Tag Archives: cooking

Canned wild grapes

How to Preserve Wild Grape Juice

I’m not sure there is an easier recipe for canning grapes than this one. It’s a good thing since our entire East side of the yard is mile high with them. What you will end up with is a grape juice concentrate that can be diluted and sweetened to taste.  You get the full-bodied flavor of grapes because you are essentially canning whole grapes. This is a great first recipe for new Canners.

Canned Grape Juice

7 Quart Jars with lids and bands

14 cups wild grapes

Boiling water

Sugar if desired (you can certainly add it now or when you are ready to serve.)

Sterilize your jars

Fill with 2 cups of grapes

Pour boiling water over grapes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace

Cap immediately

Hot water bath can them for 10 minutes

Allow to cool before storing

Wait 2 weeks before using.

To Use

Open quart jar and pour through a strainer into a 2 quart container. Add 1 quart cold water and taste for sweetness. Add additional sugar or other sweetener as desired.

I find that the kids love this juice with little to no added sweetener. You may have to adjust for the variety of grapes you are using, so don’t worry if  you have to taste, sweeten, taste, repeat.

Happy Fall!!

wild grapes on the vine
Wild grapes on the vine

 

 

New Pressure Canning Book On The Way

Pressure Canning FoodsIf you have been reading for a while, you know that I love food preservation just as much as I love to cook. There is something about shopping in my own pantry and freezer that makes me slightly giddy with joy.  Over the years, I have written books on all sorts of food preservation: Canning and Preserving for Dummies, Canning and Preserving All in One, Fermenting for Dummies. Each one is filled with good ideas and recipes for creating homemade meals from the farm kitchen.

I never could understand why the art of pressure canning wasn’t as popular as it once was. I think it fell out of favor when people had access to frozen foods and that meant a lot less work. The rise of convenience foods meant the decline of doing things ourselves.

Pressure canning is an important part of my everyday life, and I am excited to be bringing you another book on the subject. I am working on a  book titled Modern Pressure Canning, and it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

It’s not just a traditional canning recipe book, and I will be sharing many of the fun and funky recipes that help me be creative cook throughout the year.  I’m excited to see what you think, and will be blogging my journey from recipe box to full color book. Stay tuned!

Do you pressure can anything? Share in the comments below!

Best Ever Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe

There are just some things that taste better when they are homemade. Chocolate syrup is one of those things. It’s richer, sweeter in a better way, thicker, and more chocolaty with no aftertaste than the ones sold in stores.

I like making it on a regular basis and finding ways to switch it up. The original recipe calls for vanilla, but I have added cayenne pepper or cinnamon or almond or even coconut flavors to the syrup. Really, this is just a decadent topping for anything you can think of: cakes, ice cream, pies, milk, cocoa, coffee. It’s so good and easy to make. I hope you find it useful!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1 Cup cocoa

2 Cups Sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 Cup water

1 Tbsp vanilla

Add all ingredients except the vanilla and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes (stir it all the time!) and then remove from heat. Once it’s cooled enough not to burn you, stir in the vanilla. That’s it! As it cools, this becomes a luscious syrup consistency that is so much better than the squeeze bottle you buy at the store.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup

Homemade Chicken Soup

If I had to grab just one of my kitchen appliances with a minute’s notice, it would be my pressure cooker. I use it at least two or three times a week and helps me get dinner on the table in record time. Now that it’s winter and of course everyone is sick, we eat quite a bit of chicken soup, and the pressure cooker is the perfect way to make it. This soup takes 30 minutes to make and tastes as if I cooked all day. It’s perfect.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup

Place frozen 2-3 pound chicken into the pressure cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Release pressure and set aside chicken. To the broth, add:

1/2 cup raw brown rice

Your favorite vegetables; I used a handful of baby carrots, two handfuls of baby kale, 10 Brussels sprouts cut in half, 1 cup leftover sweet corn from last year’s garden

Separate chicken from bones and return to pot

Add enough water to cover, making sure you don’t overfill (my cooker has markers on the inside, which I filled to the 8 cup mark)

Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes

Release the pressure quickly and it’s ready. The broth is rich and flavorful, the vegetables are done perfectly, and the chicken still has plenty of taste. It’s truly an easy way to make a meal.

If you save your bones from previous chicken dinners and cook them for the first 15 minutes, the resulting broth is basically free and full of nutrition. It’s another way to stretch your budget and still eat well.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

These little gems are awesome! I never knew how easy it was to make glazed nuts, and wanted to use up the last of the nuts in the cupboard from our gluttony around the holidays. Now, we can eat these by the handful, or chop them up and top a cake or ice cream with something with a little bit of zing. I have had excellent luck getting my little chefs to eat salad with these added to the top. On to the recipe!!

