Category Archives: food

Veggie Lasagna (Gluten Free)

I used to think that I hated eggplant.  My primary experiences with it have been in the form of eggplant parmesan and the two times I have eaten this I have really wanted to like it, but the flavor and texture just didn’t do it for me.  I assumed that I just didn’t like eggplant.  Until I had one of the best lasagnas ever and afterwords found out it had eggplant in it.

Last week our CSA box came with an eggplant, zucchini and a good helping of tomatoes.  I decided I would try to recreate that lovely veggie lasagna, except my version would be pasta free.  I’d seen an Alton Brown recipe for eggplant pasta and basically just followed that recipe but left the slices in tact to act as my lasagna “noodles” (I also left all the skin around the edges in tact.)  This part is pretty easy – just thinly slice (about 1/4 inch) your eggplant, lengthwise.  Lay the slices on a cooling rack that’s covered with one layer of paper towels and evenly salt the slices.  Let them sit there for 30 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry with paper towels.  Voila! You have “lasagna noddles.”

I wanted to make a totally homemade lasagna, so I started by making sauce from my Aunt Sharon’s recipe for Killer Sauce.

Where it says “Italian tomatoes,” that’s 60s Midwestern speak for roma tomatoes.  Aunt Sharon says that mostly she used to use canned, but fresh will work too.  Since I was using fresh, I added the extra step of roasting and skinning the tomatoes beforehand and I think that gives it a really nice flavor.  I also used fresh basil since it’s peak basil season.

Next, I had a DIY cheese kit from Urban Cheese Craft that has been taunting me for a while now.  I picked up a gallon of milk and made me some ricotta cheese!  Seriously, there is nothing like fresh, warm ricotta cheese…mmmm.

I’ll admit though, I haven’t worked up the courage to go all the way and make mozzarella yet (this is where I caved on the totally homemade thing).

Next it was just a matter of layering.  I brushed a thin coat of olive oil onto a 9×13 pan, then began with the first layer of eggplant, then I thinly sliced zucchini lengthwise and layered them in.  Then slices of mushrooms.  I sauteed half a large onion plus a clove of garlic and mixed that in with 2 cups of my ricotta along with two eggs.  Stirred all that together and put about half of it down on top of the veggies, sprinkled mozzarella on top and then repeated the cycle: eggplant, zucchini, mushroom, cheese.

Next time I’ll remember to take pictures of the lasagna before it all gets gobbled up!

 

Co-Opting the Rainbow

Oreos love gay people?  Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Oreo love gay people? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Yay Oreo, you’ve won gay marketing ploy of the week award!

Seriously, those who think they’ll be boycotting Oreos are stupid bigots.  1. Oreos are so addictive you’ll be begging for one by next week.  Even 1 Million Moms stopped just short of an official boycott.  Why? Not because they’re not bigots (they are asking followers to write stern letters to Kraft), but because they know their little brats will be screaming at the grocery store for them.  Seriously, those cookies are addictive!  2. Love the list here on Upworthy of all some of the Kraft foods you’d have to boycott if you want to truly make a stance.

At first glance, I think it’s great that large corporations have turned around and are “supporting” the LGBTQ community, but then I realize it feels a lot more like co-opting the Pride message.  These companies are unfazed by boycotters not because they’ve truly decided to finally stand on some moral high ground, but because they’ve realized that we’ve reached a tipping point in America in support of LGBTQ equal rights, and/or more likely perhaps someone at their agency showed them statistics on the disposable income of LGBTQ persons.  Am I cynical, yes.  If companies wanted to show their true support of the LGBTQ community, they would run their Pride campaigns and commit to giving a portion of their proceeds back to the community instead of simply exploiting it.  (See Bitch’s Douchebag Decree: American Apparel and Target from earlier this month.)

Speaking of boycotting Kraft products, I can think of some other reasons why you actually should boycott.  Oh how about GMOs, poor labor practices, unfair trade (including the use of child slave harvested cocoa in US Cadbury products). So progressive folks, let’s not let the proverbial rainbow colored wool be pulled over our eyes here. Instead, why not tell Kraft that you appreciate them reaching a hand out to the LGBTQ community (even if it is reaching for your wallet), but even so, you still don’t feel comfortable buying their products until they address these other important issues. The company’s website gives list of Kraft’s largest brands.

MeggieKate’s Amazing Pulled Pork

I’ve had a delectable little boneless pork shoulder roast sitting in my freezer for the past couple months.  It was taunting me.  See, I’d never cooked this particular cut of meat before, and so was needlessly afraid of ruining my precious little roast.  I read through dozens of recipes online, watched tutorial videos and consulted my cookbooks.

