Saturday, March 8, 2014

A little early for Christmas... however!

Some of you may recall that I have posted instructions on my blog how to  make a gingerbread house.  When I was taught to do this, they told me the original recipe, pattern and instructions came from the of Relief Society Magazine.  Just today, I found an online index and complete compilation of all the articles.  Here is the original article for the Gingerbread house.  I am thrilled!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dehydrating sweet potatoes...

We were able to grow a very nice crop of sweet potatoes in last year's garden.  However, when we went to dig them, something (probably mice) had gotten into them and done a lot of damage.  Here is a picture of one of them with the chewed out hole:

I don't wash them before storage.  I think maybe they would not keep as well, but I don't really know that.  In spite of the damage, they keep fairly well, but as time goes on, they do start to dry out and get icky looking more and more.  I didn't want them to go to waste.  I had about a peck (1/4 bushel) of them in that condition, so I decided to dehydrate them and want to show you how I did it and tell you how to use the resulting product. This is rather long-winded, but it really was easy to do.

First, scrub them clean and then boil them until they are tender.  Pour them into a colander to drain and let them cool for at least an hour so they are easy to handle.

Remove the skins and mash well with a potato masher.  I suggest you do not use the electric mixer.  That makes them almost too soft to deal with.

Here is a dehydrator tray with the mesh in place.

Get 2 squares of Wax Paper and place one on the counter.  Put about 1.5 cups of the mashed sweet potatoes on it.

Cover with the other piece of wax paper.  By the way, wax paper has two sides (of course!) and one is slicker than the other.  Use the slick side.

GENTLY, using a rolling pin, roll out the mashed sweet potatoes...

This shows you the thickness I rolled mine to.  You don't want it so thick it has a hard time drying out, but you don't want it too thin, either because then trying to put it onto the dehydrating tray will not work out.

Peel off the top piece of wax paper.

Pick up the wax paper and simply invert it onto the tray and then carefully peel off the wax paper.

Put all of your filled trays into the dehydrator and set the temperature to 125 degrees F.  Here is one of them after it was good and dry.  You don't want it leathery.  All the moisture needs to be gone.  You'll have to check to see how long it takes, but it will be at LEAST overnight and probably longer.

When it is all dry enough, peel the sheets of sweet potato off of the mesh and break them into pieces into a bowl.

Chop part of them into a food processor and process to break up into little pieces, then..

Transfer to a blender and blend until a powder is formed.  Store the powder in an airtight container out of the light in a cool room or pantry.

Here is the amount of powder from that peck of sweet potatoes!  Isn't that amazing!

To reconstitute - in a heat-proof container, combine 1 part Sweet Potato powder with 3 parts boiling water, cover with a lid and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Stir, add a dollop of butter and eat!  Or, it can be used in breads, mixed with the flour, or meat loaf or in sweet potato pie!

Friday, February 7, 2014

A tiny bread-making tip...

I made bread today.  Can you smell it just looking at that picture?  It just came out of the oven.  Ok... on to the tip.  I tried something a little different.  After I mixed the whole wheat flour, water, yeast, black strap molasses, salt and extra-virgin olive oil in my big bread bowl, I let it rest for 15 minutes before I proceeded with the kneading.  It made it a lot easier to manage the dough.  Hard to describe the difference, but I'll be doing this from now on, and thought I'd share.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spring must be coming!

This morning, I was surprised to see this little visitor on the window frame in our kitchen. I realize she undoubtedly was wintering over in the house, but it really cheered me up to see her.  :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pressure Cooking - Chapter 7

In chapter 1 I mentioned that I made some soup in the pressure cooker.  I did the same thing this evening and want to tell you how I did it.  Now, my soup recipes really are more about method than ingredients, so please don't  not make some if you don't have the same ingredients I do.  Just use what you have!

Here is what I used: A quart of homemade bone broth, 1 medium onion - sliced, 2 stalks celery - sliced, 3 carrots peeled and sliced, pint of home-canned shell-out beans (Musica pole beans), handful of sliced dried mushrooms,  pint of home-canned sweet corn, quart of home-canned green beans - drained, 1/2 pint home-canned bacon ends and pieces, pint home-canned salsa, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a few cranks of freshly-ground pepper.

