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Posts Tagged ‘history’

Several years ago a friend whose mother had been in the antique business told me he had a rustic chicken coop that I could re-purpose.  I was skeptical but went to see it.  It wasn’t a chicken coop.  It was a six-bay nesting box that had been thoroughly cleaned and varnished.  I was immediately taken with the piece and decided to purchase it for the princely sum of $15.  I cleaned the piece up a bit more and then tried it out in various locations and for numerous uses.  My favorite was displaying antique quilts in them.  Unfortunately, right now it is not in an ideal location for you to see the rustic beauty and convenient service of the piece, but I’ve included one close-up shot.

I’m thinking a lot of nesting boxes today because we have discussed getting chickens as soon as we get back from our summer vacation.  Imagine my surprise when fellow blogger Polly’s Path told readers that Georgia Farm Woman is having another nesting box giveaway!  Oooh, if I win I can start my chickens for sure late this summer!  Of course, now that I’ve told you, Georgia Farm Woman could have lots more entries for the giveaway.  Go ahead; check out these great modern nesting boxes.  I hope one of us wins!

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

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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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Eggbeaters

Often these days when I get wedding invitations for friends (and their children), I see on their registry all sorts of fancy gadgets and tools.  I haven’t seen a request for an eggbeater in years.  Eggbeaters (like the 1930s one shown here) can beat eggs but can also whip up a cake batter, all without having to plug in and then lift weights afterwards because you don’t get enough exercise anymore.  Please, someone put eggbeaters on your wedding registry this year.

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

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Every now and then I get a hankering for an old Southern favorite.  This week it was angel biscuits, also known as “honeymoon biscuits” because with yeast, baking, and baking soda, they are just about guaranteed to rise, even for novice bakers.  The original recipe featured ingredients we don’t use for health reasons–like lard or Crisco–but the recipe is easily adaptable.

makes about two dozen biscuits–or a bit more

Ingredients: use organic if you can

  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Yes, you can use a hard wheat flour, but your results will not be as good.)
  • 1/4 cup wheat gluten  (Gluten is only bad if you’re sensitive to it.  It’s just wheat protein, and it helps whole-wheat flour build flexibility.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (okay to use a little less)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk or kefir (You really, really need this ingredient, although Alton Brown has tried a lemon juice-milk substitute on his show “Good Eats” that looked like it might work in this recipe.)
  • 1 big tablespoon of yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water (See here for why you want water the temperature of a good bath.

Method:

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a whisk to mix ingredients together and add lightness to the mixture. Now cut the cold butter in quarters, lengthwise, and then slice the butter thinly.  Work the butter into the dry mixture quickly, using a pastry cutter (shown here).  If you do not have a pastry cutter, you can use a fork, but it will take longer, and you’ll need to take breaks to keep the butter cold.

After you cut in the butter, the dry mixture should have a mealy texture.  Now stir in the dissolved yeast and buttermilk or kefir, just until you’re sure that the yeast is fully incorporated.  Stop.  Do nothing else except cover the bowl securely.  Biscuits, like pie dough, do not like to be overworked.  There is enough liquid in this mixture that the dough will sort of knead itself.Can you see the bits of butter?  That’s good!  Those will help build flaky layers when you roll out the dough.  Now walk away for several hours or even overnight.  Here’s another dough picture while you wait.  Mmmmmm:  bits of butter.

Okay, let’s assume you’ve given the dough a chance to rise a bit.  It’s relatively cold in our house right now (high 60s F), so I just left the bowl out overnight (securely covered).  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  Now you need a bread board (or any clean surface).  Take out about a third of the dough.  Dust some flour on your bread board, and plop on the dough.  Add some more flour to the top of the dough (just a dusting!), and roll the dough about 1/2 inch thick–or maybe just a little thicker.

Using a round cutter (or old clean can, both ends removed, as you see here), cut out biscuits.  Scoop up the leftovers, reform them, and cut more.  

Put the biscuits on a shiny pan and bake on the middle oven rack at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes (in other words, 9-12 minutes).  Oven temperatures vary, so please watch closely.Take the biscuits out of the oven.  Admire them.  Smell the combination of biscuit and yeast.

Think about whether you need butter.

