Saturday, July 31, 2010


My housemate brought back a bunch of cucumbers from a friend's garden so I decided to try to make pickles! I'm trying to do it via natural fermentation (lactic acid based) in a brine solution rather than canning them with vinegar. We'll see how it goes.
I used about 4.5 lbs of cucumbers, a bunch of fresh dill, black peppercorns, garlic, kosher salt, and some sliced jalapenos in one jar. So there's one jar of regular pickle slices, one jar of hot/spicy slices, and one jar of slightly spicy pickle spears.

It's been pretty warm and humid so I'm keeping the jars in a foam cooler with ice packs to try to keep the temp under 70 degrees (above that isn't good for fermentation). I can't find my food thermometer because all my kitchen equipment is packed up, so it's mostly guess work. I'm hoping the intense cold spots aren't a problem. I'm going to rotate everything around and swap freezer packs. Fingers crossed they come out tasting good!

homemade pesto and local pizza!

I made a batch of pesto today with basil from my 4 plants and several handfuls from a friend's garden plot. I sadly had to use all of my basil right away because the basil blight had attacked my little plants, causing the leaves to yellow. I composted all 4 plants and salvaged what leaves I could. Since I'm in the midst of moving, my food processor is still in Ohio and my mortar and pestle are in a box somewhere, so I wasn't sure how exactly I was going to make the pesto. I happened up on this recipe however while googling that uses neither processor nor m&p. I used my own basil/cheese etc proportions, but I did try the chopping technique. It took a long time and I can honestly say that I can't taste a significant difference from how it would be in a food processor, but it worked just fine and was quite tasty pesto.

I decided to use the pesto to make a pizza! On Thursday I picked up a 1.5lb ball of fresh mozzarella at the Westside Farmer's Market in Ann Arbor and yesterday I bought a couple of local tomatoes at the People's Food Co-op. All ingredients that demand pizza, right?
so here's the freshly made pesto spread on the crust (I used the KAF recipe).sliced two medium tomatoes from the Co-op.added the mozzarella. (I was actually rather disappointed w/ this cheese. The farm packed it in way too much salt so even after rinsing it the cheese was way too salty. The outside was mushy and the inside was dense. It didn't string/tear the way mozzarella should. Sad face. But I chopped it up and it did the trick!)The finished pie fresh out o' the oven! It was quite delicious.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

easy dinner: vegetarian hot dogs, sauerkraut, & beer

vegetarian hot dogs, sauerkraut, & beer.

chopped onions (1/4 c)
sauerkraut (drained & rinsed if canned)
two soy dogs chopped
dijon mustard (1T)
black pepper (1/2 t)
caraway seeds (1t)
beer (1/3 c)
butter (1T)

  • melt butter in pan, add onions and saute for a few minutes
  • add all other ingredients and simmer in pan until most of the beer has evaporated/absorbed
  • taste and adjust seasoning
  • serve w/ a slice of rye bread
I used Arcadia Ales Sky High Rye, which seemed like an appropriate choice. It's a tasty, super drinkable summer ale, but a little lighter on the rye than I would have expected.The sauerkraut dish came out super tangy and yummy, a bit sweeter than I would have liked so I added more pepper and mustard. Definitely going to try variations of this in the fall. My homemade kraut should be ready in a few days. **Edit! I added more beer and let it simmer a little longer. This took care of most of the sweetness and gave it a nice bitter bite. Just goes to show you that the solution is always more beer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Curried Red Stuff (but not a red curry)

Curried red quinoa, red lentils, and a red apple.

This is a pretty simple one pot dinner that doesn't take very long to cook and is really delicious! In spite of many of the ingredients being red, the tumeric usually turns it an orangish-green color.

This was also the first time I used my new (to me) cast iron pot! The pictures aren't very good, but this is what a cell phone in a dim kitchen will get you.

Half an apple diced (should have cut this smaller). Minced ginger (1T), garlic (1T), chili pepper (1t), and chopped onion (1/2c). Red quinoa (3/4-1cup), red lentils (not pictured, 1/2-3/4c). Curry powder, tumeric, salt. As per usual, I didn't exactly measure things. Saute the onions in some veg or olive oil. Check out the cast iron pot!

Add the garlic, ginger, and chili.

Then the apples and spices.

I like to saute the quinoa briefly before adding water. Don't know why, just habit.

Add water and red lentils.
Cook partially covered until quinoa is soft and apples dissolve (if you use a different kind of lentil you might have to cook it longer, but red lentils tend to dissolve fairly quickly).

I served it with a scoup of greek yogurt (which was delicious) and on top of a couple of corn tortillas (not so delicious). Probably would have been better with rice or just by itself.

Cast Iron Pot Resurfacing Project!

Right before I left Massachusetts a friend gave me an old cast iron pot that had seen better days. It was covered in rust and the surface was flaking in places. Since I was moving across the country and all, what better thing to acquire than a large heavy pot that needed to be refurbished? Right?
Stripping it down was a trial and error process but a lot of fun. I had a Dremel with an assortment of tips, a power sander, and another air compressor powered rotary tool of my dad's. The first few Dremel bits I tried were too harsh and cut into the pot's surface too much. The power sander was great for an even grind over a large surface, but I could only get at the flat parts with it. The air compressor rotary tool worked pretty well but I only had 2 attachments for it, one of which worked well and the other not. All in all I tried a lot of different approaches and you can see that in the finished surface, but now that I've done it once I think the second time around would go much quicker.

After resurfacing: