Category Archives: Seasonal

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Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

During my childhood days I had a couple people in my world that provided an exposure to foods beyond the typical everyday fare. My late grandfather was one of those people. He loved liverwurst, salsa, headcheese, salty nuts, alcohol, and sweets. He use to get upset at me because I’d eat all of his special foods and leave him none. He didn’t expect his little granddaughter to eat all of his headcheese! One food or condiment he loved was spicy pickled peppers better known as pickled jalapeno escabeche. These peppers were tangy from the vinegar, sweet from the brine filled with carrots and onions and spicy because the peppers were jalapenos. He’d have a jar hidden on the door of the refrigerator. I’d eventually discover the hidden jar and clear it of all jalapenos so all that remained were onions and carrots.

Over the years I’ve developed a great love for these spicy tangy peppers and today I need to eat them with everything! Unfortunately the store bought versions are filled with unhealthy sodium (sodium is healthy but in the right form and the right amounts), vegetables grown from who knows where and covered with who knows what (produce shipped from long distances covered in chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and other gmo concerns). In addition to the unknown ingredients/chemicals in the store bought version you’re also dealing with the chemicals that come along with processing store bought foods in cans. In line with our goals of eating local food, organic food, from scratch food, and food with minimal ingredients I decided to make and can pickled jalapeno escabeche on my own. With a few basic ingredients this has been the easiest pickled and canned recipe I’ve made in a while.
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

I wish my grandpa was still here so he could enjoy my homemade version of his favorite spicy snack. He’d be so proud of the healthy alternative we’re enjoying now. As mentioned, in line with our goals of eating homemade, home canned, local, organic, seasonal foods we choose to can enough pickled jalapeno escabeche that will last us till jalapenos are in season again next year. How many pints is this do you ask? Well, I’m not sure yet since last year was the first year we attempted to make this recipe and start canning the jalapenos. This year I’ve canned an ample amount and we’re already enjoying the fruits of our labor. We’ve got a couple more weeks of peppers and the season is done. Just think to how often you eat these peppers. Some enjoy them on everything and some only enjoy them on certain things… nachos come to mind (= If you eat a jar a week… consider how many weeks you’ve got till jalapenos are in season again. 52 jars. That might be a bit much but giving you an idea of planning. If you eat a can a month then that might be a more reasonable approach. This recipe will provide you 6 to 8 pints of canned pickled jalapeno escabeche.

The following recipe is fun because it is versatile. I’ve seen versions with dried herbs and other vegetables that stand up to high temperatures. This is your basic pickled jalapeno recipe that I’ve compiled of various versions found across the interwebs. Adjust it as you like. Included in the recipe are basic instructions for water bath canning for long term storage. Enjoy pickled jalapeno escabeche!
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche
* = organic (or GMO free)
¤ = local

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche
1 pound fresh jalapenos (use serranos or even habaneros if you’re brave) *¤
1 bunch carrots (6 or more medium sized) *¤
1 onion (I prefer white but you can use any kind) *¤
10 cloves garlic *¤
1/3 cup olive oil *
2 tablespoons kosher salt (or sea salt)
2 tablespoons cane sugar (I use Florida Crystals a carbon free company. I’ve also tested coconut sugar, which works well) *
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water (optional to cut the zing of the vinegar)
6-8 sterilized pint mason jars + lids & rings
1 large water bath canning pot
2 tablespoons white vinegar (optional, add to canning water)

Step 1: Prepare your water bath canner and jars according to your manufacture instructions. In this instance I am using 6 to 8 pint sized mason jars, lids and rings. I prepare my oversized aluminum canner with hot water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. I crank the temperature to high so it will be close to if not already boiling by the time I’m ready to fill the jars. With my jar grabber I place each jar, rings & lids removed, into the heating water. I will let the water fill the jars as they enter the pot. I fill a separate small pot with water and add the lids to get warm. Do not boil the lids.
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 2: Prepare your ingredients. You may cut rings or leave the peppers whole. If you leave the peppers whole make sure to cut a small slit in each to allow the juices to penetrate later in the cooking time. Set peppers aside. Clean and chop carrots. You can cut circles or on the bias and not too thin or they will fall apart in the cooking process. Set aside. Clean one onion. Cut in half and then cut slices. The thickness is your choice but keep in mind the thinner onion slice will fall apart sooner in the cooking process. Set aside. Clean 10 cloves of garlic and thinly slice. Set aside.
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 3: Heat up olive oil in a medium sized stock pot. Add the peppers to the hot oil and stir making sure to coat all of the peppers with oil. Add carrots, onions, garlic, and continue to stir, coating all of the vegetables. Next add the kosher salt and sugar and incorporate well. Sauté the vegetables till soft, roughly 10 minutes. Next add in the white and cider vinegars and stir well. If you like less of a tangy pepper you may add a cup of water to dilute the vinegar. Cook the vegetables till soft and the color has muted almost to an olive green (in the case of jalapenos or seranos), roughly 10 minutes. Once your vegetables are cooked through, remove from heat and begin preparation of filling your jars for canning. NOTE: If you don’t plan on canning and instead eating these right away, I would cook them for an additional 10 – 15 minutes to ensure a soft pepper. Otherwise your peppers will be crunchy and possibly too spicy. The canning process helps to cook them through further. END NOTE
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 4: Now it’s time to fill your jars. At this point the water bath is close to if not already boiling. Turn the water down just for the moment you’ll be handling the jars. Drain the small pot with lids and set lids into rings in preparation to top jars. With you jar grabber, remove one jar at a time from the hot water in the canning pot and place onto a clean towel. Make sure to pour out any excess water from the jar back into the canning pot. I like to use the canning funnel, which allows for easy filling of the jars with minimal mess. Place the funnel in your first jar and fill with vegetables and liquid. Make sure the liquid covers the vegetables and ensure there is a one inch head space between the vegetables and the rim of the jar. Remove the funnel and wipe the rim of the jar to ensure there is no debris that will impact the lid’s seal. Place a lid and ring on the jar and close till just barely tight. Too tight or too loose and the seal won’t work. With the jar grabber place the filled jar back into the boiling water and repeat with all jars till full. Once you’re done filling the jars bring the water back up to a full boil and start your timer for 15 minutes. NOTE: Make sure you start the time when the water is at a full boil and not before. Also note that you must have at least 1 to 2 inches of boiling water above the lids of the jars while in the canning pot. 10 minutes for ½ pints. 15 minutes for pints. 20 minutes for quarts. END NOTE
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 5: Once the timer is complete at 15 minutes turn off the heat and with your jar grabber carefully remove each jar and place on a towel in an unobstructed area free from roaming pets, wild kids, and breezes. The jars must sit overnight (24hrs) for a complete seal. Depending on the manufacturer (in my case Ball) you’ll hear the POP of the seal when it’s complete but it’s best to leave the jars overnight to ensure the seal is complete. For long term storage remove the rings of the lids before storing away and do not stack the jar. WHY you ask… because if a seal fails the ring will allow it to re-seal and then you’ll never know until opening the jar if you’re food has spoiled. Same process applies to stacking. Without a ring or object blocking the way you’ll know immediately if a seal has failed.

