January 31, 2010

another czech recipe: kuba

Kuba is a czech barley and mushroom casserole--a peasant dish that's traditionally served on Christmas Eve. In fact, when Julie and I went to the Unitarian Congregation in Prague on Christmas Eve, they served kuba and beer! The ingredients are barley, dried or fresh mushrooms, onion, garlic, marjoram, butter, salt, and pepper.

I thought the wheat berries in our pantry were barley, so the photo is actually wheat berry kuba...oops! Still tastes good!

January 29, 2010

jam-eric-can recovery and reinvestment act

This summer we picked 14 lbs of crabapples (the nice, large variety) from a single tree. They all got turned into various jellies (some with watermelon added, some with grape added, some just plain crabapple). Because crabapples (and apples) are naturally high in pectin, we didn't have to add store-bought pectin. But it made adding the right amount of sugar more of a guessing game. Especially because the water-pectin-sugar ratio is constantly changing as water boils away. By the end I had it down, but several of the jars came out runny--more like syrup than jelly (and really sour too). One jar came out like a solid piece of candy!

Fortunately, you can revive those runny jellies and jams by adding sugar. Heat up the syrup right in the jar in the microwave or on the stove and add sugar a half cup at a time, until you think it will be the right thickness after cooling down. Watch out for bubbling over. You can always add more sugar later. Instead of re-canning these, I reinvigorate one jar at a time, keeping it in the fridge after doing so.

Viva la jam!

January 24, 2010

baked rosemary polenta

I canned a bunch of tomato sauce this past summer. I love eating it on pasta, but you know, variety is nice. I think baked polenta is a good alternative. I like to jazz up my polenta with herbs like rosemary and frozen veggies like spinach, corn, and squash. Sounds fancy, huh? Restaurants seem to think so which is funny because polenta was originally peasant food. Oh well.

6 c. water
2 c. coarse yellow cornmeal
veggie bouillon
herbs (rosemary)
frozen veggies (spinach, corn, squash)
olive oil

In a medium sized pot, bring the water, bouillon, and miscellaneous herbs to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the cornmeal. Stir constantly for about 20 minutes. Add in the frozen veggies. Pour the creamy polenta mix into an oiled 9x13 baking pan and refrigerate for a few hours. Slice up the chilled polenta. We like triangles. Brush the top of the polenta with oil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees F or until golden brown.

January 20, 2010

pumpkin phyllo wraps

In fall we stocked up on potatoes and winter squashes from the farmer's market. We are still working our way through them all. We celebrated this particular pumpkin by turning it into gourmet pumpkin phyllo wraps complete with fancy pants local goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and a balsamic reduction. The pumpkin puree filling included butter, honey, and sage. It should be noted that we got our pine nuts (piñons) from a roadside stand when we were in New Mexico. To remove the shells, we used Eric's favorite nut-cracking tool: vice grips. The vice grips are nice because you can adjust the final spacing of the jaws which helps keep the nutmeat intact.

January 18, 2010

guest post on chicago brunch blog

Our friend and brunchpert, Carly Fisher, asked us to write a guest post for her Chicago Brunch Blog. Go have a look!

January 14, 2010

book review: slow money

I recently finished reading Slow Money: investing as if food, farms, and fertility mattered, which I added to my list after seeing the author, Woody Tasch, speak last October. The book is a collection of essays that describe his ideas for a new way of investing in local economies and food systems--an alternative to the irony that is often found in typical philanthropy: investing in destructive corporations in order to give money to organizations working to fix the problems caused by the destructive corporations. These ideas led to the creation of a new nonprofit organization: the Slow Money Alliance. Inspired by the Slow Food Movement, as well as Wendell Berry's work in sustainable agriculture and E.F. Schumacher's meta-economics, its mission is:
"To steer significant new sources of capital to small food enterprises, appropriate-scale organic farming and local food systems; and to catalyze the emergence of the nurture capital industry— entrepreneurial finance supporting soil fertility, carrying capacity, sense of place, cultural and ecological diversity, and nonviolence."
If this sounds like something you might support, I encourage you to read and sign the Slow Money Principles. There's a national campaign underway to get one million signatures.

Here is an interesting quote from the book that relates to the DIY ethic:
" . . . I don't think one can attribute the orientation of the market to the greed of most individuals. More, it is a result of fear, uncertainty, and insecurity. In a world in which producer has been divorced from consumer, in which most of us produce virtually nothing or actually nothing that we consume, . . . we have little to fall back on for our immediate, day-to-day material security but purchasing power."

January 10, 2010

red clover sprouts

We are very lucky to have many small organic farms in Boulder. Some of these farms even have greenhouses. This means that during the warmer winter weeks we can ride our bikes out to the edge of town to buy local chard. But for those weeks that we are not so willing to make the journey for fresh greens, we grow red clover sprouts in our very own kitchen!

1 T. red clover seeds (makes ~3 c. sprouts)

Soak 1 T. red clover seeds overnight in cool water in a glass jar covered with cheese cloth and a rubber band (or you could buy metal mesh or plastic lids sold specifically for this purpose). In the morning strain out the water and place the jar in a bowl open face down but at an angle so that air can still circulate in there. Store away from direct light and rinse 2 or 3 times a day for 3 days (or more in winter).

If you unfamiliar with sprouts, you can use them in things like sandwiches.

January 9, 2010

garlic broth

I know that garlic presses can be controversial but I happen to like using them most of the time. However, there's often a lot of flavor left in the peel after pressing. I sometimes save onion peels in the freezer to make vegetable broth, but since we go through a lot of garlic, I thought about making a "mostly garlic broth." After boiling the peels in water for a bit, I strained out the skins, added some salt, and had a delicious broth that warmed me up while I went on a recent hike.

January 6, 2010

spent cranberry crumble and bread

In continuation of my obsession of using "spent" or used beer brewing ingredients, here is a crumble that uses the cranberry mush leftover from our recently bottled Christmas Dinner Cranberry Porter. I also threw in a chunk of frozen pumpkin puree and some crabapple syrup that was canned in the summer.

In the background, you can see my cranberry walnut bread. I followed Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe and just kneaded in as much cranberry mush as I could. It is pretty dense because I ran out of all-purpose flour and substituted locally stone-ground whole-wheat.