Category Archives: recipes

Recipe: Green Tomato Chutney 2015

So, it dropped down to -5C last night, and we got a solid frost over everything. My neighbour’s glorious squash vines are no more, and our various tomato plants are done for.
I spent a good chunk of today out harvesting the hard green marbles that are unripened cherry tomatoes (plus a slim few roma tomatoes that were larger than the cherries, but there were only a dozen or so of those). What I got was somewhere between two and three litres of unripe tomatoes, plus a litre or two of ripe and ripe-ish ones (the latter are going to be dumped into the crushed tomatoes that I’ll be cooking up in the next 24 hours or so).
What do you do with un-ripe tomatoes?
Some folks would slice them thin, dip them in flour, beaten egg, and cracker crumbs (or corn meal, or crushed potato chips), and fry them up as per the classic dish.
I turn them into chutney.
Unripe tomatoes are more acidic than ripe ones, and this recipe includes a fair amount of sugar, vinegar, apple juice, and diced apples, which also all contribute to the acidity of the preserve. The end result is a tangy mixture that works gorgeously as the main vegetable content in a pork shoulder braise, or slopped over pork chops, chicken thighs, or fish fillets (think pollack or tillapia, rather than salmon) to bake. You can also use it as a side dish or dipping sauce for fish- or chicken- fingers, samosas, or felafal, if you’re so inclined. I suspect it would work well as a chunky spread for a turkey- or ham- on rye sandwich, too.
Here’s the recipe:
Green Tomato Chutney 2015
12 C rough-diced green tomatoes
8 large garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, diced
5 apples, diced
4 pieces of candied ginger, minced
1 C cider/balsamic vinegar (I used mostly balsamic)
1 C apple juice
2½ C white sugar
2-3 tbsp prepared mustard
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp ground cumin
20 grinds of black pepper (maybe 1 tsp?)
Combine everything in a big pot, and stir so that it’s all well-integrated.
Allow to cook down, half-covered, for a couple of hours (you can do this in a slow-cooker, too, if you want to).
Sterilize some jars in the oven at 225F for 20 minutes (you still have to boil the lids and rings).
Once the chutney is bubbling and thick and smelling delicious, ladel it into the hot, sterilized jars.
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for a good 20-30 minutes (especially if you’re using pint jars or larger).
Allow to cool, listening for the “plunk” that tells you the jars have sealed propperly.
Makes about 8 cups.
So there you go. Green tomato chutney 2015.
Unlike my 2011 green tomato chutney recipe, this one doesn’t contain any peppers (meaning bell/chili peppers, or chili-spices like cayenne or paprika). It has mustard, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, and ground black pepper corns to provide a little heat and a lot of savouriness, though.

Chokecherry Chutney (Gleaning Local Fruit to Make Preserves)

Hey there!
So last week, I got to pick about 3L worth of chokecherries from my friend’s front yard tree.
I stewed the fruit and strained it through a seive in order to get as much juice and pulp as possible. (I didn’t actually get as much as possible because I didn’t start off scraping the bottom of the seive at regular intervals – I probably could have got an extra cup or two of fruit puree if I’d gone that route). What I wound up with was about 1L of fruit puree. I reserved 250mL of it in the fridge (for making chokecherry curd, later today) but the rest went into making this fancy-ass preserve that I’m calling a “chutney” but that is really closer to something like a chunky, savoury jam.
Regardless of what you want to name it, here’s the recipe:
10 “prune plums”, peeled and diced
½ C granulated sugar
3 C chokecherry puree
¾ C red wine vinegar
1 red onion, chopped
¾ C dried (sweetened) cranberries
¼ C dried currants
1 C granulated sugar
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp dried basil