What I arrived at was inspired by three recipes I found:

Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Shredded Pork
Queenbee’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Diana Rattray’s Slow Cooker Pork Barbecue

Here’s my take on pulled pork.  Important note: I highly recommend meat that is raised humanely (ie gets to live outside, not in a cage) and organic.  Yes, it’s more expensive but I balance that with eating vegetarian more often, that way I’m eating less meat and the meat I do eat isn’t full of things I shouldn’t be putting into my body.  As an added bonus, the meat is way tastier!

The only shot I could get before I wanted to shovel it all in my mouth.

MeggieKate’s Amazing Pulled Pork

Ingredients

Boneless pork shoulder roast (mine was somewhere between 1-2 lbs)

Rub/Seasoning:

Juice + zest of one lime

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil (EV)

Ground pepper (about 5-8 twists of the grinder)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon agave

Roasting Ingredients:

2-3 bay leaves

3-4 smashed whole garlic cloves

1/4 of a red onion, in 1 inch slices

1/4 of a lime, sliced into 3 pieces

1/2 cup Black Butte Porter

I started the night before by mixing up the rub and slathering the roast in it.  I wrapped in saran wrap and let that baby soak up all those yummy juices.  The next morning I fired up the cast iron skillet and browned the roast on all sides.  With a boneless roast, you definitely want to keep the strings or netting on the roast.  Browning took no more than 10 minutes to get a nice browning that had spots of dark brown in it.

In the bottom of the crock pot, I set down the bay leaves, garlic and most of the onion (saving a few slices for the top of the roast).  I laid the roast down on top of this and poured the beer in.  I laid the slices of onion and lime on top of the roast and cooked on low for about 10 hours.  During that time, I turned the roast over 3 or 4 times to make sure it was all evenly juicy.

Once it was done, I cut the strings and used two forks to pull the meat apart.  Then to make sure it stayed nice and juicy, I ladled the juices over the plate of shredded meat.

From there, I dished it up onto a bun and topped it with Podnah’s Pit Barbecue Sauce – OMG, amazing!

I also think in the future I’ll want to make my Grandma Drury’s Chow to put on top. (I just need to try making a version of this with a sugar substitute.)

Grandma Drury’s Chow

A complement to burgers, barbecue, etc.

Ingredients:

1 large head cabbage

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cup vinegar

3 medium onions

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 stick margarine

2 Tablespoons prepared mustard

Chop cabbage and onion until very fine (food processor works well). Mix remaining ingredients in saucepan, just until mixture boils.  Pour over chopped cabbage and onion.  Stir until well mixed.  Store in canning jars, etc. and refrigerate.

Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal seems to be all the rage these days.  Just one taste of this delicious stuff and it’s easy to see why.  For people like myself who have issues with eating things like wheat and yeast, breakfast can sometimes leave us feeling left out of all the fun.  After playing around with a couple different recipes, here’s what I’ve arrived at.  The brilliant thing about this recipe is that it’s so versatile.  Don’t have blueberries?  Add a chopped pear instead (or whatever fruit you like).  Don’t like walnuts?  Try using raw cashews or pecans as a substitute.  Can’t find agave at your local supermarket?  Use maple syrup, but make sure it is real, not some corn syrupy wanna be.  Don’t like chocolate?  Huh??  What’s wrong with you?  Okay, I guess you can take those out if you must.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, chopped
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and butter one 9×13 baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg salt, walnuts, blueberries, and chocolate. Transfer to baking dish, making sure to get an even distribution of berries, nuts and chocolate.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter, vanilla extract, and agave.
  4. Arrange the banana slices on the top, then pour the milk mixture over everything. Make sure the liquid ingredients cover the oat mix evenly by slightly tilting the pan until everything is covered.
  5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. Let it sit for a few minutes before dishing out the warm deliciousness.  Enjoy!

Midnight Blackberry

It’s that time of year again! I’ll be obsessed with blackberry jam making until further notice.

Midnight Blackberry Jam

4 cups blackberries (picked down the road)
3 1/3 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
about 1 T of lavender (picked from front porch)
a secret ingredient that shall not be named

Put all ingredients in a pot, turn burner on low and let the sugar dissolve, making sure to stir. Then turn up the heat and let the pot boil away. I love watching the vibrant color of the pot of boiling blackberries! Stir often to keep the jam from scorching.

