02 October 2009

It's definatly Fall in Michigan

We have had our first frost and the weather has been chilly the last couple of days. I had to find my sweaters and I'm packing up the shorts and tank tops in recognition of the fact that it will not be warm enough to wear them again for a while. So in honor of that change I made some delicious soup :) Squash soup is one of those things that I never remember having until I was in high school, but hooboy is it one of my favorite things about seeing the winter squash showing up at the Farmer's Markets. This was kind of an experiment and to my great delight it turned out so delicious!!

You'll Need
8 cups stock (chicken or veggie work best)
2 medium butternut squash, seeded and peeled, in 1" chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon harissa*
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh sage
pinch of salt
sour cream to serve with

In a large (7 qt) slow cooker mix the squash, sweet potato, and onion. Add the harissa, sage, thyme, salt, and the stock. If the liquid is not enough to cover all of the squash, add water to top off. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Use a blender or food mill to puree the soup until smooth. Top with a dollop of sour cream to cut the heat slightly. Eat and enjoy!

*Harissa is a North African hot pepper condiment. I really like the one from Moulins De Majoub, but if you can't find one here's a simple one you can whip up for your fridge.

12 dried red chiles
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 tablespoons olive oil

Discard the stems and seeds from the chiles, then place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak 30 minutes until softened. In a heavy skillet heat the coriander and cumin seeds until they smell aromatic. Grind to a powder in a grinder. Drain the chiles and place in a blender with the garlic coriander mixture and salt. Blend together, trickling in the olive oil until the sauce has a mayonnaise-like consistency. To store, put in an airtight container and cover with olive oil and refrigerate.

28 September 2009


It's defiantly fall weather outside and that turns my thought inevitably to comfort foods. And a good applesauce is defiantly up there in my list of comfort foods. Can't be too sweet, should be well spiced, and I just like it better chunky. So instead of trying to hunt for the perfect one, I made my own.

You'll need:
8 pounds apples (I used McIntosh) cored and diced, you can peel if desired
3 inches ginger root, peeled and grated very fine
tablespoon cinnamon
tablespoon nutmeg
2/3 cup honey
2 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine everything in a very large stainless steel or enamel pot (don't use aluminum). This all fit (just barely) in my 8qt stock pot. Stir to make sure all of the apples are well coated, cover, and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the thickness makes you happy. If you don't like a chunky applesauce you can use an immersion blender or food mill to smooth the texture to your liking. I got about 7 pints of sauce from this recipe. If you want to can this, process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.

15 September 2009

If Found, Please...

Soo.. This is what my stovetop usually looks like when I'm in full on kitchen diva mode:


Notice the lack of access to the timer and such on the back panel, but do note (and yes, through text and over the internet) the note of pure glee when I point to my stove. I love my stove so much and on days like this, when it is in workhorse mode, I love it even more...

10 September 2009

Firery Shrimp Pasta

As I was cleaning my freezer out last week I found one of those shrimp rings that you buy to set out at a party that I'm sure I bought with that very intention but for whatever reason never did. So I put it in my fridge to thaw and figured if I didn't figure out something better to do with it, I would just eat shrimp cocktail for dinner at some point this weekend. Then when I was at work earlier I thought about what I was going to do for dinner and the feta looked really good. From there I thought that those two things would go really well with some pasta and this dish was born out of it.

What You'll Need:
# frozen shrimp, thawed
1/4# feta cheese
handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half or 2 regular tomatoes, diced
2 jalapenos, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used marash pepper and regular red pepper mixed together)
chopped fresh herbs (I used basil and cilantro)
olive oil
pasta (I just used regular spaghetti)

In a big pot on one burner start your pasta. In a skillet on another burner use a couple of tablespoons of oil and lightly saute the shrimp, the onion, and the jalapenos. After everything is warmed through add the tomatoes, pepper flakes, and herbs. Keep all of that warm in the skillet. Drain the pasta when it is al dente and add to the shrimp mix in the skillet. Top off with the feta cheese (crumbled) and a generous drizzle of good olive oil. Serve with warm bread and enjoy!

25 August 2009

Split Pea Soup

Most of my kitchen adventures start with something on sale. In this case it was yellow split peas that were on sale at the Co-op. Don't ask me what my brain was intending to do with 2 pounds of split peas at the time, but I bought them and in digging around for something to do for dinner the other day, I found the bone from a ham that I did last week. Bingo! Pea soup in the crock pot, so it could cook all day while I was at work so when we all got home around 6 we could sit down to dinner. This is a recipe that is pretty open to interpretation and can be made vegetarian/vegan pretty easily.

