1. Cherry Vanilla Pudding Popsicles

    August 28, 2014 by Sarah

    Cherry vanilla pudding popsicles were the perfect way to take a break from the (relative..) summer heat, use up some of the cherry stockpile while it’s at its best, and continue to recover from a cherry deprived childhood. They are as simple as the name sounds, with all the ingredients laid right out in the title. To make, just mix up some vanilla pudding, throw in some chopped cherries, and freeze!

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    If you want to get all fancy you could also add in a teaspoon of almond extract, or perhaps some lemon zest (but probably not together). I can imagine these would also work well using almond milk with the pudding mix, should you be so lactically inclined. These were also originally supposed to be fudgsicles (made with chocolate pudding), so I would give that a try as well (for comparison purposes only).

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  2. Homemade Vanilla Custard

    August 22, 2014 by Sarah

    Sometimes recipes are off limits. As in, don’t even attempt to make any changes because tough luck improving upon perfection. Around these parts, one of those things is custard. Bird’s custard. A lifelong family dessert staple, that up until recently, I didn’t even really realize could be made from scratch (and why would you?! they’d say).

    So, as a bit of an experiment, I thought I’d give it a try. Turns out it’s unexpectedly simple, delicious….but not about to replace the can of powdered birds in the cupboard that laced so many childhood crumbles (..plus it would go moldy in the cupboard).

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    I would happily make this recipe again… and would recommend it without hesitation if your family is not ridden with such custard angst. I followed the recipe directly from here, and as it was my first attempt, didn’t really make any modifications.

    To make:

    Pour 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of cream, and the seeds of 1 vanilla bean into a pot. Heat until hot but not boiling.

    Mix 4 egg yolks, 1 tbls cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl.

    Pour hot milk mixture into egg mixture while continually stirring. Then dump the entire mix back into the pot, and heat until it thickens.

    DSC_0505-r-psDelicious accompanied with old favourites like crumble and stewed rhubarb, but has also been taste-tested and approved accompanying some particularly delightful liqorice-poached pears…


  3. How to Blanch Garden Greens

    August 18, 2014 by Sarah

    A little preservation refresher, before I tackle the giant jungle weed that has now taken over the garden. Sometimes, green things grow so fast and in such abundance it’s impossible to keep up with eating them fresh (not a bad problem to have). However before they go to seed or suffocate everything else you might be trying to grow, try taking this route instead. It’s incredibly easy to blanch and freeze greens, and then continue eating them all year round. In this case, the beets needed thinning out, and instead of throwing away their tops, we tried this instead.

    DSC_0459*First off: wash and remove any stray insects (unless you’re into the extra protein):

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    Next, in small batches, drop the greens into boiling water. Leave them for about 30 seconds, or until they start to wilt slightly and turn vibrant green:

    DSC_0304-rThen, drop them immediately into a bowl of ice water, so they will stop cooking:

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    Lastly, let them dry (I just squeeze out the water with my hands), and bag them up for the freezer (yes, even when you have this few):

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    In addition to beet greens, this method would work well with spinach, kale and swiss chard, amongst others. I’ve never tried, but I can’t imagine blanched lettuce to be too appetizing. Here’s a few ideas to try instead when you have too much lettuce.


  4. Low Sugar Jam

    August 12, 2014 by Sarah

    I’ve made some horrible jam. And jelly. They taste fine enough, if you ignore their soup-like consistency and tendency to grow mold after about a week. This is entirely preventable of course and mostly my fault, as I can never justify adding approximately 50 cups of sugar to 1 cup of fruit. Then I would try and adjust the pectin amounts, to no avail. And also not seal it properly. Things turned around when I was introduced to a different type of pectin- one specifically designed for low sugar jam. I’ve now made about 25 jars worth of jam with Pomona’s Pectin, and it couldn’t work better. It’s step-by-step instructions are easy enough for even former jam disappointments like myself. And while the first batch may have turned out a bit moldy (forgot about that whole sealing part), the rest have turned out perfect. Not a bad way to use up an abundance of raspberries from the garden and fruit from the Okanagan…

    DSC_0178First off, mix up some ‘calcium water’ according to instructions..

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    Mix in with the fruit, let it all dissolve and bring to a boil..

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    Mix the pectin with however much sugar you want to add, and add it to the fruit mixture..

