Monday, August 30, 2010

babka.jpg

I recently purchased the book A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer. This is a fantastic book about challah, and how bread is used in the Jewish life all over the world. I'm not Jewish but I loved this book.
I learned more about how to make bread with this book than all the bread books I have read put together. Also, there are many usable recipes, unlike a lot of cookbooks, that look good at first, until you get them home and really read them, only to realize that the few recipes you saw skimming through are truly the only ones you liked.
So I made chocolate cinnamon babka using this books recipe. It turned out beautifully! I didn't have to fine tune or change the instructions, I could make this exactly as written. A rare occurrence let me tell you.
Maggie has obviously done her research and has done it well. I won't give you the recipe for the babka, I want you to either check out this book from your library or buy it. I believe this book has been titled accurately, you will feel blessed when you read it.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Cottage Cheese Redux

So, although the quick way to make cottage cheese is one way to do it, I wanted to try the longer version to see if it was better. It was.

Put one gallon of skim milk in your crock pot, mix in 1 cup buttermilk. Cover and let sit for 12 to 20 hours until milk clabbers. Cut curds into large cubes and heat on low until whey separates from the curds and the curds firm up. Drain in a tea towel lined colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out water, place in container and salt. Add cream and enjoy!

This is the link to the directions I used.
http://www.essortment.com/all/makecottageche_rloh.htm
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles

Best refrigerator pickles I ever made, and the leftover pickle juice after the pickles are gone make a great salad dressing!

Pickle solution

1 1/2 c cider vinegar
1 2/3 c sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp pickling spice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 c kosher salt
1 sprig fresh dill
3-5 pickling cucumbers or enough to firmly pack quart jar.

Slice cucumbers and pack into jar, slide dill sprig down side so it shows and looks pretty :)

Put vinegar, sugar, spices, salt, garlic is pan and bring to boil, cool.

Pour over cucumbers in jar and refrigerate. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.

Pickling Spice mix

1 cinnamon stick, crushed
5 bay leaves, crushed
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp whole allspice
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp dill seeds
2 tsp cardamom seeds
1 - 2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp whole cloves

Mix, store in cool dark place.

Pickle juice salad dressing

1/2 c leftover refrigerator pickle juice
2 tsp brown spicy mustard
Olive oil

Take 1/2 cup juice and add 2 tsp brown spicy mustard, whisk in olive oil until desired taste is reached.

Keep in refrigerator.
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Turkey Skillet

I am loving these skillet recipes, doesn't heat up the kitchen too much and just add a salad and bread and your meal is done!

Turkey Rice and Brocolli Skillet

4 turkey cutlets
2 cups rice (not minute rice)
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 packets turkey gravy
1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1-2 cups chopped brocolli
Pepper
Seasoning salt
Olive oil

Season cutlets with seasoning salt and pepper, brown on all sides in olive oil in hot skillet. Remove
In same pan saute garlic and add chicken broth, bring to boil.
Add rice, gravy packets and Italian seasoning, stir and being to simmer.
Cover and simmer 15 minutes, them add brocolli on top.
Cover and cook until rice is done and broccoli is cooked.

I didn't add too much additional salt because of the broth and gravy, so taste as you go and adjust seasonings as necessary.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Homemade Cottage Cheese

Ever since I watched Alton Brown make quick cottage cheese I have wanted to try it myself.

Well today was that day. Truthfully, I didn't hold out much hope for the taste because I love my creamy cottage cheese and there is no way I can replicate that. Was I ever wrong! It was a bit firmer but it was so fresh! I say that every time I make something from scratch, which tells me that what we get at the store is definitely not fresh. It was salty and creamy and it was yummy! It only keeps for about 5 days, but one gallon of skim milk will only get you about 1 1/2 cups of cottake cheese.

This is the recipe directly from Alton Brown on the foodnetwork website.

Ingredients

• 1 gallon pasteurized skim milk
• 3/4 cup white vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt • 1/2 cup half-and half-or heavy cream

Directions

Pour the skim milk into a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
Heat to 120 degrees F. Remove from the heat and gently pour in the vinegar. Stir slowly for 1 to 2 minutes.
The curd will separate from the whey.
Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes.
Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time.
Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the salt and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go.
If ready to serve immediately, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream.
If not, transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator.
Add the half and half or heavy cream just prior to serving.

