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Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

There is nothing quite as magical as going to an open air market on a beautiful day. Whether you are in Africa or Hometown USA, the overall feeling is still the same: COMMUNITY. Where else can you go with $15 in your pocket and leave with $30 worth of produce and kettle corn? Even here in my hometown, which could stand to amp up it’s farmer’s market a scootch, the market has an amazing feeling of warmth and highlights all the wonderful things our town has to offer. In two hours I tasted honey, smelled kettle corn and chit chatted with a local farmer about his growing methods while negotiating a salsa/dilly bean trade with my friend and neighbor. I learned a little about soap making (one of my next big homesteading endeavors) and I learned that a local crafter makes these amazing fleece backpack blankets, perfect for even the coolest of preschoolers. This is not the same experience you get a big grocery store. Upon stopping at our local grocery store my farmer’s market perusing com-padre and I reveled in our fresh and frugal successes when compared with store prices. For example: I got nearly 6 pounds of zucchini for $1.00. At our grocery store, $1.49 per pound for not so fresh or delicious looking zucchinis. You do the math. Beyond the joy of the market experience there is also a certain thrill for every aspiring homesteader and/or culinary artist of drawing inspiration from the bounty you have gathered whether from the market or your own garden:

Creative inspiration

When I look at all of that delicious, fresh, vegetable goodness on my table I see not only zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, hot peppers, green beans and apples, but I see salsa for a Mexican fiesta in January and zucchini bread on a cool fall morning. I see a pasta dinner with no noodles and a green bean casserole (that is my favorite GF Recipe) on Thanksgiving morning. I see money that I will not have to spend and meals filled with fresh, delicious and local ingredients. In fact, I was inspired to make an entirely local dinner on Saturday night that featured vegetables from my stores not even shown here. It included carrots, beets, pork, honey, maple syrup and cabbage. Every bit of it produced within 30 miles of my house. Without getting on a soap box about eating local, I can tell you that there is nothing quite so tasty as a vegetable grown in your backyard or just down the road. When you put your food on the plate and it is composed of whole and delicious foods there is a sense of pride and accomplishment and a feeling that you are providing your family with a healthy meal packed with nutrients.

Spicy Glazed Pork Chops, Sauteed Red Cabbage and Roasted Root Vegetables

So the moral of the this story? Whether you are into the localvore movement or growing your own food or not, a visit to your local farmer’s market is always worth the trip and you never know what kind of practical magic it might inspire.

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Here in Vermont, in case you haven’t heard, we had what some folks, biblical or otherwise, might refer to as a FLOOD.   While most people were drawing up architectural plans for an arc, our family was figuring out how we  might push a roto-tiller through a swamp or wondering if the chicken coop would float with a dog, cat, toddler and two adults on top.   In the end, the water did recede, but alas, took all of our soil’s nutrients with it.  As a family, we are currently in the process of turning chicken poop into black gold.  If that sentence makes no sense to you visit this article to learn more, but in the meantime, our gold has not yet come in and our garden went into spring nutrient free (at some point I will give you more information on all the ways chickens rock, right down to their pooh, but that is for a different night).  This year we planted with high hopes and short seedlings.  It is mid-July and  we still have short seedlings.   The good news, with some love and Epsom salt we are starting to see our plants spring to life.  The tomatoes and peppers are booming with fruit.   The broccoli plants look good, they just need broccoli.  The cucumbers are coming and by the weekend we may have our first batch of sweet relish.   I can’t really talk about lettuce, because this year the lettuce not only adapted but spread.  If only the rest of the salad would arrive, then we would be in business.   Tonight, however, my hope was renewed when I pulled the seasons first zucchini out of the garden.  Sautéed in butter with caramelized onions it was the perfect addition to the chili rubbed pork chops that were flaming up on the grill.   If you have ONLY ever eaten zucchini from the store, you have no idea what you are missing.  The flavor and texture were like fireworks in our mouths.  So in short, if you have a garden, do not let this late season get you down, the veggies are coming.  Perhaps some more than others, but they are coming nonetheless.  If you don’t have a garden, late or otherwise, than get to your local farmer’s market this weekend and get some fresh zucchini of your own, because it was well worth the wait!!!

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When you live Gluten Free, the dream of fresh-baked bread daily and chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth dies a painful death.   When I was diagnosed I had just begun baking my own bread once a week and lived and breathed the King Arthur Flour Baking Book.   Essentially, I was left with an abnormally large cookbook and a giant container of whole wheat flour that I would never use again.   Another kick to the ribs came when I realized that I would  need to sell my first-born to afford  a thimble of GF Flour.    I truly believed that I might never bake from scratch again.   Eventually,  I learned how to make a delicious all-purpose GF blend in bulk and that GF baking has its own tiny nuances that make it fun and challenging.   So the idea of making GF baked goods that do not taste like chalk so that my whole family might enjoy them was born. I have created a goal for myself of perfecting Gluten Free baking to the point where it just becomes baking, because no one really knows the difference.   Perhaps one day I will sell these items in my farm store.

