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How to Seed and Juice a Pomegranate

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

pomseeds-white-bowl

 

Pomegranates are the jewel of the fall fruit season. The ruby red seeds and tantalizing juice pair perfectly with dishes from salads to desserts to cocktails. But, they are notorious for being one of the messiest fruits to break into.

 

As a child we would sit under an afternoon fall sky, peeling back the skin to expose the thin membrane before separating each quadrant to get to the seeds. We’d pop them into our mouths and crunch down to release the vibrant juice. I can’t tell you how many shirts were ruined or the number of times we had to scrub our hands to get the staining off. But, that was then.

 

Now we have become much more adept at extracting the hundreds of tiny gem-like seeds that lie inside while keeping the greatest number intact. Follow the steps below, which I found in a local farm bureau magazine, and you will quickly be using fresh pom seeds, making juice or boiling it down to a thick sticky molasses that is perfect in a wide range of dishes.

pom-seed-peel-juicePomegranates are not a primary crop in most areas of the U.S., they grow in small-acreage pockets across the warmer zones 8-10. Although there are hundreds of cultivars world-wide only about 14 grow in the States. They are very easy to grow and are quite productive once established in the right region. They can be grown like a dense shrub, trained as a tree, or heavily pruned in an espaliered form to fit into small gardens. Seeds range from a very dark ruby red to a lighter pinkish color depending on the variety. If interested in growing pomegranates, check with your local nurseryman for the best cultivar for your area.

 

More Tips on Pomegranates

  • To freeze seeds: dry seeds with a paper towel before placing on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Place in freezer for a few hours. Once frozen thay can be stored in a freezer container.
  • To freeze juice: pour juice into a freezer container leaving about a ½-inch of head space.
  • To make pomegranate molasses: pour juice into a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Adjust to maintain boiling. In about 30-35 minutes the juice will take on a syrupy consistency and become bubblier. This is the point when the syrup begins to turn into molasses. Watch closely because the transition happens quickly. Use a spoon to test. Syrup will coat the spoon, while molasses will have a heavier coating. The whole process will take between 30 to 40 minutes, but closer to 40. Store finished molasses in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The Best Banana Bread Ever

Saturday, November 26, 2016

banana-bread

 

I know, I know. We all have grandma’s best ever this or that, the tried and true family favorite, but this is seriously the best banana bread you’ll ever taste.

 

And, it came about by shear accident. Let me explain.

 

It was years ago. DD was still in grade school and bananas were a staple in our house. We used them in lunches, on oatmeal, dipped in chocolate as a sweet treat. Every week I would buy them and every week they were eaten in some fashion or another.

 

Then, they fell out of favor as many foods do when you eat them insesately for weeks or months. They are no longer special, just part of the daily grind that is putting together meals or packing school lunches.

 

When bananas were too soft for fresh eating I would make banana pancakes on the weekend to use them up, so they didn’t go to waste. Single moms can get very creative when they live on a budget and don’t want to waste food.

 

But, this day was different. We had tired of banana pancakes, and not being a fan of banana cream pie I had to come up with another way to use the now spotted yellow and brown skinned tropical fruit. When no ideas came to mind I threw the now very ripe bananas in the freezer until I could come up with a plan.

 

Then it happened. That ah ha moment when you find what you’re looking for without really even looking. I was flipping through a cookbook, looking for something completely different, and there it was, bold as day…a banana bread recipe for a holiday breakfast. I read over the recipe and mentally checked off the ingredients one at a time (it’s so nice having a well-stocked pantry). The recipe called for slightly softened fresh bananas, but I only had the one’s I had thrown in the freezer a few weeks earlier.

 

What the heck, I’ll give it a try.

 

I thawed the banana’s, reread the recipe, making a few adjustments, and the end result was a soft, moist, dark-colored nutty bread with the most intense banana flavor I had ever tasted.

 

It was, in fact, the best banana bread I had ever tasted.

 

So what makes this banana bread so different?

 

My gastronomically uneducated opinion is…the sticky, sweet, intensely flavored syrup that is given off when the bananas defrost; that and the combination of brown sugar, applesauce instead of oil and the addition of pecans rather than walnuts.

