This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

Another awkward summer week of limited childcare, evening shifts, and general overwhelm, so I really have to give myself (and C, for his part) a small pat on the back for somehow managing to keep us all fed (and photographed to join Heather for This Week in My Kitchen blog hop):

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Smoothies are the staple around here, especially in the warmer months. We have so much kefir now that I have to keep up on the culture every day, and prefer to dress it up rather than drink it straight. I keep it simple, and just throw bananas, berries (still using up frozen from last year’s picking!), and sometimes nut butter, coconut oil, and/or flax. The extra gets poured into popsicle molds for cool probiotic treats anytime.

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So, the oven is broken. Again. It needs a new, expensive part, so I’m not sure how long it will be, but if I can get my hands on a cast iron pizza pan, then my whole world will change. Because, really, my first thought was…but pie season has only just begun! As long as the grill holds out, we may make it through just fine. With pie.

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No kitchen post would be complete without sharing whatever wound up in a jar this week. Our lemon balm patch is diminishing…weird, I know, but there it is. I was only able to harvest just enough for one batch of our new (since last year) family favorite, Honey Lemon Balm Jelly, but no more for drying. Although Heather says this “isn’t really the kind of jelly one would slather between two slices of bread with some peanut butter,” that is our preferred way to use it! Of course, it’s wonderful with soft cheese on crackers, especially a tangy chevre, but for school lunches and on-the-go snacks, cheeses never fare well (for us). If you make this, please do give it a try with nut butter, also! The sweetness is subtle and the herbal bouquet soothing. It’s like delicious tea that you can spread. I’m encouraged now to try it with other teas, like earl grey…anything that wouldn’t be too weird with lemon juice.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

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This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop (and Lemon Blueberry Pie Kefir Ice Cream…whaaaatt??!?)

So, it’s that time again, already (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen), and there was a week of radio silence in between. Hmmm…reasons for that:

1) Loss and heavy feelings to process these last few weeks, mainly on the periphery of intersecting circles of friends, but it brings up some emotions I had no idea were still so raw. It makes anything I might want to share seem pithy and it becomes easier to just shut down.
2) Working on the launch of a new project somewhat related to Luminous Traces, which has become the Luminous Traces Collective so that I can use the former name as my new business name. Confused? I’ll clear that up soon.
3) I have to put in odd hours at the day job because of this Summer Vacation nonsense. Year-round school makes so much damn sense. At least in my little family, the dreaded SV requires a monumental rearrangement of routine and much less time with each other as I have to make up working hours at night or on weekends.

But, we managed to make delicious things and eat them, together and apart:

boozyberries

It’s blueberry picking season in the northeast, so every week there will be berry projects. Each time we go, I try to just pick one thing to make with the fresh berries, and store the rest in the freezer for winter. The first excursion yielded one blueberry pie, one quart jar of fermented berries in honey (which is as easy as the name suggests: fill jar with berries, pour raw honey in to cover, give it a little stir every day, and when it gets bubbly, use the berries and the syrup to make tasty things even tastier), and a little over two gallons of berries in the freezer, about 15 pounds total.

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Fermented berries seemed like the perfect way to use some of the “extra” honey we ended up with after extracting. This is how much was left in the bucket and filter when we set to cleaning them!

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There is now enough milk every day to keep milk kefir grains happy. I love its effervescence, and it’s great for smoothies, salad dressings, or anything in which I would use yogurt. It also makes amazing ice cream.

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We followed this recipe for Lemon Kefir Ice Cream, which was pretty exciting because the two main ingredients, kefir and honey, came from our own backyard. We didn’t stop there, though. You see, we had leftover blueberry pie. I know, I know…how does one have leftover blueberry pie? You must understand that we are a family of merely three, and our entire extended family is all 3,000 miles away. They cannot come help us eat pie at the drop of a hat. We often freeze half a pie when we make one, but I didn’t this time, and why not have pie and ice cream at the same time?

Yeah, I felt pretty brilliant.

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Basically, we just followed the ice cream recipe (quadrupled, because why make 1/2 quart of ice cream when you can make 2 quarts?) and when it came to the point in the ice cream churning when it was thickened up and nearly done, I chopped up the leftover pie into bits, crust and all, and C churned just a wee bit more to blend it all in.

The texture is perfect, as is the pairing of lemon and blueberry pie. Make this, please.

