Tuesday, December 30, 2008

slow cooker stout stew

I love making stews and soups in the winter. At least once a week I have a big pot of something in the slow cooker. Not only it is great for a warming meal on cold days, but also makes lunch for a few days as well!

With stews and soups I am pretty much a 'whatever you have got, throw it in the pot' kind of person. Sure, I match spices and flavors with ingredients, but if you start with the best tasting freshest produce and meat, it all tastes good. I plan meals in the slow cooker based on what we have dried/frozen/preserved from the summer. I love looking through the freezer and pulling out bags of brightly colored veggies - the flavor still so great and intense since it was frozen straight from the garden at its peak. Nothing like it.

My husband had gotten a bottle of Irish Caramel Cream for Christmas and I immediately made a cake with it (recipe soon!). That reminded me of another favorite irish beverage - Guiness - so I had to make my version of a Guiness Irish Stew. I used Guiness for this stew, but any dark stout would be great! I used fresh stock and stewed tomatoes from the freezer, but you can easily substitute canned...

::slow cooker stout stew::

1 lb. stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
2 med. yellow onions, chopped
5 med. carrots, sliced
5 med. potatoes, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups fresh stock (I used home made duck stock - beef or chicken would be good too)
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
pint of stout (guiness, yum)
coconut oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
handful fresh parsley

In a skillet on med-hi, put onions, garlic, and a little coconut oil. Cook until turning translucent. Put into crockpot/slow cooker.

Add a little more coconut oil - add the beef, cooking until brown on the outside. Add the stout to the beef in the skillet, bring to a bubble, pour it all into the crock pot (turned to high). You want all the meat juices and bits on the pan, and this gets that all incorporated so you don't waste a bit!

Add the carrots and potatoes to the crock pot. Add (hot) stock and stewed tomatoes as well as bay leaf and cumin. I like to season with some salt & pepper to start with, but then finish it to taste after it cooks a few hours.

Cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low and let cook from 3 hours up to 8 hours. The longer it cooks the richer and darker it becomes. In the last 30 minutes or so, chop up a handful of fresh parsley and stir in to mix.

ingredient tip::
When meat is involved I add most ingredients to the slow cooker either hot or at room temperature. It gets the meat up to temp faster (safer).

With soups and stews I have a range of stock/broth because it all depends on how big your potatoes and carrots are, etc. So just be sure to add enough stock to just cover everything in your crock pot!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

spiced nuts.

I don't often eat nuts, but this time of year I always think of this spicy nut recipe. I love making these nuts to give as gifts...they are also super good party food.

You can use roasted nuts, or for something different, you can use raw sprouted organic nuts...for parties and gifts, though, I usually buy pre-roasted good quality/organic nuts. This recipe is based on the Union Square Cafe nuts recipe - I just like a little more bite.

::spiced nuts::
17 oz. mixed nuts (sunflower seeds are also good in this)
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground smoked chipotle (or more if you like it hotter!)
2 tsp paprika (I like a smoked spanish paprika for this, but hungarian is good too!)
1 tsp tumeric
2 tsp coarse sea salt

In a 350ºF oven, toast the nuts for about 10 minutes on a cookie sheet. While they are in the oven, combine all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir together. Toss in the warm nuts out of the oven and stir to coat evenly. Try not to eat them all as they cool.

Most of what we made bagged for gift giving, but we saved a small bowl for us...yum.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

whole wheat snickerdoodles.

Over the past few years we have switched over to using only whole wheat flours. For bread we often grind our own flour, but we use whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat white flour for baking everything from cookies to scones. My boys actually like the rich chewiness that whole wheat flour adds to recipes. I often will take traditional recipes and just substitute the whole wheat flour - but with some things (like cookies) it is good to tweak the recipe a little to compensate for how much moisture the whole wheat flour absorbs. In this recipe I used organic stone ground whole wheat pastry flour, turbinado sugar, and have a non-traditional ingredient in the mix too...coconut. It doesn't add much actual coconut flavor, but gives a nice texture and keeps the cookies from getting dry, I think.

::whole wheat snickerdoodles::

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups organic sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups white whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic UN-sweetened dry coconut flakes
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

to roll the cookies in
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp turbinado sugar

-Preheat the oven to 375 ºF
-Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper
-In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. Put aside.
-In a mixer, beat sugar with butter until light and creamy - about a minute or two.
-Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
-Add in the flour mixture a bit at a time until combined...

-In a small bowl, combine the 2 tsp cinnamon and 3 Tbsp sugar
-Roll bits of dough into balls (about 1 1/2 Tbsp per ball) and then roll in the cinnamon mixture to coat.
-Put the cookies about 2-3 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
-Bake for about 10 minutes...cookies should be light and golden.
-Let the cookies cool for a minute or two before transferring them to a cooling rack.

ingredient tip::

The health benefits from whole grains comes from the nutrients and fiber found in the grain kernel, including the germ and bran. So, whole grains contain the good stuff such as dietary fiber, starch, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, lignans, and phenolic compounds that have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Glühwein, or mulled wine, is a favorite this time of year. There is nothing like the smell of aromatic spices and red wine wafting throughout the house on a cold day. While it can be made any time of year, there is something about the holiday season that makes me want to make it - and the process (and smell) is as much fun as the drinking. This is a great recipe for a party, but also lovely to have around the house. I also like making a batch, filling up a few bottles and giving as gifts!

It is very simple to make. I like making it in a slow cooker (on warm/low) so that it can just be on during the day to simmer and intensify in flavor. You can also easily make it on the stove in a large pot.


1 bottle red wine
1.5 cups orange juice
1-2 thick slices lemon (with rind)
2 cinnamon sticks
10-15 cloves
5 allspice
1 star anise
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar (or muscavado)

You can tie up all of the spices in a little bit of cheesecloth, or just toss it all in the pot and strain to drink. Simply heat it all together (don't boil). Keep on low heat from 30 minutes up to several hours - the longer it it together in the pot, the more intense the flavor. Serve warm. Garnish with a cinnamon stick if you like!

ingredient tip::

Organic and biodynamic wines are very available nowadays - even in the aisles of many supermarkets. Buying wine made using organic grapes, grown biodynamically, and/or from vintners using sustainable agriculture practices means that not only are you steering clear of any nasty pesticides, but also supporting a more human and earth healthy business. And if you can find an organic wine made locally? Bigger bonus!

"With grapes topping the list of the most chemically "sprayed" (with insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other nasty "cides") categories of produce on the market today, it is no wonder that many are seeking an organic alternative to their conventional wines. Tides are certainly turning as more vintners are discovering that the common-sense approach to both organic and biodynamic growing methods, results in not only "healthier" vines, but in wines with greater flavor..."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

::molasses-spice cookies::

We have been looking for a good dark cookie that the boys like but that isn't overly sweet or too spicy. Today we had success with these Molasses-Spice cookies. These are not the traditional molasses heavy cookies (my boys will not eat them!). These cookies are a little chewy in the middle, crisp on the edges, slightly sweet with a gingerbread richness. I love that they all cooked so perfectly and evenly - which is great for cookie exchanges or gift bags!

This recipe is slightly adapted from the recipe in this book. Rather than using all purpose flour we used an organic whole wheat pastry flour - which keeps the rich nuttiness of a whole wheat flour, while still being light and tasty. We also used a rich organic dark brown sugar, and organic turbanado for the granulated sugar.

::molasses-spice cookies::

2 1/4 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
Some extra turbinado sugar for rolling (the larger crystals are great)

Pre-heat oven to 375º F.
Stir the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl.
In your mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup turbinado sugar until light and fluffy - a few minutes on medium speed.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Slowly add in the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
Put some turbinado sugar in a bowl.
Roll dough into 1-2 Tbsp balls.
Rolls the balls in the sugar and put on ungreased baking sheets - space a few inches apart.
Bake for about 7 minutes and then rotate the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes. For soft chewy cookies pull out when they still look soft - longer time means more crispy!
When you remove them from the oven let them cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack via spatula.

ingredient tip:
I always feel that if we are going to take the time to bake something sweet, then we should use the good stuff! We try to avoid using refined sugars. But with cookies, you need sugar! By using organic less refined sugars, you are retaining more of the natural vitamins and minerals present in the sugar cane, and not getting any chemical by-products of the refining process. Or, what she said:
"I was on the lookout for sweeteners produced from crops that had been farmed without chemicals and pesticides. I was looking for sweeteners that didn’t contain additives and preservatives, and were as close to their original source ingredient in form and flavor as possible. I want to spend my money supporting sustainably minded producers, working in concert with the environment and giving a fair shake to their workers in fields and factories to produce great tasting products and ingredients."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

what we do for good food.

