Category Archives: recipes

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Homemade Sauerkraut

So I read Erica’s post at nwedible.com today about a braised cabbage recipe I can convert to Whole 30 by replacing the cream with chicken broth, and so I have had cabbage on the brain. And then, when I went past the grocery store by work, they had a sign out that said cabbage was on sale for $0.33 per pound. I didn’t want to stop, so I went past, vowing to grab some on Friday when I was back in town. Once past, and down the road, I realized we were out of some fruits and nuts at home, so I stopped at the grocery store in the town north of us. They had cabbages on sale for $0.25 / lb. It was a sign, I tell ya. So I picked up what ended up being about 16 lbs of cabbage. Total cost: $4.03.

Making sauerkraut is so easy. Cut/shred, salt, keep the cabbage below the liquid, wait 6 weeks until the fermentation is done. Really, that is it. I keep the air out and haven’t had to deal with any Kahm yeast since doing that, but some people don’t and they seem to do just fine scraping that yeast off. I figure, might as well let the air pressure out a few times during that 6 weeks and not have to scrape anything.

First, I cut the cores out and then started slicing them into large chunks. That’s a lot of cabbage.
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I ended up keeping one whole cabbage for tomorrow for the braised cabbage, so I’m krauting about 8 1/2 lbs. (An aside: my sister got me this kitchen scale for Christmas a few years ago, and it is so helpful! Get one.)
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I use approximately 2 tsp salt per pound of cabbage. I measured out 17 tsp of salt and put it in a white bowl. The picture was underwhelming. I’m sure you can do that without a picture. I use canning salt as it is pure salt and very fine, so it will dissolve and do its work quickly. I put a few handfuls of cabbage into the gallon jar, and then pour some of the salt in, and then squeeze the crap out of it in the jar. You are trying to draw the water out of the cabbage to make the brine needed to allow fermentation instead of rotting, so squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
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Keep going until the jar is almost full. The fermentation process might make the brine bubble up over the top, so I try to leave a bit of space.
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I then take a plastic lid and cut along the radius.
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This allows you to fold it into a cone, and once you get it down past the lip of the jar, it will open up, and you can push the cabbage down and let the brine come up over the lid.
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Finally, put a lid on it. I can’t find my lid for the gallon jar. Either Boobock put it in his toy box or I threw it away. So, I used some plastic wrap and duct tape. I put a small canning jar in first and filled it with brine to help keep the cabbage down under the brine. And then I taped it up. I know. It’s redneck. Deal with it. After this picture, I realized that I could use a canning jar lid/ring on the half gallon jar, so I took off the tape/plastic wrap and used those. I’ll just need to burp it periodically, and to do that, just slightly unscrew the lid until the air escapes and then quickly shut it again.
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It needs to sit for at least 6 weeks. I put the end date on the front and marked that it would be 6 weeks on that day. I will try not to open it at all for those 6 weeks. If something happens, and it gets exposed to air, it is ok. I’ll just recover it. But keeping it out of the air, I think, really helps with keeping mold/kahm yeast out.

Once done, I transfer it to pint jars and put in the fridge. I have some left from when I did this in July and it is still perfect. I’ve heard it can be held in the fridge for years. I put it in pints because again, when exposed to air, it gets exposed to mold. So instead of a very large jar being opened and closed periodically with the risk of mold ruining all of it, I would rather open a small jar and eat it all in a reasonable amount of time, and keep the rest of them sealed in the fridge. DH likes to heat it and put it on hotdogs. That kills the probiotics that the fermenting produces, but it is still cabbage, still a vegetable, and still good for you. I like it raw, or on top of hamburgers or scrambled eggs (not cooked). Boobock loves it raw, as well. He’ll eat 1/2 a cup at a time if we let him, and will even request it sometimes if we don’t have it out for supper.

And so, now we wait for the new stuff. As spring starts up and we start eating more grilled food, the kraut seems to come out more. Hopefully we will finish the last of the jars in the fridge right when this stuff is done.

Edited to add, 3/12/2015: Well, the process is starting to work. I didn’t see any bubbles, but the brine spilled over the top to the counter, which means it is working.

Note to self: Put it in a casserole dish next time!

It heals what ails ya

DH has been feeling pretty under the weather for the past couple of weeks with a head cold and stuffy sinuses, and I had a late meeting tonight after work…so it was a perfect night for some homemade chicken soup. Oh yes, a fast meal ready in, oh, I’d say 20 minutes.

Of course, I did most of the prep for this meal weeks ago. I had bought 4 2 lb packages of chicken quarters when they were on sale for $.98 / lb, boiled all of them and canned up the meat and broth. Cooking and canning the meat – PRESSURE CANNER ONLY!!! – took a Saturday afternoon (ended up with 6 pints canned and 1 pint we ate that night), and then Sunday, after church, I scraped off the chicken fat that congealed at the top of the pot (it was in the fridge all night) and then canned 14 pints of broth. And then made schmaltz out of the chicken fat. No waste here!

Last time I bought carrots and celery, I bought two packages of each, peeled all the carrots, washed the celery, and then used my food processor to cut all the carrots and celery into rings. Those went into ziploc bags, with 1 cup carrots and 1 cup celery in each bag, and into the freezer.
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So, making dinner tonight was just a matter of chopping up an onion. Used the schmaltz to sauté the onion in a sauce pan, then added the carrots and celery. I would have added garlic, but I was out. I let that sauté a while, and then just dumped in 1 pint of broth, then measured out 1 pint of water, added the pint of chicken, and salt and pepper (quite a bit of salt and pepper, actually. More than a few shakes). That’s it! I brought it up to a boil and let it lightly boil for about 10 minutes, and supper was ready. Whole40*, even.

DH ate a few bites and said, “Oh, that’s good. I am feeling much better!” I agree.
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Homemade Chicken Soup
1 chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 pint home canned broth
1 pint water
1 pint home canned chicken
salt / pepper

Sauté onion, carrots and celery. When fragrant, add broth, water and canned chicken. Boil 10 minutes.

*I’m doing a Whole 30 for Lent, so I’ve been calling it a Whole 40.

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Mongolian Beef and Broccoli over Cauliflower Rice

Always on the lookout for new Whole 30 recipes, I stumbled on this gem from thehealthfoodie.com today. I am allowing myself to use soy sauce, cause my little grocery store would scoff at me if I asked for coconut aminos. I can see the little old lady with the perpetual scowl who works there shaking her head with a grimace if I would ask. I also didn’t use the honey, and I used regular old table salt, not that fancy high faluting Himalayan salt. It was delicious.

I think the best thing out of this recipe, though, is the cauliflower rice! Oh boy, I’ve heard people say it was good, but dude. That was good. I can make that for many side dishes, not just this one. DH doesn’t particularly like spaghetti squash, which I try to use as a replacement for pasta, but he liked this. I didn’t tell him what it was, though, so he may have thought it was something like couscous or something. *shrug* But the important thing is that he liked it.

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli over Cauliflower Rice
adapted from thehealthfoodie.com

Cauliflower Rice
1 small head cauliflower, zinged into rice-like pieces in the food processor
1 T lard
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 T garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 T sesame seeds
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T roasted sesame oil

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli
2 T lard
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ cup soy sauce
2 T garlic
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of salt and black pepper
1 T tapioca powder
1 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced
½ bag frozen broccoli

First, make the cauliflower rice: Cut the cauliflower into small florets and place in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few quick times (about 10 to 15) until it resembles the texture of rice. You may have to do this in batches, because if you put too many in the bowl, the blade won’t touch the top pieces and the bottom ones will start to turn into mush.
Add the lard to a large skillet set over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic, sesame seeds, salt and pepper until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add riced cauliflower, vinegar and sesame oil and continue cooking for an additional 5-8 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked but remains a tad crunchy.
Remove from heat.

Now, make the Mongolian beef: Heat the lard in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, tapioca powder and a pinch of salt and pepper to a glass measuring cup and whisk until well combined.
Pour that mixture in the pan with the onions and let it come to a boil. Continuously whisk until the mixture is thickened, about 2 minutes.
Dump the steak slices in the pan with the sauce. Cover and simmer the meat in the sauce for 4-5 minutes, or until no red meat is apparent.
When the meat is almost done, add the broccoli. Cook until heated through.

Delish. It was very, very good. A little salty, because of the soy sauce, and so I may take out the extra salt next time, but not enough of a problem to wreck the dish. I was surprised that it wasn’t too hot, because of the red pepper flakes, but it wasn’t. The meat was fork tender and very nicely flavored. We had enough for DH, Boobock and I, and enough for a really nice healthy meal for lunch on Friday. Some additions I thought of after the fact: bean sprouts, large rings of onion, sweet or jalapeño peppers (?) with the meat, peas and carrots in the cauliflower rice (after the whole 30 is over).

Here it is, before devouring.
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Also, a hint on finding a lid for a cast iron skillet. Use an upside down cast iron griddle pan! Works like a charm.
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Thank you, thehealthfoodie.com for the inspiration!

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No-Sugar Pear Mostarda

Scroll scroll scrolling through facebook today, I found an article by Such and Such Farms, a blog by a couple in Missouri that are trying their hand at organic farming and providing specialized fruits/vegetables/meat to high end restaurants around St. Louis. I find that so many blogs are based on the coast, and our climate is just so different than theirs (i.e., we have drying winds and drought while they are concerned about drainage) so when I find a more middle of the country blog, I try to follow them.

