As regular readers know, a few months ago I was the fortunate recipient of some sourdough starter that’s older than most college students. Historically, sourdough starters were a precious family legacy, a means of making yeast-risen bread without relying on little store-bought packages. You can make starter yourself, but getting it from a friend makes it much easier! My friend sent my starter with three pages of instructions (including feeding it every single day), which I read thoroughly and then filed for safe keeping. (No, really, I know exactly where they are.) Then I started messing around with it, seeing how long I could go without feeding the starter (when the storms hit and work got too busy, I went close to 4 weeks without feeding it) and how many recipes I could modify to use it. (more…)
Archive for the ‘comfort food’ Category
Posted in baking, bread, breakfast, buttermilk, comfort food, Cooking And Baking, Food, frugal living, history, pizza, vegetarian, whole grains, tagged baking, Food, history, recipes, vegetarian, whole grains on May 22, 2011| 12 Comments »
Posted in apple, baking, bread, butter, cake, comfort food, Cooking And Baking, cranberries, dessert, frugal living, fruit, walnut, whole grains, tagged baking, dessert, Food, recipes on November 22, 2010| 2 Comments »
I’ve recently been on a mission to re-organize and clean out our freezers. I know we have things that have been in the arctic depths too long. The other day on a clean out I found some sweet bread (coffee cake remnants?) that I had frozen in chunks. I tasted it. Hmmm. It was okay. But it had been frozen a while. What to do? Bread pudding, of course!
- about 2 cups of bread, torn in chunks
- an apple that I cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
- two eggs whisked with half a cup of milk
- about 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- cinnamon and nutmeg
- a crumb topping that I had also frozen when I had a bit too much for a previous recipe
- black walnuts leftover from breakfast (topping for oatmeal)
Layer the bread in a buttered dish (or cast iron pan like I used). Sprinkle on a tiny bit of nutmeg and a bigger bit of cinnamon. Add the apples and cranberries. Drizzle on the syrup with more cinnamon. Pour on the egg and milk mixture. Let the pudding sit for about an hour to start absorbing the liquid. Add the crumb topping if you’re feeling really decadent.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Serve warm.It’s just some old bread, some fruit, eggs, milk, and spices, but it is ooohhhhh so good! Mr. Homesteader kept asking for more and practically whimpered when I told him that there was no more.
What’s your favorite freezer clean-out ever? Or are you organized enough that you never need to clean out your freezer?
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.
Posted in appetizer, butternut squash, comfort food, Cooking And Baking, cream, dinner, dinner, farmer's market, Food, frugal living, gardening, garlic, ginger, herbs, pumpkin, recipes, soup, sweet things, vegetarian, winter squash, tagged dinner, Food, pumpkin, recipes, soup on November 21, 2010| 10 Comments »
Every fall I am overwhelmed by a desire to surround myself by pumpkins and winter squashes, one of the most enduring symbols of autumn’s bounty. Every year I make pumpkin soup. Every year Mr. Homesteader eats the soup politely but, I must admit, not that enthusiastically. Knowing his love of exotic flavors, I’ve tried lots of variations: with cinnamon and sweetness, with ginger and curry, with southwestern flavors. It was my most recent rendition of the perennial pumpkin soup, however, that won his heart and had him polishing off his soup in record time. And it was the most basic I’ve ever made. I present it to you here. I know it’s basic, but he really thought it was good!
Pumpkin sizes vary so much and this recipe is so easy that I offer this recipe casually, with no precise measurements. Begin by washing well and whacking in half one eating pumpkin or large winter squash. Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Save those seeds, cleaned free of the flesh! Roasted, they’ll make great healthy snacks with lots of good omega-3s. Bake the pumpkin halves in an 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes, depending on size. If you can cover the pumpkin, put just a couple of tablespoons in the cavities where the seeds were located. If baking uncovered, fill each cavity about 2/3 full. After you’ve baked the pumpkin for 10 minutes, add one clove of garlic, unpeeled, to the pan and let it roast with the pumpkin for the remaining 20 minutes.
Scoop the roasted flesh from the skin, letting it cool a bit to make sure you can get every last bit. Cut off the tough end of the roasted garlic and squeeze it into a cooking pot with the pumpkin flesh. Add a splash of chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock and a splash or two of cream and/or milk. Blend everything with a stick blender, in a food processor, or in a stand blender, adding more cream or milk to get a smooth consistency. Season with salt and black pepper. Add a pinch each or so of finely ground cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and rubbed sage. Heat gently and serve.
Does your family eat pumpkin soup? Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe to share that you think Mr. Homesteader would like? He’s mighty adventurous!
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. Short excerpts and tweets are fair use, as long as you provide a full URL.
Posted in carrots, comfort food, Community Supported Agriculture, Cooking And Baking, cream, CSA, farmer's market, herbs, leeks, locavore, onions, organic food, organic gardening, soup, tomato, tagged dinner, Food, recipes, soup on September 20, 2010| 23 Comments »
I don’t remember having creamy tomato soup that often as a kid, but I do remember how comforting a can of Campbell’s could be as I moved out on my own and couldn’t afford much else. Today creamy tomato soup still speaks comfort to me, but I quit that red can long ago in favor of brands that have fewer artificial ingredients. The “natural” and organic brands are pretty expensive, so how about just making our own creamy tomato soup at home? This recipe will let you use up some of that bushel of tomatoes that showed up in your CSA basket, that caught your eye at your local farmer’s market, or that mysteriously appeared in your garden or on your doorstep.
- 1/3 medium sweet yellow onion, diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter
- about 1 medium carrot (2 if the carrots don’t taste too carrot-y), diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 1/2 cups (or more) of fresh or home-canned peeled tomatoes, as many seeds as you can removed (but keep the juice)
- pinch of salt (more to taste after you cook everything)
- pinch or two of sugar
- tiny, tiny pinch of allspice or nutmeg
- 1/2-2/3 cup whole milk (or more, to taste) or cream, if you’re feeling decadent
- optional: garnish with fresh herbs
In a non-reactive, heavy-bottomed pot with the lid on, sauté the onions over low heat in the olive oil and butter until the onions just barely start to color. Add the carrots and let them get a little color too. Remember to keep the lid on to retain the moisture. Add the tomatoes, salt, sugar, and allspice or nutmeg and simmer the soup on low heat until the tomatoes start to break down and the carrots are soft. Purée using a stick blender if you have one. If you don’t have a stick blender, let the mixture cool a bit and then blend it in a stand blender or food processor or even run it through a hand-crank food mill. Bring back to a simmer and add the milk. Be careful not to boil after you add the milk, or the soup will curdle! Taste and add salt if needed. Serve hot with a grilled cheese sandwich (or turkey-ham and cheese, like we used).
Have you developed a favorite comfort-food recipe? If you serve tomato soup, what do you serve with it in your home?
Remember to check out the Homestead’s first ever giveaway. You could win a Dutch oven, just for saying you’re interested.
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.
Posted in baking, bread, breakfast, buttermilk, cake, comfort food, Cooking And Baking, dried fruit, Food, frugal living, gardening, kefir, organic food, organic gardening, preserving the harvest, raisins, recipes, summer squash, sweet things, walnut, whole grains, zucchini, tagged bread, breakfast, children, family, Food, recipes on August 24, 2010| 2 Comments »
August and September end the lazy days of slow breakfasts, but they don’t have to end good breakfasts. For a quick, healthy breakfast or afternoon snack, bake a loaf of whole-grain, low-fat, higher protein but still moist and delicious zucchini bread, chocked full of good stuff like pepitas, which contain healthy fatty acids. Take a look at the ingredients: your only fat is from the egg(s) and the pepitas. All of the moist goodness comes from buttermilk and yogurt, plus those dairy products and pepitas bring extra protein, calcium, and some good fats. One loaf will yield close to 2 dozen slices for several breakfasts, lunchbox treats, afternoon snacks, or even as Mr. Homesteader likes it best, dessert at night (warmed with a dollop of ice cream).
Ingredients for 1 loaf baked in a 9×5 inch pan
- 1/4 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
- 1/3 cup sugar (or less)
- 1/4 cup buttermilk or kefir
- 1-2 eggs
- 1 cup grated fresh or frozen (drained) zucchini
- 1 cup plus one tablespoon whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 -3 tablespoons cinnamon (or less, if you aren’t a cinnamon nut like I am!)