Today we drove out in this. Willingly. What for? To pick up meat, vegetables, eggs and more. No, not at the store. We continue to buy direct from farmers as much as we can - even throughout the winter.

So what did we get today? We had two stops to pick up peppers, sunchokes, parsnips, eggs, meat, and more (the photo below is our portion, we also picked up for a few other families too).

Even in December, we still buy meat, dairy, cheese, eggs, vegetables, wheat, honey - the list goes on - from farmers. People we know. I tell you - in the middle of a snowstorm a giant bag of vibrant colored and amazing smelling peppers is an awesome sight.

No, we don't put a lot of miles on doing it this way either. When we buy things I try to buy as much as I can at a time, try to include other families to get as much as possible in one trip, pickup from more than just one place per run, and set regular pickups for more regular things and do big quarterly pickups for the rest. There is so much that is close to home!

The boys are used to it all - they love the rides in the country, seeing friends at the door with coolers as we trade pickup days, visiting farms, and chatting with some of their favorite people along the way. And they love unloading the car when we get back - egg pickup day means maybe we can bake cookies! And G must ooh and ahh over the egg colors each time and sort and re-sort by color and size until he gets it just right.

And speaking of eggs - my friend and egg/chicken/duck lady extraordinaire loaned me her shop vac and all is well in the oven again (thank you!!!). I have been working on some recipes for baked goods using all whole wheat flour - I have a lot of catching up to do!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I haven't fallen off of the cook.eat.think. wagon here. I actually had a Pyrex explode into a million tiny pieces in my oven. I have a thing with glass. It always breaks no matter how careful I am. And, it always gets stuck in my fingers or feet, no matter how obsessively I clean it up. And it stays in my feet sometimes for months - even with my attempts of digging it out with sharp objects. So, this was a big thing.

So, I left it for a few days. Cleaned the floor 120 times (yes, it blew up just as I opened the oven, and glass literally flew OUT of the oven at my head, and landed up to four feet away). Put a rug in the kitchen. Let it sit for a few days. Bought big giant thick gloves. Pulled out the big pieces. Let it sit for a few days. Wondered how in the world I would ever get all that glass out of my oven. Looked for a shop-vac rental. Tried to sweep it out a little. Let it sit a few days. Wished I could just get a new oven (ha!). Let it sit for a few days.

I don't know when I will feel that I got enough glass shards out of the oven to EVER feel that I can cook in it again, but here's hoping. The holidays are coming. And a big birthday for a four year old is only 9 days away ... hmmm ... maybe I should order a cake...

So while I have been cooking a lot, it has been in the slow cooker on my counter. Big long all day soups and stews. Bread in the bread machine. Beans soaking on the counter. Panini's on the counter top grill. Now if I could just make this oven disappear and a new one magically appear in its place, I'd be set! ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The final CSA Box!

Today was it! The final CSA pickup of the season. We usually also do a late November storage share, but did not this year and are instead relying on our garden and a few local farmers for our final stocking up and some regular pickups throughout the winter!

In our box this week: sorrel, brusselini, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, celeriac, squash, onions, turnips (purple top & hakuri).

In our box this week last year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

winter garden.

While we have been busy in the kitchen we have also been out in the garden. I love yard work (yeah, I love shoveling too!). I will admit that we have a LOT of clean up after growing food plants rather than ornamental bushes, but it is worth it. The glorious weather has helped make the garden clean up even nicer. We are pulling, clipping, raking, and planting. We prepped and planted garlic and shallots. I love planting even as the cold comes. Speaking of planting...

This year we are planning to try to grow certain herbs and greens inside to see how much we can stay local for veggies even throughout the winter. Our pantry and freezer is packed with everything we preserved from farms and our garden all summer, but we still wanted fresh greens. With a sprouter we have a lot of variety throughout the winter for salads as well as bread, but we wanted more! So lets give it a shot and see how far we can go.