 

This recipe has become a fall favorite and is great toasted and slathered with butter, or even made into grilled French toast.

 

 

Frozen Banana Bread

 

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup mashed very ripe bananas

½ cup applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chopped pecans

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs.

Sift dry ingredients and combine with the butter mixture. Blend well.

Add the bananas, applesauce, and vanilla; stir well, but don’t overwork the mixture.

Stir in the nuts and pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3-inch loaf.

Bake one hour, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool. Makes: 1 large loaf.

 

TIPS:  This is one of those full proof recipes. It’s had to screw it up, so be a little adventurous with it. I have used different kinds of applesauce from plain to chunky homemade to cinnamon. If you do try it with cinnamon applesauce, reduce the cinnamon in the recipe by half.

You can also use this recipe as a base for other quick breads like apple spice, apple butter, pumpkin or pumpkin butter.

How to Make a Rustic Apple Tart

Saturday, October 22, 2016

apple-tart

 

I have a confession to make.

 

Wait for it…here it comes.

 

I am NOT a huge baker!

There — I said it.

I’m not a huge baker.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my desserts and toasted sweet breads now and then, but you won’t find a jar full of cookies or a plate of brownies, or even a pie on a cooling rack in my kitchen every day of the week.

That’s just not me, at all.

I do enjoy making my much requested (frozen) banana bread, and I love making my pumpkin spice bread during the fall. And, summer wouldn’t be summer without a juicy berry cobbler with its sweet, crunchy oatmeal topping. But cakes and pies or pastries and muffins have never held much fascination for me, other than occasionally eating them, of course.

The one thing I do enjoy making, especially this time of year, is a fresh gooey apple pie. Not just any apple pie, ‘cause remember I’m not into baking, but a quick and easy apple creation that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, popped in the oven and ready to eat by the time dinner is finished.

That kind of apple pie.

 

So—how do I pull off this feat of culinary genius?

 

Simple…I use a pre-made pie crust.

Yep, you heard that right. The suburban homesteader uses pre-made pie crusts, sometimes. And, I don’t feel the least bit diminished.

I have to say they are a God send after a long day at work and even longer hours tending to the farm. There is nothing like throwing together sliced apples, spices, and butter, piling it all in the middle of a thawed pie crust and folding over the edges to encase all that yummy juiciness before popping it in the oven to bake.

I know I would be more of an authentic homesteader if I ground my own flour, sifted together the dry ingredients and folded in the wet before rolling it out and cutting it in the perfect circle, but sometimes life just gets away from us, and I’m okay with that. For me, homesteading is more a frame of mind and lifestyle that I work to achieve. It’s also a life that I’m successful at some weeks and not so much in other weeks, and I have to be okay with that too.

So, if you have a busy schedule, that prevents you from being the true to life farmer you’d like to be, take a deep breath, get yourself a pre-made pie crust, and bake a pie that is worthy of any farm girl. Don’t forget to smother it in vanilla ice cream:)

 

Rustic Apple Tart

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

8 cups sliced peeled tart baking apple, like Granny Smith (about 3 pounds)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)

2 tsp ice water

2 tsp granulated sugar

2 tbsp apricot preserves

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; cook 2 minutes or until sugars dissolve. Stir in apples and next 3 ingredients (through nutmeg). Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Set oven rack to lowest third of oven.

3. Roll out dough and place on a piece of parchment paper. Place dough and parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange cooled apples in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edges of dough toward center; pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover the apple mixture). Brush dough with 1 teaspoon ice water, and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Place the preserves and 1 teaspoon water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or until bubbly. Brush the mixture over warm tart. Cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature…with vanilla ice cream, of course.

Rustic Apple Tart

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

8 cups sliced peeled tart baking apple, like Granny Smith (about 3 pounds)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)

2 tsp ice water

2 tsp granulated sugar

2 tbsp apricot preserves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. 1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; cook 2 minutes or until sugars dissolve. Stir in apples and next 3 ingredients (through nutmeg). Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  2. 2. Preheat oven to 400°. Set oven rack to lowest third of oven.
  3. 3. Roll out dough and place on a piece of parchment paper. Place dough and parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange cooled apples in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edges of dough toward center; pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover the apple mixture). Brush dough with 1 teaspoon ice water, and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. 4. Place the preserves and 1 teaspoon water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or until bubbly. Brush the mixture over warm tart. Cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature…with vanilla ice cream, of course.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/how-to-make-a-rustic-apple-tart/kitchen

Homemade Mulling Spices

Monday, October 10, 2016

apples-pumpkins

Can you feel it?  It’s coming. Pushing out the warm sultry days of late summer and replacing it with crisp cool days that glow like gold. It’s creeping closer…softly…silently…like little cat feet.

 

It’s October!!!

 

October is my soul month, truly. And, if you’ve read this blog for long you’ve read lots of stories about my love of October. It’s the time of year that I feel the most alive, while at the same time feeling the most at home. I love everything about it—the way the afternoon sun turns golden and bathes the world in soft hues of amber, while the leaves shower down in shades of orange, red and umber; how the crisp air smells as it pushes summer out of its way. Or, the way pine and firewood smoke mingle and hang like a fragrant curtain.

October is a time for fall festivals, trips to local apple farms, hard cider tasting (and not so hard cider tasting), and searching for the perfect pumpkin to adorn our house. It is also a time when friends get together around a warm fireplace and turn a simple soup or stew dinner into a truly memorable evening. And, let’s not forget the array of hot toddies to keep the fall chill at bay.

Yep, October starts a fall season that is all about food, friends, family and merriment.

I break out my pumpkin scented candles, keep a big fire going whenever I’m home, and load up the slow cooker, but most of all I love to have a pot of mulling spices ready for a warm your soul cider concoction.

 

Can you smell the nutmeg cloves, orange, cinnamon, and apple cider? 

 

Isn’t it heavenly?

 

It really sets the mood of a warm and inviting home, even if you’re not mulling cider or wine. Add the smell of a rich pumpkin pecan bread and you’ve got me hanging out at home all day! It’s that relaxing.

Our annual trip to the apple farms sets this scene in motion when we come home laden down with pounds of heritage apples and gallons of fresh pressed apple cider.

Looking towards the parties and cold weather ahead I mix up a batch of homemade mulling spices. I store mine in a canning jar and make a few 4-ounce jars to give as hostess gifts. They are unique and very much liked. This recipe makes eight 4-ounce jars.

 

Mulling Spice Mix

 

mulling-spices

 

INGREDIENTS:

16 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces

4 whole nutmeg pods, smashed to pieces with the flat side of a meat mallet

½ cup whole cloves

¼ cup whole all allspice

½ cup dried orange peel

1 cup candied ginger, chopped

 

DIRECTIONS:

Place 2 or 3 pieces of cinnamon stick in the bottom of each jar. In a medium bowl, combine the nutmeg, cloves, allspice, dried orange peel and candied ginger.

Scoop mixture into each jar and close with the canning lid.

To make a mulling spice sachet:  place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture into empty clothe sachet or tea bags and tie closed, leaving some headspace.

 

TO MAKE MULLED APPLE CIDER:  pour a ½ gallon of apple cider into a slow cooker and add 1 mulled spice bag. Allow to simmer for several hours before drinking. Keep slow cooker on low to keep cider warm. (Mulled cider can also be made on the stove top, but it takes longer. With the slow cooker you can add all in the ingredients and walk away; leaving the cider to do its business while filling the house with a wonder fall aroma.

To serve a “grown-up” version, adding a splash of Calvados before serving brings the whole thing together.

TO SERVE:  Ladle hot mulled cider into mugs.

NOTE:  One of the great things about making your own mulling spices is that you can tailor the mix to fit your tastes. Experiment with different combinations and make your own version.

Making Parmesan Biscuits

Monday, October 10, 2016

parmesan-cookies

 

It’s no mystery that fall, and especially October, is my favorite time of year. I have written about my love affair with the season many times before, and you can read about it here, and here, and here.

 

The cast of an amber sun setting low in the sky throws a glow over the whole farm and bathes it in the quite serenity of a changing season. Colorful leaves carpet the ground like an artist’s painting. You can smell the coolness in the air as it pushes against the warm Indian summer breeze. Fall fruits and veggies stand out with their muted hues of red and orange; gold and plum. Even the earth takes on a new smell as the scent of fallen leaves mixes with freshly turned soil waiting to be planted with fall seeds.

