Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomato Chips Report :)

Well, here they are ~ The Tomato chips!  This began yesterday's "cascade."  All of them The ones I didn't eat immediately fit in this quart jar.  They are SO yummy!  And here, again, is a picture of what I started with:

If I get some more tomatoes, I think I will dry them plain like this and then see if I can turn them into a powder in the blender.  That would be a nice addition (I assume) to soups, sauces, and dips.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The "cascade effect" ;)

Several years ago, we decided to remove the sliding glass doors on our shower/tub and replace them with a shower curtain.  Simple, right?  As with so many things, by the time we got done, the project not only took longer, but became much more complicated than we thought it would.

My husband removed the doors and the tracks.  Then we had a big mess to clean up.  Then he had to buy some stuff to patch the holes left in the fiberglass tub.  Then we had to buy and install a shower rod, the shower curtain, and of course, I "needed" a pretty fabric outer shower curtain.  Sigh...

Fast forward to this morning ~

I had a few tomatoes and they were ripening so I needed to do something with them.  I decided to make "tomato chips."  I had a mixture of paste tomatoes and regular tomatoes.  All they needed was to be washed in cold water and then sliced rather thinly.  The instructions on 11th Heaven said "1/8th inch" but I wasn't too scientific about it.  Here they are, all sliced up:

I put them in this big stainless bowl, added a small amount of olive oil, some garlic powder, some of my fresh basil that is preserved in the fridge in raw apple cider vinegar, and then tasted it and added salt until I liked how it tasted.  Next, on to a couple of dehydrator trays:

Ok, so those are in the dehydrator as I type here.  Here is what was left in that bowl:

I couldn't just throw it out!  What would you do?  It occurred to me that I could use it in a salad.  Here begins the cascade.  I looked in the refrigerator and found a head of lettuce, a sweet pepper from our garden, some fresh celery, and some carrots.  That's a good start!

Sliced up the pepper:

Sliced the celery:

Peeled and sliced two carrots:

Sliced and cooked 3 slices of bacon, added that, drippings and all to the bowl:

Added a few sliced sun-dried tomatoes, and tore up the lettuce.  Can you hear the wheels turning in my head?  I'm thinking about and searching for whatever I can add to this salad!

 Chopped a small handful of walnut meats:

Added some of my preserved parsley and basil:

  Diced 1 large clove garlic:


Here's the bacon, ready to go in:

Topped it all with a big glob of homemade mayonnaise, a good splash of some raw apple cider vinegar and a drizzle of honey.  Then, salted to taste.  Time to stir it together:

Here it is!  Our lunch:

Do you see what I mean?  After all, I was just wanting to make tomato chips.  :D

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thrift store score!

I have wished for many years that I could have a "bean pot."  Recently, I finally figured out how to make tender baked beans.  And then, much to my delight, I found this little pot at a thrift store.  Apparently, it is leftover from one of these made by West Bend:

Vintage West Bend Bean Pot 1950's Crock Pot with Heat-Rite base & booklet 2 Qt

Mine did not come with the electrical appliance part.  I just have a charming stoneware pot. Here is the inside:

I've never really known if there was an advantage to having an official "bean pot," but I have used it now, and it certainly worked nicely.  It is deep and tapers up toward the top.  That was kind of on my "bucket list."  :D

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Sun Dried" Tomatoes

In our humid climate, I wouldn't even attempt to actually "sun" dry tomatoes, but I am blessed to have a nice dehydrator.  This can also be done in your oven. I will explain that shortly.  Above you see about 10 pounds of Roma tomatoes that I've washed and drained.

Cut each tomato into quarters.  Now, look, right to left here.  The 1st bit is just what they look like after cutting.  #2 has had the little greenish hard part cut off, and for #3,  I quickly scooped out the seeds with my thumb.  Do that to all of your tomatoes.

 Here is what they looked like after I prepared them this way:

Next, I started laying them out on the dehydrator trays, that are covered with the drying sheets that come with the dehydrator.  It is important to lay them with cut sides UP:

The next addition is minced fresh garlic.  Do you remember how I suggested you can peel it?  It makes it very easy.  This picture does not show how much garlic I used, but I believe it came to about 2 large cloves for each tray, and there were 5 trays altogether.  So, peel and mince the garlic!

The garlic was then sprinkled over the trays of tomatoes, and I also sprinkled them with dried oregano (fresh would be lovely, but I didn't have enough), sea salt, just a little freshly ground black pepper and a tiny drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

In my dehydrator, set at 135 F, it took about 15 hours to get them sort of leathery.  You may also lay them on trays in your oven, set at 250 F.  If you do this, put some little object (of the non-meltable variety) in a corner of the oven door to hold it open a little bit so the moisture can escape.  I do not know how long it will take in the oven, but probably a lot less than in a dehydrator.  When they are ready, they will look like this!

