Saturday, December 29, 2012

How about an easy to make chocolate cream pie!
Reduced sugar cream pies are easy to make and very tasty. This one is made from sugar free chocolate fudge pudding mix and milk, with a traditional pie crust and lite frozen whipped cream topping. I sprinkled the top with finely chopped peanuts. This will be served for dessert to tonight's dinner guests.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Yesterday I made a batch of Cinnamon Rolls to take to Christmas brunch this morning. They were assembled and placed in the refrigerator overnight then baked and iced this morning.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last night's dinner guests were served Beef Kebobs with Peanut Sauce. The vegetables included red onion, red potatoes, red peppers, green peppers, cherry tomatoes and zucchini. The grilling was done on the outside grill in the rain with the lights on so I could see! This recipe is included in my cookbook Dad's Home Cooking, Traditional Recipes for Preparing Healthy Family Meals to be published the first week of January 2013.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some herbs can be harvested from the garden and used fresh throughout the winter here in the Puget Sound Area. Here are some that I grow in my garden in the winter. I have to use a flashlight to harvest for the evening meal and sometimes I get wet but they are so much better than dried!

I grow my Bay Laurel in a large pot so I can bring it into a warmer location when the temperature drops below freezing. If they are planted in the ground and mulched they can withstand 10 degrees F for a short time.

Sage is planted in the ground and is hardy to 25 degrees F for short periods of time. I generally cover mine with a blanket when the temperature are headed for the twenties.

Rosemary is also planted in the ground and is hardy to about 20 degrees F. Below that I cover with a blanket until the cold spell is over. Note the small blue flowers throughout the winter!

Thyme planted in the ground is hardy to about 25 degrees F. I also cover thyme with a blanket when the temperature is headed into the twenties.

Parsley planted in the ground can take short periods of 15 degree F temperatures but I cover it with a blanket when the temperatures are headed for the low twenties.

Oregano planted in the ground is hardy to minus 20 degrees F. which we never get. I just leave it exposed throughout the winter!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rutabagas are a wonderful winter treat from the garden.

This one that I pulled today from my garden weighs 4 1/2 pounds! This is an open pollinated variety "Marian" that was planted from seed on July 20, 2012. This is about twice the amount I need to make Rutabagas Au Gratin for dinner so I froze the remained for use later.

Rutabagas Au Gratin ready to serve!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

                              The mustard jars are all labeled and ready to wrap for Christmas gifts.

Note that I ran out of "mustard" yellow paint for the jar lids!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Today I ground my mustard using a food processor. This was done outside as the grinding can be pungent.

Some of this batch will be for Christmas gifts so I packed the ground mustard in clean reused peanut butter jars. (I painted the metal lids a "mustard yellow".) They are ready to label. I will keep these refrigerated until it is time to wrap them as gifts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I started making mustard for Christmas gifts today. I'm making about 1 gallon using brown mustard seed for  European style course mustard that has a bite. This will set in the refrigerator for 2 days before I add the remaining ingredients and grind in the food processor. The recipe is in my soon to be published cookbook, Dad's Home Cooking, Traditional Recipes for Preparing Healthy Family Meals.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chicken noodle soup is always a good choice for lunch on cold days.

This was made without any chicken just chicken broth, white wine, egg noodles, mushrooms and vegetables from the garden including onion, peas, carrots and tomato. It was seasoned with salt, pepper and a dash of my homemade cayenne pepper!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

  What greens can you grow in winter in Washington State's Puget Sound Area? Here are 3 that I grow.

The plants on the left are collards and the ones on the right are red kale. Both were planted from seed in mid summer. They are very hardy and will grow throughout the winter and into early spring before they go to seed. The leaves can be steamed, used in green salads or used as garnish.

This is India mustard that was also planted in mid summer and it too can be harvested throughout the winter. This variety of mustard has a bite so use it sparingly in salads to add that zing. It too makes a great garnish for meat/ fish dishes and potato/pasta salads.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I always grow green bunching onions in my garden. If planted from seed every month during the growing season, I can harvest green onions from late spring until the winter. This photo taken in late November shows the Japanese bunching green onions in the garden that I am overwintering so that I can harvest the onion seed next summer for use in late 2013 and 2014.

This variety of bunching onion seed is open pollinated meaning that the saved seed will reproduce the same plant that the seed was from. Since onions are biannual, they need 2 seasons to produce seed, so these were planted from seed last early summer and will go to seed next early summer. I can then harvest the seed. I do this every year to make sure that I always have seed. If I end up with more seed than I can plant, the seed is sprouted and used in salads!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This blog is a home cooking and vegetable garden growing blog where I post about food that I cook and vegetables that I grow. This post is a little different in that I am displaying an almost 20 inch wooden bowl that I just turned on my lathe. This is a fruit bowl made from a large salvaged  Deodar Cedar that was removed from my neighbor's yard.last year. The tree was planted about 50 years ago and had grown to a base diameter of 3 feet. Deodar cedar is the national tree of Pakistan and it grows naturally in that part of the world. The wood was easy to turn and it finished nicely after drying for 1 year.

