“Glee-tritious”-Finding great joy cooking from winter greens

It’s true, I made that word up. Finding a word to communicate all the delicate nuances wrapped up into entering a winter garden is no easy task. The happiness of picking something in deep winter, taking it into the kitchen and cooking it up is very special, not to mention nutritious.
 After recycling a temporary carport and turning it into a hoop house for winter growing I am able to experience this great joy.
glee : 
great delight;  delight, pleasure, happiness, joy, gladness, elation, euphoria;

Today I am making a farm to table morning duck egg scramble with sauteed greens. After the simple pleasure of entering the hoop house, and being greeted by the three peking ducks that have taken up residence in one corner, I selected pak choy, kale, swiss chard and a green onion. I also grabbed a few sprigs of fresh herbs and some duck eggs.

nu·tri·tious :

nourishing; efficient as food. nourishing, good for one, full of nutrients, nutritive, nutritional, wholesome, healthy, healthful, beneficial,  sustaining
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The recipe:
  • Two fresh duck eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • salt & pepper to season
  • Fresh greens of your choice
  • Cheese of your choice
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
After cleaning the greens, rough chop then saute in olive oil until tender. Season.
Remove from heat. Whisk up the eggs and cream. Add to a hot pan with butter and cook slowly as not to dry out the eggs. Sprinkle with cheese and season. Enjoy.

Make dry Soup Stock from Juicing pulps

After Making several batches of V-8 juice this past month I was having a hard time throwing out all that yummy smelling vegetable pulp.

My mom always taught me not to waste stuff so when it came time to throw all the pulp away from canning bushels of produce into V-8 juice I was having a hard time. It smelled so yummy and there was so much nutrition and goodness left over. Juicers extract only about 60 to 70% of the nutrients and fiber from vegetables. That’s 40% more nutrition going to waste in all that leftover pulp.  I decided to dehydrate the pulp in my oven on the lowest setting (170 degrees) until it was completely dry. This took some hours of drying and each batch was a little different in time. It will depend on how dry your juicer removed the juice. Once the pulp was dry I ground it up with the dry ingredient blade of a blender. The dry powder looks and smells so good!  I can’t wait to start using it in my recipes.

Store in a glass sealed jar for use in soups, stews, sauces and gravies.

Tip: I did not add any salt or other additives to this all natural pulp blend. You can find out how to make all natural V-8 juice here.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Crafted Vegetable Juice-Better than V-8

How to home can all Natural Vegetable Juice in 4 steps

With all the studies about toxic BPA still lurking in store bought canned foods I decided to double down on crafting my own organic natural vegetable juice for my family. So if you are committed to making good healthy food for your family you may want to consider opting out of store bought canned vegetables and juices.

“The researchers found that people who consumed one canned food item in the past day had about 24% higher concentrations of BPA in their urine compared with those who had not consumed canned food. The consumption of two or more canned food items resulted in about 54% higher concentrations of BPA.”-By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

Crafting vegetable juice is not rocket science and each recipe can be different depending on what vegetables you have on hand but the main ingredient is tomatoes. Here’s what I used for this recipe.

  • 15 lbs of tomatoes                                                Makes 7 quarts
  • 1 bunch of organic celery
  • 3 lbs of  organic carrots
  • 5 whole beets with leaves
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 salsa pepper (hot)
  • 10 long kale leaves
  • 10 leafy kale leaves
  • 10 Swiss chard stems and leaves
  • Fresh herbs; I used a handful of Basil, handful of sage, handful of Oregano
  • 3 heads of garlic

To each empty jar add one teaspoon of canning salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. (Since 1994 studies show that new tomato varieties do not contain enough acid to stop the growth of unwanted organism after the canning process).

STEP 1

Gather your vegetables and wash them.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

STEP 2

Rough chop all the ingredients. I used an electric food processor. No need to peel or remove skins if you are using organic foods. Put all the ingredients into a large stock pot and low boil for one hour until vegetables are soft enough to mill in a press. Do not cut up the beets. Leave them whole with skins and stems on. Stir to insure even cooking. Do not let it burn to bottom of pan. Let cool some for the next step.

STEP 3

Use a food mill to remove juice from cooked vegetables.

