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I picked up a new cookbook at the library a few weeks ago: Dinner: A Love Story (DALS). I was so enthralled with the author’s writing and cooking approach that I quickly found her online as well. I think I had heard of DALS somewhere along the line, but I was never a regular reader – until after the book. The book and blog are great (I’m asking for the cookbook for my birthday so I can have a copy of my very own), and happening on the book at the library was worth it if only for this one recipe that I’m about to share with you (which actually isn’t in the book, but I only found the blog because of the book, so it all goes together!). I think we’ve made this nearly every week for the last two months, which is really saying something around our house because I get bored easily and prefer to try new stuff. But this stromboli is so fun and easy to experiment with that it’s quickly become an old standby. I’ve experimented with calzones before, but Grant isn’t a big fan. I think I thought stromboli was just another word for calzone, so I had never tried it. We like it better than pizza around here because it’s a little less fussy since we like to put TONS of toppings on our pizzas. We’ve made meatball stromboli, kale and ricotta stromboli, hot Italian sausage stromboli, vegan stromboli, and I’m sure some other combinations that I’m missing. So do yourself a favor and make one of these – tonight!

Jim Lahey’s pizza dough
(I use this recipe, but DALS uses this recipe that uses sugar for a shorter rise time)

Ingredients

500 grams (about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
350 grams (1 1/2 cups) water

Directions

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon, mix thoroughly. I usually start with the spoon and then finish up with my hands. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. I have often forgotten about it and let it go a full two days. Or, if I need it sooner, I’ll put it in the oven with the oven light turned on.

Once the dough is ready, flour your countertop and and scrape out the dough. Divide it into two equal parts and shape them. Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. At this point, after some trial-and-error, I use one of the dough “rounds” for the stromboli, and I freeze the other one (wrapped in plastic wrap) for another day (or they can be refrigerated for three days if you plan to use it quickly). Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 4 to 6 hours if frozen or 2 to 3 hours if refrigerated before needed. But we like our strombolis with just the half batch of dough, but if you like yours a little “dough-ier,” then use the whole recipe. [This recipe is intended to make about four 12-inch sized pizzas]. I’ve experimented with some whole wheat versions that I’ll post back here soon (or try this previously-posted one), but this is so easy, so delicious, and still better than most of the processed stuff out there that I do fall back on it often.

Hot Italian Sausage Stromboli
Adapted from Dinner: A Love Story

DSC_0137Ingredients

Four links hot Italian sausage from a happily-raised, local pigSmall onion, sliced
6 leaves kale, torn
Red paper flakes
1-2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

MDSC_0135ake your pizza sauce. I use this recipe but with a little less water to thicken it up a bit. When I use meat, I like to brown the meat first and then add it to the sauce for the last 15-20 minutes, so that they flavors mingle together a bit more. So for this version, I sliced up the sausage links, browned them, and then added them to the sauce on the stove. The sauce tends to make a little extra than what I need for the stromboli, so I just save the rest to serve over pasta the next day.

Then spread the dough out onto a very well oiled rimmed baking sheet, so that it covers as much of the pan surface area as possible. If you’re having trouble getting the dough to stretch out, let it sit for a bit and then try again. It seems to get more elastic as it rests. Then spread your pizza sauce on the dough. Then add your ingredients, saving the cheese for last. I like to “dollop” the ricotta, and then spread the mozzarella evenly. Then roll the dough twice length-wise. As I said, we like ours not too “dough-y,” so ours usually breaks apart a bit, but that doesn’t hurt the taste any. But try it both ways (once with the bigger entire batch of dough and once with the half batch of dough) to see which you like better. Bake for about 45 minutes.

As I mentioned above, we have made this all sorts of ways – experiment yourself. So far I’ve only used the red sauce, but I plan to branch out a bit soon. I’ll report back. Here are some combinations that have gone over well at our house:

  • Mushrooms, kale, more garlic, and onions + Parmesan
  • Onions and sweet peppers (we’ve almost cleaned out our freezer stash from last summer, sadly) + mozzarella
  • Meatballs, kale, and onions + Parmesan
  • Happy brats, onions, and broccoli + ricotta

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wendellTake a listen to Wendell reading “The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer” for Earth Day week!

earth dayEvery day is Earth day, right? But since I do love Earth Day so much, I like to celebrate it all week long. Yesterday, I shared some stuff to read related to environmental stewardship; today I thought I’d share some things to DO related to caring for creation:

Add your suggestions below!