Step 6: ENJOY! When people ask me what they would eat these peppers with I remind them of nachos or burritos and then it clicks and they realize these tasty peppers are absolutely wonderful with most any meal. Need to add an extra spicy tangy condiment to your meals… add pickled jalapenos escabeche. Enjoy!
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, there are a lot more coming along. – Antonin Scalia

Pancakes were a special treat for me as a child; I only enjoyed them during overnight stays at grandma’s house. Sunday morning we’d wake up early and she’d pull out her very old very long griddle and we’d mix up some bisquik pancakes.

It wasn’t until my kiddo was born that I detoured from the typical box mix I remembered from my childhood. I took the time to read the box labels and I had that ‘ah-ha’ moment. I realized… I can make this myself, allowing full control of the ingredients!

I set out, scouring the interwebs to find a solid go to pancake. After testing a few variations, this has become our family’s go-to recipe. You can incorporate any fruit or vegetable… make the basic batter and fold in blueberries, sliced strawberries, apples, shredded carrots, or even zucchini. Yes, zucchini… just think zucchini bread. My three year old who once was the champion eater of our home, eating everything in sight, now only eats specific items; pancakes being one of them. To ensure he’s getting the most out of his pancakes I incorporate zucchini when in season. I hope to find and test a gluten free recipe that is comparable. For now…

Here is your basic pancake recipe with a zucchini variation… zucchini pancakes, enjoy!

zucchini pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes
Makes 12 to 15 zucchini pancakes depending on size
* = organic
^ = local

1.5 cups unbromated all purpose flour *
3 tablespoons cane sugar *
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chia seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon flax seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla *
1/4 cup melted butter *
2 eggs *^
2/3 cup milk *
2 small zucchini, shredded *^

Step 1: In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and seeds). Give a good stir to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.
zucchini pancakes

Step 2: Slowly incorporate one at a time, the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk. You’ll end up with a thick lumpy batter. Here is my kiddo helping to crack the eggs (2nd egg was not a success).
IMG_3304 v2

Step 3: Wash and trim 2 small zucchinis. Fine shred the zucchinis into a clean kitchen towel. Once shredding is complete, twist towel to drain out the extra liquid from the zucchinis. It is important to do this step otherwise your batter will be runny and the final pancake product will have too much moisture. Fold in till well incorporated but don’t over mix.
zucchini pancakes

Step 4: Prepare your cooking surface accordingly. I have a small griddle, which is a flat non stick skillet cooking surface but you can use a frying pan or cast iron skillet if available – prepare accordingly. Do not to over crowd the cooking surface to ensure the heat is maintained at medium to medium high. Bubbles will form at the surface when the pancake is ready to flip – between 3 and 5 minutes but make sure to check mid way to ensure your pancake doesn’t burn.
zucchini pancakes

Time to enjoy… topped with a little organic grassfed butter, or some fresh maple syrup, or our favorite some homemade jam.
zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

Homemade Peach Pie

Homemade Peach Pie

“I don’t think a really good pie can be made without a dozen or so children peeking over your shoulder as you stoop to look in at it every little while.” ~ John Gould

homemade peach pie

As a child, I remember in my grandmother’s backyard an apple, apricot, and peach tree. Every summer the tiny peach tree would provide just enough fruit for grandma to make a few trays of peach bars, peach cobbler, and homemade peach pie. I remember her making the peach treats in the morning after picking the fruit and by late afternoon the tray holding the gooey peach goodness would have been picked over leaving a half mangled bar and several crumbs.

Peach season was short-lived and as I got older the tree seemed to get smaller and the fruit arrived less and less. The peach tree is now no longer there but it still provides me great memories.

Today, I have two peach trees in my backyard. I look forward to those beautiful peach blossoms and the bounty of fruit we’ll receive; and when we do we’ll be making peach bars, peach cobblers, peach jam, canning peaches for use later in the year, and of course homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Here is my take on a summer favorite in our household, homemade peach pie. I use fresh ginger and spices to give this pie an extra kick that my family loves… homemade peach pie, enjoy!