But, the best part of fall.

 

The very best part of fall can be seen in the kitchen.

 

After months of summer greens, fresh salads, crispy vegetables, juicy fruits and plump berries, the kitchen switches over into heartier fare for the table. Soups and stews; roasts and chops take center stage now.

But, one of my most favorite things about fall is having a simmering pot of soup on the stove or in the slow cooker. The aroma that fills our little home is like a comfortable blanket spread over you as you lay in front of a crackling fire. It’s enough to warm the heart and soul, as well as the tummy.

On our little homestead soup is not only a mid-day snack, but a full blown meal as well. My stash of cookbooks has more soup recipes tucked in between the pages than any other kind. There are hearty fare soups chock full of chunky roots vegetables, a thick broth and bites of meat; creamy, full bodied soups with tubers, or noodles or rice; and then there’s the more brothy soups that spotlight flavorfully rich bases more than vegetables or meat. But, no soup would be complete without a little crispy biscuit to go with it.

Over the years I’ve tried many different kinds of biscuits with varying opinions, but the one we coming back to, the one that everyone keeps requesting is the Parmesan cheese biscuit. I found the recipe in a Farm Bureau long ago and it has been on our table ever since. It’s one of those recipes that you fall in love with, not for the sheer genius of it, but because it’s so dang simple. With just three ingredients, it takes no time at all to become totally addicted to the little things. Make a double batch of dough to keep in the freezer, just in case…or, just because.

 

Parmesan Biscuits

 

INGREDIENTS:

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, softened

2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (it’s important to use the real stuff. It is 1/3 of the ingredients after all)

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350; position racks in top and bottom third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.

2.  Fit stand mixer with the paddle attachment. In the bowl combine the butter, cheese and flour, and beat until a stiff dough forms. (For a few minutes the dough will appear dry and not come together; keep mixing and it will form).

3.  Divide dough in 3 pieces and roll each piece into a 9-inch log, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour—this will make slicing the dough much easier.

At this point, you can freeze 2 of the logs and bake one; or if making a double batch, you can wrap each log in plastic wrap, vacuum seal it and freeze for up to 2 month. When ready to use, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.

Moving on…

4.  Slice the logs into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, and arrange on the cookies sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they turn golden brown around the edges. Shift and rotate the pan half way through baking for even browning. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits can be stored for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

 

NOTE:

These little biscuits are great for stacking on ham, smoked turkey, salmon or trout pate. Spreadable cheeses, other pate’s, or just by themselves are also good options.

You can also make Parmesan sticks by rolling out the dough into a rectangle and slicing it long and thin.

Parmesan Biscuits

INGREDIENTS:

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, softened

2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (it’s important to use the real stuff. It is 1/3 of the ingredients after all)

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350; position racks in top and bottom third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
  2. 2. Fit stand mixer with the paddle attachment. In the bowl combine the butter, cheese and flour, and beat until a stiff dough forms. (For a few minutes the dough will appear dry and not come together; keep mixing and it will form).
  3. 3. Divide dough in 3 pieces and roll each piece into a 9-inch log, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour—this will make slicing the dough much easier.
  4. At this point, you can freeze 2 of the logs and bake one; or if making a double batch, you can wrap each log in plastic wrap, vacuum seal it and freeze for up to 2 month. When ready to use, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.
  5. Moving on…
  6. 4. Slice the logs into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, and arrange on the cookies sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they turn golden brown around the edges. Shift and rotate the pan half way through baking for even browning. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits can be stored for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
  7. NOTE:
  8. These little biscuits are great for stacking on ham, smoked turkey, salmon or trout pate. Spreadable cheeses, other pate’s, or just by themselves are also good options.
  9. You can also make Parmesan sticks by rolling out the dough into a rectangle and slicing it long and thin.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/making-parmesan-biscuits/kitchen

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Monday, September 19, 2016

sweet-potatoes-brussel-sprouts

 

Do you have a favorite fall vegetable?  I do.

 

I have always been crazy for sweet potatoes. They are my “go-to” fall vegetable, whether they are baked and smothered with butter then sprinkled with salt and pepper, smashed with sweet maple syrup and nutmeg, or roasted with fragrant herbs.

