Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Green Washing

No, I'm not going to talk about the marketing ploy of corporations jumping on the "natural" bandwagon trying to make their services or product appear to be environmentally conscious or healthy when, they actually are not (they just want your money).

I'm talkin' bout warshin turnip greens!

Yea buddy, beans, greens, and cornbread for dinner tonight.

So this is something I learned from Martha Stewart.  She rocks.

Say you have your greens, lettuce, spinach, kale, or whatever leafy vegetable you're working with and they're fresh from the garden, or the farmers' market, ok from the grocery store.  They need to be washed.  Now normally I would take vegetables, throw them in a colander and run water over them.  But you know, leaves are crinkly and have hidey spots, they aren't nice and smooth like a tomato.

You fill your sink, or big bowl with water (I've been using a super, awesome flexible bucket that my CSA shares come in) and then you dump your greens (lettuce, spinach, whatever) in the water.  I usually just put enough water to have them floating an inch or two.  Kind of swish and swirl them around and then transfer to a colander and look at all that debris in the water!  All of the dirt and grit comes off the leaves and sinks in the water.

I usually do this 2-3 times.  More than that is just obsessive.

Okie dokie, now your greens are grit free.

This is the debris from the SECOND swishing
 Now chop, toss, cook, juice or what have you, and enjoy!

fresh turnip greens

mmmm, beans, cornbread and greens
Do you have any veggie cleaning tips or tricks?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Must Rack Must

Wine Making Part II
The first part of this misson is here.
This is the second major step.

Our pear tree below, I'm sure the family that planted it would be proud that we are using and enjoying it. There's a much bigger tree behind it, don't let it fool you, it's a bit scrawny.
This is the lone sand pear tree
 One thing I love about natural fruits and veggies, they don't all look the same.  Some have a lot of character. =)
"C" for? how did this happen?
 My first day of working in a dental office, I learned that clean and sterile are two different things.  Something can be clean and not sterile, sterile and not clean.  What we need is both, in dentistry, and winemaking, thank you to my orthodontist.

sterilize all of the equipment
Ok, equipment is clean and sterilized.  Now simply siphon from the primary fermenter (the plastic bucket) into the secondary fermenter (the glass carboy).
primary fermenter

into secondary fermenter

Doesn't look much like wine does it?
There are still pieces of pear floating around here and there.

An auto-siphon, very very handy

Fitted an airlock and bung to the glass carboy.  The airlock allows carbon dioxide produced during fermentation to be released while keeping oxygen from reaching the must.  During primary fermentation oxygen is a good thing because it helps the yeast grow and feed off of the sugar.  But during secondary fermentation (or ever after, really) oxidation is avoided because it affects the wine quality.  It loses the fruity flavor, can cause browning (think of an apple that has been cut and left out), and bacterial growth among other issues. Some info found here and here.  But sometimes, a little bit of oxygen is a good thing, this is why cork is used as a stopper during the aging process.  It allows a very small amount very slowly into the bottle. Yay, new knowledge.

And having read all of the information on oxidation, I recall that I did read before I started this whole process that the smaller the surface area of the must, the better.  And as you can tell, this is about as big an area as it can be in this container.  Ideally it would be full to the neck of the container.  I also read that you can fill the bottle up with similar wine to fill the container.  Uh....

Ok, so bubble away!  This for some reason reminds me of the witches' chant in Macbeth (I'll have to look that up). Bubble bubble, toil and trouble, is that how it goes?

left over mush
Next move in 3 weeks, rerack after residue has settled.  Bloop.  Bloop.

You know that this bubbler attracted a curious cat.  And I swear if she messes up this wine, I'm gonna......nothing, I'm sure.  I remember my dad saying something about a cat and his mulberry wine years ago.

For more reading pleasure:
Some of those ingredients are hard to find, unless you're a witch of course, then you probably have your sources. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

We just got back home after being gone for five days.  I'm always ready to get back to our normal diet when we return home from our trips.  We had some great food and some not great junk food while traveling.  Both times we ate fast food we felt like crap shortly after.

After coming home from driving all day, the question eventually pops up, "What's for dinner?"

"There ain't no groceries." That was the thought in my head, but I said "eggs?"
According to my calculations there should be about 30-40 eggs in the coup waiting for us.

These are about half the eggs from the coup, the other half are under a hen.  Hopefully she's broody.
B brings in a basket with about 18 and gets out the shredded cheese and some scrap pieces of onion and green pepper out of the fridge.  Just enough veggies for one tiny omelett.  I mentioned I had a can of black thing you know I'm making black bean brownies for dinner.  Hold the eggs, add ice cream.

Haha, we put the baby to bed and are having brownies and ice cream for dinner.  That's what's great about being the grown ups.  We can do that.  I wonder how long we can get away with that.

I know a lot of you probably know about black bean brownies, I've told a lot of you about them, one of you told me about them.  BUT I do believe there are a few people who haven't tried them, that I need to convince to try them.


Black Bean Brownie recipe
1 can of black beans*(read the label carefully)
1 box of brownie mix

open can of beans (or cooked dry black beans, of course that works and is in fact the healthiest/cheapest method)
dump juice out of can
refill can with water (beans are still in the can)
puree the beans
add bean slurry to brownie mix
put in pan
follow time and temperature directions on the brownie mix

So there ya go.  Sneak some beans into your sweets.