I’ve adapted this recipe slightly from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess Her Blackberry Jam recipe was the first jam I ever made, because she was the first person who made jam-making sound easy peasy. Why? Because she didn’t use a thermometer, which for some reason totally puts me off making anything that requires the tool. I’d rather use my own senses to tell if something’s done. Nigella taught me the “saucer method” wherein you stick a saucer in the freezer as you begin your preparation. To test the jam, “splodge teaspoons of jam onto it.” I stick my plate (or saucer if you will) back in the freezer for about a minute, then push it with my finger and when it wrinkles it’s done. This is usually about 20 minutes from when it starts boiling.

It took me a few summers before I started canning, because it all seemed way too intimidating. But last summer our fridge reached maximum jam capacity and I knew I’d either have to stop making it or learn to can. I also had some people far away who had to hear me keep talking about all this jam but weren’t able to taste it unless they took a trip to Portland. I read a few different online canning tutorials and enlisted the help of my aunt to watch over me as I processed jars for the first time since she’d at least seen older relatives do it when she was young. The second I heard my first “ping” as the jars sealed after their hot water bath, I was ecstatic. I’m still amazed at how thrilling that sound can be. Ping! Success!

I also learned that I didn’t need a bazillion canning tools to get started. I got a jar lifter (essential, trust me you do not want to drop a hot jar of jam) and a magic wand (not quite as essential but cheap and I liked the sound of it, but basically you just need a magnet long enough to grab your lids without burning yourself on hot water). The rest, you can improvise with a well equipped kitchen. Don’t be a slave to overconsumption corporate culture!

Information about canning is abundant online these days. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has detailed guidelines and instructions.

I also recently checked out Ashley English’s Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving from my public library which includes great step by step instructions for both hot water bath and pressure canner (which are needed for low-acid preservation). Her book also has some great looking new recipes I’m excited about checking out, like Peach & Lavender Butter…mmmm. Check out Ashley’s HomeGrown.org page too!

Rustic Mushroom Olive Tart

Ingredients:
Pie Crust

A few years ago I came upon my now standby pie crust recipe in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine. I’ve recently started making it by hand after getting into a fight with a food processor.
This makes 2 crusts, so halve it if you only want one. You can make 2 pies or have a double crust, freeze one half or make one pie and eat the other half raw because you love pie crust that much. Whatever.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
1/4 – 1/2 cold water

Mix the flour, salt & sugar together. Using either a pastry cutter or food processor blend in the cold butter until blended and crumbly. Slowly add cold water working into mealy mix with pastry cutter (or pulse in FP). Remember you can always add more water if the mix is too dry. Separate into 2 piles, form into balls and lay onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Then flatten so the circle’s about and inch to 2 inches thick, wrap it up and stick in the fridge. The crust will be good for a couple of days in the fridge or freeze to last up to 3 months. Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour before using so you’re able to roll it out easily. Although for the rustic tart I just use the palms of my hands.

I’ve been using this crust to make fruit and pumpkin pies for years now and recently like a light bulb over my head that I couldn’t believe had taken so long to come on, I realized I could use it for savory pies/tarts too! Really the possibilities are endless. You can fill these things with whatever strikes your fancy. My latest fancy was mushrooms and olives. When I cook I don’t typically follow a recipe, I like winging it. This, to the best of my memory is what went into last night’s tart.

Mushroom filling:
2 T butter, melted
1 T extra virgin olive oil
6-8 med/large mushrooms sliced
1 small red onion sliced
1 clove garlic diced
half 12 oz can of large black olives, quartered
1 tsp tapioca flour (for thickening, preferable to regular flour because it won’t get all clumpy)
herbs to taste:
fresh parsley
dried thyme
fresh basil
salt
pepper

Strawberry Fields Forever

I made this strawberry balsamic jam last week as a test, but was lazy and didn’t go to the trouble of canning until tonight. My poor strawberries have had to endure some vicious heat this week and as much as I can attest to my own tender loving care of them, I’m afraid they are waning.

I spent much of the late part of last summer perfecting variations of my blackberry jam. This year, as I wait for the blackberries down the road to ripen, I’ve had the pleasure of being in charge of our strawberry patch, so this new jam is near and dear to my hands and heart. I know the strawberries won’t last forever, but I’m determined to keep them going as long as possible.

When I actually can a batch of jam, I also like to set aside a wee bit for a personal taste or two as a sort of “quality control”. I found the perfect tiny jar for it too (this I just put straight into the fridge). I call this one, Bals In My Strawberry.