Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love grocery shopping in my basement

My goal was to make it to January using only produce from my own garden, and I did it and then some.

Not only do I still have a large bag of swiss chard just in the fridge, but the basement freezer (my Mother's Day gift to myself) and my son's old dorm fridge are packed with sauces, pesto, roasted slices, purees and cut up pieces of everything I grew this year (and a couple of items from the farmers' market and CSA).

It is an indescribable feeling to be able to just hop downstairs (there's an image) grab a bag of something and make fresh bharta, or marinara, or snag an applesauce or some corn relish, knowing exactly where those ingredients came from, and without spending a dime in additional energy output or cash. Yesterday we had Lake Michigan fish from freshpicks with this wonderful sauce.

Cucumber-sour cream sauce
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups cucumber pieces (cubed and seeded, from freezer), thawed and drained
juice from 1 large slice lemon
salt and pepper

Put all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Steal your neighbors' Christmas trees

Starting the day after Christmas, you'll be seeing everyone's Christmas tree in the alleys here in Chicago, or on the curb in the 'burbs.

Here's what I do:

Drag them into your yard and take a good pair of sturdy pruners to trim off the branches. Use the greenery to cover your garden beds now before the coldest part of the winter--they'll act as mulch, add necessary nutrients to the soil, and serve as winter interest in your yard. In the spring, rent a chipper and create your own pine mulch to refurbish the paths.

Save the trunks of the trees to create trellises for beans and peas in the spring.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just dropping in

No words of wisdom today; here's a recipe I filed away awhile back that I don't think I ever posted. A stick-to-your-ribs winter soup for a chilly day.

Squash-apple Soup with roasted ginger

1-2 pound squash (I used pattipan today, but butternut, acorn or pumpkin also work)
1 large apple
about 1" of fresh ginger root
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 pound of bacon, chopped (optional, for carnivores)
4-6 cups stock
2 teaspoons white pepper
salt, to taste

Quarter and seed squash, brush lightly with olive oil. On a separate baking sheet (or in a pie pan), place about a 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger plus two large apples, cored and peeled, and brushed with olive oil. Roast apples and ginger for 20 minutes, and squash for 35 minutes in a 350F oven, or until a knife slips in easily. Allow to cool and then peel both the ginger and the squash. Put in food processer and puree. Make a stock with the peels (add all peels-squash, ginger, apple- plus a few white peppercorns and salt to 2 quarts of water, boil down to 1 1/2 quarts).

Sauté onion and bacon lightly in large pot. Add squash/apple puree, water, apple cider, brown sugar, stock, salt, and spices. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir frequently. Blend to thicken in blender-size batches. Serve with sour cream: one teaspoon on each serving.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Making mocha coffee on a snowy morning

Who's recipe this is I think I know
They posted it on the internet though
They will not see me copying here
To watch my stats just grow and grow

My grown up children think it queer
to see Mom on the internet here
Between the bytes and frozen ethics
The darkest evening of the year

They give my Facebook page a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound's the beep
Of yet another old lady tweep

This coffee's yummy- dark and deep
But I have promises to tweet
And more recipes to "borrow" before I sleep
And more recipes to borrow before I sleep.

Mocha Coffee
1 T chocolate powder
1 T powdered sugar
2-3 T boiling water
2 cups strong brewed coffee
a 2 1/2-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
> 1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix the sugar, chocolate & water in a coffee mug until smooth. Add the cream, then the coffee and stir. Garnish with cinnamon sticks

(Original chilled mocha recipe at Epicurious)