• Category Archives Food
  • Home-made tomato sauce, first try

    Ok, this is mostly for my reference.

    Uncooked untrimmed, 1lb 3.5ounces of tomatoes (Black Plum).

    Cut out stem ends and weird spots.

    Pureed in food processor, skin and seeds on, raw.

    Simmered on stove w/glug of olive oil (didn’t measure, gonna regret that), a clove of garlic (Music), a little salt and oregano.

    Pureed again in food processor.

    Returned to stove to simmer to a slightly thicker consistency.

     Not quite filled 3 1/2 pint jars, which is fine, I planned to freeze this batch rather than can it.

    Haven’t tasted it yet, and I think I got a bit to much olive oil in it.  But it smells heavenly.  We’ll be doing home-made pizza tomorrow using it!

  • Mustard update

    Original post here.

    We’re still eating this mustard, much better than anything in the store.  The only issue is that I’m not always able to make up a new batch RIGHT as the last one goes off.  And sometimes when I can, we don’t need it right away.  We’re not huge mustard eaters, just like to have it in the house for occasional use.

    So I did some poking around and discovered that the Ball Book of Canning discusses canning mustard.  A look at their recipe, and mine has as much or more vinegar. 

    So last fall I canned up several 1/4 pint jars of mustard.  It worked perfectly except that I didn’t boil it down to the right consistency.  Not the end of the world, and easy enough to fix once you open it, but still annoying. 

    So today I jarred up another batch, and remembered to be sure to boil it down far enough.  For those of you thinking about doing this yourself, multiplying the original recipe by 2, boiled down to the right consistency (which I did on the stove as its easier to keep an eye on), makes exactly 6 1/4pint jars.

  • Chocolate ice cream

    So a couple days ago I posted about an easy home-made ice cream.

    Yesterday I wanted chocolate ice cream.

    And hey, what do you know, over the weekend I had bought a quart of Creamline Chocolate Milk as a treat for Husband.

    I used the chocolate milk instead of cream, but still added the sugar and vanilla.

    O.M.G. that is decadent chocolate ice cream.

    When Husband got home from work I made him some to try.

    Next weekend I have to buy some Popsicle molds and a gallon of Creamline chocolate milk, we both agreed that it would make the most decadent fudgicle Popsicle…..

  • Icecream in a hurry, without an icecream maker

    This was one of those things that goes around Facebook.  I mostly ignore them, but this one caught my eye.  Ice cream in a bag.

    We’ve debated getting an ice cream maker but for various reasons haven’t, among others, would we really use it enough to make it worth while?

    But at the same time there are times when I want ice cream and we don’t have any in the house, and I don’t want to run out to get some.  Plus some of the store bought stuff is less than stellar…….

    Ice Cream In a Bag

    1-quart sized ziplock

    In it put:

    1 cup of cream (or half and half, or even regular milk according to the comments on the recipe)

    2 tablespoons of sugar

    1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (or flavor of your choice)

    seal the small ziplock (squeeze the air out best you can) and put it in:

    1-gallon sized ziplock bag (I recommend a freezer bag, they’re sturdier)

    with enough ice to half fill said bag (took about 2.5 trays for me) and

    1/2 cup of salt (rock or other “chunky” salt works best, but I understand table salt works too)

    Seal the gallon ziplock (you don’t actually want to squeeze all the air out, just some of it) and “shake it for 5 minutes”.  Since my hands are cold sensitive I basically just kept flipping it over and over and over.

    At the end of 5 minutes pull the smaller bag out and rinse off the salt (don’t forget inside the lips of the seal!), I found it to be a bit soft to my taste for ice cream, but that’s probably perfect if you want to mix in chocolate chips or something.  Pour them into the ice cream back, seal it back up, and squish it around to mix them in.  I then put the ice cream bag into the freezer for 5 minutes while I cleaned up the mess from the ice, and refilled the trays.  After that point it was almost perfect, a bit firmer than soft-serve but not truly hard ice cream.

  • Storing homegrown produce–thoughts, ideas, bleg?