You'll need:
18 ounces split peas
1 ham bone (optional)
1 cup frozen or fresh veggies (I usually opt for corn and carrots to sweeten the soup up)
2 quarts chicken or veggie stock (you can dilute this with water if needed)

Add all ingredients to a 3 1/2 or 4 quart crock pot. Set to Low. Go to work, play in the yard, or whatever else you have more pressing in your life for around 6 hours. If you are going to be gone longer, don't worry... this isn't really a dish that you can "overcook". Fish out the ham bone and dispose of (or give to the dog). If you want, you can run through a blender or food mill to give it a smooth texture, but I don't really find this necessary.

Now I'm off to ponder a goat curry obsession that I have recently come across...

23 August 2009

First Tomato

I harvested my first ripe tomato out of my "garden" yesterday. I have one tomato plant that is a yellow cherry tomato and one that is a heirloom Russian purple tomato. I am waiting with bated breath for more to ripen so that I can make some mozzarella and have a tomato garden party!

16 August 2009

Breakfast and what comes after

This morning, I made breakfast. Currant Scones, eggs, and bacon (Tessie will have to tell you what kind of bacon it was). *It was Arkansas style bacon with Balinese Long Pepper from Zingerman's.*

My scone cookbook is Simply Scones, which I picked up a copy of because my dad made me give his back to him.

As I was preparing to make scones however, I realised I had precious little about to put on them, other than butter and come strawberry preserves. So, I brought out the can of Seville Oranges I bought a year ago, and followed the directions on the can to make a batch of orange marmalade. It actually turned out, which required a trip to the Food Co-op to get canning jars, and actually learning how to do heat canning.

SUCCESS! Not only did I can the marmalade, I also made a mint jelly, though I had to add more pectin and reduce the jelly down quite a bit more than the recipe called for. I used more of the Kentucky Colonial, and have plans for a lamb roast in the near future.

14 August 2009

Easy as Sh*t Garlic Bread

So I made another batch of the fab pasta sauce the other day and had some for dinner. And then I realized that I had nothing to really serve it with. Until I remembered the loaf of bread I had just picked up the other day. Tada! Garlic bread. I had 6 or 7 cloves of garlic left from the pasta sauce that I had just gotten sick of chopping a that point so I stopped. This is great stuff... I was eating garlic bread all night because it was soo easy to just make some more!

You'll Need:

6 or 7 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 a stick of butter
A couple slices of bread

Throw the garlic and horseradish in a food processor and chop until it is in small bits. Cut the butter into a couple of pieces and add to the food processor and blend until smooth. Toast your bread in the toaster and spread on the garlic/horseradish butter you have now made. Enjoy!! This makes enough butter for 10 or so servings, but refrigerates well and can be saved for up to 2 weeks.

10 August 2009

Garden Tomato Sauce

The farm stand around the corner from my house was having a sale. 1/2 a peck of tomatoes for $4.95. How could I pass it up? So I carted home my peck of tomatoes (at that price, I totally bought 2) and then contemplated what the heck to do with a peck of tomatoes! And then I set about thinking what I ate a lot of that involved tomatoes, and came up with a solution that had everything going for it. During the winter here in Michigan I tend to eat a lot of pasta because it's quick and filling and generally warm. And I like my pasta with tomato sauce because it's a little bite of sunshine when sun is in short supply. So I set about making my tomatoes into sauce to go into my freezer until I am desperate for a mental trip back to August.

What You'll Need -

9 tomatoes chunked (leave the seeds and skins intact)
3 medium onions, diced
10 cloves of garlic, minced (ok, I really like garlic, but you can cut back to taste)
2 small poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
any other garden veggies that you need to use up (zucchini, green peppers, etc...) diced
3 sprigs of basil, stripped and chopped
1 cup of good red wine
1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
1 cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
olive oil

Turn the burner on medium heat and in a large stock pot heat the olive oil (enough to coat the bottom) until it shimmers in the pan. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, any peppers or other veggies (Not the tomatoes), the basil and cook until soft.


