Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mind Blowing Recipe

Stuffed Potato Patties

When I first read that, I assumed it would be Pierogi like in nature. Not at all! The mashed potato is the dumpling, and the filling is cheese! Need to make these SOON.

Saving Some Links

Louisa May Alcott's Apple Slump
Medieval Apple Tart
Random Apple Recipes
Basic Dessert Egg Rolls
Eat Wild -- a site to help find grass fed meats and eggs
Growing Herbs for the Medicine Cabinet
Eating Out of Your Pantry

Just cleaning up my browser!

Making Soup

Finally, it is soup weather yet again! The fact that it is raining only makes it more so, in my book. This'll be an odd soup -- with bits of odds 'n' ends as well as parts of recipes. N.B. the camera was out of batteries, so there are no pics. :-(

Two of the basic soup recipes that I based this upon are Five Bean Soup from Tasty Kitchen and Ree Drummond's (a.k.a. Pioneer Woman) Roasted Vegetable Minestrone.

To begin with, I soaked equal amounts of Great Northern, Black, Red, and Roman beans in water for about 7 hours. I then drained the beans, and put them back in the pot with 5 c. of beef broth and 1 c. water. Brought the whole thing to a boil, then lowered to a simmer for 2 hours.

While the beans are heating up, I chopped off an inch on a package of bacon (so perhaps 2 slices total?), set that to frying, and chopped a small red onion, approximately 2 cloves of garlic, and small shallot. The shallot I threw directly into the soup, but the onion and garlic I fried in bacon fat before adding to the soup. I also added the following spices to the soup: 2 bay leaves, ground cumin, and paprika.

After adding all of the fried things to the soup, I chopped up four Andouille sausage, and fried them in the bacon fat as well (adding a little olive oil if it needed it). As my frying pan is on the small side, I fried them two at a time.

While the sausage was frying, preheating the oven to 500F, I chopped up the lone remaining Zucchini from weeks ago (into long quarters, and then into chunks), threw it in a baking pan, covered it with olive oil and salt, and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes, until it was all pretty and browned. Optional: when taking the zucchini out of the oven, have the fire alarm go off, and hold the pan outside the back door in the rain until the alarm turns off.

After the sausage has finished frying and is beautifully browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside (I put it in with the zucchini). Also, chop a handful of green beans, and set aside. All that is left is waiting on the beans.

After about an hour and a half, start checking the beans for done-ness. When they are soft, they are done. If they still crunch a little, leave them be.

When the beans are fully cooked, add the sausage, zucchini, green beans, ~8 oz. of tomato sauce (leftover from the Lasagne Tart), and ~6 oz. mild salsa. After mixing this all in, check for flavor levels. I wound up adding more ground cumin, pepper, and smoked paprika.

This was served with cheddar cheese, and corn bread.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My New Schedule

As the hours at my work are being cut, I now only work 3-4 times a week, I put all my work days in a row (unless I'm covering for someone), and I have evenings and mornings free. Take today for an example.

For some reason, there are an ungodly amount of alarms for Mister. He had one set for 8 am (that I think he forgot about), the two that I set for him at 8:30 and 8:45 (when he did get up), and one for 9:30 (when he wanted to be at work, and when he actually hopped into the shower after running it for freaking 20 mins). After he left just before 10, I got up and went to the comp.

I leisurely read my emails, webcomics and blogs, then put two pots of water on the stove. One for oatmeal (with some rose hips in the water), and one for tea (there isn't a kettle in this apartment). I then hopped in the shower. After using all of the lovely care products that I love (and haven't been using lately due to lack of time), I went and fixed tea, and threw oatmeal into the other pot to cook.

I then came over to the comp again, and wrote my posts, while cooking and then eating my oatmeal and tea. It is now time to get dressed and head to work to be there by 11:30.

I feel so rich in time! I have never had this! I am absolutely in love with this leisurely wake up and get ready. Hopefully I'll continue to use it instead of just sleeping in :-P.

Lots of Food!

Although I haven't been posting of late, I've been taking lots of pics. It's to the point that when I set a dish on the table, and go running for the camera, Mister goes "No! I want to eat this, and I want to eat this now! Are you going to delay my eating this?!"

So first up, is the Zucchini/Ricotta Cheesecake, or, as Mister has dubbed it: "Zu-quiche-y" (feel free to add your own spelling... as that looks retarded).

Isn't that beautiful? I am in love with the way that looks. I also added a WW crust to make it more quiche-like. However, if I was to make it again, I would play around with different flavors. This particular one has dill and lemon zest -- was not a fan of that combo. Perhaps some warmer spices now that we're heading to fall -- coriander and bay? But bay works best when infused... perhaps bay-infused olive oil? I'll have to play.

So, all in all, tasty, but redesigning is due.

Next up for food is the Bacon/Cheese Scones.

A couple of notes on this recipe as it turned out. Firstly, there were three substitutions. We only had WW flour in the house, so in it went. As I was using a ghetto kitchen and a) didn't feel up to cutting in butter and b) added the eggs before the butter 'cause I'm an idiot, I melted the butter before adding it. Also, I am not a fan of swiss, so I used Extra Sharp Cheddar. (This one was not a surprise to Mister, as I left the recipe up. So while I'm mixing away in the kitchen, he goes "Are you going to use the Marigaux?" "What?" "It calls for Swiss. Are you using the Marigaux?" "Oh no. I'm using cheddar!" "Oh, ok.")

This was a very tasty recipe, but if I were to do it again, I would probably add more STUFF. More bacon (I used half a pound and could barely taste it), more cheese, and probably more butter. The WW flour added a nice touch, and I have no complaints on that front (although it may be the cause of my need for more dairy).

And here's where my week of food fell awry. Thursday, after having the most productive day of my life on Wednesday (don't ask how much laundry I did. Really, don't), and getting up early to make scones and then go to a doctor's appt., I then goofed off the rest of the day with a friend M. So when Mister came home from work and was like OMGSTARVING I had nothing even close to ready to be cooked. And I was a little over the joy of cooking, so I suggested that we eat out. This lead to an hour of nothing. Of me going "HUNGER" and him going "THINKING" and nothing actually happening. This lead to us going out to a place down the street which wasn't what he wanted, but it was there, and the both of us being in kind of bad moods.

I have never had such a clear delineation of why a meal plan is such a good idea. Wednesday was beautiful and wonderful, and Thursday was hell on wheels. So back to the grindstone it was!

While kicking around the house Friday, I dried in a low oven some rose hips that I had gathered.

Friday I was working in the evening, but I had planned Lasagne Tart. So I prepped and got it all set for Mister to pop in the oven when he got home (and he was going to bring me some at work). I even took WIP pics!

Having sliced the zucchini (on the cheese slicer part of my box grater -- never again slicing with a knife!), and tossed it with salt, it is draining.

Had some leftover crust from the ZuQuiche-y, so rolled it out for the tart. Note to self, WW flour sucks in a crust. It was hell. Literally. And the fact that I was using an empty Brandy bottle for a rolling pin... (Mister was like, "Most people go out and get a rolling pin!" I was like "well, most people learned how to make do when you're in the middle of doing something!")

The layering went off without a hitch, and here it is, ready to go into the oven.

Here it is after being cooked and nommed. Thoughts on this recipe: omit the crust. Unnecessary, and wound up not being overly tasty. ... I think that's it. It was very tasty overall.

This weekend we went out a fair amount (mostly because I love going out for Breakfast and such), and we've made a goal to not eat out this week. It is also Mister's turn to cook this week. He offered, and I accepted. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Giveaway Entry

Over at Food for my Family, a giveaway is going on. For tea and tea mugs, to be precise. Now, as I love tea, and have been wanting to try Mighty Teas for a while (since their logo is so cute!), I would love to enter.

That being said, the ONLY TWO FRIGGIN' OPTIONS to enter involve either tweeting it, or putting it on facebook. Neither of which, I am happy to say, I use. So, I'm blogging about it, and we'll see if that's good enough.

... I would attach of photo of some tea that I had at work, but cannot get the USB phone - comp. working...


So I have finished knitting the first of a pair of socks. My first ever! Yay! It only took me about 4 days. I kept squee-ing all last night about it. :-P

It was a hybrid pattern, involving this as the main pattern, with a little bit of this cable thrown in. If I'd ever like to recreate it, here are the steps. Note, I used 2.75 mm DPNs.

Info From Knitty on Pattern:

One size will fit an average adult foot.
Alternate directions are given for a larger leg (see Finished Measurements below).

Foot Circumference: Will comfortably stretch to fit up to 10 inches
Leg Circumference: Will comfortably stretch to fit up to 11.5 inches
With option for larger leg, will comfortably stretch to fit 12.5 inches.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 [100% superwash merino wool; 360yd/325m per 115g skein]; color: Moss; 1 skein

2 US #1/2.5mm circular needles, 20 inches or longer
Stitch markers
Split ring marker or safety pin (optional)
Tapestry needle

33 sts / 46 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Stitches to Know:
M1R (right-leaning increase): Insert left needle, from back to front, under strand of yarn which runs between last stitch on left needle and first stitch on right needle; knit this stitch through front loop. 1 stitch increased.

M1P (purl increase): Insert left needle, from front to back, under strand of yarn which runs between last stitch on left needle and first stitch on right needle; purl this stitch through back loop. 1 stitch increased.

Any other stitch questions can be answered here.

Using the Magic Cast-On, CO 8 sts onto each of 2 DPNs.

Set-up Round 1: Kfb, k3, (new needle) k3, kfb, (new needle), kfb, k3 (new needle), kfb, k3. 20 sts. Place a marker to show the beginning (I used a safety pin). You should have the 20 sts on 4 DPNs, with a 5th to knit with.

K 1 round.

Toe Increase Round: [K to 4 sts before new needle, M1R, k8, M1R, k to end of needle] twice. 4 sts increased.

Repeat these 2 rounds 9 times more. 60 sts: 15 sts on each needle.

Work in pattern until work measures approx. 4.25 inches less than desired foot length (I did 4 total repetitions of the pattern).

k4, p1. C4F (2 sts to front, k2, k2 from front), p1, k4, p1
p1, k4, p1, C4F ("" "" ), p1, k4
[k4, p1, k4, p1, k4, p1
p1, k4, p1, k4, p1, k4
k15] 3x
k4, p1. C4F (2 sts to front, k2, k2 from front), p1, k4, p1
p1, k4, p1, C4F ("" "" ), p1, k4
[k4, p1, k4, p1, k4, p1
p1, k4, p1, k4, p1, k4
k15] 7x

Round 1: K4, p1, C4F, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, C4F, p1, k4; k1, M1R, k to last st on Needle 4, M1R, k1. 62 sts.

Rounds 2-3: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.

Round 4: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, [kfb] twice, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k4; k1, M1R, k to last st on Needle 4, M1R, k1. 66 sts.

Rounds 5: K4, p1, C4F, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k4, k2 tbl, k2, p1, C4F, p1, k to end of round.

Rounds 6: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k4, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.

Round 7: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, kfb, k2, kfb, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of Needle 2; k1, M1R, k to last st on Needle 4, M1R, k1. 70 sts.

Rounds 8-9: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k1, p1, k2, p1, k1, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.

Round 10: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, kfb, p1, k2, p1, kfb, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of Needle 1; k1, M1R, k to last st on Needle 4, M1R, k1. 74 sts.

Rounds 11: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k2, C4F, k2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.

Rounds 12: K4, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k4, k2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.

Round 13: K4, p1, C4F, p1, k2, k2 tbl, place marker, kfb, p1, k4, p1, kfb, place maker, k2 tbl, k2, p1, C4F, p1, k4; k1, M1R, k to last st on Needle 4, M1R, k1. 78 sts.

Rounds 14: K4, p1, k4, p1, l2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.

Rounds 15: K4, p1, k4, p1, l2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, C4F, p1, k2, k2 tbl, k2, p1, k4, p1, k to end of round.
2x1 Rib is now established over sts between markers that aren't occupied with the cable.

From this point, increases on Needle 1/2 will be worked every second round (instead of every third). Increases on Needle 3/4 are complete.

Next Round: K continuing cable pattern to 2 sts before first marker, k2 tbl, kfb, work in 2x1 rib + cable in the middle as set to 1 st before next marker, kfb, k2 tbl, k in cable pattern to end of Needle 2; k all sts on Needles 3 + 4. 2 sts increased.

Work 1 round in pattern as set.

Repeat these 2 rounds 8 times more. 96 sts: 56 sts on Needle 1/2 and 40 sts on Needle 3/4. 28 sts between markers.

Next Round: K continuing cable pattern to 2 sts before first marker, k2 tbl, kfb, work in 2x1 Rib + cable in the middle as set to 1 st before next marker, kfb; remove marker and sl remaining 14 sts from Needle 2 to Needle 3; k2 tbl, k continuing cable pattern 12 sts, k to end of Needles 3 + 4, k first 14 sts from Needle 1 onto Needle 4, removing marker. 30 sts on Needle 1 + 2 and 68 sts on Needle 3 + 4. (I wound up shifting it around so that Needle 1 had the first 30 sts, and 2-4 had the remainder divided up.)

Work in 2x1 Rib as set to end of Needle 1.

Heel will be worked back and forth over sts on Needles 2-4 only, as follows:
Row 1 [RS]: K48, W&T.
Row 2 [WS]: P28, W&T.
Row 3 [RS]: K27, W&T.
Row 4 [WS]: P26, W&T.

Rows 5-22: Continue in stockinette st, working each short row 1 st shorter than the last. Row 22 is 8 sts long. (As I dropped a stitch, I slid it onto either 2 or 4, depending on which side I was dropping. Row 22 has 8 sts on Needle 3 only.)

Row 23 [RS]: K19, working wraps together with wrapped sts. Turn work (do not wrap st).

Row 24 [WS]: Sl 1, p29, working wraps together with wrapped sts. Turn work.

The 30 sts at the center of Needle 2 will form the heel flap. There are 19 gusset sts on each side of these heel flap sts.

Row 25 [RS]: Sl 1 with yarn held to back of work, p1, [k2, p1] 9 times, ssk. Turn work.

Row 26 [WS]: Sl 1 with yarn held to front of work, k1, [p2, k1] 9 times, p2tog. Turn work.

Repeat these 2 rows 17 times more. 32 sts on Needle 2.
Work Row 25 once more, but do not turn work. 31 sts on Needle 2.

(Note, I think I wound up doing these rows more than 18x, I merely kept going until I had 32 sts on Needles 2-4.)

Next Round: Work all sts on Needle 1 in 2x1 Rib + cable in the middle as set; k2tog, work to end of Needle 2 in 2x1 Rib as set. 60 sts: 30 sts on each needle.

If larger leg is desired, proceed to optional directions below.
Work in 2x1 Rib as set until leg is desired length. Loosely BO all sts in pattern. (And I do mean loosely -- I had to take out my binding and re-bind it.)

Optional Directions for Larger Leg:
Next Round: [Kfb, p1, work in 2x1 Rib as set to last st on needle, kfb] twice. 64 sts.
Next Round: [K1, work in 2x1 Rib as set to last st on needle, k1, M1P] twice. 66 sts.
Work in 2x1 Rib as set until leg is desired length. Loosely BO all sts in pattern.

Saving Some Links

Home Made Lime Cordial
Home Made Bitters

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post Grocery Store

[When doing a quick search for a pic of a grocery store, I found the above image -- cute, eh?]

I'll start this post by saying that I saved over $9 just by using my card. Smart shopping, eh? The not-so-smart part involves still spending $45.52.

So I bought all of the groceries that I had on my list, and a few other things that were a) on sale and b) something we needed.

Little carton of "Baby Dill", 1 lemon (on sale), fig spread, small log of chevre, dried beans (black, roman, great northern, and red beans), 2 jars of Classico Tomato/Basil (BOGO -- the marinara with olive oil variety? Has three types of oil. Who the f*** needs three types of oil in marinara?!), Barilla pasta (50% off -- rotini, mezze penne, and gemelli), Dragone ricotta (66% off), Dragone mozzarella (also 66% off), 1 donut (which I ate in the store... don't judge), and my favorite item on this receipt: (under the Processed Meat heading) "Mngr Sp Selfsrv" otherwise known as Falafel chips. Yep.

So now the only thing to do in regards to my meal plan this week is get a nice recipe for bean soup.

Monday, September 13, 2010


As it is trash day tomorrow morning, I cleaned out the fridge, and took stock of what's in there. (I also discovered that Mister DOES have ketchup and mustard -- which I was lamenting all summer that he didn't...) To keep track of my plans involving food, I'm just gonna throw stuff at this post.

Monday: leftover chicken stew
Tuesday: leftover pancake for breakfast, fried sausage for dinner (perhaps a starch of some sort as well?)
Wednesday: Eggs/bacon for breakfast, fried pickles for lunch, Zucchini/Ricotta cheesecake for dinner
Thursday: bacon/cheese scones for breakfast, hummus/chips for lunch, pizza for dinner
Friday: brekkie? Lasagne Pie for dinner (but with the top coat of mozz.)
Saturday: brekkie? blackbean/andouille sausage soup w/ corn bread for dinner
Sunday: brekkie? Sausage Kebabs for dinner

Shopping List: more ricotta, dill?, lemon, eggs, goat cheese?, tomato sauce, dried beans, fig preserves, cherry tomatoes, pita chips

Also, here are some interesting recipes:


Ingredients; I use mostly organic prepared ingredients because they contain far fewer ingredients/additives and generally no wheat or other gluten laced additives.

1 lb of 1/4" sliced organic Andouille Sausage. I used the Uncle something or another brand that's readily available.
8 cups of low sodium organic chicken broth
1 head Kale washed, chopped in strips and remove tough stems
4 roma tomato's, drained, seeded, and diced
2 cans of white beans washed and drained
1 large white onion chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
Kosher salt at the end so not to over salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2-3 cap fulls of balsamic or red wine vinager
2 thick cut Russett Potato's or Yukon Gold (Wait a little longer to add the Yukon as they are much softer...much tastier as well)

Brown sausage in large soup pot
Add chopped onion to pot and cook for 2 minutes
Add garlic and potato chunks and sautee for 2 minutes
Add Kale and sautee for 2-3 minutes stirring until wilted evenly coated
Add chicken broth and vinegar and bring to a boil and then simmer with cover for 40 min.
Add chopped tomato, white beans, and kosher salt and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes or until desired doneness.

Serve with warm crusty bread or corn bread. Enjoy!

Dill Pickle Soup (Zupa Ogorkowa)

And some lovely Wiki info:

Hot soups

Shchi (cabbage soup) had been the predominant first course in Russian cuisine for over a thousand years. Although tastes have changed, it steadily made its way through several epochs. Shchi knew no social class boundaries, and even if the rich had richer ingredients and the poor made it solely of cabbage and onions, all these "poor" and "rich" variations were cooked in the same tradition. The unique taste of this cabbage soup was from the fact that after cooking it was left to draw (stew) in a Russian stove. The "Spirit of shchi" was inseparable from a Russian izba (log hut). Many Russian proverbs are connected to this soup, such as Shchi da kasha pishcha nasha ("Shchi and porridge are our food"). It can be eaten regularly, and at any time of the year.
The richer variant of shchi includes several ingredients, but the first and last components are a must:
Meat (very rarely fish or mushrooms).
Carrots or parsley roots.
Spicy herbs (onions, celery, dill, garlic, pepper, bay leaf).
Sour components (smetana, apples, sauerkraut, pickle water).
When this soup is served, smetana is added. It is eaten with rye bread. During much of the year when the Orthodox Christian Church prescribes abstinence from meat and dairy, a vegan version of shchi is made. "Kislye" (sour) schi are made from pickled cabbage (sauerkraut), "serye" (grey) schi from the green outer leaves of the cabbage head. "Zelyonye" (green) schi are made from sorrel leaves, not cabbage, and used to be a popular summer soup.

Ukha is a warm watery fish dish, however calling it a fish soup would not be absolutely correct. "Ukha" as a name for fish broth was established only in the late 17th to early 18th centuries. In earlier times this name was first given to thick meat broths, and then later chicken. Beginning from the 15th century, fish was more and more often used to prepare ukha, thus creating a dish that had a distinctive taste among soups.
A minimum of vegetables is added in preparation, and in classical cooking ukha was simply a rich fish broth served to accompany fish pies (rasstegai, kuliebiaka, etc.). These days it is more often a fish soup, cooked with potatoes and other vegetables. A wide variety of freshwater fish is traditionally used.

Rassolnik is a hot soup in a salty-sour cucumber base. This dish formed in Russian cuisine quite late—only in the 19th century. About this time the name rassolnik was attached to it, originating from the Russian word "rassol" which means brine (pickle water). Pickle water was known to be used as base for soups from the 15th century at the latest. Its concentration and ratio with other liquids and soup components gave birth to different soups: solyanka, pohmelka, and of course rassolnik. The latest are moderately sour-salty soups on pickled cucumber base. Some are vegetarian, but more often with products like veal or beef kidneys or all poultry giblets (stomach, liver, heart, neck, feet). For best taste there has to be a balance between the sour part and neutral absorbers (cereals, potatoes, root vegetables). Typical rassolnik is based on kidneys, brine (and pickles), vegetables and barley.
Kal'ya was a very common dish first served in the 16th–17th centuries. Subsequently it almost completely disappeared from Russian cuisine. Often it was incorrectly called "fish rassolnik." The cooking technique is mostly the same as of ukha, but to the broth were added pickled cucumbers, pickle water, lemons and lemon juice, either separately or all together. The main characteristic of kal'ya is that only fat, rich fish was used; sometimes caviar was added along with the fish. More spices are added, and the soup turns out more piquant and thicker than ukha. Formerly kal'ya was considered a festivity dish.

Solyanka is a thick, piquant soup that combines components from schi (cabbage, smetana) and rassolnik (pickle water and cucumbers), spices such as olives, capers, tomatoes, lemons, lemon juice, kvass, salted and pickled mushrooms are make up a considerably strong sour-salty base of the soup. Solyanka is much thicker than other soups, about 1/3 less liquid ratio. Three types are distinguished: meat, fish, and simple solyanka. The first two are cooked on strong meat or fish broths, and the last on mushroom or vegetable broth. All the broths are mixed with cucumber pickle water.

Lapsha (noodle soup) was adopted by Russians from Tatars, and after some transformation became widespread in Russia. It comes in three variations: chicken, mushroom, and milk. Cooking all three is simple, including preparation of noodles, cooking of corresponding broth, and boiling of noodles in broth. Noodles are based on the same wheat flour or buckwheat/wheat flour mix. Mixed flour noodles go better with mushroom or milk broth.

Borsch is made of broth, beets, and tomato juice with various vegetables. Vegetables include onions, cabbage, tomato, carrots, and celery. Broth is usually made from beef and is heated while ingredients are added. Borsch can be made vegan, served hot or cold. Typically, it is served with white bread and Smetana.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pasta Sauce

Mister and I made the most delicious pasta sauce last night. Well, I suppose we just edited an already good one, as we did start with a jar of sauce to begin with. I just took some pictures of the ingredients as I'm one of the cool kids now.

We started with one unopened, and one mostly gone jar of sauce.

(Note, as I took the photo today, that is actually filled with our new sauce.)

Mister got the sauce warming up while I chopped a cute, little red onion that I bought at the Farmer's Market yesterday,

And threw it in a pan with some olive oil (the bottle on the left in the picture).

I let it cook down until soft and translucent, then threw in some 80/20, grass-fed, ground beef. (No pic -- it was not a pretty color anyways.)

While this was going on, Mister was carefully tending his tomato sauce and added some bay leaf, and ground all-spice. (There is also our pepper grinder in the photo -- it was used later.)

When the ground beef was cook thoroughly, we combined the two.

Now, since I'm a simple cook, I went "meat and sauce = tasty!" and I would have left it there. But oh no, that wasn't enough for Mister. It still needed something. So he tinkered with the spices. Added pepper. Added more All-Spice. Added some of the extra tasty olive oil (the bottle on the right from the pic above). And then he started talking about how if only we had wine. I said 'no'. He continued: "Maybe we could add some of your Grape Mulled Cider." I said, "no". He went on: "I know! We should add bourbon!" When I tried to put my foot down again and tell him to leave tastiness alone, he went and fetched the bottle...

... and proceeded to do a little test with a smidge of bourbon, and a smidge of sauce. He mixed, went OMG and passed the spoon. I agreed it wasn't bad (like I was expecting), but that he certainly wasn't allowed to put that much in. He agreed, and stirred in 1/8 c. bourbon. Finis! We let it simmer for a bit, let it cool for a bit, and then packed it back into its jars (it nearly filled both of them), and put it in the fridge.

... so now I REALLY REALLY want to make pasta and sauce. Especially because Mister's at work and it'd be ALL MINE!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pickle Party Results

So I had J and M over to taste the pickles that I made a month ago. The party is over, and it definately looks like good times were had!

We wound up having nibbles all evening (pita chips, hummus, bread, two cheeses, cherry tomatoes, chocolate, and my grape mulled cider), and so dinner never actually was made. As an aside, we went through one whole quart of cider -- it only makes three mugs. I need to make more!

But, we all had nibbles of pickles as well, and I sent each girl home with a jelly jar of pickles (whatever their favorite was).

As you can see, the first batch, the Bread and Butter, was not well received. The common thought is that there is too much mustard seed, and they might be good on sandwiches (thanks J for that suggestion!). The next batch, the Montego Boy, was J's favorite. It was fairly sweet, but still tasty and flavorful. The last batch, the Sweet Pickle Spears, was M's favorite. It was very sweet, with a little bit of an odd aftertaste (both the SPSs and the BnBs used a lot of turmeric and mustard seed, so it could be that), and I felt would be better cold. All in all, if I had to pick one, I would make the Montego Boy again in a heartbeat. The fact that I didn't have to use the water bath canner made it all the better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Scavenging and Fun Stuff!

So last night, after midnight, Mister and I went and gathered grapes. I'd noticed that there was a grape vine on a chain link fence near a playground a while back, and when they were ripening last week, I told Mister that we needed to collect them.

Concord grapes: they're everywhere, but I've never heard of anyone actually eating them. Anyone I knew who had them in their yard just let them do their thing.

So with a flashlight, a bag, and a serrated knife, we gathered approximately 4 lbs. of grapes (not counting the stems). They are now in the process of making two interesting products. The first, is a Grape Mulled Cider. The recipe will follow. The other product that I'm making is on-par with homemade bitters made from the stems and pits left over from the grape cider.

Grape Mulled Cider
5 pounds Concord grapes
8 cups water, divided
1-1/2 cups sugar
8 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks (4 inches)
Dash ground nutmeg

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine grapes and 2 cups water; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Press through a strainer; reserve juice and discard skins and seeds.

Pour juice through a double layer of cheesecloth into a 5-qt. slow cooker (I didn't use the cheesecloth). Add the sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and remaining water. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Discard cloves and cinnamon sticks. Yield: 10-12 servings (2-3/4 quarts).

I will include a pic of the finished product as well.

The current state of affairs of the grape bitters is:

I will probably let that sit for a few weeks, then strain, dilute and add sugar. Or something along those lines.


While I was looking up ideas to use the grapes with, I came across a couple of recipes from MEN that I want to save.
Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Grapes and Thyme
Roasted Grapes
Apple Cider Elderberry Jelly

Also, an interesting site to use seems to be Make Hard Cider Easy -- if I ever get enough apples to make it worth my while!

And regarding the Lemon Balm Codial that I made previously, Mister had a fabulous idea for it. We could use it in Margaritas in lieu of the Triple Sec (which I hate the taste of). I for one, am excited to try.