We plan to do a few succession plantings as we figure out what works best (or doesn't work). Our first planting::

-mustard greens
-salad bowl lettuce (cut and come again)
-swiss chard
and by special request we will try
-window box roma tomato

To winter greens!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CSA Box This Week

Today in our CSA box...we haven't gotten much squash at all this year in our boxes. Winter squash is one of my favorite things, and I always look forward to it. Today we got only 1 small acorn squash and a mini butternut squash - not a good year for squash, it seems. I traded the mini butternut squash in our box for more brussel sprouts. The wonder of our garden is that we fill in the gaps of our CSA, can get quantity of our favorite items, and so even growing only 1 vine we already have a decent number of butternut squash stored away for this fall and winter!

In our box this week:: lettuce mix, arugula, beauty heart radish, leek, carrots, brussel sprouts, green cabbage, acorn squash, cilantro.

In our box this week last year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It finally happened. Snow! Not a lot, but snow flurries combined with temps in the 20s means we had to pick all of the last more tender bits in the garden.

Most of it went into the dehdrator for our winter herb and spice jars. We also collected some heads and veggies for seed saving, so that we can plant again next year.

This week marks a big date. Six months. We have gone six months without buying any produce from a grocery store...except for random lemons, limes, and the few times per summer guacamole from our local food coop. What does that mean? We have gotten all of our fruit and vegetables directly from a farm, farmstand, or our garden since May. We had our garden and our CSA, and visited farms as close to home as we could to visit on farm stands or u-picks. We have also had a good year for local meat, eggs, and dairy...more on that later!

So for the winter we transition to more root veggies and foods we preserved all summer. For fresh greens we love to sprout on our counter. And we return to more fresh breads and weekly baking. Last night we made a loaf of sunflower millet bread which made the house smell amazing. Very comforting on those cold days. I have some 'mad scientist' plans to experiment and try to grow several types of vegetables and herbs in our house this winter. I want more than a few window herbs, and we will see how it goes. I'll be seed-starting this week, so will share our plans as we go!

I love this season - from hot to cool, from light to dark, from rich garden and farms to a fully stocked freezer. We have relationships with many local farmers that will continue through the winter, but most of the action takes place INside, and all of this work we did all summer makes this time of rest seem even more satisfying!

Friday, October 24, 2008

CSA Box This Week

It is almost the end of our CSA season. Only one more week left - growing season does seem to fly in Wisconsin!

In our box this week: hakuri turnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, leek, parsley, romanesco, lettuce, and a head of garlic.

In our box this week last year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

home made stock.

We like to make our own stock to use for cooking. Chicken broth, bone broth, even veggie/miso broth...making it from scratch helps us get the maximum flavor and nutrition out of it. And while it takes a little time, it is mostly time on low heat on a stove, not the constant stirring attentions of some foods. I try to make a gallon or more at a time which I then use for everything from soup, stew and chili bases, to brown rice. After you have homemade stock it is hard to use the cube stuff! :)

This week I made a beef stock - bone broth. With a sprained ankle and sore back, I know that the nutritional benefits of bone broth will help with joint support and healing.

For beef bone broth I start with 3-4 pounds of assorted bones from organically raised grass fed beef. This batch I used soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones) and ox tail. I buy this directly from the farmer we get our beef from - I know how the animals were raised, and they select soup bones with stock prep in mind. Vinegar and water is added to the pot - the vinegar works to extract the maximum nutrients (esp. calcium). I also add chopped base vegetables for flavor, as well as herbs and sea salt. The prep takes only minutes, after which it can simmer for 24 hours or more for maximum flavor.

::beef stock - bone broth::

Into a large pot add:
3-4 pounds soup bones
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
8 cups water
4 onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, smashed

Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer. After a few hours you can skim off any residue on the top and toss that. Keep simmering for 24 hours or so for beef stock. In the last 30 minutes, chop and add some herbs. I like thyme and parsley - for parsley, I add a hand full, for thyme, a few teaspoons. Let it simmer for the last half hour. When done, pour through a sieve/strain. There you have it! Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat with a spoon. Store in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in batches to use as needed!

ingredients tip::

"Simply put, bone broth is the liquid that results when bones are cooked in water. The use of stocks and broths has fallen out of practice in many modern households but it is still widely used in professional kitchens. Broths have been used through the ages as-easy to-digest nourishment and were prescribed for the sick and ailing, the very old and the very young as well as a staple in every kitchen.

