Pull up a chair, get a cup of tea, and enjoy reading the recipes and tidbits of my journey through Life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lazy Day

I spent my day being very lazy.  I watched movies snuggled up to my daughter and planned out recipes to make the rest of the summer.  The reason I had such a lazy day was because the remaining peaches molded.  Yep, a total loss of 21 peaches, damn it all.  So I spent quality time with my little girl.  We watched the first Narnia and then Labrynth.  Jerith is one sexy goblin king.  *purrr*

Anyway, tomorrow I am making Dixie Relish.  I have never made it before but it sounds like it should be yummy.  It is a little like pickle relish, from what I can tell, but made with bell peppers instead of cucumbers.  I won't know really how good it is until a few weeks from now when it matures.

For dinner I made another batch of Chicken Enchiladas, instead of pulling them out of the freezer, since I still had all the ingredients.  The Enchilada Sauce that I found ended up too watery so I made some adjustments and it turned out yummy.

Enchilada Sauce
2 8ounce cans tomato sauce
2 cans water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil for about 2 minutes and it is ready.  Makes enough to cover 8 enchiladas in a 15x9-inch pan.

Pour over enchiladas (will be soupy), sprinkle with cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I finally got the Chicken Enchiladas made.  The original recipe called for ground beef, but my daughter prefers chicken, so I substituted.  That is all I accomplished today because I had an appointment for a routine physical, which turned out better than I had hoped.  All bloodwork came back better than normal, so I am a happy camper.

Tomorrow I plan to make use of the leftover peaches and will probably make spaghetti sauce instead of salsa.  After peeling all those peaches, I am not peeling all those tomatoes! I will as always give the recipes when finished.

Chicken Enchiladas
20 tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 15ounce cans black beans, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a saucepan, combine filling ingredients and cook over medium heat until heated through.  Soften the tortillas in the microwave for 10-20 seconds.  Put a spoonful of filling down the center of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, gently roll up, and put seam side down on cookie sheet.  Continue until all filling is used.  Put trays in freezer to flash freeze.  When frozen, put into ziplock bags for later use.

To Make Enchiladas: Put frozen, filled tortillas in a 9x13-inch pan and cover with enchilada sauce.  Sprinkle top with shredded Cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees F until everything is bubbly, or roughly 45 minutes.

***I have not tried a homemade enchilada sauce recipe, but will tomorrow night for dinner and will let you know how that turns out.***

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Phew...I'm tired

My day started at 7am today -- fun, fun, fun.  I was too sleepy to cook that damn early, so I just relaxed for a while and started around 10:30-11:00.  I started by heating the chicken stock up and then canning it in the pressure canner.  I ended up with 5 quarts and 2 pints of chicken stock.  Not bad for spending only $1.21 for the chicken necks (I don't count the price of the chicken the bones came from since they are just a by-product).  I processed the jars for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.


I had to wait until the pressure canner was cool enought to move off the stove because I needed the room to get the peaches ready.  Talk about labor intensive!  Ugh!  It was worth it, but tiring.  Took me 3 to 3 1/2 hours to finish and most of that was peeling the little boogers.

This recipe is going to be a little vauge on numbers because I didn't count how many peaches I processed, or even weigh it for that matter.  So you will have to gauge for yourself the proportions.  I ended up with 19 pints of peaches.  And just to give you a rough idea of the amount of syrup to make, I only used 12 cups syrup for the 19 pints. 

I still have 21 peaches that were too soft for canning whole, so I am searching for recipes to use them in.  I think I have a few interesting ones to try out tomorrow.  But first thing tomorrow is Chicken Enchiladas!!!

Peaches in Light Honey Syrup
Firm peaches
Syrup: 1 1/4 cups honey per 4 cups warm water

For the syrup: Mix the honey and warm water together and pour into a tea kettle.  Heat on the stove as you process the peaches.

For peaches: Place peaches, in batches, into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove to a bowl of ice water.  The skins should just peel off.  There should be a little crease to one side of the peach.  Use this as a guide to cut the peach in half and twist slightly to divide the halves. Remove pit and slice into hot sterilized jars.  When jar is full, immediately pour the syrup from the kettle to fill to within 1-inch of the top, leaving a headspace.

