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Scratched the Itch

18 Oct

After making pickles and pepper jelly, I got the itch to can.  So, I made some Green Tomato Jam with Vanilla and Ginger (with my gobs of leftover green tomatoes from the garden) and some homemade yogurt.  My mom said she got into yogurt-making when she was my age so I figured I better further domesticize myself.  I’d like to understand how this yogurt thing works.  It was fascinating.  The recipe basically requires that you boil milk.  Take it off the heat and add a big dab of yogurt.  Put the mixture in thermoses so that it stays warm for 5 hours.  Then put in jars to refrigerate.  It’s mind boggling.  It grows.  It’s a science experiment!

Secret: I did this while also washing cloth diapers in a NYC apartment.  No contamination, I swear.

BTW, a by-product of making yogurt (strained yogurt) is whey, which I can use for many things, including ricotta making… which is next.

Yes We Can!

7 Oct

Today, like a squirrel gathering nuts, I joined some friends to can for the wintertime. Frozen roasted tomatoes, canned pepper jelly, canned pickles. I probably need some freeze dried ice cream to round out my emergency storage of food. Or I need to start sewing homemade potholders to round out my Brooklyn-made, artisan products made in one’s kitchen.

Hot Pepper Jelly (via Katie)
5 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 green pepper — finely chopped
5 jalapeno peppers — minced
6 ounces liquid fruit pectin
Combine sugar and vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add
both peppers and return to a boil. Stir in pectin and boil one
minute. Strain liquid into a large bowl. Pour into hot, sterilized jars
and seal.
Yield: 6 half pints.
Spiced (not Spicy) Pickles (via Food and Wine)
3 pounds kirby cucumbers, halved lengthwise
6 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
2 to 3 dried red chiles
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 cups white vinegar, plus more if needed
1 cup water
10 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
  1. In one 2-quart heatproof jar or a few smaller jars,pack the cucumbers, cloves, bay leaves, chiles, peppercorns, coriander, mustard, fennel and cumin.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar with the water, garlic, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer until the salt and sugar dissolve. Ladle the pickling liquid into the jar; if necessary, add more vinegar to cover the cucumbers. Let the pickles cool, then cover with a lid and refrigerate until flavorful, about 3 weeks.

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Preparing for Winter

27 Sep

Since I was busy with my sweet baby while tomato season was peaking, I went on a tomato rampage at the coop today – grape, cherry, plum, heirloom, and beefsteak. And since I can only eat so many bacon tomato sandwiches in a day, I decided to spend my day preserving these delicious, juicy tomatoes for the upcoming fall/winter. I roasted them. Stay tuned for what I’ll do with these frozen beauties. In the meantime ill put them on a bacon/tomato Sammy. It’s what I do best.

Slice or halve tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with garlic. Roast at 225 degrees for two-three hours.

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My Transition Back to Cooking

5 Sep

It’s been a month. My gifted meals, going out with guests meals, and freezer meals I had prepared are running low. It’s time to figure out how to juggle cooking and Townes.

Below are two quick and easy meals that used this week to a) capitalize on the tomatoes in season here in NY and b) do some laissez faire cooking so that I could be more hands-free for Townes and his now-drooling, endlessly-peeing self. The credit goes to mom for these two recipes (second is her quote, directly).

Panzanella (Bread Salad) (teamed with Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Calzones from the freezer for jam’s protein fix):

1. Make homemade croutons: Take crusty (even stale) bread, tear into crouton-sized pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt/pepper. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

2. Toss croutons with tomatoes, mozzarella (I splurged and used buffalo mozzarella), basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Allow the juices to soak into tomatoes and bread (ie go change a diaper, pour a glass of wine, or get back to Bachelor Pad after the commercial break). When serving, top with some gigantic flakes of sea salt.

Homemade (Georgia-style!) BBQ:

I put the tenderloin* in a lasagna type pan. Drizzle a little** on pork. Seal with foil and put it in a 250 degree oven about 9 pm***. Next morning take out about 9 am and shred. Then add some foy’s to moisten the meat. Serve extra foy’s on the side with crusty rolls****. E

* Use a pork tenderloin. This makes for a really nice cut of meat – not fatty at all.

** Foy’s BBQ sauce (like I said, Georgia-style).

*** I reversed and started this at 8 am to be ready at 8 pm. You could also put it in a slow cooker if your apartment is bigger than mine and you have the room for one.

**** Mom uses these fresh/homemade hamburger buns from Publix grocery stores (Publix brand). I did my best to replicate. But, key here is to get a good roll – not Texas toast, not sliced bread, just something a little more decadent.

Tonight’s dinner:
– BBQ sandwich
– leftover Panzanella (without the bread part)
– leftover brownies

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Obvi: Pizza Dough

28 Aug

I’m now on a quest to make an exhaustive list of meals I can make my scouring my pantry or freezer. It’s officially time to get efficient, both with money and time. I want my week’s menu to be easy enough and not require a special trip to the grocery store. So, I continue my “Obvi” series of simple recipes that are easy, basic, and healthy.

Tonight I cleaned the vegetable drawer in my fridge. Fortunately, it’s August and I had some delicious seasonal goods from the farmers market. I bought a big hunk of mozzarella and used pizza dough I had in the freezer. The co-op sells bags of fresh pizza dough, but I will often make my own – cheap, easy, free able.

Although you can top a pizza with anything, I was inspired by Joy the Baker and fresh August produce so topped mine with tomatoes, bacon, corn, jalapeños, olive oil, and mozzarella cheese.

Other ideas:
– sausage, peppers, green leafs
– tomatoes, mozzarella, basil
– spinach, feta, red onions
– pesto, mozzarella, chicken

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Jane v. Giada

5 Feb

I think the competing devil and angel on my shoulders can be summarized as “the little creative, take life as it comes, be spontaneous, you love adventure and surprises” side and the “organize, order, prepare, and plan” side.  I am not yet sure which is angel and which is devil.  But I like to think many of the greats had similar competing forces on their shoulders (ie Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, etc.).

Anyways, the organized one (we’ll call her Jane) spent all day yesterday waking up early to beat the crowd at the co-op, making a pot of black beans for the week and a cilantro chutney for a dinner a week away, and creating a list of foods she’d have the ability to make throughout the week on her kitchen’s chalkboard (see exhibit a below).

But today, the creative one (we’ll call her Giada) came home, tired of compartmentalizing and planning and just said, “I’m hungry.”  And in light of the creative, work-with-what-you-have mentality I have been harnessing, I whipped up black bean, cilantro chutney, and sharp cheddar cheese quesadillas for lunch.  Note: That menu item is not listed on my planning chalkboard (exhibit a).  Giada wins today.

Cilantro Chutney

5 Feb

I recently took a cooking class at Miette Culinary Studio.  Specifically, I learned how to make Indian Street Food.  It was a fabulous class!  Jam and I are having friends over next weekend and I thought I would give my Indian food menu a shot.  So, I am tackling one of the things this weekend to get it out of the way.

Cilantro Chutney

Juice of 3 limes

1 medium red onion (chopped)

1.5 inch fresh ginger root (peeled and chopped coarsely)

2 cups tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves (2 bunches)

6-8 hot green chilis (or 2 jalapenos)

salt to taste

Wash the cilantro well (don’t remove stems).  Blend the onion, lime juice, and ginger into a smooth paste.  Now add the cilantro, green chilis, and salt to the paste and grind further to make the chutney.

(If you don’t add any water, will keep in your fridge for a few months.)

Good with samosas, over grilled chicken or fish, or even on a tomato and cheese sandwich.