The Whirly Girl

Archive for the ‘barefoot and in the kitchen’ Category

Yesterday I canned tomatoes for the very first time.  The mystery has been dispelled and the veil lifted–I now know how to use a pressure cooker.

Scott and I regularly find ourselves in situations that require us to feed a large group of people, with a.  We’ve gotten kind of good at this.  Our latest food for the masses meal was the church life group meal we hosted last week: pancakes, which were to be supplemented by other breakfast-y things brought by the rest of the group.

My recipe is slightly adapted from the More-With-Less cookbook and I’ve been making it since I was first learning to cook in my mom’s kitchen.  I felt very nostalgic as I made them, especially for the white, cinder-block house on 40 acres that we lived in for several years in south Mississippi, when my sister and I were both young.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

Combine in a bowl and mix with a fork:

1 cup buttermilk (I usually use yogurt)

2 tablespoons oil (coconut oil gives a delightful flavor)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add and mix only until moistened:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup white flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

Fry in hot, lightly greased skillet (cast-iron, of course)

My biggest observation after keeping track of what we cook and eat each week is that our kitchen basically closes on the weekend.  I sort of knew that, but now it is a confirmed fact.  During the school year I plead exhaustion at the end of a week.  Since it’s summer, I guess I have to plead laziness.  Oh well.

Monday

chicken w/ maple-orange glaze

green beans

steamed new potatoes

Tuesday

red quinoa w/ avocados, black beans, and corn

**Note: First time to cook/eat quinoa.  Huge fan.

Wednesday

red curry-like mixture of leftover vegetables and chicken

brown rice

Thursday

pizza w/ homemade mozzarella and Mom’s garden tomatoes

spicy corn salad

watermelon

Friday

leftover pizza

Welcome to a week of meals with the sole purpose of cleaning out the fridge before we left on vacation.  I didn’t grocery shop, though we did get our weekly CSA share and were overwhelmed with zucchini from our own garden.

Sunday

out (notice a Sunday supper pattern, or lack thereof?  we both ate for $6.77 though, which is an accomplishment)

Monday

pizza w/ mozzarella and zucchini

Tuesday

life group meal @ a friend’s house

Wednesday

grilled chicken, grilled zucchini and squash, brown rice

After Wednesday our cooking petered out and we turned to our favorite restaurants.  Since we’re about to drop some cash on a vacation, why not warm up our wallets now?

We are pretty avid cooks in our house.  I specialize in everyday fare, while my husband is in charge of  special occasions/big hunks of meat.  However, when my newly married sister asked for some of our recipes, I drew a blank.  Even now, I can barely think of what we typically eat for dinner.  So, to remedy this situation I decided to start keeping weekly logs of what we cook and eat.

This past week wasn’t exactly typical, with a birthday and a weekend of wedding-related events, but it’s what we ate.  We usually make at least five dinners a week at home.

Sunday

A former favorite Mexican restaurant of Scott’s reopened, so we felt compelled to pay them a visit.

Monday

Stuffed zucchini, very loosely based on this recipe.

Bruschetta

Tuesday

Church life group night–we’re off-duty for hosting this month, so we just showed up at someone else’s house and ate their food and it was wonderful.

Wednesday

Vegetable lo mein (with carrots, squash, zucchini, liana beans, and bell peppers from our garden and CSA share)

Thursday

Scott’s birthday, which was celebrated with a meal out with friends.  It is some much easier than scramming a ton of people (meaning more than six) in our small living space.

Friday-Saturday

This weekend took us out of town for a wedding, so we ate delicious wedding festivity food all weekend and now I need to walk about 1o miles to restore balance.

Last weekend I made Sally Fallon proud.  At least, she would be if she knew me and knew that on Saturday I ventured to a farm outside of town, that I had tracked down online, and came back with an ice chest full of raw milk, free-range eggs, and pastured meat.  I”m just a little proud of myself.

I’ve been casually looking for sources for milk and meat and eggs for a while.  A lot of my recent internet reading has been about “Real Food” and why you should eat it, the evil that is factory farming and the nastiness that is grocery store food, and how bad corn syrup and soy products are for your health.  I agree with all of these things.  I also l-o-v-e shopping at my grocery story and have a sweet tooth.

However, we have been slowly journeying towards more wholesome and less refined food.  I love cooking and baking, so I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary, just experimenting with different methods, recipes, and ingredients.  A lot of those ingredients actually come from the so-called evil grocery story, because I happen to live near a very good one.  I do love it so.

As much as I love the grocery store, I also loved the farm we visited yesterday.  The unassuming, down-to-earth owner talked to us about how he used to run a commercial dairy, but a few years back decided to start selling his milk raw to customers that drive more than a mile down a gravel road to get to it.  This is what my car looked like after we did:

And he talked to use about what he is learning about raw milk and how he wants to start making and selling cheese when he retires from his job in town this spring.  And yogurt–when a 60-something dairy farmer in rubber boots talks to you about “just experimenting with making yogurt”, how can you not be sold? 

We bought milk full of lovely cream, risen to the top.

We bought free-range eggs from happy chickens.  One of them was even green.

We bought t-bone steaks and ground lamb, and then the owner threw in a package of sausage as a bonus.

While we giddily made our way  home (well, I was giddy and Scott was very calmly happy about his steaks), we were impressed with the the complete lack of negativity with which this man spoke.  He told us all about his products and methods and the benefits of raw milk and free-range eggs, all without speaking ill of grocery stores or pasteurized milk or farmers that use pesticides.  Our 20 minute conversation with this dairy farmer was more convincing than all of my research put together.  I think we’ll be back.

We have quite a collection of dried flowers scattered about the house, ranging from my wedding bouquet to hydrangeas cut from our plant in the front/only flowerbed.  This theme of decor comes from that fact that Scott used to work part-time at a friend’s flower shop and the fact that we usually let fresh flower arrangments sit until they are either gross or nicely dried, then toss the gross and keep the other.  I’ve recently moved this slight compulsion over to our herb plants.

Though winter is still quite a ways away from our central TX town, I’ve been thinking about how to not let all our herbs (sage, basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, mint, and spearmint) whither and go to waste when it finally does get cold.  Therefore, my new hobby is drying herbs.  This is how, or at least how I, do it:  

1) Pick long stems from herb plants.

2) Rinse with running water, spin in salad spinner, then lay on a towel to dry completely.

3) Gather together small bunch of stems, 4-6ish depending on size, and tie at  bottom with twine.

4) Put stem-up in brown paper lunch sack, leaving tails of twine sticking out of the top, then sides of sack together with stem in the middle (keeping leaves covered helps preserve the color, or so I read somewhere).  If you can hang herbs in a space that is consistently dark, you can skip the paper sack step.

5) Using the twine tails, tie the sacks somewhere to hang 2 weeks for herbs with small or medium-sized leaves and 3 for herbs with large leaves (like sage).

6) When dry, pull leaves off stem and store in glass jar.  Be on the look out for mold, which will grow if there is any moisture left in leaves.

I put up a drying line in our office because it’s the most ventilated/most drafty room in the house.  So far I’ve had success with mint and spearmint, sage, and oregano.  The mint leaves make very good tea: cram a tea ball with them and steep for about 10 minutes for fullest flavor.