Play Dough

  Here’s one for the kids.

This play dough recipe is quick, easy, and handles just like the store brought kind. Plus, it doesn’t leave your hands and table covered in salty (or any kind of ) residue like so many homemade recipes for play dough do. A  batch of play dough would make a great sugar-free addition to any spring – or birthday – celebration.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 Tlb veggie oil
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar

Combine all the ingredients in a pot on your stove top and stir till you have a thick dough. Remove from heat and knead smooth.

Add food coloring of your choice to color, and glitter, if desired.

This recipe can be doubled (or tripled but you might need a bit more muscle to really stir it)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Fire Up the Oven {In the Kitchen}

Daily morning flurries & cold windy days.

I’m practically embracing any reason to fire up the oven. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts. How about a slow roasted roast?!

Here are a few oven dishes we have been enjoying as of late:

Cranberry Orange Bread- I use America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe, my family prefers I leave out the nuts.

Puff Oven Pancakes – Oven 425F. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a large cast iron pan. Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour. Pour into preheated pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up. Serve topped with fruit and the last of this year’s maple syrup.

Muffins- Oatmeal Banana and random “some of this some of that ” concoctions.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites – recipe coming soon!  Recipe here.

Pizza! Plain cheese is always welcome. We also like to add a little chopped onion, broccoli and bacon to ours.

Roasted Green Beans, Baked Potatoes (lightly EVO and salt the skin before baking), Fermented Fries, Cumin Lime Carrots

Whole Roasted Chicken- Made Chicken Pot Pie with the leftovers and Bone Broth (froze the extra in cubes for future use).

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder–  This was excellent! I replaced the white wine with chicken broth. This recipe is very similar to how I make Beef Pot Roast. Marinated Pork Tenderloin  and Smothered Pork Chops- I’ll have to share that recipe with you soon, it’s also my favorite way to cook ham steaks.

Braised Short Ribs

Lemon Squares, Cinnamon Roll Cookies

What is your favorite oven dish?

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Chicken Kiev

DSCN9992As far as chicken dinners go chicken kiev is one of my family’s favorites. It looks fancy but it’s pretty easy to make. This recipe was passed down from my mother-in-law when struggling_along and I married 10 years ago. I still remember the first time I made chicken kiev. Having never made it before, I did not realize that the chicken was supposed to be wrapped around the filling. I had simply rolled them up, allowing all the butter and herbs to melt right out into the bottom of the pan! It was still edible but it’s even better if you succeed in keeping the butter and herbs sealed in the center of the chicken.

The Recipe

First prepare 6 boneless, skinless, spilt chicken breasts by flattening them so that they are even in thickness and a bit larger, which makes them easier to roll up.Then combine the herbs in a small dish:

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

2 Tlb  dried parsley

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

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Then, using 1 Tlb butter for each piece of chicken, dip the butter into the herb mixture and coat well. Place the herbed butter in the middle of each piece of chicken.

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Roll the chicken up, around the butter, trying to tuck in the ends of the chicken. Secure with a tooth pick.

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Coat in a 1/3rd cup flour (or cornstarch if you want it gluten-free). Use the flour to help seal the ends of the chicken.

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Then dip the floured chicken into 1 egg beaten.

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Coat in 1-2 cups of bread crumbs (use gluten-free bread to make gf crumbs).

DSCN9959Place in a buttered baking dish. I like to use a Pyrex dish.

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Bake at 425 for 5 minutes then turn the oven down to 400 and bake for 40 minutes or till done. Baste with any butter that does melt into the pan.

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DSCN9982Serve and enjoy! Serves 4-6. This chicken goes well with a lot of different sides. For this particular dinner I made roasted potatoes and peas but any veggies, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf or what have you works well.

DSCN9991Here’s the recipe again, in short form:

Chicken Kiev

6 pieces chicken breast

1/4 tsp tarragon

2 Tlb parsley                   -Mix these herbs together

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tlb butter                   -Coat in above herb mixture

Roll up chicken around butter and secure with a toothpick. Dip chicken into (in order)

1/3 cup flour

1 egg beaten

1-2 cups bread crumbs

Place in a lightly buttered pan. bake at 425-5 minutes then at 400 – 40 minutes. Baste with any pan butter.

That’s it.

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Pineapple Vinegar

Finally a way to use up all those otherwise inedible pineapple peels! Once again, I followed Sandor Katz’s instructions for Fruit Scrap Vinegar (found in either Wild Fermentation or in The Art of Fermentation; I also used this method with apple scraps for ACV ). Essentially use 1/4 cup sugar to 1 Qt of water, plus fruit scraps. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s how the pineapple fruit scrap vinegar went:

Cut up  the fruit peel; add to the sugar-water.

