Preserves I Already Have:

Heaps of frozen Red Russian kale, Rainbow chard, and rappini (and a little bit of borrage, because hey).
1L frozen raspberries
3C pickled beans
3.5 C goblin fruit jam (choke cherries & black currants + extra stuff)

+ (from last year)

3 pints of cucumber pickles (that I made last year) + 2 pints of someone else's cucumber pickles (taht he made last year)
1/4 C Ground Cherry "marmalade" (that I made last year)
1 pint of relish + 1 pint of tomato chutney (made by my friend's mom)
1C grape jelly (made by a friend who brought it as a hostess' gift)
1-2 C Various Jams from Mr Wilson


Preserves I want to make:

4lbs tomatoes + 1lb nectarines + a bulb or two of garlic --> As many cup-jars of salsa as that'll give me
10lbs tomatoes --> as many pint-jars and/or 1C jars of diced/crushed tomatoes as that'll give me
5lbs tomates + a few bulbs of garlic and a few onions + garden basil --> As many 1C jars of bruchetta as that'll give me
1lb tomatoes + all the cores and skins from the the rest of the tomato masacre + 1-2 bulbs of garlic, lots of garden oregano, garden savoury, balsamic vinegar, and dried rosemary --> as many half-cup jars of tomato sauce as that'll give me

POSSIBLY some extra tomatoes (perhaps from the garden, this time) - roasted with herbs and garlic in the oven and then frozen-in-pucks in the freezer

1lb nectarines + skins from another 1lb of nectarines --> Nectarine butter, as much as possible

POSSIBLY a choke-cherry preserve (something like a chutney? see below) that involves onion, basil, and peppermint... not sure yet.

As much apple butter as I can make with the apples from Idioglossia's tree

POSSIBLY some apple slices dried in my dehidrator

Crab Apple jelly using crab apples harvested from trees along the Canal and in local parks

Half a dozen LARGE eggplants (farmers' market again) roasted, diced, and frozen into pucks (the same way I do the greens) - I will try to go a little easier on the salt this year...

Multiple Jack-o-lanterns worth of pumpkin butter

POSSIBLY half a dozen 2C freezer-boxes of diced-and-blanched winter squash (or pumpkin) purely for the easiness of dumping already-prepped and partially-cooked veggies into a dinner in the middle of winter.

Still more frozen greens a-go-go (because we kind of live on that stuff over winter)


Things I will have to buy in order to make these preserves:

Upwards of 5 pie pumpkins (+ possible winter squashes)
6 large eggplants
2lbs nectarines
20lbs sauce tomatoes (or other tomatoes... whatever)


Possible Chokecherry Thing (adapted heavily from the Chokecherry Chutney recipe in Rona Mogelon's Wild In The Kitchen):

6 C chokecherries
1.5 C diced apples (AKA: 2-3 apples, diced[1])
1.5 C granulated sugar
1.5 C red wine vinegar
1 C diced red onion (or other onion)
1 C dried dried cranberries

0.25 C each: fresh basil leaves (shredded), fresh peppermint leaves (shredded)
1 tsp each: salt, dried rosemary
0.5 tsp each: black pepper, ground cloves



[1] I originally said "sweet cherries" - and you could do that (or use dried sweet cherries instead of the cranberries, that'd work, too) but I don't want to use sweet cherries as "sweet filler". Apples, however, being fleshy and easy to come by, get used as "sweet filler" all the time. So I've put the apple back into this recipe and I figure it'll work, even if I'm not 100% confident about the apple/mint (not to be confused with Apple Mint) combination).
So I just got back to the house.
I headed out with Ghost this morning - she to catch her bus to work, and me to drop off a resume at The Red Apron. It's a cute little shop. The fanciest of fancy grocery stores, but there you have it. It smells good when you walk in. :-)
Here's hoping that someone gets their dream job offered to them with a July start-date, and that they decide to hire me to take over the position.

Further to this, I... )

This afternoon will include:
Writing at least 1000 words for The Novel (I may already have most of the next scene or three written, so I will have a look and see if I can't get a little bit ahead of myself on this front)
Grating cheese (ideally using the food processor)
Making pesto (probably)
Changing the sheets (probably)

Up, up, and away! :-)


[1] Think: 3 cups of roughly-chopped garlic chives + 1/4 C crumbled walnuts (or chestnut meal) + 1/4 C grape seed oil + 1 tbsp white wine vinegar + 2 tbsp nutritional yeast + 1 tbsp dried basil + 1 tbsp water + pinch each salt & black pepper --> Chuck it all in a food processor (possibly before grating mozzarella cheese) and blend until well purreed. Freeze by the cup OR half-cup for use on pasta and pizza.

[2] Okay, yes, freezing cheese kind of screws with the texture. However since this stuff was bought to be melted anyway? I'm fine with chucking it in the freezer.

[3] Black currant syrup from the grocery store. It's, like, $10 for a litre of the stuff, and I use it to make black currant curd - it's delish.
So. A friend of mine has a family with a sugar shack.
She's offered to haul home an order for me in May. What I've ordered:

1 gallon (8 tins) of maple syrup
1 kg (two packages) of cassinade - which has the same consistency as brown sugar, so it's reasonably soft and can be used in baking
1 box of a dozen maple-butter filled chocolates

I'm figuring that this will keep us in syrup for a good two years, possibly more, and it'll mean that - next time I run out of a brown sugar (which should take a little while, I realize) - I'll have a much more local source already on hand. YAY!