She mentioned that she had cooked rabbit with a cherry mostarda on the side. Cherry mostarda? What is that? Never heard of it. So, I started looking.

Mostarda di frutta (sometime also called only mostarda) is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavoured syrup. Well, candied fruit is out, and so is any kind of syrup, cause I’m back on the Whole 30 diet, yo. But I do have a cabinet full of pears canned in water with no sugar. Surely I can find a use for those.

Googling around found me a couple recipes that had varying amounts of sugar, a few with sherry, a few with Apple Cider Vinegar, a few with bay leaves, other spices, some say to blend it up into a creamy condiment, some say eat the fruit in big chunks. I decided that I could try without the sugar, and ACV, and simple spices. Here is my version:

No-Sugar Pear Mostarda
1 pint Pears
1 tsp ground yellow mustard
1 tsp brown mustard seed
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Dump entire contents of pint into a sauce pan. Add both mustards, salt, pepper and vinegar. Simmer 20 minutes or so. I used a pastry cutter to cut it up into small chunks, but not a creamy consistency.
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OMG. I love it. I am eating it with a spoon. It will be great on the steaks coming off the grill in about 20 minutes. But a spoon is fine as well. No added sugar, but it is perfect for my taste buds. It was a shock to DH, but I think he is coming around. Oh well, if he doesn’t end up liking it, more for me!

I am thinking this could be canned in a water bath canner. Some extra spices, but 2T ACV to acidify it even more than the fruit itself does. Oh yeah, baby, I know where all the pears are going from now on. I did 14 quarts and 2 pints of pears this year…hope that is enough since I’ve found this recipe!

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Tuna salad stuffed peppers

I used the Double Delight Hybrid Sweet Pepper out of the garden, but any bell pepper would work.

Tuna salad stuffed peppers
4 peeled hard boiled eggs (I put eggs in cold water w/ a splash of vinegar on the stove, bring to boil and boil for 1 minute, turn off heat, put lid on, and let sit for 12 minutes)
1 can tuna, drained
1/4 onion, chopped (my white onions are pretty potent this year, so I only used 1/4)
Sesame dressing
4 peppers, split down one side and deseeded.

Chop up the peeled eggs. Add the drained tuna, onion and dressing, adding enough of the dressing to make moist, but not drowning in it. Cut the tops off the peppers, split the peppers down one side and pull out the seeds and stuff with the tuna salad.

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Sesame Low Carb Salad Dressing and Dipping Sauce

I can’t get enough of this. It is a good salad dressing, a good dipping sauce, especially for grilled eggplant, and good in tuna salad. I originally put “no carb”, but I’m sure there is some minuscule portion of the garlic and red pepper flakes that are carbs. I think there are similar ones out there, but I didn’t want to put any sugar in it like other recipes use. The coconut oil adds a bit of sweet, but is not overpowering…if you don’t use too much.

Sesame Low Carb Salad Dressing and Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 T plus 1/2 t sesame oil
1/2 t coconut oil
pinch garlic
2 shakes red pepper flakes

1. Mix up and put in a jar.

lol. 1 step. Tough, huh?

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Chunky Mustard Zucchini Pickles

Had a little time this morning, and so decided to make some of these pickles. I made them last year and my brother just went wild over them, so I am definitely making more for us and for him for Christmas. We all agreed that the original recipe had too much sugar and could use a little more kick, so I adapted the recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to be a bit more to our taste.

Chunky Mustard Zucchini Pickles
14 cups seeded peeled zucchini
6 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 cup granulated sugar (original recipe called for 3 cups)
4 T low sugar pectin (original recipe called for ClearJel)
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 T ground ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup water
2 cups white/apple cider vinegar (original recipe called for all white, but I ran out and had to supplement with apple cider vinegar)
1 bell pepper (original recipe called for red, I used green)
1 jalapeño, minced (original recipe didn’t have jalapeño)

1. Peel zucchini, split in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and cut into chunks. Peel onions and roughly chop.
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2. In large stainless steel bowl, combine zucchini and onions. Add salt, mix thoroughly, and let sit 1 hour. Drain.
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3. In saucepan, mix sugar, pectin, mustard, ginger, turmeric, water, vinegar and peppers. Mix and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes.
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4. Fill jars with zucchini and onion mixture, then ladle spice mix over the top. Leave 1/2″ headspace. Remove bubbles, wipe rim, place lid and put in canner.
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5. Process 10 minutes at low altitude. I processed 15 minutes, as we are 1500 ft above sea level, and the recipe said to increase by 5 minutes for 1001-3000 ft. Remove to towel-covered countertop and wait for the pings.
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6. Remove bands,wash the outside of the jars, label and store. (I “label” by writing on the side of the jar with a thick permanent Sharpie. It is easy to scrub off with a green scrubby when washing, or for more stubborn ones, a Magic Eraser.)

