfectly on a bun. Or, as the case may be, a gluten-free bagel…

 

Grilled Zucchini:

 

Wash the zuke, and slice on an angle to get wide rounds.

 

sliced zucchini

 

Set in a dish, and pour olive oil over the slices, and toss to coat.

 

Sprinkle liberally with Italian seasoning blend.

 

zucchini with herbs

 

Grill on the BBQ on low-medium heat until lightly browned.

 

 

 

Grilled Portobello Caps:

 

portobello mushrooms

 

Wash the mushroom caps and pat dry with paper towel. Break off the stems. Rub both sides liberally with olive oil. Barbeque, cup down, on low-medium heat for a few minutes until the mushroom begins to soften. Flip, and sprinkle cheese or vegan cheese (in my case tonight, goat feta, though cheddar or mozzerella is also tasty) in the cap (optional – spoon a dollop of green basil pesto into the cap, before sprinkling with cheese, though be aware that most canned pesto has dairy in it). If you don’t add the green pesto, sprinkle a little Italian seasoning mix over the feta. Leave the mushrooms on low-medium heat until the cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve on a hamburger bun, or (in my case) a gluten free bagel with a bit of mayonnaise (garlic mayo is a nice touch, if you’re feeling creative):

 

vegetarian BBQ 'burger' with grilled zucchini

 

Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the whole ice cream problem…

Read Full Post »

I have a friend who is trying to go gluten free and vegetarian.  He also claims to be a bad cook.  He asked me to post up some recipes for him; today seemed like a good day to oblige 🙂

 

I was down in the root cellar this afternoon.  Some of the turnips were going wrinkly-soft (as opposed to rotten-soft), and some beets, too.  The carrots are still going strong, but I grabbed a few anyhow.  I also grabbed a bag of parsnips – we bought a bunch on sale back in October, but keep forgetting to use them.  I also grabbed a couple of sweet potatoes.  Several onions.  Two cans of chick peas.  A head of garlic that was starting to sprout.

 

Really, this recipe is awfully flexible.  As far as vegetables go, the critical bits are a couple of onions, a sweet potato or two, and whatever other root veggies you have on hand and/or need to use up.  Today, I used three onions, two sweet potatoes, four or five parsnips, four beets, four carrots, and most of a head of garlic (I cut each clove in half, and sprinkled it over the veggies); however, any of these things are pretty optional.  You could also add white potatoes, if you wanted.  Just chop everything into sticks or bite-sized chunks and spread them out on a cookie sheet (or, like me tonight, two cookie sheets).  Make sure to chop the sweet potatoes into bigger chunks than everything else, since they cook a fair bit quicker; conversely, you can cook everything else for twenty or thirty minutes first, then add the sweet potatoes – your choice.  Being lazy, I just cut things to different sizes – turnips and beets in little chunks, sweet potatoes in big sticks.

 

Once everything is chopped, spread it out on the cookie sheet(s) and pour a generous amount of olive oil over top.  I’m talking a few tablespoons per cookie sheet.  Toss the veggies around a bit to get them covered in oil, then sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning.  Be generous with the Italian seasoning – maybe a tablespoon or two per cookie sheet.  Give everything another stir, then throw it in the oven, uncovered, at 350F for about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how small you chopped your veggies.  At that point, they should be still a little crunchy – basically not-quite-cooked.  Drain a can of chick peas per cookie sheet, and stir them into the mix.  Put the veggies back in the oven, and start your rice.

 

For this particular recipe, I used to make couscous with a bullion cube (or two, depending on how much couscous I was making) and some fresh-grated ginger.   Of course, couscous is not gluten free, so now I just boil up a pot of rice with a bullion cube (or two).  You could use vegetable bullion, onion bullion, or chicken – whatever you prefer – or nothing at all.  It is just to keep the rice from being too bland.

 

By the time the rice is done (about 20 minutes, by the time you boil the water and let the rice cook 15 minutes), the veggies should be cooked.  Serve immediately.

 

This is a favorite around here, because it only uses stuff we have on hand in the winter, and it uses up any root cellar veggies that are starting to go soft, but are still edible.   The leftovers are awesome – the flavors have extra time to blend – but this particular recipe does not freeze well.

 

This is probably a terrible recipe if you want to lose weight, but it’s a seasonal winter recipe that’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, and very, very tasty!

