Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Blog Host

Dear Readers...ok, I know you're all really just friends & family at the moment,

I have set up The Kitchen Coven on a new blog host.  Google had somehow tagged me as "inappropriate" and therefore were not spidering my posts.   This meant that unless someone knew exactly what to write in a search bar, they were not being directed to my website.  Because of this, I have decided to set up The Kitchen Coven with Wordpress.org though DreamHost.com.  I was able to successfully transfer all my old blogs, future scheduled blogs, and comments to the new host.  This also means that I now own the domain name The Kitchen Coven (YAY) and it is an official "website" www.thekitchencoven.com (YAY)!

What does this mean for you?  Well it doesn't really mean anything unless you signed up to get subscription emails.  If you signed up for subscription emails, you will have to resign up at www.thekitchencoven.com.  That is it!

I hope to continue our love affair for non-corporate food on a much freer and friendlier forum!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bar Top: Coco Rico Mojito

I was at the local ethnic food market and came across this:


Coco Rico is a coconut soda from Puerto Rico.  Now, I don't drink soda but I was extremely intrigued.  I grabbed it and bought it.  I immediately though of rum.  I knew that this soda would go great with some rum.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Orange Marinated Red Pepper

I love bell peppers but I can't eat them raw so I don't buy them often because of that.  Which is a shame, really, because bell peppers add a lot of flavor to salads and can be a great snack.

I read Marc Matsumoto's blog "No Recipes" (and you should too!  His recipes are amazing!) and one day I received a post about "Grapefruit Pickled Peppers" and was very intrigued.  I read through the recipe and I had to try the method immediately.  This method makes a very crisp, marinated pepper that you can eat right out of the jar.  Marinating the peppers in a citrus juice "cooks" the peppers as the acid will break down the fibers a little bit. I have been eating these peppers almost everyday in an afternoon snack salad.  I hesitate to call these peppers "pickles" because technically they are not pickles, so I call them "marinated" peppers.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Knowing How to Can Rocks!

Knowing how to can rocks!  Learning how to can really opened my eyes to a whole different aspect of cooking and I've learned so much from it.  It also taps into my cheap skate side in that I can take advantage of sales.

Weis was having a huge sale the other day and knowing how to can allowed me to turn this:



Into this:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kale and White Beans

I have the never ending bag of kale right now.  I can't go through it fast enough!  I get a new bag of kale every week!  So, I've been thinking up ways to use it up and every time I try a new recipe, I fall more in love in kale.  It's just so darn versatile!  This time I wanted to make it with some beans.

White beans have become my favorite bean.  They don't break down during cooking and tend to keep their shape and flavor, plus they have a smooth, buttery flavor that just goes great with all kinds of vegetables.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Saga Continues: Vegetable Plants

The plants thank you for your prayers!
 
The plants are doing pretty well!  The tomatoes have really rooted down and are growing rather magnificently!  The lettuce was doing so well that I had to transplant one of them into it's own container, so now I have two containers of lettuce.  One of the cabbage was encroaching on the other one, so I transplanted that one into it's own container but I'm pretty sure that I was too late.  That one may be a goner.  We'll see if it thrives in it's own container, keep your fingers crossed for that one.  I also had an onion that started to sprout so I planted that in it's own container as well!  The basil has seen better days but I replaced the soil with new soil and planted it deeper into the soil.  Maybe that will help it root down some more?
 
I started with four pots and now have seven!  Oh, and my buddy, The Mountain Man, has a huge pot that he wants to give me.  I'm still mulling it over on if I will take it or not.  I don't want to plant anything else in case this turns out to be a complete failure!  Haha.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Maple Sugar Apple Rings

This is what goes through my mind when I'm walking through the farmers market:

"Ok, Jessica, you are here for fruit and vegetables that you will eat.  Don't get carried away.  Focus on your list."
"Yes, I will focus on my list.  I only need a few things:  carrots, onions, spinach - Oh look!  Smoked garlic!  That's interesting!"
"FOCUS"
"Yes, focusing on my - OMG!  Plants!  Aren't the peonies so pretty!  I should buy some!"
"You already started a container garden and it's...well - "
"- Oh, hush you, the tomatoes are doing fantabulous!"
"Yes but the cabbage has seen better days"
"Good point. Oooh look!  Bread!  I could buy a baguette and put it in my canvas grocery bag...it will be très français!"
"You bake bread from scratch for a fraction of what that bread costs!"
"You're right.  I don't need bread - but look!  Apples!"
"You don't eat apples out of hand!"
"I know but they are organic AND sustainable!  I have to support a sustainable farm! Right?  Right!"
"Ok, but you *will* eat the apples!"
"Of course I will eat the apples, silly!"