Broth can be seen as a medicinal tea made from bones, meat and the connective tissues that are often attached. By simmering bones in water you extract many constituents contained in them and make them available to the human body for easy absorption.

Properly made bone broth contains measurable amounts of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and other minerals, as well as collagen, gelatin and amino acids. These nutrients are beneficial for bone and joint health, for muscle strength and action, and for maintaining connective tissues and the gastrointestinal tract."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

turnip potato mash.

Oh, it is that time again! The time of cold nights, comfort foods, bread in the oven, and the slow cooker on the counter. In our CSA box we have been getting those end of season root veggies which go so well with all of that cold weather food. One of my favorites is turnips.

I love making the first of the season turnip potato mash. So good!

::turnip potato mash::

8 turnips, chopped
5-6 medium potatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper
1-2 cloves of soft roasted garlic (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
fresh or dried herbs, if you like (I added dried thyme from our garden)

Put the chopped turnips & potatoes in a pot with water (enough to cover). Bring to a boil, and then cook on medium heat for about 15 - 20 minutes, until soft. Drain and toss into a casserole pan. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the cooked root veggies. Add the butter, roasted garlic, salt & pepper, herbs and then mix. Sprinkle most of the Parmesan over the top. Place the casserole pan into a pre-heated 350º oven. Bake about 20-30 minutes until the top is golden. Let cool a bit and then serve with a little bit of the fresh Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Great side dish!

I know many people just boil and mash their turnips and serve without the baking step, but I find turnips a bit more watery than potatoes. Baking a bit helps thicken the dish a little, and also gives a nice boost of flavor on top from the baked parmesan!

ingredient tip::
Turnips may be a 'starch' veggie, but they contain only about one third of the calories as an equal amount of potatoes. Turnips are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, manganese, panthothenic acid and copper. They also contain a good amount of thiamine, potassium, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin and the vitamins B6 and E.

And with turnips don't throw away those greens! Turnips Greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. We like to saute them in a pan with a little olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper and a splash of good balsamic. Takes only a minute and they are super tasty!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CSA Box This Week

I sprained my ankle yesterday, so after a few trips hauling a sleepy 3 year old and our CSA cooler up the steps into the house I was a big shaky - I took 5 or so photos of the produce today, and all were slightly blurry. So, sorry about the blur - here is our box this week!

CSA Box: Lettuce salad mix, swiss chard, broccoli, hakuri turnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, thai basil. We also had arugula and mizuna greens, but I traded those for additional potatoes...we have so many greens this week already!

In our box this week last year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

in the kitchen...mid-october.

After a weekend trip in Minneapolis, we are back to preserving everything we can at the end of the year. I think our garden is in the final stretch - although we are still happily picking the last bits of things like beans and raspberries and swiss chard. We will still get radishes, turnips, chives and leeks a bit longer, but everything else is being cleared out.

We pulled all the tomatoes and brought in everything that was still green - it is all in tubs to ripen in the sun through the window. We are also continuing to make applesauce and dried apples. We have been baking pie pumpkins to make pumpkin bread and soup--and tomorrow we will can a big batch of apple pumpkin butter (recipe coming soon!). Yum.

Tomorrow on our way home from our CSA pickup we will be stopping at a few farm stands to load the car up with winter squash and root vegetables so we can store them. Can't wait!

What is happening in your kitchen this week?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

pumpkin time.

We went to a farm last weekend to pick up our first batch of pie pumpkins. We love to make our own pumpkin puree, which we use for all of our fall baking. I like doing a few pans of pumpkin at a time to economize on time. Making fresh pumpkin puree is simple and has such a great flavor.

Take your small sweet pie pumpkins and cut off top/stem, then cut them in half. Scoop out the seeds and drizzle with a little oil. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350º face down 30 minutes, turn them over, bake face up 30 minutes. The inside should be soft. Let cool and then scoop out the insides. You can take the pulp and run it through a food processor or a food mill to get it the consistency of canned pumpkin (smooth & creamy).

So with all the fresh pumpkin we had to make something - pumpkin bars! These are nice in that they are moist and flavorful but not too sweet.