When you have enough jars to fill your water bath canner, place them inside with hot water to an inch or two above the jars.  Cover and process at a boil for 15 minutes.  While they are processing, continue to put batches if peaches into the boiling water and then the ice water, etc.  Rotate the jars out of the canner and into the canner as they finish. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Free? Free is GOOD!

Today I canned made 3 quarts and 1 pint of vegetable stock for free!  Yes, I said FREE!  When I made the Chow-Chow and Garden Soup last week, I saved the onion ends, cabbage cores, bell pepper tops and seeds, and potato peels.  I put them into gallon ziplock bags and when I had two full bags I made veggie stock.  I added the vegetables to a large stock pan and covered them in a lot of water, I mean ALOT.  Then I let it simmer for about 10 hours, maybe 12 (I didn't really count).  I didn't salt it because I don't like a lot of salt.  When it tasted right, I ladeled it into sterilized jars and canned them in the pressure canner for 80 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

I also beboned the chicken I roasted Saturday and plan to make Chicken Enchiladas tomorrow out of it.  I took the bones, de-fatted broth saved from the roaster, and a 2 pounds of chicken necks I bought for $1.21 and added it to a stock pot filled with water.  I let this simmer for about 6 hours.  I did salt this stock because it needed the flavor to balance out.  I will can this tomorrow.  It wasn't free like the vegie stock, but damn near. 

So, the plan for this week is:

  • Can chicken stock
  • Can peaches with honey syrup
  • Make Chicken Enchilladas for the freezer
  • Freeze Bell Peppers
  • Make Salsa
  • Can Salsa
  • Make Dishwasher Detergent
  • Spill-Over Day

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Little Persian Flavor

This weekend has been busy!  We went to the Farm Market in Darnestown twice and I now have a box of green bell peppers and a box of peaches.  I bought tomatoes at our local Korean store, H Mart, for 79 cents a pound (I bought roughly 18 pounds).  Magruder's had chicken leg quarters for 69 cents a pound so I bought 13 1/2 pounds and roasted them yesterday in my countertop-roaster.  I plan to make Chicken Enchilladas with some of the chicken tomorrow. 

Today Magruder's had cauliflower for 68 cents a head and green cabbage for 48 cents a pound.  I thought now would be the best time to make some Torshi.  For those who do not know, Torshi is a Persian soury-tangy vegetable condiment, kinda like a chunky relish.  It is awesome!  So I asked Maman to help me make some.  We chopped up everything at her house tonight and then I seasoned it and added the vinegar when I got home.  The seasoning is a bag of picking spices that we bought at the Persian grocery, but you might be able to find it at another ethnic store. 

The back of the pickling spice lists the ingredients.  In case it is difficult to read, it says: Allspice, Mustard Seeds, Cloves, Ginger, Cinnamon, Corriander Seeds, Black Pepper, Dill Seeds, Bay Leaves, Cardamom.

I will post my weekly plan tomorrow because I have yet to formalize it.  I do know that it will be more than this past week, but I will be having a blast as usual.  Now for the rough "recipe" for Torshi.

1 small head green cabbage
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 onion
2 heads of garlic
1 package Pickling Spices
Pinch of Turmeric
1 gallon vinegar

Chop the cabbage, cauliflower, and onions into small chunky pieces and place in a very large bowl.  Peel the papery skins from the garlic and add to the vegetable mixture; mix well.  Add the vegetables to a gallon jar (can be plastic or glass).  Add the pickling spices and turmeric.  Fill the jar with vinegar.  If the lid is metal place plastic wrap over the top before sealing because the vinegar reacts with the metal and it is not pretty, but if the lid is plastic you do not need the wrap.  Once the jar is sealed, shake the jar to mix the spices throughout.  The vinegar will turn a slight yellow because of the turmeric.  Set in a dry, cool area for about a month, but if you get impatient wait at least a week.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Making the Most from a Last Minute Sale

This past weekend Safeway had a sale on 5-pound bags of russett potatoes, $1.49 a bag!  I learned of the sale Friday night, the night before the sale ended.  I went first thing the next morning and bought two bags (the maximum limit).  Today I finally got around to making Twice Baked Potatoes from one of the bags.  I think I will make mashed potatoes and baked potato skins out of the other bag. 

