Sunday, August 27, 2006

Elephant Ears

I don't know if I have mentioned my obsession with duplicating fast food taste with out fast food money or fast food lack of nurtition... but this would be a big deal in my house. I HATE fast food places, but we tend to go there once a month or so just because my family loves the terrible food (I usually get a salad and fries). But every time we go I marvel at how bad the food is, how terribly it is made and I won't even get into the sources that they get their meat from. YUCK! Anyway... so I have a good time trying to make things that make my children say things like "Oooo... just like at the Fair." or something like that and I really enjoy when I succeed. Here is my version of Fair Food... Elephant Ears. The only time ever that I buy those pop can buiskets, but they are perfect for this. Just roll the buiskets flat and drop into a pan of about 1/2 inch veggie or canola oil and when they come out add cinnamon and sugar and perhaps a little butter. They are good, cheap and not completely terrible for you. ;)

Garden harvest, turned yellow...

I pulled about 5lbs of beans out of the garden yesterday, and then I topped them, and saute'd them, and put 1/2 in th fridge and 1/2 in this wonderful yellow chicken curry. I also grabbed a few baby yellow squash and added those as well. The chicken was cooked with TONS of fresh ginger (not grown by me... lol) and lime juice. The yellow curry was a sauce mix Don likes from Trader Joe's and a can of coconut milk along with more ginger and lime. Everything else was just saute'd in coconut oil (very healthy) and a bit of grapeseed to bring the flash rate up so the beans didn't scorch. You can't see the squash at all in this picture, but it is there... tiny little yellow squash that wern't overcooked to my suprise so it made the dish VERY beautiful. It was a truly yummy meal over perfectly cooked Jasmine rice.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The last of the peaches

I had just under a quart of peaches left over from last nights peach canning marathon... So I made that into a double batch of peach butter. I was aww'ed at the amount 0f sugar it takes to do preserves... I adjusted it a tad. So the recipe I used is as follows:

5 cups peaches (sliced and pealed)
5 cups sugar
1 box Sure Jell

I cooked the peaches down and used an old potato masher to mash them a bit so we don't have big chunks. Then I added the Sure Jell and brought back to a boil. After it was boiling well, I added the sugar, and mixed until it was thick. I put it in hot wide mouth 1/2 pint jars and processed it for 12 minutes in a hot water bath.

If anyone has noticed I only use wide mouth jars in my canning, regardless if I am making 8 oz of jam or quarts of Applesauce. I have found that it makes the entire process easier if I only have to buy one size of lids.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Black Currents

They are a favorite in the garden. I have two bushes... one that is sweet (the one pictured) and one that is less sweet, but has a better texture for drying. I am told that in the next year these will cross polinate and make great currents for drying that are sweeter next year... so this is what I got. The plants are still small... if I get a cup of dried currents I will feel victorious! lol... but I can't wait until we have our own house and I can plant them in the ground. As it is they are in large pots in the garden area, making the corner look beautiful with their fruitfulness. I have a red current also, I will need to move it soon, but it isn't fruiting yet. I just took a bit from my moms old plant and put it in the ground. I have high hopes for next year as the red ones are Alex's favorite.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A thing of beauty...

Peaches... canned with 1 part sugar and 4 parts water for a tiny bit of flavor, but not much sweetness (when you wait for the peaches to be almost over ripe, you rarely need much but a tad to bring out the flavor anyway). I did the first batch with the same syrup ratio, but then added 2 tea of Sigon Cinnamon to the mix. Cyan had some of those for dessert and said they were perfect. She is now excited that we will have peaches all winter. lol... kids are great support sometimes. It kept me going for the rest of the day on these. I now have just over 20 quarts of sliced peaches. Two boxes down, one to go.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Bread & Butter Pickles
Because three boxes of peaches just didn't seem like enough to do. lol...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My entire garage smells like peaches

The smells are taking me back to when my mother and brother and I would drive over the mountains, pick peaches and cherries, and drive back. No A/C, so the windows were down and the car was HOT and the peaches would fill the car with their smell from the back seat.