Read Full Post »

Well, I looked out my window, and discovered that winter has properly arrived:

 

 

Lately, we’ve been craving heartier food – root veggies, meat, and big bowls of stew – our bodies have known for a while that winter was coming.  We’ve been cooking up a storm, and Baby M’s ever-growing list of allergies and sensitivities has meant we’ve needed to be creative in our culinary adventures.  We can’t eat beef, dairy, or soy.  Cabbage, eggs, wheat, almonds, sunflower seeds, and beans are all questionable, and need further testing, so we are avoiding them at the moment, as well.  These restrictions eliminate many of our favorite go-to recipes, which has led to the invention of a whole bunch of tasty new recipes…ones that I suspect will stay in frequent rotation even when (if?) Baby M outgrows his allergies – they are that good.  In fact, some of them I could see becoming new comfort foods around here.  Two recent hits have been Stuffed Pumpkin and Pork and Sweet Potato Stew.

 

Stuffed Pumpkin:

 

I start with a proper pie pumpkin, partly because they are sweeter, and partly because that’s what we have grown.  They tend to be smaller than jack-o-lantern pumpkins, so the recipe may need to be doubled if you want to use a bigger pumpkin.  Also, I tend to cook big pots of rice, then use them in multiple recipes; I often cook the rice in chicken stock to give it some flavor.  If you are using plain white rice cooked in water, I recommend dissolving a bullion cube or two in a small amount of boiling water and pouring it over the rice mixture, or your stuffing will be pretty bland.  If you are gluten-free, watch the sausages, as most seem to have some sort of gluten-y ingredient like bread crumbs.

 

1 pie pumpkin

1 onion ( I happened to use a red one the day I took the picture below, but any kind will do)

4 stalks celery

2 farmer sausages or garlic sausages

4 cups cooked white rice (preferably cooked in chicken stock, as noted above)

2 tsp poultry seasoning (a generous amount, to taste)

1/2 tsp black pepper (or more, to taste)

salt to taste

 

Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds. Set in a roasting pan or on a cookie sheet. Chop the celery and onions finely. Chop the sausage into smallish bite-sized chunks (I cut it into 1/4″ half-rounds). Mix the sausage, celery, onions, and spices into the rice, and stuff this mixture into the pumpkin halves. Bake, covered, at 350 for 1.5 to 2 hours, until pumpkin is soft.  We usually use a roasting pan, but have faked it with a cookie sheet and some foil on one occasion.  You can remove the cover for the last 30-45 minutes of cooking time if you like crunchy bits – sometimes we do, and other times we don’t – it’s completely personal preference.  If there is stuffing mixture left over, put it in a covered baking dish or make it into a packet using aluminum foil, and bake it alongside the pumpkin; it can be used when you are serving.

 

 

 

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew:

 

This was last night’s hit.  We were not feeling like spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and needed something that we could just throw together and ignore.  We had pork in the freezer that needed using up, and we came up with this gem:

 

4 thick pork chops, cubed (we used pork chops, because that was what was in the freezer needing to be used up.  You could also cube a pork roast or tenderloin.  Just make sure there’s at least a couple of pounds of meat)

2 large sweet potatoes, cubed

2 large onions, chopped roughly

4-5 stalks celery, chopped

2 chicken bullion cubes, dissolved in 2 cups boiling water

3 bay leaves

1 tsp sage (or more, to taste)

1/2 tsp black pepper (or more, to taste)

salt to taste

 

Put all ingredients in a large roasting pan. Cook in oven, covered, at 350 F for about one hour, or until sweet potatoes are soft and the pork is falling-apart done.  You can eat this with bread, like my husband does, or have it over rice, which is what I did, or just enjoy it as-is.  This is really a spectacular meal for such a short ingredient list and for such easy preparation!

 

Read Full Post »

I was recently accused, via a post on facebook, of Food Insanity.  Oh, the poster did not call it that, but I don’t think it’s a stretch.  This happened by way of a link to a blog post at Northwest Edible Life:  The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.  While it’s a funny post, and parts of it hit rather close to home, I don’t think we’re quite that far gone yet.

 

I could try to argue that we’re saving money by growing our own, but any savings from the garden are more than offset by the price of the goats and chickens and their hay and grain.  Forget the $64 tomato; we’re somewhere in the range of the $140 pound of (fresh, artisan, organic) ricotta and the $20 (fresh, free-range, organic) egg.   I’m sure we could buy groceries, even organic ones, for less.