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
- handful or two of golden raisins, regular raisins, or currants (optional if you hate raisins, of course)
Preheat oven (or toaster oven!) to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom only of a 9X5 bread-baking pan (glass or cast iron preferred over a flimsy metal pan, as you’re going to bake this for a while). Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl or large mixing cup–about 1 quart size should give you plenty of room. Combine the remaining ingredients except the pepitas and raisins in a 2-cup measure and stir well. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in the raisins and pepitas, reserving a few pepitas for the top of the loaf. Pour everything into your prepared pan and sprinkle on the last of the pepitas. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 70 minutes, covering the top loosely with foil to avoid over-browning about half way through the process. Let the bread cool 5 minutes in the pan, and then slide a knife around the edges to make sure the bread is separated neatly. Remove the bread from the pan and let it finish cooling on a rack. Slice after it cools, as you need it, from the center outward.
If you’ve got space in your freezer, you can double or even triple this recipe and freeze loafs for easy breakfasts in the winter. If you decide to freeze the zucchini instead, be sure to grate it first and then drain it very well after it thaws before you use it for bread.
Does your family have a favorite quick back-to-school breakfast? Do you have a special way to bake zucchini bread?
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.
Posted in butter, cheese, comfort food, cream, dinner, dinner, eggs, family, Food, gardening, onions, organic food, organic gardening, preserving the harvest, recipes, Southern food, summer, summer squash, whole grains, tagged dinner, Food, recipes on August 22, 2010| 8 Comments »
Recently a Canadian reader, Anita, who has fallen in love with Southern food asked me for my squash casserole recipe. I said I’d be happy to oblige but would need a few weeks for two reasons: first, the squash crop around here was in the summer lull (argh, squash bugs!), but most importantly because I needed to actually come up with a recipe. I make mine a little differently every time, just as I do with most things that I cook and bake. Anita remembered a casserole she’d had in Georgia that was creamy, with a buttery flavor. She hoped it did not involve the ubiquitous can of Campbell’s soup that has made most “casseroles” since the 1950s. I’ve certainly had the souped up casserole at many a potluck, but that was not my favorite squash casserole; my favorite was my grandmother’s.
While my mother-in-law was visiting, I made a squash casserole as my mother-in-law said she did, using milk, mayonnaise, and egg as the binding agent. It definitely was not what we were looking for, having a heavy feel, and I knew my own grandmother had used a white sauce. I hunted to see if my grandmother ever wrote down her recipe, or if she had gotten it from that trusty 1899 cookbook that belonged to her mother. No, that cookbook made no mention of a casserole at all, the concept of a casserole having been foreign (literally) in much of the Southern United States until the introduction of Campbell’s “casseroles” in the mid-twentieth century. (The infamous green bean casserole with canned soup dates from 1955, by the way.) I surrendered to the inevitable; I had learned how to make squash casserole at my grandmother’s side, and I needed to just give up looking for a recipe and create my own.
My grandmother’s version of squash casserole would have involved either a standard white sauce with cheese and egg or evaporated milk with cheese and egg. Today I’ll give you my white sauce version, using the dangerously easy cheese sauce with all real-dairy ingredients that I posted in May. I’m going to give the recipe in proportions for one or two medium yellow squash, with the variations for more. Remember as you select your casserole dish to keep the squash mixture at about 2 inches depth in the dish. That way, every serving can have a good amount of the crunchy topping.
A couple of casserole sizes:
- 1-2 squash: Try using one of those cute little .4 L Corning casseroles
- 7-8 squash: Go for a 2-quart casserole dish.
Recipe for 1-2 medium-sized yellow squash:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and tiny pat of butter (better!)
- 1/3 – 1/2 medium-sized sweet yellow onion, cut into very thin slices (If the onion makes you cry when you cut into it, use less.)
- 1-2 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- dash of salt, pepper, and, if you want, a pinch of Italian herbs
- 1 egg, beaten with a fork
- 1/4 cup dangerously easy cheese sauce, cooled sufficiently to avoid cooking the egg.
- 1/4 cup more freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- fine, dry bread crumbs (like Panko) or fine cracker crumbs, sufficient to cover the top of the casserole in a thin layer (about 1/4 cup)
Saute the onion in a heavy pan in the olive oil and butter mix just until the onion starts to get a little color. Add the squash and saute it with the salt, pepper, and herbs until a bit of the liquid in it yields and is cooked off. (The salt will help this process.) Let the mixture cool a bit. In a measuring cup, add the cheese sauce to the beaten egg and stir well to combine. Start layering the squash and onions in a lightly greased casserole dish, then pour on a little cheese-egg mixture, then more squash and onions, then more cheese until you’ve used it all. Sprinkle the grated sharp cheddar on top, add your bread crumbs, and bake, covered, in a 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes. Take off the lid and let the casserole brown on top, about 5-10 minutes more depending on what type of crumbs you used. Let the casserole cool about 5 minutes and then serve.
Let’s multiply to make bigger casseroles:
For 3-4 squash, use 2/3-1 onion, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce. For 5-6 squash, use 1 to 1 1/2 onion, 3 eggs, and 3/4 cup cheese sauce. For 7-8 squash, use 1 1/3 to 2 sweet onions, 4 eggs, and 1 cup cheese sauce.
As my husband tucked his fork into his serving of casserole last night and put it in his mouth, he sort of made a face. I was downhearted. I’d already tasted the casserole and thought it was blog worthy. I waited a few minutes and asked him what he thought, explaining my quest. It turned out, he was thinking about his master’s class in statistics when he made the face. He went into Food Network judge mode to extoll the virtues of the casserole. He described the squashy, cheesy portion of the casserole as almost custardy, with a fluffy lightness that balanced the richness of the cheese. He pointed out that the fine crumbs had contributed to the lightness of the dish with their crisp coating on the top. He liked the flavor too.
To be sure, there are plenty of squash casserole recipes out there, and this is just one, Anita. If it doesn’t fit your memories of the squash casserole you had in Georgia, I’ll happily go back to the kitchen to work on it more. My late-planted squash is about to produce a bonanza. I’ll end up freezing a few squash casseroles by the time the season is over, for use in the winter.
Do you have a favorite squash casserole recipe, with or without canned soup? Please share!
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.
Posted in baking, cast iron, chicken, comfort food, Cooking And Baking, dinner, dinner, Dutch oven, family, Food, frugal living, garlic, herbs, tagged cooking, dinner, Food, recipes on August 11, 2010| 13 Comments »
You can make just about anything in an outdoor Dutch oven that you can make in an oven in the house. Yesterday I roasted a whole chicken from Falling Sky Farm with rosemary, garlic, and lemons in a 12-quart Dutch oven in the back yard. The process is so simple that I hesitate to post it, but I know some readers would like to do more Dutch oven cooking, so here goes.
Make a brine of 1 cup salt, 1 cup vinegar, and 1 cup sugar, heated and dissolved in water, with enough additional water and/or ice to completely cover your chicken. Drop in several crushed juniper berries and twigs of rosemary. Be sure to use a non-reactive pot–no cast iron, aluminum, or plastic for this stage. Brine the bird at least 24 hours.
Remove the bird from the brine and discard the brine mixture, rosemary, etc. Stuff the bird with more fresh rosemary, 2-4 cloves of sliced garlic, and about half a lemon. Season the bird’s skin with a little more salt and pepper. Now you’re ready to roast!
Start charcoal, preferably using a chimney with the bottom loaded with newspaper to avoid having to use lighter fluid. (Ick!) Get the coals hot. Put the chicken in a lightly greased outdoor Dutch oven, either by itself or with potatoes as we did. Add the lid. Put the Dutch oven on top of about 8-12 coals. Add more coals to the top. Rotate the whole oven *and* the lid every 15 minutes or so. Your chicken will roast in an hour to an hour and a half, depending on size. You may need to add coals as you go, so do keep an eye on whether you’ll need to fire up some more.
Our 5-pound chicken roasted for an hour and a half, and it was definitely over the minimum safe temperature of 165-170 degrees F. It was also incredible juicy, with super rosemary and garlic flavor, all thanks to roasting in the Dutch oven. And our house stayed sooooo nice and cool! I wish I had a food stylist on staff to make it clear how gorgeous this bird was, but I’ll trust that you’ll give the recipe a try and decide for yourself.
Oh–do you see that juice in the bottom? It’s the incredibly flavorful base for gravy. Let everything cool a few minutes; then remove the bird and veggies to rest. Whisk a little potato flour or whole-wheat pastry flour into the juices. Heat to boiling with a little sherry and let thicken. Serve on the side. Do be careful–this mixture includes the brine and may already be a little salty for some folks.
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. All rights reserved.