* = organic/non-gmo
^ = local

Homemade Peach Pie
375 degrees (f) 45-60 minutes bake time

1 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar *
1/2 cup butter or lard or tallow, chilled, cut into pieces *^
4 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar or vodka, chilled

In a food processor with dough blade or stand mixer with a dough hook add flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix till the flour turns into a crumbling texture. In a measuring cup add vinegar to water and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to get the water ice-cold. Remove the water from the freezer (do not let it freeze). With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour/drizzle the water into the flour/butter mixture until the dough barely holds together when pinched. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in 1/2, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes or overnight.
homemade peach pie

5 cups fresh peaches, skinned/pitted/sliced **quick peeling method listed below** *^
Juice of 1/2 a lemon *^
1 cup sugar *
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg *
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon *
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped *
1/4 cup flour *
2 tablespoons butter – used for topping before top crust is added *
1 tablespoon sugar – used for topping crust before baking *
1 tablespoon cream + 1 egg white – used to brush top crust before baking *^

In a bowl mix peach slices, sugar, flour, spice, and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator while you roll out the dough.

Make a small slit in the bottom of each peach and drop into a pot of near boiling water for 30 – 45 seconds. Remove peaches from the hot water and immediately drop into an ice bath. The more ripe the peach, the skin should slide right off. From here you can de-pit and slice.

Remove one of the balls of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Keep lifting up the dough and turning it a quarter turn as you roll, rolling from the center of the dough outwards to ensure equal thickness around the circle. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Remove the excess dough by pinching it down along the edge of the pan. Remove the peach filling from the refrigerator…
homemade peach pie

Place pie filling into pie shell and top with butter.
homemade peach pie

Remove the 2nd ball of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough same as before.
Cut dough in 1/2 inch wide strips.
homemade peach pie

Begin by laying horizontal strips, 1/2 inch apart, across the top of the pie. Then take one vertical strip at a time, laying over/under, creating a braided pattern. You will have to carefully lift each horizontal strip as you braid in the vertical. There will be roughly 5-6 strips of dough horizontal and 5-6 strips of dough vertical. Remove excess dough by pinching off the edges.
homemade peach pie

With the remaining dough, roll out 2 separate strips of dough to cover the pinched edges. Create a “worm”, with your fingers, roll the dough from the center out. Creating a 12 inch long thin roll that will go around the edge of the pie plate, covering the pinched edges. With your pinky finger, create an indent every 1/4 inch for a simple decorative edge.
homemade peach pie

homemade peach pie

With a silicone basting brush (BPA free, leaves no stray strands), brush the entire pie with a thin layer (no puddles) of cream/egg white to create a shiny deep color to the crust after baking. For a deeper shine, add a sprinkle of sugar after basting.
homemade peach pie

Your pie is now ready for the oven. To avoid spill over, place the pie on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or tin foil). Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. If the edges of the crust are getting too dark before cooking time is up, cover with pieces of tin foil.
homemade peach pie

Remove pie from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a heaping scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream… enjoy your fresh baked homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto

It’s that time of year again when the seasons are in the midst of changing. Where the days are still warm but the evenings cool quickly letting you know summer is giving way to autumn. Folks are planning for a fall bounty and harvesting the last of their early summer gardens. Garden herbs like basil may be ready for that south-facing window or a complete harvest. If your basil plants grow like mine, then you’re left with a giant bush of a plant and more basil you know what to do with. The fastest, easiest use that comes to mind is pesto! I see pesto as a luxury item given the cost of the oils, nuts, and cheese. After doing some research and playing around with different ingredients, I found a pesto recipe that was reasonable for my family and allowed me to use my fresh basil harvest to its fullest; homemade almond basil pesto.

For my family, almond basil pesto is the go-to-quick-fix meal. I’m able to freeze 1/2 pint jars. Half of a 1/2 pint jar is the perfect amount to cover a pound of pasta and its acompanying ingredients such as vegetables and a meat, pork, or fowl. Know that almond basil pesto is not just good for pasta. We like to toast a baguette and top it with pesto, oven roasted tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Need a flavor boost on your grilled steak… smother it in pesto right before it comes off the grill. Since pesto is composed of a fresh herb, you’ll want to add pesto on as a finishing ingredient. Right before serving or just as you’ve turned off the heat… add your almond basil pesto. It keeps the flavors light and fresh… yes, even if it has been frozen. I found that the pesto freezes exceptionally well and defrosts without a loss of texture, taste, or quality. I’ve read from others that they’ve found challenges with the cheese loosing quality during freezing. If you’re worried about quality, keep the cheese out of your frozen mixture and add back in when you thaw.

A traditional pesto is made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and a hard cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano. Unless I know how to extract the pine nuts from my grandmother’s pine tree cones, there is no way I could afford to buy enough pine nuts to accommodate a recipe that includes the amount of basil I had. Instead, I chose a variety of raw local almonds that I’ve roasted myself. I’ve found a couple California olive oils that are well priced and won’t break my budget if I use a couple of cups. Finding hormone free cheese that is reasonably priced has been a challenge but we’ve found some varieties. A typical Parmigiano is used for a traditional pesto, but any dry aged hard cheese will do… pecorino, Asiago, even dry aged jack… it is all in the flavors you’d like to create. An almond and Asiago combination will give a sharp bite to the pesto where as a walnut Parmigiano will have a lighter, smoother texture.