 

The truth is, we do this because we love it.  Hubby has never been happier with his ‘job’, and I am happy with my low-stress husband.  We get to play in the dirt, keep cool pets like goats and alpacas, and hang out in the sunshine without having our view spoiled by fences or neighbours.  Rather than going to the gym, we get our workouts digging in the garden, pruning trees, picking berries, hauling water, and pitching bales.  At the end of all of that, we actually have something to show for it, too, which is a nice benefit.  We are both happier, and more relaxed, since we moved to the country; this is a lifestyle that suits us well, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we got pregnant just six months after moving here, despite all the issues we’d had before.

 

For instance, a couple of days ago, we spent a lovely sunny afternoon picking chokecherries along a neighbour’s lane.   Last year, we picked mostly here at the acreage, but the storm in June took out quite a few of our chokecherry trees, and blocked our access to many more with fallen trees and debris.  The neighbours have tons of bushes that are easily accessible, and had no plans to pick them; we spent a relaxing couple of hours gathering a few gallons of berries.  They were happy to let us at them, for the promise of a pint or two of chokecherry syrup later, once it cools down enough to do the processing.

 

(This is where I wax poetic about homestead food.  You can’t get chokecherry syrup in the store, and I have never seen chokecherries for sale…)

 

 

Recipe:  Chokecherry Syrup

 

For this recipe, you need chokecherry juice.  If you are lucky like me and inherited a steam juicer, this is not a problem.  For the rest of the poor folks in the world, though, you have to do a little bit of extra work.  Boil the berries for a few minutes in just a little bit of water, and crush them up as best you can with a potato masher to release the juice.   Put the whole mess in a strainer lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth, positioned over a bowl or bucket to catch the juice, and let drain overnight.

 

For the syrup, mix 3 cups of chokecherry juice with 6 1/2 cups of sugar.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Boil hard for one minute, then ladle into jars.  Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.

 

We serve warmed chokecherry syrup over pancakes.  It’s a great Saturday morning treat on a cold winter day!

 

Read Full Post »

Baby M has had gut issues pretty much since we brought him home in mid-June.  First, it was gas and fussiness, but that progressed to diarrhea, then to green, mucous-y diarrhea, followed by all of the above plus blood.  At that point, we were able to get in to a pediatrician, thank goodness.

 

By the time we got to the pediatrician, I had already started experimenting with eliminating allergens from my diet, including dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  I was about to try getting rid of soy, too.  I was ready to give up breastfeeding entirely, and put him on the bottle, just to see if it was something I was eating.   Baby’s constant crying and obvious pain were making us crazy, and the level of helplessness we felt was really overwhelming.  After two months of constant screaming, diarrhea, and lack of sleep (on all our parts), I would have cut off my left arm if I thought it would help.

 

The pediatrician suggested going one step further than cutting the dairy, and also cutting all beef products.

 

Unfortunately, that worked.

 

I say unfortunately because I was hoping it would be something else.  Something that did not involve having to cut all my favorite foods from my diet.  I mean, no burgers, no roast, no butter, no yogurt, no cream, no cheese, no milk chocolate, no ice cream…really?  Add to that the fact that it’s been 30+ degrees, and I’ve been miserable.  My go-to foods for a hot summer day include cottage cheese and fruit, cucumber-and-cheese sandwiches, and barbequed burgers.  Hmm.  Can you tell I’ve been feeling sorry for myself?

 

We’ve been on the hunt for suitable replacements, and found a vegan margarine that is passable, and some rice-based “milk” chocolate that’ll do in a pinch.  Unfortunately, cheese is out.  Most of the non-dairy cheese replacements I was able to find contained milk ingredients, and the one that did not, tasted fairly awful.  This is a tragedy.  I eat cheese with everything.  Like probably at least two meals a day.  Because of that, most of my cooking involves cheese.  I can substitute ground pork or chicken for the meat in most recipes, but spaghetti without parmesan?  Chili without cheddar?  Chowder with no cheese?  And seriously, no pizza?  Bleh.  So, basically, all my go-to recipes are missing something.  Something important.  Something that reminds me how much I’m missing out every time I try to eat a ‘regular’ meal.

