I thought I’d do a roundup of the food I made in January! Please enjoy this exploration of one of my passions! I tried some new recipes, and enjoyed some favorites too!
For our new years feast, we usually do black eyed peas for health humility and luck, collards for wealth, cornbread for joy. This year we added some roast veggies for wisdom!
I have done kombucha and sourdough in the past, and im really enchanted by fermentation. However, im still a beginner at making it work, and it always seems to mold on me. However, I have it a go again, rescuing an old mini mother from my fridge. Kombucha, a living, fermented, probiotic tea, has what’s called a “mother”, a probiotic “pancake” that starts the fermentation, much like a sourdough starter. You need one to start off the kombucha (or some strong starter liquid.) so I had one, which had formed in an old bottle of kombucha, and it looked beautiful and promising, and I chose to use that.
I also started a sourdough with some dehydrated starter flakes from my friend Lizzie Gorbandt, at Pickle Creek Farm.
Unfortunately, something happened and they all molded, all three ferments (two kombuchas and the sourdough) so now I’ll have to regroup and try again this month. Oh well! (I’m going to make a separate post on each ferment in detail later!)
I love making stir fry’s, and do them usually with just whatever I have on hand. This time I sautéed some onions and mushrooms in sesame oil, salt and pepper, and as they get going, add a little rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. After they’re looking browned I throw in the other veggies. For this meal I did snap peas, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach. I threw in some chicken I had pan seared, served it all over a bed of Somen noodles, and drizzled some hoisin sauce on top. I think next time, for an extra special finish, I’d sprinkle some sesame seeds and chives, and maybe start with some garlic in the onions and mushrooms. Very hearty, very fresh!
I tried another Asian-inspired dish, shrimp wraps, inspired by summer rolls, which I tried a few versions of. They are made by wetting a rice paper and rolling it burrito style around a mixture of fillings. For the first ones, I used somen noodles, shrimp, lettuce, cucumber, avocado, and the star of the show, fresh basil. The next ones, I added mango, and in others I also added blood orange. Note, even if you only add a little of each ingredient, it makes a fat wrap, and on mine, several were so big they tore open and went everywhere. They were messy. Messy but delicious. I ended up using lots of hoisin for dipping, ha ha, but they were so good, and relatively healthy. The noodles were relatively a lot of points on WW if you count those, but come on, it’s a little big of rice. The hoisin is probably most of the other calories.
We tried another WW recipe, and with the way I do that, I often use WW for inspiration, and go find recipes elsewhere. Anyhow, this recipe, Jerk Chicken with star fruit, called for jerk seasoning, and I made my own rather than buying it. I had all the ingredients in my spice cabinet and counter stash, so it was convenient for me (granted, I have an extensive spice collection). I used this recipe:
Homemade Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Blend | The Modern Proper
It made a really good marinade for my chicken, and was definitely a repeat. My WW recipe only called for a little of what all I made from the seasoning in the marinade, so I saved it in a little jar for future uses. I didn’t like the starfruit, and am hoping I just cooked it wrong. How do you like starfruit?
(Making jerk marinade with jerk seasoning)
I made a “healthy” chex mix with a bunch of last year’s roasted squash seeds and things I had in the pantry.
Corn Chex, wheat Chex, pretzels, cashews, sunflower seeds, hulled pumpkin seeds, hulled butternut squash seeds, and pecan bits. Just done with butter and Chex mix powder. Last time, I didn’t dry it, and we ate wet Chex mix (which, it’s frickin Chex mix, it was good anyway) but yeah, it’s better dried and that only took like an hour so, remember to dry your Chex mix…
I finally got my courage pulled together and said, Aug, you can handle handling a raw whole chicken on your own. I had done a turkey two christmases ago—wait, three??? Oh my… but that wasn’t terrible, so a whole young chicken couldn’t be too bad? Yep! It went well! Just making sure the sink was empty of dirty dishes, and rinsed clean; sacrifice the scissors to the dirty dish pile for opening; and have everything ready and waiting and in place, with the roasting pan of dish ready by the sink to minimize raw meat drippage. I also have all my roasting veggies cut and in the bed of my Dutch oven, and their ends in the stock pot. That way I can go ahead and throw the giblets right in the stock pot when I open the bird. I have my twine on hand for tying the drumsticks together, pre cut! It’s all in the prep. I’ll also slice up a stick of butter put pats under the skin, under the drumsticks and wings, and in the cavity. Maybe in the roasting pan too. Put a little white wine in the pan, and season the bird with salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, and thyme, and my favorite, cumin! If I had lemons, I’d slice those up and throw them in too, oh dang! I should’ve just used lemon juice! I’ll remember next time ha ha ha. Bake for around an hour at 420 F to reach 165 F internal temperature. I hadn’t used a thermometer like that but once for the turkey, but it was easy, just make sure yours works! The first one I pulled out, maybe a 30 year old one, said it was 150 F in the house. Uh huh… broken! Second said it was 60F, which is still not right, but okay fine.
The chicken came out amazing and it wasn’t too hard to carve, granted, I didn’t look it up and just kind of did what I thought might be right, and after last night doing it for the third time, I feel like I’ve made significant progress, so I think I started out pretty bad. But I got most of the meat off, and with all the rest, I made stock!
For the stock, I added everything I didn’t save from carving. The whole carcass, the giblets, the juices, and the veggies. Throw it in the pot! Bad ends of veggies? Throw em in! Peels? Throw em in! Tho I keep my onion peels for dyeing! Fill up to the brim with water and set to boil for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and simmer for up to 4 more. When it gets the flavor you like (have a bit every now and again, dip some bread, try it out!) strain it, let it cool, and pack it away! Or can it, you know, what ya feel! The fats rise to the top and solidify with chilling. Easy to scoop off and dispose of if you don’t want them. Bone broth!
I used it almost immediately in this great northern bean, collards, and pancetta soup I love. I start with pancetta, sizzling in its own fat in a pan, seasoned. I adapted this recipe for a white chili from a wonderful magazine I got—it called for white beans, kale, and bacon. I think a goal for this year will be to grow some beans for this recipe myself. I’ll have to look at the varieties I have and see what sounds good, and really make that a focus. Maybe try a few??? That could be fun, see what I like best. Will it even be better than great northern beans? I don’t have any collards, but by fall when the beans are ready, we’ll have to see if I get some collards seeds. After the pancetta gets oily and darker pink, throw in onions and celery, and bunches of collards. Cook it down, and mix in flower to thicken, after, thin slowly with alternating soaked and rinsed beans and chicken stock. After that’s combined, swirl in the heavy cream and take pretty pictures as you do. Season, and taste often. Feast when it’s ready! Maybe I’ll add a recipe section to my site!
I made some cakes this month, a dessert cake and a breakfast cake. The first was a recipe for a walnut olive oil cinnamon cardamom cake. I sprinkled cocoa powder on the top and soaked it in a drunken cherry sorghum syrup of my own recipe.
But I didn’t get a picture!
I did get a picture of the green tea banana cake, with a toasted coconut and pecan base, and topped with coconut chips, pepitas, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and chocolate chips. The green tea I used in the batter was infused with turmeric, which added an interesting flavor, I just ripped open the tea bags and threw in the contents to my cake batter.
I also made a comfort recipe, just ground bison, mushrooms and onions with red wine and Worcestershire sauce. Yum! I had to use up this big value pack of mushrooms I had gotten earlier. I didn’t use too many and the pack was big, and they were starting to look slimy, so I chopped them up and dehydrated them to use later.
With my second roast chicken and the stock it made, I made a WW salsa verde chicken soup served with cotija cheese!
I also made a chocolate mousse pie for a cousin, and tried a new recipe. I have tried a ton of mousse recipes, and this one ended up lumpy. However, it was still very good, and everything is better with homemade whipped cream with homemade vanilla. Not a good picture, but still!
And finally, I tried my hand at two beer breads this month! I used two hearted ale, an IPA, in this recipe, which, if you get the 2 for $5 at Kroger, you can make 3 loaves ha ha ha. Or use one for each of two loaves and drink the rest! Anyhow, I loved this recipe, ending up using 6 tbsp of butter. The first loaf I sprinkled with chives. The second loaf I threw in a bag of shredded cheese and a cup of caramel used onions, topped with rosemary.
Howdy, folks! I thought today I’c give a little roundup of my January 2023 crafting projects—finished objects (FO’s) and works in progress (WIP’s).
My crafting is a big part of my life, and I am very enchanted by traditional women’s crafts in my expression of feminist creation. Fiber arts has my heart, and I am quite drawn to spinning yarn and knitting (especially with this handspun yarn.) I like to experiment with different areas of fiber arts too, though— sewing, quilting, weaving, natural dying and acid dying, felting, basketry, wool shearing and processing fiber for spinning, and growing, foraging, harvesting, and using natural craft materials. I have even dabbled in constructing Fiber arts tools.
As an Imbolc exercise, I was thinking about what all I want to learn this year, and specifically in the realm of crafting. I was interested in learning nålbinding (an ancient, one-needle type of “knitting” or rather a technique using needle(s) to make fancy knots, creating fabric), needle felting (using a barbed needle to shape fiber ((like pottery with wool)) into any 2D or 3D felt creation), and Sashiko stitching (a Japanese embroidery technique, reminiscent of “zen doodles”). Oh I’ll throw in a witchy one for the witchy holiday—not that the others aren’t witchy—broom making 😍
On to what I finished this past month.
For gifts for people, I often do little fingerless gloves. They reach from the cuff on the wrist or forearm and go right up to the starts of the fingers, which I sometimes give a half-finger with the last two knuckles open, and always do a half-finger for the thumb. I did two pairs for some of my flamenco family, which started as a new year’s present, but ended up being a Lunar New Year’s present. I used the Mitt Envy pattern, which I had just completed an other pair with that same pattern, so I was pretty familiar with it. The construction didn’t trouble me too much, and I didn’t do any color changes, so it was very straightforward. More color changes, more ends to weave in—boooooo. I used a really nice color, Daguerrotype in the base Estrellita from my favorite bigger hand dyed yarn maker, Miss Babs, and it didn’t use maybe even half the skein. For the second pair, I used my favorite pattern for glovies, which I’ve made so many times, Pioneer Gloves, and Obsidian Miss Babs on the base 2-ply Toes. I followed the pattern (except for the cuff) pretty exactly (sometimes I alter it to match sizing for gauge) and it ended up looking really small. I think this is just because this pattern creates ribs, so it scrunches down when it’s not on the wearer. Both patterns can be accessed free on the Ravelry pattern search library.
I then knitted a replacement glovie in the Pioneer Gloves pattern for a pink one I had lost. I think the yarn was Spring Flowers from Miss Babs, but I’m not sure of the base. Done in a day! It’s taking around 5 consecutive hours to do one now.
I experimented with this Chinese watercolor set my mentor gave me, and picked the Shrimp exercise, creating “Uhhh, Srimps” in honor of my Nana, who loved “Srimp fried rice” 💕 sitting on our Matriarch altar in our home, The Cozy Cottage.
I completed a lot of natural dye—that kind of ended up being my main focus for January. Artichoke, avocado, turmeric, red cabbage, and a mix of orange, blood orange, mango, and cherries. Some, I changed the PH with baking soda, which made the colors more rich, even sickly rich. It turned the avocado from pink to deep rose, the turmeric from gold to dark orange, and the red cabbage from light purple to light green. I put in a lot, so that may also have an impact. I tried setting the colours in the dryer, which worked well, however, ugh. Rinse your turmeric well before throwing it in the dryer. I had to meticulously clean my dryer after realizing it left residue when my light purple red cabbage came out of the dryer with green sunbursts. Now, I liked the color I ended with from that red cabbage test, but I also wish I had an example to show of JUST RED CABBAGE. *rolls eyes. I used all of my fabric that was pre mordanted and mordanted, and had a lot of fun—it was a tragedy that I had no more fabric to dye… I ended the month by scouring and pre-mordanting some more white cotton from Joann’s craft store. I was able to use day lily, Iris, and pine needle spent leaves from my yard to create a tea for a tannin bath (which seems to have worked well with the previous fabric.) After the leaves had soaked and were supple again, I made some cordage and did a bit of basketry. Why not? On to more experiments!
I tested out my quilting skills by making another “Ravioli bag”, a design of my own creation, inspired by Vera Bradley quilted bags. My sewing machine only does straight lines, so I put on the fanciest stitch setting, which is a type of fancy zig zags, and make diagonal, inter-crossing lines, which end up looking like ravioli pasta. I used a batik fabric—my favorite type of cotton fabric— cotton quilt batting, and some satin blanket binding (for the straps). Very happy with it, however, my next bag will be smaller, cause I feel like I’m carrying a duffle bag. It’s nice for packing things, but I was wanting a purse. Maybe I’ll trace the shapes of a bag the size I want. Anyhow, I have ideas for different shapes in the future too. Learning, learning, learning with each project I do.
And the works in progress, I got some good work on the ribbed rim of my sister’s valentines present (it didn’t get finished or even started as a Christmas present), a “Hat for Joy” pattern hat. I did the test knit for myself, complete with mistakes galore and dropped stitches, and it took 60 hours and Possum, my cat, chewed up the circular needles and it just caused a lot of strife. It’s still my favorite thing I’ve made… so soon we’ll be matching—if I can get it done eventually!
I also started my own pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks (the first sock pattern I tried) with Jems Luxe fibers Texas Wildflower yarn on I believe their Luxe Sock base. Or light fingering? Not sure… I also used some Malabrigo Fortaleza on their Washted base for the cuff, heel, and toe. No picture yet, still casting on ha ha ha.
Finally, I also got work done on my Yo-Yo quilt (titled Royal Ladybird). Started in 2018, and still plugging along.
This completes my January work, just over here, getting things done. Let me know what you’re working on if you feel, I’d love to hear! Keep creating! Blessings blessings, August Lee
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.