Saturday, January 23, 2010

Great Food Blogs

Here are a few blogs I enjoy. 'Tis the season for reading about gardening instead of doing it, and reading about recipes instead of making them..

101 Cookbooks. I made the homemade bouillon this week, it is a great cheat for making stock.

Food in Jars. If I don't have time to can I can at least look at pretty pictures of someone else doing it.

No Recipes. A terrific collection of international un-recipes.

Trout Caviar. Interesting recipes and foraging info, also where I learn about hunting and fishing if I should ever choose to take on such an activity.. I remember one of the food rules suggested to Michael Pollan by readers of the NYTimes. If you want to eat it, you should be able/willing to kill it. Agreed.

The Cottage Smallholder. Many unique recipes for preserves. Pine needle vinegar anyone? Also, pretty pictures of England.

Little House in the Suburbs. ... because they have goats in the back yard.

Dinner with Julie ... because it's Julie. Also: Kale Chips.

Just Hungry
. For all your MSG-free Japanese food recipe needs. Check out the furikake recipes; all kinds of toppings for rice that are easy to take on the road. I made the salted salmon; it was really tasty. Looking forward to trying it with local trout sometime.

Happy reading..

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have been doing a little sprouting lately. Yet another activity that is an unknown mystery to many but is in fact is easier than easy. Now, you really must try fresh sprouts. They are nothing like the ones in the store. They are sweet and tasty and more-ish. We do buy greens from the closest place possible over the winter, which is California most of the time, Hotchkiss if we are lucky, but I am still aware that they have been dying for a week before they get to me. And also, if they are from Hotchkiss, they are growing in a heated (read: heated by propane, most likely.. ) greenhouse in Canada in February, which is a bit ridiculous when you think about it. Next year I hope to get some micro greens going in the house over the winter months, but until then.. sprouts. A great way to get really fresh greens, and if you use beans, also a source of protein. I bought a package of Mumm's Spring Salad Sprouting Seed, which is a combination of Broccoli, Radish, Red Clover, and Alfalfa. This is the lazy way, as the package is 2.50 and if I bought the seeds in bulk it would cost pennies. In the end I'm glad I went with the mix though, as the radish sprouts are GOOD. If I had done my own mix it would have been mung beans, chickpeas, and lentils since that's what's in the cupboard.

To grow sprouts, put 3 Tbs. of seeds (more if they are beans, since beans are larger..) in a mason jar, and cover with water. Soak for 5 hours. Place cheese cloth over the opening, and secure with an elastic or a canning lid ring. Drain the water and rinse with new water. Drain again. Put the jar in the cupboard, and let the sprouts do their thing. Rinse once a day, and they will be ready in 2 or 3 days. I ate these with salad dressing, like a leaf salad. We also use them to make pad thai, and they are great in a sandwich with cream cheese.

I also tried my hand at seitan from scratch this week. Previously I have used 100% wheat gluten to make seitan, and found it a bit rubbery. I thought I would try it from scratch to see what the texture difference would be. To make seitan from scratch, you start with 6 cups of flour, make a dough, and immerse it in water. You then knead it under water, rinsing out the starch and only gluten will remain at the end. At least in theory. In reality, you are wrestling with a big blob of goo, and using gallons and gallons of water to rinse off the starch. Also, it takes about an hour of rinsing and kneading. Hmm.

Admittedly, the seitan that resulted was pretty tasty. Although it was almost too soft and broke apart easily. But after sitting in the fridge overnight it had a much better consistency. I made Balsamic-Braised Seitan with Winter Vegetables from Quick-Fix Vegetarian and it was really, really good. I had tried several similar recipes that used liquid smoke or dark beer to get a full flavour but they didn't compare with this one. My conclusion is that I'll work on finding a mix of homemade and pure gluten to get the best texture and to spend my time wisely.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bread of life

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of all feasts." - James Beard

This is Flax Seed Sourdough. As Cookie Monster would say, om nom nom nom...

On the menu this evening; fish en croute using puff pastry left over from the holidays. I used chard from the garden and pacific cod instead of the requisite spinach and flounder. It's challenging to figure out which fish are about to be trawled into oblivion and which are doing alright.. here is some great information about which seafood choices are the safest and most sustainable.

Perusing my favorite food blogs this evening, I came across this delightful article about a Persian food tradition. Isn't it beautiful?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kraut redux and other adventures

These are beets I put into our mini root cellar in September. Not bad, eh? As you can see, they went soft on the stem ends (where the sand is obviously sticking), but that leaves 3/4 of a beet for borscht! I guess this means I should have been more careful that there was no water or broken peel on the stem ends. Also, the 'cellar' spent September on the floor in our rather warm kitchen, as I was unwilling to lug it to the basement only to lug it back up in November when we moved. The remainder of the beets are not at all soft, and still tasty. The sand is a messy pain, as I suspected it would be. The last thing one wants to do is wash beets in a basin (to avoid getting it down the drain) and dumping it outside when it is - 25 C. I hope to switch to perlite when I find some at a reasonable cost.

Another experiment, fermenting in the cupboard. Poor E, every time he opens a cupboard or fridge door there is another unidentifiable concoction bubbling away...

This one is Kimchee-style kraut. I used this recipe again, but learned from my last failed attempt to add brine if salting the cabbage doesn't create enough liquid to cover the veggies. More in-depth information on the joys of letting cabbage go funky can be found here. I added garlic, ginger and Korean hot pepper powder, hoping that the potent combo will serve as an immune booster in a few weeks. The only unfortunate side effect (for those around you, anyway..) is garlic coming out your pores for a few hours.

Speaking of human being repellent... have you heard that eating a raw clove of garlic kills a cold? I started coming down with one a few days ago and tried a home remedy suggested by our Ethiopian friends.. crushed garlic in hot milk! Bleargh, you may be thinking. That's not too far off. However I found the addition of milk a vast improvement over chewing a raw clove by itself, which is the most common approach for insane/brave North Americans. The sniffles were gone 4 hours later.