::pumpkin bars::

Preheat oven 350º

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups sugar or maple syrup
3/4 cup butter
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the above ingredients together in a bowl.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Add the rest of the above ingredients into the mixture and stir. Pour into a lightly buttered 9x13" pan. Bake at 350º for about 35-40 minutes! Let cool and cut into squares.

ingredients tip::
"Pumpkin and winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. In addition, winter squash and pumpkin is also a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October is Fair Trade Month.

"October is Fair Trade Month, which provides a great opportunity for people throughout the United States to support, promote and celebrate a socially responsible system of trade that prioritizes the needs of human beings and the environment over the drive for profits.

Fair Trade is important because conventional "free trade" often leaves farmers and artisans living in extreme poverty, sometimes even facing malnutrition and starvation when world market prices swing dramatically. These are the conditions that have led in some cases to the use of illegal child labor, including child slave labor, and to the use of unsustainable environmental practices such as cutting down trees in the rainforest.

Fair Trade, by contrast, ensures that farmers and artisans are paid a living wage, and that the products they produce aren't made in sweatshops or by exploited child laborers. Fair Trade also promotes production techniques that will not harm the environment."

If you are not sure where to start, you can begin by taking small steps. Products that are accessible everywhere include fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa and sugar. And, by buying organic fair trade, you are supporting a system which is better for humans and the earth.

>Where to Buy Fair Trade Certified.
>Find a Fair Trade event in your area.
>Find out more about Fair Trade.

Monday, October 6, 2008

apple butter, baked apples, apples!

We went apple picking over the weekend and have more apples. I have been getting apples in batches of 20-30# so that I can do a bit at a time. We have been making applesauce, apple butter, baked apples, pie fillings, and more. With the cool weather also comes the return of bread baking - I seem to fizzle out when the heat peaks, but happily return to the smell of bread baking in the house as the nights get colder. And with freshly baked sunflower millet whole wheat bread you need fresh apple butter to top it with, of course.

apple butter

5-1/2 pounds apples, peeled and sliced/chopped (= about 15-18 med. sized apples)
2 cups sugar (I like to use maple syrup or honey)
1/4 - 1/2 cup apple cider
2-3 tsp cinnamon, or 3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Place apples in a slow cooker. Add all of the ingredients and mix well. Put on lid and cook on high for 1 hour (stir a few times). Reduce the heat to low. Cover again and cook on low for 9-12 hours - or until it is thick and dark brown. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook for one more hour. Remove cinnamon if you used whole sticks. If you like a smoother apple butter, you can run it through a food mill or use a stick blender. You can process for canning, freeze, or refrigerate and eat within a few weeks!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

CSA Box This Week

In our CSA box this week: romanesco broccoli, broccoli, 4 types of greens/lettuce, beans, cilantro, tomatillos, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro.

In our box this week last year.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

pear raspberry freezer jam.

I love making small batch freezer jams. I never like too much of just one flavor - I'm weird that way. I also like to experiment with different recipes. So while I do try to get large quantities of fruit in season and preserve it, I try to diversify. That means that I often make freezer jams rather than canning since I just do a little at a time.

My husband brought home a big bag of raspberries from work this week - his co-worker had "too many" in her lawn and was kind enough to share. I had some first season pears too, and pulled out this recipe to make a few jars. Raspberries and pears are great together - the pears balance the tartness of the raspberries while keeping the intense berry taste. This recipe is quick and easy!

pear raspberry freezer jam::

3 lb ripe pears
3 c fresh red raspberries
1 pk (1.75 oz) fruit pectin (powdered)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ginger liquid (optional, I use liquid from this)
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
5 cups turbinado sugar

Peel, core, and coarsely grind pears; then measure 2 cups fruit. Crush red raspberries; measure 2 cups of berries. In a large pot, combine ground pears, berries, pectin, ginger juice, lemon juice and nutmeg. Bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the sugar. Boil hard, uncovered, for 1 minute; stir constantly with long-handled spoon. Remove from heat and skim off the foam with a metal spoon. Ladle jam at once into hot, clean half-pint jars, or freezer jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Let come to room temp before putting into fridge or freezer.

Friday, September 26, 2008

CSA Box This Week

My camera (or my 3 year old) magically ate the CSA photos this week and they *poof* are gone. So no pic! Ahhh well.