    Ok, so this  year I’ve got a decent sized garden.  No, its not big enough to truly support the two of us, but it IS big enough that we won’t be able to eat everything that it will (potentially) produce right away.

    I don’t have a good place to store much of this.  Some can be frozen sure, and some can be dehydrated, and some jarred, but some is better kept fresh if possible.

    I don’t have a basement to turn into a storage space, and the crawlspace isn’t an option, maybe if it was better insulated, but last winter proved its not insulated (much less sealed) enough to keep out the cold, much less the critters.

    The garage generally stays at least a few degrees warmer than the outside air in the winter (and the reverse in the summer), but thats not enough insulation in a normal winter, never mind one like this past winter.  Ditto the breezeway.

    In the winter the furnace stays set at 58-60 with the wood burning stove for when we want it warmer.  I planted thermometers around the house last winter and the only place that reliably stayed below 60 when we lit the stove was the master bath.  I’m not converting the master bath to food storage.  No where else came close, so even if we set the furnace to a lower temp as soon as the woodburning stove warmed up it’d be to warm.

    Obviously this is a problem we’ll have to eventually remedy, we might be able to insulate the workroom on the back of the garage for example, but not this year.

    Looking through storage requirements for the vegi’s we’re most likely to have the most of, most of them should be stored between 40-55 degrees.  Though humidity requirements vary a bit.

    Doing some looking around, and old fridges and freezers are cheap on craigslist.  If I add an external temperature controller, I can control the temperature of the fridge or freezer to stay within the range I want.  Humidity is a bit harder, but I think I can cope.  And the fridge wouldn’t have to run nearly as hard as usual since it wouldn’t be having to cool as far below room temp (somewhere in the 45degree range likely).

    Does that sound like a reasonable solution?  A fridge with a temp controller with me doing something to manage the humidity?  Or does someone have a better idea?

    *the link to Amazon is via my Amazon Associates account, if you buy something after clicking through that link I’ll earn a few pennies.

  • Copycat Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish

    Posted on by Ruth

    The other day I happened to catch the show ReWrapped on the Food Network.  I was bored, and they were playing around with the Cheddar Goldfish.  I love Goldfish crackers, so I had to watch.

    The guy who won the first half (challenge: recreate the Goldfish crackers) was getting statements like “if I closed my eyes I’d never know the difference”.  So I had to try the recipe.

    Ok, cause its me, I didn’t exactly follow his recipe.  Partially because I didn’t have 20oz of cheese on hand (seriously, a pound and a half of cheese??), I only had 16oz, so thats what I used.  Partially because I HAVE read the ingredients listing for the Goldfish crackers and I knew that they contained paprika and onion.

    They turned out really good.  But they’re not “close my eyes and not know the difference” good.

    I added a 1/4tsp of onion powder, and a bit less than 1/4tsp of paprika.

    I only used 16oz of cheese instead of the 20 he calls for.

    I didn’t make a goldfish cookie cutter, squares are just fine by me, plus it uses more of the dough.

    Although he doesn’t say it I highly recommend chilling your dough before cooking.  I chilled it for half an hour, rolled it out, cut it into squares (1/2″ or so), and chilled the squares for another 15minutes or so while the oven finished pre-heating.  Pulled out enough for the first batch, and put the rest back in the fridge.  One, the chilled dough is easier to work with, and two since we’re not using yeast the only leavening is the butter, and that works best when its chilled going into the oven.  I might even try putting the cut crackers into the freezer next time.

    When you’re cooking them make sure you space them out so that they aren’t touching each other.  With that much cheese in them they’ll melt together if they touch (yah, I did that with the first batch, the dogs loved them).

    I cooked mine at 350 for the full 15 minutes.

    I don’t know how well they’ll store, with that much fat in them.  None of mine lasted long enough for that to be an issue, but if you’re looking for something to make for snacks for the week I’m not sure this’ll work for you.

    Over all I liked them alot, and will likely make the recipe again.  But I’m still looking for that ideal copycat Goldfish recipe!

  • 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.



    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….