Cooking on the Woodstove

With temperatures hovering in the negative and single digits I am glad to finally have our wood stove hooked up! Not only does it add a cozy ambiance to the house, it’s also reassuring that should the power go out we wouldn’t freeze to death, and it’s saving us money by using less propane to heat our house and when preparing our meals. Since the stove is burning all day anyway it’s easy enough to place a cast iron pan on top and cook a meal, or three.

DSCN5062I have found that generally anything I’d cook or reheat on the stove top will cook just as well on the wood stove. Some meals we have enjoyed off the wood stove are: eggs in a nest, pancakes, any kind of soup, mac n’ cheese, burritos, grilled cheese, etc. Depending on how hot the wood stove is it may take a little longer or a little less time than using the gas range would. It’s important to keep an eye on the level of liquids, and if you are adding milk, cream, or cheese (for example to soup or mac n’ cheese) be careful the stove is not so hot as to break (curdle) the dairy product. Removing the pot from the stove or raising it with a cast iron trivet or on canning lids can help prevent overheating. I have also prepared some things I’d normally make in the oven by using a dutch oven. The easiest and most delicious of these is a pot roast. After the roast spends the day slowing cooking over the fire the roast is always fall-apart-tender and the broth cooks down into a delicious gravy. Add some potatoes and carrots towards the end and a full meal is ready – and the house smells great.

For your enjoyment here is Alton Brown’s stove top Mac n’ cheese recipe (reproduced below). It’s prepared essentially the same on the range or on the wood stove. First prepare the pasta then add the butter, sauce and cheese. I remove the pot from the wood stove when adding the sauce and cheese. The pot I use stays hot enough to heat the sauce and melt the cheese and this way the mac n’ cheese stays creamy and doesn’t break as mentioned above. If you don’t want to use, or don’t have, evaporated milk you can gently simmer 2 1/4 cups milk down to 1 cup of milk, or use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup half and half, or substitute light cream.

Alton Brown’s Stove Top Mac n’ Cheese

1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Directions:
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.
This will reheat easily on the wood stove too.
Enjoy!
mossy_stone

Dairy Kefir In The Winter Kitchen {plus NT recipe}

During the summer I keep a jar of dairy kefir out on the counter. I use it freely and top it off daily – with summers abundent milk supply. Now that winter is here I find our dairy kefir usage has plummeted. It’s just too cold to mix up a frosty smoothie and, not in the least, our milk supply has dried up. Yet, kefir grains need to be fed regularly. So how does dairy kefir fit into my winter kitchen?

For starters I keep my jar of diary kefir in the fridge. This slows the fermenting process down considerably. That means there’s less to use daily and I can feed my grains less frequently. The kefir still ferments so when I do want to use some I can. Then I replace however much I just used up with fresh milk. If I use over half the jar I might leave the jar out to ferment on the counter, otherwise it might not be ready for a few days at least.

DSCN4671

During the summer kefir generally goes into smoothies and veggie dips and dressings. During the winter I use kefir mainly as a replacement for yogurt or buttermilk in recipes, like pancakes or meatloaf for example. These are cooked so they won’t contain the benefits of live kefir; although any grains in the recipe will benefit from soaking in the acidic kefir. You can still reap the benefits of kefir’s live cultures if you make dressing, dip or consume it unheated in some other way.

Here is a recipe I adapted from Nourishing Traditions, it’s kind of a three recipes in one recipe. It’s a light mild dressing. NT calls for piima cream or creme fraiche but I used kefir instead.

Creamy Dressing

First make the basic dressing (pg129 NT) This makes about 3/4 cup.

Combine the mustard and vinegar then add in the oil in a thin stream, stirring all the while till emulsified.

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 Tlb plus 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar ( NT calls for wine vinegar)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tlb flax oil, if you have it.

Add 1 tsp finely chopped fresh herbs i.e. parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme, basil etc. This is now the herb dressing (also pg 129 of NT).

Finally blend in 1/4 cup kefir.

 Now you have 1 cup creamy dressing (pg 131 of NT).

Adjust seasoning to taste. I like to let it sit for a while to let the herbs have a chance to release their flavor.

DSCN4660

Some other recipes using kefir:

Susan’s Whole Wheat Kefir Pancakes   (or use your favorite pancake recipe replacing the buttermilk or milk with kefir)

Kefir Pizza Crust

Ranch Dip (from cultures for health- this one is a favorite)

Also, try straining the kefir for a thick & smooth kefir cheese. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. You can roll the seasoned cheese into small (about golf ball size) balls. Place balls in a jar and cover with olive oil.

mossy_stone

homestead barn hop, fat tuesday, slightly indulgent tuesday, real food wednesday, gluten free wednesday, fight back friday, pennywise platter, farmgirl friday

Pretzel Bites

To quote struggling_along: “These are awesome!”.

DSCN4190These being ham and cheese filled pretzel bites. I found the recipe here at Pip & Ebby. What a great soft pretzel!  Adding ham and cheese takes it over the top. We eat them as a light meal or as a snack. Somehow, either way, there are never any leftovers!

DSCN4187  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made these in the last few weeks. I usually make a double batch and try to freeze some for another day. I managed to freeze a small batch just to see how they did in the freezer. I froze them after boiling but before baking. They baked up great with only a few extra minutes needed in the oven. “Extra” cooked pretzels reheat superbly in the oven or toaster oven. I read in the comments (on Pip & Ebby) that the microwave works well too.

DSCN4239

Here’s how they look after boiling. I froze some at this stage, then bagged them once frozen.

Here is the pdf printable of the recipe. I’ve reproduced the pdf printout below for your convenience. Although, I recommend popping on over to Pip & Ebby – if only to drool over her photos.

……….

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites
(Source: penniesonaplatter.com)
Servings: 48 bites
Ready in: 2 hours,45 minutes
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
2½ to 3 cups flour
1 package (1/4 oz) instant dry yeast
½ cup finely chopped ham
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
Directions:
1.In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.
In a large bowl combine 2 ½ cups flour, the milk mixture and the yeast. Stir
until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.
2. Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and
cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust
hands and rolling pin with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12×4- inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, gently press ¼ of the
ham and cheese into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible, starting with the end that has the filling. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a
baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of dough.
4. Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
5. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Boil pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be
slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets.Bake until
puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter
and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm
…………

 I cut the rolls into thirds instead of bite-sized pieces. After boiling I cut the thirds into bite sized pieces. I also grease a cookie sheet instead of using parchment paper, which kept sticking to the bottoms.

If your kids love to help in the kitchen, like mine do, I suggest getting them involved in the first steps of the process. My youngest two (4 and 2) are quite capable at measuring out the ingredients and mixing up the dough. They also help sprinkle flour, roll the dough out, prepare, and add, the filling.

DSCN4235DSCN4182You’ve got to try them!

mossy_stone

sharing with:

slightly indulgent tuesday

barn hop

wildcrafting wednesday

farmgirl friday

Macaroni with Tomato Sauce, Baked Eggs and Ricotta

Man have our new chickens been laying! Up until this past week they had been laying 8-10 eggs a day (out of the 10 chickens we have left now that a pig decided to have one as a snack). I find myself adding eggs to anything I can think of. This book: The Good Egg by Marie Simmons is solely egg recipes. I made Macaroni with Tomato Sauce, Baked Eggs and Ricotta one day a while back for lunch. It’s basically lasagna using macaroni. I made mine gluten-free by simply using gluten-free noodles. I like the brand Heartland cause they hold up and come the closest to “real” pasta. The eggs cook up with a soft yolk and creamy whites – actually quite good and adding protein.

DSCN7905And the recipe:

DSCN7899Adding the eggs. One just happened to be a double yolk. The recipe only calls for 4 eggs but this definitely serves more than 4 so you could either add a couple of eggs or perhaps someone might want the sans egg option.

DSCN7894Top with cheese and bake.

DSCN7896

DSCN7902

DSCN7904This dish goes together quickly; even faster if you could use leftover pasta. I’ll definitely remember this for a last-minute dinner – especially if there are unexpected guests. The eggs really do make it a meal and it’s vegetarian. Add a salad and maybe a baguette and some wine and your set.

mossy_stone

sharing this post with:

melt in your mouth monday,

hearth and soul hop,

clever chicks

gluten free wednesday

frugally sustainable

food on friday

In the Kitchen :: Nourishment

Each morning, after a cup of tea, I don my insulated overalls and a bundled baby in a back carrier and make my way down to the goat barn.  How lucky we are that each morning we can harvest a few free ranged eggs and a quart or two of fresh raw goats milk. After several months without either these basic staples they feel all the more luxurious- especially when these simple ingredients are transformed into decadent puddings, custards, french toast and omelets. Snacking on fresh homemade cheese and deviled eggs (yummy with mango chutney…) feels like a treat. And since we’re getting all that important calcium and protein we might as well indulge.

Here are a few of our favorites from the past week:

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a tall glass of milk of course)

Pudding has been a huge favorite- rice pudding and especially the leftover queen’s butterscotch pudding. I don’t have any scotch so we’ve just been adding extra vanilla. Noah has declared this his favorite.

photo from the leftover queen- click on photo to go there

It’s been exciting to be making cheese from our own goat’s milk,this one is just a simple cheese made by heating milk and adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice.