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Stir after the first 10 minutes.
Pour baked nuts over parchment until cool.
Store in a glass jar, although they won’t last long.

The Finished Jar of Homemade Horseradish

Hot And Spicy In The Kitchen: Making Horseradish


The Finished Jar of Homemade Horseradish

At the farmer’s market this morning, I bought a large root of horseradish. Actually, I only bought half of the piece, because it didn’t smell that spicy, and I was worried it would be too mild. Isn’t it lovely?

Making ground horseradish is pretty important for our winter’s diet. The spicy oomph that it brings to the heavier dishes, can’t be beat. Even the kids like it mixed with mashed potatoes or to make a spicy dip for fries. For our family, having 4 jars of this condiment is a must have.

The strange thing about horseradish, is that it loses its flavor when cooked, so I can’t seal the jars. Although they are not sealed, it stays fresh and delicious just sitting in the back of my fridge.

To make horseradish yourself, find a fat root of it at the market:

 

 

After washing (it can be pretty dirty), peel the skin and ends.

Chunk it up and place into a food processor, with a pinch of salt and 1/8 cup of white vinegar.

Blend until smooth.

 

WARNING: After blending, keep your face away from the top as you open it. The fumes are very strong. Then, place in your canning jar with a lid and band. Place in fridge to store.

 

For more info on horseradish,

Horseradish also makes a fantastic flu tonic

A post I did for EarthEats.org

 

 

Late Summer Rhubarb Crisp

If you shop with a tight budget, and only go once or twice a month to the store, there are inevitably going to be times when the larder is becoming bare and still it isn’t Grocery Day. With experience, these times become a day or two at most, but it is always nice to have someone up the proverbial apron sleeve, to make a meal feel special, without a lot of extras that you may be out of.

Tonight, I made rhubarb crisp for just that reason. It was served with homemade whipped cream, and was a big hit all around. There are fancier versions (like the photo of Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp above, by Vegan Feast Catering)  But I am a huge fan of the Dump and Pray Philosophy. I know how it is supposed to look in the pan, and sprinkle or add, until I get there. Fortunately for this blog post, I measured just for you. Here is my recipe:

Simple Rhubarb Crisp

4-6 cups chopped rhubarb-measured loosely, it doesn’t matter as long as your baking pan is 1 inch full of pieces.

1 box red jello -raspberry, strawberry, it doesn’t matter

1 stick butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup whole oats

cinnamon/nutmeg if desired

 

In a baking pan (I use 9X 13 inch cake pan) add the rhubarb. I like to do this with frozen rhubarb, partially thawed. The rhubarb will be juicy as it thaws. Break it up, so it evenly covers the pan.

Sprinkle sugars/jello powder/flour/oats over all.

Sprinkle with cinn/nutmeg

Place pats of butter evenly over the entire pan.

Bake 375 for 30-45 minutes, or until hot in the center and topping is slightly browned and bubbling on the edges.

Serve over ice cream or with whipped cream. Delish!!

 

Crockpot Summer Supper

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Today’s crockpot summer supper, is a recipe that came about in a convoluted fashion, as so many scratch recipes do.
My garlic cloves were overpowering the rest of the fridge contents, and it is so hot, that heating the oven just seemed wrong.
I came up with this recipe originally as a way to eat wild game that was too gamey on its own. It is a wonderful base for beef as well, and tonight’s dinner proves it.
Quick and easy, place your ingredients in the crockpot and walk away. No miss, no fuss.
Crockpot Beef
1 frozen beef roast 3-4 lbs
1 pkg onion soup mix or your favorite seasoning
1 can tomato paste
Garlic cloves (use plenty, they sweeten as they cook)

I start with a frozen roast and cook it all day on high. If hubs is late, I turn it off and keep it covered.

Serve with greens from the garden and a crusty bread. Leftovers are even better!

Don’t Be Afraid Of Jello!

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Yes, yes. I know the whole story about eating whole foods, local produce and buying from small farms. Heck, of course I do ( Its my life!) However, like any good intention, I do think we get a little too nutso about it.

