Sunday, January 21, 2007

Altamaha Apiaries

I love this building and I always say I am going to stop and take a picture of it. Last weekend on the way to Atlanta, we pulled over and I took a couple of shots. Last spring when we were going to Baxley to pick strawberries, it was covered in beautiful purple wisteria. This picture just doesn't do it justice. I would have loved to have tried their honey...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sourdough Chocolate Cake with Orange Frosting

Sourdough Chocolate Cake
(adapted from the King Arthur 200th Anniversay Cookbook)

1 c sourdough starter
1 c milk
2 c flour (I used freshly milled hard white whole wheat)
1 1/2 c sugar (I used succanat with honey)
1 c vegetable oil (I used melted unsalted butter)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c cocoa
2 eggs

Combine starter, milk and flour. Let work 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350.

In another bowl, cream sugar, oil, salt, vanilla, baking soda and cocoa. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the creamed mixture with the sourdough mixture. Be gentle but make sure it is well blended.

Grease two 9" cake pans (I used one large bundt pan). Bake for 40-45 min, cool on a rack.
-Less moist than when made with vegetable oil
-I made one of the frostings out of the same cookbook and it turned out to be a glaze instead of a frosting. It was still very tasty, just not the texture I was looking for.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Monster Truck Jam (aka Life Lessons)

Just in case you are ever in doubt--Do NOT eat the nachos at the Georgia Dome...
Every little boy should get to go to a show like this once in their lives. I decided that I would embrace the experience. I had a good time, but once is enough for the rest of my life!
There were many more life lessons learned from this experience last weekend but this is a kitchen blog. Really, don't eat the nachos...

Roasted Green Onion Soup with Spicy Farm Sausage

I had this enormous bunch of green onions that I had no idea what to do with, so this is what I did. Cleaned and dried them, then tossed them in olive oil and roasted them in a 400 degree oven. I brought some roasted turkey stock to a boil, added the roasted onions, salt, and pepper. I boiled it for just a few minutes and then pureed it with the immersion blender. A little heavy cream at the end, and topped it with some browned sausage. It was a really tasty lunch. When in doubt...make soup! (The color on the picture makes it look really disgusting, but it was super good!)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Birthday Party and the Sad Truth

Our daughter, our youngest of the three, turned 3 yesterday. We had a nice little party planned for her with one other family coming over. I put some thought into what I should make. We were planning on a Princess and Pirate Party. Everything was great but one thing...the food...It was awful...I am sad and disheartened. Why?

It turns out that we have changed more than I guess I ever knew. I took some short cuts and the food was not lousy, but it certainly was not good.

The Menu

Nutella Rollovers
Apricot-Cream Cheese Uncrusties
Egg Salad on Pumpernickle
Palmiers 2-Ways
Mini Quiche Lorraine

Shirley Temples

Strawberry Shortcake Torte

We started on this journey of increasing the quality and nutrient density of our food several years ago. It has led us to feeling healthier, strong and robust children, and on most occasions, very tasty food. The other side of that is that now it is so had to take any kind of short-cut. Our tastes have changed and that is a good thing but at the same time it makes it rather difficult.
-I did not like the taste or the texture of the cake, Strawberry Shortcake Torte from the King Arthur Whole Grains Cookbook, and I will not make it again.
-Frozen Puff Patry does not taste very good anymore
-The mini quiche cups that you buy frozen are not very good anymore either
-Nutella, no matter how bad it is for you, rocks!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All about the Brine

I pulled together an email today for an internet friend who needed some brine recipes. I thought I would post the email here since it is all my best brine information all together in one area...

The most basic-no frills brine is a 1:1 ratio of kosher salt to water. So, it would be 1 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon of water (not a true 1:1 but you know what I mean). You can make as much or as little of it as you need. Just dissolve the salt in the water and put your meat in. I put a plate on top with a canning jar with water and a lid on it to keep all of the meat under the brine. Keep it in the fridge, brining away, for up to about 12 hours. Take it out and cook as you would normally.

Now, that was the basic. You can add just about anything to this brine in the way of spices and herbs.

This is the holiday brine that I use. It is pricey to put together but I do it once a year for Thanksgiving and it makes the most amazing turkey ever! It is a Wolfgang Puck recipe. As a matter of fact because it was expensive, this is the brine that I put the extra turkey parts in after I got the Thanksgiving bird out just so I could make it a little more cost effective.