My garage smells like a hot car filled with peaches. This is where I have been storing the peaches until they are ready. They will be ready tomorrow.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Beautiful applesauce...

From left to right, Peach Applesauce, Strawberry Applesauce, and Black Cherry Applesauce. All fresh. YUM!

Lauries Favorite Breakfast

My friend Laurie has been raving about this breakfast for a while now, so I had to try it... unaltered (except I did add cheese... I used my last avo last night in tacos. lol!)

I added a spinich and nasturituim salad on the side becuase I have been needing the iron, and it was delicious! I will def be making this dish again.

Thanks for the inspiration Laruie!


Friday, August 18, 2006

Vegan Zucchini Muffins CookAlong

Canola or safflower oil for greasing muffin tins (you can use PAM too)
1 1/2 c tightly packed, coarsely grated zucchini
3 Tbs flax seeds
1/2 c water
1 1/2 c WW pastry flour
1 c barley flour (spelt works, and I also have used just unbleached in this spot)
1 Tbs baking powder (Rumford)
1 1/2 to 2 tea cinnamon
3/4 to 1 tea ground ginger
1/4 tea ground cloves (or sub 5-Spice)
1/2 tea sea salt (important to bring out the flavors... have tried it without... not quite as good)
1/2 c dried rasins, currents, or cranberries
1/2 c apple juice
1/3 c maple syrup
1/3 c canola or safflower oil
(an overripe banana is my secret ingredient to these muffins for my family... they like things a bit sweeter than the average "food muffin" fare.)

Gather your ingredients:

Gather your help, complete with cheesy grin:

#1. Brush the muffin tins with the oil and set aside.

#2. Set the zucchini in a colander over a bowl or plate to drain.

#3. In a blender, grind the flax seeds. Add the water and process more until slightly gumy mixture is acheived, about 30 seconds.

#4. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients including the currents/rasins.

#5. To the flax seed mixture, add the apple juice, maple syrup, oil and vanilla (and here I add in a banana as well). Process in blender until foamy, about 1 minute.

#6. Press zucchini to make sure most of the moisture is out of it.

#7. Blend the liquid mixture and the zucchini into the dry mixture, just until all of the flour is absorbed (too much more and they get dry).

(See mom! There are no eggs! I can eat the dough!!!)

#8. Fill the oiled muffin tins almost to the top with batter, and bake on the center shelf of an oven preheated to 375* until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops bounce back to gentle pressure. (18-20 minutes in my experience)

#9. Set the muffins on a rack to cool, running a knife around the outside to remove them from the pans (you may have to remove them from the pans hot because they tend to get soggy around the bottom if you don't). Serve warm or cool or store for future use.

And what does my future Domestic Goddess in Training do while her muffins are cooking?

For vegan baking these are surprizingly simple. You dirty one spoon, one blender, one large bowl, and muffin tins, and they always come out. I experiment with these pretty often because they are such wonderful canidates, esp this time of year with all the zucchini I have running my back yard

I have added dates instead of rasins with only 5-spice as all the spices, and that turned out wonderful. It is a recipe I keep in my mental stocks for when we need a fast breakfast but not for a couple days or so... Like planning a road trip or something. These are always on the menu. They are perfect with a juice boxed size of chocolate rice milk in the car. (or with a juice box for that matter)

So while I am making the applesauce,

since I have to be in the kitchen anyway... I decided to make a bunch of Vegan Zucchini Muffins to freeze... I added cranberries and rasins to this batch to add some fruit and they were PERFECT. God, sometimes I love food so much!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How much is a "bushel" of apples anyway?

I felt that I really should know this... so I looked it up:

Here are some approximations to keep in mind when purchasing apples:

* 1 pound apples = 3 medium apples = 2 cups sliced

* 3 pounds apples = 8-9 medium apples = one 9 inch pie

* 1 peck apples = 10-12 pounds = 32 medium apples = 3-4 9-inch pies = 7-9 quarts frozen = 4 quarts canned

* 1 bushel apples = 48 pounds = 126 medium apples = 15 9-inch pies = 30-36 pints frozen = 16-19 quarts canned

So I have approximately 1 BUSHEL of apples in my kitchen, and I gave a "peck" to Sarah yesterday... good to know.