I'm really happy about this offer. She's only making it to some of her close friends - I suggested that she put that list on facebook or something, as it would get her family some extra business, but she's making the run by train which means a lot of heavy lifting for her. So she's trying to keep things "in the family" as much as possible.

It makes me wonder about Buying Clubs, however, and whether or not something closer to home - like the Vanier sugar shack, for example - would do a bulk order with similar prices. Don't know, but it's something to consider.

I'm interested to see how much maple syrup I use when it's (sginificantly more) affordable than usual. Like... I know I use maple syrup as part of the sugar in my home-made pumpkin butter preserves. Maple-based brown sugar is about six times as expensive as cane-based brown sugar (though it's only one-and-a-half times as expensive as organic, fairly traded cane-based brown sugar, so... Apples to apples, right?)
But I'm wondering... will I scrimp on expensive sugar? Or will I use it as a plentiful thing when I've got four litres of the stuff Just Lying Around?
In terms of canning, I can - apparently - only use maple syrup in place of 1/4 of the necessary sugar. I suspect that maple sugar would be more of a 1:1 exchange, but I could be wrong. Anybody know?

This is sort of Step One in my quest to do a lot of my grocery shopping "by year" with up-front payments through CSAs and bulk-buying.
Here's hoping it works out! :-D

So, a few days ago, I made a strawberry-rhubarb custard pie with a merengue top.
Left-over from that, I have (a) two custard cups with merengue tops, which will be eaten for dessert tonight, and (b) about a quarter of a cup of already slightly sugary (mostly strawberry) juice, which came form the thawing-the-strawberries process before I made the pie.

Today, I have:
Tidied up at least some of the master bedroom
Done three loads of laundry
Stripped the bed
Talked to the landlord
Contacted Ti Kanna about gardening at her place
Made two kinds of jelly.

The Jelly started out as strawbery-rhubarb jelly (see above, re: juice). However, in order to bring it up to half a cup, I added a couple of tablespoons each Apple Juice and Red Wine. And a few drops of white wine vinegar. And a sprinkling of cardemom and cloves. And a sploosh of vanilla.

And I got my half-cup of jelly. Except that I actually had more than that, but not enough to do a full cup. So I added another few tablespoons each of Apple Juice and Red wine, threw in a sploosh of red wine vinegar, and added a sprinkling of cinnamon and cloves.
And I got another half-cup of jelly.

So that worked out. They both taste like candy (that's 1:1 sugar ratios for you...) but they worked out well, I think. They're cooling on the rack right now.

I used the last teaspoon or two of the second jelly (I had just a little more than half a cup on that one), mixed with about half a cup of red wine, as a sauce/glaze for the chicken that is now quietly baking/roasting in the oven (I greased the dish with olive oil, so we'll see how this works out). My plan is to serve it with a salad of baby potatoes, baby tomatoes, and cucumbers, possibly in a yoghurt dressing or some kind of vinegrette. Anyway, we'll see.

amazon_syren: (Writerly)
( Feb. 2nd, 2013 07:01 pm)
I had a shoot get canceled today.
Which sucks, but is not all that terrible.

On the plus side, this gave me the opportunity to (a) taylor a blouse[1], and (b) make a chocolate custard for Imbolg --> for a dinner at a friend's house that is not actually Imbolg-related --> without having to rush.

In further news, and I've been tweeting this rather madly since it went up, I've had another poem published. It's not a paid publication, which is too bad, but it's still published, and I'm happy about that. :-D
You can read it, in all its badly-laid-out glory, here.

Amazon. :-D

[1] This is the one that I did the pinning for the other day. I did the stitching today. :-) I have yet to try adding diamond-shaped gussets under the arms, but the rest is done. :-D

Last night I made basa fillets baked in tadouri sauce (take 2 tbsp tandouri goo-inna-jar and mix it with 2C plain yoghurt... I would actually up this to three and three, personally, but ymmv).

2 basa fillets (or any other white fish - also works with salmon)
3 C plain yoghurt + 3 tbsp pre-fab tandour paste-inna-jar

Combine yoghurt and tandouri paste until well blended. Pour half of it into a lightly greased baking dish. Add the fillets. Pour the rest of the tandouri mixture over the fish. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 350F (or follow your nose).

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, fill a small pot with water.
3-4 small (ice-cube-sized) cubes of frozen spinach OR ruby chard
1 C frozen broccoli florets
Any other frozen veggies you care to incoporate

Bring water to a boil.
When the veggies are (a) unfrozen and (b) hot, drain them through a sceive.

Serve the fish topped with the veggies. You can serve this with rice if you are so inclined. :-)

So. The Kowloon Market, which is the neighbourhood's Big Grocery Store, sells duck at their prepared-food counter. Two pre-cooked, deliciously seasoned duck legs for about $3.50. It's awesome. I've been known to pick up two or three packages at a time and that'll do the protein part of our dinners-for-two for a couple of evenings (plus maybe a lunch or something) for a good portion of the week.
You can (or at least could, immediately after the full moon closest to Autumn Equinox) get a whole, roasting duck for ~$12.00. Which is not that much more expensive than a roasting chicken from Hartmann's or Loblaw's or something.