I love trying new fall veggies to add to my kitchen arsenal. But, I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of Brussels sprouts. Those little globe-like cabbage looking things never really appealed to me, probably because my family never ate them…ever. Really—I can’t remember one time growing up that my mom cooked Brussels sprouts.

So, when I found a recipe on the internet for roasted Brussels sprouts I was less than tempted. Even though the picture was beautiful and they looked appealing I refused to be tricked into trying them.

It wasn’t until I had them at a restaurant that I became a convert. They were tender, flavorful and downright yummy. I was sold, and they now make regular appearances on our fall dinner table.

I have never had them any other way but roasted, and I have several different ways to flavor them during the roasting process. Why mess with a good thing, right?

 

Boy was I ever wrong!

 

It was a few weeks ago and sis and I were making dinner. I had bought some Brussels sprouts from the market, but they weren’t enough for two people. When I looked around my kitchen I spied a few small sweet potatoes. Not enough for two people either.

At that moment a stroke of brilliance came over me. Why not fix both? Together.

I combed through recipes and combined pieces of a few different one’s and voila! A masterpiece was born.

I cleaned and halved the Brussels sprouts and peeled and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Then I drizzled everything with almond oil, sprinkled it with ground cumin, salt and pepper, and tossed the whole thing together. Best idea ever!

I loved the nutty flavor from the almond oil and the cumin brought out a wonderful earthy dimension to the whole dish. After they were roasted, I splashed a bit of balsamic vinegar over, added a bit of thyme springs for good measure and sprinkled on some chopped pecans.

The whole thing turned out divine.

What started out as not enough veggies for our two-person dinner, turned into a flavorful fall mixture and ended in discovering a new favorite side dish. Don’t ya just love experimental cooking?

NOTE:  This would make a great holiday side dish. But, if you’re worried about commandeering your oven for 45 minutes make them a day or two ahead and store in a lidded container, then pop them in a 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until they sizzle and are hot. They turn out great!

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer leaves removed and stems trimmed

4 small or 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup Almond oil (be adventurous and try other nut oils or olive oil)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon sea salt

Ground pepper to taste

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Thyme leaves for garnish

1/8 cup chopped pecans

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse, remove outer leaves, trim stems and cut Brussels sprouts in half. Small one’s can be kept whole. Place in a large bowl.

Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Add to bowl.

Peel and mince garlic cloves. Add to bowl.

Pour almond oil over vegetables and toss to coat.

Add cumin, garlic salt, sea salt and pepper. Toss to mix.

Drizzle cookie sheet or large casserole dish with oil and spread to coat.

Pour vegetables into pan and arrange so they are in a single layer.

Roast for 30-35 minutes. Veggies are done when they are browned and fork tender.

Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar (about 1-2 tbsp.) Garnish with thyme and chopped pecans.

Eat hot!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer leaves removed and stems trimmed

4 small or 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup Almond oil (be adventurous and try other nut oils or olive oil)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon sea salt

Ground pepper to taste

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Thyme leaves for garnish

1/8 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse, remove outer leaves, trim stems and cut Brussels sprouts in half. Small one’s can be kept whole. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Add to bowl.
  4. Peel and mince garlic cloves. Add to bowl.
  5. Pour almond oil over vegetables and toss to coat.
  6. Add cumin, garlic salt, sea salt and pepper. Toss to mix.
  7. Drizzle cookie sheet or large casserole dish with oil and spread to coat.
  8. Pour vegetables into pan and arrange so they are in a single layer.
  9. Roast for 30-35 minutes. Veggies are done when they are browned and fork tender.
  10. Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar (about 1-2 tbsp.) Garnish with thyme and chopped pecans.
  11. NOTE: This would make a great holiday side dish. But, if you’re worried about commandeering your oven for 45 minutes make them a day or two ahead and store in a lidded container, then pop them in a 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until they sizzle and are hot. They turn out great!
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/roasted-sweet-potatoes-brussels-sprouts/kitchen

5-Color Peanut Coleslaw

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cole Slaw

 

Over the years I have created a “go-to” list of favorite summer side dishes. You know the kind—baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, corn salad, pea salad—the kind of cool, refreshing and creamy dishes that go great with BBQ’s or potlucks or just eaten by themselves when the hot weather makes eating the last thing on your mind.