Add the vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pot getting up all of the good bits at the bottom. Let everything simmer lightly in the vinegar so that it soaks it all up. The vinegar is going to brighten up the sauce and play up the sweetness of the tomatoes. At this point I like to add the sugar, salt, and pepper and stir so all of the veggies are evenly coated. Add the tomatoes, wine and tomato juice stirring to combine.


Put the lid on the stock pot, turn the burner down to low so that the sauce is barely simmering and walk away. If you are feeling particularly responsible you can clean up the kitchen (you are done with the intensive prep work now) but I grabbed the trashy romance novel that I was in the middle of and plopped down on the couch where I could see the stove and chilled out for a while. In about half an hour (if it's longer it's not really going to suffer at this point, you'll just need to add more liquid) take the pot off the heat. We've now reached the point where my husband and I disagree. I really like chunky sauces, he likes them smoother. This batch got smoothed out with an immersion blender because I wasn't home to bicker with him, but this is not a necessary step. If you are going to enjoy immediately, you're done! If you are going to keep it for a bit let it cool on your counter for about an hour. After that hour, put the sauce in the refrigerator and leave it overnight to cool completely. Seal in appropriate containers (we have a vacuum sealer so we made up 2 cup bags) and freeze. Use in 4 to 6 months for best flavor. This makes approximately 8 cups of tomato sauce.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the other 20 tomatoes I have left!

09 August 2009

Simple Mint Syrup

2c Organic Cane Sugar (Because it's one of the sugars I had laying about)
1c water
Generous sprig-worth of mint leaves
1/4tsp citric acid

We've several mint plants growing in our herb boxes right now. There's Mint Julep, Apple Mint, Chocolate Mint, and Kentucky Colonial. The KC is what I used for this recipe.

After measuring out what I needed, I put some of the sugar into the pot and, using the muddler from the bar set, ground the mint in to the sugar crystals. Once the leaves were sufficiently bruised and cut, I added the rest of the sugar and water.

Brought the syrup slowly to a boil, then let it boil for about 3 minutes before cutting the heat, and straining out most of the leaf matter (I wasn't too picky. Small bits in the syrup are just fine for me).

I then mixed in the citric acid powder, and I probably didn't need QUITE as much as I used, but I've had trouble finding information on the appropriate ratios. The citric acid inverts the sugar, preventing crystalisation.

Pour syrup into a bottle, and voila!

Now I just have to find something to DO with it... I'm thinking ice cream.

06 August 2009

Summer Veggie Dinner

Belonging to a CSA brings many wonderful and delicious vegetables into my life. But it also brings with it the quandary of what the crap to do with all of these veggies (including any number that I have never cooked with before!). It also includes a surplus of those late summer curse, zucchini. Now I haven't ever resorted to trying sneak boxes of the stuff onto my neighbor's porches, but they do demand some creativity in the kitchen to avoid boredom. You can of course do the obligatory variations on zucchini bread, but you don't always see good recipes that celebrate the zucchini itself. So I went in search of something different and then tweaked it to make it all my own.

Zucchini Summer Bake:

You'll Need -
2 zucchini, sliced thinly
1/2 cup Jiffy (or other buttermilk baking) mix
1 small onion diced
1/2 cup Parmigano Reggiano, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 350 f

In a medium mixing bowl mix the Jiffy mix, olive oil, eggs, salt, a couple good shakes of the hot sauce, and half the Parmigano and mix until you get a smooth texture. Mix in the diced onion and sliced zucchini until everything is coated. Spread evenly in a baking dish (I used a 9x9) and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigano. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top and edges are brown and the middle doesn't jiggle. Serve warm as a main dish or side dish.

05 August 2009

Ginger Grouse and Introductions

This is intended to be a kitchen adventure blog. My husband and I are usually found in the kitchen and it is usually the cleanest room of the entire house as a result. I'll be documenting our attempts, successes, and abject failures. Armed with a compliment of cast iron and enough whiskey for the cook and the recipe it will always be something new around here!

I'll leave you tonight with a fun summer cocktail that is good for both entertaining and finding the courage to clean up after the latest adventure.

Ginger Grouse:

You'll Need -
Famous Grouse Whiskey
Lime wedge
Good Spicy Ginger Ale

In a high ball glass, mix 2 measures of whiskey and squeeze the lime wedge in. Fill the glass with ice and top off with the ginger ale. Garnish with the lime wedge and enjoy!