No, no butter for me, thank you.  I’ll just add a slice of turkey ham steak and some apple butter.

Oh–you’re wondering what to do with the leftover dough?  Refrigerate it and use it.  It’ll keep well for about a week, getting more yeasty the whole time.  You could have another round of breakfast biscuits with sausage and red-eye gravy.  (From start to finish this morning with dough I left out (covered) on the counter last night, rolling out and cutting, and baking, I had biscuits in less than 20 minutes.  I’d have had them more quickly if I’d thought from the start to use the toaster oven instead of the big oven.)

Consider making smaller biscuits to fill with cream cheese and pepper jelly for appetizers.  Add slices of cooked bacon (or turkey bacon) and tomato with lettuce in the summer for a good Southern BLT lunch.  Serve biscuits with dinner instead of rolls.  You’ve got lots of options!

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

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Catalan is the language spoken in Catalonia, near the border of France and Spain, and in the tiny country of Andorra (which was so small it was excluded from the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI and therefore remained at war until the 1950s!).  The food from this part of the world is rich in flavor, inspired by the conquistadors’ travels in the Americas as well as the influence of north Africa and even Asia.  Catalan food was fusion food long before fusion became cool.  Catalan stew over Spanish rice with quinoa draws on the flavors of the old world and new world.

Alfred Crosby coined the term “Columbian Exchange” to bring the proper focus to the era of Columbus’s voyage.  To say that Columbus “discovered” the “new world” is inaccurate; the Columbian Exchange was not just about Europe finding the Americas but rather was people the world over discovering the rest of the world.  The era of the Columbian Exchange all comes together in this dish.  Turkey, avocado, and hot peppers all originated in the Americas yet were embraced by Europeans.  The original Americans also taught Europeans that not all nightshade plants (like tomatoes) were poisonous.  And from Africa and Asia Europeans learned to eat health-giving turmeric (popular in Indian cuisine), which I’ll use as a frugal substitute for saffron in my “Spanish” rice.  Even more recently the world has re-discovered the ancient South American grain quinoa*, which is rich is protein.  This fragrant, nutty stew full of familiar and exotic flavors is a great way to get your family to try new food.

Tip:  Start the onion for the stew first, and while it starts to cook you can prep the rest of the onion for the rice.  You can prep the peppers and garlic while the rice starts cooking.  Just keep working back and forth, and both dishes will be ready at the same time, about 45 minutes from when you start.

3-4 servings

Spanish Rice with Quinoa:

  • 1/4 cup sweet yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small pat butter (about a teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup nutty brown rice, like Basmati or jasmine
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water  (Yes, you can skip the chicken broth and just use 1 cup of water, but why?)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I used a combination of red and regular)
  • 1 cup water (again)

rice after sauteing

Begin by sauteing the onion in the oil and butter on low heat.  After the onion has sauteed for a minute or two, add the rice, and continue to stir regularly over low heat for about 5 minutes. Most of the rice should transform from translucent to opaque as it toasts in the oil.  Add the 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric, stir, and then saute a minute more.  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and put a lid on the pot for 20-25 minutes minutes.  Add the quinoa and another cup of water, and cook for 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Catalan Stew:

  • 3/4 sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or pushed through a garlic press)
  • 1 Hatch (Anaheim) chile, seeded and sliced lengthwise and crosswise
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted and seeded and finely diced
  • 14-16 ounces diced tomatoes (canned is actually best here, whether home canned or good organic store-bought canned)
  • handful of raisins
  • 1/3 pound cooked turkey (or chicken or raw shrimp, cleaned.  I used leftover turkey, frozen and thawed.  You’re family will never spot it as Tom from Thanksgiving!)
  • handful of toasted, slivered almonds (Toast the almonds in a 325 degree F oven for about ten minutes.  Since ovens vary, watch closely!  You can do this after the stew and rice go on autopilot in the last 25 minutes of cooking.)
  • avocado, sliced in half lengthwise twice and then into thin slices.  (You can do this after you start toasting the almonds.)

Saute the onion in  the olive oil over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and chiles and saute for about three more minutes, taking care to keep the garlic from burning.  Pour in the diced tomatoes with juice.  Add the handful of raisins.  Put the pot on a gentle simmer.  If you are using turkey or chicken, add it now. Otherwise, wait until the last ten minutes of rice cooking to add the shrimp to the stew.  The stew will be ready at the same time as the rice, about 45 minutes after you start.

To serve, fluff the Spanish rice with quinoa and pile it on each plate.  Make an indentation in the middle of each serving, and spoon on the Catalan stew.  Garnish with toasted almonds in the middle and avocado slices around the edge of the stew.  (Unfortunately, I covered the beautiful, nutty, yellow-tinted Spanish rice and Quinoa.  You can see a little of it on the lower right of the plate.)

*Quinoa is a nutty-flavored South American grain that, unlike other grains, contains a complete protein all by itself.  Quinoa is incredibly healthy and raises the protein quotient of Spanish rice.  If you haven’t cooked with quinoa yet, give it a try.  I think you’ll like it.  If you’d like to make this dish tonight and don’t have quinoa, go ahead.  Just use one cup of rice and two cups of water/chicken broth.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Reproduction of short excerpts (not full recipes) with attribution to Ozarkhomesteader and the full URL for the original post are welcome.

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Today is Robert Burns’s birthday, and since I’m both of Scottish descent and lacking meal ideas, I decided to dedicate tonight’s dinner to Scottish traditional food.  We’re having rumpledethump (onion, mashed potato, and cabbage casserole), smoked salmon, and oat bannocks alongside Bellhaven Scottish ale.  I may also add leek and tattie soup–better known as potato-leek soup.  Let me know if you are interested in recipes.  I’ll post them if they’re good!

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A few days ago I blogged about a Southern staple of healthy frugal food, beans and cornbread with greens.  Today I’d like to give you my Georgia grandmother’s cornbread recipe.

I learned how to make cornbread standing by my grandmother, in her kitchen.  As with so many of the foods she prepared often, she had no recipe for cornbread, so I insisted that we measure as much as we could after she eyeballed amounts.  She was particularly fond of measurements like “butter, about the size of a hen egg,” which confounded me until I became the recipient of her most treasured cookbook and discovered that that was the kind of measurement her well-worn nineteenth-century cookbook used. (Please don’t tell my mother I have the cookbook.  My mother thinks she got the most treasured cookbook.  I don’t think she knew about this cookbook.) It has been two decades since I transcribed this cornbread recipe.  At the time, I know I got more direction on how the mixture should look, but I did not write it down.  Nonetheless, this recipe produces a darn good cornbread.  If you do not have bacon drippings, you can use butter.  You could also use apple sauce if you want less fat, but it may produce a little stickier bread.  This cornbread is authentic; it was originally lacking completely in sugar, and it has no wheat flour to soften it.  The bread’s consequent hardiness makes it perfect for crumbling in beans or mixing with celery, onions, and seasoning in Southern dressing (stuffing for those of you who aren’t Southern).

Tools: one 10-inch cast iron fry pan  (Yes, you can use a 9-inch square pan, but the cast iron heat helps create the crust.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons bacon drippings (or butter or apple sauce–see note above)–about half of a large cooking spoon
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (original recipe called for 3/4 teaspoon)
  • optional: 1 teaspoon sugar (not in original recipe but really does perk it up)
  • 1 egg (In all likelihood, she would have been using medium eggs.)
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk (My note says 1 1/4 “or more, if necessary.”  This was one of those measurements where she talked about appearance.  I think 1 1/3 or even 1 1/2 cup is closer to what you need.)  You could use Kefir if you cannot get good buttermilk.

Put the bacon drippings in your skillet and put the whole thing in a 425 degree (F) oven, to melt the drippings and get the skillet hot.  Mix the cornmeal, leavening (baking powder), salt, egg, and buttermilk in a bowl.  Pull the skillet out of the oven, and swirl the drippings to coat the bottom and a little of the sides.  Pour the melted drippings into the batter, stir the batter to incorporate the drippings, and then immediately pour the batter into the skillet.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, higher rather than lower in the oven.  When you take out the cornbread, flip it over and leave it in the pan upside down to cool.  Then flip it back to serve, or flip it onto a plate.  Cornbread is served in wedges, cut like pie slices.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with a full link and reference to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Passing off my grandmother’s recipe as your own?  not cool!

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