Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Kitchen | Garlic Scapes

So scapes are the green tops of garlic. Apparently you cut them off in spring so that the garlic can put all it's effort into growing the bulb. This is strange to me, but I'm certainly no garlic growing expert.

Garlic scapes are another random thing I've never eaten but with this seasonal eating thing I was very excited to give them a try. I picked up a bundle at the Nelson farmer's market last week. I love their twirly swirly ways.

I had heard that they can be pretty strong, but I didn't find that to be the case. I thought they were garlicy in a pretty mellow way. I did two meals with them, one was scapes pan fried with butter, oregano, yellow zucchini and the last of my spinach served over little cheese raviolis. It was to die for good. I also did some sort of rice concoction with chickpeas.

The scapes add a light garlicky flavour and a nice bit of colour without the bitterness you sometimes get with garlic. Some people make pesto out of them which I think would be excellent.

Go forth and experiment!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gardening | First Harvest

Well the mountain spinach I did in the planter was a great success. It grew like crazy and was pretty tasty. Sadly it only lasted for about three meals...seems almost anticlimactic. I'm planning on buying a bunch of spinach and freezing it this year, I found I couldn't buy Canadian spinach of any kind last year and I really missed it.

The planter is now replanted with basil and parsley. They're looking a bit sad at the moment but they probably just need to get settled in.

Oh, and the whole time we ate spinach I kept saying to Craig "I grew this! It was seeds and now it is foood! I grew it all by myself!"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Links | For Amusement

From the blogosphere:

Want to make crackers shaped like sheep? Cause I do. (Design*Sponge)

How about Kitsune Fortune Cookies? (via the Kitchn)

Would you like to express yourself in red peppers? (via sfgirlbybay)

Next time someone goes to Ikea please pick me up some Forest Animal Cookie Cutters! I don't know what I've done without them for so long...(via the Kitchn)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recipes | Coconuty Raised Doughnuts

I had an urge to make doughnuts the other night. At about 8:30pm. Craig looked at me sleepily and said "Really? Okay" and took a nap on the couch. I've never made doughnuts. I've hardly ever even eaten homemade doughnuts. But lately I've been finding store bought doughnuts very unsatisfying (sorry Timmie Ho's) and mostly I wanted to make something sweet and hot and my oven is still out of commission (my own fault. It drives me mad not having an oven, but somehow I keep forgetting to order the part).

So doughnuts it was. Raised doughnuts. Cake doughnuts are fine, but they aren't really doughnuts in my mind. I used Coconut oil to fry them up as it is apparently wonderfully good for you, and handles heat well (you should never never deep fry in vegetable oil, it breaks down badly and goes vaguely toxic). Besides, it smells fantastic.

I adapted the recipe from Erin Cooks, who adapted it from Betty Crocker. Such is the life of a recipe. She said that it made an insane amount, I halved it and it made about 10. But it didn't rise amazingly (cold day, no oven light) so probably it does make about 2 dozen in it's original form. I'm gonna give you the recipe in a form that should make 12. There's no point in eating them when they are more than a few hours old, so think carefully before you bust out 4 dozen.

Also, I rolled mine in sugar, but I think I'll honey glaze next time.

Coconuty Raised Doughnuts
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast
almost 1 cup (3/4 cup + 2Tbsp if you want to be picky) very warm milk (120º to 130º)
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 eggs

