Monday, November 25, 2013

Cream of Celery Soup

I'm still here just way busy with a full-time job and three teenagers.  Oldest monkey is now a college freshman.  Can you believe it? 

I still have my garden, but don't grow as much as I did before going back to work full-time.  Now, I am concentrating on growing things that are hard to come by at the grocery store or farmers' market.  We receive a produce share every two weeks for the regular vegetables.  I currently grow edemama, swiss chard, herbs and other things that are either very expensive or hard to find fresh.  Heirloom tomatoes can break the bank, so I have at least 10 of those plants each spring and fall. 

The produce share is pretty amazing.  It is about 40 pounds or more of fresh often local produce for $25.  Only problem is sometimes it is hard to use it all up.  We don't always eat meals together every evening and I certainly don't have time to cook every day.  We end up with extra stuff that either gets fed to the rabbits or composted.  I'm trying to stop that.  Soup uses up a bunch of veggies.  Today I made cream of celery soup and I will never buy canned stuff again. Our broccoli cheese casserole will be made with homemade cream of celery this year.  

While the recipe is super easy you will need a wand blender or a standing blender that can handle hot stuff.  Also, you have to make a roux.  I know some people struggle with that, but it is really just a matter of patience and heat control. 

4 ribs of celery (break them a few times crosswise and strip out some of the strings)
1 onion
1 tablespoon of butter
1/8 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of ham or chicken base or a cube of bouillon.
1/2 cup of milk

Chop the celery and onion up into small pieces and sauté in the oil and butter until tender.  Cover with water and cook until very soft.  Add the ham base (or chicken base or chicken bouillon) and blend until smoothish.  I like a little texture.  Make the roux.  Stir the milk into the roux and heat until slightly thickened.  Add the milk/roux to the celery and onions and mix well.  Eat.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
handful of bread flour

Over medium heat stir together until it turns a little brown and feels creamy = roux.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013



Boo from The Library

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Refrigerator Pickles

My cucumbers turned out not to be cucumbers.  I think they are musk melons, but not sure yet.  What I planted were Soyo Long seeds.  Apparently, there were musk melon seeds in the compost and they germinated instead of the cucumber seeds.  Oh well, I can try again in the fall. 

My mother, on the other hand, who usually struggles with plants, has a fantastic garden this year.  Her cucumbers are epic.  So I am getting nine to twelve inch long cucumbers from her.  The first one I took home was so big, it was super bitter.  The only thing to do with a bitter cucumber, is make pickles.  We make dill pickles as well as sweet and sour pickles.  That one giant cucumber made three large jars of pickles.  Two dill one sweet and sour.  The Baby Manimal ate almost all of those pickles and left the brine in the refrigerator.  I have another long, but not bitter cucumber from mom's garden.  I had been eating on it (to big to eat in one setting), but it was starting to get a little soft.  I simply sliced it up and put it in the brine and put that back in the refrigerator.  In a day or two there will be pickles.  They won't last as long as pickles that are processed in a water bath.  That wont matter here, because they will be eaten long before they can go bad.

Mom and her J is for Jumbo cucumber :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pickled Onions

We began participating in a produce share group a few months ago.  The way it works is a friend, Michelle, and her husband, Paul, get up at some insane hour before dawn twice a month and go to The Dallas Farmers Market.  Before each shopping trip, Michelle speaks to some vendors about what is in season, fresh, and good.  They go to market, load up the fruits and veggies from the different vendors, take the haul home, and split it up.  A quick check on the produce groups' Facebook page shows 41 members.  Looks like about 15 families participate twice a month.  For $25 we get what feels like 40 pounds of produce every two weeks.  This is a really good deal.  Here is where it gets hinky, I still have my garden and it was onion pulling time a few weeks ago, which coincided with cheap, in season, local onion time.  Between the garden and my produce share, I have onions running out my ears.  I did make baked onion rings, which were very very good.  Recipe to follow. 

Today we went to Twisted Root in Dallas for yummy yummy burgers.  I have mine without the bun = "Burger in a Bowl" to accommodate my special diet needs.  Twisted Root is a really cool resteraunt.  They serve excellent food, have a staff with a great sense of humor, and they are green.  The following is lifted from their website " We r freak’n Green. Everything disposable is biodegradable. Even our cleaning products r Green!"  Check out their website here ->   My burger/salad had some nice pickled onions on it.  Hello, I have onions running off of my table and across the kitchen floor.  I should make pickles out of them. 

The recipes I found online suggested using red wine vinegar with a some distilled white vinegar and a little sugar and salt.  I think no problem, I've got that.  Nope, I have several bottles of vinegar - not one of them red wine.  I do, however, have more than one bottle of balsamic vinegar.  Substitution?   The pickled onions I made are tasty, but they are not pretty.  Red wine vinegar made the pickled onions at Twisted Root a nice pink.  My pickled onions are sort of the color of coffee.  Next time, I will use red wine instead of balsamic. 


Baked Onion Rings
Thick sliced white and yellow onions
Bowl of Water
Bowl of milk and egg (equal amounts egg and milk)
Bread Crumbs

Separate the onions into rings and put them in the bowl of water.  Dredge with flour (take them out of the water first ;), dip in egg mixture and then coat with bread crumbs.  Bake at 375 until crispy.  Next time I am going to spray them with a light coat of olive oil. 

Pickled Onions
Slice onions very thin.  (I used red onions)
Place them in a sauce pan and add equal parts red wine vinegar and white vinegar to cover. 
Add a little water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. 

Bring this to a boil and remove from heat.  Let sit until onions are soft.  Eat as soon as they are cool enough.  I am going to store them in a covered bowl and use them up fast.  I don't feel like this is a "safe" recipe for canning.  I plan to eat them in fewer than four days.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter Sprouts

I know it is winter, but I want to garden NOW.  There is a little bit of stuff out there including onions, garlic, cabbages and Brussels sprouts, but I want more.  My boss gave me a homemade seed sprouting set up for my birthday .  This includes a cool old Mason jar, the collar to the  Mason jar and a square of tulle.  She shared plain radish seeds and a salad mix of broccoli, radish and alfalfa seeds.  We have already started and finished on "crop" of radish sprouts and are now three days into another batch.  Since the middle Manimal (sorry they grew out of monkeyhood) will not stay out of them, I  started another jar this afternoon.     So now I have both plan radish sprouts and the salad mix growing in my cupboard.  Sweet right, gardening indoors and in the dark.

Here are the steps.  It is beyond easy.  Get a clean canning jar with a collar and a piece of tulle.  If you can't find a canning jar a regular glass jar will work just use a rubber band instead of the collar.  Find some seeds to sprout.  We bought ours at a local natural food market.  I also have seeds I've saved from the garden including broccoli, collards and Chinese greens that I will sprout soon.  Put about a tablespoon or so of seeds in the bottom of the jar and let them soak in a little water for about an hour.  Cover the top of the jar with the tulle and secure it with the canning collar a sturdy rubber band.  Drain off the water pretty well and put the jar in a cool dark place like a cupboard.  Wait.  In a day they will be germinating.  In about four days you can eat them, although they will be a little crunchy, which I like.  In five to six days they are ready to go.  Don't save them for special, you want to eat them young and fresh.  .

Photo: Sprouts sprouting on the cupboard.