Saturday, August 30, 2008

homemade marshmallows.

We had family over last night and wanted to sit outside with a fire. The boys of course wanted to make s'mores, but I am not thrilled with regular marshmallows. So, we made our own! They are easy to make, this makes a big batch, and they have a really nice flavor. The boys helped with just about everything, and were so proud to share their creation with all of the kids on our block last night as they joined us to roast marshmallows over the fire!

::homemade marshmallows::

.75-oz unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups turbinado sugar
2/3 cups organic light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
organic confectioners' sugar

Line a 9" x 9" pan with plastic wrap and lightly brush it with oil (I used coconut oil).

In your mixer/kitchen aid with the whisk attachment, put the gelatin in the bowl and add 1/2 cup cold water - stir a bit, let soak for about 10 minutes.

In a small pan, combine the corn syrup, sugar and 1/4 cup water - bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute.

Pour the boiling mixture into your gelatin bowl and turn on the mixer to high. Add the salt and let it beat for 12 minutes on high. When the 12 minutes is up, add the vanilla and beat together. Add any color you would like too - we added some blue.

Using an oiled spatula, scoop the marshmallow into the pan (quickly!!) and smooth. Put another piece of oiled plastic wrap over the top and smooth out.

Let it sit for a few hours until set. We put ours in the fridge to speed it up a bit.

Once it is firm...put confectioners' sugar in a bowl. Take the marshmallow from the pan and remove plastic wrap. Cut into small blocks using a knife or scissors. Lightly roll each piece into the sugar (so it won't stick to everything). Store and eat!

This recipe is adapted from the Martha Stewart marshmallow recipe - we just used all organic ingredients, added color, and tweaked it a bit.

ingredients tip:
Look for a good quality gelatin, or try Agar-Agar, a plant based thickener similar to gelatin for cooking uses. If you use Agar, you will need to boil the water/agar mixture before using (while gelatin uses cold water soak).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CSA Box This Week

It is Thursday again, which means a drive out to the farm to pick up our CSA box. We are at peak right now, so have so much summer in one box, it seems. We also take the rural route home (well, they are all rural, but the most direct is 11 miles and all farm roads) so that we can stop at our favorite farms along the way and see what they have out on their farm stand tables.

Our first stop was new for us - we saw a sign for organic heirloom produce and had to stop. As we looked at the amazing and ripe selection of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and squash, the farmer and his son walked down to greet us. This is one of my favorite things about on-farm farm stands and rural Wisconsin. The farmer introduced himself, shook hands, asked our names, and chatted a bit. I always know what is coming next and I enjoy the banter - "Where you folks from?". We give a major crossroads, we get the acknowledgement that we do indeed live close by and are locals. We talk about what we are going to make with what we are buying and what should be ready by next week. We wave goodbye, and you bet that farmer remembers our names when we return. Each time we stop at a farm stand it is the same. It is like we are participating in a ritual that has been going on as long as there have been cars to widen the circle, and bring more people from towns to the farms.

Our next stop was to pick up a few dozen ears of sweet corn - pulled from a wheelbarrow in the barn, put the money in the box. This bounty of summer fills our car and I love the calm of washing and bagging and prepping each thing when we get home. I know I will think of these days when I am pulling jars from the basement or bags from the freezer in January as the snow blows outside!

Our CSA box this week: broccoli, brusselini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, 2 types of lettuce, basil, fennel, green beans, cabbage.

See what was in our box this week last year.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

creamy potato kale soup.

It is still hot this time of year, but I have been in the mood for soups as the cooler evenings and rain pass through. I like kale - but my husband has the same comment every time I make it, no matter what the recipe. Uh, kale? So I decided to use kale in a soup so that it imparts its flavor and goodness without that thick chewy texture. Kale and potatoes are a good match and we recently got 20 pounds of organic potatoes from a local farmer, so we were set! The flavor of this soup is awesome. Rich, creamy, and the green chili paste gives it a little bite. I have amounts listed, but as with all soup feel free to improvise and make it your own. Makes cooking more fun.

::creamy potato kale soup::

1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups stock (I used beef)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp sea salt
1 sheet kombu
1 Tbsp green curry paste
pepper to taste
2 cups fresh milk or cream
5 medium potatoes chopped (boiling or less starchy potato is best)
4 cups chopped kale

In a large pot sauté the onion and garlic in the coconut oil. When tender add the stock, potatoes, salt, and kombu. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes or so until potatoes are soft. Reduce heat again to simmer/low. Add the curry paste and kale, stirring kale into liquid. Cover again and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit a few minutes. Remove the kombu sheet. Add the milk and a few cranks of fresh pepper. Use an immersion blender and blend until creamy and smooth (you can also ladle into a food processor and smooth a batch at a time until all is creamy). Serve warm. I grated some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.

ingredient tip::
"Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. It is also a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium."

