Archive for Recipes

This is what a good egg looks like.

goodegg.JPGThis is a good egg. A tasty egg. A nutritious egg.

See how the yolk is practically orange?

That’s because the chicken pecked all around in grass and weeds, eating bugs and plants and whatever it could scratch on 8 acres of pasture down the road at the Greenville Garden.

There’s just no comparing this kind of egg to the pale imitation you get from a confined chicken, even an organic one. You don’t need laboratory tests to tell you that these eggs are miles better. You can see it. You can taste it.

This little egg was destined for rice fritters.

I’m trying to use up last year’s garden vegetables that are still in the freezer. Frozen (thawed) grated zucchini is perfect for rice fritters. (You can also use just about any kind of vegetable leftovers — rice fritters are versatile!)

First, squeeze the water out of the zucchini (save it for soups and rice and such).

Mix the zucchini with rice and enough egg to hold it all together. (You may need to add a little flour if your rice isn’t very sticky.)

Add salt and spices — I like chopped garlic and a bit of hot paprika.

To fry the fritters, get a heavy pan (preferably cast-iron) thoroughly hot over medium heat, and add some oil or fat (I use our home-rendered lard). Spoon the batter into the pan, and wait until the fritters are set before you try to turn them. Cook them until they’re nicely browned on both sides.

I love these fritters with yogurt-garlic sauce. But then, I love just about everything with yogurt-garlic sauce. (Yogurt-garlic sauce is easy: just add chopped or pounded garlic to some yogurt and salt to taste. It’s especially wonderful with goat or sheep yogurt.)

Happy frittering!

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Spring greens: bamboo shoots.

bambooshoots.JPGThis month’s herbal blog party theme is “Spring Greens,” hosted by Darcey.

This spring I happen to be living next to a massive bamboo windbreak. Now, this is not something I would have planted myself — bamboo is overwhelmingly invasive and pretty much impossible to control — but since it’s established here, we’re doing our best to control it by eating the shoots!

These bamboo shoots are not like the ones you find in cans at the store. First of all, they have a lovely fresh, almost pea-like flavor. They’re also hollow in the center — you slice them into pretty little circles.

To harvest fresh bamboo shoots, just break them off at the ground when they’re about a foot tall. Peel off the tough skin, and slice. Most recipes call for soaking overnight or parboiling to remove bitterness and potential toxins, though our bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) is not bitter at all.

We’ve loved ours in miso soup and in stir-fries, and I’ve been pickling them too.

Yesterday I made a half-gallon of spicy Indian-style bamboo pickle. It’s hot and tart and crunchy — wonderful with flatbread or papadums.

Now, I didn’t really measure anything, but this is the basic gist of what I did:

Harvest, slice, and parboil bamboo shoots. Drain.

Saute a bunch of whole or almost-whole (if they’re big) garlic cloves in a good amount of oil. (Mustard oil is traditional, but you could use a neutral liquid oil like sunflower oil or non-roasted sesame oil if you need to.)

Add a whole lot of hot pepper, a bunch of mustard, some black pepper, a bit of asafoetida, plenty of salt, and other spices to taste. (I used some cinnamon, cumin, and fenugreek.)

Add the bamboo shoots, some sliced lemon, and enough lemon juice to make it nice and sour. (The liquid surrounding the bamboo shoots should be thick, but not too stiff. Cook it down or add more oil, lemon juice, or water if you need to. It should be pretty oily.)

Taste. Adjust the spices and the texture. (Keep in mind that the flavors will mellow as the pickle sits.)

Bottle.

Let it sit at least overnight.

Enjoy!

Tips:

The pickle will keep in the fridge for a long time if you make sure there’s always a film of oil covering the top.

If you want to can your pickle, you should probably use a pressure canner — I’m not sure it’s acidic enough for a water bath.

Next: The nature of bamboo, and a very different pickle.

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Guest Post: Passion Honey from Robin Rose

Robin RoseWelcome to the first ever guest post in the Herbwife’s Kitchen!

Robin Rose Bennett is a lovely plant person, herbalist, and teacher from the New York / New Jersey area. This post is her contribution to the Aphrodisiac Blog Party. (My own contribution should be up this evening.)