Today, was not that day.  First, I burned the gluten-free brownies.   This would be less embarrassing if they had not been from a BOX mix and if I had not made the same mistake twice in a row.   Next, I did not drain the zucchini appropriately for my modified recipe from Bob’s Red Mill  for Zucchini Bread.   I can tell you that I added blueberries which was delicious and I exchanged 3/4 cup of white sugar and 1/4 cup of maple syrup for the turbinado sugar.   The flavor would have been extraordinary if only I had cooked it all  the way through and possibly made two loaves instead of one over sized one.  Part of my problem was my haste.  Baking is an act of patience and love.  Gluten Free Baking requires that you shave your head, done a brown robe and take a vow of silence.   Multitasking, which I tend to do far to much of as a rule, must be checked at the door of a baking kitchen.  In the end, today was not a day in my kitchen that I would like to record in photo history.  While you may see one of my brownies featured in your local street hockey game as the puck, I am confident that there may still be hope for the undercooked blueberry bread as a prominent member of tomorrow’s breakfast.  In the end, what I learned today is what I imagine homesteaders throughout time have learned: Sometimes your kitchen is the dream, sometimes it is the nightmare.  Once you have mastered one skill, you will need to learn and master another.   While today’s Gluten Free baked goods were nothing to brag about, I am confident in tomorrows.  In the meantime, I am forever thankful that I have a family who is willing to try anything once, even if it nearly breaks their teeth or glues them together.

If baking , Gfree or otherwise seems overwhelming to you, here are some great sites that I visit often for my baking needs including tips and recipes:

Bob’s Red Mill

King Arthur Flour

The Baking Beauties

Gluten Free Goddess

Tasty Kitchen

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In case you haven’t been privy to my not so wise wisdom tooth whining, I had all four of my teeth extracted on Friday.  Save for nearly killing my husband with embarrassment when, in a  post anesthesia daze, I walked into Price Chopper to find and alert him to an apparent emergency egg deficiency looking a little like something from Night of the Living Dead, I had a reasonable, easy surgery and normal recovery.  Yet tonight, when I just couldn’t possibly eat one more egg, drop of yogurt or spoonful of cottage cheese, I went into a total meltdown when my sweet and patient husband announced that they were out of Gluten Free mac and cheese.   Not my proudest moment.  As I reached for  chocolate pudding and Pirates Booty to make  my evening meal, I thought, what would 1870’s me do?  Well to start I would not have a fridge so there goes the pudding.   I realized, that I was talented enough to come up with something Gluten Free and Tooth Loss friendly if I dipped into my stores.  Sure enough, I was able to raid the fridge and call upon my inner Ina (or Barefoot Contessa for those of you not in the Food Network know) to make this delicious Mushroom Lobster Mac & Cheese:

1 lb Imitation Lobster Meat (or the real deal or Crab Meat, what ever rings your bell)

1 cup uncooked elbows (I use Corn/Quinoa Pasta for the GF Approach)

2 Tbsp  Butter

2 Tbsp  Flour or Starch

1 Cup Broth (reserved pasta water will work in a pinch too)

1 can mushroom slices (or 1 cup fresh, whatever you have)

1 onion coarsely Chopped

2 cups of shredded cheese (whatever you like, I used Mild Cheddar)

3 Laughing Cow Triangles

1 Cup Milk

Garlic Powder To taste

Salt

1 tbsp oil

Bring your Pasta to a boil and set aside when done.  Reserve water if using in the sauce.   While pasta is boiling saute onions and mushrooms until soft/tender, about 10 minutes.  Add lobster and cook for another 5-7 minutes until lobster is hot and flaky. Set aside.

In the same pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until smooth and bubbly.  Add stock  and stir until thickened and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.   Whisk in Milk and simmer until thickened.   Add the laughing cow wedges and whisk until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.  Add remaining cheese and seasonings and whisk until smooth.  Add onions, lobster, mushroom and pasta to sauce and stir until blended.  Serve with a salad or in my case not.

You can also sub in any meats or vegetables that you happen to have in your larder.   The moral of this story:  It is easy to forget how to be creative with what we have, when it is just so easy to get what we want.   Part of becoming a localvore (as clearly illustrated by my use of lobster and canned mushrooms), is becoming inspired by what you have.  Some of the best meals I have served were created with what I had on hand vs. what I thought I wanted.   Even though I am far from perfect on the eating local front,  making that shift in my meal time thought process, even in the midst of a meltdown, from wanting to having as allowed me to make preparing food a new and fun daily challenge.   Maybe not always fun for my taste testers, but for right now, there is always cereal in the pantry for nights when my inner Ina is out.

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