Friday, August 22, 2008

CSA Box This Week

Thursday was a big produce day for us. We picked up our CSA share, and on the way home stopped by a few farm stands to get a few more in season goodies - like sweet corn and early apples! Our garden is going strong too, so we had many peppers, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes from our yard. It is a lot for one day, but I find it easier to prep it all in one sweep - cleaning, cutting, blanching, bagging, freezing, good!

Our CSA box this week:
tomatoes, peppers, garlic, fennel, romanesco, broccoli, basil, and beans!

In our box this week last year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cherry Season.

We have cherries! We were only able to get one 10 pound bucket for now, but that was enough to get started! They are tart cherries - nice and tangy and super juicy. I froze several bags for fall, made 4 pint jars and 4 quart jars of cherry pie filling to use for baking, and am making cherry dessert topping as well as some yummy cherry syrup for drinks (to add to fresh lemonade, plain soda, or mixed drinks). Yum.

::cherry pie filling::

4 cups fresh cherries with their juice - pitted
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (or sweetener such as honey or agave)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
2 Tbsp corn starch or arrowroot powder

Put everything but the corn starch into a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Extract some hot juice into a cup, add the cornstarch/arrowroot powder, and stir until smooth. Stir back into the pot. Remove from heat. Remove the cinnamon stick. Can immediately, or let cool and put into containers for the fridge or freezer.

::cherry crisp::

2 1/2 cups cherry pie filling
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 tsp cinnamon
freshly ground nutmeg

Using a square baking pan - spread your pie filling across the bottom of the buttered pan. In a bowl, put the dry ingredients - cut in your butter using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture is crumbly. Spread over the top of the pie filling. Bake at 350º for about 40 minutes - should be golden and bubbly. Let cool and eat.

Super good with homemade vanilla ice cream!

ingredient tip::
If you don't like genetically modified corn in your baking ingredients, here is a 100% certified organic and completely GMO-free cornstarch. We have found it at our local coop but you can also get it online!

Why use arrowroot powder?
"This starch thickener has several advantages over cornstarch. It has a more neutral flavor, so it's a good thickener for delicately flavored sauces. It also works at a lower temperature, and tolerates acidic ingredients and prolonged cooking better. Sauces thickened with arrowroot can be frozen and thawed with impunity."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

CSA Box This Week

My iPhoto has been acting up all week and I am just now back up and running. Sadly, I lost many photos from the last few weeks that were corrupted when restoring from backup so I no longer have some of our latest kitchen project photos. I do have many images from my camera this week, though, and have some great new recipes to post soon.

Here is what was in our CSA box last week:
cauliflower, garlic, tomatoes, 3 types of peppers, basil, kohlrabi, onion, and swiss chard.

In our box this week last year.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Home made ricotta.

Today we made ricotta, using fresh local milk. It was pretty easy to make, and the flavor is so rich compared to store-bought!

We finished the ricotta with celtic sea salt and fresh thyme from the garden. We tried some on crostini which was so creamy and rich - yum. Tomorrow I plan to make something for dinner using it...perhaps stuffed zucchini or italian peppers from the garden!

We found the recipe in the latest issue of Saveur Magazine - click here for the recipe...

ingredient tip::
The recipe called for animal rennet, but we used organic vegan rennet (just because that is what we had on hand) which worked great!

coconut milk ice cream with drunken cherry sauce

I have been wanting to try making ice cream using coconut milk. When I found myself with a bag of fresh sweet cherries I knew what I had to make - coconut milk ice cream, with some sort of cherry sauce to go over the top. This turned out great. SO good. For wee ones you can make a sauce without the rum, or save this for the adult topping and just sprinkle toasted coconut over for kids. My boys helped make the ice cream - it was super quick and simple!

::coconut milk ice cream::

2 cans organic coconut milk (not light)
1/2 c. heavy cream *optional
1/2 c. agave or sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. toasted coconut

To toast coconut. Start with 1/2 cup of UNsweetened shredded dried coconut. Heat a small skillet and add the coconut. Stirring constantly, leave on heat for a minute or so until coconut starts turning a light golden brown. Remove from heat, and dump coconut into a bowl (don't leave it in the hot pan or it could burn). Use 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut IN the ice cream, save the rest to sprinkle on top when serving.

We use an ice cream maker... In a bowl stir together liquid ingredients. By adding the sugar/agave slowly, it will incorporate without just sinking to the bottom. Add the pinch of salt, stir, and finally add the coconut. Place into your ice cream maker according to the instructions for your model.

::drunken cherry sauce::


1 1/4 c. rum
2 c. pitted sweet cherries
1 Tbsp. honey or agave

Place ingredients in a small pot and heat to boiling. Turn down heat until just bubbling, and let simmer and reduce for about 20 minutes. This will cook off most of the alcohol, infusing the cherries with a nice flavor in a thick liquid. Once reduced to about half, remove from heat and let cool. Spoon over the coconut milk ice cream to serve. Store in the fridge.

Friday, August 8, 2008

CSA Box This Week

CSA Box this week: tomatoes, basil, beets, squash, swiss chard, kale, new garlic, and (fuzzy) cauliflower.

Click here to see what was in our box this week last year.