April 01st, 2023
A food roundup from February and March
As a quick roundup of February and March, I thought I would talk about the new recipes I tried. Cooking has been a big activity of mine so far this year. In a move to be healthier by eating less fast food, but also less processed foods from frozen meals all the way to little things, like crackers and chips. Not only are these not the healthiest in general—fried food, things with a lot of sugar, but they also have a host of preservatives that I would never use in my food, and I bet you wouldn’t reach for those ingredients either. So, it just makes a lot of sense to make my own food.
One recipe that is less new (I found it in September 2022) but I haven’t talked about yet, is Cider Brined Pork Chops. I’ve tinkered with the recipe a bunch and tried some different techniques, but every time it turns out amazing. It is relatively easy, although it does take a little bit of planning, as it is best to marinate or brine the chops for 24 hours before pan searing. With my latest addition to the recipe, adding oranges to the cider brine, the flavor is intense and complex and mouth watering. Highly recommend.
Another recipe I tried, as mentioned previously was a cracker recipe, or rather two different ones.
With my first go at it, I was aiming to make a cheese-it type cracker, and started by attempting to dehydrate some cheese. That, however, was a big mess, and was hard to clean, and did not produce the desired effect at all. The cheese was melted from the heat, and oily all over, but it did cut. From there I both sprinkled it on top of crackers (I had premade the dough, rolled it out on a floured surface, and cut it out with cookie cutters) and also mixed some in with the second half of the dough. The cheese mixed into the dough ended up better, because with the cheese-topped crackers, the cheese crumbled everywhere.
I liked the second cracker recipe better, as the crackers puffed up. With one batch I mixed in rosemary, and with the second I mixed in shredded cheese. Again, rolled out thin on a floured surface—the key was to flour often, at least once each section of dough. The dough batch made a lot, so I only rolled out a little at a time. On the parchment paper, I spritzed the cut outs with water and sprinkled salt on top. After a day of work, I had a box full, and they were delicious. However, I don’t know if it was the cracker recipe, or the storage method, but the crackers became stale within four days.
I also enjoyed my crackers with homemade edamame hummus.
In my quest to use what I have already in my freezer, I thawed out a mystery roast, which I think in the end was a pork loin, rubbed it in fajita seasoning I had in the pantry that needed to be used, covered it in lime slices, laid it over a bed of cherry tomatoes and onions, and roasted it.
I love getting packs of frozen berries and using them for smoothies with other frozen things, juices, and yoghurt. For this one, I utilized the berries and a superfood pack with açaí berry mix, aloe Vera slices, strawberry kefir, and cranberry juice. Tart and delicious.
I tried two different bread recipes; one from King Arthur flour for yeast bread, and the other a no-knead bread from Melissa K Norris. While the King Arthur recipe was easier to work, the Melissa K Norris recipe was not only more flavorful, but also more beautiful—albeit harder to handle.
I only made the Melissa K Norris dough once, as it makes three loaves’ worth, and thus let the dough rest for two days, and seven days respectively. By the seventh day, the dough I baked made the most flavorful and delicious loaf—almost sourdough flavor—we ate it immediately.
Something Momma and I tried over the holidays was Shaker Lemon Pie. We had it first at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, and then I tried my own hand at making it the week of Christmas 2022. When I made it, the lemon peels ended up quite chewy. I had marinated the peels in sugar for 8 hours, but it wasn’t enough. In addition, I learned not to put too much filling in the pie crust, as it will spill over. So, I learned some things. I gave it another go this month, and marinated the lemons for a full 24 hours, and was much happier with the results. Additionally, I split the filling into two crusts, and had two very nice pies. Perfect for sharing. Right now, as I write, I have a special shaker lemon pie filling going In the fridge—30 hours now, to be baked at 48 hours, with a homemade crust.
I have been perfecting my mashed potatoes recipe for the last few months, and tried this time with purple potatoes, which made the most gorgeous lavender colored mash. I always leave the skin on, as it contains wonderful vitamins and nutrients. I’ll have to share my recipe!
The latest roast chicken!
We had been hankering for some deserts, so I pulled up a random chocolate chip cookie recipe. Usually I’m not too picky about recipes, I always end up altering them anyways. With this recipe, I decided to sift the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar longer than usual, and to let the dough rest after it had been incorporated, as I had with the cracker dough and my bread doughs. It made the fluffiest, softest cookies I had ever had, changing forever my views on the dough making process. Definitely skills to reuse.
I took those skills and put them into making a pumpkin bread, which turned out spongy and soft and velvety, the best yet, proving my point.
At the end of the month, we had a lot of blooms in our community including Japanese maples, dandelions, and violets. I made a collection of different foraged treats—pickled magnolia buds, magnolia syrup, dandelion jelly, and violet syrup. A lot of the online sources seem to say it is hard to get the violet color with the syrup, but I found it very simple. I just made a tea with the petals, and let it sit for 30 hours before making the syrup. The color was rich.
With both the violets and the dandelions, the prep took a very long time and was extremely tedious. It took me trial and error to find the best way to pick out the dandelion petals, (scooping them out of the center of the flower, outward) and the violets made so little progress with each flower although it was less difficult than the dandelion.
More recipes will be coming soon as I actually write down what I do, stay tuned, and blessings!
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A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.