Yep... I'm a little nuts. :D

I have been getting apples from my dads tree, and yesterday I got probobly about 45lbs of them, 12 of which I pawned off on Sarah, which worked out great, because I nearly forgot I ordered those three boxes of free stone canning peaches from the guy at the farmers market which I needed to pick up today. So now I have ungodly amounts of fruit in my house, and all waiting to be made into something to can. THREE BOXES OF PEACHES people... along with what would consist of 7 boxes of apples. I am just a little bit crazy. Just a tad. LOL!

Two good things... #1, most of these apples were picked off the tree, which means they will last if I need them too, but for all intents they are perfect for canning right this second. and #2 the peaches need to sit in a warm room for the next three days until they are ready, giving me time to finish the applesauce before the peaches are even ripe much less 'over' ripe. So although I am terribly busy, pregnant, and a little crazy... what I am trying to do is at least DO-ABLE. lol...

Monday, August 14, 2006

My next crafty adventure:

Twig letters... I have used twigs as art before (in fact I do it all the time) but this is just too cool! I may have to make something for the baby, perhaps when we find out what it is etc...

This is my favorite twig thing that I have done:

It is a mobile in Cyan's room (I painted two of the walls purple and then did little fat freehand butterflies all over the place). I made it out of apple twigs and flower pictures from a gardening magazine I had on hand. I think the whole thing took me an hour but it is one of my favorite home made art pieces in the house.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dinner salad

I got the idea for this salad from a tv show years ago actually. From Everyday Italian... what a great show! She made a saute'd romane lettuce and two bean salad. She had garbanzos and kidney beans, but Don doesn't eat garbanzos.... so there goes that. She had salami and provalone cheese and then made her own italian dressing. Which I did once... but since then I have modified it to kidney beans, salami, provalone, and ceasar dressing from Newmans Own on organic butter and romane lettuce from the csa stand. Fresh from the ground to the table. And OMG was it good.

Some people call this bounty...

I call it lunch. :D

Friday, August 11, 2006

My "dwarf" beans

My dwarf beans are starting to really produce!
It seems that I will have another 10lbs of beans to
freeze before the next two weeks are over. HOW YUMMY!
My tomatos are starting to ripen!
I ate a few today wrapped in basil leaves
(which are growing in the same bed)
and I was in heaven... really in heaven.
Look at this beauty!
She was waiting for me sitting around her tiny purple cousins.
It was love at first sight.

And offically my favorite garden picture to date:
Reach for the sky!

You would think that with the way...

I am posting on here lately that I have nothing else that I am doing but making and taking pictures of food to blog about. But on the contrary, I blanched 10lbs of Roma and Green beans today, bagged them and put them in the freezer, I also made two batches of Applesauce one of which is now canned and on my shelf. I went and to my CSA stand (Comunity Supported Agriculture) at the local farmers market and saw a friend we visited and I covered for her so she could use the bathroom and whatnot. I checked on the Free Stone Canning Peaches I have been waiting to ripen.... so actually, aside from taking tons of pictures, today was a productive day.

I decided that I would wait until next week to get peaches... or at least Sunday. I have about 7lbs of beans left to top, blanch, and bag, and I have two 10lb bags of apples to core and make into sauce tomorrow. I think I have enough to do. lol... I am really tired tonight, but for the first time in a long while (at least since I have been pregnant) I feel really productive. I love that. It makes me staying at home really make sense when I am saving money left and right and storing for winter, etc. This is my job... and I love it.

Not bad for left overs...