Here is what is in our CSA box this week: lettuce, brussel sprouts, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, radishes, napa cabbage, carrots.

In our box this week last year.

omnivore's 100.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

I saw this on a few blogs I read and thought it was an interesting cultural review of food. I'm not saying I agree with it as the end all list, but it is interesting to do!

"Below is a list of 100 things that every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/uncategorised/the-omnivores-hundred/ linking to your results."

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi (think so...have had potato/cauliflower/curry)
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I have had cognac at a cigar bar...but no cigar)
37. Clotted cream tea (think so...)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat (I have had goat, but curried??)
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal (too hot for me!)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (my favorite kind)

46. Fugu (no pufferfish)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (like 25 years ago)

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (in Canada!)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe (uh, no comment)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky (I think so...)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor (unsure)
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

I think I covered most of these at a sushi restaurant. Ha! There are several things on this list which I have tried, but it was just a taste - they were disgusting. But that counts for the list, I guess. I've had things like alligator and snake when I lived in a tiny town in north central Florida for a few years. Many items on the list are not too adventurous, but I think you would have to be in an urban area to find them.

There is not much I wouldn't 'try' on this list, I don't think. Well, maybe roadkill. I have seen Anthony Bourdain's show before though, and there are things he has eaten that I would not try. Ever. It is interesting how many things I have tried on the list even though I was a veg/vegan for many years in my 20s/30s.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


As the leaves start to turn, we start to move from raspberry picking to apples. Applesauce, apple butter, dried apple rings, apple pie filling...all good. Today the boys and I made a big batch of applesauce. Well, they did most of it - I just did the stove top work!

I like this recipe because it uses maple syrup rather than sugar for its sweetness. It gives the applesauce a nice rich flavor!


10 pounds apples (we used Cortland)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Core & cut apples into quarters and add to pot. We peel 80-90% of ours, leaving only a few for color. Pour orange juice over the top, add about 1 1/2 cups of water to pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer, covered, for several hours until the apples are soft and mushy. During the simmering, push down the apples with a potato masher or stir well with spoon. Make sure nothing is burning on bottom...Allow to cool. Stir in syrup & spices. If you like chunky applesauce, leave as is. For smoother applesauce, pass in batches through food mill. Store in fridge or freeze!

ingredient tip::
Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc, magnesium, and phosphorous. Zinc and manganese are important allies in the immune system. Many types of immune cells appear to depend upon zinc for optimal function. Maple products also contain trace amounts of malic and citric acids, and some amino acids!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

CSA Box This Week

One of my favorite things about Thursday is stopping at farm stands on the way to and from the CSA pickup. Each week we expectantly look on whatever table is set out front to see what is ripe and then stop to pick out some extras to supplement our weekly box or get goodies in season to preserve. Today we visited 3 farms.

We first stopped for our CSA box. Just down the road we stopped to buy some apples and pears. Our last stop was for mushrooms, onions and carrots! I like visiting each week to discover what is fresh and ready - I like not knowing in advance exactly what we will have, and then seeing what we can make with our haul!

In our CSA Box this week: lettuce, tomatoes, romano beans, napa cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, beets, carrots.

In our box this week last year.

Friday, September 12, 2008

CSA Box This Week

In our box this week: garlic, beets, radishes, basil, tomato, onion, cauliflower, lettuce.

In our box this week last year.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

creamy corn soup.

This is the sweet corn time of year here - where every farm stand and roadside truck is selling mountains of corn. We have been picking up a few dozen ears of corn each time we pass our favorite spots, and have blanched and frozen a bit, but we usually just tear through it before we preserve much. Today we had another dozen ears awaiting us, so we made soup. This soup combines everything that is in season and available right now - and was SO good. Rich and creamy, but not heavy. So good!

::creamy corn soup::

4 cups fresh corn (we cut corn off of 8 raw ears)
4-5 medium potatoes chopped (a not too starchy type, such as yukon gold)
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups stock
1 sheet kombu
2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp cumin
ground pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
minced cilantro
1 Tbsp coconut oil

In a large pot, put the coconut oil, garlic and onion, and cook on med-high for a few minutes until they start to go a bit transparent. Add the fresh corn, stir and let sauté for a minute with the garlic and onions. Add the kombu, stock, salt, cumin, potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and add milk - stir in a bit of the cilantro and add pepper to taste (more salt if needed, depending on your stock...). Serve warm with a little sprinkle of the cilantro over the top.

ingredients tip::
Corn is a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese. Corn is also heart healthy - corn's contribution to heart health lies not just in its fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate that corn supplies.

cherry muffins.