Have fun and play with the flavors while harnessing the freshness of summer with the last of your fresh basil harvest… almond basil pesto, enjoy!

homemade almond basil pesto

* = organic, hormone free, gmo free
^ = local

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto
yield: 4 – 1/2 pint freezer jars

■ 3 cups, packed, fresh basil *^
■ 3/4 cup cubed or shredded dry aged cheese of choice (i.e. Parmigiano Reggiano, romano, Asiago, dry Monterey jack) *
■ 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil *^
■ 1/3 – 1/2 cup nut of choice (i.e. pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews) ^
■ 2 medium-sized garlic cloves *^
■ juice of 1/2 a lemon *^
■ kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
■ Special Equipment: Food processor

Step 1: in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven, place raw nuts (in this case almonds) on a cookie sheet and roast for 10 minutes
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 2: After the nuts have cooled, place in a food processor and pulse until you’ve achieved a corse chop. Then add in your garlic and cheese (shredded or cubed will work) and continue to pulse until you’ve achieved a fine chop.
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 3: now add in the basil and pulse a few more times to combine the herbs with the cheese & nut mixture.
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 4: While the food processor is running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Half way through stop the processor, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add in the juice of the lemon, kosher salt, and pepper…

Step 5: Finish processing the olive oil to your desired consistency and adding kosher salt and pepper to your desired taste…
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 6: Once processing is complete, you can pack the pesto into 1/2 pint freezer jars. Leave a 1/4 inch head space and top with a drizzle of olive oil before placing on the lid. These jars will keep in the freezer up to 1 year and in the refrigerator for up to a month.
homemade almond basil pesto

To Defrost: place frozen jar in refrigerator and defrost overnight or place in a bowl of luke warm water for a more immediate defrost (usually takes an hour or less).
homemade almond basil pesto

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto… enjoy!

homemade almond basil pesto

homemade almond basil pesto

Blog post originally written by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet on September 19th, 2012 at site:

Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter

“Peanut butter is the pâté of childhood.” ~ Florence Fabricant

I’ve always been a fan of the peanut; in its natural state, shelled, crushed, or creamy… the peanut is pretty awesome. The good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich never tires, my grandmother’s peanut butter cookies are better than any I’ve ever tasted, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – a treat my mom & I use to share when I was little brings back memories. I can remember my grandfather had his own designated jar of roasted & lightly salted peanuts always stored in the cupboard. You’d know he had eaten peanuts because he’d smell like a giant peanut. Consumed alone or cooked into delightful dishes such as Chile Peanut Crusted Chicken with Napa Cabbage and Radish Slaw or Grape Leaves stuffed with Mozzarella, Dry Monterey Jack, Peanuts, and Raisins, or Caribbean style chicken with Brown Sugar Peanut Spice rub – I love peanuts.

I can remember as a little girl, my mom and grandmother purchasing fresh made peanut butter at some of our local health food stores. There was a peanut grinding machine near the ‘specialty foods’ area. You could place an empty container in the machine, press a button, and a few minutes later you’d have fresh – nothing but peanuts – peanut butter. It was pretty neat and how awesome was that – we made our own peanut butter. How I forgot that it was so simple. Those machines seem to have disappeared and a majority of what is left on the store shelves has too much ‘unhealthy’ oils, salts, fats, and other ingredients I wouldn’t ever try to pronounce.

A couple of months back I heard a news report on the radio that the peanut industry was in trouble. The DJs on the radio joked peanut butter was going to equivilant to gold. If you were a kid in school and got a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch… you must be rich! I looked into the subject a little deeper and found that demand couldn’t be met in the last couple of years due to contamination, land space, and costs of goods. Southeast Farm Press

Reading this article and understanding the different obstacles the industry and it’s consumers face, it seems like it is another consumption problem – too easy, too much, too often. Between the unwanted ingredients and the energy used to process, package, and ship the peanut item, I decided to refrain from purchasing peanut butter… until now. I looked into local peanut options and was fortunate to find my favorite local organic farmstand, Pinnacle Organic, grows and sells peanuts during the late fall and winter seasons.

Peanuts, from planting to harvest have a 120-150 day growing period. They are usually planted after the last frost and require a soil temperature of 65 degrees F for germination. A little over a month after planting, the peanuts will begin to flower, another couple of weeks and the roots will develop and penetrate the soil, and lastly the peanuts will mature over a 10 week period, staggered. The soil must be well-drained; loose and sandy. (

For some reason I didn’t think of peanuts in a “seasonal” sense but like anything else that grows… it grows in a season. I’ve decided to try to manage peanut butter in our household like we do with anything else for preservation. For example, during the height of tomato season I would buy extra tomatoes and can them. This is so I would have tomatoes throughout the non-tomato season and I would not have to depend on the BPA lined cans of something that is supposed to resemble a tomato from the grocery store. Each week I visit the farm to get my produce I will buy extra peanuts and soak, roast, and grind them at home for our own homemade peanut butter. A jar of fresh homemade peanut butter will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 months and in the freezer in a freezer safe container for up to a year. If you’ve used oil to cream the peanuts, the oil will separate in the freezer. When you are ready to use, you must thaw the homemade peanut butter completely – remix – and store in the refrigerator.

homemade peanut butter

I won’t kid you… the process is not hard but it is time-consuming. Homemade peanut butter is simply ground up peanuts. You can soak them in salt water and you can add a little oil for a smoother texture… but otherwise, it’s just peanuts… easy, right?! My family didn’t think so when I had them shelling peanuts for an entire morning; all to produce 2 pint jars of peanut butter that are now gone and we’re back to shelling again! I realize this process is not for everyone… afterall who has time to sit around shelling peanuts. For us its a matter of using things when they are in season, storing them for when they aren’t, and making sure we know what we’re consuming and were it’s come from… for that, I’ll spend time shelling a few peanuts.

