From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whole grain pancakes

I like to make up a batch of spelt pancakes and then freeze them for later enjoyment.

Now there's nothing special about how I make them and what's in them (the usual suspects: whole grain spelt flour, baking soda, shake of salt, egg, and liquid - usally kefir milk, or buttermilk or regular milk soured with 1T of lemon juice).

What's NOT in them is sugar.  I also leave out flavoring (like vanilla).

What I end up with is what I call a 'savory' pancake - something that I can use not only with breakfast (maybe with some fruit and agave syrup), but I can also use them to accompany hot soups and stews.  Then I could spread them with garlic butter or herbs.

By not sweetening the batter, these pancakes can hang out with any meal or snack (like when I was out of bread so I smeared a couple with peanut butter and I was good to go).

Oh sure, when we get together FOR breakfast then I crank out the standard sweetened/flavored 'cakes.  But for lots more options, I'm just as likely to make up a batch of these go-with-anything variety.

How about you?  Do you consider pancakes a single-use food?  Or can you dress yours up for any way for any meal?

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Hot, savory stew

I don't make stew very often, usually settling for soup in one form or another.  But sometimes I crave the deep savory flavors and texture of thick stew.

I don't eat beef, but instead I usually make pork or chicken stew.  (Wish I had a freezer full of venison for this, but I'm not allowed to shoot the d^mn things as they devastate my gardens!)

Anyway, whenever I can get pork blade cuts on sale, I get some for the freezer, then bring them out for this kind of occasion.

First off I heat up my deep Dutch oven then sear the meat in the barest spritz of olive oil.  When browned (do not crowd - do pieces in turn), I return all meat to the pot, reduce heat (low), toss in several chopped onions and fresh garlic, then pop on the lid and let everything braise for 2-3 hours.  (I do not add more than a couple of tablespoons of water - the lid keeps all moisture in - the onions will 'melt' and  soon the meat will flake right off the bones.)



At that point I remove the meat leaving about 1/2 - 3/4" of savory juice in the pot which I bring to near boiling. (If not, add just a bit of stock to get that much liquid.)  From here on in stew ingredients are like soup -- what have I got?  First up, chunked potatoes (4#) and carrots (1#).  These are tossed into the hot liquid and stirred to coat.  I do this for about a minute then turn heat back to low, and cover the pot.  This way the potatoes and carrots aren't boiled, but braised giving them a more roasted taste/texture than steamed.  They also absorb all the meat juices.

When the root vegs are almost soft and have added back the meat (chopped), I see what else I have on hand.  Frozen corn and peas are great for texture and color.  And now I need liquid for gravy so pour in a quart of chicken stock.  I add herbs and spices to taste, give everything a good stir, replace the lid and let it simmer until the carrots are tender but still taste like carrots.

Later I jarred up 4 quarts of stew and set them out on the deck (only 38F!) to cool before going into the 'fridge overnight.

When I serve this I'll probably fold in fresh kale from the garden and bake up some whole-grain spelt biscuits.

Stew takes longer to make than soup, but y'know, sometimes it's just worth the extra effort.  I've often thought about doing this in a crock pot, but don't think I could sear the meat as well as in a hot Dutch oven.  How about you?  What kind of winter stews are YOU fond of?

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gross!

I was washing dishes this morning and for some reason the spatula caught my eye.

Silicone, translucent, one of my faves.  I really like the silicone spatulas over the old rubber ones - they seem to stay flexible longer.

Anyway, something made me stop and look more closely.

I'm sometimes pretty naive and don't know about you, but I've never done anything but wash them with the dishes.

Today, however, something didn't look kosher.  Hmmm.  So I pulled out the handle (took a little tugging).

Oh gross!

Looks like old food and mold inside the silicone head!  Eeew.

Quick! The bleach!

Using a soft toothbrush I cleaned and sterilized the plastic handle.  Then I used a couple of q-tips and hot soapy/bleachy water to clean out the inside of the spatula.

I then pulled out ALL my spatulas and took them apart.  Again, eeew!

My old fave - with a wooden handle - was the worst.  The wood at the end was black and no amount of beach and toothbrush action could do anything.

I've decided to toss all solid headed-spatulas (top) - I can't see if I've gotten them cleaned inside.

I'll keep the translucent ones (bottom).  They can be cleaned and checked. (Note: buy more spatulas)

But gosh, who knew that I might not have been mixing mold right into my food?

Hope your spatulas aren't holding any nasty surprises for you!  But probably not -- more than likely you've been pulling them apart right along.  I can be a little slow sometimes. *heh*

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cider house rules!

Check it out.

While it's been a long year what with all that inconvenience of being sick for so long,  the cider I made last October just sat there in the basement under a sheet.

Oh, I would look in on it every now and then - only to see that the stuff was cloudy.

Eventually it started to be less cloudy.

Then I let it alone for several months as I started doing all those outside projects when I started feeling better.

So today I went downstairs, flipped over the sheet and low and behold - clear gold cider!

I've sent these pics to my 'cider guru' to make sure that this stuff is still safe and ready to decant into a holding jug before finally putting cider into some bottles.

I'll let you know what she says.

I'm looking forward to bottling still/dry cider; sweetened still cider; sweetened/flavored still cider; and, finally, sweetened/flavored/sugared (carbonated) cider.

Oh, Igor!  Better see if you can still find those lab coats!  It's going to get busy down in the basement.   Wooohahaha!

============== Follow Up ==========

Heard from Jes, my cider guru (Click Here for her Site).  She said I have either 3 very safe jugs of cider -OR- 3 very safe jugs of cider vinegar!  LOL  So watch this space for bottling fun.  Kinda busy this week, so maybe in 7-10 days.  Later....

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