Archive for the ‘Ingredients’ Category

Well, last Saturday I had a holiday party, which kept me busy all day and from posting too many exciting pictures. This Saturday you get the make up for that: pictures of all the amazing desserts I made with raw dairy products! Bwahahaha!

So it started with an apple cake. Apples were from Lockbriar. The recipe was from my brand new local food cookbook, Dishing Up Maryland by Lucie Snodgrass. Beautiful photos, and everything I’ve made from it has been delicious so far. It has a brown sugar icing made with, you guessed it: raw cream! Before hand:

And after:

Mmmm. Delicious, really sweet icing.

Next up was a pumpkin pie, of course made with a little local pumpkin (from Redman Farm). It also included some raw cream, and plenty of local eggs, and flour. Recipe was from Joy of Cooking, and it was served with delightful raw whipped cream! Yay!

The spread from afar:

The spread up close:

It included the pie and cake, of course, but also some fermented veggies (also farm fresh and unpasteurized), crackers made by my friend Ms. Zumba (can you believe she MADE crackers? I’m still amazed), raw cheeses, bread from Against the Grain bakery, and the whipped cream plus some chocolate mousse, which didn’t make it into the picture as I believe they were still in the fridge. The arrangement is by Ms. Native Daughter Nursery, who you can also find at the farmers’ market.

The chocolate mousse actually turned out to be the hardest thing. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I am flat out terrible at making anything that involves beating eggs for long periods of time. I get bored about halfway through, or I decide I’ve been going for too long and get afraid I’m going to over beat them or something. As a result, they weren’t as fluffy as they were probably supposed to be. But let me tell you about this mousse. I hadn’t really realized mousse is mostly eggs. I think I was thinking of ganache, which is just cream and chocolate. Mousse is butter or cream, chocolate, and eggs. Julia (whose recipe I was using) called for coffee and orange liquer, neither of which I had at the time. So I just added a dash of Kahlua.

And boy, was this stuff amazing. A-fing-mazing. So amazing that I didn’t mind that I accidentally spilled egg literally all across my kitchen (the floor, the wall, and on into the bathroom). I mean, I’ve always loved chocolate mousse, but this was on par with the best chocolate mousse I have ever tasted in my entire life. Just flat out mind blowing. It disappeared faster than anything else on the table (except the raw cheese and Ms. Zumba’s crackers).

Especially when paired with the whipped cream.


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Standing in line at the grocery store, I always surreptitiously watch the people in line around me purchasing their groceries. As I’m only in the store about once a month (and this number shocks me. I can’t for the life of me think what I’m buying), I feel like I maybe look around a little differently than the other people who buy a larger percentage of food at the store.

It absolutely fascinates me to see people buying the “foods” that I am constantly on here criticizing as fake foods. Things that come in boxes. Some people will have an entire cart full of nothing but boxes, and maybe one Perdue chicken. Now, you could say a Perdue chicken is local, because it probably came from the plant down in Salisbury. But god only knows what it went through to get to that cart.

It really fascinates me that in my monthly trip to the grocery store, I very rarely see anyone buying a vegetable. I in fact almost never see anyone in the produce section of the store, and even then they seem to be hovering around the bagged salads. When I was still eating a store diet, I was vegetarian, and I managed to avoid spending money at the store by buying almost exclusively the cheapest produce I could find. The sad thing is, for the same amount of money I could probably buy a much larger portion of calories in the form of a soda or chips or something. Alas, that those calories would not include a single nutrient.

I always wonder, when standing in that grocery store line, if the other people in line are being just as judgmental about what I’m buying as I’m being of their carts. Probably not. If they did judge what I have in my cart, they’d probably be somewhat confused. I decided, for the sake of curiosity, to go back over my grocery store receipts for the past few months to see what it was I actually bought (and what I could therefore eliminate in the next year, as my goal is to never go to the grocery store again except for toilet paper). I will also not deny that a certain part of my desire to go over these receipts was also to avoid doing anything more productive with my evening.