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Marinated Red Peppers

Sweet Red Bell Peppers were the first vegetable I canned.  When I first canned them, I wasn't sure what I was going to make with them.  By the time winter came, I made up a recipe with these marinated peppers and sausage that has turned into one of my favorite winter recipes.  Now, I make sure that I have enough cans to last me through the winter.  I will make sure that I can about 7-10 jars.

Before I tell you about the recipe, there are a few important notes I have to inform you of.  As discussed in "Let's Talk About:  Boiling Water Bath Canning" you can only safely BWB can vegetables if they are pickled or fermented somehow.  Also, it is important to note that you should never can with oil; this marinade has oil in it.  So, how does this recipe become safe to can if canning in oil is a big no-no? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Carne Asada

I haven't had carne asada in....hell, since I left Arizona.  Well, *real* carne asada that is.  Many places get really close to the real deal but don't quite make it there.  Carne Asada has a particular flavor that you know when you taste it and I never really knew what it was in the past, I always just bought pre-marinated carne asada from the carniceria in my neighborhood.  When I came across skirt steak at the commissary, I knew I had to make carne asada.  The weather has been warming up, the grass is growing, the leaves had exploded into all their vibrant green glory, it was time to fire up the grill.  I did some research and came across a recipe that sounded promising.

It's really hard to come across skirt steak in MD.  The steak most similar to skirt steak that I have found is flank steak and while it's similar, it does not give the same flavor as skirt.  However, you can still use flank if that's all you can find.

Skirt Steak, see how long and thin it is!

Skirt steak is the long piece of meat taken from the diaphragm.  It is known for it's flavor but it is not very tender so you must marinade it.  The marinade is the secret to carne asada and this marinade is the real deal.  The marinade is what I shall share with you today.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ball Heritage Collection Jars

I got them!  I got them the other day!  I have been anxiously waiting for my set to come in the mail!


My Blue Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars from Ball!  Aren't they soooooo pretty.  You see, it's Ball's 100 year anniversary this year!  They started making canning jars in 1913.  They are famous for their antique blue jars; and, they are very hard to come by now-a-days.  For their 100 year anniversary, they released a series of blue jars.  Now the modern blue jars are not made the same way as the antique blue jars and the blue color is not exactly the same but they are still pretty!  I bought a pack of blue jars because I know that these jars will be with me for a long time, I know that canning will be with me for (probably) the rest of my life, and I wanted to have my own set of blue jars to pass down to my kids/grandkids (if God ever blesses me with children...someday it may happen!).  I can't wait to fill them!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Red "Curry" Kale

My Early Spring CSA from Brad's Produce started and I have an endless supply of greens.  Around this time of year, my diet turns virtually vegetarian.  My favorite veggies are spring veggies:  asparagus, kale, spinach, spring lettuce, spring onion, etc.  Since we have been getting a bag full of kale every week, I've been eating kale in some way, shape, or form, almost every day.  One of the great things about kale is that it's so versatile and the leaves cling to any sauce that you toss with it.


Because it's still very chilly in MD at the moment (come on, Arizona girl here!  60s is COLD!), I thought that a nice warm curry would be awesome.  There was one catch.  I had everything in my pantry for Red Curry Kale...except the coconut milk.  I had cream and wanted to use the cream in place of coconut milk.  "But Jessica," you say, "You can't have curry without coconut milk!" 

I know.  I was in a conundrum.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mexican Taqueria Pickles

Do you know how you know you are in a *real* taqueria?  Or at a *real* taqueria food truck?

I'll tell you.  Always look for the salsa bar but that's not it.  Go to the salsa bar and look for one thing:  taqueria pickles.  Do you know the type?  The mix of carrots, radishes, onion, and peppers that you can put in those little plastic condiment bowls.  If the taqueria has those pickles, you know you've picked the right spot.  These pickles complete any taco...especially a carne asada taco.

Being from Arizona, I could find these pickles everywhere.  Whenever I would get a craving, just go to the grocery store!  They are always there and always in abundance.

Living in MD it's hard enough to find a Mexican restaurant, let alone a place that serves something that resembles taqueria pickles. 


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Don't Waste That: Mushroom & Persillade Stuffed Chicken

Now *this* recipe was *not* a miscalculation!  This was yummy.  Really yummy.

I had a handful of mushrooms rolling around in my fridge.  These were the remaining few from a package that I had bought at the farmers market and I had to do something with them before they dried out.  Thinking of how bright and nutty I found the persillade, I though that it would go great with the woody flavor of the mushrooms.  However, I didn't have enough mushrooms to make a big enough side -and- I had only one lone chicken breast defrosted in the fridge (which needed to get used up too before it went bad).  I thought that I could oomph the serving of the chicken by making it a stuffed chicken.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Appalling Miscalculation: Chicken Liver Pasta

I'm always up for trying something different so when I came across Martha Stewart's recipe for Rigatoni with Chicken Livers, I was intrigued.  Mister loves fried chicken gizzards so I thought that I would surprise him with Chicken Liver Pasta for dinner.  Gizzards, liver, same difference right?

The Nutless Wonder, back there, is eyeballing my Chicken Livers!
 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Persillade

I went to the farmer's market this past weekend and came across a smoking deal for some parsley.  Two bunches for five dollars!  So many things were running through my head on what I could do with that parsley.  One of them was Persillade.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Vegetable Plants

OH.

MY.

GOD.

What did I just do?  I came home from Home Depot with this:

What the heck got into me?  I'm a city girl, damn it!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Chardonnay Kumquat Marmalade

From a distance, it may seem like I really love me some kumquats.  I mean, kumquats are tiny little fruit and I've already posted many recipes about them...but, while I do enjoy kumquats I do not luuurrrrvvvvvvveeeeee kumquats.  Let me tell you a little story about this batch. 
 
This batch of kumquats was the "original" batch of kumquats that I ordered.  I ordered them through a certain online distribution company (not a farm) and when I received an email back confirming my order I was extremely excited, "Kumquats!  I will finally get kumquats!".  So I anxiously waited and waited...and waited...and waited.  After the first week and a half I tried to send an email to the distribution company to ask when my fruit would be delivered.  The email was bounced back as not deliverable.  Hm.
 
oh sweet kumquats, you have been on quite an adventure!
 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Triple Sec

I came across this recipe just in time.  I was fresh out of Triple Sec and down to my last dash of Cointreau and I was going to go out and buy an orange liqueur when I came across this gem.  I love, love, love margaritas and since I love making my own homemade liqueurs I decided, "why not?" (if you've been following me from the inception of this blog, you probably have realized that I just go for it when it comes to making my own food.)  I had just gotten my crate of oranges from Pearson Ranch California Oranges and wanted to use a few for this liqueur and am I glad I did.

Homemade Triple Sec!  Can't wait to try this!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beer Brats & Kraut

One of my most favorite - favorite - winter dishes (ok, I'll eat it no matter the season!) is Beer Brats & Kraut.  I was first introduced to this method of cooking brats and kraut by my college boyfriend who was the stereotypical Johnny America.  Tall, blond hair, blue eyes, and from small town USA; Keokuk, Iowa to be exact.  I was never a big fan of bratwursts until he made them for me this way.  Apparently, this is the main way they make bratwursts in Keokuk, Iowa (he also taught me how to eat steak but that's another story for another day.  Apparently my whole life, up until I met him, I was eating steak the wrong way and was he ever right.  Those Iowa boys know two things very well:  corn and beef!)


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beer Bread

Beer bread is a heavy, tasty quick bread that uses yeast in the beer as a levener.  I love beer breads for their versatility as the bread will take on whatever flavor of the beer that you use.  When I make a beer marinade for steaks, I will serve this bread with the steaks as my carbohydrate.  They also make a great snack.  Warm a slice up in the oven or microwave and add a pad of butter, mmm mmm mmmmmmmm...
Who doesn't like beer?  Mmmmmmm

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sauerkraut

 I hate sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I always knew was the sauerkraut that came out of the can from the grocery store.  The way it smelled, the way it looked, the way it cooked.  I just never understood what everyone loved about it.  I also didn't understand what it was.  What the heck was it?  I mean, I knew it was cabbage but what the heck made it so limp and awful?

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage.  You massage cabbage with salt so that the cabbage leaches out it's own water.  Then you let the cabbage sit in the brine and work it's magic.  When I started preserving my own food, I kept turning to the sauerkraut recipes.  They looked so easy...but, I hated sauerkraut so I wasn't sure I wanted to try it.

Finally, I decided to jump in feet first and I'm glad I did.  Turns out I don't really hate sauerkraut at all.  In fact, I love it!  The stuff I hated was the grocery store canned garbage.  Homemade sauerkraut is completely different.  It's tangy and crispy with layers of sweet and salty.  It's wonderful!

Now I can say that I *used* to hate sauerkraut.  Now I can say I love it!  I really do.  I'm a sauerkraut eating machine!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Seared Lemon & Garlic Salmon

The best damn way to cook salmon.  Hands. Down.

Go preheat your oven to 400.

Once I learned how to make salmon this way, I have never gone back.  It's my go to method and absolutely flawless.  It doesn't mater what you put on the fish, really, this method will get you perfect salmon every. damn. time.

Grab an oven proof skillet


Preserved lemon rind, garlic, & a chili pepper


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Salt & Pepper Preserved Kumquats

Since salt preserved lemons and oranges do so well in my kitchen, I decided to make salt preserved kumquats with the 5 pounds I had recieved.  I like kumquats as a snack but I can only eat 4 or 5 at a time before I can't eat anymore and I still had a whole bowl to go.

