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.

honeyblog

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!

kefirblog

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.

kefiricecreamblog

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.

kefiricecreamblog2

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?

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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.

chocolatemint

herbs

mintdrying

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!

Summertime, she rolled right in…

strawbuchedited

…sweetly and gently, with a few days of high 70s and clear skies. The only thing to do, really, was to celebrate with our first fire pit meal of the season. While the kids ran around and C got the fire started, I whipped up an all-ages frothy cool beverage to enjoy, and it was too damn good not to share. Even if you’re not brewing your own kombucha at home, you should probably try this, anyway, with a store-bought ginger or plain kombucha.

Ingredients:

-1 quart kombucha (first ferment, or a gingered second ferment, or store-bought plain or ginger)
-2 cups frozen strawberries
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1/2 cup maple syrup

A lot depends on the sweetness of your strawberries (and even your kombucha). You may want to adjust the lemon juice and maple syrup amounts. I’m only guessing, anyway, since I just glugged them both in.

So, whirr it all around in the high-powered blending instrument of your choice and enjoy the effervescent sweet-tartness! A sprig of chocolate mint makes just about everything better, in case you were wondering about the green stuff in my glass.

strawbuch2

We roasted whatever we could put on a stick, including dessert. For a while, I avoided s’mores entirely as I don’t know of any marshmallows available that are made without corn syrup, but since discovering the world of making my own maple marshmallows, I wouldn’t want to go back, anyway. They take only about 15 minutes to make, and as long as you have a candy thermometer, it’s easy-peasy.

mallowsfire

The first recipe I tried, a few years back, made for a mess when roasting, but I had my first go-round with this recipe from The Urban Poser, and not only is the ingredient ratio spot-on, but even without letting them sit to dry out, as suggested, my mallows were perfect roasters, even just hours after cooking up the goo, behaving almost exactly like the Kraft marshmallows I grew up with.

Only maple syrup, gelatin (we use the same grass-fed gelatin as suggested in the recipe), water, and vanilla. Simple and perfect.

smore

Until you add cinnamon to the marshmallow goo before it sets. Then, you go beyond perfection and achieve marshmallow Nirvana.

Some wildlife wanted to get in on the action, including fireflies galore, and a visiting snapping turtle. An evening bursting with growth and life and early summer magic. At least I was able to enjoy it before the most cruel and unusual head cold from Hell knocked me on my ass for 36 hours. I was the one pampered on Father’s Day. Oh, well. Regularly scheduled programming back tomorrow!

snapper2

 

One Shot :: 7 and This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

waiting

Waiting.

One shot. Every day. No editing. Join in!

Still struggling with putting some feelings into words, but in the meanwhile, I’m going to use today’s One Shot as a way of joining Heather’s This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop.

My rhubarb is almost ready to harvest, but I have two bunches of stalks procured from the two previous weekend’s farmer’s markets that have been waiting ever-so-patiently to be dealt with. I thought they were waiting for me to finally dig out the last gallon of frozen strawberries from last summer. I thought about a Pie Thing or a Jam Thing but decided, instead, to make a gallon of fermented rhubarb soda.

Then, they started waiting for the woman to come home from vacation with whom I should chat about using the community extractor for our very dead, but very full-of-honey beehive.

Today, the rhubarb and I are done waiting and we’re just going to use some damn sugar.

First Ferment

lemons1

After a preservation hiatus through the coldest months, it was time to get our ferment on for the first time this calendar year. My mother-in-law sends us a box of Meyer lemons from her tree every Winter, and with the deeply bitter cold we’ve been experiencing, and their 3000+ miles of travel, I was amazed they arrived so perfectly sound.

Meyers are a treat, all mellow sweetness coupled with a reduced acidic bite. They are my favorite for just about everything but lemonade (I like it puckery-tart!), but we chose to use 2/3 of the sunshiny bounty for Moroccan Preserved Lemons. I like to make at least one quart of preserved lemons each year, two if we’re blessed with another shipment. A little goes a long way towards making a simple meal pretty spectacular, so we often make one jar last through the year using it in stews, roast chicken and rice-based dishes.

The past few years, I’ve made it somewhat complicated, trying out different spice combinations and fermentation windows. While these versions have been lovely, I felt ready, this time around, to get back to the simplest recipe for fermenting just about anything: main ingredient + salt.

lemons2

I used this nourished kitchen recipe for my ratios, and now the golden darlings play out their alchemical miracle of salt into gold in the dark of a pantry cabinet. btw, I could fit 8 lemons in a quart jar, which left me four for this:

lemonbar

…because we have duck eggs again. We used this recipe, which calls for blending up a whole lemon, rind and all, along with the juice. You’re welcome.

This evening I’ll be working on my shop move back over to Big Cartel. There will be an announcement and a promo coupon, so stay tuned for that in the next couple of days.

And don’t forget the Snowball event at Wildwood Farm was postponed to THIS Sunday, March 23rd (so, you know, ignore the date on the flyer). There’s still time to get registered and join us for an 80s extravaganza!

cyndi

Petal Play

dandelionwine

Then came the day on which I picked ALL THE DANDELIONS. It only happens once a year, if that, because it’s quite a tedium, de-petaling the darlings. Usually, I just make biscuits or some such, but this year I got a bee in my wool hat (still wicked cold ’round here for bonnets), and decided to make a batch of dandelion wine.

I’ll send you here for the recipe, as I’m following it to the letter. I trust Sandor Katz with all my soul, and I’m not going to experiment with my first batch. I’m in the stirring-it-whenever-I-think-of-it-for-the-next-three-days stage of the proceedings. It’s an awful lot of work plucking a gallon’s worth of petals and I admit I was a little shy of the mark, and it seems a big to-do for just one gallon of finished product, but there is loveliness potential in a year’s time and the joy is in the process (especially for me, since I don’t metabolize alcohol very well and won’t be partaking, anyway).

For immediate consumption, these are fun:

dandelioncookies

I tweaked the only dandelion flower cookie recipe I could find so that I could use coconut flour and therefore triple the quantity of eggs. We have an abundance of the latter.

Dandy Cookies

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
6 eggs
splash vanilla
scant 1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup dandelion petals

Preheat oven to 375º. If coconut oil is not liquid (it was too cold in our house), melt it with the honey and let cool a bit. Add the eggs and beat them in. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix until well blended. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. The coconut flour will absorb the liquid and thicken the dough. Drop by tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it because liquid sugars tend to burn quickly. You could also double up your baking sheet to prevent the bottoms from getting too brown.

Protein-packed and gluten-free, yo. Enjoy.

dandelioncookies2

 

Now We Are Six

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

-A.A. Milne

———————————————————–

All the kids: Blow the candles out, O!

O: Let’s blow them out together!

That’s my boy.

And I love him to the moon and back.

I don’t mind that we are late to everything, always rushing, rushing because the early Spring light wakes him before me and he crawls into my bed for nuggles. Only too soon, morning cuddle sessions will be something I miss, something I ache for when he inevitably begins to see himself as a self apart from me. Until then, most everything takes a back seat to nuggling.

This is the morning through our bedroom window these days. It makes me feel Ready For Anything.

And this is what I do with my arms these days. I make piles of leaves. Many, many piles of leaves.

And this is our ferment-focus these days. Kombucha. There has been some serious flavor experimentation going on with fabulous results, for the most part. Most successful ideas thus far:

Mango-Apricot-Ginger (MAG): Apricot-Ginger black tea and dried mango (yum yum yum)

Ginger, Straight-up: Black tea and sliced fresh ginger (simple and perfect)

Cherry-Ginger: Black tea, dried cherries and fresh ginger slices (my favorite)

Citron: Citrus-lemongrass oolong tea (refreshing)

Chai: oddly enough! I was skeptical, but this was quite delicious. Black tea and chai spices with ginger slices.

The pretty-good-but-not-as-good-as-the-above:

Pomegranate White: Pomegranate-flavored white tea. Kinda tasted like fruity soap from one of those mall bath and body stores. But not in an awful way…does that make sense? It was more an aftertaste thing…The Boy says, “can I have some of the kombucha that tastes like soap?”

Mango Ginger: Really nice, but just not as awesome as the Mango Apricot Ginger. Btw, the tea we used for the latter is the organic Apricot Ginger Tea from Good Earth. We didn’t purchase it locally and now we can’t find it. Boo!

So, the way it works now is that we have one gallon going of a tried-and-true recipe and another going of something kinda weird. So, a little chai brewing now and…I’m not sure how I feel about this…one brewing with dong ding tea and candy cap mushrooms. Sounds disgusting to me, but C thinks the flavors are going to balance nicely. Hmmm…will report back from that one in two weeks or so. We brew for about ten days and then bottle condition for a few more.

Next round will be straight-up black tea just to give the kombucha mothers a break from all the heavy flavors.

What’s brewing in your world today?