This fruit bowl will be donated as a silent auction item to the Puget Sound Chapter, Construction Specifications Institute silent auction to raise funds for N W Harvest, a Washington State private organization that feeds the hungry.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

 Last night's guests were served turkey pot pies with a garden salad and apple pie with ice cream for dessert!

This is a great way to use up leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. Prep time 1 hour. Serves 6.

                                                  6 cups cooked diced turkey meat
                                                  2 cups of cooked diced carrots with peas
                                                  1 large yellow onion, diced
                                                  2 cups left over turkey gravy
                                                  1 cup white wine
                                                  2 cups turkey broth
                                                  2 tablespoons olive oil
                                                  1 package puff pastry sheets (17.3 ounces)

  1. Remove the puff pastry sheets and allow to defrost until they can be unfolded (15 to 20 minutes)
  2. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the diced onions in the olive oil until translucent.
  3. Add the turkey, carrots, peas, gravy, wine and broth and stir to mix.
  4. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more broth if mixture is too dry.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Spoon the turkey mixture evenly into the 6 individual oven proof baking dishes.
  7. Cut pieces of the pastry sheets to cover the tops of the baking dishes.
  8. Bake in preheated over for about 20 minutes or until the the tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
  9. Remove for oven and serve.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

                                      Thanksgiving dinner is over but everyone enjoyed the meal.

The turkey with stuffing turned out moist and tasty.

The buffet consisted of from front clockwise, Turkey and stuffing, veggie plate, Waldorf salad, gelatin vegetable salad, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas and carrots, dinner rolls and sweet potatoes. Dessert was apple and pumpkin pies with whipped cream.
Thanksgiving is here and I have the 20 # turkey with stuffing in the roaster on the outdoor grill! I am on time for dinner served at 4:00PM!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The homemade dinner rolls are coming out of the oven ready for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner.

Today is prep day for the big Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. This morning I made 4 pies, 2 pumpkin and 2 apple. See my November 6, 2012 post for how I prepared the pumpkin using pumpkin from my garden.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

                                  Last night's dinner was simple; a tossed green salad and pizza!

The salad was made with purchased lettuce but the red onion, red pepper and tomato were from my garden and I still have a few tomatoes and peppers that were not used!

Anyone for homemade pizza?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Time to start preparations for Thanksgiving dinner for 15. One of the first things to do is to collect the white and whole wheat french breads and the corn bread that are needed for the turkey dressing. I made the corn bread this morning and put it and the breads into the dehydrator to dry. I then cut the breads into small cubes ready for use on Thanksgiving morning. I can't wait.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Cayenne peppers from the garden are now all dry (I've had them in the dehydrator to finish the drying.) so today I ground some Cayenne pepper and made some pepper flakes.

First I broke up the peppers using my hands.(Be careful doing this and wear rubber gloves as these peppers may burn your skin.) I did this outside to avoid breathing in the vapors from the peppers. I then placed the crushed peppers on a screen to remove most of the seed which was discarded. The crushed pepper was then divided; some (with some seeds) was kept for pepper flakes and some (without seeds) was ground into Cayenne pepper.

I ground the Cayenne pepper using a food processor until the pepper was finely ground.

Here is the finely ground Cayenne pepper. I toss my old cayenne pepper and fill the container with this freshly ground pepper!
Last Friday evening it got down to 30 degrees F overnight and it was too cold for the last of my peppers that were still in the garden. Saturday AM I harvested the remaining peppers and roasted them on the outdoor grill.

I then removed the seeds and most of the skins and processed them to make a puree. I added some olive oil and salt and froze 2 pints of the puree for use later in soups. I had enough left over to use as a topping for nachos along with some of the remaining jalapenos from the garden.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fall provides pumpkin from my garden for pumpkin bread. This recipe is from my soon to be published cookbook Dad's Home Cooking, Traditional Recipes for Preparing Healthy Family Meals.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winter is approaching so it is time to protect my carrots in the garden from freezing. I keep them in the ground throughout the winter since it generally does not freeze the ground here in the Pacific Northwest if I keep them covered with leaf mulch. This method does not work if you live in an area that has mice, rats or moles as they will eat all of your carrots and you will not know it until you remove the cover and find them all missing! I have not had a problem with deer, opossum or raccoon bothering carrots kept this way but I guess there is always the possibility.

These are Mokum carrots with a 56 day maturity that were planted on July 17, 2012. They have very little top green growth so they are easy to cover with mulch. I have been pulling carrots to eat since mid September. They are very sweet and tasty and are advertised as the finest fresh-eating carrot know!. This variety is never found commercially since they are so fragile they often split when pulled by hand even in very soft soil. I use large maple tree leaves for protective mulch and then cover the mulch with staked-down row cover to keep the mulch in place. They will be enjoyed fresh and cooked until spring.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today was pumpkin and squash freezing day. I had 2 nice pumpkins and 1 large squash to freeze.