Since kumquats are so sour, I wanted to mellow them out a bit and make them more savory.  I made about a 1:3 ratio of pepper:kosher salt and used this to salt preserve the kumquats.

First you want to slice off the blossom end of the kumquat and then slice down from the blossom end to the bottom but not all the way through...you want to keep the kumquat intact.  If it's a big kumquat you want to then make another slice perpendicular to the first slice, all the way but again keeping the kumquat in tact.  Stuff the salt and pepper mixture into the kumquat and place the kumquat in a sterile quart jar.

Make sure you have no cuts on your fingers.  OUCH!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Don't Waste That: Whey (French Bread)

Remember when we made yogurt and after draining the yogurt we ended up with about a pint of whey.  I told you to save it and you'll be glad that you did.  We are going to use the whey to make french bread.  You can substitute whey for water in any bread recipe.  Whey adds a wonderful understated, deeper flavor to bread.  Once you make bread with whey you will never go back to making bread with just water again.  French bread is the most simple yeast breads to make - it's just flour, salt, water (in this case whey), and yeast - and it's a great bread to teach yourself how to bake.  It's not too terribly finicky and it doesn't take a lot of time nor a lot of ingredients so if it doesn't turn out, then you can't really be disappointed.

If you have never made bread before I suggest you start by using All Purpose flour.  All Purpose Flour is so forgiving.  I have made french bread with whole wheat and a blend of whole wheat and all purpose flour, but you need an extra ingredient called Vital Wheat Gluten.  Wheat flour does not have the same amount of gluten as white flour so if you are not skilled, the bread will not rise.

Start with All Purpose Flour to get your confidence up and once you can churn out consistent french bread loaves, you can start playing around with the wheat flour ratio!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Empty Jars

I have my blog posts written, generally, two weeks in advance.  I have them planned out much further.  Today I was going to post my general planned blog post but in light of the recent attacks on the Boston Marathon, I have pushed this post earlier.


It just so happened that I was thinking about the lifecycle of jars this weekend and how we come across our jars.  Some jars are bought.  Some jars are given.  Some jars are found while scouring thrift stores, antique stores, and yard sales.  When you become a canner, jars become a sacred place in your kitchen; they hold life!  They hold something that sustains you and your family. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things: 32nd St Farmer's Market

There's a farmer's market I go to in Baltimore that I love that is popular enough to have many different varities of stands but not hipster enough where it's overcrowded and you can't navigate:  The 32nd Street Farmer's Market. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yogurt

 
It sounds silly but yogurt holds a special place in my heart.  Yogurt was the very first food I started making homemade in my kitchen. 
 
I eat a lot of yogurt.  About 1/4 to a 1/2 cup everyday so it was taking a big chunk out of my food budget.  I had done some research on yogurt and thought that it wouldn't be that hard to make on my own.  Then I hit the jackpot!  That very weekend I was thrift store shopping and I found a yogurt maker for $2!  I have never looked back!  Homemade yogurt is soooooooooo much better than the yogurt you find in the grocery store and it is soooooooo much cheaper to make it at home.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's Talk About: Dairy

There's a lot to say about the state of corporate dairy in America.

A lot of it bad.

I've been thinking about this post since I started this blog.  I wasn't sure how I was going to state my feelings about dairy - or if I even was going to state my feelings at all.  I'm still not sure.  I want to write this post to inform you of the state of corporate dairy and from there you can make the best decision for your family.  Some people don't have a choice but to feed their family corporate dairy.  A gallon of grocery store brand milk is a quarter of the price (even less) than a gallon of milk from a dairy that strives for grass fed cows - especially a family with teenagers.  I know when my brother and I were teenagers, we were going through a gallon of milk a day.  My poor mother, we just about drank her out of house and home!  I just hope to inform you of the different qualities of milk so that you can consciously make a decision.  That being said, I'd rather you feed your family milk, even corporate milk, than sugar laden soda and juice.

Mooo.  I like grass!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Preserved Lemon Paste

Have you ever come across an idea so simple, so easy, and so ingenious that you automatically went, "DOH!  WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!"  That happened to me.  It was there, right in front of my face the whole time and I didn't even think to do it!


I use Preserved Lemons in a *lot* of recipes but sometimes I'm just too lazy to chop *another* ingredient...but I still want that lemon flavor.  What's a girl to do?  Sadly I would forgo the lemon....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bar Top: Marmalade Whiskey Sour


Here's a whiskey sour with a more feminine flare.  It uses marmalade as the sugar base instead of simple syrup and an egg white to make it frothy.  I love to serve it in my retro coop glasses to up the sophistication level.  Your significant other might look at you crazy when you hand them this whiskey sour but they will forgive you once they taste it because, although it looks feminine, the taste is pure whiskey.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Orange Pepper Pork and Kale

There are many food blogs out there that center on the romance of cooking and that's great but the typical, average family (even single person) doesn't have time for meals that take a lot of energy and time to cook.  Let's face it, between all the things we are "supposed" to do, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, read to your kids, help them with homework, walk the dog twice a day, wash your face before you go to bed, get 8 hours of sleep, drink 2 liters of water, etc, etc, etc, now here I am telling you that we can't trust our corporate food sources and we should make most everything from scratch?!  IS YOU CRAZY, WOMAN?!  WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT?! 

It can be done.  During the week I rarely spend more than 25 minutes putting dinner together and most of them are one pot meals.

Who doesn't love one pot meals?  There's nothing like being able to throw together a quick, nutritious meal with minimal dishes.  I think if more people knew how to cook one pot meals, more people would be eating from scratch.

dried orange zest strips, a shake of pepper corn, and a pinch of sea salt

Remember the dried orange zest strips we made?  We are going to use them to make an Orange Pepper rub for thin cut pork chops.  That orange vinegar we made, we are going to use that to steam the kale.  Now go grab you your biggest pan with a lid. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Soda Scones

What is Soda Bread?  When I first heard of it, I thought it was bread made with actual Soda Pop!  It is not!  Soda bread is a quick, heavy bread made with baking soda as the levening agent. The earliest references of using "baking soda" as a levener are through the American Indians who began using potash in their breads centuries ago.
 
So, how did soda bread became so completely Irish?
 
Soft wheat is the only wheat that is really able to grow in Ireland's harsh climates and soft wheat does not do well with yeast.  Yeast needs gluten to rise and soft wheat just does  not provide the gluten.  Bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland around the 1840s.  The Irish had discovered that using baking soda instead of yeast and adding an acid, like sour milk, would give them a quick bread. By 1845, the Great Potato Famish was in full swing and it is believed that it spurred soda breads popularity, giving rise to many different types of soda bread.  Soda bread is an easy, quick, and cheap bread to make; all you need is flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk (modern recipes call for buttermilk), so one can see how it would become popular during the Potato Famine.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Riesling Kumquat Syrup

One of the first things that popped into my mind after I received the kumquats  was syrup.  I wanted to make a fruity, citrusy syrup to add to my bar.  Not only that, I wanted to be able to pour it over pancakes, ice cream, yogurt, basically anything that would benefit from a pop of citrus.  Having tasted the kumquats, aside from their great burst of citrus flavor, I thought of Riesling.  Hence, Riesling Kumquat Syrup was born.
 
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Marmalade Basted Chicken

I love to make a good baste with marmalade and 3 Citrus Marmalade is just the right one!  The sugars in the marmalade creates a lovely crust over cooked meat because it caramelizes under the heat.  The best way to cook this is to cook in the broiler (in the winter) or over the grill (in the summer).

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preserved Kumquats

In "Canning for a New Generation", Liana Krissoff has a recipe for a drink called the Kumquat Knickerbocker.  I have been pining for this drink since I bought the book and I finally bit the bullet.  Being a fan of kumquats, I decided to go all in and order 5 pounds from Beck Grove.  This recipe is a sweet preserve, preserving the kumquats in sugar.  the method is fairly easy as you keep the kumquats whole, only cutting two small slits in each.  This is my first year preserving kumquats, so it shall be interesting to see how the preserved kumquats come out. and how I decide to incorporate them into my recipes.  My mind is already churning on how to use these little guys and not just for my liquor cabinet!  I'm thinking pork, duck, lamb, chicken, and even venison! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kitchen Tactics: Eating a Fresh Kumquat


I know what you're thinking, "Does this woman think we are idiots?  How hard is it to eat a kumquat?!"  Trust me on this, there is a technique.  If you just pop a kumquat into your mouth like a grape, chances are you are going to make a face like this:


GIFSoup

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bar Top: Frozen Pomelo Minty Margarita

Now this is a margarita you can eat with a spoon!

This is quite a yummy take on margaritas and my own special concoction!  Since pomelos are pretty fibrous and not very juicy, this margarita is best serve frozen.  Remember the left over  mint syrup we had from canning the grapefruit in minty syrup?  We are going to use it here (see, I told you not to throw it out!).

First, you will segment your pomelo.  Now that you have your pomelo ready to go, you will need the following:  Tequila, cointreau, fresh lime, minty syruip, pomelo segments, ice, bar shaker, shot measure, and a blender.

