Babbling


I am going to have to write this in bits and pieces, because for some reason I decided at 9:00 pm that I really needed to make banana muffins. Actually, I decided a couple of hours ago when I pulled 5 frozen bananas out of the freezer and chucked them into a bowl to thaw. Of course, I didn’t have a recipe to speak of, so I had to trawl food blogs for one.

This one from Whipped caught my eye. And I had had my hubby get a bag of chopped pecans out of the freezer to thaw – so it looked like good planning. Maple Pecans Banana Bread – how awesome!

Except I had too many Bananas so I decided to double the recipe. Then I didn’t have enough butter or Maple Syrup – so I made up the difference in fat with canola oil and in sweet with honey. And I was using eggs from my chicken flock, who apparently failed to attend the USDA standard egg sizing class – so I had to finagle the number of eggs I was using.

Who knows how it will come out? It’s a Mystery. But that isn’t why I am posting this evening. I wanted to share with you a little slice of my life:

A truck on the kitchen counter

The view from in front of my stove/oven.

Here I am cooking along merrily (I made Avgolemono soup for dinner – we ate it with a side of left over homemade Parmesan nuggets. Yay meal planning not) and this is what I see when I glance to my right. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t bother me at all. My approach to housekeeping is, how shall we say, flexible. But it isn’t that I am completely lazy, I think I just have different priorities.

I don’t mind that there are toys strewn all over my house. That when I go to get in bed and flip my covers into something resembling a sleep-able bed I uncover several cars who had been residing in the “garage” that had been built out of my quilt. And this view, this view is something that makes me happier than I have ever been in my life.

I am sure I should be trying to impart some responsibility or some such approved parenting stuff by making my little man clean up all of his toys and keep them in one spot. But you know what? My stuff is all over the house too, it’s my house. It’s his house too, I don’t believe in restricting him to one designated room that can be closed off so that we can pretend that there isn’t a child in the house and everything is presentable.

It took us five years to have this child. The process of having him almost killed me – but it was worth it. Every time I glance up and see a little reminder that he is in my life I am happy. This little truck, standing sentinel over my cooking while he sleeps away in his bed keeps him close to me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There has been quite a bit of canning going on around here if you hadn’t noticed, and we have been consuming the canned products. Because that is why we can correct? One of the challenges with canning is that the product is sealed away and it is tough to know if it went well. There is the urge to crack it right back open to see how it turned out, but then there is an equal but oppisite urge to let it sit in the cupboard for as long as possible – because that is the whole point of canning right?

Quite the conundrum.

But we have been eating, and I want to share my thoughts on my results. First off, the citrus fest! The Orange Coriander and Thyme Jelly is delicious, but putting the sprig of thyme in there turned out to be kinda annoying. Sure it looked nice, but it is woody and you just have to pick it out. Next time I will stick with leaves and skip the sticks. And the Kiwi Lemon Marmalade – verrah tasty. Wouldn’t change a thing.

The Thai Basil Pickled Carrots were a big hit – for both of the people who sampled them. I know that a critique of only 2 people isn’t that great, but they each ate an entire jar. I only had 2 jars so I wasn’t able to get any additional opinions. Both tasters said that the carrots had a nice heat to them, but not so much that they were “fiery”. The hubby liked pulling out 3 or 4 and put them on his plate next to his lunchtime sandwich. He ate them straight like a side-dish. He has an order if for me to make more – I am debating trying different sizes and shapes. Spears are one possibility, but I have been thinking about using shredded carrots and making a hot slaw. The possibilities are manifold.

And finally, the B&B Pickled Onions.  It is really nice when something comes out exactly as envisioned.  They work beautifully as a sandwich topper and I cannot wait until grill season gets fire up and we can try them on hot-dogs and hamburgers.  Unlike the cucumber version, with these little puppies a little goes a long way. Next time I make them I believe I will pack and process them in 1/2 pints instead of full pints. You can get so many more onions in a jar when you don’t have those awkwardly shaped cucumbers to wrastle with.

So, there’s the skinny on some canning results. My big problem now is to figure out what to do for this month’s can jam. Citrus and Alliums inspired me, carrots challenged me – but in a good way. This month, well this month we have the choice between a vegetable that I categorically despise and a fruit that I loathe only slightly less than the vegetable. It really isn’t looking good for me.

If you want to know what I have been doing lately – why there haven’t been too many food posts – you might want to check over here: Fhlockston Paradise.

You see, it is time to get your spring chickens!

I will have a Can Jam post by the end of the week, don’t worry.

sneak peek at the link:

Killing you with cute

It is way beyond obvious to state that I took a hiatus from this blog. Don’t know if anyone particularly cared, but I had a very good reason. It was just a reason I didn’t feel comfortable talking about on this here interwebs.

Due to the ass-tacular economy my husband had to take contract work. Not bad if you can get it – but it was a three month contract.

In Columbus, Ohio.

We live in Atlanta, GA.

I could draw you a map, but I am gonna assume that you passed 3rd grade and save you from my mad drawing skillz. His absence put a huge cramp in my giddy-up blogging wise, and there was the whole sole caregiver to our three year old thrown into the mix. It was very hard for me to come up with anything to post that didn’t involve whining about how lonely and frantic and stressed out I was.

And short of hanging a sign out at our Mailbox saying “HEY AXE-MURDERS. WOMAN AND CHILD LIVING ALONE HERE. OK? THX”, I didn’t think there was a way that would make me feel more exposed than admitting my alone-ness on this blog.

But as of tonight he is home. And he has his own axe so back off!

To ensure at least one post a month (and I am hoping for more) I have signed up for a blog “event”. Yeppers – an actual commitment that is in print on someone else’s blog – so it is a fact, correct? The event is tigress in a jam’s can jam. She apparently has a phobia of capital letters, or maybe I need to mail her a spare Shift key? How very e.e. cummings.

I have a second confession to make. Another reason that I quit posting and that I really need to get over. Tastespotting. I got very depressed by all the rejection. Almost paralyzed and unable to post for fear of it not being “good enough”. I consider myself a pretty good photographer – but the lighting in my kitchen is for shit. And I have better things to spend my money on than an itty bitty food photography studio, really doesn’t everyone?

So the only decent light I get is in late morning – and unless I turn this into a breakfast food blog that isn’t gonna fly. I usually get to cooking and have an opportunity to take pictures at dinner. Once fall rolled around light went bye bye way too early for my schedule.

OK ’nuff kvetching. Although it is not a food photo, I will leave you with one of my favorite photos I have taken. To put my money where my mouth is regarding photography.

And I think of it as Cat Jam. So that is sorta foodie.

ps: I totally got kicked out of Daring Bakers.

You know the problem with a garden? Well, you spend all of this time and effort preparing the ground. Then you have to plant all of the little buggers. And then there is the weeding, and hoeing and composting and it is just work, work, work.

And then – after you have worked your fingers to the bone how do these ungrateful little plant buggers show how much they appreciate your efforts? THEY MAKE YOU MORE WORK.

Somebody has to pick all of those damn veggies & fruits. Somebody has to process them before they go bad and you feel guilty for putting in all of that work and letting it rot. And let me ask you, who has two thumbs and is the only person around to do all of this work?

THIS GAL!

I will be able to better document the canning efforts that I have been engaging in at a later date but for now I can give you a list. In addition to the peach fest I have already recounted I have produced:

  • 7 half pints of Red Onion & Sage Jelly
  • 4 half pints of Red Pepper & Garlic Jelly
  • 7 half pints of Banana Pepper Jelly
  • 6 half pints of Tomato, Coriander and Ginger Jam
  • 6 half pints of candied Cantaloupe
  • 7 pints of Corn Relish
  • 5 pints of Tomato Salsa
  • 6 pints of Tomatillo Salsa

And that doesn’t include the 12 quart bags of tomato sauce, 6 bags of corn on the cob, 4 quart bags of creamed corn and 4 quarts of home dehydrated figs in the freezer.

There is a full sized paper grocery bag in the ‘fridge full of banana peppers waiting to be turned into jelly and hiding below it is a bag of jalapenos to keep things interesting. The tomatillos have just started producing – so I anticipate more on that front. I have yet to dig the Irish or Sweet potatoes – who knows what they have in store for me.

And it is almost Apple season! Yay.

Have  you participated in the harvest season with an eye towards preserving? I would love to hear what you have been doing.

Chicken! ChickenChickenChicken! Despite the aspersions cast upon this king of poultry, I love chicken. I think that chicken started getting a bad rap when it became “healthy”. Boneless, skinless chicken breast eroded the reputation of what is a most delicious addition to any meal. I don’t care for breast meat, it is pretty tasteless and dry most of the time. Gimmie the dark meat every time, and don’t you dare remove the skin. The skin is what makes it superb.

So, I decided to cull the food blogs to find y’all some good ideas for using chicken in a different way than you might regularly consider. First off, the best way to serve chicken – FRIED!

First off, from [No Recipes] we have Karaage or Japanese Fried Chicken. A soy, ginger & garlic marinade and cornstarch breading – how can you go wrong. I am especially intrigued by the mention that it is a commonly packed Bento (lunch box) item. I think this would make my little dude the envy of the entire preschool should I pack it for him.

From the always fabulous Chez Pim we score Thai-marinated fried chicken. I have never been to Thailand but this recipe with a garlic & cilantro marinade and rice flour for your dredge sounds like a good reason to book a flight. Or at least buy the slightly specialty pantry items to make it yourself.

Apparently the Asian type areas take their Fried Chicken as seriously as we do in the South because My Asian Kitchen rounds out the pack with Asian Ginger Marinated Fried Chicken. Again with the ginger and garlic – I really must try this, all of these people cannot be wrong. This recipe has an unusual aspect in that it uses self-rising flour. If you do not have any of the stuff you can make your own by combining 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 t baking powder, and 1/8 t salt.

