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white cucumber pickle
It’s summertime, and that means CSA, which means lots of fruits and vegetables, which means I need to do something with them!

I got a bag of white cucumbers, which were begging to be pickled. I used Marisa’s Asian-Inspired Refrigerator Pickles recipe, adding garlic scapes and a red onion from my CSA share, and cilantro. I combined the ingredients and gave it a taste, and I already know it’s going to be good. I may not be able to wait until tomorrow to try them.

Cheater Chicken Soup

chicken soup with noodles
How to quickly make a comforting chicken soup for someone who’s sick:

Sauté 1/3 chopped onion, 2 diced carrots, and a diced celery stalk in a little olive oil in a stock pot until softened. Add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and stir.

Add 2 chicken thighs (I used boneless, but bone-in is even better), brown them a little if you like.

Add 4 cups of ready-made chicken broth and a cup of dried egg noodles. Bring to a boil.

When the noodles and the chicken are cooked, the soup is ready. (About 15-20 minutes for boneless chicken, longer for bone-in) Take out the chicken and dice. Put back into the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put in a bowl and feed your sick friend.

pumpkin ice cream
At this time of the year, I love anything pumpkin. Pumpkin beer. Pumpkin ravioli. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin donuts. So why not pumpkin ice cream?

I thought I could just adapt the sweet potato ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz’s book, Perfect Scoop and add pumpkin instead of sweet potato. It came out smooth and creamy, but something is lacking– it’s not quite sweet enough for my tastes, and it needs a little more heft.

I see that he has posted a pumpkin ice cream recipe on his blog, so I will be trying this again. Oh yes, I will.

CSA 10/3/2012

Left to right: a variety of hot peppers, Jonagold apples, arugula, rapini, radishes, pink turnips, bok choy, lettuce, kale.

I’m kind of getting tired of seeing hot peppers. I don’t use a lot of them, and I now have a couple bags’ worth in my refrigerator. I like the turnips, though.

CSA 9/5/2012

Left to right: rapini, arugula (in bag), eggplant, basil, hot and sweet peppers, Gala apples, radishes.

Sorry I skipped last month’s ice cream. I had made a peach ice cream, but it proved to be less than stellar, so I didn’t think it was worth writing about. (It didn’t stop us from eating it, though).

This month’s ice cream, however, is amazing. I mean it. It totally exceeded my expectations. Inspired by intoxicating eats’s Guinness ice cream, I decided to try a beer ice cream. I had asked Lipby to buy me a porter or a stout, and he chose a Bison Chocolate Stout. It was delicious to drink. But would it be good as an ice cream?

It turns out that making it into an ice cream brought out its cocoa flavor, making it taste mocha-like without needing to add chocolate to the mix. The pleasantly bitter aftertaste was a reminder that it was made from a beer. We’re really enjoying this.

The nice thing about using alcohol is that because it has a much lower freezing point, adding it to the ice cream mix makes it stay smooth and scoopable once in the freezer. I may need to take advantage of this fact the next time I make ice cream.

If you’ve been following my tweets (and you should, if you want more updates than this blog is currently providing), you know I’ve been on a several-month quest for the perfect granola and granola bar recipe.

It’s been a frustrating quest. For granola, I like it not too sweet, clumpy, and with lots of nuts and dried fruit. Most of the recipes I had tried were way too sweet. Some of them made clumps like brittle– too hard and too sticky. Some didn’t clump at all. And don’t get me started on the bars– that’s a whole other blog post entirely. I gave up and stopped eating granola all together.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I went to Baked and Wired bakery, and tried their granola, known as Hippie Crack. This still wasn’t the perfect granola– still a little too sweet for my tastes– but it was on the right track. It had a good amount of nuts and fruit. I searched for a recipe online, and stumbled across this one by Terra.

Now, this recipe doesn’t exactly replicate Baked and Wired’s Hippie Crack. But it’s still darned good. Dare I say, it’s addictive. So addictive, in fact, that Lipby and I have gone through a batch in less than a week. We eat it for breakfast (he eats it with milk, I with Greek yogurt) and snack on it between meals. It’s just sweet enough, and there are enough clumps to please me.

I’ve adapted the recipe a little. My version is below.

5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of melted butter
(I really need to use coconut oil as called for in the original recipe, but I haven’t gotten around to buying some)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
(ideally, I wanted to use blueberries and cherries, but I used 1/2 cup raisins because that’s what I had available)

In a large pot, combine melted butter and maple syrup.

Add rolled oats, nuts, flax seed, and coconut. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread granola evenly on two sheet pans, mashing it down. Bake one sheet at a time for 20-25 minutes, or until granola is golden brown.

Let cool for about 15-20 minutes. Transfer granola to large mixing bowl, breaking up into clumps. Mix in dried fruit. Store in a sealed container when completely cooled.

CSA 8/8/2012

Left to right: shallots, bell peppers, long hot pepper, jalapeno peppers (so many peppers!), onions, peaches, tomatoes, eggplant, cherry tomatoes.

Plum Jam

What do you do with a bunch of yellow plums? Make plum jam!

This was my first attempt in making jam without a thickening agent. The recipe from Food In Jars just calls for a mix of stone fruit (I only used plums), sugar, and lemon zest and juice. I only had bottled lemon juice, so that’s what I used.

The jars pinged almost immediately after I set them on the counter, so I knew they sealed properly. The jam itself is pleasantly sweet and tart. I did, however, cook the jam slightly too long, so it’s ever so slightly rubbery. However, it tastes and feels like jam, so I’m considering it a success.

Next up in canning will be a fruit butter, I think. Stay tuned.

Okay, so it took me almost three years after my canning class to start canning on my own, but better late than never, right? What helped nudge me was a hardware store opening up nearby that stocks canning supplies, and Marisa’s recently published book, Food in Jars.

From the hardware store, I bought the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit, pint-size jars, and a magnetic lid wand. From my CSA, I got cucumbers. A few more ingredients, and I was ready for my first canning experiment: bread and butter pickles.

Some things I’ve discovered in the process:

1. The kit’s basket is good for the canning process, but not so useful in the sanitizing process. It was awkward and dangerous to try to dump out boiling water from the jars. I will need to buy a jar lifter for next time.

2. I know I should have used pickling cucumbers instead of regular slicing cucumbers, and now I understand why: the slicing cucumbers turned out soft and not as crunchy, and the skin is a little too thick. I don’t regret using them for this recipe, though– they’re still tasty.

3. The boiling water heated up the kitchen something awful on a hot day. But it was worth it.

The cans sealed fine, and I cracked one open to taste the pickles this evening. Wow– savory, sweet, a little salty, a little sour, and then a little heat at the end. And you know, it goes well on top of a buttered cracker.

Now that I think I’ve conquered my fear of canning, I’m going to try other recipes in Marisa’s book. Hooray!

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