Ignore everything in the background...I have a small kitchen, ok!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don't Waste That: Citrus Peels

I hate waste of any kind.  If I throw something out I feel so ashamed and guilty.  Some people may call me cheap but when something is perfectly fine, I try to find another use for it.  One thing that has a lot of uses are citrus peels.  I save them.  All of them.  If I take an orange to work, I wrap up the orange peel in a paper towel and bring it home - I know, I know.  I can feel your judging eyes.  If I use the juice of a lemon or lime in a recipe, I save the peel. 

These last few weeks I've been eating an orange a day and I've been saving those peels for another use:  Orange Vinegar.


When I make orange vinegar for eating, I always zest the orange because the pith will give the vinegar a bitter taste.  Add the orange zest to a quart jar, fill with vinegar, and steep. 


After it's steeped for a good amount of time (a month or more; taste it to make sure it's at the flavor you want), strain and bottle.  This vinegar is yummy in a lot of things: adding it in marinades, adding to sauteed greens, using it in a salad dressing.  The possibilities are endless.


Another tip: do not throw the pith out after you zest it.  Throw the pith down your garbage disposal, turn it on, and it will help disinfect and clean it!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homemade Extracts

I do *a lot* of baking hence I use quite a bit of extract.  Extracts can be so expensive to buy in the stores; $3 or more for a tiny bottle of extract.  Because of this, I have started making my own.  My very first extract that I ever made was vanilla extract.  This year, I'm going to make four:  Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, and Vanilla.  I'm a little little nervous about the grapefruit extract because I don't generally like the taste of grapefruit peel, I find it too bitter, but the cost to make homemade extracts is negligible so I'm going for it!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Preserved Oranges

Remember when we did Preserved Lemons?  Well, you can do the same thing with oranges (and limes and gragefruit, basically any citrus)!  I don't use preserved oranges as much as preserved lemons but they are great for a well stocked home bar.  You know all those annoying drink recipes that call for a "twist of orange" and you're like, "Damn it!  I'm not going to buy an orange just for a twist!"  I just replace that twist with a sliver of preserve orange rind!  It gives your drink the same oomph as a fresh twist and you don't have to do without; plus, you can eat the rind!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Three Citrus Marmalade

I've always been on the fence about marmalade.  Some commercial marmamalades are too tart, some are too bitter, and some are too sweet.  There are hardly any that I could find that I really truely liked.  So, when I recieved Eugenia Bone's book Well-Preserved, it surprised me that I really wanted to try her Three Citrus Marmalade.  It sounded so good on the page.  Yes, the very first jam I ever made was a marmalade (what can I say?  I'm an overachiever!).  It was hell.  I stayed up until 4 am making it...but you know what?  The next day when I tried some of the excess marmalade with toast, it was amazing.  The.  Best.  Marmalade.  Ever.  Having a mix of three different citrus really balances out the individual strong flavors of all the citrus.  I really want you to make this marmalade.  Really.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Grapefruit in Minty Syrup

My friends at Pearson Ranch California Oranges helped me out again.  Right now they have a combo citrus pack with 10 pounds Oros Blancos and 8 pounds Pomelos.

The other "grapefruit" are Pomelos

Oros Blancos are the smaller grapefruit.  They are a very light yellow and their fruit is a golden color.  They are much sweeter and not as tart nor as sour as Ruby Red or Pink Grapefruit.  They are a lovely mild grapefruit that is sweet at the front on your tongue but mildly tart once it hits the back.  These would be a great grapefruit for those of you that do not enjoy the brash tartness of the Ruby Reds.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kitchen Tactics: Segmenting Citrus

Segmenting citrus is not my idea of a good time, however, for the sake of quality it is very important to segment citrus for canning (and for some recipes in general).  Keeping the membrane on any citrus will turn your canned product into an overly bitter item that is uneatable and, trust me on this, when you spend time canning a product it sucks to throw it out because it's unpalatable.  Also, there are  some citrus that have very thick membranes (like grapefruit and pomelo) that just ruins the flavor of the fruit because it's just too chewy to enjoy.  I love grapefruit but I hate cutting it in half and eating it with a spoon (I know, I'm high maintenance) so when I buy grapefruit, I will segment 2 or 3 of them at a time and then eat them within a few days.

For the sake of example (and because I have 8 pounds in my fridge),  I will show you how to segment citrus using a pomelo.  Pomelos are a very big grapefruit.  In fact, they are  considered the grand-daddy of grapefruit.  Their rind is thick and their pith is extra thick and super spongy.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lemony Seafood Pasta

I love seafood like it's nobody's business.  I would eat seafood every day if I could.  Moving to Maryland was one of the greatest things I did for my gastronomy because the seafood is so cheap and plentiful out here!  It's amazing!  I think I ate seafood straight for a month or two when I first moved here (partly because I didn't realize that it's here all the time!)  One of my favorite products to buy is the frozen mixed seafood bags.  They are fairly cheap and you get a lot of meat for the price so they are a great deal.