STEP 4

Pour juice into a nonreactive metal pan and bring to the boiling point. Pour into clean jars. Add 1 teaspoon of canning salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Seal and process in boiling water for 40 minutes for quarts; 35 minutes for pints.

Always practice  safe canning methods and inspect your jars for chips on the rims before use.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Other vegetable that I add are green beans, zucchini, cabbage, lettuces and onions. Crafting vegetable juice is fun and is the perfect way to use up extra vegetables. You may want to  write down your ingredients so you can duplicate the recipe if you get a really good one. Happy crafting.

If you have a good proven recipe for organic vegetable juice please share it with me below.

Tip: Find out more about why to add lemon juice here.

Simple Refrigerator Sweet pickles in 5 easy steps

 

As cucumber season is coming to an end here in Michigan getting in one last taste of yumminess from my vines is a pleasing prospect. Here is a recipe that needs only a few cucumbers to make and is really easy. No canning is required and it will last for months in the refrigerator.

Deep into the winter months when snow is howling by my window I can open up a jar of the crispiest sweet pickles.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Step 1- Gather the Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups cucumbers cut chunky
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Canning and Pickling salt; or kosher salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion; I used one onion
  • 1 cup granulated sugar; I use cane sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Step 2- Clean and cut up the cucumbers sprinkle with the salt, add some ice cubes and place in the refrigerator for one hour.

Step 3- Mix up the syrup

Mix all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan on low heat and stir until sugars are dissolved.

Step 4- Remove pickles from refrigerator. Wash off all salt with cold water. Mix a thinly sliced onion into the cucumbers and pack into jars.

Step 5- Pour syrup over cucumbers, seal and refrigerate.

Completely cover the cucumbers with the syrup by pressing them down in the jar.

After 24 hours these tasty morsels are ready to eat! As long as refrigerator pickle recipes contain vinegar and salt they will safely last 2 months in refrigeration. Adding sugar prolongs that date.

 

A Pound of Currents and A Wartime Cookbook

Have you ever tasted a current in anything? I know I haven’t but when I went to pick blueberries the grower had a whole section dedicated currents. When I asked what people use them for the grower promptly replied, “I make a great wine but some European ladies make chutney with them.” European ladies? This is Michigan.

I’m curious, grabbing an extra bucket and trekking back to the red current section (apparently he had black and white one’s as well) I found a strange plant.

A tiny red berry growing in little clumps like grapes on a bush. It took me only moments to run my hands across the ripe fruit and drop them into my basket. Tasting them made my lips pucker with tartness after the sweet blueberries I’d been eating. The taste reminds me of cranberries, except mini. image

I paid for a pound of currents and prayed one of my cookbooks had something I could use them for.

It took some time to clean then stems off and remove any old/unripened berries. I pulled out my go-to cookbook and found- nothing. Each book I tried I struck out. Until, in a wartime cookbook next to a Green Tomato Mincemeat recipe, I found a recipe for Spiced Currents. The recipe looked simple and I have everything for canning so why not give it a swing. You could make this and freeze it or keep in the fridge for about a week.

image

The Complete Book of Home Canning by Demetria Taylor 1943 calls for five pounds of currents which I don’t have so lets look at the ratios a bit. Sugar and currents must be equal parts is key and everything else is negotiable (at least that’s how it is when I make jam). The clove is for taste, the vinegar for acidity, and the cinnamon acts as a thickener. My revised recipe:

  • 1 pound currents
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vinegar

When exploring in cooking recipes are more of a guideline than a rule so mess with them and see what happens! You may stumble onto a tasty morsel and have to write down your own recipe to use later.

I’m going to can these in tiny jars so if I don’t like how it turns out I can conveniently give it away as gifts to random people who visit or put it in the church bake sale. You’ve been warned.

 

Luckily, this turned out remarkably tasty. Tasting similar to scratch-made cranberry sauce (that canned stuff is questionable folks) you can use it in similar circumstances. Like a juicy pork steak with it drizzled over the top in a bright line. You could strain out the berries if you wanted a even texture but I found the berries added a nice punch of tart into the sweet mix of the juice. Or spread them over a warm piece of toast in the morning.

So next time you run into a current grower ask to try his wine, be on the lookout for European ladies, and try this wartime recipe.

Comments and follows let us know what kinds of creative posts you prefer to read, thanks for the feedback in advance.