Category Archives: Uncategorized

Goodbye sweet girl

Standard

15137688_10154549457286006_4820398886127093989_o

Rest in peace precious little sweetheart. We will miss you so much and all your cute little ways. We’ll miss being able to bury our noses in your fur, which always smelled so beautiful. We’ll miss searching for the perfect foods to tempt your finicky palate. Thank-you for gracing us with your presence. We love you little Drill.

Advertisements

Green Tomato Pasta Sauce

Standard
Green Tomato Pasta Sauce

Makes 8-10 500 ml (16 oz) jars

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 – 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced or chopped small in food processor
  • 3 cups sweet pepper (any kind), diced small**
  • 10-20 cloves garlic, minced
  • 22 cups of washed, peeled or unpeeled*, diced small**green tomatoes
  • 10 Tbsp spaghetti sauce spice****
  • 3 cups tomato juice (24 oz or 750 ml)
  • 2 cups water (16 oz or 500 ml)
  • 1/8 cup sugar (25 grams or 31 ml measuring spoon full)
  • 1 Tbsp salt (20 grams or a 15 ml measuring spoon full)
  • 1  tube (200 gram) of tomato paste (or equivalent, approx. 7 ounces or 200 ml)
  • 1.5 Tbsp dried crushed basil leaves(1.5 grams or 22 ml measuring spoon full)***
  • 2 Tbsp dried crushed oregano leaves (2 grams or 30 ml measuring spoon full)***
  • 1 cup red wine (optional – suggest something strong and dry like a Shiraz, but any will work fine)

Method

Step 1
Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute onions, garlic, peppers and spice (not the herbs) until onions soften.

Step 2
Add the tomatoes and toss to coat with the other ingredients. Add the water and tomato juice, mix well, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has all softened nicely and begun to reduced in volume.

Step 3
Prepare your jars (about 8-10   500 ml (16 ounce) and their accompanying lids): wash bottles and lids with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly with hot water, then rinse again for good measure. Put jars and lids into large pot and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Set aside and keep hot.

Step 4
Continue cooking the sauce until it has almost reached the thickened consistency that you prefer. This may take up to an hour depending on your appliance and pot. If you like a super chunky sauce, proceed to step 6.

Step 5
CAREFULLY pour batches of the sauce into your blender and/or food processor (which has been sterilised prior to use) and process to a consistency you like. I do a bit of both, making a combination of smooth sauce and slightly less smooth sauce and then combine them back into the same pot.

Step 6
Add the tomato paste, red wine (optional), sugar and salt to the sauce and continue cooking gently until it reaches the consistency you like for your pasta sauce, then add the dried herbs and cook for another couple of minutes.

Step 7
Carefully pour or spoon the sauce into the sterilised jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Carefully wipe the rims and threads to ensure there is no sauce on them that would prevent a good seal. Put the lids on and tighten, but don’t pull a muscle tightening them too tight!

Step 8
At this point you should process in boiling water (canner) for 10 minutes.

Step 9
Carefully move jars to an out-of-the-way area where they won’t get bumped, and allow to cool completely.

Step 10
Once jars are cold, wipe them all down with a clean damp cloth to remove any sauce on the outside of the bottle. Check the lids. Any jars with lids that have not popped down should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week.  Label all the other jars and store in cold cellar or other cool dark area where you keep your preserves.

Where’s the Meat?
This sauce is vegan, however if you prefer meat or TVP in your pasta sauce, when you go to use the sauce, cook your meat or TVP and add it at that point. You cannot safely can spaghetti sauce with meat in it unless you use a pressurecanner!

Talk to me about sugar and salt!
You will find recipes with considerably more salt and sugar in them. I prefer to eat as little salt and sugar as possible, so do not add a lot to anything I cook (baking is another story!). If you want to add more to taste, by all means do so.

* When cooking a sauce like this I rarely put myself through the tedious task of plunging the tomatoes into boiling water and peeling them – I chop them small, so when cooked, any peel in unnoticeable, and I get the added bonus of extra fibre! Please note, the measurement is of the usable chopped tomatoes themselves (measure as you go), not of whole tomatoes before chopping!

** As I have readers around the world, I do try to put measurements in all formats, however I do not always weigh ingredients as I prefer to work with North American measuring cups and spoons. So unfortunately, I cannot tell you what these ingredients are in a bushel or peck or ounces or grams as I did not weigh them. If you do not have North American measuring cups on hand, the easiest solution is to find a cup or mug that holds 240 – 250 ml of water and use that as your measuring “cup”.

*** You will notice this recipe calls for dried herbs, as opposed to my usual mantra of fresh herbs only. You are free to use fresh herbs (just triple or quadruple the amounts in volume, not weight). I used dried as I find that fresh herbs are a luxury and flavour is best uncooked  or slightly cooked at most, so when I am making something that is cooked/processed like this, I use dried.

**** My spaghetti sauce spice came from the spice market in Istanbul. I have no idea what is in it, but judging from the taste I would guess it has paprika, oregano, basil, parsley and dried garlic in it.

 

Cherry Plum Wine

Standard

Have you seen the gorgeous little yellow and purple cherry plums on the trees? We are planning to make this on the weekend. Well, start it anyways! It takes about six weeks until it can be bottled. 

Cherry-plums     cherry-plums

Cherry plum wine

2.8 kg cherry plums
1.4 kg sugar
approximately 4 litres of water
1 sachet wine yeast – any red wine yeast will do nicely
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp pectolase

To extract the juice out of the plums, boil one litre of  water and pour it over the fruit then use the end of a rolling pin, crush the fruit until there are no lumps left. Leave for a few hours then add the rest of the water and the pectolase.

Leave a couple of days then strain through a fine sieve. Put the juice into a saucepan, bring quickly to a boil then immediately turn off the heat. 

Pour the hot juice over the sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Add the yeast and yeast nutrient. Bring the volume with water to 4.5 litres if necessary. Pour into your demijohn using a funnel. Add the trap. Rack off into a clean demijohn after four to six weeks and again a few weeks later if you want. Bottle when clear – or even if it doesn’t clear completely, bottle it anyway.

Some thoughts on Modern Wheat versus Einkorn, Emmer and Khorasan Wheat

Standard

20131119-083109.jpg

Well, I hesitate to admit it as there are so many tasty things that I would like to indulge in now and then, but I have to conclude that I really do think that modern wheat makes me ill. I have been really strict for the last 5 or 6 days eating only Einkorn, Emmer or Khorasan* wheat (in pumpkin loaf, pasta and pasta respectively) and there has, yet again, been a noticeable difference in how I feel.   That lethargic “sick tired-body cloudy-brain” feeling seems to dissipate when I cut out modern wheat! I find it rather scary that that is even possible as we are so brainwashed into the idea that whole grain wheat is healthy. And perhaps it is – if we are talking about REAL wheat and not the genetic monstrosity that modern wheat has become.
We are largely uneducated on the fact that what most people call “wheat” today is a foodstuff that has been so drastically altered over the years from actual wheat, that even calling it “wheat” is deceptive**.  I have found a strong correlation between eating it and feeling horrible. The “clear mind” thing is particularly interesting to me – I had first noticed that the third day into my raw diet when I did that a few months back.  Only months later did I draw the modern-wheat connection.
Anyways, I was really hoping it was all in my mind. Truly. I am not jumping in glee at this recent realisation.  I would like the freedom of being able to occasionally indulge in things that aren’t readily available modern wheat or gluten free – e.g. certain baked goods, fish and chips from the local vendor, certain Chinese food items, pasta, pizza and fresh bread at restaurants – or the occasional naan bread when we are  out. At home I can and do make some of those things with einkorn, emmer and kamut flour, with great results and no physical sick symptoms. And at the end of the day, I AM free to indulge in modern wheat products – but I won’t. The real question for me, when I am out and tempted with a modern wheat product (like a few minutes ago in the lunch room where some kind soul had left a “please help-yourself plate of divine looking danishes!!! ARGH!!)) is now:  “is it worth it“?  The resounding answer is “NOOOOOOOO!”  So faced with the Danish pastries, I resolutely averted my eyes, grabbed my cup of tea and ran out of the room. The evidence is in and I no longer need to get “hit with a brick” on this: if I  eat modern wheat I feel sick the next few days following. Period.
Anyways, it is what it is I guess and at the end of the day, most of what modern wheat is in, isn’t good for me or my waistline anyway!  Despite the inconvenience and the fact that it limits to a certain extent my indulgences, I am happy to have finally identified this: over the years I have tried without success to figure out what was sapping my energy and why I was always tired and this seems to have answered the question. When I don’t eat modern wheat I feel great and when I do eat it I feel like death warmed over – seems pretty conclusive to me.
I am glad that i am not gluten intolerant and that I CAN eat einkorn, emmer and kamut wheat products. On our recent trip to Italy we stocked up on emmer and kamut pasta (I have yet to find einkorn pasta here in the UK and did not find it in Italy either – but as the emmer and kamut pastas are both fabulous I will survive).
** Khorasan wheat is also called Kamut® – as I was looking up Kamut info I came across this article – wow! http://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/blog/2013/03/health-study-kamut-wheat-vs-modern-wheat

* Read more here if you are interested: http://www.grainstorm.com/pages/modern-wheat

 

Freezing Tomatoes

Standard

I only found out last year that you could freeze tomatoes. This year I grew three different varieties; Purple Cherokee, Big Rainbow, and Jen’s Tangerine (a small orange coloured tomato from France).**

This year I was short on time once again as everything was ripening and we were in the process of moving house, so the tomatoes have been frozen once again. I actually think I prefer the taste of the thawed fresh-frozen ones over canned anyways. The great thing about this method is that you can also pick the tomatoes when they are green, let them ripen indoors and then process them as they ripen, a few at a time. Preparing tomatoes/processing them for freezing is quick, easy and no where near the chore of canning them!

How to Freeze Tomatoes

Step 1. Wash the ripe tomatoes

Step 2. Remove core

Step 3. Chop (or not) If I am doing a bigger batch I like to chop them all up first into a big wooden bowl, then measure them out into bags or containers all at once.

Step 4. Put into freezer bags or plastic containers

Step 5. Freeze.

To de-skin or not to de-skin?

I don’t remove the skins or seeds from tomatoes – whether I am using them fresh in cooking or freezing. It’s not because I am lazy (although I am) but I find the seeds and their gel add flavour and the skins certainly add fibre. I find the seeds and skin disappear anyways. Oh! You can also whir the semi-thawed tomatoes in a blender for an absolutely stunning passata as well!

Image

**All the afore-mentioned tomatoes are heirloom open-pollinated varieties, and I have saved seeds for next year from the best of my crop this year – the tastiest and prettiest tomatoes you could dream of. The Big Rainbow tomatoes that I harvested seeds from were both absolutely delicious and beautiful to boot. Likewise for the Purple Cherokee. The tangerine one is lovely in salads or sautéed lightly with garlic for a side dish.

Purple Cherokee Tomatoes still on the vine.

Purple Cherokee Tomatoes still on the vine.

garden-Toms-Jens-tangerine

Moved!

Standard

We’ve been in the process of moving house the last couple of weeks so sorry for the delay in posting ANYTHING!

The new owners have agreed I can come and harvest the last of my garden and especially my pear tree, but as it is

a long drive back I doubt I will be able to. 😦 Good-bye sweet pear tree. Good-bye non-producing for the last three years peach tree.

The good news is that our new place has a bigger veggie patch, greenhouse and TWO pear trees so all is not lost. I also had kept my fig and olive trees in large planters so they have made the move to the new place as well.

We loved our house and didn’t want to move but with talk of a gasification plant in our town I didn’t want to risk property values dropping. Maybe they wouldn’t have – I don’t know, but we got out while we could.  Now I just pray they don’t start fracking or something equally horrid in our new town!!

Image

Spinach and Mozarella Omelette with Quinoa