The first step was to cut them in half and clean out the seeds and pulp. I then baked them in a 350 degree F oven for about 45 minutes until the flesh was cooked. I then let them cool briefly and removed the outer shell.

The next step was to run the flesh through a conical sieve to remove all the stringy pulp.

I then packed 3 5/8 cups of pumpkin into 5 each 1 quart freezer bags and placed in the freezer. Each bag will make 2 pumpkin pies so I froze enough pumpkin from my 2 pumpkins to make 10 pies plus enough left over to make a loaf of pumpkin bread. The squash was placed in  4 each 1 pint freezer bags and frozen with some left over to serve fresh for dinner.

The plump pumpkin/squash seeds were dried in the dehydrator for pumpkin seed snacks.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The asparagus ferns in my asparagus bed are turning yellow and I will be removing them shortly to prepare for winter. They put on quite a color show as they turn from green to yellow in the fall!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My geraniums on the outdoor wood fired oven hearth are liking November! They are hardy to about 30 degrees F but if the roots freeze, they are dead. I overwinter mine in their pots by putting them in my heated potting shed when the temperature is expected to go below freezing. In the spring, I clean them up and set them out again after adding soil and fertilizer. Geraniums are easy to start by taking cuttings of the green stalks. Cut off 4 inches of a healthy green stalk and remove all but the very smallest leaves. Insert each cutting in a clean draining-type  pot or container filled with damp potting soil and place on a sunny window sill. Keep the soil damp. If the stalk turns brown and shrinks in size,  it did not root, so remove the stalk and insert another freshly cut stalk. When the stalk grows new leaves, the new plant is rooted and on its way to being transplanted into a larger pot or for setting out in your garden when weather permits. Fertilize as soon as new leaves appear with a complete liquid fertilizer.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ah... Meatloaf with oven roasted turnips and rutabagas out of my garden. The meatloaf recipe is from my soon to be published cookbook Dad's Home Cooking, Traditional Recipes for Preparing Healthy Family Meals.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Cayenne and Thai peppers have turned mostly red after hanging to dry for about 1 month. I removed the red peppers from the stalks and placed them in my dehydrator to complete the drying. The green ones were brought inside to continue the ripening. The Thai  peppers are used whole and I will grind the Cayenne peppers to make Cayenne pepper!

Monday, October 29, 2012

In my September 29, 2012 posting, I described how I made my fall sauerkraut. Yesterday the fermentation for 1 month was  complete so I packed the sauerkraut into 2 clean quart jars and installed washed canning lids and placed the sauerkraut in the refrigerator to keep and use this fall and winter. To use, remove the amount you want to serve and drain and dispose of the brine. The sauerkraut can be used cold, or if you want it heated for sandwiches, simply cover and  heat in the microwave. To serve heated as a side dish, add a small amount of water to the sauerkraut and heat in a sauce pan, stirring to prevent scorching. Sauerkraut can also be fried in a buttered skillet. When brown on one side, turn over and brown the other side. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last night was Oktoberfest dinner. I made the bratwurst, and sauerkraut on the right and a guest brought the spaetzle and red cabbage on the left. Guests also brought apple streudel for dessert (not shown). See earlier posts for the making of the sauerkraut and bratwurst sausages.

I also served Marzen beer and brown mustard that I had made as shown in earlier posts. I also had a bottle of Gewurztraminer that I made in 2010.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall is garlic, gray shallot and multiplying onion planting time so today, with a break in the rain, I was able to plant mine. I set out 56 Roja Garlic, 6 gray shallots and 6 multiplying onion starts. These will be ready to harvest next summer. The picture below shows the location of the bulbs before they were planted.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today was sausage making day. I made 29 bratwurst sausages to serve at Oktoberfest dinner on Saturday evening. You will need a meat grinder and sausage stuffer to make this sausage.

1 cup whole ice cold milk
2 large eggs
1 cup soy protein concentrate*
1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground mace
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons applewood smoked sea salt**
1 pound ground veal
7 pounds pork shoulder blade steak (When cut up and de-boned will yield 5 pounds)
1 strand of 30 mm clear edible collagen casings*

* available from Butcher & Packer Supply Company, Madison, WI
** Available from My Spice Sage, Bronx, NY

The first step is to cut up the meat in 1 inch cubes leaving some fat but discarding any bone and tough parts.

The next step is to grind the meat using a 1/4 inch grinder plate.

Then mix all of the ingredients together. I used my mixer but you can do this by hand.

Stuffing was next. First I cut off 2 inches from the sausage stuffing tube so that the end diameter would be nearer the size of the casing before installing on the grinder. Next load the stuffing tube with casing and cut it off. Turn on the mixer and start feeding the sausage into the grinder to stuff the casings. Hold the casings on the stuffing tube so that the sausage casings fill. When the sausage length is achieved, twist the casing to seal off the sausage. Continue until all of the meat is stuffed. Note: This takes awhile. If you have a hand operated sausage stuffer use it as the mixer sausage stuffer does not work very well.

29 finished bratwurst ready to freeze or refrigerate!