So, as you can imagine, I've had a fair bit of Duck Bones lying around of late. Consequently, I've been starting to make my own soup stock.
I kind of love having a slow-cooker. The ammount of stuff I make in it is kind of nutty. It wouldn't shock me if I wound up making yoghurt in it (using the "keep warm" setting) in the not-too-distant future.

But. Duck Stock. Basically, you make stock by throwing in whatever bits and pieces you happen to have lying around. Here's what's gone into the version that's just started to simmer in the slow-cooker now:


1 whole duck-carcass skeleton + the bones from 4-6 duck legs
12 (or so) small nasturtium leaves (from our garden)
10 onion-chives (likewise from our garden)
5 tiny leaves of rainbow chard (likewise fro what's still hanging on in our garden)
1 scarlet-runner bean (likewise from our garden)
2-3 green beans (from Ghost's parents' garden)
1 very tiny red pepper (likewise from Ghost's parents' garden)
1 granny-smith apple that probably froze in the back of the fridge at least once
6 (or so) strips of rutabaga
1/2 C left-over red wine (that might have been on its way to vinegar, though I'm not sure)
4 garlic scapes cut into 1" lengths
3 woody stalks od basil, w/ seed-pods (from our garden)
5 bay leaves
1 tsp dried rosemary
1-2 tsp black pepper
1 pinch of cinnamon
10 very small cherry tomatoes (half of which came from our garden post-frost, and half of which came from a friend of Ghost's NPPP)

I'm inclined to add:
2-3 baby carrots
1-2 collard stalks (the thick ends)


And that should make for a tasty stock.
I'll give it a sampling in a few hours, to see how the broth is shaping up, and figure out what needs to be added. (I'm guessing a little bit of tamari or marmite, plus some maple syrup or molasses, but that's an early guess and it may be fine without).
I'll probably also break up a few of the bones at that time, so that the marrow can find its way better into the broth.

I've used my other home-made stock (duck + chicken bones, and Whatever Was Lying Around) as a base for (a) beef bourginion (esque), and (b) slightly-French onion soup. That latter involved the additons of sesame oil, molasses, and balsamic vinegar, fyi.

It works.
I tend to make 6-8 C of fairly concentrated stock at a time (size of slow-cooker, but also size of fridge) and assemble the ingredients for the next batch (in the freezer) while I use up the current one. I find that 2C stock (I store it onld pasta sauce jars, typically) plus 2-4 C water makes a suitable base for two people worth of soup.

I'm hoping this particular stock (duck lends itself well to strong flavours, being a fatty, strongly flavoured bird to begin with) will be pleasantly spicy and - thanks to my over-cooking the roasting duck[1] - nicely meaty/rich as well. I find that it, like pork, combines well with "sweet" flavours like apple, maple, and cinnamon. Which is handy. But it also goes really well with earthy flavour like rosemary, mushrooms, and thyme (and, yes, maple).

Next time I roast a duck, I will probably do it a little differently, in order to render as much of the fat out of it as possible. I like to keep some duck fat on hand for cooking, since it's quite a lovely consistency. :-) I will, again, save the bones for stock - but I may also try throwing some pork bones in as well (as we've got some pork chops in the freezer at the moment). We'll see what this does to it in terms of flavour.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, yeah. That's my rambling on making duck-based soup stock. Huzzah! :-)

Amazon. :-)

[1] I cooked it for four hours. That was too long by a good hour, at least. Next time I roast a duck (possibly next week?) I'll have to make sure it's fully thawed when I start the cooking, and then cook it for less time. I mean, yes, the skin was lovely and crispy. But the meat on the wings was pretty-much jerky with bones in it. So they went into the stock pot very nearly whole. O.O
So. Have I mentioned that I kind of love the Kowloon Market? Where else can you get duck-for-two for $5?

Which is, in fact, what I did the other night. I went up the street and picked up a few odds and sods, including milk and butter[1] but also including a whole frozen duck (to be roasted at some point in the future, possibly in early November) and a couple of packages of pre-bbq'd duck legs.

I only saved the bones from one package - more fool me - but I am making soup stock today with those legs being the first ingredient.

My cooking philosophy, such as it is, is that you cook with what you've got on hand and so it's helpful if you're good at combining things on the fly and making good guesses as to what will go with what.
If I weren't nearly so intuitive when it came to flavour combinations, I would probably have a different cooking philosophy. But as it stands, this one is serving me well.

So. My experiment for today:


The bones of two duck legs, with a little bit of meat still clinging to them around the joints

A well-packed cup of dandelion leaves[2]

A few slices of beet, left over from the dinner where the duck bones came from

Four baby carrots

The remains of an onion (probably about 3 tbsp?), chopped into quarters

1 large clove garlic, diced

About half a tomato (the other half became part of breakfast along with some edamame and the rest of the beets)

The water in-which I cooked the edamame

Three medium-small bay leaves

A teaspoon or so of grainy mustard

A heaping soup spoon full of apple butter

A teaspoon or so of rendered duck fat (I keep it in my fridge and treat it like lard)

Three pieces of kombu (I think...)