Coconut oil

1) Mix 1 cup of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl.
2) Add milk, oil and egg. Beat on low for a minute to combine, then on medium until smooth, another minute (my beater is dead, I just whisked it until it seemed smooth).
3) Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and mix until smooth.
4) Cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour)
5) Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Roll with a floured rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick.
5) If you have a doughnut cutter cut them out. I used a glass for the big circle and an empty bottle for the small. I also made the scraps into doughnut holes with the bottle. You can roll the scraps out once to cut again.
6) Transfer the doughnuts to a floured cookie sheet as you go, then cover and let rise for about 1/2 hour, until doubled. Don't worry if they aren't huge, they puff up in the oil.
7) If you are cheap like me, you can use a very small saucepan and fry them one a time. If you an a hurry, use more oil and a dutch oven. Preheat the oil to about 350. A candy thermometer is nice, but you'll be able to tell if it's ready by putting a pinch of dough in a seeing if it starts bubbling. There should be at least a half inch of oil, enough so that the doughnuts can float.
8) Fry doughnuts until golden on both sides (flipping carefully, obviously).
9) When done drain on paper down or old tea towel. Roll in some sugar while still warm.
10) Try not to eat them all while your husband is still napping.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review | Too Many Cooks

So this post is all thanks to Erin Cooks. She had a giveaway for this book on her blog and I won!

Too Many Cooks is written by Emily Franklin about a year of food life. She is a mother of four (8, 6, 3 and a baby) and wants to introduce her kids to new food. Every chapter has stories about their adventures and how food is a part of their lives, then there are recipes at the end of the chapter.

Her kids aren't terribly picky but they have very vocal opinions. My favourite quote would be in regards to a fish dish she made where one of her sons says "If you are trying to kill me, and you obviously are, this is the worst way to die".

Also her husband won't eat any fruit that ends in "Y". Or is cooked.

It's a super fun read and was very light compared to the foodie books I've been reading lately. She's not gonna lecture you about how you should eat and why, but most of her recipes are reasonably seasonal and contain whole ingredients.

I would really recommend this book to anyone wondering what approach to take when introducing new foods to kids, or anyone that just likes reading about funny kids and kitchen adventures.

The only downside to me, is that I don't know that I will remember to refer back to the recipes, like I would with a cookbook. There is an index of recipes in the back though.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Kitchen | Updates

Final asparagus tally:
24 jars pickled asparagus
20 jars asparagus broth
2.5 large ziplocks fulls of frozen chopped asparagus

Where will it all live?! It's only June! I'm already sending canning to my parents cellar, on the theory that I will visit them sometime in the next...6 months. Also I now have canning behing my computer on the ground. Where else can I fit some? I feel like a squirrel hiding nuts for winter.

No jokes about the nuts part.

Garden Update:
Spinach - gorgeous, ready to bolt. I have to cut it all off and eat it. But I feel so sad doing it! Aaaaah!
All the other containers are happy as well.
Tomatoes - 2 are happy. 1 is being eaten by something. Bugs? Slugs? Birds? Deer? I have no idea.
Zuchinni - happy days! It has like 5 babies going. I am sooo excited to eat them!
Herbs - Booo! Basil was being eaten as well. Then bolted. Stupid basil. I might buy more and plant them in the spinach container. Cilantro - bolted! For goodness sake. Parsley seems fine.
Peppers - Cayenne=also eaten! I think it's gonna die. The other peppers are being nibbled on but seem to be pulling through.
Rows - all are up! Beans are looking great and the others aren't being show offs, but they are there.

I go down to the garden every morning and just stare at them. Maybe next year I'll actually learn how to keep bugs away...

In other news my oven is broken. The element exploded in a shower of sparks and fire. No one in town carries the part, I need to order it in. Bah! I have been buying bread. I have not been excited about sandwiches.

BBQ days are here! And there was much rejoicing! I will post about BBQed pizza soon.

So how are your late spring endevours going? Tell!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recipes | Stir Fry Basics

Okay, so this is not so much a recipe as a formula for how I make stir fry. Stir fry gets a lot of love over here because I can make it in the afternoon, divide it into 6 containers and take one to work for supper. Which is what I did today. I like reheated rice fine as long as it's saucy :)

I don't claim to be remotely authentic here, but I make yummy fake Asian food.

Tip #1 - get everything ready to go before you start
Chop all the veggies, make the sauce...have everything in place. Not only is this more efficient, but it means you won't be overcooking your meat while you finish chopping the broccoli.