Peel the plums (if you are stewing the chokecherries at the same time, you can chuck the plum skins in with them to stew, otherwise they can be added to fruit butters or even just composted).
Dice the plums. Toss them in a bowl with 1/2C granulated sugar and let sit for a few hours (possibly while you stew chokecherries, or possibly while you get something else done. Wevs).
Combine in a broad, somewhat shallow, pot: Chokecherry puree, diced plums, red wine vinegar[1] and all other ingredients.
Stir periodically to prevent sticking, but mostly just bring to a boil and allow to simmer for an hour or so. If you leave the lid of the pot slightly askew, you can let the water boil off faster[2] without splattering everything everywhere[3].
Sterilize some jars + lids and rings. I was expecting this to make upwards of 2L worth of chutney, but only got a little over half that much, so.
When the chutney is bubbling and nicely thickened (and the liquidy part will sort of glob together a little before dripping off a spoon), ladle it into your sterlized jars.
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes (using 1C jars).
Allow to cool, listening for the “plunk” that tells you they’ve properly sealed.
Makes 5C Chutney.
So there you have it.
I came up with the recipe because (a) it’s pretty easy to get your hands on free choke cherries around here, and (b) I wanted something in the same family as my usual rhubarbicue sauce (rhubarb chutney) that I didn’t make this year, since my rhubarb plants have been getting established and aren’t ready to be harvested yet.
It’s based really loosely on the “chokecherry chutney” recipe in Wild In the Kitchen – at least that’s where the fruit ratios got their start – but it departs radically from that recipe’s spicy-cherries-and-apples signature from there.
Chokecherries have a lot of tannin in them so, when I was considering flavour combinations, I went for things that pair well with red wine – plums and cranberries being the big ones – and that also paired well with both cherries (and plums) and with things that go well with red wine. Thus my choice to use cloves, yes, but also rosemary and mint in the mix.
This preserve pairs well with roast lamb, for sure, but also with pork and poultry. It makes a great spread for a ham or turkey sandwich, for example, but also works well (maybe thinned out just a little with some water or red wine) when used as a glaze for roast duck, braised pork shoulder, or barbecued spare ribs. I’m inclined to see how it would work as a (distant) alternative to tzaziki when eaten with something like sweet potato latkes or falafel.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I actually added the vinegar to the puree as I was making it, but do what you will.
[2] This was a fairly significant thing for me. It felt like forever before the mixture thickened up.
[3] There will still be some splatter, however, because we’re talking about boiling sugar and lots of chunky stuff that wants to sink to the bottom of the pan. Wear oven mitts while stirring, and maybe use the pot-lid as a shield, I’m just warning you.

How to Turn 30lbs of Tomatoes into Three Different Preserves in Just Five Hours

Okay. So, as recently mentioned, a friend of mine and I spent the afternoon canning tomatoes. In the interests of avoiding (a) a lot of extra work, but also (b) a lot of drippy, scalding-hot mess and burnt fingers, I re-jigged my usual tomato recipes so that they involved the Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes recipe which goes as follows (NOTE: You’re going to need 2-3 very large, like 9L+, pots to get all three recipes cooked and canned in the alotted time):
Very Easy Crushed Tomtoes
Wash, core, and rough-chop your tomatoes (also cut out any bad bits, clearly)
Puree the chopped tomatoes in a food processor, in batches and pour them into the biggest pot you have
For every gallon of tomato puree add:
1C vinegar
0.5C granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt

Stir the mixture until all is well-incorporated
Cook down, with the lid off-centre to allow the water to evaporate more quickly, until the mixture is darker and quite a bit thicker, but isn’t nearly thick enough to be called “sauce” just yet
Pour/ladel into sterlized glass jars (we sterilized our jars in the oven today, at 225F for 20 minutes – works like a charm, but you still have to boil the lids and rings)
Cap, and process for 15-20 minutes in a boiling water bath
And that’s the Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes recipe.
From here, you can choose your own adventure.
Either (a) Roasted-garlic tomato sauce, or (b) Tomato-peach salsa.
Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
Start with ~4L Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes
Dice 1 large, red onion and 3 BULBS of garlic, drizzle with oil, and broil on a cookie sheet for about half an hour (or until they smell done).
Put the onion and garlic mixture into a food processor
Add: 2 tbsp dried rosemary, 2 tbsp dried oregano, 2 tbsp dried savoury, and a grind or five of black pepper and blend until smooth
Add the garlic mixture to the crushed tomatoes and stir until reasonably well incorporated
Cook down until things start to thicken up nicely
Using an imersion (stick) blender puree the sauce until it is very fine indeed
Allow the sauce to cook down further until it’s reasonably thick, but not too much[1]
Sterilize some jars of appropriate size (ours went into 1L jars today, but whatever works)
Into each jar include 1tbsp vinegar and 0.5tbsp granulated sugar per 500mL (1pint) of volume
Pour/ladel sauce into sterilized jars
Cap, and process for 15-20 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Tomato-Peach Salsa
Start with ~4L Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes
Dice 1 large, red onion and mince 1 BULB of garlic
Peel, pit, and dice your ripe peaches until you have 2L diced peaches (I would guess this is about 1.5lb peaches to start with)
Using scissors, snip 6 mild dried chili peppers (I used dried New Mexico chilies, but you could also dice up 6-10 fresh jalapenos if you wanted to)
Add the peaches, onion, garlic, and dried chilies to the crushed tomatoes and mix until well incorporated
Add to the mixture: 3 tbsp dried cilantro, 3 tbsp dried basil, and 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes
Cook down (over low heat, otherwise it will totally scorch to the bottom of the pot… ask me how I know >.>) until the mixture has thickened up nicely[2].
While the salsa thickens, sterilize some jars.
Into each pint jar, add: 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 dried very-hot chili pepper (I used dried Arbol chilies, but you could use fresh Thai/Bird chilies if you wanted to).
Pour/ladel salsa into hot, sterilized jars
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 15-20 minutes
So there you have it.
Five hours. Three types of tomato preserves in large quantities (well, if you’re me…).
Tomorrow it do most if it again in order to make (a) moar crushed tomatoes, and (b) moar (and thicker!) tomato sauce.
Wish me luck, folks!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Full disclosure:I actually prefer my tomato sauce to be a fairly thick mix, and today’s results are more liquid than I like. We canned them when we did because my friend had to leave to pick up her kids. Otherwise, we might have let them lose another litre of water-content before canning them.
[2] Because we’re starting with tomato purree, and also because of time constraints, we didn’t make as chunky a salsa as I typically go for. I’m thinking of this as more of a sauce for cooking things in – like pouring it over fish or beans, for example – than as a sauce for dipping tortilla chips into as a snack. YMMV.