 

gardenWe’re celebrating today by working in our newly re-designed garden, but here are some great reads to get you in the spirit this week:

What are you doing to celebrate God’s beautiful creation on this “official” Earth Day?

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Remember how I resolved to try more new things in the kitchen this year? One of my biggies was fermenting more foods because 1) they’re so good for you and 2) they’re delicious. I tried my first round a few weeks ago, and it turned out great. I learned a few things for the next go-around, so I’ll update soon with a new recipe. I loosely based my recipe on curtido (Salvadorian cole slaw or relish).

I did some research originally (mostly reading through this series), and I knew I wanted to let the curtido ferment for at least twenty days to get the maximize benefit from the probiotics. I also did some research on brine versus vinegar ferments and decided to go the brine route because the whole point of this experiment is to eat more healthy bacteria. As mentioned previously, I got some of these for Christmas, which is what I used for my fermenting experiments.

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Curtido
Loosely based on Vanessa Barrington’s version

Ingredients

5-6 of these gorgeous black radishes (that a local farm had on special one week at our co-op – they were so pretty I didn’t want to eat them!), sliced thinly
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 head small green cabbage, sliced thinly
6-8 leaves of kale, sliced into ribbons (I like to roll of greens like this, and then cut across the roll to form ribbons)
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
1 tsp dill seed
2 tsp oregano
Kosher salt
Water
Sterlized wide-mouth glass jars

Directions

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I put all of the veggies through my food processor with the slicer attachment, which made this whole project go so much faster. So then I dumped all of the veggies in a big bowl, sprinkling liberally with salt every few “layers,” which helps to draw out the water from the cabbage (and also aids the fermenting process). I just let the vegetables sit for nap time until my little helper woke up (about two hours). I then dumped the contents into three large-mouth mason jars (using my canning funnel made the whole process very easy). I’d fill them up, and then put Jazzy to work pounding them down, then I’d add more veggies, and have him pound them down some more. He was actually quite good at this – he has a future in fermentation perhaps?

After he had firmly packed the jars with veggies to about one inch from the top of the jar, I mixed about two cups of filtered water with two tablespoons of kosher salt (the brine) and poured the brine into the jars enough so that the water came about one-half inch from the top of the jar. Then I assembled my Pickle Pro on top of the lid and secured it tightly. I then put it under the counter out of the way…and let it sit there for about 21 days. I then put them in the refrigerator and added the curtido to all sorts of things: on top of salads, burgers, sausage, tacos, and as a side by itself.

I have a different batch of stuff going right now, so I’ll report back with more recipes as I experiment more.

To read more about the benefits of fermented foods, check out these links:

Do you need a little something to encourage you with “Earth Week” coming up? Or maybe something to share with friends that think your green tendencies are weird? Check out this great short film on creation care from Northland Church:


 

I may have shared this one here before, but I recently framed it in our kitchen…so it has been on my mind.

From The Pleasures of Eating:

Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a sunny window, grow something to eat in it. Make a little compost of your kitchen scraps and use it for fertilizer. Only by growing some food for yourself can you become acquainted with the beautiful energy cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to offal to decay, and around again. You will be fully responsible for any food that you grow for yourself, and you will know all about it. You will appreciate it fully, having known it all its life.

 

bwcI’ll be honest – I should be posting all sorts of gardening tips and updates on here, but this weather has me procrastinating. Big time. I should be out turning the garden over as we speak, but I’m too cold. Instead, I thought I’d share some links here instead to daydream and inspire and motivate me a bit…some arm chair gardening, so to speak!

Now all I need is some sunshine!

I’m finally getting around to posting some baby food recipes, or, really, more like tactics and tips. With our first, I did cereal and then purees starting around six months. I stuck with vegetables for the purees because I figured he would grow up to love fruit anyway, so I didn’t need to worry about introducing fruits. Jasper loved real food and didn’t need purees for long before he was preferring whatever we had on our plates.

After our second, I’m realizing that Jasper was (and is) an out-of-the-ordinary eater. He will try anything, he eats a ton, and he eats really well. Maeve was a bit of slow starter, but she’s getting better. I had to change my tactics a bit with her when it came to real food. I was lazy with Maeve, and she didn’t seem all that interested, so we didn’t try real food until she was about seven-months old. I had read up on baby-led weaning between the two kids, and I wanted to focus more on that with baby number two. So we started off with just giving her very bite-sized pieces of whatever veggies were on our plate. She was not a big fan. Her hand-eye coordination wasn’t really up for it, and she had trouble even getting the food in her grasp. After a few weeks of us both getting increasingly frustrated, I decided to go back to what had worked with Jasper: making our baby food. Here are some “recipes” that I’ve used:

 DSC_0158 Oatmeal

1 cup old-fashioned oats (I usually have steel-cut on hand, so that’s what I used, but rolled are fine too)
2 cups water
1-2 tsp cinnamon
Optional: chopped fruit (we like apples, pears, and bananas)

Put the oats in a food processor and pulse for several minutes until the oats are very fine. You don’t want to go too far or it will turn into oat flour. Add the oats and water to a pot on the stove, bring to a boil, add the cinnamon, and then cook on low for at least twenty minutes. You may need to add additional water. If you’re adding fruit, add it at the beginning, so that it softens up and sweetens the oatmeal.

Once the oatmeal is finished, I put it in a glass container in the fridge. I scoop out enough for Maeve each morning and warm up her portion in the microwave. I add a little milk (or breast milk/formula for younger babies) to thin out the consistency.

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Vegetables

Pumpkin/squash

I first tried straight pumpkin with Maeve. Jasper loved squash of all kinds as a baby, so I figured his sister might be similar. I had a few pie pumpkins leftover from Thanksgiving. I just cut off the tops, cut them in half, cleaned out the insides, then roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. After removing them from the oven, I let them cool completely (about another hour). Then I peeled the skins off, put the pumpkin “meat” in the food processor, and pureed the pumpkin into a fine consistency. The pumpkin typically has enough moisture to it, but if you need a little extra, I typically add homemade stock.

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Sweet potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots, potatoes

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Both of our kids have pretty much eaten anything with sweet potatoes in it, so I like to have those on hand for picky days. For sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots, my process stays the same: preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash, peel, and chop the vegetables into similarly-sized chunks. Dump vegetable chunks into a large bowl, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil (depends on how many vegetables you have – you want them to be lightly coated), then add your seasonings of choice. I usually at least do a little salt and pepper, but the sky is the limit here (side note: if you’re already making dinner, just double your portion of vegetables and eat some for dinner and reserve the rest for baby food). Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet (or two depending on how much you’re doing at one time), and put the baking sheets in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Rotate the pans at about the halfway point to ensure that everything is cooked evenly. Once the veggies have cooled, throw them in the food processor (again, add some stock if you want to thin in out a bit) and puree until your desired consistency.

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, onions

I like to roast these stronger-flavored veggies to have on hand to add to sweet potatoes or carrots. The kids tend to grow to like them on their own, but I lull them into it by having one of their favorites to go along with it. With Maeve, I’ve gotten a little lazy and just throw these veggies in with the sweeter vegetables above and make one big puree. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut vegetables into similarly-sized pieces. Dump veggies into a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. I like to season these with fresh garlic and salt and pepper, but, again, feel free to experiment. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet (or two) and throw in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, put them in a food processor and puree to your desired consistency (adding stock to thin out if necessary).

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For all of these “recipes,” I use the same message of storage: once they’re pureed, I spread the food evenly among ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they’re completely frozen, I dump them in a plastic bag that I keep in the freezer for all of the baby food “cubes.” As far as consistency goes, when the kids are just starting on solid foods (six months or later), I pureed them more finely and, therefore, had to add more stock. As they got older, I used little or no stock, so that the resulting purees were pretty thick and a chunkier consistency.

As I mentioned, we tried baby-led weaning exclusively with Maeve at first, but she just wasn’t getting it. She’s now eleven-months old, and she mostly eats whatever we’re eating. But sometimes life gets crazy, and I need to throw something quick together for the kids. Or, like this week, she’s been sick and gets frustrated quickly at picking up food and would prefer to be fed. The purees are nice to have on hand, so that I know that she’s getting her vegetables even if we’re in a hurry or she’s not feeling well. With both kids, we’ve tried to have easy stuff on hand that they can eat on their own like avocado, bananas, and mangos (which especially comes in handy while I’m trying to get dinner on the table).

How are you feeding your kiddos?

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What We Need Is Here
By Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

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