So let’s see. Back in April I bought pasta, box mac and cheese (Annie’s, a guilty pleasure), bread crumbs, black beans, salad dressing, ice cream, pretzels, nuts, and tortillas. I also went back for rice and some asian sauces, which I think was spurred by borrowing my mother’s asian cookbook. The combination of these two visits, which really didn’t amount to any significant part of my diet, probably cost more than three visits or so to the farmers’ market which would have provided me with about ten times more food. In April I also made one more trip to buy some things to make a salad for a party, or maybe for Easter or something. All things I could have avoided if I had thought of something to make for the party farther in advance than the day before.

In May I bought dish washing sponges, sugar (I think that was for wine, and the natural food store was closed), tortillas, butter, cream, soy sauce, granola bars, pretzels, bagels, cheese slices, hummus, and peanut butter. The butter and cream were for the handsome fella’s birthday cake, and thank heaven I will never need to buy them at the store again now that we have a regular supply of local dairy. The last section of things were for our weekend camping trip. I always find I’m shopping at the grocery store a lot before a camping trip, which is demonstrated in July when I bought pretty much all the same stuff, plus more pasta, more box mac and cheese, and paper towels. After returning from our trip I bought more pasta, mac and cheese, Ziplocs, coconut milk, more soy sauce (I think I had forgotten I had just bought it), soy milk, ice cream, aluminum foil, and cheese slices. August was nothing but trash bags and tortillas (I should mention I frequently eat ready made tortillas, plain, as a snack).

September was another big shopping month: lemonade, mac and cheese, pasta, hamburger buns (I think those are still in the fridge), cheese slices, tortillas, soap, toothpaste, vinegar, ice cream, and sponges. October led to crackers, pasta, batteries, hummus, mozzarella and grape tomatoes (a party again), flour, soy milk, mac and cheese, chocolate chips, tortillas, teriyaki, and ice cream. My November receipt is still somewhere in the pile of papers on my floor, but it would probably look pretty similar.

All of this is pretty much what I imagined: junk food, or emergency purchases for a party or some other event I didn’t expect, and all the camping stuff. Otherwise, all I buy is pasta, sauces, spices, and cleaning supplies. What was really shocking was how much this all cost (not as much as my other food purchases, but still a big chunk considering how little of it is edible). I think what I can conclude (and I hope you’re not all terribly bored by now) is that I need to stop eating so much junk food. I’ve already been thinking about New Year’s resolutions (mine are always food related), and I think one of the first will be to stop buying so much box mac and cheese (I should say it is 2-3 boxes a month). It is my comfort food, it is what I cook when I am stressed out and can’t be bothered with anything else. And unfortunately that is too often. The hope is that I will find a way to de-stress my life (ha!) and then I will stop with the junk food. De-stressing would eliminate the mac and cheese, the cheese slices, and maybe, to an extent, even the tortillas.

My other goals for the next year will be to actually use my pasta maker, and to start buying ice cream locally (we have really good local ice cream. I just never make it over to the farm store to buy it…). I am always going to be buying things like salt, baking powder, soy sauce, and coconut milk at the store. At least until there are no more grocery stores. And I don’t think occasionally buying a container of Tribe hummus and a bag of pretzels is going to kill anyone (immediately).

The funny conclusion to all this is, of course, that anyone perusing my grocery store purchases would probably be surprised that I manage to survive on nothing but box mac and cheese, ice cream, and tortillas. But then again, I’m surprised they manage to survive on soda, frozen food, and industrial chickens.

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I have been referring regularly to my copy of the Joy of Cooking, a birthday gift from my dear uncle, owner extraordinaire of Normals bookstore in Baltimore. It is a 1970s reprinting of the original 1931 book. It is, unlike many other used cookbooks, surprisingly lacking in stains and bits of 40 year old food. It also is the container of hundreds upon hundreds of recipes.

One of my favorite things about the Joy of Cooking is certainly the key feature it is known for, which is explaining what things are in general before diving into recipes. So if I need explicit instructions on cutting up chicken parts, they are right there (with illustrations), followed by a brief overview of all the ways to cook a chicken. And then a few variations, or what constitutes the recipe portion of that chapter. The same if you need to make a pie crust, or a custard, or chop up a cabbage. Clear, concise instructions. On, as far as I can tell, literally every aspect of cooking.

The one place she is not so clear is on what some of the items she describes are. For example, when perusing the book last week with the HF, we were rather perplexed by the series of recipes for Charlottes. The first was a Charlotte Russe, which I know to be a clothing store aimed at teenage girls who desire to look a little sexy. After perusing the various recipes, I realized Charlottes are apparently those things you get when you soak ladyfingers (a kind of cookie thing) in alcohol. Will be making some of those promptly.

Presumably the people of 1931 knew what Charlottes were. People in 1931 apparently knew a lot of things modern cooking audiences would be very perplexed by. And that, I think, is my favorite part of the Joy of Cooking. She writes for an audience who would see “milk” in a recipe and assume whole, unpasteurized milk. In several recipes she actually makes a note that if you are using pasteurized milk you need to alter the recipe. Hmm, I say, how intriguing- you mean, there is a difference between whole, unpasteurized (raw) milk and pasteurized milk? Funny, that’s what the FDA has been claiming there’s no difference at all, except that all the pathogens have supposedly been killed in the pasteurized version. I wonder how that could be…

Needless to say, any book that suggests using unpasteurized milk might work better for a recipe gets a big thumbs up from my direction. She in general seems to assume you are going to be using ingredients, as in, flour, sugar, whole butter, not “buy a box of cake mix.” I HATE, and by hate I really mean HATE HATE HATE recipes that for an ingredient ask you to buy a box or can of something already prepared. For example, when perusing stuffing recipes for Thanksgiving, half of them had you buy stuffing mix at the store and then doctor it up. Are you kidding? No. When I make bread stuffing, I want to make it from BREAD. I wouldn’t think that would be so hard to understand, but then again, most people shop at the grocery store, so who am I to say.

The Joy of Cooking literally has everything (or so I’m convinced). You can’t just sit down and look through it page by page, because it’s got about 500. And one page might have ten or more recipes on it, if the recipes are variations on a basic concept. But if I have a large quantity of something or another and no idea what to do with it, I am now turning first to Mrs. Joy, because chances are there at least fifteen recipes for it. I’ve already demonstrated this method with cabbage. As HF and I were glancing through it the other night, with me looking for recipes for chicken, we discovered just how extensive the book really is. Not only are there recipes for chicken, and turkey, and lots of them, there are also recipes for: quail, pheasant, mudhen, grouse, etc etc. A few pages on you come across the chapter for small game, which includes recipes for not only rabbits, but squirrels, opossums, raccoons, beavers, armadillos and that standby Eastern Shore favorite, muskrat. According to the Joy of Cooking, beaver tail is actually quite a delicacy, highly prized by Native Americans. The thing I love about this chapter is that the master recipe not only talks about how to cook small game, but includes directions (and diagrams) for skinning, gutting, and otherwise chopping into pieces various small game. There is a special diagram for squirrels, as they are so small. And very special instructions for removing the musk glands from muskrats and beavers. Apparently the key to any small game is to hang it in the cold for several days (HF says this is to remove most of the stink).

For my part, I have told the HF that if he brings me a beaver, I will do my best to cook it up for him. This caused me to picture an image of a pioneer household, with the wife at home baking, when the husband, muddy and cold, suddenly comes in the door with a beaver. He hands it over to the wife, but before doing anything she reaches up for her handy copy of the Joy of Cooking. HA! I do figure that when civilization collapses, if we haven’t quite puzzled out sustainable farming with animals, the book to have is not some crazy survival manual, but the Joy of Cooking. Because if all else fails, at least you will know how to properly cook a beaver.

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And now… our Thanksgiving dinner, in photos! My cousin and I spent most of the afternoon cooking- she did the rolls and cupcakes for dessert, I did stuffing, squash, and mashed potatoes.

First, we made rolls from a recipe in Food Network magazine.


Our lunch:

Homemade mac and cheese with local cheese and raw milk. Yay!