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    I then let it cool down in the fridge (where it will thicken), then poured it into sanitized jars, and finished by boiling the filled sealed jars for 10 minutes (read the instructions for more details..)

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    In total I have now made 18 jars of raspberry, 5 jars of apricot, and 3 jars of apricot, peach and nectarine jam. And am set on the gift-giving front for awhile…

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  5. Pickle Juice

    August 4, 2014 by Sarah

    Pickle juice….the nectar of one of the world’s most beautiful things. And also incredibly useful beyond cocooning those little cucumbers. Essentially, pickle juice is just vinegar flavoured with garlic and dill (excluding those unfortunate sweet pickles). And that tastes delicious in many things. It is also a miracle of science and magical healer of many ailments*. Anyone interested in subsidizing further studies? Or donating their bodies for the benefit of mankind? In the meantime, next time you’re about to throw away a pickle jar with only the juice remaining, try this instead:

    • Add flavour to salad dressings
    • Add to marinades to help tenderize meat
    • Use it to steam/boil potatoes or other vegetables
    • Add it to devilled egg filling or into potato salad
    • Add to hummus, tzatsiki, or other dips
    • Use it to pickle vegetables (a quick pickle, not one you would re-jar)

     

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    And now, for the science. Not usually my specialty, but I do admit to sacrificing myself for the advancement of pickle juice research. In other words, last time I had a headache, I made myself drink a shot of pickle juice. Did it work? Not really. But according to the rules of science, I’m going to have to try it a few more times before I make any judgements. Pickle juice also allegedly:

    • Can be used to prevent and relieve heartburn, cramps and stomach pain (the vinegar acts as an antacid)
    • Apparently works as a hangover cure (helps rehydrate you by replenishing sodium levels)
    • Can be used as a post-workout drink to restore electrolyte levels
    • Can be used to clean blackened copper pans and barbecue grills
    • Can be used to kill weeds in the garden (something about the high vinegar and salt content)
    • Raises your IQ*

     

     

    *subject to actual scientific research.

     


  6. In the Kitchen Lately….

    July 30, 2014 by Sarah

    Obviously, not everything I ever make ends up on the blog. Which doesn’t make them any less delicious. Here are a few meals, desserts and snacks to remember (and repeat) that have been made over the past few months…

    I’ve made ‘lentil-walnut taco meat‘ several times, in tacos and on nachos, and eaten straight out of the bowl:

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    A delicious lemon mousse pie, made for a lemon-loving Mother on Mother’s day:

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    Roasted spaghetti squash topped with spaghetti sauce, chopped basil and mozzarella cheese:

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    Some delicious lamb tacos, with ground lamb sausage, pickled red onions, cilantro, feta cheese, roasted radishes and a greek yogurt sauce with lemon and mint:

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    Roasted almonds with cinnamon and brown sugar:

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    Roasted parsnip ‘alfredo’ pasta sauce:

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    Spinach, strawberry, avocado, feta and pecan salad:

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    Dairy-free hot chocolate (with cashews, dates and cocoa..):

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    Some pickled red cabbage:

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    And banana bread with peanut butter and a layer of chocolate fingers in the middle:

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    Recipes on request!


  7. Roux-less Pesto Cream Pasta

    July 25, 2014 by Sarah

    Easy, fast, filling and warm- all things I appreciate when I have to leave the house in 10 minutes, have no leftovers in the fridge, and do not want to spend unnecessary money on food. This isn’t particularly healthy, but is what I turn to once in a while when I need an actual meal (not just a random bites of pickles or crackers), and can’t bear the thought of eating something cold (appropriate for the season, no?)

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    This is just (ok, nearly) as satisfying as a cream and cheese infused pasta sauce, without the actual cream (and just a bit of cheese).  Note- this is the very first time this pasta has ever been seen on a plate, and not shoved in the bottom of my bag in an old tupperware container (or eaten straight out of the pot while simultaneously putting on my socks).

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    While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce: just take a few big spoons of greek yogurt, and mix in a spoon of pesto and  sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Then pour in as much milk as you’d like to thin it out, and season with salt and pepper as needed. That’s it- no butter or flour or waiting forever for a sauce to thicken up.

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    However if you’ve managed to locate your shoes in advance and have 30 seconds to spare, I recommend throwing in a few sun-dried tomatoes and some chopped basil too.

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