Put the bacon in the cooker on medium heat and saute the onion and celery for a few minutes.  Then, add everything else.  Put on the lid and petcock and bring up to pressure, reduce heat and allow to cook for 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and bring pressure down under cold running water.  That's it!

Here is what it looked like when I opened the pot.  It got rave reviews!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pressure Cooking - Chapter 6

Here is a One-Pot meal I made in the pressure cooker for supper tonight.  It was delicious! Everything turned out very nicely - but next time I will make a couple of changes, which I will explain below:

Pressure Cooker Meatloaf, Carrots and Mashed Potatoes
In a 6-quart pressure cooker - pour in two cups of water and place the trivet.

Scrub potatoes and add them in one layer on top of the trivet.

Combine for the meatloaf: 1.5# ground meat (I had lamb so that's what I used), 2 eggs, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 1 cup soft whole-wheat bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper.  Stir together with a fork and then finish up the mixing with your hands so the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Butter another trivet.  Next time I will use the steamer rack that I show you below, to make it easier to lift the meat from the pan.

Form the meat mixture into a squat donut shape.

Place it on the buttered trivet or steamer rack.

Here is 3/4 cup tomato sauce.

Pour it over the meatloaf.

Peel some carrots and wrap them tightly in foil.  NEXT time I will slice the carrots as they were not quite done enough.

Place the packet of carrots on top of the meat. Put on the lid, bring up to pressure.  Reduce heat until the petcock is rocking gently.  Cook, at pressure, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool quickly under cold running water until the pressure is gone.

Open the cooker, remove the carrots.  Check the internal temperature of the meatloaf with a thermometer.  It needs to be at least 155 degrees F.  If it is not, after you remove the potatoes, place the steamer basket back in the cooker, put the lid on loosely and put the cooker back on the stove and steam the meat for a few more minutes.  Check the temperature again.  

While you are steaming the meatloaf, remove the skins from the potatoes and prepare mashed potatoes.  I like to add butter, cream cheese, milk and salt to ours.

Here is the meal.  We ate it all!  (There are 6 of us.)

This was easy and economical, and as I said above, next time I will slice the carrots and use the steamer basket for the meatloaf instead of the trivet.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pressure Cooking - Chapter 5

I am here today to humbly acknowledge a pressure cooking failure.  :'(  It's ok.  I rescued it, but I want to tell you what happened so you will avoid my mistake.

On the third Sunday of each month, our congregation at Church has a potluck dinner after our 3-hour block of meetings.  Saturday evening, about 7 p.m., I suddenly gasped and said, "Oh!  Tomorrow is the pitch-in lunch!"  Fortunately, it was early enough in the evening that I could make some food to take without having to stay up half the night.

I made a triple batch of chocolate brownies, without walnuts, because our grandson is allergic to walnuts.  I also made a batch of WHITE "Jiffy Buns" from the wonderful Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook.  Mine was published in 1981 by La Leche League. There are more recent editions available.  That recipe calls for whole wheat flour and makes wonderful buns, but for this occasion I decided to make white flour buns. Oh, my goodness they were soft and lovely.  It only takes an hour from start to finish.  Fabulous when you are in a hurry, and the dough can be used to make buns, rolls, cinnamon rolls or bread or whatever you like.

I had a large pork sirloin roast.  I decided to make pulled barbecue pork for sandwiches.  That is why I made the buns.  However the roast was frozen solid.  I thought... "Aha!  I could cook this in the pressure cooker real fast!"  THAT was a Big Mistake.  I cooked it, on the trivet, with 2 cups of water for an hour at pressure.  Still raw in the middle, so I gave it 30 more minutes.  Still not done enough and the outside was getting overcooked.  What to do... what to do... so I put it in the crockpot and poured the cooking liquid and quite a bit of barbecue sauce over the top of it and cooked it on low overnight.  In the morning, it was nicely done.  I did have to discard some of the very very done bits from the outside, but the rest of it was fine.  I pulled it apart, added barbecue sauce, and it was yummy.  No One Complained and it was All Gone at the end of the meal, as were the buns.

So, don't do what I did.  If your roast or large piece of meat is frozen. please thaw it first if you wish to pressure cook it.  OR, just do it in the crockpot from the start.

Here is the frozen roast.

Here is what it looked like after 90 minutes of cooking.  Still not done enough.

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