This recipe has it all. Crunch. Cool. Sweet. Tang. It’s our favorite slaw and goes great with steaks and burgers, or chicken and fish. Add a handful of shredded leftover chicken and make it a meal for those hot days when heating up the kitchen is anything but appealing. It’s that good!

 

5-Color Peanut Coleslaw

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound cabbage, shredded

1 ½ cups red cabbage, shredded

3/4 cup celery, finely sliced

3/4 cup julienned carrots

3/4 cup julienned orange bell pepper

1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 ½ tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine coleslaw, red cabbage, celery, carrots and green onions. (Using a mandolin makes shredding quick and easy)

2. In a pint size Mason jar, combine wine vinegar, water, sugar, seasoned salt, garlic powder and oil. Shake gently to incorporate.

3. Mix dressing with coleslaw; stir in peanuts and toss well.

4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

NOTE:  This is one of those great recipes that can be added to to create a variety of styles. Add edamame, almonds and wontons for an Asian flare; or roasted corn, jalapenos and tortilla strips for a slightly Latin flavor; or add chopped kale, broccoli and peas for big veggie packed meal.

5-Color Peanut Coleslaw

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound cabbage, shredded

1 ½ cups red cabbage, shredded

3/4 cup celery, finely sliced

3/4 cup julienned carrots

3/4 cup julienned orange bell pepper

1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 ½ tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. 1. In a large mixing bowl, combine coleslaw, red cabbage, celery, carrots and green onions. (Using a mandolin makes shredding quick and easy)
  2. 2. In a pint size Mason jar, combine wine vinegar, water, sugar, seasoned salt, garlic powder and oil. Shake gently to incorporate.
  3. 3. Mix dressing with coleslaw; stir in peanuts and toss well.
  4. 4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. NOTE: This is one of those great recipes that can be added to to create a variety of styles. Add edamame, almonds and wontons for an Asian flare; or roasted corn, jalapenos and tortilla strips for a slightly Latin flavor; or add chopped kale, broccoli and peas for big veggie packed meal.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/5-color-peanut-coleslaw/kitchen

blackberries

Peaches and plums and berries, oh my!

 

Its summertime and that means one major thing around here…cobbler. From the first bloom of spring right up to harvest time we dream of desserts made with our favorite fruits.

Every house I’ve ever live in has had a berry patch. Not a large mind you, but enough canes to produce enough fruit for summer desserts and extra for canning and freezing so we can enjoy the fresh taste of summer all winter long. They are perfect for the suburban homestead where space may be at a premium. They can be grown on fences, trellises or arbors, making them perfect for a vertical garden because they leave valuable ground for root crops or non-trailing vegetables.

My current berry patch abuts a perimeter fence. It is just 3-foot wide by 30-foot long and has blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries that I train to grow on a 54-inch tall cattle panel. The canes are managed and pruned so we don’t have them rooting all over the place. As they start to push out new growth in the spring I fill one gallon nursery pots with rich compost and nestle the budding new growth down into the soil to root, starting a new batch of canes.

Over the years I’ve helped friends and family start their own berry patches with cuttings from my own. Berry canes are easy to root, grow in many different soil types and best of all…grow like weeds once they get started. It’s one of the best plants for new gardeners, and a favorite of well-seasoned homesteaders.

And, let’s not forget those plump, juicy, flavorful berries that explode in your mouth with a burst of flavor, or make a thick decadent jam, luscious pie or frozen little gems waiting to be blended up into a refreshing smoothie.

But…I have to admit there’s nothing better than a warm fresh berry cobbler warm from the oven. Well—unless it’s a berry cobbler with a big glob of creamy vanilla ice-cream on top. That’s a double yum.

There’s a lot of debate about fruit cobblers and what constitutes a “real” cobbler. There are cobblers topped with fluffy biscuits, some with cake-like toppings and others with a light batter pored over, creating a cobbled effect when it bakes. But, around here cobbler means one thing and one thing only, sweet seasonal fruit encased in a crumbly oatmeal brown sugar topping.