Potatoes from Colchester:



Delicatta squash:

Apple stuffing with scallions and fresh bread from Against the Grain bakery (apples from Lockbriar farm, scallions from Colchester, and homemade chicken stock):

Stuffing before being baked, with plenty of raw butter on the top:

Devil’s food and pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate ganache topping:

Rolls, before baking:

A full plate:

Stuffed delicatta squash, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed carnival squash, and of course, a roll! The rolls were amazing- they tasted kind of like really good soft pretzel dough. They will definitely be making another appearance at dinner.


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So before Thanksgiving got started I did a lot of baking. This is because I go to four Thanksgiving- that’s right, four. And because these are all packed one after another, I find that at least getting all the baking done the night before leads to smoother sailing on the day of.

Because it is Thanksgiving, I make everything with pumpkin. And the secret to making things with pumpkin taste really amazing is to actually use pumpkin. By which I mean a real, live, pumpkin, not the stuff that comes in a can (cause who can be sure what that stuff is).

It is easy to prepare pumpkin for baking. You simply cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, then you can either bake, boil, or microwave the halves. I typically bake them at around 425 for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft. You can also boil them in some water, or put them in a microwaveable dish with some water and microwave in bursts until soft. Once the pumpkin has cooled off somewhat, you can scoop out the flesh (or peel off the skin), and put it in a food processor until you get most of the lumps out. You can also mash the pumpkin with a fork.

I also make my own vanilla. It is easy enough to find vanilla beans (I get them at the Renaissance Festival, at the herbalist), and then you just need a bottle and some vodka. When the bottle is filled for the first time, you need to leave it for several weeks to steep, but once it’s all ready you can just top it off every time you use it. Every so often you should exchange the vanilla beans for new ones to make it stronger. This is basically what the vanilla you buy in the store is made from- plus loads of bizarre artificial ingredients. That’s why when you leave it too long it gets all alcoholic.

And with homemade vanilla, eggs from pastured chickens, and delicious raw butter you get…

Cookies! This is the first time I’ve made cookies with eggs and real butter in years and years. I’m not sure that I actually like them. Maybe it’s just because I’m so used to the vegan version, but I feel like these are a lot sweeter and, well, boring. They taste like all the other cookies. I’ll have to experiment- maybe using eggs but margarine, or egg replacer but butter. We’ll have to see.

Finally, a new recipe from my new favorite recipe book: the Joy of Cooking!

Which makes…

pumpkin bread! I ran out of cinnamon about half way through the process, thanks to the pumpkin cupcakes I had made earlier, and had to run next door to the neighbors’. That’s what makes it so nice, living where I live. It’s guaranteed that even at 9:45 at night, I can call up my neighbors and run next door with a spoon for a teaspoon of cinnamon.

I love baking, and I love when the whole house smells like cinnamon and pumpkin… and getting to eat lots of delicious pumpkin treats!

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It’s cold. Well, it’s not that cold, we still have a high of 60 on most days. But yesterday was windy and drizzly and even if the high was 60, it was depressing outside. And that means one thing. Soup.

Oddly enough I used to not like soup. I still don’t really like soup, at least soup that I haven’t made myself. People at restaurants usually put weird stuff in soup. But last year, for some reason (possibly due to the purchase of my wonderful, wonderful immersion blender), I got on a kick and started making soup. Lots of it. And it looks like this year will be no different.

The thing I love about making soup is that it doesn’t require a lot of effort. I can roughly chop the ingredients, throw them in a pot, and sit and do some sewing while they cook. Then, five minutes with the immersion blender and presto, SOUP! And it’s warm and delicious, and I can put backerbsen (wonderful German soup crackers) in it.

So last night at our CSA pickup I spotted leeks. I’ve never really used leeks for anything, because the only recipes I ever see that call for leeks are soup recipes. And so I decided to finally make the famous leek and potato soup. Interestingly enough this is the first recipe in my Julia Child cookbook. She calls it the primal soup: the soup that all other soups are based on. And so it is fitting that it is the first soup of the season (ok not counting that chicken noodle). It starts with the ingredients:

My work surface is always limited by the space my computer takes up, but I’m listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on tape, again, in preparation for Friday (when the movie comes out, for you non-nerds). I usually listen to audiobooks or podcasts while cooking, as this keeps my brain busy while my hands are working. Anyway, ingredients included potatoes (including four varieties of potatoes), leeks, onions and garlic. The recipe didn’t call for garlic, but I can’t understand soup without garlic, so. And the addition of onion was actually one of the variations, so it’s not the original primal soup recipe, but.

