Monday, March 29

Spring Garden 2010 Progress

Spring Garden 2010 Progress - Three Days Later 
Well, it seems I've really won the battle against the neighbor's cats. The weather is cooler than last week and seedlings have begun to sprout.
Here are the sugar snap peas getting ready to  make their climb.
The chives are really taking off and the broccoli seems to enjoy the transplant.
The sage plant is just beginning to have new growth and so I'm going to leave it here.

Tuesday, March 23

Roasted Chicken Stuffing in Cabbage Head

Roasted Chicken Stuffing in Cabbage Head is Just Too Good!
With plenty of leftover roasted chicken from last week, I was able to make two nice meals, a chicken salad for weekend sandwiches and a...and a...what?...ah, check the fridge. There was a whole head of cabbage with a sign saying "I'm here for you!" that I just couldn't resist. (The cute ones always get the job.) I didn't really want chicken pieces for dinner and there were some day old biscuits and bread on the counter... well, you guys know what happens once the old wheels start turning. I threw the biscuits and breads into the processor and made crumbs.

Before the last spin, in went 1/8 tsp each of cardamom, mild curry powder, ground oregano, mace, and 1/2 tsp each of cilantro and mint leaves. Added 1 tablespoon butter, salt and pepper to taste, and gave it one more turn to blend. Lined a cookie tray with foil, distributed the crumbs, and roasted until lightly browned in a 400F oven.

Sunday, March 21

Spring Container Garden Becomes Feline Favorite

Spring Container Garden Becomes Feline Favorite
This is a view of my waist-high container garden after I added all my 'birthing sheets' of chard, lettuce, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, spinach,  and red and yellow onion sets on March 18th. In the upper left is the tower for the sugar snap peas. It took all of 30 minutes to get done and then back inside for a cup of tea.
Looks pretty, doesn't it.
You can just barely see young peas coming up near their support. On the right, the first section of chard has a light covering of dirt, tamped down with the cardboard press. That little bit of compression kind of gets the whole idea of germination working in the seeds and also lets you know where you've just planted.
These are the 'birthing sheets' being arranged and lightly held down with soil to keep them in place until their final positions are established. I try to consider the sun's position and the height of each plant at this time.

Tuesday, March 16

English Muffin Bread with Raspberry-Fig Jam

Solar English Muffin Bread with Raspberry-Fig Jam
As long as I can remember, recipes have been included on the labels of most shelf products so that shoppers can try the item as soon as they get home. Some have been very good; others, less than exciting. But, most have been pretty much what you could expect to taste based on the item. This recipe came from a small craft magazine back in the early 60s and it's just as tasty, today. Here it is toasted and ready for last year's Raspberry-Fig Jam.

Believe me, if you like English muffins, you're going to love this bread recipe that was torn out of my copy of The WorkBasket, a craft magazine with a great history. It's called English Muffins in a Loaf! from the Fleischmann's(R) Yeast kitchen. Wow! You get 16 slices per loaf and, taste-wise, it is right on point. The crust is crunchy but not so hard that you can't bite into it and the inside is firmly-soft but not dense. The nooks and crannies aren't as large as a Thomas' English Muffin, but the flavor more than compensates. Now, if you must have the nooks and crannies larger, you can always divide the dough and add a little more baking soda to one section to find out if you like it with more soda. The taste will definitely be different. And, if you're squeamish about seeing a bird spit, I wouldn't throw it out in the yard.

Thursday, March 11

Roasted Whole Chicken on a Celery Rack

Roasted Whole Chicken Cooked on a Celery Rack
It was the first 60-degree day with a sunny sky and I had just taken advantage of a great whole chicken sale -- $.79 a pound (with store card). Wow! A four-pound Perdue whole chicken for under four bucks! That's a steal. As I gauge everything by my willingness to pay the cost of a delivered pizza, I gladly handed over $20 plus tax for five beauties. The bulk of my purchase was going to be cut up and frozen but, at least, one was going straight to the pot.

