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Archive for the ‘Dutch oven’ Category

squash blossom by Ozarkhomesteader

Tonight I wanted something light to go with open-faced chicken salad sandwiches.  I had beautiful fresh zucchini from the garden, babied through our first frost with a blanket.  I had cherry tomatoes but opted not to use them; instead I opened a can of organic diced tomatoes.  This soup is so simple but so good.  Add eggplant and you’d have ratatouille, but why not keep it simple for once?

Tomato-Zucchini Soup with fresh basil

serves 2-3

  • olive oil
  • about 1/3 sweet onion, sliced with the slices cut into strips about a half inch to inch long
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • two medium-sized zucchinis, cut into slices (or quartered lengthwise and then sliced if the zucchini is a bit bigger)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, scant two cups
  • optional:  parmesan rind
  • splash of cream
  • finely shredded fresh basil, about 5-6 medium-sized leaves (okay to use dried, but it will change the flavor, and you’ll need to add it with the tomatoes)
  • salt to taste

Sauté the onions in a bit of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, like a small Dutch oven.  After the onion starts to soften and color, add the garlic and zucchini.  Sauté until you get a little color on the zucchini.  Add the diced tomatoes and about 3/4 cup water and simmer for about 20 minutes, letting the zucchinis soften a little.  If you have a parmesan rind, feel free to toss it in during the simmering.  Now add the splash of cream and the finely shredded basil.  Add salt to taste.  Serve hot.

Do you have a favorite simple soup, either for the remains of Indian summer or for winter warmth?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photograph.

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When doctors and nutritionists point to the healthiness of the “Mediterranean diet,” too many people think, “Oh, I can eat lasagna loaded with cheese and meat and be healthy.”  I do believe that there are times for lasagna, but I know that even made with whole grains and organic products or even spinach that it’s still not health food.  Still, people from the Mediterranean do know how to eat to live.  To celebrate the start of fall, we had a great Italian soup made with fresh garden ingredients:  minestrone.  I served it with crostini with pesto and garnished it with some petite Italian turkey meatballs, but you could leave those out and go entirely vegetarian instead.

Minestrone is health in a bowl if you make it properly.  I started by cooking some navy beans with garlic and a parmesan rind until the beans were al dente.

trombetta squash

  • 1-2 cups cannellini or navy beans, cooked
  • 1/2-1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-4 cups fresh, seeded tomatoes (retain and use juice) or diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth

Cannellini beans are more traditional, but the navy beans substitute just fine.  You can easily find canned cannellini beans too.  My next step was to sauté a small diced onion while I diced a carrot and minced a stalk of celery.  Then I sautéed the carrot and celery alongside the onion.  As the trio begin to cook, add a clove of minced garlic.  Next add 2-4 cups fresh or  quality canned, chopped tomatoes, seeded but with juice retained and added to the soup.  If you have any good zucchini, as we did, cut it into chunks and toss it in.  Add back in the beans with any remaining cooking liquid.  Add up to 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth.  Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

I served petite turkey meatballs on top of the minestrone.

  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 pound ground turkey (or lamb, beef, or chicken)
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole-grain bread crumbs
  • splash of broth sufficient for forming meatballs

I minced 1/4 cup onion and sautéed it in olive oil until the onion took on a little color.  I added a clove of minced garlic just long enough for the garlic to get the harsh flavor out.  Then I mixed the onion and garlic with about 2 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil), about a teaspoon of crushed fennel seed, a pinch each of crushed red pepper and salt, and 1/3 pound ground turkey.  Add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs.  Mix and add a splash of minestrone broth or chicken broth.  Using a teaspoon or small cookie scoop, form petite meatballs and cook in olive oil over medium heat, turning to brown all sides.

Minestrone

Serve minestrone in a broad bowl, placing meatballs on top, and garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese and chiffonaded fresh basil.  Add whole-grain crostini to work with the beans to increase the protein.

Fall makes me crave warm, healthy soups.  Do you crave soup as temperatures drop?  What’s your family’s favorite fall soup?