So all of these ingredients go into the pot. I wasn’t sure if you were actually supposed to use the leaves of the leeks, so I used about half of them and decided to see how it would go. Julia seemed to imply that you used the leaves, but she’s not always clear- she said to use the tender green parts, but then also had you washing the leaves, presumably to use them. You don’t have to chop things beautifully for soup, which is one of the features I love. They’re just going to get mashed up anyway. I think I might have added too much water, but I was thinking I was using more leeks than Julia called for, so I added an extra cup or so. But then the soup seemed kind of watery. I don’t know.

Here it is in the pot, post immersion blender:

The green color I think is from the leek leaves. This is also my brand new soup pot (thanks mom!), to replace my old one, which was kind of thin bottomed and usually resulted in the soup burning. I am so excited to finally have a decent pot, which is even bigger than the old one. The little flecks you see are probably from the potato skins. I don’t believe in peeling potatoes before you use them. One, this is a waste of time. Two, this is a waste of nutrients. Most of the nutrients in potatoes are in the skin. The only other ingredients were a bit of salt and pepper, and some cream, though I just used my wonderful whole, fresh, raw milk.

And there’s the soup in the bowl. It has a kind of creamy texture, which I guess is the potatoes. And the taste is kind of oniony. I didn’t realize leeks were so similar to onions, but I guess it makes sense as they are in the same family. My eyes were streaming like mad while I was cutting them up, that’s for sure. I actually had to run into the bathroom and rinse my face to get it to stop. The smell is so strong! My whole house smelled like leeks. I’m sure they’re even better since they were so fresh. The thing I love about Julia Child recipes is that they really are simple, if not for technique, then for ingredients. Two or three ingredients, and no more seasoning than salt and pepper. It let’s you taste the actual vegetables, rather than being overwhelmed by the spices. And now I’ve got about a gallon of soup in the fridge, which I will be eating for the rest of the week. Sigh. Anyone hungry?

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A lot of the recipes in my cookbook call for “the bean stuff.” This is something I started making in college when I was eating everything out of cans, for lack of fridge storage. It is super easy and can be used to make any number of things, some of which you will find below, and others over the next few days. Learn to love it. Of course now I make it with dried beans that I have revitalized (ie cooked), tomatoes I canned myself, and corn that the HF froze over the summer, but you know, whatever, it’s still the same concept.

The Bean Stuff (the most versatile recipe in existence)
1 can corn (small)
1 can black beans (or kidney or chickpeas)
1 can diced tomatoes
veggies (if there are any left or frozen)

1. Combine ingredients in large pot, first draining out liquid from cans. Stir. Simmer until liquid reduces. If adding vegetables, wait 10-15 minutes before adding.
2. Serve over anything, particularly starches. Also stores well so can be made in enormous quantities and eaten for lunch for weeks (over baked potatoes, fried potatoes, pasta, bread, in tortillas, on chips, plain).

Stuffed Zucchini or Bell Peppers (for feeling fancy)
There is a certain zucchini called an 8 ball that is in fact a slightly larger version of a pool ball. They are great for stuffing and make really cute and vaguely fancy little dishes for special dinners.

4 or so zucchini, halved (can be doubled)
1 recipe the Bean Stuff
Olive oil

1. Blanch the zucchini in boiling water for about 3 minutes, until tender. Scoop out flesh and set aside. It is possible to chop this and add it to the Bean Stuff.
2. Cook rice and combine with Bean Stuff. Fill zucchini halves with the mixture. Top with grated cheese.
3. Coat the outside and a baking sheet or casserole with oil. Place halves inside and bake uncovered 30-40 minutes until zucchini skins begin to brown.
4. For bell peppers, use the same method except cut off the tops of the peppers and remove seeds. There is no need to blanch, as the baking will cook the pepper through.

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