 

Cobbler - Blackberry

Blackberry Cobbler with Oatmeal Topping

 

INGREDIENTS

FILLING:

3 cups blackberries

2/3 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

 

TOPPING:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

1 cup rolled oats

¼ Tsp. ground nutmeg

 

DIRECTIONS for Filling:  Put all ingredients into a large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves.

DIRECTIONS for Topping:  Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Pour melted butter over and mix with a fork until it is crumbly.

Heat oven to 375. Pour berry mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with oatmeal topping. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until bubbly. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

 

TIP:  My family likes this topping so much that I make a double batch. I put a layer on the bottom and one on the top for an extra crispy yum.

Blackberry Cobbler with Oatmeal Topping

INGREDIENTS:

FILLING:

3 cups blackberries

2/3 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

TOPPING:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

1 cup rolled oats

¼ Tsp. ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

  1. DIRECTIONS for Filling: Put all ingredients into a large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves.
  2. DIRECTIONS for Topping: Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Pour melted butter over and mix with a fork until it is crumbly.
  3. Heat oven to 375. Pour berry mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with oatmeal topping. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until bubbly. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/blackberry-cobbler-with-oatmeal-topping/kitchen

12 Ways to use Mint

Saturday, July 16, 2016

mint

We are being overrun!

 

No—really. I’m not joking.

With all the cool evenings and warm days my mint patch has literally exploded.

I thought I was being clever when I potted up a few of my favorite kinds of mint (spearmint, peppermint and some plain old garden mint someone gifted to me) to control its invasive growing habit, rather than plant it directly in the garden.

Seems I wasn’t so clever after all. Those aggressive little…I won’t say it…grew right through the hole in the pots and PLANTED themselves in my flowerbed. NOW, I have a forest of mint! Yikes.

I know what you’re thinking

 

…we complain when a plant doesn’t produce and now I’m complaining when it produces too much.

Mint is one of those plants that grow extremely well regardless of the conditions, so controlling the chaos is a bit of a challenge.

With way too much on my hands I set out to find a few awesome ways to use and preserve my little radical greens. Here are a few:

1.  Make mint lemon water – add a few sprigs of mint and several slices of lemon to a cold jug of water. It will keep you cool and refreshed no matter how hot the day.

2.  Add it to iced tea or lemonade – for a twist on a summer classic.

3.  Use as a room freshener – cut a few sprigs and place in a decorative vase or Mason jar.

4.  Keep the bugs out – mint attracts “good” bugs and repels “bad” bugs, so plant up a few pots of Penny Royal mint and place them near doorways to repel ants and flies. I said POTTED, right?

5.  Breathe freshener – who needs mint gum when you can just pluck and chew on a mint leaf?

6.  Pair with fruit or veggies – mint gives a light fresh taste to veggies like tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, potatoes and beets. Or, mince and sprinkle on a bowl of strawberries.

7.  Mojitos – this is a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t love an ice cold glass of lime juice, sugar, club soda, and rum, with a spring of mint, of course.

8.  Tame an upset tummy – place a few peppermint leaves in a cup and pour hot water over. Let cool slightly and drink warm to calm things down.

9.  Mint Pesto – whip up a batch of mint pesto to use on homegrown lamb kabobs or grilled chops.

10.  Create a relaxing bath – pour 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup Epsom salts and ¼ cup of mint leaves in your bath for a relaxing, muscle easing soak.

11.  Make fleas flee – pets can be bothered by fleas in summer, so bundle up 2 parts fresh spearmint, 1 part fresh thyme and 1 part fresh wormwood, and tuck it inside a small pillow, placed near your pet’s bed or another favorite resting place.

 

12. I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST!!

 

Minted Lemon Slushy

 

Minted Lemon Slushy

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (4-6 lemons)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 1 generous handful mint leaves, remove from stems

DIRECTIONS:

  • Juice lemons and remove any seeds. In a small pan, slowly heat lemon juice, honey and ½ cup of water. Stir until the honey dissolves. When mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and toss in mint leaves. Let steep for 10-minutes. Strain out leaves and add remaining water. Pour liquid into ice cube trays and freeze.
  • When ready to serve, put minted lemon ice cubes into a blender and blend. Slowly add water until it reaches the slushy consistency you want (about a cup). Serve immediately with a sprig of mint.

