Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meals in Review

Though I have slacked on reporting on the happenings in my kitchen, there have still be happenings. So, to make up for the lack of a January report, here is at least a sampling of some of the meals enjoyed at my house in the last month.

My first attempt at homemade Samosas (a savory, filled pocket of goodness), with a tsatsiki sauce and carrot/chickpea salad on the side along with some sauerkraut.

One of my favorites, homemade pizza on a yogurt dough crust (chicken, onions, garlic, and broccoli buried under cheese, tomatoes and pineapple) with saved sauce from last summer's farm harvest.

Another experiment: A roast with chili sauce and Mexican rice (that did not photograph well, my apologies).

I love having stand-by, 30-minute meals to go to when I do not want to think. But notice the "watermelon" radish that mildly spiced up the salad. It was a lovely new discovery for us.

Another experiment: Gluten-free cupcakes (I used arrowroot powder). In my paranoia, I pulled them out of the oven too soon, but once I perfect this recipe I will make sure to post it (AND the butter-cream frosting that topped them).

Valentine's Day breakfast with soured pancakes, yum!

February Challenge: Dress it Yourself

Making your own salad dressings is simple, cost-effective, and rewarding. Not only do you know exactly what is in your dressing, but you can also cater the blend and seasonings to match your main course. I typically only make enough for the night's meal (as olive oil gets quite hard in the refrigerator, and I never remember to take it out in time to return to room temperature before dinner). Once this becomes habit it takes all of 2 minutes to pour, shake, and dress. I use old glass spice jars to mix and shake. If you keep the top insert, it can also serve as a strainer for the smashed garlic.

As a very basic recipe, I do as follows (remember, dressings are totally subjective, use your nose and tongue to figure out what you like):

1 part vinegar (vary the vinegar to match your marinade/main course)
4-5 parts extra virgin olive oil
1 part flax oil (when I have it)
dollop of Dijon
squirt of lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
Herby blend to match dinner
smashed garlic clove
In season, a smashed berry or two

For creamy dressings, omit fruit, add an egg yolk, and add an anchovy or two and some grated Parmesan for Caesar (but this works best in slightly larger batches in your food processor. Caesar is the one dressing I don't mind saving in the fridge).

If you are feeling like you already soak your oats and make your own salad dressings and that my challenges are not challenging....just wait until March, which will be Love Your Liver Month. I will be challenged along with you then, but we are getting a full cow butchered to share with friends and I will get to keep the liver and put it to good use (I anticipate it being much larger than the chicken livers I am used to).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Preparing your own tomato seeds

This will be our first year with a garden. I am quite excited. Right now I am experimenting with preparing our own seeds from real food! I bought every organic variety of tomato at the grocery store (Roma, slicing, small round, cherry). I also want to find some grape tomatoes and we might have to buy some seeds.

I have never tried this before, but from what I have read, you can cut the tomatoes in half on the equator, squeeze out the juices and seeds, add some water, cover with plastic wrap, poke a small hole in the top, and let sit for several days removing the plastic once a day to stir the mixture (loosening all the seeds), and then drain and let completely dry out for several days. Then the seeds can be stored.

A fermentation process happens as you leave the seeds out, and this kills off any potential tomato diseases from ruining your seeds.

Soon we will plant our own starts and see what happens!


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