A big handful of dried inoke mushrooms (hoping I didn't use too many of these)

A couple of tablespoons of blood sausage, plus the water I used to soften it up

Two pieces of dried red pepper


I think that's everything. I'm currently at the "second-guessing myself" stage, which is where I wonder if I shouldn't add some rosemary and tamari and black pepper... and I may yet do it.

Right now, the broth is in the slow-cooker on "low" and is smelling VERY tomato-y.

I know tomato-based duck broth works - it works well enough that you can use left-over-duck combined with macaroni noodles and tinned tomato soup (made with water) and make a remarkably delicious soup. So I'm not too worried about it.
But I do think those three ingredients might help things along in the long run.

Anyway. We'll see how it goes.


[1] With the demise, several years ago, of the local western-food grocery store, the Kowloon Market has started carrying dairy. This is me rejoicing! :-D

[2] Which I harvested almost a month and a half ago, and which were still just as good as the day I picked them - which kind of shocked me, but is good to know. Dandelions KEEP in the fridge!
amazon_syren: (Crafty!)
( Aug. 18th, 2012 08:37 am)
I really like those bags of frozen spinach where the spinach is in little, loose cubes (so that you can use, like, three cubes and wind up with half a cup of cooked spinach in your entree or whatever). I've been looking for them at my grocery store (Hartmann's, so whose surprised) but they haven't had them for months. Possibly this is because it isn't spinach-freezing season yet? Dunno.

Anyway. I decided "screw it" and bought one of those huge boxes of loose baby spinach the other day.
The vast majority of it is now blanched and frozen (in theory - I did this last night) in an ice-cube tray, ready to be transferred to a freezer bag for leisurely consumption.

This morning, I hacked up an entire rutabaga (and half a dozen tiny, somewhat dried-out, beets - they look kind of like rose petals when they're sliced up) and am brining it in a not that salty salt-water solution.
Tomorrow I will sterilize a few one-cup jars (in theory this should give me eight cups, but I suspect it's more like four...) and boil up a heap of red wine vinegar[1] with some judiciously sellected seeds and spices, chop up some garlic, and pickle the hell out of my rutabagas. :-D

It will be delicious and shwarma-tastic. :-D

In other rutabaga-related news, I found this: Rutabaga/Parsnip Muffins at Foodland Ontario. Thought I would probably use dried cranberries (or currants) instead of raisins ('cause I like them better), I think I might try this at some point over the winter. :-)

I'm currently making bread. It's something vaguely related to brioche, I think. Three eggs, milk, and a splash of oil to give it a very soft, moist crumb, plus honey for the sweetener (for its preservation qualities, but also because it'll give the crust a nice colour and, hey, YUM!)

I'm hoping to go to (and, thus, actually locate) the Preston St. Farmers' Market today. I'd like to see what's available. Granted, just at the moment, we have a very well-stocked fridge, so I'm going have to be careful about not buying stuff. :-)

In other news, I'm hoping to hem a skirt today.

Amazon. :-)

[1] Note to self: Get more red wine vinegar. And more apple-cider vinegar. And a huge thing of olive-oil for soap-making. And salt. Right. Groceries later today!

So a couple of days ago I made pickled peaches. Om Nom Nom pickled peaches. And I had a little bit of the pickling solution left over.

The pickling solution, in this case, was a mix of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, raspberry-balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt.

So it was basically sweet-and-sour sauce.

So I chopped up three tomatoes and about 1/4 of an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and chucked them all into the pot with the pickling solution in it... and then added a little bit of nutritional yeast, four miniature pork sausages (mild Italian) pre-cooked and sliced into rounds, and one sweet-pickled roasted red pepper (that I then mashed up into a pulp).

Stir everything together and let simmer until most of the liquid has boiled off.

Add a cup of cooked pasta (I used fusilli) and serve. Hot, sweet, slightly spicy, and delicious. Although a little extra garlic wouldn't have been amiss and it could have taken on a couple of ice-cube-sized pucks of frozen spinach and not been anything to complain about.

In other news: I have three-and-a-half cups of grape jelly that, I'm rapidly concluding, I'm not likely to actually use.
More fool me for making it in the first place. :-P
If people have suggestions for what to do with grape jelly (other than "eat on bread"), I'd appreciate hearing them.
Particularly if they involve mixing them with savoury foods to make interesting sauces or something. (Like... could I do a mix of 50/50 grape jelly and red wine vinegar, plus garlic, onion, a pinch of salt, and fresh ...rhubarb?... and throw them in a slow-cooker with a bit of beef...? Would that work? Any ideas?)

I tried turning some of it (2C) into sour-cream tarts... and that did not go well. Jam tarts are possible, because jam contains actual pieces of fruit. Jelly tarts basically get you a tart shell full of slightly burnt caramel and rather grape-y water.
Not so good, I'm afraid. :-\

I'm game for adding it to cakes and similar, but if anyone has ideas for a savoury option, I'm all ears. :-)

Amazon. :-)
amazon_syren: (Default)
( Jul. 20th, 2012 10:49 am)
So my Zazzle order (Ilthit's pretty, pretty notecards) is, in theory, on its way. However - also in theory - they tried to deliver it about an hour ago.
Which I think is a lie because I didn't get a phone-call from anyone downstairs saying "I have a delivery for" so... WTF.