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Peanut Butter
■ 1 pound peanuts, raw *^
■ 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (optional ingredient & note, if you are using table salt, reduce to 1 cup)
■ 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil (optional ingredient)
■ large pot for soaking + plate to keep peanuts submerged
■ tray for drying
■ food processor
■ water for soaking

Step 1: Place your peanuts in a strainer and rinse, removing as much surface dirt as possible. Drain. Place peanuts and kosher salt in the soaking pot, cover with water till the peanuts are submerged. Stir. Cover the peanuts with a plate to make sure they stay submerged for the soaking duration. After 1 hour, remove the plate and stir the peanut salt water mixture. Cover and continue soaking. Do this every hour for at least 3 up to 5 hours. Drain.

homemade peanut butter

Step 2: Single layer the peanuts on a cookie sheet and place in the oven on WARM or the lowest temperature your oven will allow – this will speed up the drying process. If you don’t want to run your oven they can air dry overnight. Once dry, place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing the peanuts throughout the cooking time to make sure they don’t burn.

homemade peanut butter

Step 3: Remove the peanuts from the oven and let cool. Once cool, the peanuts are ready for shelling. Make sure to remove the thin outer skin as well as the shell. The skins will make your peanut butter bitter.

homemade peanut butter

homemade peanut butter

Step 4: Once shelled, they are ready to enjoy… but if you’re wanting peanut butter… place your peanuts in a food processor and process, while drizzling the oil in slowly.

homemade peanut butter

The more oil, the smoother the texture. Process till you’ve found the consistency you like. This can take several minutes depending on how smooth you like your homemade peanut butter. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 4 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year. My kiddo enjoys his homemade peanut butter with homemade jam on homemade bread… best PB&J ever! Enjoy!

homemade peanut butter

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookie? Crisp or chewy, filled with gooey chocolate chips; I think the chocolate chip cookie is my favorite cookie of all time! I remember it most out of any cookie I made with my grandmother as a child. There didn’t have to be a special occasion to make chocolate chip cookies. I LOVE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!

Then my world of chocolate chip cookies was turned upside down when I read a post from a fellow foodies, homesteading, blogging friend who made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. So now you’ve combined the moist sweet goodness of fresh sugar pumpkin to the chocolaty goodness of a chocolate chip cookie… I say WINNER WINNER Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies! My husband was a skeptic… 4 cookies later with a big glass of milk and he was a believer.

In my typical fashion I decided to change the original recipe, just a bit. Below is my version of the following Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. I have what is called functional decorations. For the fall and winter holidays I had several sugar pumpkins as decor in & out of the house. Now that the holidays have come to an end, I’m in process of baking, roasting, pureeing, and freezing the sugar pumpkins for later use. What better way to use some of those sugar pumpkins than in Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Thanks to Unpaved Roads for bringing this to my attention… I’ve got a new cookie to add to my holiday cookie arsenal!

* = organic
^ = local

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
375 (f) degrees, 10-12 minutes, yield 2-3 dozen depending on scoop size…

2 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons flax seed meal * (optional)
1 egg *^
1 cup fresh sugar pumpkin puree *^
1/2 cup butter *
1/2 cup tallow *^ (you can omit this & use all butter)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar *
3/4 cup brown sugar *
1 teaspoon vanilla *
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Step 1: In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients (i.e. flour, baking powder/soda, salt, flax seed, and spices) and set aside. In a mixer cream together butter and tallow. Next cream in sugars, vanilla, pumpkin, and egg. Once ingredients are incorporated – not over mixed, slowly add in the flour on your mixer’s slowest setting till all flour is incorporated. Lastly stir in the chocolate chips and you are ready to bake.

Step 2: Prepare a cookie tray with a sheet of parchment paper. The size of the cookie is up to you, but keep in mind the larger the scoop… the longer the cooking time otherwise the cookie will remain uncooked in the center. Place a heaping spoonful onto the tray keeping a 1 inch space between each cookie. Place the cookie tray in a pre-heated 375 (f) degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes depending on cookie size, elevation, and how your oven works.
pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Step 3: Once cooking time has expired, immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack. You can store them in an airtight container in a cool dry location. In our house, these cookies lasted three days so storage was not an issue… but I wouldn’t keep them longer than a week given fresh eggs, butter, tallow and pumpkin were used.

The pumpkin chocolate chip cookies have a ‘cake-like’ consistency because of the baking powder used. I was given the suggestion to use oatmeal to give the cookie a different texture, which I will try and share. Now it’s time to enjoy your Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Happy baking and more importantly happy eating!

Homemade Jook

Homemade Jook

I often wonder how many cultures have a version of a delightful warming bowl of chicken and rice… in this case, homemade jook.

This is not just any chicken and rice. It is slow cooked in a hearty homemade broth, a thick porridge of rice, sprinkled with large chunks of a roasted local organic pastured chicken. My Spanish grandmother would make homemade Arroz Con Pollo with saffron and onions. My husband’s Chinese grandmother would make homemade Jook with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.

On brisk afternoons or chilly evenings; when flu season is in full blast; when you’re missing home and need a comforting hug; or when you need a meal that’s easy… you want homemade jook.

I can remember my grandmother making arroz con pollo when my aunt would come home from college for brief visits. The table would be full of friends and family surrounding a giant pot of warm, soothing goodness.

I’ve found this recipe to be a great way to use the leftovers from a whole roasted chicken. I use the carcass (bones, joints, & meat) for stock and the base of the chicken and rice. I was curious to find other versions of chicken and rice so I did a brief search. I was able to find a Turkish version with yogurt & chickpeas; a Caribbean’ version with rum & plantains; a Cambodian version with ginger, lime, and shrimp; and a Columbian version with cilantro, peas, and carrots. The base is all the same, a hearty broth, a roasted chicken carcass, leftover meat, and rice.