 

Need a little more color in your life? Try juicing “Pink Lemonade” lemons for a fun summertime twist.

Want a more decadent version? Add a ½ cup of gin to the blender and add water only if you need to.

Minted Lemon Slushy

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (4-6 lemons)

½ cup honey

3 cups water, divided

1 generous handful mint leaves, remove from stems

DIRECTIONS:

  1. 1. Juice lemons and remove any seeds. In a small pan, slowly heat lemon juice, honey and ½ cup of water. Stir until the honey dissolves. When mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and toss in mint leaves. Let steep for 10-minutes. Strain out leaves and add remaining water. Pour liquid into ice cube trays and freeze.
  2. 2. When ready to serve, put minted lemon ice cubes into a blender and blend. Slowly add water until it reaches the slushy consistency you want (about a cup). Serve immediately with a sprig of mint.
http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/12-ways-to-use-mint/kitchen

 

Cutting Board

Cutting boards are in use almost daily at my house. I have different kinds that I use for different purposes. There’s polyethylene for chopping vegetables or slicing cheese, and wood and bamboo for carving meat. They are hardworking pieces of equipment in my farm kitchen.

Over the years I’ve owned many sizes and kinds of cutting boards, but none of them really lasted that long. They would discolor, become riddled with bacteria or just plain crack. Then I discovered I was not taking care of them properly.

 

Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to care for your cutting boards!

 

Who knew!

Proper care will help them last a long time, while not taking care of them will shorten their useful life, causing you to replace them long before you should have to.

Following these 7 simple tips will help you extend the life of any cutting board.

1. Avoid letting your wooden cutting board to become too dry. Super dry cutting boards can crack and break.

2. Don’t soak your cutting board or let it sit wet. Dampness can swell the wood and weaken boards that are made of multiple pieces. And, never put a wooden board in the dishwasher, that’s just a bad thing all around.

3. Wash and dry boards immediately after each use, especially when cutting meat, fish or poultry, so bacteria doesn’t have a chance to seep into the cut marks. Use warm soapy water, work it into a lather so it gets into all the crevasses, then rinse well and allow to air dry before putting it away.

4. Use the entire surface of the board for cutting, move around the board. Cutting in one spot can cause the board to wear unevenly.

5. Use both sides of the board so both work surfaces are used, evening out the wear.

6. Never use a razor-edged cleaver, it can chip or splinter the board, creating spaces for bacteria to take hold.

7. Season your wooden cutting boards periodically to keep them in good, usable condition, and from absorbing colors and odors from the foods you’re cutting.

 

How the heck do you season a cutting board?

 

It’s pretty easy and straight forward. Since I’m not a professional chef, that uses cutting boards all day long, I can get away with seasoning mine 2 or 3 times a year.

To start with, get yourself some food-safe mineral oil. I got mine at Wal-Mart. Then find yourself a clean soft cloth that can be dedicated to seasoning your boards. I bought a new flat cotton weave dish towel just for this purpose and store it on a lidded container.

 

Now—to season…

 

…pour on what looks like too much oil, and then rub it into the board using your cloth. Your board may look like it has a thick oil slick on it, but let it rest for about 5-minutes so the oil can soak in. You’ll be surprised at how fast a thirsty board will soak up the oil! I know I was.

Once you have oiled the top of all your cutting boards let them rest for several hours or overnight to the oil really soak in. You may need to reapply another layer if your board seems especially dry.

Now you can oil the other side (remember, you’ll be using both sides to even out the wear). When both sides are well-oiled you can stand them on one edge and let them air dry. I like to use a plate or platter rack for this part.

After your boards have been well seasoned, you can come up with your own schedule. I re-season mine in December, after the holidays and again in June, before the busy BBQ season begins.

To tell if your boards need to be freshened up, simply dribble a few drops of water onto the board. If it “beads” it is fine. If not, it’s time to re-season.

Keeping up a routine means you and your cutting boards will be well-oiled partners in the kitchen. How cool would that be? A kitchen partner!

With the right seasoning and care, a wooden cutting board can last for years, and may even become a family heirloom.