Copyright 2010 Ozark Homesteader.

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Giveaway Winner!

Readers, it’s official.  We have a winner!  Earlier today I compiled your entries in the first-ever Ozark Homesteader blog giveaway for a 2-quart camping Dutch oven and lid lifter.  I placed the entries in my favorite fall decor, a pumpkin dish

and Mr. Homesteader shuffled the entries and then drew one out.  I was hoping to get one of the cats to do the drawing, but neither was available for the job.

And the winner is Anthony Thomas.  Anthony, you may recall, posted a recipe for Moroccan chicken with his entry.  Anthony, please email me at Ozarkhomesteader   AT yahoo  DOT com with your address so that I can mail you your prize.

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Dear readers, I’m always so surprised that anyone visits my little blog, and I want to thank you with my first giveaway.  I’ve known from day one that I want to share some of my favorite things with you, whether that’s recipes or products.  This spring I was privileged enough to win two beautiful pottery bowls from Polly of Polly’s Path.  It’s time for me to pay it forward.

Like this one only new!

My first giveaway is a 2-quart cast-iron camping Dutch oven from Lodge.  (Yes, I picked it up when I visited the outlet this summer.)  You don’t have to camp to use a Dutch oven like this one.  (Yours will be new!)  You can still use it in your oven, in your backyard, or even on the stove top, depending on the type of burners you have.  If you’re not sure how to use a Dutch oven with coals, check out all of these great ideas from a recent Dutch oven cook-off. (You can even roast a whole chicken in a larger Dutch oven outside.)  The Dutch oven I’m giving away is great for a family meal.  It’s ideal for two chicken thighs and two chicken drumsticks with a smattering of veggies.  It’ll roast a whole chicken breast, as long as its not too big.  The Dutch oven works as a casserole for side dishes and desserts.  It’s perfect for your next camping trip or everyday cooking outside or inside.  And if you take care of it, you can pass it on for generations to come.

You’ll also get a lid lifter–as shown here–that is made by Lodge to work with its Dutch ovens.  Yes, yours will be new too.

How do you win these gifts? Tell me here in the comments section that you’re interested, and let me and other readers know how you’d like to use the Dutch oven–inside, outside, on your annual canoe trip, as a gift, as a door stop. You’ll automatically get an entry that way.  You can get a second entry by blogging about this giveaway on your own blog.  Be sure to post a second time here with a link to your blog entry.  That way, all of the readers at Ozark Homesteader will get to learn about your blog too, and I can use the posts in the drawing.  Tweets get you credit too, as long as the tweets show up on WordPress’s tweet counter and you post here.  🙂

Here’s the fine print:  Entries close at midnight central time on Sunday, September 26, 2010; late entries will not be counted.  Entries are limited to US and Canadian addresses.  Entries will be selected at random.  I’ll post the winner by Sunday, October 3, 2010, if not sooner.  And, no, there’s no catch.

Chances to enter the giveaway are now closed.  You can read about the winner here.

If you missed this one, though, check back as the holiday season approaches.  The Homestead’s next giveaway may help you decorate for the holidays and will help you care for your hearth through the winter.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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We eat pretty healthy around the homestead, but every once in a while we get a hankering for something a little naughty in the food department.  Last night it was onion rings.  Mr. Homesteader asked for them; I made ’em.

Onion Rings by Ozark Homesteader

Ozark Homesteader's Onion Rings

Like my incredibly easy cheese sauce and way-too-quick chocolate sauce, I hesitate to post this recipe. (I’m starting to wonder if I need a junk food category for the blog.) The good news is that these onion rings are not that quick if you do them right, so maybe you won’t make these rings too often.

You’ll need one good-sized yellow onion, cut into rings about 1/3-inch thick each.  The ends will probably be a bit thicker; that’s okay.  Dry the onion rings.  Set up a dredging station with three bowls:  (1)  corn starch with seasoning (pinch of salt, cayenne pepper) ; (2) egg beaten with beer (about 2:1 ratio, so 2 eggs would take 1/4 cup beer); (3) panko bread crumbs.  One or two rings at a time, dredge the rings first in the corn starch, then the egg-beer mixture.  Let the rings drain from a fork before moving them to the panko crumbs using same said fork and pressing the panko mixture lightly into the rings, one ring at a time.  If you do too many rings at once in the panko, you’ll mess up your crumbs.  Now set the rings aside on a baking pan until you’ve battered them all.

To bake:  In a single pan sprayed with oil, lay out the rings and bake them at 350-375 degrees F for about 20 minutes, flipping half way through.  Season and enjoy!

To fry:  Heat two or three inches of high-temp vegetable oil in a cast-iron Dutch oven or similar pot.  You’ll want a fairly hot fry–350 degrees to 375 degrees F, to keep the oil from absorbing.  Fry rings a few at a time for a minute or two on each side, draining well before transferring the rings to a holding platter.  Season and enjoy!

We had our rings both ways the other night, and we like both ways almost equally.  Yes, it was the fried ones we liked a little more.  Maybe a quick spray of oil on the top of the baked rings before we baked them would have done the trick.  What makes these rings good are their combination of crisp and tender.  The cornstarch helps to dry the rings and lets the egg-beer batter adhere, making it possible for the panko crumbs to hang on.  The panko crumbs will remain crumbs instead of clumps because you’re breading just one ring at a time.  The results are disgustingly divine, if I do say so myself.

What junk food do you occasionally make at home?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  All rights reserved.

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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!

 

seasoned, uncooked chicken

 

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.

 

Dutch oven with lid lifter inserted

 

Be sure not to let ashes in the Dutch oven when you rotate the lid!

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.

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We’ve had more unseasonably cool weather.  Today the temperatures struggled to get out of the 50s F, when ordinarily we’d be at least 80 degrees F for the daytime high.  These cool temperatures make me rethink both kitchen and garden.  Tonight for dinner, for instance, I served up a variation on Thanksgiving, with my treasured frozen turkey stock enriching both dressing and gravy, chicken leg quarters roasted with rosemary and apple cider (see below), green beans with onions and crumb topping, and cranberries cooked with apple cider and maple sugar.  Ordinarily at this time of year, I wouldn’t be heating up the house with this much cooking, but the cool temperatures made it the frugal thing to do.  I worked on cleaning out the freezer at the same time.  And oh my stars, the whole house smells like rosemary and roasted poultry now!

In the garden temperatures like these make me wonder if I could plant another crop of lettuce.  I know it’s risky, so I content myself that if I cut off the heads of some leaf lettuce and they grow back, we’ll have more than enough lettuce until hot temps make that crop untenable.  I checked NOAA.  Are we in a La Nina pattern now?  I can’t tell.  La Nina could change all of my garden plans, bringing extended spring to Arkansas summer.

Weather is why agriculture has always been a gamble and always will be a gamble.  If you want to feed yourself (or a nation), you must always be prepared for the unexpected.

Roasted Rosemary Chicken Quarters

  • 2-3 chicken quarters, skin on
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 sweet onion, cut into slivers
  • 1/2-1 cup apple cider (or 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1/2 cup cider if you want to make gravy–see option below involving potato flour and whole-grain pastry flour)

Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees F.  Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken quarters.  Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a cast iron pan (with lid!) that’s big enough to hold your leg quarters, tightly.  Brown the skin side of each quarter over medium-high heat, salting and peppering the non-skin side as you brown the other side.  When the quarters are browned, turn off the heat, put the quarters non-skin side down on top of the rosemary sprigs.  Spread the onions on top.  Pour on the apple juice (and cider, if you want), and put on the lid.  Bake for about an hour.  The recipe is so simple, but the flavor and moisture in the chicken could not be much simpler.

Gravy Option

If you want to make gravy with what’s in the pan, toss 1 tablespoon potato flour with about 1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour with the onion slivers before you put them on the chicken.  Toss on the flour mixture with the onions.  When you pour on the cider, be sure to pour it over the onions, so that you moisten the flour.  By the time you get done cooking, you’ll have gravy.  Seriously, the gravy really is going to make itself.

By the way, this chicken works really well in a Dutch oven for camping!  I won a Dutch-oven cookoff last fall with a similar recipe.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  All rights reserved.

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Earlier this week I had a chance to visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a reproduction of one of the many Chinookan plankhouses that Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery visited on their way to the Pacific Ocean.  The Cathlapotle Plankhouse captures the spirit of the fascinating cedar, multi-family dwellings in which Chinookan people lived more than two hundred years ago.  What I want to talk about today is a centuries-old hot pot style that’s inspiring me to rethink some of our home cooking.The Chinook people would fill this striking hand-carved vessel with water and then add rocks that they’d heated in the fire.  Then they’d use the hot liquid to poach fish and vegetables.  I can imagine the smokey, cedar flavor that the vessel and hot rocks must have brought to the dish.  Although I do not have an appropriate wooden bowl for cooking this way, I think that a Dutch oven might be able to serve the same purpose, as long as the iron did not lose its heat too quickly.

Have you ever cooked in a hot pot like this?

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Somehow when you combine a few ingredients and a few spices from the pantry in a Dutch oven, you can get a dish that is much greater than the sum of its parts:  it comes out golden brown, with its own sauce and a blend of flavors that are comforting and tangy and potentially a little exotic.  I call this version Golden Chicken.  It has dried apricots and  mushrooms, and it’s delicious served over a good rice blend, quinoa, rice pilaf, or whole-wheat couscous.  All of the ingredients work seasonally too, since dried fruit is every season.

serves 2-4

Spice blend:

  • two pinches each of paprika and cayenne pepper (ground fine)
  • one pinch each of salt, freshly ground black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and cumin–you can use more or less depending on how you like the spice, but just remember to go light with the allspice.

The Rest of the Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken leg quarters, whole or cut into drumstick and thigh (or 4 chicken thighs, two chicken breasts, each cut in half, etc.)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, quartered and cut into thin wedges
  • 8 dried apricots
  • 8 portobellini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of potato flour
  • scant half cup dry white wine (pour a half cup, take a sip, and call it scant!).  Option:  If you do not drink alcoholic beverages, you can mix half white grape juice with half apple cider vinegar for a similar flavor–that is, 1/4 cup of each.

Begin by heating a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the spices on the chicken on both sides.  Add just enough olive oil to the Dutch oven to coat the bottom lightly, and put in the chicken, skin side down.  Brown well and then turn to brown the other side.

Add the onions, wedges broken up.  Put about half of the onions under the chicken and about half on top.  Let the onion cook a few minutes while you cut the apricots into halves or quarters, depending on size.  Now turn off the heat and add the apricot pieces on top of the chicken and onions.  Sprinkle the potato flour on the dish. Now pour on the wine, making sure to use it to wash off any flour that is unattractively sprinkled.  Toss on the mushrooms too. Bake at 325-350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees.  If you want, toast some almonds for garnish.

Mmmmmmmm.  Here’s the chicken, out of the oven.

I like to serve this chicken and its fruity, mushroomy golden sauce over a nice rice blend, like brown rice with wild rice.  You can make your own blend or buy one like Lundberg’s. (They are not paying me.  They don’t even know who I am, but they do grow good rice.) If you serve rice with beans, you can increase your protein from veggie sources and eat less chicken.No, I did not overcook the beans.  They’re wax beans.  Mmmmmmmm.

This dish is perfect for families that want to branch out from traditional chicken.  Not counting the rice, it’s an easy one-dish meal that even the younger family members can make.  If you’re cooking with kids, let them try the spices before they add them to the blend and decide which ones they want to include.

Camping Dutch Oven Directions (2-quart Dutch oven)

I made this recipe on the stove top this time, but you can also take it camping.  Follow the directions above, but start out with 5-6 coals on the bottom only, to brown the chicken on both sides.  Then add in the rest of the ingredients (taking care to put half the onions on the bottom, as noted above, to prevent the chicken from burning), put on the lid, and add 7-9 coals to the top.  You’ll need to rotate the whole Dutch oven a quarter turn every 10-15 minutes and the top a quarter turn every 10-15 minutes to avoid hot spots.  Remember, the number of coals you’ll need and your cook time will be dependent on your coals; they’re not all created equal. Do you need a beginner camping Dutch oven recipe first?  Try this one.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL link and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full links are welcome.

Seasoning cast iron can be an unpleasant task.  Lodge Manufacturing, the best American cast iron company, recommends re-seasoning using vegetable shortening and a hot oven for an hour.  The Lodge method works, but it leaves the house smelling of overcooked vegetable shortening, plus it uses a lot of energy.  When my cast iron surface needs a little work, I prefer to either fry in it (something we don’t do very often) or just pop popcorn!Earlier today. my 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven looked disreputable.  I know; I should be ashamed for mistreating my cast iron this way, but I swear it just happened because I cooked high-acid tomato sauce in it.Here’s a close up.  I know, I know.  I may get kicked out of the Cast Iron American Society.The solution?  Make popcorn!  Start by pouring enough oil in the bottom of your warm Dutch oven to coat the bottom, at a depth of about 1/8 inch.  The warmth will help the oil spread.  Otherwise, you may end up with too much oil and greasy popcorn. Now pour in just two corn kernels.  Heat the pot on high (medium-high for some electric burners!–or use a pyrex wire diffuser (example) to get less direct heat on high) until the two kernels pop.  Scoop out the two kernels with a slotted spoon.  Now pour in the rest of your kernels, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup for a 2-quart Dutch oven, 1/2 to 2/3 cup for a 4-quart Dutch oven, and so forth.  Put the lid on the pot immediately, because the kernels will start to pop right away.  Position the lid so that it vents steam.

Do you like real butter?  Do not use “lite” margarine!  If you have real butter and want it in your popcorn, make sure you have it standing by.  Cut off a pat and slip it in under the lid, taking care not to let kernels escape.  More butter????  Sure, just slip it in on the other side of the pot.

Very quickly, the corn will go from exploding rapid fire like a hundred machine guns to sounding more like an occasional pop. Turn off the heat.  If you have an electric stove top, remove the pot from the hot burner, or else you’ll burn the popcorn on the bottom.  A few kernels may still pop after you turn off the heat, so don’t open it yet.  Instead, get the salt.  Okay, now open the lid carefully.  Shake on some salt.  Taste.  Add a little more if you want.  Scoop off the luscious popcorn.

Mmmmmmmm.  Let’s eat!

Oh, you say I was talking about cast iron?  Oh.  I remember!  Yes, we’re making popcorn to re-season my neglected cast iron.  Yes, I ate the popcorn.  Then I rinsed the salt out of the Dutch oven and dried it off.  Do you want an “after” picture?  Here it is, showing the thin layer of hot oil that the popcorn neatly distributed across the surface of the Dutch oven, re-seasoning it all over.I wonder if my 4-quart Dutch oven needs re-seasoning too?  Yes, I’m grinning from ear to ear.  Oh, I’m so sorry for getting corny! Oops, there goes another pun!

Thanks to Linda Watson at CookforGood, who referred to this post in an article on making turmeric-seasoned popcorn.  I do have one little correction to the CookforGood article.  Watson said you need to shake the cast iron pan while you’re popping.  No, you don’t have to do that!  The heavy bottom of the cast iron, the high heat with which you start (after you test pop those two kernels) and the short popping time will allow you to pop without shaking the pan.  Just be sure to turn off the heat (and remove the pan from the burner if you use an electric burner) when the popping slows.  You’ll have great, burn-free popcorn.

Do you have questions about caring for cast iron or making old-fashioned popcorn on the stove top?  Feel free to post here!

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