Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday Brunch

I may be happiest with this meal more than any other this year.  I had mixed sprouts and pea shoots ready at the same time.  In addition, I had a couple of small tomatoes ripe, those that I picked green way back before the first hard frosts and laid out on the dining table to ripen.  Some of those ended up with the chickens, and my sister and I have eaten the rest as they turn red.  It's the first year I had tomatoes, not just through November, but through December, so I'm excited about that.

The soup is cream of turkey made from the turkey I raised and roasted, and with bone broth I cooked from the carcass.  There's also some onion, green pepper, garlic and a little half-and-half that Al bought as a treat for coffee.  We can never use the whole pint before it goes bad, so I make an effort to make some sauces and gravies whenever we splurge on a half-and-half.

The bread is our staple, baked from a frozen loaf.  The butter is real.  But back to that salad...  There are some sliced baby carrots (store-bought; we have eaten all of ours), chopped tomatoes, pea shoots in the middle and mixed sprouts on the far side of the plate.  I grated a rich, hard cheese over everything and drizzled plenty of extra-virgin olive oil, then salt and peppered.  Best brunch ever!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter Sprouts

Inspired by a facebook post by Vertical Veg, I levered myself from a chair and began to gather materials for my own sprouting operations.  It started out slow with seeds leftover from sundry, alternate projects, but picked up speed yesterday when I purchased a couple packets of sprouting seed from Green Acres Market.  (Btw, Green Acres has a fairly good selection of healthy alternatives, but it's impossible to buy there without bringing home a load of plastic packaging.  Ick!)

Whether indoors or out, I am besotted with pea seedlings, so I have been snapshotting the darlings each day.  They're so cute that I have to share my sequence starting Dec. 12.  The last photo is from this morning, Dec. 17.

I also tried some black-eyed peas that were so old that I had lost the date.  Those I tried to sprout, not grow in a tray of dirt.  They never germinated and began to smell funky despite washing repeatedly, so I tossed them to the chickens who relished them!  Next, I tried some winter wheat, which Vertical Veg suggested I sprout (as opposed to growing as shoots/greens).  It has been a couple days of washing without signs of germination, but that was pretty old seed, too.  As of yesterday, I have a flat of sunflower seeds purchased from Green Acres now soaking on a bed of soil like the peas in these pictures.  Alternately, I set up the sunflower seeds to sprout in a jar.  The remaining project is a similar jar of mixed seeds with which I also hope to produce sprouts.

When I work all this out, I will scale up.  The idea is to supplement greens (spinach, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, and the sweetest, fattest, little radishes one ever saw) from the coldhouse in order to produce more colorful, textured and flavorful winter salads all with my own home grown salad goods!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oh My, Oh My, Yes, it IS a Dickcissel Nest!

Al went hunting this morning.  Usually, he brings me a gift from the field.  Often, it is a huge rock he has lugged a great distance back to his truck.  Oh, the labors of love!  Today, he presented me with this delicate sculpture.  Who knows how far he carried it, careful not to dislodge the fairy nest in its crown of twigs.  I wondered what bird might have made it, a song sparrow, American tree spa....   No, he knew.  Because he had snapped the top of the sapling off, preserving the nest in situ, he knew it had been growing low to the ground.  He said "dickcissel," and I knew immediately he was right!  The misty seedheads were already in my little pitcher.  All I did was position the sapling stem in beside it and...Voila!  Instant art!

I'm pretty much beside myself with glee.

The Muffins were a Success

I am currently out of home raised eggs, a situation that won't change for a while.  My sister is supposed to bring eggs next time she visits, but I doubt she will remember.  In the meantime, I have been on vegan cooking websites looking for eggless recipes.  The eggless sugar cookies I found were and are amazing.  I have baked them nearly a dozen times already.  My other requirement is that I should have all the ingredients already in my pantry.  I despise making a special trip to the store for one, small item.  Is any recipe really worth that?  Well, once in a blue moon, it is, but there are 1000s of ways to bake muffins, so no.I have plenty of sweet potatoes, so this recipe for sweet potato muffins was perfect.  I peeled and boiled sweet potato until soft, then mashed it well, making sure there were no chunks.  I don't think a chunk of vegetable is nice to bite into in a muffin.  I had plenty left over, but it won't go to waste.  I made two substitutions and two additions to the recipe.  Instead of coconut milk, I used Silk original flavor almond milk, which I keep on hand for oatmeal and drinking.  I also substituted the optional cranberries with raisins, another staple.  In addition, I added 1/4 tsp ground cardamom, which I keep refrigerated.  I like the grown-up flavor of cardamom.  I also added a small bag of sliced almonds because I had opened it a few days ago, and they don't stay all that fresh if not used quickly.

 After filling the muffin cups about half full, I had plenty left over.  I ended up baking 21 muffins in two batches.  Here they are in the pic below fresh from the oven with butter melting on top.  They are not an overly sweet muffin and absolutely perfect for breakfast.  The addition of nuts bumped them right up into the meal category.  For added sweetness, one could add a dollop of jam, but I ate them this morning just cool and plain, and they were really good that way, too.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Soda Bread

Bread is so simple to make, there's not much to write about it.  My recipe was from a site called Cut Out + Keep.  I chose this recipe because it doesn't use buttermilk, an item for which I would usually have to visit the store.  The only modification I made was to replace half the flour with wheat flour.  The wheat flour clogs up the sifter, but I have a fine-mesh sieve that works well for it.

 As the baker, I indulged the treat of the first piece, warm from the oven and slathered with butter.  It turned out pretty heavy, but you can see a little bit of lift.  The idea was to pair it with soup, and I think this heavier bread is better for that because it doesn't dissolve as easily.   The wheat flour gave it loads of flavor, but would probably be much lighter with all-white.   This wheat bread was so flavorful that it might also be good with a berry or nut added, but then a forklift would be needed to transport it around the kitchen.
Other projects around here are Yule decorations.  I pulled out all the stockings, but I didn't have socks for all the new family members, so I cut out some paper socks for this year.  I think they look pretty cute hanging over the door to the deck!

Far more demanding a task will issue from this box, last marked "supplies 2012."  Funny how long a history this box has lived, ever since 2004 when I stored canned tomatoes in it!  Currently, it holds my equipment for canning, the tongs, lids, seals, pincers, funnels, that type of thing.  The box is out today because I am seriously pondering the cuts of venison in the garage freezer.