Saturday, July 31, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wikipedia says: " Juniper berries, here still attached to a branch, are actually modified conifer cones.A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinguishing flavour. According to one FAO document, juniper berries are the only spice derived from conifers, though tar and inner bark (used as a sweetener by Apache cuisines) from pine trees is sometimes considered a spice as well. "
This is what the berries look like now, but in a few months they will be more purple.
Which brings me to a very interesting email I got from Stan Potts in the cold country of Canada. He is the winner of two jars of my spice blends for sending me this amazing information about the local pine cones he has growing.
The young cones he actually uses in the kitchen!
Stan says, "These pea sized, tender,immature pine cones are packed full of flavor. They are definately the right garnish for a dandelion or purslane salad, and I wouldn't think of stewing lambs'quarter greens without them!! Probably like Juniper...only more like sap! When I googled pine needles, I was surprised to find alot about them being edible...I don't think I'll make a habit of it. I like Rosemary, and its alot like pine needles, but somehow better! Where I grew up we had alot of bush pasture. Occasionally there would be a cow that would take a liking to the new growth on the spruce trees, especially if the grazing wasn't good. We considered the needles toxic and believed the cow would abort if she ate enough...I can't find any information on that, but I still believe in moderation! These trees are a sort of white pine.
I used to take my nephews camping, and a highlight for them was when I'd make pine needle tea! They are all in their 30's now and it still comes up when I see them. The tea was good, but what they didn't know is that I'd slip in a bag of Earl Grey when they weren't looking!The tender pea size berries only last a few days...they mature and become woody fast! Still, everyone ought to try pine at least once! ---Stan."
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
4 quart crock pot ( or solar oven) and a quart of water
Combine the stock with the gluten powder.
Seitan Nutritional information
Total Fat: 0.5g
For the Hamburger replacement I have found a great love for highly seasoned broth with the addition of 1/4 cup dry onion to the liquid ingredients and 1T of Pero powder for a natural caramel color. It just goes without saying that grey meat was never very appetizing...even fake meat. This is how you grind it:
I have a hand powered meat grinder...that ironically has never been used for meat. I cut the pieces of cooked seitan and feed them through the top of the grinder. By weight I figure 14 oz of the ground product to equal a pound of hamburger. If I'm making the Hamburger "helper" Stroganoff Skillet Meal Mix (and there will be several to follow), I cook the noodles with the mix and milk, then fold in the hamburger replacement at the end of cooking time.
It freezes beautifully in quart size baggies too. So, there you have it. Burger replacement...at a fraction of the cost of meat.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
It's time for me to bring to light one of my favorite jams. It's sweet and slightly hot with a good well rounded finish. I use it a lot of places...but most often on meats and slathered on a cracker. I've had friends tell me it's good on breakfast burritos. I've had it on savory cornbread waffles and cried tears of proverbial joy. I might add...I am a little over the top. I remember as a kid asking my mom why she would eat a food like a jalapeno that made her nose sweat. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of putting myself through that kind of pain for food. I promise, that without the seeds, this jam is actually quite mild. You taste the flavor of the pepper, but not much heat. I think,however, you may agree once you've tasted the jam yourself, that it is one in a million for amazing flavor.
1 lb peaches
1lb mangoes (after peeling and pitting weight)
4 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3/4 cup lemon juice
7 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 pouches liquid pectin
Mash mangoes and peaches over low heat in a large one gallon heavy bottom pot. A note on jalapenos will now follow.
You know...if there's any left in the jam pan after I fill the jars I shamelessly dunk my head in there and lick it off the bottom. Okay...maybe I don't. That would get mango jam junk in my hair and then I would look crazy. Yes. Only then would I look crazy.
Wonderful on a bagel with cream cheese. Amazing on ribs and grilled chicken. I've used it to replace the jam and pepper in the Jalapeno pepper pecan baked brie I adore. Alas, it is by far my favorite topping for a cracker.
There you go.