No! No! No! Don't turn your nose up!
I promise, we have something great planned!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bar Top: Brown Sugar Whiskey Sour

I was never an imbiber of whiskey sours before.  Every time I tried one, they were just...very disappointing.  Maybe it was the premixed sweet and sours that bars use in their drinks.  YUCK!  Once I started really getting into setting up a home bar, however, a whole new range of drinks that I didn't like before, were suddenly delicious!  Using quality ingredients in your drinks will turn any drink from blah to amazing...you won't even need the highest top of the line liquor either!  I've made this whiskey sour with rye whiskey and bourbon.  Both of them are excellent.

This whiskey sour takes whiskey sour to a whole 'nother level.  I present to you:  The Brown Sugar Whiskey Sour:


Brown Sugar Whiskey Sour

Adapted from The Vintage Mixer

Yield:  1 cocktail

Juice from half a lemon
1/4 oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
1.5 oz Straight Rye Whiskey
  1. Pour 1/4 oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup in a rocks glass, add juice from half a lemon, add Whiskey, stir, add ice.  Enjoy.
  2. Add more brown sugar simple syrup or whiskey to suit your taste.
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

1.  Mix sugar and water in a small pot and simmer until brown sugar dissolves.  Turn off heat, pour into a jar and cool.  Store in the fridge.



Monday, March 18, 2013

Candied Lemons

Remember when I told you to keep the lemon peel from the lemons we juiced for the canned lemonade concentrate?  Well, wait until you try these homemade candies!  Making homemade candies makes my heart sing with joy and candied lemons are fantastic.  There is just so much you can do with them and I plan on posting recipes in the future. 

Take the peel from 10 juiced lemons, remove the pulp of the lemon, and pick out any rough pith.  If the skins are really thick, you may have to cut off some of the pith.

 


Friday, March 15, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things: Pearson Ranch California Oranges

I adore lemons probably more than any other food, especially of the citrus group.  I grew up in Arizona and always took lemons, well citrus in general, for granted.  They were everywhere and always for free.  Someone somewhere, either at work or in your neighborhood, had a lemon tree that just grew too many lemons.

No more scurvy for me!  Yar!

Then I moved to Maryland and the the lemon party was over.  WHAT?!  How do these people live without lemons?!  I didn't even know it was possible.  Lemons are worth their weight in gold here.  The sad thing is, citrus in Maryland are generally in a sad state.  By the time they are picked by the corporate Florida farms, then boxed, shipped to a distribution corporation, trucked to Maryland, distributed to the grocery store, wait in the grocery store cold room, make it to the shelves, to *finally* get picked by a customer, the citrus are dried and shriveled.  It's really quite sad.  That should not be the life of a citrus fruit.  The citrus you can find from the Farmer's Markets are not much better, considering that they still have to get trucked to the farmers - and some of the farmers that sell year round do deal with distribution companies.  After my upteenth dried out orange/lime/lemon, I have, for the most part, stayed away from citrus since I've been here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Canned Lemonade Concentrate

Folks, I pulled out the big gun:


The dehydrator holds all the citrus peel!

The love of my life, my Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer and her attachment, the citrus juicer.  I love lemonade and last year I made a limited number of canned lemonade concentrate.  I did not make enough and I ran out halfway through the year.  Booooooo.  This year, I was determined to make enough lemonade concentrate to last the whole year.

So, we had the 15 zested lemons from the limoncello and the 15 zested lemons from the dried peel, cut those lemons in half and juice them.  Then cut in half and juice more lemons to equal 9 cups of lemon juice (DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PEEL!  WE ARE GOING TO MAKE SOMETHING WITH THEM!).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kitchen Tactics: Boiling Water Bath Canning

Yesterday in the "Let's Talk About" series, "Let's Talk About:  Boiling Water Bath Canning", we discussed the reasons why BWB canning works.  In order to not make either post huge, I decided to break it down into two parts.  Today we are going to discuss *how* to BWB can.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's Talk About: Boiling Water Bath Canning

This is a long, boring post but it is extremely important.  Please read it before you start any BWB canning!

There are several ways that you can preserve your food:  freezing, drying, pickling, pressure canning, Boiling water bath (BWB) canning, preserving in oil, curing, and smoking.  Most of my preservation techniques center on freezing, pickling, and BWB canning.  This year my goal is to expand into drying and pressure canning.  I'm not much of a preserving in oil fan as the foods that you preserve in oil become mushy as time goes on and they really don't last that long.  Somethings preserved in oils will only be good for a month or two and if I'm going to put so much time into something, what's the point?  I don't do curing or smoking, either.  It's just way too easy to buy cured and smoked meats to put the time and effort into curing and smoking.  Today, we are going to talk about Boiling Water Bath canning.

