October 13, 2021

Sweet Cucumber Relish - Canning

I tried this sweet pickle relish recipe made by a friend at a picnic. Since I had a plethora of cucumbers this year, I made four pints of this relish for the pantry.

Sweet Cucumber Relish

1/3 cup pickling salt
12 cups coarsely shredded cucumber (or zucchini)
2 green peppers, coarsely grated
2 sweet red peppers chopped
4 cups coarsely grated onion
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cups vinegar
4 1/2 cups sugar

In a large enamel or stainless pan, mix pickling salt into vegetables. Let stand overnight. Drain, rinse with cold water, and return to the pan. Mix together rest of the ingredients and add to the vegetables. Boil 20 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes. Makes 12 pints.

February 16, 2021

Rosemary Garlic Pork Tenderloin

I haven't posted many recipes in the past few years. The main reason is because I make the same thing every week - it's a mom survival tool. Seriously we have had the same meal every Sunday for about two years. Here's my menu: 

Sunday: Rosemary Garlic Pork Tenderloin, Indian Rice Pilaf, Italian salad, and green beans 
Monday: pizza 
Tuesday: bean tacos 
Wednesday: soup (the kind varies) 
Thursday: chicken (something like this) 
Friday: spaghetti 
Saturday: scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and waffles 

This saves me so much mental energy around meal planning and the actual cooking time. When I already know how to make the meal, I can be distracted by children and still finish the cooking. Today I wanted to share the pork tenderloin that features every Sunday.
Rosemary Garlic Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lb 
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
coarse salt 
freshly ground pepper 

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 475 or 500 degrees.  Put pork tenderloin on top of foil in pan.  Drizzle or sprinkle half of remaining ingredients on top of the pork. Then flip the pork over and add the other half of the ingredients. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until an instant thermometer registers 160 degrees.  Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, and slice to serve.

Snow Ice Cream

We have plenty of snow here in Vermont. We discovered how easy and fun snow ice cream is to make. This is the fastest ice cream recipe in existence. 

Snow Ice Cream 
8–10 c. fresh snow, lightly packed 
1 c. heavy cream 
1/2 c. sugar 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
pinch of salt 

Gather snow, but leave it outside or in the freezer until needed. Whip cream, sugar, vanilla and salt until soft peaks form. Add the cream mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of snow to cream mixture. Gently fold the snow into the cream. Add 4 more cups of snow and mix until correct texture is obtained. Add more snow if needed. Serve immediately.

Lebkuchen (German Spice Cookies)

My mother-in-law spent some of her growing up years in Germany. She has fond memories of German baked goods and introduced me to these amazing cookies, lebkuchen. They are a Christmas treat and available in stores if you look hard enough (Trader Joe's sells them at Christmas), but you know I like to make things myself. 

Maybe there are recipes for lebkuchen online in German, but the ones I found in English do not use the traditional method for making lebkucken, which involves fermenting the dough for a few months. I found a loose recipe here. This recipe calls for rye flour, honey, and treacle for the fermented dough. I did not have treacle and did not look around to see if it was available to buy. Instead I replaced the treacle with more honey. 

Lebkuchen are more cakey in texture, and so to help hold them together, they are baked on top of an edible wafer, called Back Oblaten. I bought these online at Amazon. There are different sizes, but try to get 70mm or something close to that size. They last at least a few years (opened, even) from my experience. 

So here's what I did for my lebkuchen, and I would say they were a success and pretty close to the cookies I've eaten (including some from a local German baker). I am confident you can have success too, if you're willing to start the process in September or October!

For Fermented Dough
1 kg rye flour (or spelt flour), about 9 3/4 cups
1 kg honey, about 3 cups

To Add to Dough on Baking Day 
1 c. candied lemon and orange peel, finely chopped (see recipe to make your own)  
gingerbread spice (see recipe below) 
2 T. baking powder 
2 tsp. soda 
a few tablespoons milk 
pinch of salt
1 c. finely chopped nuts, like almonds 
more water or rye flour, as needed 
dark chocolate

Gingerbread Spice (Lubkuchengewuerz) 
2 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon 
2 tsp. cloves 
1 tsp. ginger 
1/2 tsp. allspice 
1/2 tsp. ground star anise 
1/4 tsp. mace 
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 
1/2 tsp. coriander 
1/2 tsp. cardamom 

For December baking, in September or October make the dough. In a medium or large stainless steel pot, add the honey and heat slowly to 99 degrees Farenheit. Remove from heat, and add rye flour. Mix well. Put the lid on the pot and store in a dark, cool place until December. If you check on the dough, you may see small air bubbles, which means it is fermenting. 
When ready to bake in December, the day before, prepare the candied lemon and orange peel, if making your own. Mix up the spice mix. If you don't have all the spices, just use the ones you have.

