Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

Pantry Project – part 1

Forth of July weekend will be spent reworking my pantry. Its a horrible mess. Everything will come out.

Encluding the carpet. Our home is wood floors except for the closets! The previous owners left the closest carpeted. My husband will replace with tile. Walls will be painted. New shelves will be put in.

Then everything will have a place! I will be able to find things! I can’t wait. It begins tonight! You get to see our daily progress. Lucky you.

June 28, 2011

Farmers Market Produce

Had some alone time this morning. Went to the Farmers Market in Fairfax, picked up what I need for the Veggie Stock that I plan on making on Thursday, plus a few very yummy apples.

June 27, 2011

attempt at fresh mint iced tea

I had a lot of fresh mint leftover from yesterdays meal and I had no desire to let all that mint go to waste. So I decided to look up mint tea.  Since my husband grew up on iced mint tea, I was hoping to find whatever recipe that his family used online somewhere. I couldn’t find anything. So if any of his family reads this, please send me the recipe so I can make it for Chris.

Here’s my attempt at Iced Mint Tea.

The first thing I did was boil 8 cups of water.  Once the water started boiling, I added 2 cups of sugar into the boiling water, letting the sugar completely melt into the water.  Making sugar water.  I know that sounds a lot of sugar, but I like my tea sweet and I am diluting it with ice.

From there I bundled up 12 bags of tea, using a reusable bag clip to hold them together making it easier to handle.  I put two sprigs of mint into the water with them. I let them simmer for about 5 minutes.

I took the tea bags out. I tasted the tea to see how minty it was. I didn’t think it was all that minty. So I added more sprigs. Covered the pot and let it simmer for a bit more.

I kept on tasting and adding more mint until I felt like I was there.

Strained the tea into a bowl.  From there I poured the tea into a pitcher full of ice.

I like the taste, but its a pretty dark and really doesn’t taste like what my husband family makes.  Here’s hoping he likes it anyway.  I’m going to have to try making it again, but with fewer tea bags and maybe a 1/2 cup less of sugar.  Just might try with green tea instead.

At least I can say I did something today.

June 26, 2011

Sunday Soup

About a month ago I decided that the Yoder’s (my husband, son and myself) needed a new weekly tradition. This is where Sunday Soup came from. My husband only day off happens to be Sunday, so its kind of nice to have something special to look forward to. I am looking forward to seeing this lovely tradition evolve over the years.

The Soup menu for this Sunday is Pea Soup (click here to see the recipe) with fresh baked Onion Bread (here to see the bread recipe). I found the recipe for the Pea Soup on a blog that I am falling in love with, 101 Cookbooks. The bread at The Fresh Loaf website, another new fav of mine.

Before I go into details about the meal that I put together, here is the reason why I have decided to make all our food fresh as possible, and to have little traditions that can be groomed for years to come. Making our condo a home, Hallowed Ground if you will.

My wonderful husband Chris, the most amazing man that I have the honor of spending my life with and my adorable (if I don’t say so myself!) son, Jones. Yes, Jones is his first name.

(my husband moved the laptop so I could see that he was chewing the table. he makes it look enjoyable)

On to the food! It started last night, making what is called Poolish. I have to be honest, I did not take the time to learn what Poolish is, and why its called Poolish. I just followed the recipe directions. Poolish recipe (as it is for this bread) is 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. Then you cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit over night. Thats it. As you can see, its all watery.

Above – what it looked like last night.

Below – what the Poolish looked like after hanging out over night. 

This morning, I took this Poolish mixture and added it to the rest of the recipe, which you can read Here. Now, the recipe you will read is for a braided bread. I actually tried to do a twist. Failed! Its is so much harder then it looks. So as you can see, I just rolled it in to a odd shaped ball.

The aroma that spread through the house as it baked was simply amazing.

The texture and taste surpassed the smell.  If you love fresh bread, I highly recommend this recipe. Its amazing! My husband could not wait to eat with lunch. It was quite nice to munch on while making the Green Pea Soup.

The Onion Bread was a beautiful combination to the Green Pea Soup. The soup had, well peas, ginger, serrano chiles, garlic, onions, cumin, topped off with fresh lemon juice, queso fresco, and fresh mint. Please check out the recipe made by the original creator at her site 101 Cookbooks.

I bought a hand blender this weekend, and I have to say it is so far the best kitchen purchase I have made thus far. If you don’t have one, and enjoy soups, I highly recommend you getting one.

I think my husband would agree, I set the bar high after today’s Sunday Soup. We will see what will happen next Sunday.

June 25, 2011

Loaf Re-Done and Better

Last week I tried this bread called Anadama Bread, a recipe from the grand cookbook How to Cook Everything. As you can see, it didn’t work out so well. It turned out to be a very dense loaf. Lately thats how most of my breads have been coming out like. In desperation to figure out what I was doing wrong, and how to make a better loaf, I turned to google.

That is where I found a wonderful website, The Fresh Loaf. What a resource! From there I learned to let your flour soak for at least an hour. That sticky dough is best, and that one of the reasons my dough wasn’t rising is because I was killing my yeast with water that was way to hot.

the above photo show’s that I am using bleached flour instead of unbleached. Thats because it was cheaper at Costco. Next time I buy flour from Costco, I am going to make sure I saved up for the better quality flour. But honestly, it hasn’t given me any problems. When the budget is tight, I’d get it again.

(nothing like a little mess to clean up)

Another thing that I learned was that during the “bulk rising” time, you should fold the dough 2 to 3 times. Which I never knew that. I also put the bowl in my oven with just the light on. The warmth helped with the rising. A few hours later, a few folds later, I put the dough in a bread pan and let rise for another 90 minutes or so. The difference was amazing!

As you can see, the first attempt (the one on the right) is way more dense. The one baked last night (to the left) looks much lighter and fluffier. And believe me, it tastes a heck of a lot better! I must say, I am kind of proud of myself. I think I am on the road to very fine homemade bread for my family. No more store bought!

June 24, 2011

WANTED: Tomato Thief


Being that I am new to blogging and have tried it before in the past and failed, I started thinking about what in the world I was going to write about first thing morning. In fact, I was thinking why blog at all. What in the world would I have to say?

Well someone took care of that for me.  Todays topic came to me at 7:45 am. That is when I went to water the small tomato plants on the front porch of our condo.

This is not the greatest photo I have ever taken, but I think it gets the point across. I do not have many tomato plants, just two. To the right of the photo what you should be seeing is one nicely reddish-orange tomato and a second one almost ripe.  They were there at 6:30 this morning when my husband went outside. At 7:45 am I went to water them, but they were GONE! Taken! Who steals a tomato from someone’s front porch? It’s not just that they took the tomatoes from us, it also that those two were the firsts of the season. We were so looking forward to eating them.

To top it all off, I ended up listening to all the crazy rants of what my husband wanted to do the person that took them. Like beat them down with some kind of stick or fists. Write a sign saying that what he will do to the person who took them and put it with the plants. Write a letter to the condo office letting them know we have a tomato thief (I think, I kind of stopped listening to him) and so on. I am not quite sure what was worse for me, the tomato being stolen or listening to my husbands rants of a tomato.

Fear not, there are more growing, heres hoping that they don’t get stolen as well. Tomatoes are so expensive, thats why I am growing my own. Maybe I should be a bag full of tomato seeds with a sign asking them to take the seeds and grow their own. Leave ours alone!

June 23, 2011

Getting Rid of Jiffy

So I am attempting to and determined to transition the food in our house to “whole” and “clean” products. Meaning I want to get rid of all processed food from our house.

So while I was cleaning out my pantry, I came across 5 boxes of Jiffy Corn Mix. I decided to get rid of it by cooking it, and from now on I will be making our cornbread from scratch. I made a spinach casserole with the mix. It was pretty yummy. My husband and I had seconds. I plan on making it again but a non-box healthier version. If you want something easy, heres the recipe.  I’ll update this post when I update this recipe.

Spinach Casserole (6-8 servings)                                                

 1pkg Jiffy corn muffin mix
1pkg (10 0z) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups chopped onion
2Tbsp margarine or butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream soup (celery, mushroom or chicken) whatever you have on hand
1tsp herb seasoning (i didn’t use)
1/2tsp garlic salt
1/4tsp pepper
swiss cheese (optional) (I used whatever I had on hand)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
Cook & drain spinach. Set aside. Saute onion in margarine or butter. Mix spinach with onion & set aside. Combine eggs, sour cream, soup, seasonings & muffin mix. Blend well & add spinach mixture. Pour into prepared casserole dish & bake 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top (optional). Return to oven until cheese is melted.