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Remember to cover the top – I use fabric scraps held on with the O ring. I keep the lid piece nearby as it’s important to stir the pineapple up – daily, if not more frequently. Shaking/ stirring helps to keep the pineapple immersed. As the fermenting progresses the bubbles will push the peels further up above the surface. Peels above the surface are at a risk for mold; the longer it pokes up above the liquid the more likely mold will show up – especially in the warmer months.

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Before long signs of fermentation will appear!

DSCN8574The liquid will also darken. This fermenting of the peels will take about a week. Strain. Katz’s says to ferment 2-3 weeks longer for your finished product. However I like to add a mother of vinegar to ensure and speed things along.

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A new mother quickly started forming.The pineapple vinegar mother is a lovely pale ever so slightly yellow white.

DSCN8659 Nine days later the vinegar smells – well like pineapple vinegar and the mother has grown quite thick. What to do with the mother now? Save it as a back up, use it to make more vinegar or make some nata. DSCN8782Time to strain and bottle!

I like to use a coffee filter because it catches just about all the sediment. It can take a while and maybe even a second filter. Carefully gathering up the edges of the filter and holding it up can speed things up considerably.

DSCN8787 DSCN8809Use now and/or age. I’m still looking for recipes that call for pineapple vinegar so if you have any – please share! In the meantime I’ve tried a marinade I found here. Combine 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup pineapple vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, a tablespoon chili flakes,salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for a small handful of chopped fresh cilantro. I didn’t have any so I substituted some parsley.

DSCN8970 DSCN8977Use this marinade for chicken, fish or pork; I went with chicken. It was good. Tender, sweet but also a touch sour and spicy. I used my broiler but grilling would be the way to go. I’m going to let the vinegar age a bit then try it in a vinaigrette.

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Salmon Salmon Salmon

Salmon are huge fish! While I love baking one whole- stuffed with lemon (either fresh or dehydrated slices or chopped preserved lemons) and dill (either fresh or dried)- there is always PLENTY of leftover salmon. What to do with all that fish?

Here are a  few of my go to ideas:

Salmon Eggs Benedict- Top some salmon on a bed of spinach with an egg and Hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce.

Salmon Rice Casserole- I tried this recipe.

Salmon Pattie/Burgers

Salmon burgers are pretty versatile. To keep it gluten free I use toasted gluten free bread slices for the sandwich and rice or breadcrumbs from a slice of gluten free bread for the filling. The burger above I mixed up with rice that was sauteed with onions, peas, an egg for binding, a touch of hot sauce, a little finely minced preserved lemon, salt and pepper, and curry powder.

I also mixed up a large batch based off of this recipe which incorporated cheddar cheese. I added minced preserved lemon, Dijon mustard, dill and sauteed some minced onion and garlic. It falls apart more easily than I like but, as several reviewers comment, you can bake them in the oven and avoid both breaking them while flipping and the frying mess. I preformed patties, froze them on a baking sheet then bagged them. Now all we have to do is pull a few out and bake them when we want an easy lunch. I always top mine with mayo. Sometimes I mix in a little herbs or lemon- adds great flavor and a little moisture.

Here are the uncooked preformed salmon patties ready to go into the freezer. They are about a third of a cup each.

So that’s what I usually do with leftover salmon. Any other ideas?

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Cooking from Nourishing Traditions :: Carrot Soup

With a bout of the sniffles going around I knew it was only a matter of time before soup was requested- and so it was. Therefore I give you, by special request: Carrot Soup.

Carrot Soup (found on page 221 of Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions) is a very simple  curry soup comprised of mainly carrots and onions. Because of this the broth plays a very important supporting role in rounding out the flavor so I really recommend using homemade broth.

The Recipe (serves 6)

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped

4 TLB butter

2 tsp curry powder

1 1/2 Qt chicken stock

1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon rind

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

sea salt and pepper (optional use of fish sauce)

piima cream

Saute the veggies slowly in the butter until very tender (about 45 min). Stir in curry powder. Add stock then bring to a boil and skim. Add lemon rind and ginger. Simmer about 15 min, covered. Puree. Check seasoning and serve topped with a dollop of cultured cream.

Simple. But it really does take about 45 mins ,over rather low heat, for the carrots and onions to become sufficiently soft without browning the butter.

So how was it?

Once again I have to give this recipe from Nourishing Traditions a good review. For a bit of perspective I’ll say 4 out 5 stars- and for a soup that’s basically carrots and onions that’s good! So why not 5 stars? Well I think it could use a bit more rounding out- maybe some butternut squash in addition to the carrots and onions?

The boys loved it- but they like both curried soups and carrot soup and soup in general- and that’s pretty much a requirement to enjoy this recipe. I will make this again although I will make a few adjustments, starting with adding some butternut squash. We’ll see where we go from there.

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