Tip #2 - Cook things separately
I usually start with toasting nuts if I'm doing so. In the dry pan. Then I put them aside, add a bit of oil and do the eggs. Put aside. Then I add more oil and do the meat. If the meat is marinaded this is great, or you can add some garlic and red pepper flakes in with them. When the meat is cooked I take it out and throw in the veggies, after a bit I throw in the sauce. When the veggies are almost done I put the meat back in just enough to warm it (sometimes I don't, we don't really care if it's hot...also it's usually going to be reheated anyway).

Cooking this way means that nothing gets overcooked and that everything has it's own yummy flavour.

Tip #3 - Flavoured Rice
If I'm dong a dish that really spicy (mmm Thai sweet chili sauce...) I often cook the rice in chicken stock and use less sauce. This is super yummy. Normal rice makes me bored.

Tip #4 - Fun toppings
We looove toasted nuts on our stir fry. The crunch is delightful. Almonds and peanuts are nice choices. I often do eggs as well. Whisk 2 eggs in a small bowl. Heat your pan with a bit of oil then add the eggs but don't scramble. Make a little pancake thing. Flip it so it gets golden on both sides. Cut into thin strips and top each serving with a couple of them.

How to make a basic sauce:
1 tbsp honey
Equal parts Shoyu (nice soya sauce) and stock (chicken or asparagus is best). About 1/2 cup depends on how much you're making.
1 clove of garlic, crushed or microplaned.

Want to make it Thai-ish? Add 1 tsp each of lime juice and fish sauce.

Want to make it spicy? Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Want to make it more like teriyaki? Add a bit more honey and some mirin (or apple juice...or sherry)

Want it to be thicker? Add 1 tbsp cornstarch.

Always mix up the sauce separately and only add as much as looks good. Too much sauce is just silly.

Hope that was educational. Comment if you have stir frying questions!

(Pictured is a thai sauce stir fry with brown/wild rice with a handful of red lentils cooked in. There's no meat or eggs in this one. I fried up shallots, yellow zucchini, asparagus and kale and topped it off with toasted almonds. Mmmmmm.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gardening | Markers

Garden markers! These are painted on the rocks with a little brush and some craft paint. Then I'm going to give them a spray of clear coat and out they go!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gardening | Sprouting!

Sorry about the week of not posting! Had a very busy week somehow. But look! My beans are up! The other seeds are barely poking their little heads up but they're there. They would like osme rain please though, they haven't had any yet! The bedding plants continue to survive (and in the zuchinnis case, thrive)

Up by the house my spinach is growing like a mad thing and the lettuce is starting to show it's head.

And look at the Tumble Tim! Two baby tomatoes! I cannot wait to eat them!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gardening | This is the way the garden grows

In the sweltering heat. With not enough water. Hmmm....

So we got it all put in on Tuesday. And have not had a hint of rain yet. It's been warm, summer warm. Low 30's warm. That's 90's I think in americaland? Either way it is yuck. Our land lady has half the garden, and the lawn sprinklers hit her half. We were trying to water with the hose, but it wasn't working so well. When I talked to her yesterday she asked how the garden was doing and I mentioned that we were thinking of gettting a soaker hose for the rows. Then I went off to Canadian Tire to buy it. And left my wallet at home in a Hanna moment. By the time I got it and drove back again it was too late.

When I got home my land lady ran into me again and said "I hope you haven't gone and bought that soaker hose, we found a better sprinkler in the back and it's on right now, turn it off in an hour".

What nice people they are. So my garden is happier...the plants are getting over the initial shock and I think the peppers and squash are actually pretty happy about the heat. The herbs and tomatoes are iffy but they should pull through. Don't know about the rows though.

Containers are happy and the spinach container is growing well. The lettuce mix has been taking it's sweet time but is sprouting.

How about you guys? How's the gardens? It's not too late to get started!