Chokecherry Curd 2015 Recipe

So, as-you-know-bob, a few years ago I posted a recipe for cranberry curd. It’s a good recipe if you’re starting with raw (fresh or frozen) cranberries, BUT what if you’re starting with, say, a litre of sour-fruit puree? A recipe that starts from raw and doesn’t tell you the volume of puree you’ll wind up with is… not entirely helpful on that front.
Today I find myself (woohoo!) with about a litre of chokecherry purree – having picked 2-3lbs of chokecherries from my friend’s tree, yesterday, and then stewed and milled them to form the base of a chutney I’ll be making later on – and a definite interest in seeing if I can do a chokecherry curd along the same lines as the cranberry curds and black currant curds that I’ve made in the past.
Chokecherries are pretty ubiquitous in these parts. They’re native to the area, which helps, but they were also a big favourite of city planners and condo developers about, oh, 25 years ago because (a) they have eye-catching purple foliage that turns crimson in the fall, (b) they have long, frilly white flowers in the spring that turn into grape-like clusters of almost-black berries over the course of summer, and (c) even though they drop their fruit all over the sidewalks, the birds and insects love them just as much as they love serviceberries, which means they get cleaned up pretty quickly with no effort on the part of Neighbourhood Associations or what-have-you.
So there are a LOT of them around the place, and – because raw chokecherries are bitter enough to make your lizard-brain go “this may actually be poisonous,kiddo” (or at least to turn your mouth inside out from the puckering – thense the name), most people will only ask why you’re picking chokecherries, not ask you to stop doing so.
Y’all know how my motto is “Free fruit is good fruit,” right? Right.
So I’ve already made chokecherry jelly this year, and will be making chokecherry chutney (with the addition of not-so-free plums, onions, and dried cranberries, but hey) shortly as well. I’ve decided that, since I only need about 3C of chokecherry puree to make my chutney, I’m going to use the extra cup worth to try the following recipe:
Chokecherry Curd
1C choke cherry puree
¼C butter
¾C sugar
¼C sugar
3 eggs
Sterilize 6 half-cup jars before you actually start making the fruit curd[1]. You won’t really have time to get this bit done once you’ve started the cooking process, so.
In a sauce pan, over very low heat, stir the puree, the butter, and ¾C sugar together until well-combined.
In a 2C measuring cup (or a random bowl, but the measuring cup makes pouring easier), blend the eggs with the ¼C sugar until extremely smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the puree mixture slowly and carefully while stirring gently over that same low heat[2].
Once the egg mixture and the fruit mixture are smoothly and completely blended, you can – if you want to – turn the heat up to “medium”[3].
Continue stirring, gently, to prevent scorching and to help the mixture thicken (if it starts to boil “too early”, turn the heat down, fyi).
The mixture will eventually turn a slightly paler shade of pinky-purple (though it will still be dark). Around this time, it will start to bubble and also (rapidly) get thick enough to “coat the back of a spoon[4]”. This means it’s ready to can! 😀
Take your curd OFF the heat!
Pour/spoon your curd into those sterilized jars.
Cap them and process them in a boiling water bath (yes, even if you sterilized the jars in the oven) for a solid 15 minutes (you can go longer, if you want) for half-cup jars. You’ll need to go longer if you’re using bigger jars, fyi. (I like the little ones because they make really nice gifts, and you can use up a whole one during a single pancake brunch).
Anyway. That’s my (as-yet-untested) [EDIT: It works! :-D] chokecherry curd recipe.
Wish me luck! 😀
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1]Keep them warm-and-clean either by keeping them in the hot water, or by keeping them in a 225F oven. You can sterilize the glass at this temperature, if you bake them for 20 minutes, but you still have to boil the lids and rings if you go that route.
[2] The idea here is to prevent the egg mixture from, basically, “flash-cooking” before it’s blended into the fruit mixture. Part of making that work is pre-blending the eggs with some sugar. The other part is keeping the heat low and making sure to blend the fruit in steadily, but also fairly quickly. A whisk is a wonderful tool for this, fyi.
[3] This isn’t strictly speaking recommended. But I’m also impatient when it comes to waiting for my fruit curds to thicken, so I do this fairly frequently and… it doesn’t actually hurt anything. You just run the risk of scortching things and having them burn to the bottom of the pan. Less curd for you plus you then have to be careful about making sure you don’t scrape up any bitter, burnt bits into your delicious, sweet-tart-and-creamy fruit curd. Make your own decisions on that front.
[4] You know how you can test jam/jelly for done-ness by seeing if the drop run together before gloobing off the end of the spoon? This is the same idea. It’s a bit like the Cold Plate Test, but using your (typically hot) stirring implement. Basically, you slide a spoon through the mixture and give it a good tap on the side of the pot to get rid of any excess. If the back of the spoon stays well coated upon doing this, then you’re probably good to go.