Now, I know that you're hearing a lot today about not having to clean your chickens when you get them home. Trust me, for the little bit of whatever value you lose in cleaning the bird, wash it off. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's all done by machines and little gloved gnomes that keep it clean as a whistle. Don't believe it.) You know that things fall, bags break, packages tear open, parts spill, people sneeze -- do I need to go on? I'll bet no one's palate in your family is so sensitive that they're going to know you washed the bird. I'm not talking about drawing it a bath, candles, and soft music. Just let the water run over the inside and outside, then pat dry with a soft cloth or paper towels.

[Psssst! Do you really want to hear the retraction from your hospital bed on the no-need-to-wash theory that is bound to come right after a lawsuit is filed because someone got something that could be traced directly back to the butcher who had the only case of...well, you get the picture...wash the bird.]

Tuesday, March 9

Tallow, Lard, and Schmaltz - Oh, My!

Tallow, Lard, and Schmaltz - Oh, My - I'm Not Old, I'm Primal
There you go, just minding your own business, doing what you've always done and -- POW! You find out that you're so old, you're new, again, or P-r-i-m-a-l, with a capital-P. What?! I thought primal had to do with dinosaurs and trying to figure out a way to use saber-toothed fangs in a decorator cave lamp.  Wrong. Primal, in today's culinary world, has to do with the type of fats used for cooking. Animal fats, good for you; vegetable fats, maybe not as good for you as you thought.  It's almost impossible to find beef tallow at the market, today, so you'll have to ask your butcher for some suet. See how I render suet, below. It has a very high tolerance for heat and makes divine fried foods.

For a humorous but sensible approach to the fatty acids issue and what our bodies really need to stay healthy, see what "Guy," a guest poster, has to say at Going Primal. And, keep in mind, he's talking about grass-fed beef. Grass, good; grain, bad. Well, fact is that I've been using animal fats for years and it never occurred to me that I was on the cutting-edge of a new way of thinking about the dangers of vegetable fats to our systems.

Saturday, March 6

Turkey Chipotle Sauce in GYO Roundup #39

GYO Roundup #39 Includes Turkey Chipotle Sauce Over Pasta Dish
Once again, the kind folks at the Grow Your Own Roundup site have chosen to include my Turkey Chipotle Sauce in the 40+ International entries for February 2010.  It's a wonderful site that promotes home-grown foods -- and, you don't even have to be the gardener, yourself! You can head right down to a local farmer's market or get something from friends who do grow their own foods and create your recipe.

No. Wait! You don't even have to create your own recipe, you can use any one that you want, as long as it includes something home-grown. That little herb shelf in your kitchen? Do you tend it? Water it? Speak gently, to make it grow? You can enter your dish! It's a time to discover other great meals, as well as share your own. This month, you'll have to scroll a bit to find my recipe, but it's well worth the journey.

Friday, March 5

12-Bean Beef Heart Chili

12-Bean Beef Heart Chili Soothes the Soul
Well, the February Foodie Joust left me with enough beef heart to use for another meal. It was time to don the old thinking cap and make use of those leftovers, keeping the beef heart...incognito...

The weather helped in the decision, too. We've been enduring quite a few more cold snaps than usual here in NC and, to me, that means something warm and filling, like a soup, stew, or, a chili. Eureka! That was it! -- a good, thick, hot chili. Dried beans are a staple in my kitchen. I think you should know that I don't always keep my dried beans separate, if they require the same kind of treatment. For instance, I don't mix fast-cooking lentils, split peas, etc., in with beans that require overnight soaking. That said, pretty much everything gets mixed together.

Wednesday, March 3

New Look for Blog

I'm trying out this new look for my blog because, even though the usual is very pretty and soft, I thought it was very hard to read. Blogger doesn't offer a whole lot of choices. Let me know if this is easier for you!
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