In other news, I was here yesterday (speaking of Luminous Traces Collective). Our theme this week is Parallel Lines.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

So, I might have to rename this blog Brine and Stuff in Jars, because most of what happened this week in my kitchen (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen) is sitting in brine in jars.

radishpickle

dillybeans

sauerkraut

A Clean-Out-the-Fridge pickle ferment with radishes, the last of the garlic scapes, carrots, dill, and probably a few other odds and ends; Dilly Beans using the perfect, hasn’t-failed-me-yet recipe I will forever be grateful to have stumbled upon; Good Ol’ Sauerkraut with green and red cabbage and a sprinkling of caraway seeds.

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herbs

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There are now herbs in jars, as well. Oregano and chocolate mint, so far. We use these all year long, and I’m hoping to go heavier on the mint this year, as I ran out before springtime and, well…that just doesn’t work for me. If there’s still snow on the ground, I want hot mint tea. It’s sort of a joke around here, asking me “What kind of tea would you like?” Ugh, predictable. Anyway, we made it with the garlic (harvest to harvest), so I’m determined to keep myself in mint, too. I prefer to hang dry, but in this humidity, I finish it off with a couple hours in the dehydrator, just to be sure it’s free of moisture before I store it. In jars.

pesto

I did not forget I promised a pesto recipe, but here’s the thing. It all went direct to freezer, and I was hoping to photograph it on some gorgeous meal. I will admit this here and now: I overdid it on the garlic scape consumption these last two weeks. Absolutely every meal has been drenched in the compound butter and so I haven’t had any desire to use the pesto right now. I find it most comforting and delicious in the cooler months when I’m craving something bright green and tasting of hot days in the garden, anyway, so I’ve put it all by.

I’m going to make it easy and just provide some pesto tips. Really, you can incorporate garlic scapes into any of your favorite pesto recipes, using it in place of garlic, replacing up to 1/3 of your herb/green of choice.

For straight-up garlic scape pesto, I simply roughly chop scapes and fill my food processor to capacity. Whirr them ’round until minced fine, and then it’s play time. A lot depends on the intensity of your scapes, but I like to add about a cup of walnuts or whatever nuts I have on hand. I found the most recent blend with cashews to have a nice flavor. The sweetness of cashews and/or pecans is a nice compliment to the bite of fresh garlic. Next is a generous splash of lemon juice, and then with the machine running, I add oil until the consistency is like a thick paste or batter. Mostly, I go traditional and use the best quality olive oil I can afford (read: whatever organic extra virgin is on sale), but I ran out half way through this batch and made up for the rest with avocado oil. It’s nice! Now comes the part where you have to taste it and add salt, pepper, and possibly more lemon juice.

Because I made this batch intending it to go straight to the freezer, I did not add cheese. It is lovely without it, but often, I will add finely grated Romano to the thawed pesto before using it, in a 1:1 ratio. I highly recommend freezing your pesto in ice cube trays and then transferring to a freezer bag, btw. You’ll get to know how many cubes you need for specific uses. For example, I use three cubes for pizza, two for making pesto burgers, one for omelettes, etc.

Oh, and also a day late was my installment for this week on Luminous Traces. Our topic/prompt is Skin. Enjoy!

Hibernating…

…with Heather over at Beauty that Moves.

Inspired by the Hibernate workshop, my little family is going to enjoy a sweet Midwinter Retreat tomorrow. Our weekends are always filled with demanding projects after a hectic work week. We are like ships passing. Quickly. And before we know it, we’re starting the madness all over again. There’s always time to rest next weekend, right? No, not usually. Not unless we enforce a law of rest upon it. So, here I am. Enforcing it.

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There is really nothing extraordinary happening, and that is the beauty of it. We talked about how we would like to spend our time had we no commitments or time-sensitive projects to attend to. It was almost laughable how simple the answers were. There will be bread baking, journaling, knitting, hiking, and Lego building. There will be board games and hot cocoa, yoga and lentil soup. The flow of our day is structured, yet free.

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And yes, poring over seed catalogs and garden planning is written in somewhere.

Pancake batter is already made, lentils soaked, and berry chia pudding (recipe Monday!) is heading into the fridge for midday enjoyment. Tonight we’ll clean, bring wood in, and generally try to create an environment that is extra super especially easy to live in for a quiet day of indulging in joyful rest. We’ll revel in the warmth of a predicted 31 degree high before temps plummet in a couple of days.

Do you need to force yourself to rest, or does it come naturally to you?