Give this a try, I think I could even use this as a ravioli filling, or even in lasagne. Mixed with some eggs, herbs and a little cream, I think it would work.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Friends

If you've kept up with the national weather, you know the Midwest has been deluged with torrential rains. Relentless, unending hard rains. Like many people in Iowa, I have a leak on my lowest level, in the corner of my den. Also like many, I have to wait several months before I can get it fixed because of the long long waiting list.
The last few nights have been one long exercise in staying ahead of the flood. My husband has had duty most of these nights, so me and my arthritic body have been doing our best. Oh did I mention my dog is scared of thunder? Negotiating a quivering dog while hauling heavy sopping towels and blankets to and fro, emptying buckets and mopping. *wipes weary brow* oh and these storms come about 10p to 5am, long long nights.
Last year I joined the Maryjanes Farm sisterhood. I have met a lot of people there, but one of the best has been Diana, Gramadinah on the forum. From the beginning we have become fast friends. She is just an awesome, thoughtful friend. She always knows when I've had a bad day, I would get a card or little present in the mail, so unexpected and very very appreciated. Best of all is the knowledge that she is there for me.
Today I received a bouquet of flowers. I wasn't sure who sent them until I saw the card.
I am unequivocally blessed with wonderful friends. After the last few nights, my perky levels were a little low, and those flowers were just what the doctor ordered.
Thank you Diana, for being my friend and for being the wonderful person you are.
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Zipping Corn

I don't know about the rest of you, but here in central iowa, the corn is really growing! We have a plethora of corn! Having ordered quite a bit from my Coop, I decided to freeze it.

I remember helping my mom can corn when I was a kid, corn boiling in the big canning pot, that is what summer smells like to me, cooking corn!

I shucked, de-silked and blanched them for about 4 minutes in boiling water. My friend Carolyn reminded me of a trick I had read about, to make zipping the kernals off the cob easier. Take your angel food cake pan, pop that cob in the center, then start cutting down with a sharp knife. I put a cloth on the edge because I kept hitting my hand, but wow! I was able to zip and freeze several quarts this afternoon while watching TV! Well, I was really just listening to it, I had to keep my eyes on my cobs! My corn had been in my refrigerator for a while, so the sugars had turned to starch mostly, but I am looking forward to zipping some fresh corn I just ordered from the coop.
Spread a kitchen towel underneath your pan, and be aware the corn will spit its juice everywhere, on your cell phone and especially your glasses!
Happy Corn Season!

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Eating Local

You may know, or not, that I am a member of my local food coop, Iowa Food Coop http://iowafood.org
I found them through http://localharvest.org

I was on a quest to support my local farmers and producers. When I owned my small business, I learned how important it was to have loyal local customers, and wanted to return the favor. Its been a good thing, I have met wonderful people and have tasted the best whole food that has ever been grown and raised my human beings.
Making your living as a producer or farmer isn't about making money, oh it may be for the huge operations, but for the local guy, its mostly a labor of love. Long hours, sweat and sometimes tears to hopefully break even. But what they give us, the consumer is the best of what they have to offer, a basket full of beauty, masterpieces of nature, and a little bit of their heart and soul.
Recently, I checked this book out of my local library. Eating Local http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/ref=mp_s_a_1/180-9106406-5370007?qid=1281215871&a=0740791443&sr=8-1

I loved this book. If you ever run out of ideas for recipes to use up your weekly CSA share, buy, borrow or check out this book. Creative recipes from the growers and the best part? Lots of backstory on CSA's from across the country. Some are century farms passed down for generations, local kids who moved back home and married their childhood best friend to individuals from the professional side changing their career and wanting to make a difference in the health of their community.
Very often I feel to many retailers I am just a dollar amount, do they care if I am happy with their goods? Not really, as long as my check doesn't bounce, I'm not given a second thought. Not so with these local producers, they care and they care a lot. We don't give much thought about how our food got to the distribution sight, we mostly just care if its there! Just as much care went into prepping it for market as went into the growing and harvesting.
The recipes are great, the stories and interviews are heartwarming, and even though you don't know these particular people, you do know many just like them! Many with just as much heart, courage and chutzpah!
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chicken and Yellow Rice with roasted green beans

We ate this dish so completely, and packed it away for lunch so quickly, I didn't get a picture. The rice I used was the Mahatma Saffron Yellow rice package, the small one. I would think any rice mix would work, and just about any frozen vegetable would too, adjust your seasoning and cooking time accordingly.


Chicken with yellow rice

6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1 minced clove garlic
1 package yellow(saffron) rice mix
1 c frozen peas

Season chicken with seasoning salt and pepper. Brown in deep skillet in small amount of olive oil. When browned on both sides, remove and saute garlic. In the same pan, prepare rice by bringing indicated (package directions) water to a boil, add rice, bring back to simmer, including the cooked garlic. Place chicken on top, cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Sprinkle peas on top, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and let steam until peas are hot.

Roasted Green Beans

1 lg red onion sliced
2 lbs fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed and snapped
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 tbsp or more of olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Copius amounts of sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Toss all together, spread evenly in large baking dish and roast at 375 for 30 minutes or until beans and onions are cooked and caramelized.
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