Twice Baked Potatoes is a little labor intensive, but oh so worth it.  I used a grapefruit spoon to hollow out the shells after they were baked, but ended up poking holes in the shells so I won't do that next time.  Since this was the first time I had ever made them, I did not know how easy the potatoes were to hollow out.  Be careful when you touch the potatoes, they are HOT!  Use an oven mitt! 

I also finished canning the rest of the Garden Soup today and only ended up with four more jars, making a total of 11.  Doing the math that is a little over 5 pints a batch, not the 7 pints I originally posted.  Still not a bad amount of soup since one pint should serve two (but it is so damn good ya might not want to share).

Twice Baked Potatoes
5 pounds potatoes
Canola Oil
1 cup half-and-half
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Rub canola oil on all of the potatoes, then rub on the salt.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until they "give" slightly.  Mix half-and-half, butter, and cream cheese.  Cut potatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife. Scoop out the potato pulp and add to cheese mixture; mix well.  Fill shells and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese, patting down to adhere to potatoes.  Cover with plastic wrap and flash freeze.

To Cook Frozen Potatoes:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove from plastic, place on baking sheet, and cover loosely with foil.  Bake 45 minutes, remove foil, and cook 15 minutes more.  Do not overbake!

One 5-pound bag made 22 Twice Baked Potatoes, and some of them are even small enough to be the perfect portion for our daughter.  This is a photo of the potatoes ready for the freezer.

P.S. While your hands are coated with canola oil and salt, rub your hands together and you get a cheap hand exfoliation...a.k.a soft hands for free.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Soup's On

About six months ago we though our daughter might be allergic to gluten so I set out looking for recipes that were gluten-free.  Luckily it turns out she is not allergic to gluten, just refined foods.  We now buy all whole grains and she no longer has stomach pains...unless she eats too much of them :-)

The recipe that inspired this soup was from my Gulten-Free searching.  I liked the premise of a tomato-type soup that had more depth to it.  Let's face it, most tomato soups are like eating thick tomato juice...no personality.  I added some things to the original recipe and took others away (not a fan of sweet potatoes).  You can easily adapt this to whatever veggies you like.  I canned seven pints of this and plan to can as many tomorrow, but that was from a double batch (two crockpots).  So roughly seven pints from a single batch.

Oh, and yes, you can add the equal amount of fresh tomatoes instead of the canned called for in the recipe, I was just using what I had on hand.

Garden Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small head green cabbage, cored and chopped
12 baby carrots, chopped
Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
28 ounce can cruched tomatoes
2 14ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 cups vegetable stock

Add everything to the crockpot and stir to mix well.  Set to low and allow to cook for 10-12 hours.  Puree in food processor or blender until desired consistancy (less time for chunky and more for a smooth soup).

To can the soup, pour the hot soup into hot, sterlized jars and process in a pressure canning at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. 

There are many sites that can tell you how to can using a pressure canner, so I will not re-invent the wheel.  :-)  Besides, I am just learning to use the canner I received from my Ninnie. Which I found out today needs a new pressure gauge.  Not bad for a 60-something year old pressure canner.  If you are in the market for a pressure canner, All-American pressure canners with the metal-on-metal seal are the best you can buy, as mine is a prime example of!  It also says something that the company is still in business after damn near 100 years and I can still get parts for my cannner.  Anyway, enough rambling, go cook some soup :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time is an Expensive Commodity

Today I was finishing the chow-chow and my great-aunt Nita, or Ninnie to us, was heavily on my mind.  Every year she and her sister, my great-aunt Marie, would get together and have an all-nighter of making near a hundred jars of chow-chow.  They did this until they were in their 60's, every year without fail, without help. 

That last fact is sad.  I try not to have regrets in my life, and generally do not, but I regret that I under-apprecitated Ninnie while she was alive.  I should have been up all night with them, helping and learning, but instead I was either out with my friends or probably asleep.  I missed out on so much time with her because I always thought there would be time to learn form her.  Well, this October will be the 4th anniversary of her passing through the veil and it is times like these that I really miss her presence.  I am lucky to have some of her stories on cassette that I have transferred over to CD, but I would much rather have the real her for my daughter to know and not a recorded voice and pictures. 