Brine:1 gallon water
1/2 ounce ground cloves
1/2 ounce ground ginger
4 ounces cracked black peppercorns
12 bay leaves
1 pound kosher salt
24 ounces honey
24 ounces maple syrup

In a large stockpot, bring the water, cloves, ginger, black peppercorn, bay leaves and salt to a boil. Lower to a simmer and stir in the honey and maple syrup until well blended. Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold tap water. Reserve the neck and specialty meats for pan gravy. Set the turkey in the brine, making sure that the turkey is fully immersed in the brine. Place a weight on top of the turkey to make sure it is always covered with brine. Marinate for at least 4 hours to overnight, depending on the weight of the turkey, in the refrigerator.

This one from Alton Brown is also very good for turkey.
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

Basic Bread

We had company last night and I made rolls and ended up making 2 braided loaves with this recipe. The kids love to help shape the three balls for each of the cloverleaf rolls.
Cynthia--These are the rolls I made the last time yall came over. I added chives to the dough and used all white flour.

Basic Bread

adapted from King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook

16 rolls or

2 loaves

1 egg PLUS

enough milk to equal 2 cups

1 Tbs instant yeast

2 1/2 whole wheat flour

3 c unbleached flour

1 Tbs salt

Mix it all together and knead (hand or machine). If the humidity is really low you might need another 1/2 to 1 cup flour. Lightly grease the bowl and the dough. Cover. Let rest until doubled (1-3 hours depending on weather conditions). Deflate and shape into final form. Turn oven on to 400 degrees 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. It will need about an hour to rise, again, depending on weather and kitchen temp.

Rolls-400 for 15 to 20 min

2 braided loaves OR 2 loaf pans-400 for 15 min then 350 for 20 min


-This is the most flexible of recipes. You can use an egg wash, cream, or melted butter on the top prior to baking. You can add seeds, nuts,herbs, or dried fruits while mixing the batter. Top it wih salt, sugar, sprinkles of what ever kind you want.

-This is not all whole grain so I don't make it that often. Mostly I make this when we have company who are not accustomed to the whole grains that we normally eat. You can make this with up to about 4 c of whole wheat or you can make it totally with white bread (unbleached) flour.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

...and a salad too

So, I chopped up the turkey left over last night from the brine/freeze experiment, tossed it in the iron skillet with a little butter and browned it up. I made a quick orange vinegrette (still using those Paige oranges we picked up in the Indian River area over New Years) and chopped some beautiful leaf lettuce from my CSA box. It was great along with the cream of brocolli soup!

Cream of Brocolli Soup

I got beautiful stalks of brocolli from my CSA yesterday ( We are going out of town on Friday so I need to get all my fresh produce in by then. I thought it would be great to have some brocolli soup. I read a bunch of different recipes on the net and then I just sort of "did" this...

Cream of Brocolli Soup

serves 6 or 3 as a main course

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbs dried herbs or 3-4 Tbs fresh (I used tarragon today and it was good)

1 qt stock (chicken, vegetable, turkey-I used chicken)

4-5 stalks fresh brocolli

1/2-1 c heavy cream (could use half and half)

salt and pepper

sour cream, optional

Heat pan with 1 Tbs of olive oil and/or butter. Cook onion over medium-low heat in a saucepan with a bit of salt until it is translucent. Add the garlic and herbs. Don't let the garlic brown.

Add the stock and bring to a hard boil. Add the brocolli. I use the stalks, florets and leaves so nothing was wasted. Cook covered until bright green and tender, about 10 min. Careful not to over cook the brocolli. Remove from heat.

Use and imersion blender (or food processor) to blend everything together. Stir in heavy cream. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with a small bit of sour cream on top.


-I actually added much more tarragon that what I posted in the recipe. I think 1 TBS dried would be plenty as I did about 2 1/2 or 3.

-It was really good. Ralph ate 4 bowls and then scraped the pot with his spoon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Brined and Frozen Turkey Breast

I posted in November that I used the left over brine from my Thanksgiving turkey to brine additional turkey "parts". I had no idea if you could brine, freeze, and then cook after thawing. So, today I thawed one of the breasts and it was just as great as it was from the first Thanksgiving turkey. This is great news and it will change how I order turkeys this year.
(Yikes! The picture looks pink, but it was cooked through...)

Shrimp Flowers

These are the beautiful flowers on my table this week.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pear Cobbler

Well, it always seems to start this way...I begin with a recipe but what I end up making is far from the original...I mean far...