Red Lentil “Falafel” Non-Recipe Plan

As some of you may know, I have a bit of a love-eugh relationship with red lentils. The thing that I love about them is also the thing that makes them – for a lazy cook like me, anyway – a little hard to work with. Like a lot of pulses, they’re not very flavourful on their own and, beyond that, they will happily disintegrate when over-cooked. This is fantastic if you want to last-minute thicken some over-zealous braising liquid into a creamy sauce, or when you want to add protein and body to (and thus make a solid meal out of) an already smooth purreed soup (I’m thinking “curried squash” or “carrot and ginger” for obvious already-orange examples, but you get the idea)… But is pretty crappy if what you want is to make a quick-and-dirty bean dish for a week-day dinner.
Case in point: I tried to make a lentils-and-couscous dish with beans and tomatoes thrown in, and what I actually wound up with was more like “lentil poridge” or “weirdly chunky hummus” with beans and tomatoes thrown in.
Don’t get me wrong: It tasted just fine[1], and was exactly as filling as I needed it to be, too. But it also means that I have, chilling my fridge, about 1.5 cups of “weirdly chunky hummus”… that I’m not totally sure what to do with.
So what do you do when you’ve got leftovers that you’re not sure how to use?
I my case, it means that I’m cooking up another two cups (or one cup, + two cups of bone stock[2]) of lentils, mashing them up, adding a quarter-cup of flour plus some curry powder, salt, black pepper, crushed garlic and parmesan cheese, and then stirring in my leftover lentil-mixture.
The result, in theory, should be a stiff mix that I can spoon into my frying pan (or my oven, on a super-well-greased cookie sheet – more likely, even in the current hot-and-humid situation) and fry/bake into something akin to falafel, which I could then serve with the very, very last of the sour cream (I used up the last of the yoghurt making apricot-chocolate-chip cupcakes this morning) and some cilantro/mint from the garden (possibly paired with heavily diced cucumber, since I’ve got some… Tsazik-ish?) and call “dinner” on this hot-and-sticky evening when I don’t much feel like putting tonnes of effort into anything fancy.
Fingers crossed. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Keep in mind: This was not a vegan dish. I cooked the lentils in bone stock – which is how I usually do it. If I’d wanted something this flavourful and umami-tastic while also vegan, I’d have cooked them in plain water, but done up a dressing that included ingredients like marmite, mustard, mashed garlic, nutritional yeast, and balsamic vinegar (the tomatoes in the dish would have helped, too).
[2] I have a LOT of bones in my freezer(s) and TWO (not one, but TWO) chicken carcasses in my fridge. I need to use up the stock I already have before I can make more. And I need to make more. For real. O.O