For some people, the fried is not their friend, and I am here to give you some love too. Don’t you worry.

I love witty blog names and Ezra Pound Cake cracks me up every time. They have provided us with an insanely tasty sounding Hawiian Chicken. With a lot of the Asian flavors included above it might just allow you to not miss the fried (tho I doubt it). Thoughtfully they have provided optional cooking directions for those of us who are grilling impaired. I don’t know what it is, but grills and I just don’t get along.

Getting even more exotic (at least for me)  Life’s Ambrosia gets all slow cookey on us with their Braised Indian Coconut Chicken. There is an awfully long marinade here – but hey it isn’t like you are actually doing anything when the chicken is marinading. And then, when your guests arrive and rave about how good the chicken is you can sigh and say “I am so glad you liked it, I was concerned that 10 hours for a dish might not be worth the time.” Then they will feel all guilty about the cheap a$$ bottle of wine they brought and next time you go to their house they will feed you steak.

Not that there is anything wrong with chicken. As I believe I mentioned, I love chicken. Y’all let me know how these dishes work out for y’all. My problem is deciding which one to make first.

summerfest-badge

What I should be posting right now is an entry for thursday night smackdown’s Hobo Tuesday. But I am a slacker, and a chicken. Specifically the theme for this month is super spicy food, and my idea of pretty darn spicy is the regular stuff at Taco Bell. When they ask me if I want some of the Medium sauce I am all like Whoaaaa there Nelly, let’s not get too crazy.

So I found another event to participate in – it is the Summer Fest! Apparently the whole shindig started last month with Herbs, but I always tend to be a little slow on the uptake. The theme of this month is tree fruits – and well, I live in Georgia and I really do not have any choice in the fruit I will be using. I mean really, could there be any other option?

So for this soiree I am getting back to one of the core values of this blog (since I have such a long and illustrious history, snort) and that is using one of my most precious commodities – time – to compensate for one of my more unsavory character traits – cheapness.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

One of the best cheap tips I can give you is to cut out the middle-man. If you can, buy your produce straight from the Farmer/Grower. Luckily I live in a State that believes in that very principle and sponsors the Atlanta State Farmer’s Market, a place where you can go year ’round and purchase produce directly from the Farmers that pulled it out of the ground, or off of the tree, or plant, or … you get the picture. There is even a meat market there that has three butchers there every week day – prices & sizes like a warehouse club without any taxes.

My mother and I toodled down there a couple of weeks ago and picked up a 1/2 bushel of peaches. Glorious peaches that smelled like … peaches, not those rock hard impostors you find at the grocery. Those, the best thing you can do with them is hot-glue on some googley eyes and try to recreate the ’70 pet rock craze only fuzzier. And the best thing, for our 22 lbs of peaches we paid $11. That’s right, .50 per lb. Does little cheap-ass happy dance.

And Here is Where you start Robbing Peter

We have beautifully high quality peaches at rock bottom prices, but we also have 22 lbs of highly perishable fruit that has to have something done with it NOW! So we pay for it with time. An entire day of canning with my Mother to be precise. But ooooh, the rewards.

Angelic & Delicious

Angelic & Delicious

The Yield:

6 Quarts of Peach Pie Filling
6 1/2 Half-pints of Peach Preserves
6 1/2 Half-pints of Ginger Peach Preserves
8 Quarts of Frozen Sliced Peaches

All total 20 quarts + 1 pint of peachy perfection to last us for the coming year. Trying to calculate how much money we saved would be difficult. Figure that each 1/2 pint of “gourmet” peach preserves that you buy at the grocery would run you at least $3 x 13 half-pints and you get $39. Already $28 more than we spent on the fruit. Of course you have to factor in the cost of the canning supplies – but those are re-usable and I really do not want to get into amortizing the crap. A quart sized bag of frozen peaches is going to run you at least $2.50 x 8 =  $20. The peach pie filling, and let me tell you this isn’t anything like the stuff that comes out of the can, you would pay at least $5 a jar for this x 6 = $30.

So, for our $11 basket of peaches and lets say and additional $15 in supplies (including sugar, spices etc…) we yielded $89 worth of the good stuff. $89 – $26 = $63, obviously not enough to compensate two such talented ladies for an entire day’s work (or at least one talented lady and one who can almost stir without drooling into the pot) but that is where the love comes in to play.

I think we might need to go buy more peaches before the season is over.

p.s. I haven’t included any recipes because they all came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I usually avoid posting recipes if I haven’t made some changes to them because that would run afoul of copyright issues. And anyone reading about home preserving will know full well that if you change anything then OH MY GOD YOU ARE ALL GOING TO DIE AND YOU WILL KILL YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOUR CANNED GOODS!!!!!!!!
I may exaggerate slightly.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.