Laurie... I blame you. This is a sickness...
The perfect pork roast with red onion and rosemary gravy, sour cream mashed potatoes with tons of freshly cracked black pepper, and freshly picked, blanched Roma beans saute'd in butter and garlic with pine nuts. OMG it was good... and this is Don's lunch tomorrow. What a lucky bastard I am married to.

My favorite easy breakfast

I love this breakfast... there is something about making stuff that tastes like fast food, looks like fast food, but is really healthy (aside from the fat content) that is very appealing to me.
A free range egg, organic butter, and BGH free cheese, all on a multigrain English muffin.

So Don just put in a new hard drive...

YAY! More space to store stuff. lol... I am not excited, but he sure is, and I am happy that we don't have to worry about our tiny little hd getting corrupted anymore.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Ever wonder what 16lbs of frozen blueberries looks like?

And what do you do with the extra few that just wont fit in that last bag? Make a double batch of organic blueberry muffins of course (although they are completely organic, no spelt, whole grain, or Stevia was used at my dh's request. Sometimes ya gotta go with the good ol' fat and white flower.)

School clothes...

I started making the kids school clothes late this spring because I wanted to be able to send them to a friend to make them pretty. She has a wonderful eye for color and a well oiled (and well loved) embroidry machine. This is what we came up with together... (she can't sew, I can't embroider... it is a beautiful match.)

Alex's are yet to come... he has two shirts that are done, but without him here it seems strange to take pictures of them. I also made a couple hoodies for Cyan, one of which I also sent to my friend. She did a wonderful job on everything and I am very excited to say that she is moving up to the NW as we speak! So I forsee lots of dye and embroider parties soon... :D Our kids will be well clothed that is for sure.

My first food blog posts... lol...

I have always had strange feelings about posting pictures I take of food. But then I saw these two beautiful blogs and decided that pictures of food could be included with not only no guilt... but some serious class as well. lol...
Cyan's 5th birthday party cupcakes. They were yellow cake, with cream cheese frosting mixed with melted chocolate at Cyan's request. Then she went out and picked all of these etable flowers to decorate the top. Everyone was very impressed at the camp where she spent her birthday. And she was THILLED when she came home that we had a few more. :D

My summer alter

This is my summer alter. This corner of my home has had many faces. Some bleak like the midwinter rainy day depression here in the NW, and other filled with green spaces and shoots of lilac. It is a reflection of what is going on outside and I love it.

Dwarf Beans... NOT!

These babies were sold to me as "dwarf beans". On the package it said they would get to be about 4 ft high. I made trellis acordingly and set them up around the bottom. The week I pulled out my peas for a second crop I realised that there was no way these were going to stay on the trellis... the two weeks they grew to around 9ft tall... and now they are over 12ft. These were sold to me on false pretenses!! They are in NO way "dwarf" beans. lol... I don't mind, but I sure wasn't prepared.
Here is the orginal trellis... see the peas to the left and the bean trellis to the right. The beans are barely coming up in this picture.

And this is two months later: Cyan is over 4ft tall... You cant even SEE the orginal trellis it is SO burried! I had to move the pea trellis (when I pulled out the peas of course) over to the beans so that they still had somewhere to go. They were not contented to just continue to go up. They were falling over and attacking the fence.
This is 9 ft up and still growing...
Here they are traveling over to the fence that is over 3 ft away...



they have been the devil of my garden for the past 3 years. I have planted them, and then they will proceed to take over and I will have to cut them back. Plus them being on the ground where the slugs can get at them I get about 1/4 of the fruit 100% whole and beautiful. It sucks, and I figured I would only get one plant this year and try to trellis it. It worked out better than I could have ever imagined.

On to the pictures:

Here they are trellised on my old rose stakes... they just cling right on there and produce off the ground. I will never do cukes another way again.

These two little bitties are just coming ripe this week. I am pretty excited to pick them too as I picked all the ripe ones over a week ago now and am due for another installment. Can I say they are PERFECT! They look better than anything I have gotten at the store.

This monster of a cucumber I just ate dipped in ranch last weekend. The one above was the center peice of a wonderful set of California rolls for the week before.

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