I hate fedex with a fiery, fiery loathing right now. Lazy, dishonest bastards.

Anyway. Moving right along. :-P

Other than that my morning has actually been pretty awesome and at least slightly productive.

I chopped up 15 cucumbers, most of which are now in the first step of brining (chopped up and soaking in salt water for 24 hrs). And I think I've got just enough 2C jars to put them in, too. :-)

I also fixed a necklace (that's been on my to-do list for months), and checked my soap (which is curing, albeit really, realy slowly... I don't know why that is, either...)

My plan for the afternoon is
1) Make jewelry
2) Do some writing
3) Dye my hair
4) Possibly go to the grocery store (again) and get the spices I need to do the pickles tomorrow morning.
5) Possibly make new beeswax tealights for at-home use

I want to make peach butter.
However I've only got 12 (small) peaches. Which means I can make about 1.5 cups of peach butter. OR I can make 3 cups of peach jam. OR I can make 3 cups of balsamic-peach pickles or spicy peach chutney.
I made tomato-peach salsa last night (with yellow onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers plus white wine vinegar and a pinch of cayenne).

I've discovered that General Store Publishing House is an Ottawa Valley publisher whose catalogue includes cook books. This is very good to know. :-)

Things I want to make (or have already made) this summer:

Rhubarb syrup
Rhubarb chutney (surprisingly barbicue-sauce-like)
Strawberry-Rhubarb jam
Strawberry-Raspberry-Peach-Rhubarb jam
Sumac-Raspberry-Rhubarb syrup
Peach-Tomato Salsa
Frozen White Mulberries
(I froze them on a tin plate and then threw them in with my other frozen berries)
Garlic-Dill Cucumber pickles (started)

Peach butter (with ginger and cinnamon)
Spicy Peach chutney OR Balsamic Peach pickles (or both, but we'll see...)
Raspberry jam
Raspberry syrup
Raspberry curd
Apple butter
Apple cider
Apple-cranberry chutney
Cranberry curd
Spicy Cranberry relish (maybe...)
Pumpkin butter (with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves... and maybe just a little maple syrup)

That said, I think I'm going to make peach tarts today.
We're going to Brockville Pride tomorrow and, iirc, there's a picnic after the parade, so it would be nice to have something tasty on hand. :-)

I will make a custard and pour it over sliced peaches... that's my plan. There may or may not be pecans involved...

Anyway. That's where I'm at. :-)

Amazon. :-)
Chocolate Pumpkin-Seed-Butter Cupcakes


1 1/2 C flour
1 C cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C sour milk OR plain yoghurt
1/4 C margarine
1/4 C pumpkin-seed butter
2 eggs

1/4 C chocolate chips

1 1/2 C icing sugar
2/3 C pumpkin-seed butter
1 C margarine


Preheat the oven to 350F
Whisk together the Dry Ingredients
Blend together the Wet Ingredients
Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
Fold in the chocolate chips
Spoon batter into cupcake-liners (in a muffin tin, of course)
Bake for 15 minutes (more or less)
Allow to stand for five minutes, then pop them onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Once cupcakes are fully cooled (give it a good half-hour?) frost the tops with the above recipe (you can get fancy with a pastry bag and a fluted tip, or you can just slather it on with a knife - it should be smooth enough for either) and decorate with hulled pumkin seeds or whatever you happen to want to throw on there. :-D


I have to admit... I may not have enough pumpkin-seed butter to do the frosting. We shall see.

[EDIT: Have baked. They are tasty and awesome. And, yes, I did NOT have enough pumpkin seed butter to do the frosting. by any stretch of the imagination. None the less, they are still tasty and delicious. Go forth and try them out! :-D /EDIT]

NOTE 1: You can, of course, substitute any nut/seed butter you want for the pumpkin-seed-butter. Hazelnut would be a good one, for example. Probably chestnut, too.

NOTE 2: At present, they basically taste like really good brownies. If you wanted to up the nut/seed flavour, I would say double the nut/seed butter and leave the margarine out (although adding a tablespoon of veggie oil wouldn't be amis).

In other news: I have taught someone to KNIT today!! :-D Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! :-D

Amazon. :-D
Last night was rainbow trout (broiled until crispy on both sides) served with a Serbian riesling (rather tasty, though not as bright as other rieslings I’ve had) plus a sauté of (cooked) wild rice + russet apple, fennel, and red onion. Dessert was some of the remaining mandarin oranges we’ve got floating around. We had russet apple with 2-year-old cheddar (PC) for starters (the parrot had some, too).
It was hella tasty. The veggies mix was lacking a little something – mustard, cranberry, a spritz of cider vinegar, something to brighten it up a little – but otherwise it was flavourfully well-rounded and delicious. :-)

This evening will probably be something fast-and-easy Rotini with alfredo sauce and some veggies – probably frozen spinach, preserved red peppers, and garlic, but maybe some other stuff thrown in there, too. We shall see. Maybe we’ll serve it with cranberry juice or something. :-)

One of these nights I’ll be doing beets with chevre, I do know that. I just need to figure out what to serve it with… Maybe gnocchi and some roast pork or something. I don’t know. :-)
amazon_syren: (Default)
( Nov. 10th, 2011 05:51 pm)
Listening to "The Third Wave" on CHUO Podcast (here) ft a short interview with Amber Dawn. Huzzah! :-D

The show last night went really well. Thank all the gods. :-)
Amber Dawn says that VoV - or at least what VoV does - is important. I totally agree (obviously), but it's really, really nice to hear it coming from a writer who I look up to. :-)

I bought a giant[1] green cabbage today, on the basis that, for thirty-nine cents/pound, I could afford to experiment a bit with that particularly stalwart member of the brasicca family.

What I did with (a small fraction of) it:

1 tbsp butter
2 C sliced and diced cabbage
1/4 C diced yellow onion
1/2 C white wine (Iniskillin late-autumn Riesling, om-nom-nom)
1 apple, cored and diced (from Ghost's parents' trees)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp pecan crumbles
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp each: ground ginger, and nutmeg

2 tbsp chevre

Put everything in a sauce pan EXCEPT the chevre. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat (significantly) and allow to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Dump onto plate, add chevre, and serve.

I served mine with a pork chop. Om-nom-nom. :-D

I think a hint of grainy mustard + the option of adding sliced pre-boiled beets would both work nicely with this dish. Whee! :-D


In other news, I am totally procrastinating. I'm on my second glass of wine (which isn't saying much, given that it's barely started but, given that I'm a total light weight, it's not saying very little either) and, while I've blogged a whole bunch (VoV redux, Urban Meliad, and a Syrens post about "bullying"), I haven't actually done my nano yet. At all.
A little (big) part of my brain is just screaming "I don't WANNA write 6000 words!!!" but I'm far enough behind that this is basically what I'd need to do. :-P

21,671. That's how many words I need to have written about power exchange by the end of Sunday. I'm currently at just over 1/3 of that, just to give you an idea.

So, yeah. It's a little bit daunting. Part of me is telling myself to just approach this like Nablopomo[2] and try to write LONG posts every day, but not beat myself up if they top out at, like, 1300 words. Or something. Which, yeah, won't get Nano won. But does stand a reasonable chance of getting me to write stuff more frequently. Which is kind of the goal[3].

Anyway. Onwards. Scribblescribblescribble.

[1] For a given value of "giant". It's certainly one of the largest vegetables I've ever purchased, though I've grown a few squashes that totally out-did it.

[2] Which I'm doing (or trying to do) for Urban Meliad -- you just post SOMETHING every day for the entire month, it doesn't come with a required word-count.

[3] Along with, y'know, drafting a book manuscript. ;-)

So I made a batch of cranberry curd for the first time today.

Now, it's possible I feel this way because I've only ever made lemon curd with lemon-juice-from-concentrate[1] BUT: I think I actually like the cranberry curd better. It's thicker. This may be because I made it wrong (I was doing a half-recipe, but may have used more cranberries than called for), or it may be because cranberry curd uses purreed cranberries rather than cranberry juice, thence the thicker consistency.

I made it as part of my collection of to-be-traded-for-moose preserves to send to Ghost's co-worker, as such about 2/3 of the batch when into a 500mL jar[2] BUT the other cup of it (or there-abouts) went into: Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake! (Which is gloriously pink and also currently in the oven).

How to make the Cranberry Curd:

Combine in a sauce pan:
2/3 of a bag (AKA 2/3 of a pound) of raw cranberries
1C water

Cover and simmer until you have a thick and saucy sauce.
Put the sauce in a blender (or similar) and purree until it's super-smooth.

Return sauce to pan and add:
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C butter

Stir in, over medium heat, until well-combined. Turn off the heat at this point.

In a small blow, beat together
3 eggs
1/4 C sugar

Add the egg mixture to the cranberry mixture, and stir in until very smooth.
Turn the heat on again under the cranberry mixture and stir slowly, over medium heat, until the mixture thickens up nicely. It'll be a bit like pudding. Or maybe like Greek yoghurt. Or something. (I'm not being very helpful here, I know).

At this point, you can either pour it into sterilized jars and process it, as for jam, in a boiling water bath
You can chuck it in a tupperware and throw it in the fridge (where it'll keep for a week, in theory)
You can use it immediately on/in the baked goods of your choice.

Case in point:

Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Cream together
1C sugar
½ C butter/margarine (soft)
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 C sour cream

In a second bowl, mix together:
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth, then stir in:
1 C cranberry curd (OR lemon curd)

Pour it all into a greased spring-form (or other) cake pan

OPTIONAL: Sprinkle on top:
Almond crumble (ground almonds, brown sugar, and margarine)

Bake at 350F for about an hour and a half (until it smells done and passes the fork test)

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan, cut and serve with something floopy like vanilla yoghurt or raspberry sorbet or clotted cream or whatever. Enjoy!


Anyway. so that was the cranberries.

I also made a mint jelly (with a little white wine vinegar in it for an extra dimension of flavour and also the cut the sweetness of it a little bit) -- that used up my other remaining 500mL jar. I'm just glad I had a spare bottle (that used to house cocoanut oil) lying around, because that took the rest of it.
It occurs to me that you could, in this way, make a LOT of herbal jellies basically by making Very Strong Tea that uses a ration of 2:3 water:sugar, and then adding a package of pectin at the appropriate moment. I may give this a shot, just to see how it turns out. Hrm...

Anyway. So there was that.

I am also doing a pork roast for dinner. It was on for cheap, and I they are Very Tasty. Plus we've still got a tonne of apples in the fridge from Ghost's parents' place, so it didn't hurt to use one up (there was a very tiny worm in its heart. It will be happy in a compost heap somewhere, I'm sure).

The roast includes:
1 Apple
1 Beet
1/3 of a yellow onion (or there-abouts)
Savoury and Mustard on top of the meat
A dribble of red wine in the bottom of the pan

It has turned out very nicely, and now we are going to eat it.


Amazon. :-)

[1] Which, I gather, is total anathema and you're only ever supposed to use carefully juiced REAL lemons, ideally meyer, to do the job. It's never been any kind of a problem for me, fyi, to use the concentrated stuff and completely omit the lemon zest, but that's just me.

[2] My last one, as it happens - Hartmann's was all out, they had two packages of twelve 1L jars left, and that was it. I'm hoping they get in more in the sizes I need before the end of the week.
I have discovered that, just as a pound of beeswax makes about 30 (maybe more) tea-lights, it will also make about 10 votive (-esque, they're shorter than a standard votive) candles. (I got ten of the little, steel ketchup-holders from the grocery store and used them as votive molds. They're wide enough at the base to be used as a tea-light holder after the candle's been used up, which doesn't hurt, either.

I figure that I can sell them for about $4 each (standard-size beeswax votives typically go for about $5 around here), and still turn a decent profit off of them (per candle, I mean). Which is good to know.

I also made soap. The plan was to do this after having made the candles, because I could use whatever beeswax remained in the pot as part of the soap recipe (thus making it at least slightly easier to clean. In theory).

And I did. (I didn't quite get *all* the wax off, though, which is slightly suck-tastic, but I can work with it).

See, ages and ages ago, back when there was still snow on the ground, I bought a set of 12 silicone mini-cupcake forms with the intent of using them to make both (a) beeswax tea-lights, and (b) miniature/sample soaps.

I think I'm more likely to use them for soaps, really, since I very much like to keep my candles in some kind of a foil/metal liner (I would LOVE to get my hands on a package of foil candy-cup liners as they hold roughly the same amount of wax as a tea-light liner. The only problem is that, most likely, they're a much thinner foil and they might not stand up to the weight of the liquid wax in them. (Possibly I could do 12 at a time and use my silicone liners as back-up until they harden? Thoughts?) That said, if I'm going to custom-order something, I may as well custom-order actual tea-light foils and be done with it.

ANYWAY. That's what's on my mind in that regard.

I did make tiny soaps today, with the plan being to put together four Pretty Little Bags (ideally gold or copper coloured -- will have to check dollarama) with three different soaps in each one (Unscented[1], sweet orange[2], and gingerbread[3]). They are currently sitting, in tupperwares, on my (glass) coffee table. Hopefully they are Doing Their Thing without having to be wrapped, further, in a blanket. they look really, really cute, to be honest (even if I am saying so myself). And, bonus, they're all a slightly different shade of beige. Not massively different, but enough to (hopefully) tell them apart once they're out of their colour-coded silicone forms).

Further to this, I've boiled (30 minutes) then baked (3 hours at 250F) about 2Kg of butternut squash and sweet potatoes[4] and then mashed the hell out of them, adding:

1 large log of soft goat cheese (1.5 to 2 C?)
1/3 C plain 3% yoghurt
1/4 C butter
2 tbsp black pepper
1.5 tbsp dried rubbed sage
1 tbsp garlic-salt

ZOMG they are DELICIOUS!!! (I had a taste, and shared a little bit with Lola the Parrot, who found them quite agreeable, by the looks of things -- she is a cheese fiend, and has enjoyed sweet potatoes in the past).

Lastly: I have taken out the compost, got a new jug of milk (the old jug of milk went off, like clockwork, today. So we are going to mix it with pear cider vinegar and have delicious, delicious fluffy pancakes for breakfast tomorrow morning. (I think this will involve getting a container of vanilla yoghurt, along with a new box of compost bags AND a tri-light bulb (ye gods) chez the grocery store on the way back from Ami_B's pierogie party). It will be the yummiest. :-D

Tomorrow is going to be food-tastic, FYI. I've got a pork roast, plus spiffy sparkling cider, plus (as of this evening) a number of Glorious Pierogies to choose from (which will be fried up with mushrooms and garlic and, maybe, a little bit of broccoli),PLUS I will be (finally) making apple pie[5]. With an almond-crumb crust. It will be delicious. At least that is the Plan. :-)
(Plus, hey, if I keep myself busy in the kitchen, I won't be badgering my girl, who is definitely going to be needing some rest tomorrow! ;-)

Anyway. I'm out of here in pretty short order. :-)

Amazon. :-)

[1] Saponified: Beeswax, soy wax, coconut oil, and sunflower oil.

[2] Same mix as the Unscented, but with added vanilla and sweet orange essential oil.

[3] Same mix as the Unscented, but with added vanilla and essential oils of ginger and cloves.

[4] Which can be grown in Ontario! Who knew? :-D <*plots future dream-gardens*>

[5] Apples courtesy of Ghost's parents' apple trees. :-D
In the oven right now is something like a peach-blueberry custard pie.

I say "something like" because, unlike, say, pancakes or cookies, I'm not totally confident in my ability to 100% make things up as I go along when it comes to custard-based pies. I'm a little worried that it'll be an egg-y mess. (Although there's only one egg involved, since I wanted to make sure we had a couple for breakfast tomorrow).

BUT. What it all consists of is:

1) ground-almond-butter-vanilla-flour crumb crust (I used wheat flour and margarine, plus a pinch of salt, but y'know) I'm using a very small pie-pate. Like 6"-8" in diameter and relatively shallow.

2) 4 peaches (ripe enough) peeled <*shrug*> and roughly chopped + 1/2 C sugar + 1/4 flour, mixed together

3) 1 C froze blueberries + 1/2 C sugar

4) 1 egg + up to 1 C milk + a splash of vanilla + 1/2 C sugar + pinch of salt, well-blended

You partially-bake the crust while you deal with the fruit and the egg mixture

Then you layer the peaches and the blueberries in the pie-plate and pour the egg mixture over them. (Hint: If you've got some peach/apricot jam/sauce lying around, you might want to spread/dot a little bit on the crust before adding the layers of fruit).

Bake at ~350F until it looks and smells right. (I don't know what duration that is, but it's probably about half an hour in a fully-functional oven. Me and my single-element oven, however, are probably going to need 40+ minutes).

Serve and, I hope, enjoy. (I'll let you know how it goes).

- Amazon.

[EDIT to Add (at 8:40pm):
Okay, based on having put the pie in the oven at around 7pm - and possibly because I was using frozen blueberries (thus --> lots of water) - it looks like took a good hour-and-a-half to cook my pie.

Presently, it's cooling on the stove-top while Ghost makes us cream of mushroom soup and a side of cheese-and-tomato sandwiches. The berries are looking very, uh, cooked... but the peaches look good and the custardy stuff looks practically caramelized.

So... it should be sweet as fuck and probably fairly tasty. Time will tell. For a given value of "time" wherein "time" = 20 minutes.
Dinner now (or soon enough to now that it doesn't make a tonne of difference). Will report back on the state of the pie once we've tasted it. :-)

[EDIT to Add (at 10:00pm):
And the results are in.
I have managed to make what is, more or less, a giant fruity butter tart (involving shockingly little butter, granted, but a HEAP of sugar, so). I think it could have done with something extra - a hint of ginger or lemon or both, most likely - but beyond that? Yum!

I declare this pie to be A Success! :-D
Today, I made jam. Specifically, I made THIS jam:

Cherry Berry Jam )


This recipe, which is kind of a cheater’s jam, since it waters down the fruit and adds sugar by volume after that, makes about two 2C mason jars worth of jam. Having only just made the stuff, I haven’t got a clue what it’s consistency is going to be like (whether it’ll be closer to jam or jelly, for example), but going by the stuff I used in the cold-plate test, it’s going to (a) be ridiculously sweet, and (b) taste pretty good, in spite of that. :-)

Rayne says: This isn't just bio-reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegional, it's, like, micro bio-reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegional. Do I get extra points for that? ;-)

- Amazon.
amazon_syren: (Default)
( Jun. 24th, 2011 06:03 pm)
The play was sold out.
Which is fine, as it buys us about two hours of down-time.

I have a dreadfully tickle-y throat. I think I'm getting sick. Fuck, I hate this. :-P

There's a peach cake (made with barley flour and no milk) in the oven. I hope it rises up nice and fluffy. My plan is to cover it in frozen (thawing) strawberries and bring it up to Raynepalooza, in lieu of garden plants (she's got most of what we have, and afaik does not want veggie seeds).

I think I need to make a big cup of tea. Yes. Tea.

I have uploaded eleven recipes. I have five more written, and four more to write, all of which need to be uploaded. This is not going to happen today.

I have a show on Sunday night. I need to get prepped for it.

Here's hoping I can write about fire.

- Amazon.

So I made a yeast-raised loaf of chocolate bread.

It is tasty but:

Having let it rise for about 24 hours (with kneeding, in between, of course), it tastes just about fermented.

Sort of like... I feel like I made a sweet-ish bread out of stout, actually. (Having just tried Guiness for the first time ever, that's actually something to-which I can liken it with at least a little bit of accuracy).

It's tasty, but yeah. Very, very soft (partly because the chocolate bits haven't re-harded yet, and partly because a lot of the "flour" was actually hot chocolate mix).

Were I to make this again (and I probably will) I would... Use a little more flour in the mix, and let it rise for only about 12 hours rather than 24.

None the less, I call it a success. :-) Om nom nom, chocolate bread. :-)


amazon_syren: (Default)


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