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Saturday, March 24, 2012
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Making vanilla extract is simple, fun, and fairly inexpensive when compared to how much store bought vanilla extract can be.
The vanilla bean comes from an orchid and takes an incredible amount of time and care to cultivate. Only one vanilla pod comes from each orchid plant and they need to be hand pollinated. Since the flower only blooms for one day, time is of the essence! It takes about ten months for the pod to mature from the pollinated flower and needs to be harvested at just the right time to ensure quality. The bean pod is then cured before it is used.
Here is the recipe I used, adapted from Rosalee de la Foret. Check out Learning Herbs for great info and recipes!
Makes 1 quart of vanilla which equals 6 -4oz bottles
24 vanilla beans (I used certified organic vanilla beans from Amadeus Trading Company)
4 cups of vodka, bourbon, or dark rum (I did one jar of bourbon and one jar of rum)
1 quart jar with lid
Using a sharp knife, cut the beans in half. You can either scrape out the "caviar" from the inside of the beans or just flay the bean to expose the innards.
Place all of the vanilla beans with innards into the jar. Fill the jar with alcohol of choice and close lid.
Let the vanilla sit in the jar for 4-6 weeks. The longer the better. You can taste it after 4-6 weeks to see if it is strong enough.
You can leave the vanilla beans in the alcohol indefinitely. When the jar is 1/4 empty, just add more liquor.
If you are giving the vanilla extract as a gift, strain the vanilla beans out after the desired time and put the extract into an amber bottle with a fresh vanilla pod(optional) and attach a label. The cool thing about vanilla pods is that you can dry them after the extracting process and reuse them to make vanilla sugar. Just place the dried pod in a jar with your choice of sugar and there you go!
What a wonderful gift to give along with a gift-in-a-jar recipe like this one from The Nourishing Home! I added vanilla to mine(-:
I mentioned that I purchased my vanilla beans from Amadeus Trading Company. I highly recommend this company for buying quality organic vanilla beans from. I have spoken to the owner personally and appreciate how much time and energy he takes to ensure the quality of the beans he provides as well as the welfare of the growers. He also provides excellent customer service which is extremely important to me.
Enjoy your vanilla extract making!!!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
My Mom's favorite side dish is my Boston Market Style Sweet Potatoes. These are a healthier version that are great for dessert as well as during the main meal. They are really yams but we still call them sweet potatoes(: If you make these they are sure to please and you'll never eat the ones from Boston Market again!
Healthier Boston Market Style Sweet Potatoes
6 cups mashed organic yams(about 6 potatoes)
3/4 cup rapadura or sucanat
1/2 cup organic cream
1/2 cup melted, organic butter
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp organic cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups natural marshmallows-completely optional-they taste awesome without them(can be homemade or from stores like Whole Foods)
-You could also use organic marshmallow fluff from Toonie Moonie.
Rub olive oil, butter, or coconut oil on the outside of the washed and dried yams. Bake them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 60-70 minutes until tender. Allow to cool enough to handle and peel the skins off. Place the insides into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add rapadura or sucanat, cream, butter, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt into the yams and mix well. Pour the mixture into a buttered 13"x9" baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Pour marshmallows into yams and swirl until melted. Sprinkle with a little rapadura or sucanat and serve.
Yum! All this talking about food is making me want Thanksgiving dinner all over again!
While the turkey is the staple at our table, the sides are what everyone piles onto their plates. It's important to me that I make all side dishes with organic, fresh ingredients. Nothing comes from a can and nothing is processed. My sister's favorite dish is the Green Beans with Mustard and Thyme. I cannot stand green bean casserole. It actually grosses me out so when I found this recipe 13 years ago, it became a tradition at every holiday meal. This is one that we make all year long and not just on holidays.
Green Beans with Mustard and Thyme
adapted from Bon Appetit's November 1999 issue
4 pounds fresh, organic green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup organic butter
3 tbs fresh organic thyme, chopped
2 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic salt or 1 tsp garlic powder & 1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds, freshly toasted
Blanch trimmed green beans in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and place into an ice bath and cool completely. This can be done the day prior to cooking. Wrap in cloths or paper towels and place into resealable bags into the refrigerator.