I packed them into sterilized jars:

The yield is 1.5 quarts.  Lastly, they have been covered with extra-virgin olive oil, covered with tight lids and will be stored in the refrigerator.

You can easily do this with just a few tomatoes or a great many!  If you live in a dry climate, just set your trays out in the sun, covered with cheesecloth to keep bugs and things out of there.

Sun-dried tomatoes are very rich in flavor and make a wonderful addition to pizza, salads, sandwiches, sauces, cheese balls... Be sure to use the olive oil as well.  It will be infused with delicious flavor.  Just pour it off as you use the tomatoes.  Enjoy this wonderful, economical, nutritious treat!

This post is linked with Traditional Tuesday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tooth Powder

Nearly two years ago, I posted instructions for making tooth soap.  Interesting to me is how popular that has been!  As of this morning, it's had 3,667 "hits."  Amazing.

Now I have something new to talk to you about ~ "Tooth Powder."  This is much easier to make and is also more economical. 

I ran across the idea online, of course, and now can't remember where I saw it.  Sigh...  Here it is:

Here is the recipe:  Combine 8 teaspoons food grade bentonite clay, 1 teaspoon sea salt (I used some RealSalt that I have) and...

4 drops peppermint essential oil.  Put it in a little jar and shake it up.

Keep a tight lid on the jar.  When you want to brush, just wet your tooth brush with water and dip the bristles lightly into the tooth powder.  Voila!  I really like it. Don't put too much on your brush.  Only a little is needed and if you get too much, it will feel like it.  You can use more or less essential oil to your liking.  This batch will last for a long time, so you can see that it doesn't cost much at all.

It does an amazingly good job, too.  Now I don't have to make the tooth soap and I don't have to buy the expensive flouride-free toothpaste at the store.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The sad (and delicious) tale of the Duck

My friend from whom I get eggs had a poor duck that had crippled feet.  He couldn't even walk, just sort of  struggled around on the ground.  He was not sick, but his quality of life was rather poor.  She asked me if I would like to take him to eat.  I said, "yes."  :(   She is a great animal lover, as am I, but she can't bring herself to kill things usually.  I don't enjoy it, but when it needs to be done....

So, just over an hour ago, I drove to her house and brought him home.  He is in the oven now.  I slaughtered, plucked and butchered him and cleaned him all up nicely.  When you make roast duck, you don't put stuffing in it like you could with a chicken or turkey because ducks have a lot of fat and the dressing would just get soggy.  I went out to the herb patch and brought in some sage, thyme, rosemary and parsley and put it inside the body cavity.  Then I sprinkled him with salt and pepper and put him in a baking dish and am roasting it at 325 F.  I'll have to see how long it takes... I've never done this before.

When it's all done, I'll remove the meat from the bones and make some good stock with the bones, feet and giblets.  Ewww... here is the gizzard, liver and heart:

Hold on.  I'll get back here with a some pictures when it's all done.

Ok, 3 hours ago I dispatched the poor duck.  I roasted it for 1 hour, 15 minutes.  Now I have eaten some of it.  Delicious!  Did you know that a duck is all dark meat?  I didn't know that.  I hope some day I can raise ducks for meat and eggs.

See all the fat swimming around in there?

 Duck fat is very nourishing and healthy.  I have taken the meat off of the bones and put the bones, neck, feet, giblets and drippings in a soup pot, added 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and enough filtered water to cover it all.  I will put it in my 5 quart Crockpot and simmer it for 24 hours.  It will make lovely stock for soups and sauces.  :)

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesday !

Perfect! Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Over at "Stacy Makes Sense," she posted a recipe for Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese.  You can see her post HERE. I am taking NO credit for this, but I made it today and I HAVE to share it with you!  Actually, Stacy writes that she got the recipe from Kayla.

I followed her recipe and adapted for what I had on hand.  Oh. My. Goodness!  This stuff is the BEST mac and cheese I have EVER eaten and it was very easy!

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound uncooked macaroni pasta
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used my homemade cheese)
3 cups whole milk (I used our goat milk)
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used Realsalt)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl.  Whisk thoroughly.
Add the milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and mustard and whisk again.
Stir in the macaroni and 2.5 cups of shredded cheese (reserve the extra 1/2 cup.)
Pour it all into a Crockpot (the one I used is 2.5 quarts, but I'm sure you could use a larger one if you like.)
Sprinkle the reserved shredded cheese over the top. Put on the lid and set on "low."