Goblin Fruit Jam 2015 ~ OR ~ Canning Season Is Upon Us

So, a year or two ago, I wrote a story. It was a little tiny thing, only a thousand words, and I wrote it so that I could tell it from memory at a local storytelling open mic. It was a story about a small, fictional town (Emerson, Ontario, for those keeping track) and the annual Jam Jambouree put on by one of the churches.
Mrs. Phillips always won the Jam Jambouree…
It was a story about a kid who’d had Mrs Phillips for an English Teacher and hadn’t had a very pleasant time of it, and who decided to show up Mrs Phillips just to Show Her that not everybody was willing to bend over backwards and make themselves small, just so she could feel big.
My main character made “Goblin Fruit” jam – or jelly, really – out of a summer’s worth of black currants, choke cherries, and blackberries, along with a glug of vanilla, a hoarded piece of candied ginger, and a nip of creme de casis from a tiny, dusty bottle in the back of her parents’ liquor cabinet.
My particular version of Goblin Fruit jelly, for 2015, includes the following:
Black currants from a harvest of the Booth Street bush down near Scott (which, fyi, contain a heap of their own pectin) (protection, abundance)
Choke cherries (harvested this morning, just before the rain hit, from the tree on the corner of Arlington and Bronson) (luck, love, passion)
Red (oh well) raspberries from the Everbearing bushes down the alley – only about ten, I picked them as I was coming home from getting the choke cherries (love, protection, passion)
Sweet cherries (again, only about 10) that came out of a bag in the freezer and come from nowhere near my neighbourhood (luck, love, passion)
A vanilla pod given to me by a friend (love, passion, & happiness)
A dash of ground allspice (luck)
A cube of candied ginger (love, and a magical energy boost)
As you can see, there’s a bit of a theme running through all of this. 😉
Because I don’t go in for jewel-tone clear jellies, but strain as much of the fruit pulp into the mixture as possible, I’m inclined to call this stuff “jam” rather than “jelly”. Regardless, it should be a dark redish-purple colour when it gets done, and it should taste roughly like cherry candy.
Wht I wound up with, after I’d simmered the fruit (in two rounds) and strained it through a sceive, was 2.5C worth of juice-and-pulp, which I poured back into the (washed) sauce pan with an equal amount of granulated sugar (and about two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, just to be on the safe side), and I’ve been quietly simmering that mixture on the stove for the past hour and a half or so while I wait for it to thicken up. It probably would have taken less time if I’d opted for a wider pan (thus allowing for a shallower depth of juice, more surface area, and as such a faster thickening process).
As it stands, I’ve filled 5 half-cup jars already, and am quickly boiling three more in order to use up the rest. If I have a drizzle left over, it might (maybe) get whipped into some cream for tonight strawberry-raspberry shortcake confection (we’ve got company coming over).
Meliad. 🙂

Clearly You Need To Know What I Ate Tonight

So today was a day of sending out job applications and returning library goodies. But I made the time, once the rain had let up (for now – I’m hoping pretty strongly that we get a little more rain overnight) to get all of my glorious, gifted plants into the ground – mostly into the front yard, where the card-board weed-smothering boxes are rotting nicely and doing their job, but are also soft enough to dig through and get to the (mostly clay, rocks, and broken glass) pre-existing soil underneath. Thank you, days of rain, for helping that along! 😀 Into the back yard went garlic chives and apple mint, and I took a few minutes (okay, a good half-hour) to spread the sauce tomatoes out just a little bit and give them some trellises to lean against.
That’s part of why I want the rain. I want the tomatoes to be happy. (Mainly, I admit, so that they produce a tonne of fruit, but hey. Benign self-interest?)
But my final garden task for the day – with the possible exception of taking a bucket of water out back and giving the tomatoes a drink – was to trim the rappini (which, given that we’re pushing Summer Solstice around these parts, is definitely starting to bolt) of its flower stalks (AKA “sprouting broccoli” or “broccolini”) and to cut a few bunches of fresh herbs, as well.
As you may have guessed, I’m really excited to be eating regularly (maybe even frequently – like: several times per week, so far) from the garden.
I’m also, in an entirely different way, kind of excited – or at least proud of my self – for cooking legumes from for-real scratch. As in: not just lentils, but the kind of (Great Northern, in this case) beans that you have to pre-soak, and that will give you about 3C beans for the price of one, by the time you’re done with them.
Partly for Year of the Pig reasons, partly for financial reasons, and partly for various health-related reasons, I’m trying to incorporate more beans-and-grains dishes into what we eat. Sometimes this means that the grain in “served on a bed of _________” becomes a mix of grain and short-cooking legumes (usually black lentils and pot barley, sometimes quinoa or white basmatic rice + red lentils) done in bone-stock, and that lets me “get away with” using half a cup of left-over roast rabbit/chicken/pork for the “meat” part of the dish without scrimping on the protein in a dish for 3+ people. Other times it’s less about being “sneaky” and more about just doing a vegetarian (ish – I do tend to cook my grains in bone stock, so…) dish for the sake of expedience and/or keeping the heat out of the house.
This was the case with tonight’s dinner.
Ingredients from the garden:
Sprouting Broccoli / Rappini
Greek Oregano
Sage (lots)
Winter Savory
Vietnamese Garlic greens
The rest:
A few stalks of asparagus (foodland Ontario for the win – I still have about half a pound of the stuff in the fridge)
Red quinoa (from somewhere south of the equator, I’m sure) + Great Northern Beans (from Saskatchewan) cooked in home-made bone-stock a couple of days ago
Black “beluga” lentils (likewise from Saskatchewan)
Dried cranberries (from California, no doubt)
Black pepper, prepared Dijon mustard, pinch of salt, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, a hint of maple syrup, and a pinch of nutmeg
I steamed the garden stuff while the lentils cooked (meaning: during the last 10 minutes of the lentils cooking), then tossed everything together in a bowl and mixed it until I couldn’t see any streaks of mustard anywhere.
It made enough for two adults plus one lunch, but we managed to get it to stretch to three (slightly smaller) adult-sized meals (plus one lunch) with the addition of a little more raw asparagus. If I’d really wanted to, I could have thrown in some of my (few) remaining walnuts and/or a few raw pumpkin seeds as well. That might have been a good idea. I find myself craving toast or some other munchable thing to fill in the gaps.
The salad came out tasty, just piquant enough (for someone who likes piquant – roughly 1/3 of the green stuff was fresh herbs, plus the mustard and balsamic are heavy hitters in the flavour department as far as I’m concerned) and was enjoyed by all. Had I known that I was going to be feeding three people tonight (woops), I would have cut an extra handful of rappini and made extra black lentils (I started with ¼ C raw black beluga lentils and, in retrospect, would have been better going with upwards of a ½ C of same).
All that being said: Not bad, for a dish that combines “what needs using up” with “what needs pruning”. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Eat from the Larder Challenge 2015 – RECIPE!

Hey. So week four of the Eat From the Larder Challenge is… going. That’s what I’ve got, and I’ll leave the rest for Sunday’s weekly wrap-up post.
My wife and I picked up our sweetie yesterday night at the train station, and I promised I’d make sure there was food on hand because, hey, a five-hour train ride (that got delayed, and was even longer) is no picnic and protein + blood sugar tends to make everything better.
But, of course, this is the month of No Grocery Buying, so I had to take a look at what I actually had available which… wasn’t much.
I mean, yes, I have tonnes of food (still). But our young lady has allergies that mean (a) no cheese, and (b) no hot OR sweet peppers. And the bread I’d originally thought of using had been mostly eaten for breakfast that morning (and the other loaf was still half-frozen in the fridge, where it was thawing). SO. What is a poly punk-domestic to do?
What I did was (a) make whole-wheat soda bread dough, (b) make a really awesome tuna salad (see below – it’s a recipe that I modified, but heaven only knows which website I found it on. Something on a wordpress site, conveniently, that I found after googling “tuna and fruit recipe” or similar), and (c) combine the two into something like a Cornish Pastie crossed with a Samosa.
I’m happy to report that it worked! 😀
The recipe for the bread dough is, basically, the Stratford Hall Biscuits recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen, so I’m not going to reproduce that here. The filling, however, is as follows:
Curried Tuna Salad with Apples
1 (larger-size, not the kind with the peel-off tops) tin of unseasoned, water-packed tuna, drained
1 smallish cortland apple, cored and diced
1/4 C diced onion
1/4 C dried cranberries
3 tbsp mayonaise
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2-3 tsp curry powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp tamari
1 tsp grainy mustard (iirc)
1 tsp dried cilantro
Mash everything together in a bowl (I used a fork for this).
Spoon onto thinly-rolled-out squares of dough (each square should take 2-3 heaping soup-spoonfuls, fyi).
Fold/gather the dough around the filling and pinch it shut. The resulting package should look vaguely like a dim-sum bun, honestly, but ymmv.
Bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes (until the bread is golden-brown and smells fully cooked).
Makes about four buns.
You could use this tuna salad recipe on a cold sandwich, or mix it wish pasta (or quinoa, or couscous, or rice…) for a more filling summer (or winter) caserole.
You could likewise make these packets and fill them with:
Spicy potatoes, greens, cooked lentils, and some kind of coconut/peanut sauce
Steak-onion-kidney-mushroom stew
Hummus, jarred tomatoes, frozen (diced & roasted) eggplant, and dried peaches or apricots
Pulled pork & braised root veggies
Leftover steamed squash (or sweet potatoes), dried cranberries, sauteed mushrooms, and crumbled walnuts (a little wild rice wouldn’t go amiss, either)
…Basically, you want something mooshy & space-taking (whether that’s carbs or protein or both, doesn’t matter), something protein-tastic, something bright (er, meaning acidic), and something to bind everything together and provide a little bit of moisture during the cooking process (but not too much).
So. That’s my fancy-schmancy, “look upon my awesome creation” recipe for this year’s Eat From the Larder Challenge. We’ll see if I come up with any others from here on in. 🙂
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.

Peanut-Butter Chocolate-Chip Shortbread-Esque Cookies (Recipe)

So, possibly to convince my squirrel-brain that we do, in fact, have enough food in the house to eat All The Things and not run out of food before the end of April – and possibly also because it’s been a long weekend and a relatively (HA!) guest-heavy five days – I’ve been baking cookies of late.
Today, I made a small batch of fairly crispy/snappy vegan peanut-butter cookies that started out as a shortbread cookie recipe and wound up including a small number of chocolat chips, too.
Here’s the recipe:
Peanut-Butter Chocolate-Chip Shortbread-Esque Cookies
1½C white (all-purpose, wheat) flour
½ C brown sugar (well-packed)
½ C smooth peanut butter (ideally the “just peanuts” kind, but whatever)
¼ C sunflower oil
2tbsp maple syrup[1]
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼C large-size chocolate chips (or more, but start low and build, as this is fairly crumbly stuff)
Preheat the oven to 350F
Grease a baking sheet really well
Mix everything BUT the chocolate chips together in a big bowl. Kneed it with your (warm) hands to help it stick.
Kneed in the chocolate chips
Pack into flat, mishapen rounds about 1½” in diameter (oiling your hands a little bit will help)
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until things are getting golden-brown around the edges
Allow to sit for a couple of minutes before trying to move the cookies[2].
Serve and enjoy, ideally with a refreshing drink.
Make about 18 cookies.
So there you have it. The second batch of thrown-together cookies I’ve made in five days. Given that I’m about half-done my small jar of peanut butter, I’m going to have to either start cooking with butter again (I have three pounds of the stuff in the freezer, so), or otherwise go easy on the kind of cookies I make over the course of the rest of April.
Meliad the Birch Maiden
[1] It’s a nice touch, but I found the cookies just a little bit sweet… not sure what to do about that, since the liquid sugar is also acting in the role of a binder. Maybe don’t keep the brown sugar fairly loose in the measure?
[2] I let them sit for 3-5 minutes after coming out of the oven, and then I shift them just a little bit on the tray so that they don’t stick once they’re all-the-way cool. Then I leave them there and wait for the chocolate chips to mostly solidify-up again.

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week One Wrap-Up

So, as-you-know-bob, I’m doing Erica’s Eat From the Larder Challenge this year. I shall endevor to do it with at least a little less whining than last year (fingers crossed), but we’ll see how it goes.
It’s rapidly dawning on me that I am going to do this challenge by starting with the Easy Stuff. (This will come as no surprised, and I’m kind of hoping that I’m not alone in this boat, but hey). As such dinners (and the resulting Leftovers-as-Lunches) are tending towards either (a) eating out, for various definitions of “out” due to Holiday Stuff going on, and (b) stuff in tins and jars and bags (which was the point, I realize). I’m not quite at the juncture where I have to put red lentils in everything due to being completely out of all other possible protein. I’m not quite at the stage where I have to plan ahead in order to have “snack foods” – like last year’s millet-based breakfast muffins – and get creative about making things like cornmeal crepes and “edamole” (instead of tortilla wraps + tub-o-guacamole from the store) if I want to make tacos for dinner some night.
We’ll see how this holds up (if I’m wise, I’ll have the sense to make coconut-dal with swiss chard or something long before I’m out of other options – variety is key, as I discovered last year).
Anyway. The first (short) week of April has gone like this:
Wednesday the 1st – A friend stopped by, brought us crackers and goat cheese, and I proved hummus – courtesy of the Queering Power Party – plus a dinner of rotini with sauteed (in lashings of butter) mushrooms (dried, reconstituted), snap peas (QP Party again), fresh grape tomatoes (see also: QP Party), a shake or three of parmasan cheese, and some of the chevre my friend brought over. There was also wine – I like wine, and I know I’ll be buying more of it as the month goes on, in spite of staying out of the grocery stores – and I made a batch of double-chocolate peanutbutter cookies as well (the last of-which we ate on Saturday morning). My wife had taken the last of the West Texas Dal for her lunch that day.
Thursday the 2nd – Was a friend’s birthday dinner, so we were actually eating elsewhere. My wife had left-over pasta for lunch.
Friday the 3rd – Breakfast (which happened around noon) was bacon + apricot french toast (using 2 eggs, a bit of oil, a bit of milk, and a couple of tablespoons of apricot butter) made with mainly-whole-wheat home-made bread. Dinner was… out. This time, at a pub. (I remember that it felt like we ate out a lot last April, and I couldn’t tell if that was because we actually were eating out more than usual, of if it just felt like that because (a) not spending money on food at the grocery store, and (b) variety, ye gods, variety). I’m putting this one down to it being the first real warm day of Spring. We’ll see what happens as the month goes on though (full disclosure: We will be visiting Lovely Wife’s Mom for her birthday on the 15th, and then in Toronto – eating at restaurants for, I suspect, 100% of our stay, for the rest of that week).
Saturday the 4th – Fried eggs and toast for breakfast, Easter Lunch with My Mom (at a local cafe), snacking on home-jarred cucumber pickles (there’s going to be a lot of this – I have, like, 9 pints of cucumber pickles left, you guys…), and the following dinner:
2 potatoes, thinly sliced and boiled, added to a frying pan containing:
Bacon grease
1 onion, diced
1 one-cup jar of tomato-peach salsa
1C (approx) frozen edamame
2 pucks (about 1/2 C) frozen diced-roasted eggplant
1 tin of red kidney beans
1-2 tbsp goat cheese
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
Sunday the 5th (today) – has included (a) chocolate bunnies (from my Mom) for breakfast – because we’re ever-so-healthy around here, (b) cheese sandwiches using the last of the home-made bread (new bread is on its first rise at the moment, and I’m hoping to get it baked in the next 2 hours) plus some of our copeous cheddar, and a variet of spreads incuding grainy mustard and apricot butter (not *as* good as apple in this context, but pretty tastey). Dinner is tube-pasta with the last of the QP tomatoes, and the last of a mixed bag of frozen veggies[1] that includes julienned carrots, snap peas, broccoli florets, green beans, and edamame, plus dried basil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and a tablespoon or two of chevre.
It’s worth noting that, most working-week days, “breakfast” actually boils down to “coffee”, with the possibility of toast in there if we really plan things well. I’ll have to make a point of remembering that we have the better part of a kilogram of plain yoghurt in the fridge, along with heaps of frozen red currants, smaller heaps of frozen serviceberries, and various other berries still in the deep freeze. Yoghurt and berries (and walnuts and a drizzle of our very abundant maple syrup) are a fast, easy, really TASTEY, and reasonably healthy way to start the day, so I should probably have that more often. 😉
If you are doing the Eat From the Larder Challenge this month, how is it going so far?
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I love those mixed bags that you get from the freezer case at the grocery store. They’re a wonderful EASY way to throw a good mix of veggies into a chili or a stew (or a stir-fry, or a curry, or a pasta-dish… you name it) when you need something that’s relatively no-brains or no-prep. Looking towards the impending garden, and its imagined (fingers crossed) harvest, I’m hoping to put up enough IQF stuff – like pucks of kale, ruby chard, and eggplant plus snap beans, rounds of blanched golden zucchini and just-as-blanched diced winter squash – to be able to do this without relying (as much – I’m not planning on growing broccoli or cauliflower any time soon) on the grocery store stuff. Wish me luck! 🙂