Nothing in life is for sure and time is a very expensive commodity, so please do not spend it willy-nilly.  Even if you hear the same story a hundred times, it is the time together that matters.  Remember also that you are never too young or to old to have an elder show you how to do something.  So many arts are dying off because the younger generation does not appreciate them.  I am lucky enough to still have my Mamaw, Ninnie's other sister, to ask questions of and learn from, but I do not know how much longer that will be.  I pray it is forever, but reality keeps sinking in every time I see her.  I pray that my daughter will learn the skills and arts that I know so they can continue on, but I will record what I can just in case it is her children that wish to learn after my passing.

On a happier, less sappy note :-), here is my Ninnie and Aunt Marie's recipe for Chow-Chow. 

9 cups chopped sweet peppers (can be any combination of colors)
9 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
4 1/2 cups chopped onions
5 hot peppers
10 tablespoons canning salt
8 tablespoons mustard seeds
4 tablespoons celery seed
1 cup sugar
2 quarts vinegar

Chop sweet peppers, cabbage, onions, and hot peppers in food processor.  Mix well.  Sprinkle salt over vegetables and let sit overnight or at least 8 hours.  Sterilize 10 pint jars.  Drain chow-chow mixture well and add to large saucepan.  Add mustard seeds, celery seed, sugar, and vinegar.  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Pack into jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Put on lids.  Process in a water ban canner for 10 minutes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Plan for the week of July 9th

Today was a total waste thanks to the shoulder, but tomorrow should be better.  At least I am hoping it is because I have an ambitious week planned with cooking for the freezer and canning, and also gutting the house of unwated knick-knacks and books I will never read again. Below is the "working" list, as always Life might change what day these things occur.

  • Twice Baked Potatoes for the freezer
  • Begin making Chow-Chow
  • Double batch Tomato Surprise Soup
  • Peach Muffins from aging peaches in fridge
  • Go through books
  • Take pictures of chaffing dishes to put on Ebay
  • Take pictures of knick-knacks to put on Ebay
  • Go through serving platters
  • Take pictures of serving platters to put on Ebay
  • Make dishwasher detergent
  • Finish Chow-Chow
  • Can Chow-Chow
  • Pressure Can Tomato Surprise Soup
  • Take pictured of books to put on Ebay
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Enchiladas for the freezer
  • TBA

Luckily none of this will involve the left shoulder much, seeing as how I am right-handed.  I have also found a huge farmer's market a little ways from our house and plan to check it out this Saturday if the temps stay out of the 100's.  Being photosensitive sucks the big one this time of year.  Maybe I can find some good deals for produce to put up for the winter.  I will definitely have to pack the Gatorade and water because I do NOT want to be back at Kaiser for an IV of fluid; took three weeks for the bruise to go away.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Pains of Homemade Laundry Detergent

Well, it seems that I was a little too energetic when I made my detergent.  I had to go to Urgent Care tonight for a painful shoulder that I have been dealing with for about 3 weeks.  I have Bursitis in my left shoulder from stirring the laundry detergent.  Hmmm...it cleans well, but I think I will try another recipe I found that is not as...intensive?  It does not require being cooked on the stove and strict water proportions since it stays as a powder.  I am not overly fond of powdered laundry detergent, but since it only requires 2 Tablespoons to be used I think it will dissolve easily.

Either tomorrow, or Monday, I plan to try making (and using) a batch of Homemade Dishwasher Detergent.  This is a powder as well so I wil not aggrivate my shoulder.  I will update on how well it works tomorrow or Monday night.

I have been riding the grocery sale ads and will be making enchiladas to put in the freezer sometime in the next few days.  I already made Stuffed Manicotti and put them in the freezer this week.  I found a book that belonged to my maternal Great Aunt titled How to Eat Better for Less Money by James Beard.  It really has some wonderful advice and recipes.  I plan to begin implenting them ASAP!  One of the best pieces of advice is to have a first course, then a small main course, and finally dessert if desired.  This way you do not glut yourself on the main course and can maybe have better quality instead of quantity.  Kinda common sense, but common sense is a lost commodity in today's world.  Anyway, I will post a comprehensive review of the book when I finish it.  Yes, it is a book you read and not just skim through.  You would be doing this book a grave injustice if you skimmed it just for the recipes.