Archives for category: Cooking

Welcome. We are glad to meet you.
We welcomed 2014 with fires indoors and out. Gathering the wood for the outside fire was especially soulful for me. While not the same, it is similar to taking food from Nature. I am grateful for the trees.

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We enjoyed our traditional meal of ham (baked this year), hoppin’ John, and greens. I don’t know that any of us really believes that these foods will bring us health, fortune, or wealth. I do think we each enjoy knowing what to really expect a few days a year, New Year’s Day being one of those.

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We began our Three Kings Day conversations. We welcomed our newly made kings to the table with some folded stars and the Christ Candle from our Advent Spiral. We are grateful for the Light that led those Kings to honor a sweet baby king. We’ve only talked (and occasionally baked) about the day in the past years. I’m hoping it is something more memorable as we move into this new year.

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Rest is where our bodies and hearts are headed now. Rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Christmas seasons can be fraught with gift needs and wants, places to be, people to see. There are gifts wants and needs and people we would like to see, but no fraught (fret?). Not this year.

 

I grew up in a family with faults far too numerous to count and far too in the past now to dredge. But there were some really cool things, too, that I have chosen to carry into this moment in my life. Like the sincere appreciation for homemade gifts. So, many years I make some if not all of the gifts even when I know they are not appreciated. I had the recipient in mind through the process and so the gift is a piece of me on behalf of my family.

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This year there are not so many homemade things. I don’t know why. There just isn’t. And it’s OK. I’m not in the least bothered by it as I would have been in the past. I don’t know why. I’m OK with not knowing why.

 

My Husband comes about the holidays in a different way than I do. He likes to go and look a half dozen times and then pick up a few things here and there. Stealing a piece of a text with my Sister …

That’s a big part of what gets his mind in the right place for the holidays. Funny how I just want to be home and bake and make while he wants to be out and about. This year, for the first year, I am perfectly OK with whatever. I have no stress. So odd and awesome at the same time.

And I am OK with that. This year. Typically I get my granny panties all wadded up over it. Not this year. I don’t know why not this year, but not this year.

 

As I type this I am just laughing at myself. There is a brief squabble over what color the next loom band ornament should be. There is a science experiment debate over proper microscope management and there is a miniature schnauzer in desperate need of a good grooming on my lap. It’s comical. And I’m all good with that.

 

I am grateful for the odd and awesome.

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So the thing about new ferments/cultures is this … most of the time they are awesome but sometimes they suck.

 

Villi yogurt – awesome. Easy. Requires little thought. Tangy. Perfect. When it’s cold.

Milk Kefir – whoa. Not sure how to strain those grains yet, but the stuff is good. Feel free to tell me how to strain the grains without having my hands all in it. Delicious when cold. Excellent quickie smoothies. Cold.

Fermented Cranberry Sauce –  A hit on the extended family Thanksgiving table. My pickier-than-usual-adult Father-In-Law liked it. Seemingly a lot. I’d say it passed. Best room temperature.

Desem Sourdough Starter – just getting going, may be able to make bread by the end of the week. It prefers to sit on the mantle, nice and cozy.

True Pickled Eggs – SUCK. Now, in all fairness, I followed the video example of how to boil eggs in the link and I think this was the issue. I should have boiled them as I always do – one minute hard boiled, cut heat, cover pan, let sit for 15 minutes. Because these eggs SUCKED. I vomited after eating them. The yolks were barely set and saturated with salt. Nasty. So I take full responsibility for the fail. My first ferment fail. It happens to everyone. Right?

 

(Please do not forget to tell me how to separate the grains from the milk kefir without digging with my fingers.)

The past few days I have been ridiculously productive. This is no good. I am confident I am setting myself up to feel like a  failure when I do nothing. Probably today. No. Wait. Today starts Hanukkah! There is surely some crafting to do. Here are some of the ideas I have gleaned. And this is my favorite take on a menorah EVER. We’ll probably use leftover glass rather than buy anything. I don’t think God cares. I think He is joyful.

 

And there went my feeling of failing … I don’t know that experimenting with floating wick prototypes qualifies as doing nothing.

 

No. We’re not Jewish. We’re not pagan, either, but the children have celebrated Samhain before. And we’ll probably enjoy Muharram towards its end. I think it is fun and we learn. All of us. And not always things we wish to know. Knowledge, no less.

 

As for the fermented cranberry sauce? I will open it for a taste this afternoon. It *looks* like it “worked.” Monday, I started a gift for my Husband: true pickled eggs. They’re still sitting in the dark. The ones I made for him last year…eh.

 

The Villi yogurt has made a full quart. Eh. Not so crazy about the taste. But perhaps as the tang develops in the starter. In the meantime, I have a batch in the crockpot right now.

I like my milk like I like my tea – cultured.

 

This week I introduced a new ferment to our collection – milk kefir. I also started a new-to-me ferment of  Villi Yogurt and a new-to-me Desem Sourdough sponge. All were purchased from Cultures for Health. I add these to my ongoing attempts at Living Foods which includes kombucha , of which I have now proclaimed myself a master.

And the day after the fresh starts… guess what I receive from a darling friend? This recipe for Fermented Cranberry Sauce. Yes! I did get cranberries for this recipe and YES I will begin the ferment today. Right after I drain my yogurt for its whey… Of course, I don’t use the canned stuff that Thug Kitchen warns against. (Read that post. It is freaking hi-larious!)

 

And, oh yeah. I also read Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation. (Be cool. Buy it from the publisher, won’t ya?) Watch out dear family. Kraut and kimchi are next on the list. And I may even start miso.

 

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We enjoyed an incredible dinner last night centered around a Copper River Salmon flown in from Pike’s Place Market. The unpasteurized Maryland crab cocktail served before was my favorite. And the fresh Maine lobster shared with my Husband after was a sweet ending.

While enjoying a Dreaming Tree red, cab I think, DMB songs began reeling through my mind.

As the conversation turned to flying to Ocracoke with another couple, this song took my mind and there it has been since.

Our windows are still open and I am grateful. My body aches to the core when the air conditioning is on.

But our windows open has little to do with dinner on the go. A little. Just not a lot of a little.

It’s baseball season and with two playing in a city rec league (Forgive me Father, I know what we do. We pay our property taxes there, that is my only weak defense.), so with two boys in rec league, we often have several evenings to enjoy games. Add in tennis, golf, or swim team practices beforehand and we are leaving the house at 330p not to return until 930p.

We’re not often going to eat out. It’s not good for us, teaches convenience over value, demonstrates poor time management, and there just isn’t time. So I pack dinner these evenings.

The kids each have a Tupperware Lunch ‘n’ Things container. These are the greatest bento-like boxes ever. Tupperware no longer makes them but there are lots on Amazon and eBay.

I stack these in an insulated market tote cooler with two large reusable ice thingies. It all fits in one cooler just right with a blanket, cloth napkins, and silverware.

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I try to vary what I pack. Last night was grilled herbed chicken with veg strips and a peach. Tonight is rosemary and chive beef patty (aka hamburger steak) with salt and vinegar home fries and, of course, veg strips.

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And I try to have something quick and easy and cool for when we walk in the door so late. Yesterday I made a chicken pasta salad from last weekend’s grilled chicken. It was just right to sit and eat on the deck.

And that is the best part of packing dinner to go. We come home to a clean and calm house with no hurry or worry. I am grateful.

I also keep a snack bin in the truck. Sometimes it is pre-made (goldfish, lance crackers, etc) but usually it is homemade (granola bars, fruit leather, pretzels, protein balls). At this moment it is both. But all those glass and Tupperware containers, while ideal because they cut down on waste, are not always ideal for on-the-go.

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So to combat the commercialism of food, I will be wrapping my own. I bought this FoodSaver today. I hope to give it a try over the next few weeks. I am thinking it will be most ideal for granola bars and fruit leather. I’ll surely share.

I really like kombucha. Really like it. So does my Husband. So do most of the children. As I become braver in experimenting with teas and second fermentation flavors, I am finding more fans.

The four gallons I harvested today were all made with English breakfast tea and green tea. Plain and room temperature, the flavor is softer than with the Lipton tea with which I began.

I am out of ginger (the horror!) and so I made only straight berry flavors – raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and combinations of each. The new flavor I set to second ferment is Strawberry-Lemon. MMMMmmmm.

Fermented-ly Yours,
Patty

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I am still in my apron. Loaves of fresh bread, kombucha shared, visits with friends as Frontier is picked up, seventy degrees. Enough said.

And I must.

My heart is tugging on me to blog but I can’t keep my thoughts in one direction enough to know what I really want to blog. So I’ll just lay down what is on my mind at this moment.

I just processed the meat from the buck Reade took. I am grateful I know how to do that and have the experience from last year with my Husband to know what to do by myself this year. I should have involved Reade, but really this was just one of those things that I had been putting off and today seemed like a good day to do it, so why bother with extra hands? I know I shortchanged him.

While cleaning up the blood on the grinder, counter, and sink, I was reminded of Walt’s leg wound and how no doctor ever said anything about it in the show. You see, I am not much of a TV person and would truly be fine if the TV disappeared before the end of this post. Yet there is this show my Husband and I have recently started watching. He was up early over the weekend and flipping through the Apple TV and decided to watch the Breaking Bad pilot. I watched the next episode the next morning with him before the kids woke. And, well, a few very early mornings with coffee, together we have watched almost all of Season 1. I will not say I “love” it as I do not love any television. However, it is very engaging. Only because the characters could possibly real people.

And that thought of the horrors, very real ones in their own way, of that show lead me to think of my recent reading of The Hunger Games. I didn’t think I’d ever read it much less want the kids to read it. But the oldest received a Nook for Christmas and the only thing he wanted to read on it was that damn book. After a few weeks, I caved. And read it very quickly. As did I. And we were able to discuss it along the way and even now as he is into the next book. I still think it is a WRETCHED story and in my opinion its only redeeming value is its anti-government themes. I can even relate the fictional stories as real-right-now-happening-to-us moments regarding the Capitol and the Gamemakers. But those are children. It is the most distasteful thing I have ever read. I cannot get over the fact that it has won so many children’s book awards. That honestly disgusts me. And it disgusts me that my two oldest have read it. Honestly, I have shame.

And if it were possible to have covered my eyes and ears through much of the book, I would have. Just like I do in many parts of Breaking Bad.

See, I am not a violent person as the government tried to convince the public that anarchists are. I can’t watch movies like Fight Club, Nightmare on Elm Street, or even Apocalypse Now. Not that only violent people like to watch those things. I just don’t. I don’t like to read or see fictional things when people are struggling with physical or moral challenges. I won’t even read the book where the man interviews a dying man. I won’t do it. There are plenty of real life, everyday moments where suffering must be endured… knowing a precious friend suffered a tremendous loss in death. knowing I couldn’t keep a loved one from suffering in death longer than she wanted. knowing that people cannot be mended. knowing that the end of today will bring one less day with my family. knowing that my government wants to enslave me in a tighter cell than I am already in. knowing that my President and much of the elected class despises me and everything that I believe to the depth of my soul.

Why would I seek more pain? Why would I intentionally subject myself to such horror?

And now, after all those words…as I see the sky darkening and outdoor chores left to be done…my words are gone. All I can think of at this moment is this song…

There is Victory in Jesus