• Category Archives Food
  • Dehydrated foods bleg

    Ok, so I’ve been working on putting together a variety of home “mixes” and “instant” style soups etc for us to use when we want to.  For some of the trial stuff I just bought which-ever dehydrated products were easiest to buy.  But we’re getting to the point of actually using quite a bit of it, so I”m looking at buying in larger quantities.  Not TONS, but more than a quart jar too.

    So, can someone suggest a company that they’ve had good luck with that sells (among other things) dehydrated (or freezedried) broccoli, diced potatos, other “soup or stew” type vegi’s, powdered sour cream and milk, etc?

     

    (edit: eventually I hope to be able to dehydrate my own for this, but right now thats not happening!)



  • Heirloom apples?

    I’ve mentioned before that we have a few apple trees in the back.  I’m not sure if some of them are still going to be alive come spring, they were looking kinda poorly last year.  Regardless Husband and I had been seriously considering expanding our little orchard.  We both REALLY enjoy home-made applesauce made with Granny Smith apples, however after doing some research it looks like Granny Smiths aren’t likely to do well here.  We’re technically USDA zone 5b, but I’ve learned the hard way that I really need plants that are hardy to zone 4 if I want them to thrive here…..

    I recently ran across the site for Fedco Trees, based in Maine.  Their list of heirloom apple varieties is HUGE!  I’ve never heard of most of these apples.  And best of all, all of them are hardy to zone 4 if not colder!  And so now I have this list of heirloom varieties I’d REALLY like to get ahold of to try….

    Anyone know where I can find someone growing a Spice Sweet Apple tree?



  • Deep Dish Pizza

    So Husband and I normally prefer a good thin crust pizza, and thats normally what I make.  But several weeks ago we treated ourselves to a dinner out at Pizzeria Uno.  And I had their Pizza Skins appetizer as my meal.  It was really really good…..

    So it started, first to find a recipe for a Chicago style deep dish crust that looked good, and then to figure out what to bake it in….

    After some poking around I picked up a pair of 8″ Lodge Skillets for that use and others.

    And I found THIS recipe.

    Tried it today, it was very very very good.

    A couple minor changes, I pre-heated the cast iron pans in the oven for about 5 minutes before plopping the crust into them.

    I also think that this recipe will make 3 pizzas of that size just fine….

    The filling was mashed redskin potatoes with fresh roasted garlic mashed in along with alot of shredded cheese (mostly cheddar but some Parmesan and Asiago got in there too), and some home-canned bacon bits I canned up a few weeks ago.

    2014-02-02_16-09-57_468

     

    You can see how the extra crust bulged up, and I think we over filled it with the mashed potatoes.  I also didn’t quite get the seasoning mix right for the potatoes, but thats ok, it was really really good anyway, I’ll be trying it again!



  • Homemade pizza

    One thing that Husband and I have been doing over the last several months is attempting to cut back on how much money we’re spending on pre-made foods.  Including ordering pizza (we were spending several hundred dollars a month ordering out pizza, for just the two of us).  It was pretty sad.

    So I set about on a quest to make my own pizza dough.  And found this recipe on King Arthur Flour’s site.  I’ve modified it a bit, but I recommend reading that page.  They include instructions for storage of the dough in the fridge (which I’ve done for up to a couple weeks), AND instructions on how to pre-bake the crusts for even faster and easier pizza later.

     

    2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
    7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt

    My additions:

    garlic powder

    onion powder

    pepper (fresh ground please!)

    red pepper flakes

     

    1) If you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it, with a pinch of sugar, in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.  Here is where I add in my spices.  A good firm shake of both the garlic and onion powder, don’t skimp!  Several grinds of fresh ground pepper, and good sprinkle of red pepper flakes into the water with the yeast.

    2) Combine the dissolved yeast (or the instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 4 to 5 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. Don’t over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface.

    3) To make pizza now: Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it’s very puffy. This will take about an hour using instant yeast, or 90 minutes using active dry. If it takes longer, that’s OK; just give it some extra time.

    4) Decide what size, shape, and thickness of pizza you want to make. This recipe will make one of the following choices:
    Two 1/2″-thick 14″ round pizzas;
    Two 3/4″-thick 12″ round pizzas;
    One 3/4″ to 1″-thick 13″ x 18″ rectangular (Sicilian-style) pizza ;
    One 1 1/2″-thick 9″ x 13″ rectangular pizza;
    One 1″-thick 14″ round pizza.

    5) Divide the dough in half, for two pizzas; or leave it whole for one pizza.

    6) If you’re making a rectangular pizza, shape the dough into a rough oval. For a round pizza, shape it into a rough circle. In either case, don’t pat it flat; just stretch it briefly into shape. Allow the dough to rest, covered with an overturned bowl or lightly greased plastic wrap, for 15 minutes.

    7) Use vegetable oil pan spray to lightly grease the pan(s) of your choice. Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan(s). The pan spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the olive oil gives the crust great flavor and crunch.

    8) Place the dough in the prepared pan(s). Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. You’ll probably get about two-thirds of the way there before the dough starts shrinking back; walk away for 15 minutes. Cover the dough while you’re away, so it doesn’t dry out.

    9) When you come back, you should be able to pat the dough closer to the corners of the pan. Repeat the rest and dough-stretch one more time, if necessary; your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible.

    10) Allow the dough to rise, covered, till it’s noticeably puffy, about 90 minutes (if it hasn’t been refrigerated); or 2 to 2 1/2 hours (if it’s been refrigerated). Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F.

    11) Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it looks and feels set on top, and is just beginning to brown around the edge of the crust, but is still pale on top. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza. If you’re baking two pizzas, reverse them in the oven (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through the baking period.

    12) To serve pizza immediately: Remove it from the oven, and arrange your toppings of choice on top. Return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, both top and bottom, and the cheese is melted. Check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough.

    We usually get two (kinda) circular pizzas out of a batch of dough, which is enough for the two of us to totally stuff ourselves on.  It also divides nicely into 4s for a good sized “personal pizza”.

    Also, if you like a thin crust pizza you don’t have to let it rise nearly as much as they say.  I generally get it stretched into shape on parchment papper, and then pre-heat the oven.  Once the oven is pre-heated (along with the pizza stone) in it goes!

    Making my own pizza sauce is next on the list of things I want to do.  We’ve been buying a “pizza sauce” sold by Wegmans, its WAY better than any “pizza” or “tomato” sauce I’ve previously tried for home-made pizza, but I’d really like to get this as much home-made as possible….



  • A White Christmas and gardening!

    I know, what a pairing right?

    I wasn’t sure we were going to have a white Christmas here, we often don’t, somehow always managing to have a thaw right before Christmas that melts the white stuff already on the ground.  Heck, some years we don’t get any snow till after January 1st, at which point Mother Nature makes up for her kindness by dumping feet of the stuff on us.  And sure enough, this past weekend we had temps in the 50′s with rain, resulting in all but the largest of snow piles melting into nothing.

    But this year the few flakes that were drifting out of the sky when we left to go to Christmas Eve dinner at my Inlaws had turned into full on white out conditions by the time we left to come home.  Its only a couple inches of snow, but it made driving home interesting.  Apollo’s thrilled though.

    Their family tradition is to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and this year my SIL planned to be spending Christmas dinner with HER Inlaws so the gifts chosen to open were the ones from her family to everyone else.  Her gift to us this year was a new “welcome” mat for our front steps.  Our current one is decidedly faded and worn.  Please note the “‘ around the word “welcome”.  Our current mat states “You read my door mat, thats enough social interaction for one day”.  THIS is the new one.  Which sent the entire family into gales of laughter when they read it.  I love it, but when I flipped it over, and stopped to read the attached “warning label” I laughed even harder:

    2013-12-25_08-21-50_999

     

    The other present I was handed last night was my belated Birthday gift from my MIL.  My birthday was last month and she completely forgot to get me anything, I told her not to worry about it, birthday dinner and cake was plenty, but she insisted.  She ordered several books off my Amazon Wish List, one of them Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock.

    I’ve been fascinated by the concept of winter gardening for a while, but the large majority of instruction and discussion on it that I’ve found has been done by folks in climates different from mine.  Someone on the west coast, or a zone and a half warmer than I, is going to have different success with different techniques that I would.  Technically we’re zone 5b, however I’ve repeatedly seen plants that are supposedly hardy to zone 5 not survive our winters.  So I was skeptical that any of the winter gardening techniques that I was seeing would work here.   The author of this book lives in the Rocky Mountains, and has recorded winter temps in his garden as low as -17.  So I figure if HE can do a winter garden with these techniques than I ought to be able to pull off something here.

    Husband practically lit up when he spotted me reading about winter grown broccoli last night.  After my one disastrous attempt to grow broccoli two summers ago I’ve not tried anything close since.  We may be trying again this next winter.  I will attempt to remember to blog about how what when and what the results are!



  • Pressure Canner Bleg

    So, my dad gave me his old Mirro Matic pressure canner (16qt, model 0406).  After some frustration I finally tracked down the correct gasket for it.  And I downloaded the basic Mirro manual that seems to apply to all their products.

    I’m looking for books on pressure canning please!  I have the Ball Book of Home Preserving of course, but is there anything else that you folks can recommend?  I don’t know that I’ll be doing anything hugely fancy, but Hubby and I were talking about canning chicken and bacon and the like….



  • Corn and updates

    Ok, the instructions I can find on growing corn state that once the silk dries the corn is ready to be picked.  But, can the weather force silk to dry early?

    To check on my corn I pulled this one ear:

    011The visible silk was totally dry.  Now obviously I have a fertilization problem, I planted these to closely together and so I will be hand fertilizing the remaining ears, but the kernels don’t look fully developed either?  Not that the screwy weather hasn’t helped….

    In other garden news I picked my first two zucchini this morning, I forgot to take a picture but they made 3 batches of zucchini bread…..

    There’s at least one nice looking baby cantalope, and at least one baby watermelon.  Pretty sure there’s a baby pumpkin.  Carrots are HAPPY, and there are at least a couple Hot Wax peppers and several Jalapeno’s.  So far no sweet peppers, but SOMETHING is eating the leaves, and I think I found the culprit:

    0075INFORMATION_STRIP_ON__TAG 29.85 inHg 64"F  07/15/13 05:02 AM  MYCAMER1I put this camera up in an attempt to watch the Ceder Waxwings that are nesting in that tree, the feeder contains raisens.  No luck catching the Waxwings, but look-it what I did see…..headed straight for my garden.  Why she’s only munching on the peppers and nothing else I have no idea….

    Two of the Waxwings:

    IMGP4721 IMGP4719

     



  • Donuts

    Posted on by Ruth

    I was skimming the GunBlogBlackList and someone had linked to this recipe.  Wasn’t smart enough to make note of who, sorry.  I think the virtual sugar high killed my brain.  I might have to give them a try…..



  • Homemade mustard update

    Original post here.

    The recipe information says its good for 30 days, and thats about what it lasted.  At about the 30day mark it started loosing flavor really quickly.  Which is fine, the recipe made more than enough for that time period for us. 

    2nd time making it I made a half recipe, since we didn’t use all of the first batch, and I used just a little less of each liquid (I didn’t measure sorry, maybe a teaspoon or two less) and it took much less time to turn the right consistency.