Always My Very Best,
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
My Bare Bones Recipe for whole wheat bread
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup cool water (not cold, but cool to the touch)
6 cups whole wheat bread flour (spankin' fresh! with no hint of bitterness)
2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 T honey
1/4 cup oil
Directions:Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl make a well in the mixture. Dissolve the honey in the 2 1/4 cup water and add the oil of your choice. Pour the liquid and the yeast mixture into the well of flour. Stirring from the center, first combine the ingredients to make a smooth batter, then fold in the remaining flour from the sides of the bowl, mixing them together into a soft dough. Soft dough is the key!! Since the whole grain flour takes a while to absorb water, wait 10 minutes--then evaluate the dough. Add water or flour if more is required, but do this slowly as it will probably take less flour than you think. If you want really good bread--best keeping quality, flavor, and rise--knead the dough about 600 strokes without adding any more flour. The dough should remain soft and should become elastic and smooth. Rest whenever you want, but aim for 600 strokes. This is about 6 minutes on medium speed in a Kitchen-Aid mixer. This may seem like an amazing and outrageous requirement, but after many hundreds of loaves, I'm convinced that thorough kneading makes the critical difference. As you continue to work the dough, toward the end of the kneading, it will become lustrous, utterly supple and elastic. It should actually be white if you look closely, with brown bran flecks clearly visible against pale gluten. Form the dough into a ball and put in an un-greased crock. Spray LIGHTLY with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to ferment. At about 80 degrees, this will take 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Wet your finger and poke it into the dough (called the ripe test). If your finger goes in without very much resistance and the hole remains when your finger is removed, the dough is ready to be punched down. For best results, do not wait until it sighs and collapses when poked. Gently press out the accumulated gas. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured table and keeping the smooth surface, carefully unbroken, deflate the dough by pressing it with wet or floury hand from one side to another. Cut it in half and form each part gently into a round ball, still preserving the smooth surface on the outside.
Pat out the circle until it is about one 12 inches and a circle, on a lightly floured surface.
Break a hole right in the middle of the dough.
Roll it slightly until it's about six inches long.
Twist onto the top of the loaf like this:
For the detailed flowers and leaves I used the Edible Decorative Bread dough (inert dough for flowers on bread) .
Pinch dough in the center of the flower. This makes two flowers rather quickly.
It can be left like a paint brush. I prefer to fan out the petals (see last picture).
For added detail to the loaf you can use my technique for painted breads.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Those who follow my comments on my face book page will remember me mentioning my adventures making hamburger skillet meal mix. I want to post several of these mixes, as I know that there are a lot of folks who rely pretty heavy on the boxes. I also know that the list of ingredients is pretty full of preservatives, additives, and down-right extra junk our bodies don't need. That being said, I've been goofing around with the stroganoff version and finally have a combination I think is blog worthy. You will not find any MSG in here. I use fresh ground herbs and spices for a really bright flavor. The kicker...the price! You'll see. It's pennies compared to dollars. If you are a vegetarian, feel free to use the vegetarian hamburger replacements...or make your own veggie dogs or sausages with my Meatless Wonders. 12 ounces of seitan put through a meat grinder will work wonderfully for this meal in place of hamburger.
Chef Tess' Stroganoff Skillet Meal Gravy Mix
yield 7 mixes (with 1/3 cup gravy/seasoning mix)
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dry minced onions
1T onion powder
1 T granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1T dry parsley
1 tsp dry thyme
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all dry ingredients well. Measure 2 cups elbow pasta or egg noodles and place in a jar or Ziploc bag along with 1/3 cup of the gravy mix. You can also add 1/4 cup of dehydrated mushroom to each jar for a more authentic stroganoff.
I also add a bay leaf to the jar and an "oxygen eater packet" if I plan on putting it in my longer food storage. These jars will last well over a year if sealed in jars instead of baggies. The flavor stays better too, because there isn't any exposure to air. Pretty cool right?
You will need 1 lb hamburger (or 12 ounces of seitan run through a meat grinder for vegetarian)
1 cup water
2 cups milk (powdered is okay if you reconstitute it)
1/4 cup cream cheese (I make Homemade cream cheese )
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional, but they add a lot of flavor)
salt and pepper to taste
Brown hamburger and mushrooms in a large 12 inch skillet that has a lid. When meat is browned, add the gravy mix, noodles, water and milk. Simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, but covering each time. When noodles are tender, add the cream cheese. Stir until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
How can you add more flavor? If you find it to be bland, you can add 2 cloves fresh pressed garlic and 1/2 a medium fresh onion, chopped to the hamburger as it cooks. I also like to add 1 cup shredded carrot and 1 stock of diced celery to the hamburger mixture. I find the canned mushrooms at a lot of flavor as well if you use them and their juice in the mixture. I also use 1/4 cup sour cream sometimes instead of the cream cheese. It gives it a little more zing. Hopefully that helps. If you want an additional amount of beef flavor, feel free to use 2 tsp bullion base with the hamburger too (I love the "Better Than Bullion" brand soup base).
Yields 6 cups of prepared skillet meal.
There you go. I promise there will be more flavors the next few weeks.