The recipe said to let it cook for 5 hours.  Mine was done in 3 hours and 40 minutes, so do be looking in there without lifting the lid to see what you think.  I could tell it was probably done by how it looked and how it smelled, so I checked it.  Delicious! Tender! Creamy!  You will love this.

Here is what I ate, with some of yesterday's leftover baked beans, for lunch.  :D

I had to control myself, it was so good!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to make tender Baked Beans

I am 63 years old.  Yes.  I am.  I have been trying, for decades, to make nice tender baked beans from scratch.  Years ago, I used to buy canned pork and beans, add some brown sugar and ketchup, bake it together and call it baked beans and they were Really Yummy ~ however, in my never-ending quest for pennies to pinch, I started making them with dry beans.

I always soaked the beans and then cooked them with the sauce, using a variety of recipes that I found from time to time.  Sometimes they tasted pretty good, but sometimes they didn't.  The big problem was not the taste.  The big problem was that no matter how many hours I baked them, the beans were never really nice and soft and tender like the canned beans... couldn't figure it out.

Then, like my friend, Stacy, I had a "Daily Duh."  I thought maybe if I would soak and then cook the beans in water first, THEN put the baked beans recipe together and bake it, that might help.  It Did

Sweet and flavorful and tender Baked Beans!  Hooray!!!  Now, WHY didn't I think of this before??

This post is linked up with Wardeh's Simple Lives Thursday #109
and Fantabulous Friday #26!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

13# of paste tomatoes = 1 gallon of pizza sauce

If you've been reading this blog for very long, you'll realize that I often make up recipes as I go along to fit the ingredients available.  

I had 13 pounds of paste tomatoes from the garden that I needed to use.  Pizza sauce was the answer!  I washed them and cut them in half and put them in a heavy-bottomed kettle.  

To that, I added:

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dried Italian seasoning
4 bay leaves
4 large garlic cloves, cut in half
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds of onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

Here is all is together before cooking.

I brought it carefully to a boil and simmered it, with no lid, for 1 hour.  Then I put it through the Foley Food Mill:
 Here is all that was left:
 And here is what was produced!
 I have a 5 quart Crock Pot, so I put it in there and set the temperature on "low," left the cover off, placed a metal rack on top...
 And covered it with a cotton cloth to keep "things" out of it.
After 8 hours, it looked like this~
Altogether, it cooked for about 24 hours and had reduced to 1 gallon of sauce.  I processed it in 1/2 pint jars.  There are 16 of them:
We love pizza and soon I will show you how I make mozzarella cheese from our fresh goat milk!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

French Toast Report

Remember yesterday's post about the white bread??  Oh my.....  this morning I made French toast for breakfast.  It was perfect.  The bread is tender... just right for making French toast.  I have sliced and frozen the rest of it just for this.

Do you see the little glob of scrambled eggs there?  That is what was leftover from the egg mixture I dip the bread slices in.  When I was done (I eat 1 piece, DH eats 2)  I just went ahead and cooked that and ate it with my French toast.

I didn't take a picture with the butter and real Maple Syrup, so use your imagination.

Here is roughly how I do it:

French Toast

For 3 - 4 slices of bread, use 2 large eggs and about 1/4 cup milk.  I put that in a square baking dish so that I can easily soak the bread in it.  Whisk that together and then add just a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I use freshly ground!) and stir well.

Then, one or two at a time, lay the bread slices in the mixture.  Let them soak for a bit and then turn them over.  In the meantime, be heating up your griddle on medium/low heat.  Spray or grease the griddle and then put the soaked bread slices on it and cook until one side is brown and using a spatula, turn them over.  When the other sides are brown, they are done!

Serve with REAL butter and maple syrup, jam, apple butter, or whatever you like.  :)  These may be frozen and then re-heated in a toaster or oven or on a griddle.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sometimes I make White Bread...

I've been wanting to make some French toast.  In my opinion, the very Best bread for French toast is homemade white bread.  I ran across this recipe today and decided to give it a try.  The only things I would add to her instructions are that if you use raw milk (I do) it needs to be scalded first, and... use at least 2 teaspoons salt.  I don't think 3 teaspoons would have been too much. Also, on the second kneading, I only did it for 3 minutes, not the 10 suggested.    Her recipe is very easy and as you can see, the results are spectacular! Thank you, Stacy!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A way to save extra Jalapeno Peppers

2012 has brought us an amazing crop of Jalapeno peppers.  I use them in omelets, soup, stir fries and salsa, but they still keep coming.  This morning I strung some of them with a big needle on button thread and hung them in the kitchen to dry.  I can drop one into a pot of soup to add some heat, or rehydrate them to use for other dishes.  This is a simple, fast and economical way to save some of summer's bounty!

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