The cool of autumn has passed and the chill of winter is finally upon us (hurray!). This meal is perfect for those brisk afternoons or chilly nights.

Below is the recipe for my husband’s grandmother’s version – Jook. Given the current holiday season, you can also use turkey in place of chicken! Do you have a special version of this simple and comforting dish?

Thank you Ammy for this special recipe and the great memories you provided the hubs, his family, and now mine! We love and miss you dearly!

* organic
^ local
> homemade

Homemade Jook
■ 1-2 chicken carcasses *^
■ 5qt pot
■ 6-8 cups water (enough water to barely cover the chicken carcasses)
■ 1 ½ cups rice (still looking for a bulk organic supplier… any suggestions?)
■ 2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
■ 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped *^
■ 2-3 tbsp soy sauce (depending on your taste and how ‘salty’) *
■ 1-2 tsp olive oil
■ Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients for Serving
■ Fresh lemon or lime juice
■ Sriracha Hot Sauce

Step 1: Place 1-2 already cooked/seasoned chicken carcasses in a 5 quart soup pot and cover with water (NOTE: if your carcasses are not seasoned, add an ample amount of salt, a rough chopped onion, a couple of carrots, and a couple of celery stocks to the water. This will help develop a rich broth. If your carcasses are already seasoned, water should be sufficient END NOTE).

Step 2: Once the water has come to a boil, reduce the temperature to medium and simmer the carcasses and broth for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Skim the broth every so often removing any ‘scum’ or fat from the surface. Remove the carcasses from the broth and set aside in a bowl to cool enough to handle. Use a spider or strainer and run through the broth making sure to remove any small bones or vegetables ensuring a safe clean broth.

Step 3: Once the chicken carcasses have cooled enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and place the meat back into the broth. Remember to give any skin and cartilage to your pets! Natural fats and marrow are great for their skin, coat, and joints! I usually have a “supervisor” while removing the meat from the chicken. She knows she’s in for a treat when I’m done!

homemade jook

Step 4: Add in rice and stir. In a separate small sauté pan, brown the chopped garlic and ginger in olive oil. Be careful to not burn the garlic or your stock will be bitter. Add the browned garlic and ginger to the stock and stir. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally until the broth has reduced but is still present. The consistency will be like porridge or even a risotto. This will take 20 – 30 minutes, keeping your temperature at a medium simmer. Add in soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

Your homemade Jook is ready to serve!

homemade jook

Extras: I like to steam a head of broccoli or saute some mushrooms and add it at the end. My husband likes to add Sriracha and extra soy sauce. I like to add fresh lemon or lime juice and Sriracha. It’s a basic meal yet so comforting and delicious! Enjoy!!

Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque

Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup. ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

This is an oldie but a goodie. I posted this last year right before Halloween but I was without a blog. I felt it only appropriate to bring it out of archive history for another year of sharing… especially since the weather of fall has finally rested upon us and winter is around the corner. Chilly evenings deserve a giant bowl of soup! What better soup to serve than a healthy hearty bowl of butternut squash bisque. Enjoy!

It’s a chilly late afternoon before Halloween. Pumpkins are being carved, last-minute touches are applied to costumes, candy is stocked up, and a fragrant pot of butternut squash bisque soup is simmering on the stove.

Autumn and winter are my favorite seasons. I favor the crisp air and the scent of chimney near dawn or dusk. Who doesn’t welcome an extra hour of sleep! Nostalgia sets in while watching timeless holiday cartoons on TV (It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas; Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer). Multi-hued leaves are littering lawns and sidewalks. I look forward to lazy, stormy days cuddled with a blanket and hot chocolate. What I love most during this time of year is the food; hearty, finger licking delectable holiday traditions and seasonal creations cooking up in kitchens everywhere.

As soon as the weather turns, it’s time for soup. Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque is one of my favorite soups to kick off the season. It’s relatively quick and easy to make; healthy for you; and overall its taste reminds me of the cooler seasons wrapped up in a bowl.

* organic
^ local
# homemade

Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque
■ 1 large butternut squash – peeled & chopped in uniform pieces *^
■ 2 medium potatoes – peeled & chopped in uniform pieces *^
■ 12 fresh sage leaves *^
■ 4-6 strips bacon *^ (can sub pancetta, salt pork,or NO pork at all to make vegetarian)
■ 1 shallot – diced *^
■ 3 cloves garlic – diced *^
■ 6 + cups chicken stock *^# (can sub vegetable stock to make vegetarian)
■ Kosher Salt / Pepper to taste
■ Olive oil for cooking ^
■ 1, 6 quart pot (recommended when using a large squash)

■ ½ cup cream to taste *^
■ 1 tsp red pepper flakes for heat
■ ¼ cup goat cheese for topping *^#

Step 1: Start off with a large butternut squash and two medium-sized potatoes. Peel and chop the squash and potatoes. Try to keep your pieces the same size for an even cooking time. Set aside.
butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

Step 2: Next, cut into strips, 4-6 pieces of bacon. You can substitute pancetta or salt pork. You can omit pork all together. Next dice one shallot and 2-3 cloves of garlic. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your pot (roughly 2-3 tablespoons). Add in the bacon, rendering the fat for a couple of minutes. Then add in the sage, shallots, and garlic. Be careful not to let the garlic burn or your soup will be bitter.
butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