Warm a small amount of milk (a few tablespoons) to lukewarm, and stir in 2 T. baking powder and 2 tsp. baking soda. Stir until dissolved. 
In a large bowl, add fermented dough, milk with baking soda and powder, a pinch of salt, gingerbread spice, and chopped nuts. Mix well. You may need to use your hands to combine it well. If needed, you may need to add more rye flour if the dough is too wet, or more water to loosen up thick dough. The dough consistency to aim for is thick. Here's what mine looked like, though I think it could have been a tad stiffer:
Once the dough is the right consistency, mix in the candied orange and lemon peel. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, lay out the wafers spaced a few inches apart. Scoop dough onto the middle of the wafer. They will flatten and spread in the oven. I did a test bake with just a few cookies to try and figure out the best amout of dough for the wafer. Here is the bottom of my cookies, with the baked cookie just a tad bigger than the wafer. Bake the cookies on a low rack in the oven at 350 degrees Farenheit for 15-18 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, and use a spatula to remove them to a cooling rack. Once completely cool, melt chocolate and cover the tops of the cookies with the chocolate. Let cool and harden completely. The cookies will keep for several weeks.

December 2, 2020

No Sugar Apple Pie

My husband has been eating no cane sugar for over a year now. He has so much self-control!! I made this pie last Thanksgiving as well as this one, and it's definitely a winner.
No Cane Sugar Apple Pie

10 c. sliced, peeled, cored apples
6 oz. frozen apple concentrate
5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
dash cloves
pie crust, for top and bottom 1 egg, beaten

In a large saucepan, heat apple concentrate to boiling. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/3 c. water. Add to saucepan and stir. Add apples, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Cook for 5 minutes.
Set aside.
Roll out bottom pie crust and lay in pie tin. Add apple filling. Roll out top pie crust and lay on top of filling. Crimp the edges. Brush the crust with the beaten egg.

Bake pie at 400 for 60 minutes.

August 4, 2019

Italian Salad, Dressing, and Pickled Banana Peppers

I am not usually satisfied when I just throw a salad together. I need a recipe, people! This salad and dressing has been my go-to for several years. Of course it tastes best in summer time with ripe ingredients, but it's not too bad in winter either. It tastes best with my homemade pickled banana peppers. I discovered that one of my kids loves these, so this year I am growing two banana pepper plants.

Also, I buy feta cheese from Costco. I divide into fairly small chunks, wrap each chunk in saran wrap, put in a freezer bag, and store in the freezer. That way I can take one chunk out at a time as needed for salad or pizza.

Italian Salad

romaine lettuce, chopped
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
cucumbers, cubed
green onions, sliced
sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, salted (but raw work too)
feta cheese, crumbled
sliced pickled banana peppers (see recipe below)
Italian dressing (see recipe below)

Toss all ingredients together and serve!

Italian Dressing

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 spoonful honey
freshly cracked black pepper

In a blender, add all ingredients. Blend for 20 seconds.

Pickled Banana Peppers

This recipe makes one pint. Scale up if you have more peppers.

8 banana peppers, sliced into rings with most seeds removed
1 small head garlic, peeled
2 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt

In a clean pint jar, add the banana peppers and garlic. In a small saucepan, add water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to simmer and stir to dissolve salt. Pour the hot brine over the peppers in the jar, making sure to cover the peppers. Allow jar to cool, add a lid, and let sit on counter for 2-3 days. Then store in the refrigerator up to several months.

Almond Banana Muffins

My kids are getting picky at breakfast. We used to have oatmeal almost every day, but those days are gone. I discovered these muffins recently and recommend them as a pretty healthy option as they are sweetened only by banana and made with almond flour. They are surprisingly moist and tasty.

Almond Banana Muffins

3 ripe bananas
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups almond flour

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 muffin tins with coconut oil. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, add bananas, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth.

Add almond flour and process just enough to combine. Pause, scrape the walls and process just a bit again to combine.

Using a scoop, divide batter in the muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let cool a few minutes.