What I ended up with was this

Pear Cobbler


2 c hard white whole wheat flour, freshly milled so they were generous cups

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut in pieces

1/4 c sucannat with honey

1 egg
2/3 c milk


1 qt jar home canned pears in light syrup

2 tbs cornstarch

1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

Coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all dry filling ingredients together. Cut in the butter. Mix the egg and milk and add wet to dry. Stir just enough to moisten and then let it sit while you make the filling.

Add the pears to a 9 X 9 pan. Mix in cornstarch and nutmeg. Mold bicut-round shapes of the dough and place them on top of the filling, covering most of the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 40-45 min and serve with sweet whipped cream.
-This biscut topping was fabulous, well, the whole thing was fabulous BUT...
-Next time I would leave out the cornstarch. There was not enough liquid in my one jar of pears to justify the starch and I like a "juicy" cobbler anyway.
-I would leave out the nutmeg (even though it is one of my favorites) and give it a try with fresh grated dried ginger. Then again, the nutmeg was really good! :o)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Potato Soup

Part of the reason that I am blogging many of the things I make in the kitchen is so that when I get in a rut and can't think of things to cook, I can go back and look at things that I have made (and loved) in the past.

Yesterday for lunch I peeled a bag of potatoes and boiled them in salted water. I brought a couple of cups of chicken stock to boil in a seperate pan. In a skillet I sauteed a bunch of onions and garlic. I drained the potatoes (reserving the potato water for bread making) leaving about 1 cup of water behind, added the onion mixture and the chicken stock. I used my stick blender to blend until all smooth. I added salt and pepper and then a dash of heavy cream at the end. I served it up with shredded cheddar cheese and left over crumbled bacon. A salad on the side and lunch was done.

For some reason, potato soup is something that I never think to make. I don't know why, because it is so tasty and easy to make. This is on eof those things I need to think about when I can't think of what I should make...

Rice Cooker

My other big Christmas gift was the Zojirushi Induction heating 10 cup rice cooker. Let me just say that it is the "mack daddy" of all rice cookers. If anyone is interested it is beyond my wildest expectations. It is fantastic!! It makes brown rice fluffier and moister than even white rice. I can't say enough good things about it.

Da Bomb

I got a new canner for Christmas. It is an All-American 930 and I will be able to do some serious canning now; however, it really does look like a bomb!!

All American Pressure Canner 30 Qt Specifications:
Capacity - 30 Quarts (Liquid)
19 Pint Jars or 14 Quart Jars
Inside diameter - 13.375 inches
Height - 14 inches
Overall Height - 19 inches
Weight - 21.25 lbs; Ship-Weight - 29 lbs

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Dinner

Today being the New Year I cooked the traditional southern dinner-blackeyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread. Yummmmmm!


-I boiled the ham hocks in some of my browned turkey broth for about 2 hours. Along with the hocks I added sauteed onions and garlic, pepper, and hot sauce. After it boiled, I added the greens, then the salt.

-I used the Cornbread recipe out of the King Arthur Whole Grain Cookbook and did the Cheddar-Bacon Variation. It was really tasty. I baked it for 30 minutes (the lower of the range given) and it was a little over done for me. In the future I would start at 25 minutes.

Cranberry Mustard

My husband loves all sorts of spicy and full-flavored "things". I saw this while I was looking for cranberry recipes and I thought he might like this. Turns out he LOVES it!! I will certainly make this again.

Cranberry Mustard
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
page 273
Yield seven 4 ounce jars

1 c red wine vinegar
2/3 c yellow mustard seed
1 c water
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 3/4 cranberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c dry mustard
2 1/2 tsp ground allspice

Bring the vinegar to a boil over high heat, remove from heat, add mustard seeds, cover and let stand 1 1/2 hours until all moisture is absorbed.

In a food processor or blender combine mustard seeds, water and worcestershire sauce and process until blended and most of the seeds are well chopped.

Transfer to a stainless steel pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce to medium and boil gently, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Whisk in sugar, dry mustard and all spice. Continue to boil gently over low heat, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes.

Ladle hot mustard into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a BWB for 10 minutes.


-I didn't have enough yellow seeds so I added black to make the total amount.

-The yield was about right. I used half pint jars and got 3 1/2 jars.

-This is really tasty and not very hot. We tried it straight out of the pan on pieces of cheese and it was great!