Although we eat food that I mostly raise and process or butcher, my kids are not denied foods because of it. I do have to say that I don’t give them junk food or (gasp) fast food, until they were old enough to ask for it(more than once). I still can get away with buying them that sort of stuff once in a blue moon. I truly think its because they never developed a taste for it when they were young. May be I am off base, but that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Anyways, there are foods that you can use to fill out a meal and make it feel fun, for mere pennies. I am talking about foods that might get the poo poo from families, based on the local or pureist stance that they take with food. I find most of the extremists are people without families, those that can afford to eat a Freegan lentil soup for 7 days and still live to blog about it. 🙂 But what of the people feeding children?

I feed our family of 7 and my husband’s mother for less than 500 a month. Its not always pretty, but I get it done. Now, eating food on this sort of budget leaves very little room for junkfood. I don’t do boxed or prepared foods anyways, so that is not an issue, but sometimes, a kid just wants something fun to eat. Even if they have never tasted the fast food version of it. Case in point, here are 5 things I buy, that make a meal fun. Not one of them is purchased from a local farmer:

1. Koolaid – I do buy the invisible one.. Make it with ¾ cup of cane sugar and serve.

2. Jello – c’mon…its J..e..l..l..o! No seriously, from ice pops to whipped jello, this is a cheap, yummy treat. Add fruit, use it to make jelly, make it and offer a sick child as a drink when dehydrated. Just make it and serve  with whipped cream. Its pretty versatile. Yes I know its made from cow hooves…I am ok with that. Better than throwing them out.

Chocolate chips – I cant ever believe I am defending these, but CC are perfect for making any cookie dough more spectacular. I double or triple the dough amount and keep the CC to the single batch size..works every time, no one even misses the extra chips. OR mix with raisins and make cookies that way. They visually look loaded with chips. Just saying..

Sugar – Yes, I eat sugar. It isn’t something we pound into our foods every day. I don’t get all sweaty about it. We just eat a dessert that has sugar in it. I made it, I know whats in it. I do buy cane sugar though. NO matter what anyone in any office says, sugar is NOT sugar. Cane sugar is Cane sugar.

We also love Agave, honey, molasses, maple syrup and stevia drops. They don’t scare me either. We use them, not live on them.

I guess my point today is not to sound  high and mighty. It is just to illustrate that a grocery store shouldn’t appear to be frightening or dangerous for healthy eating. In all honesty, we should have the option to buy foods as we can afford them. If you are frugal, you can still eat treats and fun things..just make them yourself, and keep them a treat. That means once in a while and enjoy every bite.

Photo: Flickr user Ricketyus

My Favorite Pantry Item

Of all the things in my pantry, I think flour is myfavorite pantry item. Why?  Flour is used for so many fabulous things and it isthe basis for most of my scratch cooking. I can make sweet, savory, hearty,fried, crispy and smooth/creamy-all with flour.
My favorite type is unbleached white. Yes, I admit that my favorite flour is not some sort of hippie wholegrain. It is a simple, soft, learnthatunbleached basic white flour. Of course, as you get to know me, learn thatI never leave well enough alone. I also like to play with whole wheat flour andother types, tyring to get the perfect ratio of white flour  to whole grain (which is notorious for makingbricks instead of bread). One of my flours that I use quite a bit is a Bobs Red Mill,10 grain flour. If you don’t mix that high test with white, you can hammer a nail with the resulting bread.
Flour means comfort. It is perfect for those rainydays when a loaf of bread and a bowl of soup tastes perfect. It’s also a pickme up when the family has to get up early to work on the harvest and I canpresent them with homemade donuts or cinnamon rolls when they first come up tothe kitchen.
Flour is my old friend when we are out of food. As long as Ihave flour, I can make sourdough and then bread. With sourdough, I can make allsorts of baked goods without needing yeast or other leavening. Of course, I use extra yeast or baking powder or vinegar/baking soda when I need to, but its great to have my sourdough waiting to help out.
I also make a mean pancake with flour. When I lived in my cabin, pancakes were almost a daily food. I never used a recipe and played with ratios there too. Sometimes I had eggs, sometimes not. Sometimes I had sourdough or other leavening and sometimes it was flour, water and a greasy pan, with a side of black coffee. Anyway, you look at it, flour certainly saves me many times over.
I make it a point to buy a bag of flour, any size, ANY timeI go shopping. I have purchased 1 pound bags from the pharmacy and often buy 25pound bags at the warehouse store. If you are starting a pantry, I recommend getting a handle on your flour totals. Use a 5 gallon food safe bucket and fill that baby up with flour! A 25 pound bag fits nicely.
Then you have to learn to use your flour, but that’s another blog post.