 

I got to feeling so sorry for myself that I was polishing off a bag of Fudgee-O cookies (the only non-dairy cookie in the whole aisle) and a bag of wine gums every two or three days.  We were eating a fair bit of fast food, too, just because we did not know what else to eat.  Besides the aforementioned cookies and candy, plus barbequed pork chops and grilled peppers, I did not feel like there was anything in the house to eat.  My diet was taking a serious turn for the worse.  Usually I eat a very healthy diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, plus made-from-scratch meals, so the sudden influx of deep-fried chicken and sugary crap had me feeling physically terrible, too.

 

Yesterday, I decided I needed to snap out of it before I hit 300 pounds and gave my poor kid rickets or scurvy or some other horrifying deficiency.  I mean seriously, he can only get as good of nutrition as I do, right?   An attitude adjustment was clearly in order.

 

I needed to cook something new, something that had no associations with beef, butter, cream, cheese, and all the rest.  Something that did not remind me of my enforced dietary changes every time I ate.

 

Today, I went through the freezer, trying to decide what needed using up.  Corn season is almost upon us, and we still have a few bags of frozen corn from last year, so that became the base of the meal.  As it is cool today, I decided on soup, since it’s been a long time since it’s been cool enough to cook soup, and soup is such a quick, easy meal.  Though I am not good at measuring, here is the approximate recipe:

 

Fill a 2-quart pot about 1/3 with chicken broth (or vegetable broth, for a vegan meal; I used a couple of chicken bullion cubes and 1/3 pot of water).  Add a few carrots, chopped small, and around 3 cups of frozen corn.  Spice to taste with mild yellow curry (I used around a tablespoon) and hot chili paste (about 1/2 tsp for me).  When the carrots are cooked, add one whole can of coconut milk (unsweetened).  Bring the whole thing back to a boil, and serve.

 

As I was eating my dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, beef-free, but still very tasty soup, I realized that every single ingredient started with the letter “C” – this soup should be sponsoring a Sesame Street episode!  Chicken stock, Corn, Carrots, Chili paste, Curry, Coconut milk…this is a real C-food soup!

Read Full Post »

There are a lot of random things I put up just because they sounded cool, without really having a plan for how we would actually use them.   The rose petal jelly, for instance – it’s too strong for us to just eat on toast, though the flavor is lovely.   Last year, I put up a ton of things in alcohol (vodka and rum) and vinegar, since it was such a simple way to preserve things.  The alcohol is pretty easy to use up (though, of course, I can’t until after baby comes), but the flavored vinegars are a bit more of a challenge.

 

I made vinegars in a variety of flavors, including raspberry, saskatoon (serviceberry), basil, blueberry, and rose.  My favorite of the vinegars is the blueberry.   We filled pint jars with loosely packed berries or herbs as they came into season, then poured white wine vinegar over them, and left them soak through the winter.  The raspberry has a nice flavor, but the blueberry has a nicer color, and the taste is more exotic, somehow.   I have taken to making a salad dressing out of it, which is just stellar on spinach salads (particularly spinach salad which includes fruit, like grapes, strawberries, or mandarin oranges).

 

Unfortunately, I am not the sort of cook who carefully follows recipes (if I even begin with a recipe; mostly, I don’t), nor am I much good at measuring out what I am doing.  Since vinaigrette is really mostly to taste anyhow, this shouldn’t be an issue, even if you prefer clear-cut recipes; just start with a small amount of whatever ingredient, and taste as you go until it seems right to you.

 

For the blueberry vinaigrette, I start a couple of days in advance, by soaking coarsely ground black pepper in the blueberry vinegar (with the blueberries strained out).  I would use maybe a teaspoon or two to a pint of vinegar.  Starting a bit in advance allows the flavors to mingle better, though it is not strictly necessary.  Then, I add a bit of salt (a quarter teaspoon?  Half?)  and some sugar to balance the acidity (probably a couple teaspoons of sugar, but again, it depends on what tastes good to you).  Right at serving time, I pour the seasoned blueberry vinegar and some olive oil in a jar, at a ration of about half and half, and shake well just before pouring on the salad.

 

Our usual spinach salad is pretty simple – spinach, some chopped cucumber and maybe red or yellow peppers, and some sliced strawberries or grapes.  Sometimes, I also add canned mandarin oranges, and also pine nuts, if I happen to have them.   The blueberry vinaigrette sets off the sweet/savory of this salad very well.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »