More Easy Meals…July Casserole

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What could be easier than this summer casserole?  I am calling it July casserole since no gardener is in short supply of the ingredients come July.  I put a bit of coconut oil in the bottom of a casserole dish and then layered in slices of yellow squash, zucchini, tomato, and red onion.  After basting with some more coconut oil, and sprinkling with nutritional yeast, seaweed, sea salt, and some chili powder (you can season however you like), it was ready for the oven.  Too easy to be so pretty.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 420. You can sprinkle with cheese and pop it back in the oven for a few if you like.  We are having some local, pastured chicken drumsticks and home canned peaches to round out our meal.   I love it when the garden tells me what to make 🙂

 

Just in Time

The organizers of the Dark Days eating local blog challenge have given us some challenges.  The first was the One Pot Meal challenge that I filled with pot roast, but this next challenge was A LOT harder.  I thought about it off and on for weeks.  The challenge—make a sweet treat for your Valentine using all or nearly all local ingredients.  That coupled with my little Valentine’s allergies to corn, soy, dairy, gluten (and those are just the pertinent ones to sweets), made this seem like a challenge deadline I might just have to let slide by.  A few days ago, stopped at a red light, it came to me–meringues.  Finally, I was saved.

I beat 4 egg whites (ours) stiff, added a pinch of cream of tartar, about a 1/2 cup of Longhouse Farm maple syrup, and a few drops of red food color (I could not help myself).  It worked like a dream.  Pink heart shaped meringues that melt on your tongue.   I  did it!  The cream of tartar and food color were not local of course, but they were minor additions.  As I type this, it occurs to me that I could have thawed some frozen raspberries and used a bit of those for color and flavor.

My seven year old Valentine was very impressed.

Sometimes, I hit it out of the park

Well, if you really know me, you know that I cannot hit or catch anything, let alone out of the park.  But, in a culinary way, our Dark Days meal this week was a home run.  I am not a very good recipe follower.  If I do use one, I usually follow it loosely.  This week I decided the spare ribs from the hog we got in the fall were ready to come out of the freezer.  Since I taught this day an would no be home in the afternoon, I prepped this meal in advance and set the oven to come on later and a low temp and slowly cook our ribs and sweet potatoes. 

 

I wanted BBQ sauce–Small Wonder Farm style, so I took a jar of my canned ketchup which has 2 times the flavor of regular ketchup, added a 1/4 cup of local maple syrup and a 1/4 of yellow mustard.  After salting and peppering the ribs, I covered them in this.  We came home to the best pork ribs imaginable with sweet potatoes and fresh spinach salad (picked from our own high tunnel).  Definitely a hit.

This was the first year I made ketchup and it will definitely become a staple for our pantry.  More flavorful and so versatile.  It can easily become BBQ sauce, cocktail sauce, or an addition in dishes like meatloaf and cabbage rolls.

Small Wonder Farm: Spinach

Markle Farm: Sweet Potatoes

This Old FarmPork Ribs

Longhouse Farm: Maple Syrup

Outside inputs:  Yellow Mustard, Salt, Pepper

 

Butternut, Apple, and Cranberry Gratin

Our local meal pick of the week was a butternut squash, apple, and cranberry gratin and local sausage. The inspiration came from an online recipe from Organic Gardening Magazine. http://www.organicgardening.com/cook/butternut-squash-apple-and-cranberry-gratin

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I modified the recipe to accommodate our dairy and gluten free household. I substituted my GF flour blend for the flour and Spectrum shortening for the butter. I also used fresh cranberries for the dried ones and added 2 tablespoons of local honey to accommodate the lack of sweetness. We had this with some local grass-fed sausages from Thistle Byre Farm. This was a first time making this and we all really liked it. It would also make a great holiday side dish.

Here’s the rundown:

Thistle Byre Farm:
Grass-fed pork sausage
Fuji apples

Markle Farm:
Butternut Squash

Wabash and Reily Local Honey

Our own Small Wonder Farm:
Parsley
Thyme

Outside inputs:
GF flour blend
Spectrum shortening
Cranberries
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne

Chile Rellenos Casserole

My latest installment for the Dark Days Challenge is a riff of the Simply Recipes recipe for Chile Relleno Casserole.  “Chile rellenos” means “stuffed chiles.”  The traditional way to prepare the dish is to roast and peel whole poblano peppers, stuff them with cheese, dip them in fluffy beaten eggs, and deep fry. They are then simmered in a flavorful tomato broth—probably the best Mexican dish ever and no one makes it better than me. Needless to say, it is neither a healthy dish or quick to prepare, so we have it a few times a year.

I grow poblano peppers on the farm and then roast and peel them.  I freeze them in bags in meal sized portions.  I add these to various dishes.  This preparation is one of my favorites.  Unlike the Simply Recipes recipe, I do not stuff the chilies here.  Since I am working with frozen chilies, I cook the chorizo, onion, and garlic and then add my homegrown tomato salsa.  I use this as the bottom layer and then add the chilies on top, followed by local cheese (instead of the cotija listed in the recipe), and then our own eggs.  I do add the small amount of flour and baking powder. For us, the flour is our GF blend.

This is a great make ahead recipe.  You can prepare and then stick it on the fridge–baked or not.  It also keeps well and is great reheated in the microwave.  You will notice, I made a portion without cheese to accomodate my daughter’s dairy allergy.

We added a green salad with radishes and carrots (harvested from our high tunnel), and homemade applesauce made from local apples.  Here is the complete tally of sources:

Our Farm:  garlic, onions, eggs, poblano peppers, tomato salsa, oregano, radishes, carrots

Goose the Market: chorizo sausage

Cheese–can’t remember farmer’s name, but it’s a Munster from local Amish farm.

Other items: GF flour blend, baking soda, olive oil

Strawberry Freezer Jam with Lily

Lily wanted to help make strawberry freezer jam and got very excited about being on the blog, so here she is.  I have always made regular cooked jam, but a friend said that strawberry freezer jam tastes more like fresh strawberries and it’s true.  The flavor is as close as you can get.  It somehow suspends that just picked flavor–way better than a traditional cooked jam or even frozen strawberries that always defrost into a watery strawberry soup.  We used the super-easy recipe for strawberry freezer jam that can be made with Ball’s Instant Pectin.  
2 TBSP instant pectin
2/3 c sugar
1 2/3 c smashed strawberries
Mix pectin and sugar, add berries, stir and put into freezer containers.

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It really cannot get any easier than that.  Too easy.  Sort of feels like cheating. After we finished our jam making, we went out to the barn to give the chickens the strawberry tops–a favorite food for them.  As you can see, Lily had a lot of fun.
The strawberry season around here this year was very short and the harvest meager.  The crazy cold and wet spring alternating with periods of jungle heat was a bad one for strawberries.  My high tunnel bed did ok, but the outdoor ones were lackluster.  In order to have enough to do jam, I purchased berries from farmer friends at market.
As of yesterday, it is officially raspberry season here at Small Wonder Farm.  A season that will go on and on and on and on and on.  Raspberries produce here no matter what and the only thing that really stops them is killing frosts.  They are so numerous and tedious to harvest, I am always happy to see them freeze!

Hibiscus and Raspberry Paletas

I have been busy making summer time treats for my allergic daughter.  I just bought a new book called Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas by Fany Gerson.  Paleta means popsicle in Spanish.  In Mexico, paletas are an art form and put our food dye and HFCS popsicles to shame.  Made with whole fruits in interesting combinations, they are worth the effort.  I can control the inputs–using my own freezer stash of home-grown fruit and making sure they are 100% allergen free.  The fist recipe I tried used raspberries and agua de jamaica.  Jamaica is the Spanish word for hibiscus.  Dried hibiscus flowers are used in Mexico to make a very popular drink.  It has a beautiful red jewel hue—exactly the color of cranberry juice and tastes wonderful.

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I loaded the mold about halfway full with sugar macerated raspberries and topped them off with fresh hibiscus water.  So lovely.  We haven’t tried them yet–that will be our after dinner treat today.

Paco and Lily have a long-standing tradition of having popsicles together after dinner in the summer.  It is their time to chat and catch up.

If you are not already intrigued, how about a few more combinations from this super-cool book:

Caramel Ice pop

Apricot-Chamomile Ice Pop

Watermelon Ice Pops

Sour Cream, Cherry, and Tequila Ice Pops

The book also includes sections on Raspados (Shaved Ice) and Aguas Frescas (coolers or drinks) in combinations such as Spicy Mango Ice and Cucumber-Lime Cooler

 

Making Chorizo

It has been a long time since I have posted.  It is certainly not for lack of material, but rather because of lack of time.  I have about a dozen new posts in my head, but have not had the time to put them down.  I have decided I can’t catch up all the happenings on the farm, so I will post what I can and just jump back in.  Farming in spring is crazy busy.  With the high tunnel, it is double the work. Add to that the busiest time of year for the restaurant, having to get both new lunch and dinner menus to bed, and serious school commitments and it was the perfect storm.  A great storm, but a storm that had me staying up late and getting up early.  A storm that forced us to create a part-time job here at the farm.  Planting, harvesting, weeding, etc. is nothing compared to spreading 8 yards of compost, turning downed trees into logs, building 30 4 foot tall tomato cages, and putting up more fencing.  It just was not possible without help.  For a year, there have been 50 beautiful wooden chairs that need some TLC sitting in our garage. They will be given a new life at the restaurant where they are desperately needed.  Tile for the new fireplace surround was purchased a year ago and is still sitting on the back porch.  I am not complaining. It is great to have so many things you want to do, but sometimes we feel we are being pulled under.  Now it’s June and much has been accomplished.  I still have two flats of annuals that are not int he ground yet, but this 95 degree day is keeping me indoors baking.

The slideshow goes through the process of making chorizo.  We love it (who doesn’t if they are a meat eater?), and local farmers do not offer it.  I decided to try my hand at charcuterie.  So we got 10 pounds of ground pork through our friends at Thistle Byre Farm and made a batch.  Their pork is so flavorful and wonderfully lean. We use their sausage at the restaurant as well.  Paco spoke to his mom and she said get a recipe online for chorizo from Toluca—where it originated.  I used the recipe from the website Lo Mexicano.   The process was simple enough.  The verdict: Ok, not great.  I think I was heavy handed with the cinnamon.  I think next time we will add some spicier chilies as well.  The can’t all be winners the first time around.  We will use it up and them try another batch.

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Violet Jelly

Violets are edible and that got me thinking about ways to preserve them. Lucky for me, my unsprayed lawn is full of them. They seem to be especially enamored of the soil near the pines, so I’ll bet they are acid loving plants. I looked up the options for using them in canning and found both violet jelly and violet syrups. Violet cordials can be made also. At the restaurant, we use Parfait Amour in a few cocktails. The best fit for us is the violet jelly and I think it will make a lovely gift also.

So, yesterday, I spent 45 min in my pajamas “harvesting” violets from our front lawn. I needed 2 packed cups and that takes a while. I cleaned them and then poured 3.5 cups of boiling water over them. Almost immediately, they started to release their violet hue. Once the water was room temperature (I let it sit on the counter for most of the day), I strained the flowers out and stashed it in the fridge.  The next day, I added 1/4 c. lemon juice which instantly turned the blue-violet liquid a beautiful rosy lavender.  Bring to a full boil, add one package of pectin, boil again for a full minute, and add 4.5 cups of sugar.  Bring to a full rolling boil again for a minute or two.   Process in water bath canner.  Yielded me around 6 cups of jelly.  The big question is how does it taste?  I used some of the sugar that I had flavored with Meyer Lemon zest from my lemon curd making and the product is a lovely lemony floral jelly of impossibly gorgeous color.  

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Kale Chips — they really are good


Kale chips recipes pop up pretty frequently in my online reading. When you have an allergic kid, you are always looking for alternative snacks. So, this week, I finally got around to my inaugural batch. For some reason, I thought it would be time consuming, but it actually was a snap. And, believe it or not, they are quite good. My daughter’s favorite snack right now is toasted seaweed snacks and I am buying the health food store out of them nearly every week. I thought these would be right up her alley. They turned out so well, I took them them into school for my weekly garden classes. Out of 45 kids, I had only 5 that didn’t think they were awesome. In fact, I handed out the rest of them at the end of the day as the kids went outside. I sure hope some of them make them at home.

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Here is what I did:I used kitchen shears to cut the kale leaves into chunks and remove the tough central stalk. I put them in a bowl and drizzled on enough EVOO to coat, then I sprinkled with sea salt, lemon juice, and paprika. Once they are tossed in the oil and spices, spread them on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350. So easy! Keep in mind that you are really drying them out and they are going to shrink quite a bit. So don’t think it is too much kale.

I am going to experiment with spices and see if Swiss chard will work as well. This recipe idea is one I will use over and over and kale is in season right now. It’s available in big beautiful bunches at the farmer’s market.

Cilantro Season

When you think cilantro, you think tomatoes, jalapeños, and heat.  Tomato, onion, cilantro, and chile peppers are indeed a match made in heaven, but gardeners know that cilantro does not like the heat.  Not only did the cilantro I seeded last fall in the high tunnel winter over, but it is growing like gangbusters now.  I assumed I could harvest a bit last fall, that it would winter kill, and I would reseed this spring.  I was amazed that it made it through the very harsh winter.  When it gets really hot, cilantro will bolt and go to seed.  At least with the high tunnel, I can enjoy it fresh now and through early summer.

I had to behead it this week to keep it under control.  I found an Emeril Lagasse recipe for cilantro pesto and tried it out today. There are many recipes out there.  The recipe called for 2 cups of packed leaves, so I doubled it to use up my bounty.  The picture of the cilantro growing above is what is left after 4 cups of leaves were harvested. The cotija cheese and pumpkin seeds were easy to find at one of our local Mexican markets.  Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are used often in Mexican cooking.  It turned out fabulously!  We were shocked to discover that it does not taste very cilantro-ey.  It is a mild pesto with a unique and marvelous flavor.  I put some into tonight’s lasagna and plan on tossing some gluten-free gnocchi in it for dinner tomorrow.  I put 2 half-pint jars in the freezer and one in the fridge.  Canning, even pressure canning, is not recommended.

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An interesting side note, our goats Stella and Horton love cilantro.  Who knew?

Purple and Orange, A Match Made In Heaven

By just looking at the blog you must know I have a thing for color.  So much so, that purple potatoes make me very happy.  They are a small wonder.  What beauty.

Another thing I love are dishes. It dawned on me that I ogle dishes the way my husband ogles cars.  I can breeze past the racks of shoes, clothes, jewelry, lotions and potions, but the dishes always stop me dead in my tracks.  I stay away from TJ Maxx because they always have amazing, gorgeous dishes. Intricate patterned casserole dishes, individual bean pots, and enameled cast iron.  On the rare occasions we go to one of the outlet malls, my whole body pulls me toward the Le Creuset outlet store.  I have 2 large “flame” roasters from them that I use often and will have forever.

I am drawn to bright and/or patterned dishes.  Mexican talavera is my favorite. They make me happy.  I don’t splurge on them that often, but I recently acquired little individual orange gratin dishes with lids topped with beautiful hens.   Oh, happy day.  Purple potatoes topped with chile-garlic compound butter and a splash of sherry.  A nice finish to a not so great Thursday.

Here is the recipe I riffed off of:

Sherry Potatoes at Simply Recipes

The only change I made was to use my own compound butter I had stashed in the freezer.  I also made one dish with EVOO instead of butter for my dairy allergic daughter.  The sherry lent a nice nutty flavor.  Since I did small individual dishes, they baked up in about 20 minutes.

I also roughly chopped some beautiful organic oyster mushrooms and sauteed them up in the same butter. Yum.

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Forgotten Skills of Cooking

I have located a gem.  A treasure.

As I have blogged about earlier, I am “upping my game” this year.  I am planning menus in advance, trying new recipes, and adding more cooking skills to my repertoire.  For the most part, I have been trolling food blogs to find inspiration.  I have found plenty.  I have also taken new looks at books I already own–like Canning For A New Generation which I have blogged about here and here.

Here is a new book I invested in:  Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen.  My treasure was on the porch today when I came home.  Wow!

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It covers everything.  Really.  How to make butter, specific recipes for different kinds of kale (!!), different ways to prepare Jerusalem artichokes, making preserves, how to make your own sausages, the differences between cooking young chicken vs. stewing hens, recipes that show off the different qualities of duck and quail eggs, the meat cuts for lamb, how to make elephant ears, a whole chapter on foraging, making compound butters, and on, and on, and on.   A lifetime of information in one beautiful volume.  The writing is clear, the photographs captivating, and the information is limitless.  I will give this to every bride and groom that invites me to their wedding.

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

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Blueberries and Meyer lemons seem like a match made in heaven to me.  I have only made one other marmalade.  Years ago I made a strawberry orange marmalade that was delightful.  Marmalades are preserves made by boiling citrus and thinly sliced pieces of citrus rind.  They are a bit laborious to make because of the need to very finely chop the rind.  After an hour and a half of having my fevered daughter sleeping on my lap (hate the fever, loved the cuddle time), I spent about an hour or so on this task.

This was another recipe from the Canning for a New Generation book by Lianna Krissoff that I am quickly falling in love with.  The jams and jellies recipes don’t use pectin, but rely on natural pectins to gel.  The yields are less without the 6-8 cups of sugar called for in the commercial pectin recipes, but the reduced sugar is great and I have enjoyed learning about methods to “gel” without the pectin powder.  For the marmalade, I carefully separated the membranes and seeds.  I put them in a cloth bag (in this case, my cheese-making bag) and added them during the cooking process.  They contain lots of natural pectin and were the key to making this marmalade spreadable and not drinkable. The recipe went smoothly and set nicely.

The taste test was disappointing, but I am blaming myself here.  I think I did not slice the peel thinly enough. The flavor of astringent lemon peel is too pronounced.  It’s not bad, but not amazing either.  I’m glad I did not make a double batch.  The rest of my fancy Meyer lemons will go into lemon curd. Live and learn.

Upping My Game

I spend most of my “work time” growing, picking, acquiring, preserving, organizing, and storing food. I love it and I have gotten pretty good at it. This year is my 4th with a big garden. This year’s will be even bigger as we added the high tunnel. I’ve made lots of great contacts and friends and now know where and when to source grass-fed local meats and some of the fruits and veggies I do not grow as well as things like honey.

Where I often fail is in the end product. I do like to cook and am good at it, but I am most often disorganized and am throwing things together at the last-minute–often with lackluster results. It’s hard to use my carefully grown, produced, and sourced ingredients without a game plan. So, as I found myself grumpily staring blankly at Facebook one day, I got mad. Really mad. At me. Winter is hard and there are always points where I just become grumpy, lazy, and unmotivated. This cycle feeds on itself. I HATE being non-productive. That is just how I am wired. So if you are ever chatting with me and wondering why I have to shell beans or knit or clean or cook at the same time, that is why. I like a day where I can see the fruits of my labor. Even as a child, playing was not my favorite. I did not like dolls. I would much prefer to play with a real baby. My favorite presents as a child were my pottery wheel, art supplies, and easy bake oven because I could produce something with them.

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So what did I use this anger for, you ask? I cut most facebook ties, organized the house, and worked on making great, super-nutritious menus and meals using all this great food I have. I make menus 1-2 weeks in advance and, for the most part, stick to them. It has worked wonderfully. I have a plan for the day, I usually get it ready in the AM and that makes the post-school hours much happier around here. Lily gets more of my attention and I am in a better mood.

I have a binder where I put all the recipes we like and have tried as well as ones we are going to try. I even jot down notes of my popular standards so I won’t forget to put them in rotation. All this might sound humdrum and boringly domestic, but it is the final piece of my goal to feed my family the best, healthiest food I can. Planning ahead also lets me make efficient, cheap, and few grocery store trips. Many of our recently discovered new favorites have been taken from cooking blogs. There is a great cyber community out there of women who are growing and cooking food just like me and most of them are obsessed with photography also.

In the slideshow you will see a grated raw beet and carrot salad. It’s easy. Grate some peeled raw beets (you will get red hands, so suck it up), grate some carrots, and toss with a vinaigrette of choice. I used EVOO, cider vinegar, maple syrup (ours), celery seed, and some dry mustard. Toss. Eat. I tossed in sunflower seeds. ABSOLUTELY delicious. I have been using lots of beets and carrots. We also had cooked carrots that I glazed with my homemade apple cider molasses. YUM!!!

Here some of the recipes we have fallen in love with:

Gingerbread success

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When it comes to Lillian’s favorite holiday treat–gingerbread cookies that are dairy, gluten, and soy free–I have tried a new recipe each year and have never found a great one.  This year, we struck gold.  This recipe, tweaked for her restrictions, worked like a charm. I also used my new silpat and roul’pat from Demarle.  This is not a commercial for them, but I purchased them, in part, for the ease of working on a  completely nonstick work surface (the roul’pat is a work-mat). Gluten free doughs are, in general, stickier, and more brittle.  Working on the Demarle products was wonderful.  Here is what I did:  Separated the dough into 2 balls and chilled them overnight.  I rolled 1 dough ball out onto the roul’pat and then cut out the cookies.  Instead of removing the cookies, I removed the extra dough from around them. I placed a silpat (the nonstick silicone and glass baking mat) right side down on top of the cut cookies.  I then flipped the mats (cookies in the middle) over onto a baking tray (perforated Demarle baking sheet) and then carefully peeled the roul’pat off the top of the cookies–leaving the cookies on the silpat and baked them.  It was Lily’s idea to cut out tiny animals and place them on top of the hearts.  It’s beautiful and the tiny cookies we easy to pick up and place. The flavor is wonderful.  These bake into a very crisp cookie and she loves them. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup superfine brown rice flour    (I only use Authentic Foods brand)
  • 1 cup arrowroot starch   (tip: buy this in large containers at Gordon’s Food Service if you have one nearby)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (use 1 teaspoon if you don’t like a heavy ginger taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons xanthum gum
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter or shortening (I used spectrum shortening–a dairy and soy free option)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees

 

  1. Sift all dry ingredients together and set aside
  2. Cream shortening (or butter) and sugar, beating on high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. Slowly add dry, sifted ingredients to butter mixture and beat just until a stiff dough forms.
  5. Separate dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.
  6. Roll and cut dough as listed above (without Demarle products, use some rice flour to dust your work surface and work in smaller batches–the more chilled the dough, the better)
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, or until cookies are firm to the touch. Decorate if desired.

(Santa likes these too)

Jam, I Am

Strawberry season is finishing up here at Small Wonder Farm.  Most of mine went in to the freezer to be used for smoothies or to the restaurant for cocktails, but I did get 2 batches of jam done. 

I am not going to walk through the jam making process here.  It’s quite easy and the how-to is in every box of pectin, but I do want to point out how easy it is to add your own touches.  I am not a huge recipe person and like to change things up.  At the restaurant we serve a great cocktail called the Strawberry Basil Mojito.  Like any mojito the base is rum and club soda, but instead of mint use basil.  We muddle the strawberries and basil and add a bit of strawberry liqueur and Rose’s Lime.  I decided to make a strawberry basil mojito jam. 

Here’s what I did:

While crushing the strawberries, I added fresh lime juice, basil leaves, and very thinly sliced limes–rind and all.  I cooked that all together.  Right before putting it in jars I added rum.  It is great!!!

Clean and Bright

I have been making my own cleaner for quite a while now.  Here is the formula I use:

fill a spray bottle with water, leaving enough space for the other ingredients that follow:

add about 20 drops of tea tree oil (great antiseptic)

2 Tb Dr Bronner’s Liquid Soap (I like peppermint, eucalyptus, or citrus)

2 Tb white vinegar

Ido not actually measure any of these ingredients, just guess.  That’s it.  Add the water first or you will be making bubbles!

Great for surfaces and windows.  You could drink it, but would not want to.

Pan De Muerto, Bread of the Dead

001
dump all the flour on the table

the butter, eggs, extracts, and sweetened condensed milk
the butter, eggs, extracts, and sweetened condensed milk

003
the yeast

004
beginning to mix the wet and dry ingredients

006
squish, squish

008
smack the dough on the table again and again

016
Lily

019
this takes some strength

027

031
ready to rise

033
attack!

049
shaping the bread–Lily makes the tears

050
ready to rise again and bake

051
we tried to make some muertitos--but they just looked like snowmen
054
out of the oven--immediately brush on egg white and sprinkle with sugar
055
yum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pan de Muerto/Bread of the Dead

5 lbs. Flour

2 1/2 cans “leche nestle” —–sweetened condensed milk

15 whole eggs, keep the whites

15 egg yolks

6 1/2 sticks butter, room temp

Orange zest, to taste

Almond extract, to taste

Scant 1/2 c. yeast

Add a little warm water to yeast and allow to rise a little.

Combine whole eggs, yolks, butter, condensed milk, and flavorings and beat until well combined.  Add the yeast.  Put flour on table or other large work surface.  Make a well in the center.   Add the egg mixture.  Now comes the hard part.  Mix and knead until the dough becomes unstuck from the table.  You need to pick the dough up and slam it back against the table again and again.  Allow the dough to double in a VERY warm place.   I heat my oven to it’s lowest setting and then turn it off.  This makes a perfect place to rise the dough. When doubled, punch down and form into balls (size is up to you).  Use dough to form “tears” that cross and then a little ball in the middle (see below).  Allow to rise again, back in the warm oven, on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 for ???—watch them closely.  When out of the oven but still warm, brush with unbeaten egg white and sprinkle with or dip into sugar.

I usually use colored sugar.

This is Paco’s family’s recipe.  We make it every year to celebrate the Day of the Dead and to honor our daughter, Adele. It’s a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Traditionally served with hot chocolate.