Here’s Robin Rose:

I’ve been teaching a class every February for years now called Herbal Love Medicine for Valentine’s Day. Each year I cook up a brand new Passion Honey, inspired by my own favorite aphrodisiac or sensually pleasing herbs, along with the input of the students after we’ve spent nearly 2 hours looking at, talking about, sniffing, and tasting the herbs and preparations I’ve brought in.

I’m always a tiny bit nervous that this new and different honey may not come out right — but it’s exciting, too, not to know what it will be like. It always comes out somewhere between really good and truly wonderful and delicious. The Passion Honey we made last week was off the charts!! I don’t actually measure anything as I’m creating, but these are my best guesses as to the amounts. As I go along, I stir and sniff, and stir and sniff. Highly recommended technique for cooking!

Robin Rose’s Passion Honey – February 2008

(All the herbs are organic and all are dried, unless otherwise noted.)

To 1 quart of organic dark buckwheat honey add approximately:

1/2 cup Orange blossoms*
3/4 teaspoon grated Nutmeg
2 tablespoons Damiana
3-4 tablespoons Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Jasmine
2-3 tablespoons Maca root powder
3/4 ounce Rose glycerite**
1 teaspoon crushed up Cinnamon sticks***

We all tasted it and declared it amazing (as our knees grew weak). Normally I cook it on low for 30-45 minutes. We didn’t even do that as I’d run out of time. Now I have the pint that’s left steeping/infusing at room temperature at home, looking forward to what will happen to it as the flavors meld. Of course my sweetheart and I are sneaking in for tastes now and then because it’s simply irresistible.

Enjoy!

(For those who prefer things simpler — that’s usually me — one of my favorite past Passion Honeys was Roses and Vanilla beans in Linden Honey. It’s a yummy one, too!)

* Orange blossoms can be hard to get. You could put in crumbled or powdered sweet orange or tangerine peels instead — it won’t be the same, but still delicious.

** This rose glycerite was made with red (Rosa gallica), pink (Rosa centifolia), and Moroccan roses.

*** Cinnamon powder would be easier — I had sticks with me.

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Simmering: winter fun with stockpot and teapot.

This month’s herbal blog party is “Winter Recipes,” hosted by Dreamseeds.

Most of my winter herbal recipes involve long-simmering pots on the back of my woodstove. Tasty broths and teas that warm a person from the inside out, and make the house smell good too.

Winter is a time for concentrated, warm foods. Put away the leafy summer herbs, and get out the roots, seeds and spices. Valerian, licorice, sarsaparilla. Flaxseeds, cardamom, nutmeg. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves.

The best way to stay healthy in the winter is not to fight the fact that it’s winter. In winter, things move more slowly. We need to sleep more. We need richer, fattier foods. In winter, as mammals, we need to stay warm. (It’s quite common for people to forget to dress warmly enough for the season. It’s not unreasonable to wear a scarf indoors if you live in a drafty house.)

Good long-simmered bone broth is the best winter food I know. It’s rich in protein (gelatin) and minerals, and it warms you “to the bone.” Add some vegetables and call it soup. Use it to cook rice or beans. Or just drink it straight with a pinch of salt.

Here’s how to keep a stockpot:

1. Always save bones. (Yes, even bones that people have gnawed on. All that simmering will take care of any contamination.) Keep them in a jar or a bag in your freezer. You can separate them by animal if you like, or lump them all together for “mixed stock.”

2. When you’ve collected a good pile of bones, put them in a pot and cover them with cold water. (You can add a dash of vinegar if you like, to help draw minerals from the bones.) Put the pot over low heat. Let it come to a gentle simmer. If you’re using a gas or electric stove, turn the heat down as far as it will go. If you’ve got the stock on a woodstove, move it to a cool corner or put it up on a trivet. (I’m told you can make stock in a crockpot, too. But I’ve never used a crockpot, so I don’t know how that works.)

3. Leave the stock on gentle, low heat for 12-48 hours. (Yes, I know that’s a long time. It really does make the best stock, though.) Check on the stock every once in a while and add water if it needs it. If you’re using raw bones, there will likely be quite a bit of foamy scum that comes to the surface. Just skim it off — a little tea strainer works well for this. Try not to let the stock boil. Low heat is best for extracting gelatin. (Don’t kick yourself if it accidentally boils, though. Just turn it down. Your stock may be a little cloudy, but it will taste fine.)

4. When you can’t stand it any longer, strain out the bones. If there is a lot of fat on top, skim it off and save it for cooking (a little jar of fat in the fridge is a lovely thing). Now you have stock to play with! What will you make?

You can add warming winter spices to your stock if you like. But my favorite way to take warming spices is in tea. In winter, my “teas” are usually decoctions, simmered on the stove until they perfume the house.

Here are some of my favorite winter teas.

For people who get dry and cold in the winter: flaxseeds (Linum usitatissimum), cassia / cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum), ginger (Zingiber officinale), cloves (Syzygium aromaticum), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) and nutmeg (Myristica fragrans).

For people who get a lot of sore throats and swollen lymph nodes in the winter: echinacea root (Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea), red root (Ceanothus americanus), marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis).

For people who feel drained in the winter: wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) (use only organic ginseng, “woods-grown” if possible).

For people who get cold hands and feet in the winter: valerian (Valeriana officinalis), cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), wild ginger (Asarum canadense) (harvest wild ginger only if it’s locally abundant; “regular” ginger can be used instead).

Oh, yes, and for everyone, because it’s so tasty: pink ginger tea. (This is, of course, one of the best things to drink when you’re down with the flu.)

Happy simmering!

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Preserving the harvest: herbal honey.

thymehoney.JPGI swear I will never travel during harvest season again. I mean it. Really.

I’m off to teach at the second annual Northeast Community Herbal Convergence next weekend. I’m leaving for parts north tomorrow, and this morning it suddenly dawned on me that there might be frost before I get back. (It’s hard to remember these things when the weather is so warm.)

So I went into high harvest gear, doing things the quick-and-dirty way. I think I got most of what I wanted out of the garden and the weed patches around the farm. Now watch the frost come late this year. Fine. At least I’ll come home to a sweet smelling house—there are herbs drying all over the dining room.

And I was happy to have an excuse to play with some of my favorite substances: herbs and honey. Honey infused with aromatic herbs has got to be one of the most intensely wonderful things I have ever tasted. It’s good medicine too.

Herbal honey is radically easy to make:

Take a good bunch of your favorite aromatic herbs. (Thyme, lemon balm and bee balm are my favorites.)

Pack a layer of herb in a jar, cover it with a layer of honey,* and repeat. Finish with an extra layer of honey. It will be a sticky mess. No problem. Squish it with a spoon if there are big air pockets.

That’s all. (I said it was easy.)

Let it sit for a couple of weeks at least.

Taste it. Don’t eat it all at once.

That’s thyme and lemon thyme honeys in the picture. I’ll use them for sore throats and colds this winter. And I’ll eat them with a spoon when I feel like it.

*Make sure you get good quality honey. Talk to your beekeeper about how s/he deals with mites and other pests. Ask if s/he leaves honey for the bees to eat or feeds them sugar water. Don’t buy poisonous mass-produced grocery store honey if you can help it.

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Preserving the harvest: zucchini relish.

relish.JPGI promised to talk about what to do with all that zucchini, didn’t I?

Well, my favorite way to eat zucchini is grated and sauteed with lots of butter and garlic. But there’s only so much of that a person can eat.

While I was thinking about interesting ways to preserve zucchini, I remembered an old-fashioned zucchini-mustard pickle that one of our neighbors used to make when I was little. It was yellow, oniony, and a bit sweet, with lots of mustard seeds in it.

(The neighbor ladies weren’t allowed to give me cookies, as my parents were into full-on Jethro Kloss–style healthfoodism. Eventually, after shaking their heads and clucking their tongues—what’s childhood without cookies?—the ladies compromised with my mother and gave me jars of pickles instead. Not a bad deal, really. A jar of pickles lasts a lot longer than a cookie.)

I was excited to try to re-create the yellow zucchini pickles of my childhood. But here’s the thing: they were cooked vinegar pickles, and I’ve been really into raw fermented pickles lately. I figured if I made a raw pickle using similar ingredients, the flavor would likely be similar. But the texture would be really different. And I don’t really like the crunchy-but-grainy texture of raw zucchini.

My solution was to grate the zucchini and make a relish, hoping that the crunch of the zucchini would be pleasant this way.

Here’s what I did:

Grated up one oversized zucchini, minus the seeds. (This is a good use for monster zucchini.)

Mixed in one chopped red jalapeño and one thinly sliced onion.

Salted the mix. Well. Until it tasted nice and salty.

Added spices: turmeric, mustard seeds, allspice, cinnamon, pepper.

Packed it in a jar with two cherry leaves. (You could use grape leaves, or oak, too. This is to keep it from getting mushy.)

I squished the relish down until it was submerged in its own juice, and kept it there with a “pickling rock” about the size of the mouth of the jar.

If you haven’t made fermented pickles before, I’d suggest you read a bit about technique before you make any. Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation is a good place to start.

I let this relish ferment for about 5 days. (It was hot out, so it didn’t take long. At more reasonable temperatures it’d probably take a week or so.)

It turned out really well—delightfully tangy and mustardy. We ate it on goat burgers with roasted peppers the other day. The boy kept shaking his head and saying “Mmm.” He ate three.

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Local eating: goat chops and butterbeans.

butterbeans.JPGSeptember lunch out on the back porch.

The leaves on the walnut tree are starting to yellow and fall.

A nice wind, and the summer humidity is finally gone.

We had a pleasant dry rosé from the winery over the hill.

Oh, and food. We had food.

Simple pepper salad. Just sliced ripe peppers and red onions from the farmers market with a bit of salt and the boy’s homemade wine vinegar.

Butterbeans! My favorite. I was so happy to see them at the market this week. Simmered in salt water, tossed with butter. Nothing better in the world.

Goat shoulder chops from our neighbors at Cedar Dawn Farm. Rubbed with bay leaves, hot pepper, and salt. Pan broiled.

So good.

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Local eating: quick fresh salsa.

salsa.JPGThe quickest, tastiest fresh salsa you could want:

Take one or two ripe tomatoes, as many hot peppers as you like, a garlic clove or two, perhaps a bit of onion, and one or two tomatillos if you have them around.

Toss them all in the blender with some salt.

Blend. Eat.

So good.

This one turned out a lovely orange color—I used a yellow tomato, a bright red cayenne pepper, and a garlic clove (all local). And salt. That’s all. Really.

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Local Strawberry Shortcake

shortcake.JPG

I made strawberry shortcake for a friend’s wedding last month. The wedding guests kept saying it was the best strawberry shortcake they’d ever had. There’s a very good reason for that: almost all the ingredients were local. That is, they were grown or made within 100 miles of the wedding, which was held in Marlboro, Vermont.

The ingredients:

Strawberries and Maple Syrup from Lilac Ridge Farm in West Brattleboro, Vermont.

Cream from Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Vermont.

Rhubarb from Tom and Dawn Huenink in Marlboro, Vermont (heirloom rhubarb plants originally from the MacArthurs of MacArthur Road in Marlboro).

Maple Sugar from Highland Sugarworks in Websterville, Vermont.

Flour from Champlain Valley Milling in Westport, New York. (Not all the wheat milled by Champlain Valley is locally grown, but the miller is very active in encouraging local farmers to grow grains.)

(Oh, and I used baking powder from Indiana and salt from Utah.)

Fruit shortcake is so simple to make, and so good. You can use any berries or fruits that are in season where you live. Here’s how to do it.

Make biscuits.

I used a version of the cream scone recipe from the Joy of Cooking because it’s simple and tasty. (You don’t have to cut in any butter, which makes things easier when you’re making 150 scones!)

Mix:
2 cups all purpose flour (I used a mix of pastry and bread flours since that’s what I could get locally)
3 tablespoons maple sugar (1/3 cup if you use cane sugar—it’s not as sweet)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream.

Mix and knead gently to form a dough. Shape the biscuits and bake them at 425 for about 15 minutes. They’re best used the same day they’re baked, but you can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it until it’s time to bake.

Pick strawberries.

Or raspberries. Or blackberries. Or peaches. Or cherries. Or currants. Or gooseberries. Or whatever’s ripe! You need about 1/2 cup per person. Prepare the fruit. You may want to add a little sweetener, depending on your taste and what fruit you use.

Whip cream.

I sweetened it with a little maple syrup. You might want to add vanilla.

I also made a very simple rhubarb sauce—simmer a few stalks of rhubarb in a little water and maple syrup to taste.

Assemble your shortcakes.

Pull apart a biscuit and put half on the plate. Top it with a big scoop of fruit and some whipped cream. Add the top half of the biscuit, more whipped cream, and the rhubarb sauce if you’re using it. Or build them however you like!

Eat!

Coming soon: A roundup of resources for local eating.

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