Melt 1/4 cup butter into each of two heavy skillets or cook in two batches in the same skillet. Whisk 1 tbs thyme, 1 tbs mustard, and 1 tsp of garlic salt(or 1/2 tsp garlic powder & 1/2 tsp sea salt) into butter in each skillet. Add half the beans to each skillet and toss until heated through, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Transfer to large bowl and sprinkle with slivered almonds and remaining thyme.
You'll love this dish and so will your kids!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love cooking up a wonderful meal and spending three days doing it. I've had the privilege of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the past 13 years, first for my husband and some of the single soldiers from his unit when we were stationed in Germany and now for my family here in the States. Here is the main attraction, the turkey.
Mustard-Rubbed Roast Turkey With Mushroom Gravy
adapted from Bon Appetit's Nov. 1999 issue
With this recipe, start out with a pastured, organic turkey. We purchased ours from our farm co-op.
For the turkey:
1 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup organic butter
2 tbs freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh organic flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbs fresh organic thyme, chopped
1 tbs fresh organic sage, chopped
1 15-16 pound organic, pastured turkey
2 cups chicken stock
One to two days prior to Thanksgiving, coarsely puree first 7 ingredients in a food processor or blender. I used my BlendTec. Reserve 1/2 cup mustard mixture in a bowl; cover and chill.
Remove giblets and reserve. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast, legs, and thighs to loosen skin. You may need to cut small slits into the skin to do this. Using you hand, spread 1 cup of the mixture under the skin over the breast, legs, and thighs. Spread remaining mixture inside the main cavity. Place turkey into the roasting pan and slide pan into a plastic trash bag. Close the bag and place into the refrigerator for at least one day and up to two days.
On Thanksgiving, position rack in botton third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Remove the pan from the bag and spread remaining mustard mixture all over the turkey. Tuck the wing tips under and tie legs loosely together with kitchen twine. Roast for 2 hours. Baste with 1/2 cups chicken stock. Continue to roast (about 15 minutes per pound) until turkey is brown and thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees, basting frequently with remaining 1 1/2 cups stock and pan juices. Cover with roasting pan lid or loosely tent with foil if browning too quickly. Remove from oven and let sit, loosely covered for 30 minutes.
1 pound white and baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 1/4 cups chicken or turkey stock
1/2 cup organic whipping cream
2 tbs organic cornstarch
Pour pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 2 tbs. Heat 2 tbs turkey fat in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until soft and tender, about 15 minutes. Add enough broth to pan juices to measure 3 1/2 cups. Add to mushrooms along with cream. Boil 8 minutes to blend flavors. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 chicken stock in a small bowl and mix into gravy. Continue to boil until gravy thickens, about 1 minute. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve over turkey.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Most of my family loves squash. Some of us more than other, but we all love this recipe. My husband turned me on to Acorn Squash a few years ago so we came up with this recipe. It's fabulous in during the fall months when Acorn Squash is in season.
I would be remiss if I did not mention why Acorn Squash is such a good food choice. It has many health benefits. It is high in beta-carotene (note the yellow color of the inside) which helps to reduce the presence of free radicals in the body. It also contains vitamin C, potassium, manganese, folic acid (which makes it a great food for pregnant women), and omega 3 fatty acids.
So, without further ado, here is the recipe!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
2-4 Acorn Squash
1 bell pepper, any color
4 cloves of garlic
1 lb sausage of choice, loose or casings removed*
1 tsp dried Sage or 1 Tbs. fresh sage
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375
Place acorn squash on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish and bake until you can easily slice them in half-about 20 minutes.
In the meantime cook sausage and then add onions, garlic and bell pepper, sauté.
Add sage, salt and pepper.
Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Season the inside of each half with salt and pepper. Fill each half with the sausage mixture and bake for approx. 20-30 minutes or until tender.
Cover with cheese and melt.
Serve and enjoy!
*We get our meat (and raw milk) from a local food co-op in PA. It's grass-fed and organic. If you are in the NJ/PA area, check them out at www.yourfamilycow.com.