Monday, July 30, 2012


My husband and I LOVE sourdough bread. I've been wanting to try making my own sourdough using home grown sourdough starter for a long time, but was kind of scared of the commitment. After seeing a link for Cultures for Health, who sell a huge variety of sourdough starter cultures, I knew that now was the time. I purchased a Parisian culture, because I've been wanting to make my own French bread. (Check out their amazing selection from all over the world! So cool!)

I did receive a gift of an ancient sourdough starter from somewhere in Europe from this couple who were passionate about baking and cooking Medieval recipes. (Medieval reenactors have their own version of Iron Chef, did you know that? It's totally awesome!) I'm afraid I let the starter die, mostly because it intimidated me!, and I've regretted it ever since. So, I'm giving myself another chance. I really can't wait!

My starter... just started. We'll see what it's like in 12 hours!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kale Chips!

Just made me some of these. Totally yummy!

Especially since I sprinkled them with not just sea salt, but also Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. Mmm, mmm, MMM! Spicy!

Plum Jam

Today I finally made some plum jam. My kids and I had picked the plums at Larriland Farms about a month ago. I had prepped the fruit and put it in the freezer. Today I had nothing going on in the morning, so I used up the plum pulp for one small batch. I'm used to making a ridiculous amount of jam at one time (due to over-enthusiasm!), so making a small batch was actually very nice, low key, and manageable. I should really try the small batches more often!

Except... now that peaches are in season I am dying to make a huge stash of canned peach halves. Last year I made them using this honey syrup and they were amazing. They had this lovely honey-tinted flowery flavor. We finished our last jar a few weeks ago and I made it into a wonderful dessert of one peach half, some homemade oatmeal cookies and some whipped cream. It was divine! Yes, I need to go pick some peaches, but I'm afraid I'll get carried away. Just the thought of those jars of homemade peaches makes me want to pick a few bushels! Someone send help! haha!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tamale Pie

I'm always wary of vegetarian recipes. Even though I used to be vegetarian as a teenager, I now enjoy and actually like eating meat. I don't mind eating vegetables, in fact I sometimes like it. But I have this weird texture issue that gets in the way. We had stuffed zucchini a week or two ago and eating it made me want to gag! The flavor was nice, but there was just something about the texture. I don't know. It's weird. And especially frustrating when I'm making the effort to eat more vegetables.

I am also trying to make use of my bounty of cookbooks and saved magazine recipes by incorporating new recipes into every two-week menu I put together. Last night I tried a new recipe for Tamale Pie from one of my cookbooks A World of Wisdom. It was completely vegetarian, so I was a little concerned. My concern was a waste of energy, because it was freaking awesome! I couldn't stop thinking about it after dinner and I woke up being tempted to eat it for breakfast, it was that good. Haha!

So, of course I had to share the recipe. I added carrot and zucchini (because I have a lot from my garden!), but overall, I followed the recipe and was very happy with the results. I think the key is that the veggies are chopped up. Big chunks of veg just don't appeal to me. I am just so weird.

Tamale Pie

2 cups cooked preferred bean (I used black bean. It's my #1 fave!)
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped tomato
1/4 cup shredded zucchini (about half of a smallish-medium one)
1 shredded carrot
1/4 cup diced black olives
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder (more if you like it spicier)
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 recipe of your favorite cornbread (The recipe should only fill one 8"x 8" or 9" round pan. I had to be specific because I have a recipe that fills a 9"x13" pan.)

Simmer beans, vegetables, and seasoning with a little liquid for 10 minutes in a skillet. Stir in half the cheese. Prepare the cornbread and pour half the batter into a greased 10-inch pie plate (deep dish) or 8-inch square dish and spread over the bottom. Add bean mixture on top, scooping it up with a slotted spoon to let any extra moisture drip out. (We don't want a soggy pie!). Top with remaining cornbread batter and spread out over the top the best you can. Bake at 425ยบ F for 15 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 10 minutes longer.*

*I didn't read this part of the recipe and just put the cheese on top at the beginning. I baked it for 15 minutes and it was done! And a huge bonus was that the cheese was all nice and brown and crusty on top. Mmmm! If you don't like it that way, follow the above directions and totally ignore the way I did it!

No garnish necessary. Just dig in and enjoy! And loosen your belt a little. You may go for seconds... or thirds....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A New Look

I was in need of a fresh, new look for summer. I just love the greenness of nature, especially out here in Maryland. Yay!

Homemade Ice Cream & Fruit Sorbet Recipe

Last year we bought one of those gel canister ice cream makers and have really loved it! Since we started experiencing that horrible heat wave, that gel canister is pretty much in the freezer all the time - just in case I want/need to make ice cream. (haha!) I just love the idea of throwing a few ingredients together (no junk like preservatives, dyes, fake flavors, or corn syrup!) and half an hour later we've got amazing homemade ice cream!

Last week I made this awesome vanilla mint Oreo (alas corn syrup!) ice cream. Oh MAN! Was that stuff delicious! For the peppermint I used 100% pure essential oil* and that was so refreshing - I could feel the mint cooling all the way down to my stomach. Aaah!

Okay, enough about that. Yesterday I made an apricot ginger sorbet that was absolutely delightful! I thought I'd share the recipe for a general fruit sorbet, because it has 4 ingredients and is so easy to make. If you don't have an ice cream maker yet, I'd strongly suggest you get one! (We have a Crofton brand and have been happy with it.)

Fruit Sorbet
(adapted from Nourished Kitchen blog)

2 lbs. fruit, such as strawberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, pineapples etc. halved & pitted or prepared appropriately (in other wise, ready to eat)
1/2 cup honey
3 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla

Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the fruit and honey and simmer until the fruit is tender. Transfer to a container and chill in the fridge until cold. (I did mine overnight.)

Transfer the fruit and liquid to a blender or food processor, add vanilla, and blend until smooth

Transfer to the ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions.

If you want a more solid sorbet, pour the soft-serve sorbet into a container and freeze until it's the hardness you want for scooping.

Enjoy any time of day, because really, it's just fruit!

The possibilities are endless! I can't wait to try a strawberry/mint sorbet. And I have cherries in my fridge right now. Ooooh, cherry sorbet! Mmmm!!!!

*Not all essential oils are consumable. Make sure the bottle does not say "For topical use only". I use doTerra oils which are 100% pure and are able to be ingested and used in cooking. 
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