Step 3: After the bacon has cooked down, the sage wilted, and the garlic and shallots caramelized, add in the squash and potatoes. Saute the vegetables until they are soft. Once the vegetables are soft, slowly add in 6 cups of chicken stock and bring to a light rolling boil.
butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

Step 4: Lower the temperature to a simmer once the liquid has come to a boil. Stir the ingredients and skim the top occasionally. Simmer for roughly 45 – 60 minutes. Take off of heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use a hand mixer to blend all ingredients to a silky consistency. Salt and pepper to taste; at this time you may also add in red pepper flakes and heavy cream if you prefer a little heat and creamier texture to your soup.
butternut squash bisque

Serve in a bowl and top with your favorite goat cheese crumbles and a loaf of some crusty sour dough bread…enjoy!
butternut squash bisque

Original post written by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet on November 11th, 2011 at site:

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles – Refrigerator or Canned

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles

My household loves pickles; spicy garlic dill pickles!

I’ve always had a love for the bite that vinegar provides… green olives, salt & vinegar chips, pepperonchinis, and of course pickles. As a kid I would devour the tray of green olives my grandmother placed out with the antipasti platter. Lunchtime at another grandma’s and I’d include a few bread & butter pickles on my sandwich. As I got older my vinegar tastes ventured, trying various types of pickled cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and carrots. Anything with an extra kick of acid usually did the trick for me (and still does!).

We use to buy the typical pre-made relish and refrigerated pickles from the cooler isle at the grocery store. Since my family has been making sustainable lifestyle adjustments, we’re steering away from pre-made processed items. Unpronounceable ingredients, crazy levels of highly processed sodium, blue #2 and red #6… or something of that nature. The point was that we had farm fresh local ingredients in our very backyard. With those items, a few herbs, spices, and some acid… we’ve got a pickled party! All for a fraction of the cost but more importantly you know where every ingredient came from and you can probably pronounce them too. The cost goes down even more if you’re able to grow and dry your own herbs and spices and make your own vinegar. I am not there yet, so until then, I’ll depend on quality herbs, spices, and vinegar from the market.

Spicy garlic dill pickles (cucumbers) was the first vegetable I attempted to pickle. What is pickling you ask? I’ll let the experts (or so they say) tell you… The following recipe can be used in both a water bath canned application, or my favorite… refrigerator pickles (I’ll have instructions for both applications below). There is nothing like that cold, vinegar crunch of a fresh spicy garlic dill refrigerator pickle. Waiting a few days for the vinegar and spices to penetrate those crunchy green spears is the hardest part of the entire process. I usually have a half-dozen quart jars in my fridge at any given time during the height of the season; because I’m a fanatic over the fresh variety! Since the season is not year round, we can the rest. I use the canned spicy garlic dill pickles with other pickle varieties to make a homemade relish. They go perfect on sandwiches and in my favorite homemade potato salad. I’m looking forward to more pickling and preservation adventures this year as the growing season is in full bloom! Here is my take on spicy garlic dill pickles. A spicy, garlicy, dill spear of delight… enjoy!

PS – this is a combination of recipes I’ve viewed over the past couple years. Check them out and see which ones you like best… or switch them up like I did… you can’t go wrong; and please feel free to share if you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to see me try! The Savory Spoonful, David Lebovitz, Serious Eats
spicy garlic dill pickles

* = organic
^ = local

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles (Canned or Refrigerator)
The water, vinegar, salt, and sugar amounts combined are to fill 2 quart jars. The spice measurments are per jar.
■ 3-5 pickling cucumbers per jar *^ (Cut to preference)
■ 1 1/4 cups water
■ 1 cup vinegar
■ 1 tablespoon sugar *
■ 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Per jar add…
■ 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
■ 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
■ 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
■ 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
■ 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
■ 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
■ 1 Bay leaf
■ 1/4 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
■ 2 crushed fresh garlic cloves *^
■ 1 1/2 teaspoons dill (you can replace the dried with a couple of sprigs of fresh dill if you have access to it)

Step 1: prepare your jars and lids according to your manufacture’s recommendations. You can sterilize the jars in the dishwasher or a good HOT soapy water wash and diluted water/vinegar rinse does the trick too.

Step 2: prepare your cucumbers. Wash and slice the cucumbers. Take off the ends because there may still be a stem or flower leftover from picking. You can half, quarter, or slice your cucumbers. Some can even be left whole, all depending on your consumption likes.
spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 3: measure spices and add to the jar(s). Crush garlic and add to the jar(s).
spicy garlic dill pickles

spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 4: add to jar(s) your sliced cucumbers. Fill in as many as you can but make sure that the cucumber does not go above the 1 inch head of the jar. This is to ensure that your cucumber is covered with liquid. Squeeze them in…it’s ok!
spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 5: in a sauce pan add in water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat on high, stirring until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Taste the mixture…too salty…add a little more sugar…too sweet…add a little more salt…not enough vinegar…add more…too much vinegar…add water. It’s easy to adjust according to your taste.

