Monday, September 27, 2010

Meatless Monday

Tonight, Emma told me she thought that at some point she will become a vegetarian.    When I was 19, I decided I was going to be a vegetarian and that was it for the next 25 years.  I would eat fish and seafood when going out to dinner and could never say no to the Italian sausage at my mom's and when I was pregnant, I had cravings for chicken.  For the most part, it was vegetarian cooking, 50 weeks out of the year.

Both Emma and Brian were raised vegetarians in the house but all bets were off in restaurants and other places.  Chicken nuggets?  Go right ahead.  Hot Dog?  Enjoy honey.  So 3-4 years ago, when I started up my CSA with farmer Allan, he was offering free range chickens and farm raised heritage hogs and I couldn't refuse.

Cooking these days does involve fish, chicken and pork.  I still don't have a taste for beef or other kinds of meat (never liked lamb in any case) so I don't cook it.  We have meatless meals at least a couple of times a week.  Unfortunately for Emma, she doesn't like to cook so I'm not sure how she's thinking she is going to live on vegetarian meals.  I have offered to teach her how to cook and so far, she's not interested although she does bake.  I really need to show her how to do at least the basics of putting a meal together.  Her brother loves to help me cook and Emma's response is always "don't worry mommy, I'm going to hire Brian to cook for me"

Tonight we had polenta, pole beans and fried potatoes. 

Polenta is easy.  Bring to a boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk.  Stir in 1 1/4 cups polenta and cook a few minutes until thick.  Stir in some gobs of butter.  Pour 1/2 into a greased pan, top with grated cheese, cover with the rest.  Bake at 400 for 30 min.  Serve in wedges.

I steamed the beans and served with butter.  The potatoes were cubed, then boiled under tender.  Heat peanut oil until hot, add potatoes, salt and pepper and fry until golden.

I didn't have potatoes with mine but ate some of the quinoa salad instead.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Purple Beans

I went to the garden today to water me and Edouard's greens (he's in France until next month).  Everything is looking pretty good and I think I can start picking spinach and some baby lettuce.  Need to remember to bring the camera to take pictures.  Friday and Sat was in the 90's but luckily today it was much cooler and supposedly it will rain tonight and hopefully into tomorrow.

While there, I saw another gardener picking alongside her fence.  This is a plot of an older Italian couple who always have a fabulous garden.  I was chatting with the wife and asking her what kind of beans she was picking and she proceeded to hand me bunches of these beautiful purple pole beans.  If I like, she said, she would give me seeds to grow them next year.  She was also picking some green broad beans and gave me a few of those too.

I cooked them up for dinner and they were delicious!    Unfortunately, once cooked the purple bleeds out but the beans were very tender.

I was away this weekend so there was no cooking done, therefore no leftovers (dinner was turkey burgers, pole beans, and sliced apples so no leftovers).  I looked around the pantry and the fridge and pulled out my favorite vegetarian cookbook - Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  I felt like a grain salad so settled on Quinoa with Lime Cumin Vinaigrette.   As always, the only thing I had in the recipe was the Quinoa so it was just to give me a start.

I cooked the rest of the quinoa that I had, chopped the rest of the banana peppers from the garden, chopped carrots and added toasted pine nuts, dried sour cherries (that I dried in June) and chopped dried plums.  The dressing was smashed garlic, diced shallots, lime juice, cumin, coriander, dry mustard, salt and olive oil.  Toss all together

My project this week is to inventory the freezer and then plan some meals based on what is frozen.

Also, defrosting a whole chicken and I want to debone it this week before roasting.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What shall I write about?

What more can I do to my house that doesn't cost a butt load of money that will make it more sustainable?  What does that mean anyway?

I was washing the dishes last night - I do use the dishwasher but I also wash by hand when I'm cooking because often the pots and pans/measuring cups/measuring spoons need to be re-used.  There is only one sink with the plastic tub in it.  A lot of water is wasted!  Remember back on Memorial Day weekend when the basement sink drain clogged and I couldn't drain any water down the kitchen sink? I saved all the water in that plastic tub and every few minutes would walk outside and water various plants with it.  It was a big pain in the butt to do that but every day I realize how much water is wasted.  Especially since we are going into what seems like day 1000 without rain.  So what do I do?  There was an article years ago in the Washington Post about a couple who had rigged up all sorts of pipes and drains to capture gray water - from sinks and laundry.  Has anyone does this? How can I efficiently use my dish water and sink?

I also need a new kitchen floor - what should I get?

I need to get back on track to participate in Blog challenges.  Like these:

What else can I write about?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bitter Melon

Last week in my CSA share, there was a bitter melon.  Having never encountered this vegetable, I had no idea what to do with it.   I have a wonderful reference/cookbook called Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini, by Elizabeth Schneider and there was a section on bitter melon.

The melon

Sliced, a 1/4 inch thick.  Salt and let sit in a colander for 30 min.  Rinse and pat dry

Heat oil and stir fry until brown

Drain on paper towel, then toss with paprika, salt and lime juice.  Delicious!

I had some leftover rice so stir fried with soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar.  Added edaname and peas.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What's for dinner

I think I'm having blog fatigue!  I'm running out of ideas - maybe because the gardens are winding down - although winter planting has begun and lots of my greens have started to sprout.  November is the time to plant garlic for next year and I can't remember if I ordered garlic or not - need to check on that.

The only thing left to harvest in the  vegetable garden is one last amber cup squash and the sweet potatoes.  My garden pal Edouard has planted parsnips for me so I can start digging those up all winter as long as the ground isn't frozen.  The greens (lettuce, arugula, spinach, mustard, kale) should start to be ready in a month or so.  There will be preparation for winter in the garden - digging in compost, fixing the entry door, spreading wood chips on the path.

I dug up all the potatoes a few weeks ago so Tuesday night, I decided to try potato pancakes.  The kids are now in full swing of activities so on Sunday we all sat down and planned out some meals for the week.  I'd like to keep doing this - I don't need to shop for too many ingredients since my fridge and freezer are bulging with food.

Along with the potato pancakes, there was homemade applesauce and sauteed bok choy - a weird combination but Emma wanted the Choy and it was fresh this week from my CSA.

Grate potatoes in food processor.  Let sit in cold water for several minutes, drain and rinse.  Combine with flour and egg, salt, pepper.

Fry in hot oil

Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream

For the bok choy - heat some oil and saute some peanuts with red pepper flakes.  Remove from pan.  Add chopped bok choy and saute until wilted.  Add splash of soy sauce and a water/arrowroot mixture to thicken.  Add peanuts and serve.  This recipe is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

I need some homesteading ideas to write about!  I'm committed to getting a worm composter this season.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Starting the Fall garden and today's harvest

A couple of weeks ago, I planted lots of greens for fall harvest - mustards, bok choy, arugula, kale.  Unfortunately, they all sprouted right away and then fried in the 90 degree weather we had for a week.  So today, I replanted all of those greens. The forecast is for much cooler weather this week.  The other crops that were planted are now coming up - beets, lettuce, spinach, radishes, chard.

The garden still has tomatoes, peppers, squash and sweet potatoes in it.  Today I picked the last few cucumbers and then pulled up the plant.

3 squash (Amber Cup) all in a row.  I use these like pumpkins and bake bread and muffins with it.

The first sweet potatoes and the last cucumbers

Hot peppers.  Frozen until sometime this winter when I'll make hot sauce

Last of the cherry tomatoes

My garden is in pretty good shape.  The fall projects are to sift out the rocks in the bed, dig in some compost and dig out the paths a little more to build up the beds.  Plus, lay wood chips on the path outside the plot.

My front yard looks pretty good now but in a month or so it will be time to start pruning back the perennials.

There is a crappy mulberry bush that grows on the other side of the fence in my backyard.  The neighboring house is a rental and there are a number of stray, weedy trees that are growing in its yard.  The mulberry tree's branches started to lay on my porch's roof so today Sean and I decided to try and cut the branches off.  We were successful!

Rental on left, edge of my porch on right.  The is after the branch was cut - the rest is laying on the neighbor's roof

Monday, September 6, 2010

No Knead Bread

so, Martha and I had a grown up play date yesterday which was fabulous.  While she was getting ready to leave, she asked me if I had ever made the No Knead Bread - I said no and we immediately went to the computer to look up the recipe and watch the video.  I promised her I would start the bread and then bake on Monday.


I won't retype the recipe but you can find it here.  The video is here

Flour, salt, teeny bit of yeast and lots of water

12 hours later

18 hours later.  Fold, let sit for 15 min

Ready to sit for another 2 hours

Done, ready to go into the pan

Popping it into the pan

Ready to go into the oven


Double Wow!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wow - best play date ever

My friend Martha asked me a couple of weeks ago if I had every made cheese. She had read Animal, Miracle, Vegetable by Barbara Kingsolver and told me she made it sound so easy.  I had in fact read that book last year and purchased the whole kit from The New England CheeseMaking Supply Company.    My first attempt at mozzarella last year was not so successful but I was game to try it again.  So I ordered whole milk from South Mountain Creamery and invited Martha over today.  Not only did she come over, but she brought the ingredients to make fermented catsup. She had gone to her friends in Takoma Park for a fermentation festival and wanted to try this catsup  (she and I have a date to try and make Kombucha)

Anyway, Martha is my soul sister in all things homemade.  She brought over her knitting bag in which she was crocheting a yarmulke out of a plastic bag.  Her daughter's Bat Mitzvah is in Nov and she's decided to make a bunch for that event.  She has already made plans for us to attend the Flax Scutching Festival in Stahlstown, PA next year.

We popped in the cheesemaking video to review how it is done and then got started.

Martha, trying to open the glass bottle

Pouring a gallon of whole milk, into pot

Milk, heating to 88 degrees.  Citric acid has been added to this.

Stirring the rennet in.

Curds are formed

Curds are skimmed off and mashed together - more whey drained

Cheese is heated for 1 min in microwave and then kneaded together

Heat again for 35 seconds and then stretch like taffy

Martha is very excited that it's become real cheese!


We cut it into little chunks and also made some string cheese.  It's cooling in ice water

Yummy string cheese


There was a lot of leftover whey so we tried the recipe for ricotta cheese in the cheesemaking book - it didn't work so I am letting it all cool and will water the outside plants with it tomorrow.

Ok, cheese done, on to the fermented catsup.  It calls for mixing tomato paste with whey (from yogurt, draining here), maple syrup, cayenne, smashed garlic, fish sauce, salt.  Mix together, put in jar and let sit on counter for 2 days.

Here is the yogurt draining.  We will use the liquid for the whey

Fish sauce.  I'm sure Sean will be aghast at the brand but that's what Martha brought over

Tomato paste.  We made two batches, so there is 4 cans (24 oz) in each bowl.  No time or tomatoes to make homemade paste

Spooning mixture into the jars

Removing air bubbles

Beautiful catsup, ready to ferment

Remember the yogurt that was draining?  We added grated cucumber, minced garlic, chopped chives and lemon balm.  Delicious!

Before Martha left she asked me if I knew about No Knead Bread.  I said why no.  So we watched the video of Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey make this bread.  My bread starter is now fermenting on the counter and Martha will return tomorrow to gather her catsup and taste some baked bread.  Stay tuned.

 Here is the recipe for the fermented catsup.

Lynn's Organic Ketchup Recipe

3 cups canned, organic tomato paste
1/4 cup whey (liquid from plain yogurt)
1 tblsp sea salt (we used pickling salt)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup fish sauce

Just mix together in a wide mouth glass jar, leave at least an inch below the top and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days before putting in the refrigerator.