Here's how it went down tonight.  Dump the juice out of the can and then notice on the can it is black beans IN SEASONED SAUCE! CRAP!!! DANG IT!! and other such words flew out of my mouth.  This isn't the first time this has happened to me either.  Now, I will say, I did buy these beans to cook a mexican dinner we had last week.  I bought 2 cans, and you guessed it, I didn't use the seasoned beans for the dinner.  Nope, I saved that one, this one, for the brownies.

So dump out the beans and rinse heavily, then return the beans to the can and fill to the top with water.

 Put in mini food processor.  Puree.
 Bean slurry in bowl.
Add brownie mix.
 ...according to box directions.
 The picture is not awesome, because the kitchen was dark and I took a picture with my phone and it used a flash.  Whatever, I was already filling the bowls before I remembered to take this picture.
 Add ice cream to the steaming brownies.  This is some homemake chocolate chip walnut ice cream I make last week.

Enjoy.  That's the last of our junk food binge this week.
And if you really want to not feel guilty about this treat, find some organic brownie mix, ha.

Oh and one more thing, you couldn't even tell the beans had previously soaked in garlic and onion sauce.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Sandwich Bread | The Hungry Mouse

Homemade Sandwich Bread | The Hungry Mouse

Bookmarking this here.  It worked so well, I'm doing it again today.  Now....where to get organic flour in bulk?

Homemade Sandwich Bread 
(recipe from The Hungry Mouse), some of the wording and directions have been changed, and more notes added to aid myself
Yields 2 standard loaves

2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. dry active yeast
2 Tbls. butter, softened
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading the dough (I’ve been using bread flour)
1 Tbls. Salt
35 minutes from start (gather ingredients, proof yeast, knead dough)
1 hour wait for rise
5 minutes to knead, cut and place in pan
1 hour wait for rise
35 minutes to bake
(3 hours 15 minutes from start to finish)


proof the yeast
  • Put the water and sugar in a large mixing bowl. (2 cups water, 2 Tbsp. sugar) 
  • Whisk to dissolve the sugar. 
  • Toss in the yeast. (1 Tbsp.) 
  • Whisk again to dissolve. Let set for 5-10 minutes to give the yeast time to work. 
  • After 5-10 minutes, there should be a thick, creamy layer on the surface of the water, yeast is active. 
make the dough
  • Add flour (5 ½ cups) and salt (1Tbsp.) into the bowl with the yeast. 
  • Cut your soft butter (2 Tbsp.) into pieces 
  • Add the butter in with the flour. 
  • Mix well to combine the ingredients. (If you’re using a stand mixer, go back the The Hungry Mouse page for directions, I don’t have a stand mixer, yet) 
  • Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes. 
  • It’s ready when it’s formed a smooth ball that feels elastic-y when you touch it and very little of the dough will stick to the sides of the bowl.
the first rise
  • Round the dough up into a ball. Put it in a large, lightly greased bowl. 
  • Coat a piece of plastic wrap with a little oil. Loosely cover the bowl with it, oil side down. 
  • Let it sit in a warm place for about an hour, or until it’s doubled in size. If you check it after about 15 minutes, you should notice that it’s started to grow: 
  • After about an hour, your dough should be doubled in size. 
form the bread loaves
  • Sprinkle flour on your hands. 
  • Punch the dough down. (Basically, just poke it a bunch and smoosh the air out of it.) 
  • Knead it a couple of times (I do this in the bowl) and form it into a neat ball. It should be smooth and tacky, but not sticky. 
  • Sprinkle a little flour on a board. Set the dough ball on the flour. 
  • Cut ball in half. Each half will become one loaf. 
  • Knead each loaf a few times by folding it in thirds over and over. 
the second rise
  • Lightly grease two one-pound loaf pans. Set the formed loaf in one of the pans. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
  • Set the pans in a warm place, uncovered.
  • Let the loaves rise like this for about an hour, or until they’ve doubled in size.
  • About 15 minutes before your hour is up, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
bake the bread
  • When your loaves have doubled in size, put them into your preheated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes. 
  • When they’re done, the tops should be a nice light brown. 
  • Take the pans out of the oven. 
  • Let them cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Then, with potholders, tip the loaves out of the pans and let them finish cooling on a rack. 
  • (A good tip for checking if your bread is cooked through? Thump on the bottom of the loaf. If it makes a hollow sound, you’re bread is baked through.) 
  • Let them cool to room temperature before slicing. When you slice bread that’s hot out of the oven like this, the remaining loaf can get a little gummy. 
  • Bread will keep well, tightly wrapped on the counter or the fridge, for about 4 days. If, of course, it lasts that long.

pretty good lookin!

pretty good tastin'

The second time I made these it rose much higher during both rising sessions, and the loaves were taller.  I'm not sure what I did differently.  There wasn't a hurricane, so that might have made a difference, I don't know.  I do know, this recipe is a keeper.


I'm almost out of flour today, so I'm going to break the recipe in half and make sure it works that way.  So here goes 1 loaf.

1 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1 Tbls butter, softened
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading the dough (I’ve been using bread flour)
1 1/2 Tsp Salt