Each weekend we preserve from our garden, bake, and try to make at least one meal that will also work for a few lunches throughout the week. My husband likes taking things to work to snack on and for lunch, and it is easiest for him if everything is ready and available. This weekend we continued our tomato preservation madness (they never stop coming!), but also made a few things for the week.

I have been looking for a good recipe for cherry muffins, and baked a batch of these today (click for recipe). We used the cherries we froze a few weeks back for this recipe, and since they are tart, I whizzed them a bit in the food processor first so that the chunks were smaller and spread evenly throughout. I also put a crumb topping on half of them -- using oats, butter, and brown sugar. They are moist, tender, not too sweet, and as I used organic whole wheat flour and coconut oil, extra good!

Friday, September 5, 2008

salsa fresca.

I love tomato season. There is something about the work. The constant barrage of ripening, one day at a time. We have had some tomatoes. Made into sauces, stewed, sliced, whole, cooked, raw, in eggs at breakfast, as a sandwich at lunch, and a salad at dinner.

Today was salsa day. We have been making tomato basil salsa for the past week in addition to the non-stop pots making sauce on the stove top. But today? Cilantro. Jalapeno. Tomatoes. Onions. Garlic. Limes. Salt. Good spicy fragrant salsa. Yum. I don't like the pureed don't know what is in it mosh of a salsa. I like the chunky brightly colored salsa fresca. It is great with chips, spooned over many dishes, or just by the spoonful.

::salsa fresca::

1 jalapeno, finely minced
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 small garlic cloves, finely minced
8 or so med/lg tomatoes, roughly chopped
bunch of cilantro, chopped (to taste)
juice of 1 lime
sea salt to taste
1/4 tsp agave (to cut acid)

Chop and mix, let sit...the longer the tastier it is. Store in fridge for up to a week or so. It won't last that long.

CSA Box This Week

In our box this week: 2 types of lettuce, peppers, fennel, eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes.

What was in our box this week last year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

preserving the harvest--the list.

I have been trying to keep a rough count of everything I am making and freezing to preserve the harvest as we go. I am trying to go slow so I don't get overwhelmed and do it all right, and each year I add more, learn more, and preserve more. Because I don't have time with two small boys, I tend to do everything in small batches rather than whole day extravaganzas. When I do get more quantity of something such as a fruit or tomatoes, I spread it out over a few days so I stay happy. For those of you who are canning warriors, this might not seem like much, but for us, this seems great considering how small our yard it, and we hope to expand a LOT each year as we gain experience!

Here is a rough estimate - I'm sure I am forgetting something, but in general, a good idea of what we have so far, and what is remaining!

*list updated 10/7

-3 quarts lacto fermented cucumbers
-9 quarts traditional dill pickles
-2 pints lacto fermented garlic (more to come)
-2 quarts strawberry dessert topping
-3 quarts + 5 pints cherry pie filling
-1 quart drunken cherry sauce
-6 pints sauerkraut ... lacto fermented
-3 pints pesto
-5 quarts tomato basil salsa
-1 quart cherry syrup
-3 quarts raspberry pear jam
-8 quarts applesauce (more coming)
-1 quart apple butter
-4 quarts chicken stock
-2 gallons roasted root veggies

-10 bags frozen strawberries
-4 quarts + 10 pints freezer strawberry jam
-5 1-gallon bags frozen cherries
-6 1-gallon bags beans (mixed)
-2 1-gallon bags corn
-4 1-gallon bags asparagus
-29 1-gallon bags stewed tomatoes/sauces
-3 quarts caponata

basement/cold storage::
-potatoes (more to come)
-early apples

-cherry tomatoes
-lemon verbena
-pinapple sage, regular sage

to come::
-apples (u-pick)
-fall raspberries (garden plus u-pick)
-squash/pumpkins in garden, u-pick
-brussel sprouts
-more cucumbers
-fall greens
-more beans

What are you preserving this summer?