BWB CANNING CAN ONLY BE DONE FOR HIGH ACID FOODS!

Let me repeat, BWB CANNING CAN ONLY BE DONE FOR HIGH ACID FOODS!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dried Citrus Zest Strips

I was in the grocery store today as there was meat on sale and because I can never go to the grocery store for only one thing, I ran into this in the spice aisle:


SIX DOLLARS AND 50 CENTS?!  SIX DOLLARS AND 50 CENTS for 1.5oz of "California Lemon Peel"?!  Are you kidding me?!  Is this stuff powdered gold?!  And, knowing how corporations like to cut corners, you know that this is not made from Meyer Lemons. 

But wait, it gets better!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Real Deal Limoncello, First Phase

Do yourselves a favor and start this Limoncello with me.  This method for Limoncello will create the best damn Limoncello you’ve ever had.  It’s amazing and it takes about 9 months to completely mature, so start it now.   It will be ready to bottle by Christmas.  You can bottle it and keep it for yourself or give it as gifts to people who really deserve it. 

First, you will need a 750ml bottle of vodka, not necessarily high end but one that’s good enough that you would serve to other people (I like using Skyy), and a 750ml bottle of Everclear.   Next, you’ll need 15 lemons who’s skins are just about perfect.  You don’t want many bruises because we need the zest.  Finally, you need a good vegetable peeler and a 2 gallon glass jar.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Preserved Lemons

If you’ve never made preserved lemons before, you are completely missing out.  I got interested in the idea of preserved lemons after getting tired of forgotten fresh lemons drying out and going bad.  It’s always frustrating to throw out wasted produce.  Especially lemons.  When I received my first ever preserving book, Canning for a New Generation, one of the first recipes I tried was “Preserved Lemons”.  Let me tell you:  Preserved Lemons have changed my life.  I can now order lemons in bulk when they are seasonally at their best and enjoy the taste of lemons all year long!  As much cooking – and*ahemdrinkingahem* – as I do, one quart of preserved lemons lasts me about a year.  Preserved Lemons are pickled lemons that have been pickled in their juices and salt.  You can use the pulp of the preserved lemons in recipes, however, keep in mind that it is salty and briny.  The magic of the preserved lemon is in the rind.  The rind becomes a beautiful, soft, chewy pickle that is palatable and goes a long way in recipes.  I know it seems counterintuitive to eat citrus rind but trust me on this.  In the middle of summer when lemons are not at their best - or when you just don't want to go to the grocery store - I have substituted finely chopped preserved lemon rind in any recipe that calls for lemon zest.  I have whirred up a few slices in the blender and used the paste in recipes that call for lemon juice.  There's a great lemon vinaigrette and a great Preserved Lemon Roasted Chicken recipes that I use with these lemons (those recipes to follow in the future).  Pretty soon, you will find that your refrigerator feels empty without a jar within reach.

Friday, March 8, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons...


Folks, I have a confession to make:  I love it when life hands me lemons.  I mean, look at these beauties!  I received them the other day from Pearson Ranch California Oranges.  They have engulfed my kitchen with a beautiful sweet scent that is just gorgeous and makes me smile.  They are a burst of much needed sunshine in my dreary Maryland kitchen. And, I have plans for these babies.  Oh yes, I’m turning this 20 lbs box into several gorgeous homemade yummies.  Just you wait and see.  These next few days I will post what I did to break down this wonderful box of lemons!  For now, though, I will enjoy a slice of lemon in my water!



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eliminating Processed Food: My Journey

I know what you're thinking, "This girls blog is a *hot mess*"  I know, I know.  I am working on the layout of my blog but I am bursting with ideas and I just have to share them with you!  So, I decided to start writing even as the image of my blog takes a life of it's own.

A little about myself:  I am not a chef.  I am not a master canner.  I am not even a nutritionist.  What I am is a person that is concerned with the state of "food" in the USA.  I believe that food in the USA is becoming "food".  "Food" in quotation marks.  "Food" is not food; "food" is fake.  So, I decided to do something about it.  I am on a mission to take out as much preservatives from my diet as possible.  I plan to discuss the issues of "food" in America along with canning and recipes that I have come across that are delicious.  I eat as seasonally (and locally) as possible and when in bounty I preserve.  I also do not let anything go to waste.  Most of my recipes are pretty nutritious, not all of them are uber-healthy (especially during the winter), but all of them are real.  I wanted to start around late winter, early spring so that you can see the process of my planning, canning, and cooking through out the seasonal year.  Too many people believe that cooking fresh and seasonally takes up too much work, but I hope to show you that with a little bit of time, a little bit of planning, and a little bit of knowledge about your produce, you can create a kitchen that is virtually preservative free.

This is my journey in eliminating processed foods and I hope you join me.