This yielded me 6 pints plus another not quite full pint that I decided not to process and instead just eat. It was very, very good.

Stir Fried Chili Cucumbers

It started with a facebook post…lots of ideas start either there or on pinterest, amirite? I belong to a fermentation group, and someone asked what to do with extra cucumbers. Along with fermented suggestions, someone suggested stir fried cucumbers. Um, wut? Never even thought to cook cucumbers. But we actually eat cooked cucumbers all the time – we call them “pickles”. It isn’t as if I don’t have an extra 50 or so hanging out in the kitchen, so I decided to investigate. If it sucked, we could always throw it to the chickens and open a jar of green beans instead. The person who suggested it said to add chili sauce and ginger, and sauté until al dente. I thanked him, and he said to thank China, as they “cook everything there.” Ok. Thanks, China!

I had no chili sauce, but improvised a homemade replacement. Once I had the chili powder sauce, I could make the stir fried cucumbers.

Ingredients:
olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 T dried minced garlic
3 medium cucumbers
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons of my homemade Red Chili Powder sauce

Sauté onions, garlic and olive oil over medium heat and cook until onions are tender.

Peel the cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and cut into big chunks. Salt and let drain, and after about 20 minutes, rinse and pat dry.

Add the cucumbers to onions and garlic. Cook down until tender all the way through.

Add ginger, salt to taste, and chili powder sauce.

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And the verdict is: not too shabby. Needed more salt. Definitely worth doing again, and also worth figuring out different sauces to use with sautéd cucumbers. I’m thinking a honey mustard or a teriyaki sauce, with large chunks of onion instead of mincing it so small.

Let me know in the comments if you try it and if you have any tips!

Artichokes, Zucchini, Peppers and Polish Sausage Mess

I don’t know what the technical term is, but when I mix random vegetables from the garden with some meat, cook it down until the veggies are soft and make a sort of broth, I call it “vegetable mess”. My normal vegetable mess includes cumin, tomatoes and sausage, so to distinguish that recipe from this one, I’ll spell out the name on this one.

Artichokes, Zucchini, Peppers and Polish Sausage Mess

Oil – I used lard. I’ve used olive oil in the past.
Salt and pepper to taste
Seasonings – I used Jack’s Gourmet Seasoning. Basil works as well.
1/2 Cabbage, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 red or green peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
Artichoke hearts, I used bottled, just drain them
Polish Sausage

1. In a large pan, heat about 1 T of oil. Add in cabbage and onion, and cook until tender. Next, add in garlic and a dash of red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes.
cabbage and onions

2. Stir in the zucchini, red/green pepper, jalapeño, artichoke hearts, seasonings and sausage. Saute over medium heat until veggies are tender and hot.
vegetable and artichoke mess

3. Serve.

How easy is that?

Zucchini fritters

My goodness, is this going to be a blog about zucchini?  Well, no, that isn’t the plan, but with bucketsful coming out of the garden that is what I am spending most of my free time thinking of how to use.

So, zucchini fritters.  As you know, I am trying to eat paleo, so using flour is a no no.  The Zucchini Flour is a nice substitute for this recipe.

Once again, I used a zucchini bat. I used one that was about 15″ long, and this recipe yielded 6 fritters. I cut the ends off, split lengthwise, and scooped out the seeds just like in the zucchini flour post. Then, I laid it cut side down so I wasn’t cutting a moving round boat and cut it into large strips.

zucchini strips

I put this into the food processor and shredded, then set into strainers to drain. I sprinkled salt on and worked the salt into the zucchini and waited about 15 minutes.

shredded zucchini

 

I then squeeeeeeeezed the zucchini between my hands to get the moisture out.  Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.  You want it to be quite dry and firm when you are done.  My notes, in fact, said “squeeze the piss out of it.”  So do that.  Then just add the spices, an egg, and the flour.

zucchini fritter ingredients

I used:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Jack’s Seasoning (an all purpose seasoning salt…with less salt flavor than most)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 cup zucchini flour
  • 1 tsp salt – but this was too much salt when combined with salt used to get the water out.  I will eliminate this next time.

Mix together (with your hands) and make into patties.  If it still feels too wet, add more zucchini flour.  I used an electric skillet on 350* and cooked them in lard.  You can use any other oil, of course, but then you will be missing out on the yummy goodness of lard. You want them to brown nicely on one side before flipping them.  Messing with them too much will make them fall apart, so just leave them alone until you need to flip, then flip carefully.

cooking zucchini fritters

Perfect!  These are very filling, and each of us could only eat one with our meal.  They turned out almost sweet.  I had tried these before with almond flour, and the almond taste completely overwhelmed the rest of the flavors, so using the zucchini flour is definitely the way to go if you can’t use regular flour.  To warm leftovers, I would use a skillet on pretty low heat so you can warm them up all the way through without burning.

done zucchini fritters