And, while these are neither eggs nor dairy I have to tell you about these fermented fries. Oh my are they delicious. Everyone LOVED these. The hardest part is waiting the 3 days they take to ferment. We’re pretty much starting a new batch as soon as the first one is done. I don’t have any tallow right now so I’ve been frying them up in bacon drippings. Sorry no pics of the fries finished- they were devoured too quickly but here’s one of them fermenting. Notice the air lock cap, these can’t be fermented in an open crock (click on the link to go to cookingtf.com for the explanation).

Now if I could only find a ketchup recipe that actually tastes like ketchup….

mossy_stone

homestead barn hop, monday mania , melt in your mouth monday, make your own! monday,  hearth and soul , fat tuesday, traditional tuesday, weekend gourmet, slightly indulgent tuesday, real food wednesday, what’s cooking wednesday, gluten free wednesday, frugal days sustainable ways, healthy2day, simple lives thursday, freaky friday, scratch cookin, sunday school, fight back friday, friday food flick

In the Kitchen :: Baking

During the past week there has been a lot of baking going on in my kitchen. First: Stuffed Pretzels. Farmama shared Brooke’s Stuffed Pretzels recipe a while back. She stuffed theirs with provolone and pesto with caramelized onions. Not having any pesto nor enough fresh basil on hand to make some I came up with my own variations for the stuffing.

Cinnamon and Raisin

(with sucanat)

The other half I made savory. I started with brushing on some mustard then I layered provolone cheese, caramelized onions, spinach and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Other changes I made: I did not do the baking soda dip on the cinnamon raisin nor did I salt or brush them with oil. They baked up beautifully- more of a cinnamon roll than a pretzel. I have noticed that the sucanat starts getting hard and burnt fairly easily so it’s important to take them out of the oven as soon as the dough is baked. I baked the cinnamon raisin ones first which might be why I only have a photo of the savory ones after being baked.

The savory pretzels got the full treatment- a dip in baking soda water, brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt (coarser grained salt works best- I used flakes). Baked til golden brown.

Delicious! I like reheating them in the toaster oven.

Also fresh from the oven this past week: gingerbread cookies,

and yet another pumpkin pie….to go with my gingered whipped cream.  I blended several pieces of crystallized ginger in with the heavy cream. Wow is that stuff good! If you’re culturing and making your own sour cream don’t forget to add a bit in with the heavy cream and make the whipped cream probiotic.

Also baked but no photos tho, chocolate pancakes with almond extract and…. chocolate cake!

For your convenience (from the link above @ farmama’s) here’s……

  Brookespretzels

You will need:

5 Cups All Purpose Flour (I’m sure you can substitute with some wheat, rye or spelt or…..)

4 tsp. Yeast (or one packet)

1 tsp. sugar

1 1/4 Cup. Warm water

1/4 Cup Sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Salt

A bit of Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Baking Soda

For the Filling:

2 TBSP. Butter

1 Onion sliced

Salt & Pepper

Pesto

Your favorite cheese (Brooke used Provolone)

Instructions:

1) Dissolve the 4 tsp. (or 1 packet) of yeast in 1 1/4 cup of water with 1 tsp. sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes.

2) Mix 5 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the middle and add about a Tablespoon of olive oil and the water/yeast mixture. If it is too dry add about one tablespoon of water at a time. Knead until the dough is smooth (about 7-8 minutes).

3) Cover and place in a warm spot for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

4)Make the filling by carmelizing the onion in the butter. To do this put the sliced onion in a pot with the butter. Cook low and slow on top of the stove until the onion is golden brown and sweet.

5) Preheat oven to 450F.

6) When dough has doubled in size, roll it into a rectangular-ish shape, about 1/4 inch thick and spread the filling evenly over the surface. Brooke also put basil pesto from our freezer and some provolone cheese in the pretzels she made us. You could use just about anything to stuff these pretzels. Lots of room to be creative! Roll up the rectangle and slice it into 12 equally sized pieces. (Brooke suggests using a serrated knife for this.) Put each slice onto a sheet tray and let the (now stuffed) pretzels rise again until about doubled.

The Dunk:

A baking soda bath is what gives pretzels their distinct flavor.

7) Mix together 1/2 cup of baking soda and 4 cups of hot water. When the baking soda has dissolved, dunk the proofed pretzels one at a time, and set them back onto the sheet tray. Brush each pretzel with some olive oil and a tiny bit of mustard, and lightly dust each pretzel with some salt (Brooke recommends Cyprus flake salt.)

8) Bake at 450F until the pretzels are golden brown.

_____________________________________________________________________

Let us know if you decide to make them, or if I’ve forgotten any important details. They really are as good as they look!

Thanks for sharing Brookie!

mossy_stone

this post is part of traditional tuesday, real food wednesday, frugal days sustainable ways, simple lives thursday, fight back friday, sunday school