Step 6a FOR REFRIGERATOR PICKLES: After the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off heat and let rest till cool. Once cooled, add the liquid to the jar(s) till the spaces surrounding the cucumbers are filled, leaving 1 inch head space between the liquid and the lid. Place the jar(s) in the refrigerator and let sit for a minimum 12 hours but I recommend after 5 days for the flavors to blend; each day giving the jar(s) a light shake distributing the spices. It’s really hard to wait for these crisp tangy pickles…but if you can withstand the wait, you’ll be in for a great treat. Pop open that jar and enjoy. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month or longer.
spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 6b FOR CANNED PICKLES: After the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off heat, and slowly pour the liquid into the jar(s) till the spaces surrounding the cucumbers are filled, leaving 1 inch head space between the liquid and the lid. Seal the jars with the manufacturer lid and band, tight but not too tight because you want to allow air to escape in the sealing process. Add the sealed jars to a boiling hot water bath and bring to a full hard boil for 15 minutes for quart jars, 10 minutes for pint jars. Make sure the level of the boiling water is roughly 1 inch above the lid of the jar. After the processing time, remove the jars from the water bath and place on cool dry surface away from obstructions – ensuring 24 hours of quiet rest time for the jars to properly seal. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year…or enjoy immediately… just note, these pickles will not be as crunchy as the refrigerator pickles because of the heat exposure during the canning process.
spicy garlic dill pickles

Chop and add to your favorite potato or pasta salads, make homemade relish adding in sweet pickles, enjoy on sandwiches, or as a snack all by itself… enjoy!!

Homemade Applesauce – No Sugar Needed

Homemade Applesauce

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

There is a medium-sized apple tree in my grandmother’s backyard. As far back as I can remember when the leaves began to turn, the apples would fall and she would make homemade applesauce and other apple goodies to eat. The apples were small with a bright green skin and tart in flavor. The tree itself brings back many memories. Each year, when the tree was ready for pruning her sister & husband would drive down to my grandmother’s house for a day of visiting, eating, and yard work. They arrived with goodies from their backyard; zucchini, end of season tomatoes, lemons, eggs from their chickens, and fresh-baked cookies. The ladies would visit while Tito would prune the apple tree. I also remember when my grandmother would have to “shoo shoo” the squirrels away as they ripped apples from the tree, taking only small bites and leaving the rest to rot into the ground. This made grandma furious; she’d curse the squirrels every time her batch of homemade applesauce was smaller than the previous year.

Local Organic Apples Pinnacle Organic

Since we’ve lived in this community, we have been buying organic apples. We purchase the apples from a local organic produce farmstand in San Juan Bautista, Pinnacle Organics. We believe buying local keeps the money you spent in the community, we know exactly where our food came from, and we’re cutting out the middleman often reducing the cost. I started buying boxes of apples weekly and inquired on my grandmother’s tried & trued homemade applesauce recipe; apples, apple juice, cinnamon, and maybe just maybe a little brown sugar. After a few tries I came up with my version, same but different.

I was joining my grandmother and her sister, who was visiting from Mexico, for an early afternoon lunch. When my grandmother has visitors she pulls out several varieties of food, snacks, and goodies she’s made. Typically her homemade applesauce would have been donned the table, but this year her tree’s production was extremely small. I was aware of grandma’s homemade applesauce challenge, so I brought a couple of jars of my own freshly made homemade applesauce to share with the ladies. “Hmmm, this is better than yours Dolly…” Tita never holds back… needless to say I felt a little bad for my grandma. Her homemade applesauce has been the star for years. Despite feeling bad I know I’ve learned from the best, my grandma, and that’s why my homemade applesauce is so freakin’ good!

Getting ready to peel, core, and slice apples

This year, I’ve already had the opportunity to go through several boxes of apples and the season has only begun. There are so many apple cooking options such as baked apples, chutney, pies, tarts, and salads to name a few. The family seems to be fans of the homemade applesauce, so each year can it like crazy so we have enough for the year. It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve made. The time-consuming task lies only within the peeling, coring, and chopping. One Thanksgiving holiday my mother-in-law came over early to help in the food preparation and saw I was tediously peeling a sink full of apples, hands hurting while slumped over the kitchen counter. Christmas time arrived and she gifted me the best gift ever… an apple peeler, corer, chopper. The device looks medieval but it’s simple, easy to clean and does the job within minute’s verses hours.

My version has no added sugar; only apples, 100% juice from apples (I purchase the juice directly from the farmstand), and a mix of spices. After a long simmer the sauce remains chunky and is ready to enjoy! I’ve had people compare the applesauce to an apple pie filling… it’s that yummy.

Apple peeling, coring, and slicing in process.

Homemade Applesauce
5 Quart Sauté Pan
22 – 26 apples, depending on size (Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn, and Jonagold varieties)
16 – 24oz apple juice, enough juice to cover ½ of the apples in the pan (Pinnacle Organic juice is 100% organic apple juice, no sugar added)
¼ – ½ Teaspoon of each ground spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice

Peel, core, and chop apples. Place the sliced apples in your cooking vessel; I use a 5 quart sauté pan because it’s a wide pan with high sides. This allows for the apples to spread out and cook evenly. Sprinkle over your apples the spice mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
Local organic apples, apple juice, and spice

Pour enough apple juice over the mixture till the liquid covers the apples half way. Toss the apple slices to make sure the spices are mixed. Cook on medium high till the liquid comes to a boil, stirring often. Once it’s reached a boil, lower the temperature to medium or medium low heat for roughly two hours, stirring occassionally.

The cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of your apples. I prefer my apple sauce slightly chunky – you can cook it longer for a smoother texture or even use an emulsion mixture to puree. Most the liquid will be reduced or gone by the time your apple sauce is complete.
Homemade Applesauce

The quantities for this recipe allow for 8 – 12 pint jars to be filled, again depending on the size of the apples.

The best thing about this recipe is that the amounts can vary greatly; it all depends on your taste preferences. You can make this recipe with as little as five apples; just follow the basic instructions ensuring the amount of apples you use is covered half way with juice. The spice amounts can vary according to your taste.

Your applesauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, canned will last all year, and in the freezer for roughly six months.
Homemade Applesauce cannded

Original post written on November 2nd, 2011 by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet at site: