Winter Squash Roundup

Winter squash are popping up everywhere and hopefully in your garden too. Gorgeous, and delicious, these are just a few of our favorite edibles along with their ideal cooking methods. Keep in mind these will keep for months in a dry dark cupboard.

1. Sugar Pie Pumpkin: The obvious choice for pies, but we love roasting it for Pumpkin Soup. 
2. Carnival: Mild and savory, keep it simple by roasting in butter and brown sugar. 
3. Spaghetti: An excellent healthy alternative to pasta the flesh separates into spaghetti like strands once cooked. 
4. Red Kuri: Savory and buttery, popular for it's edible skin. Great braised or in soups. 
5. Buttercup: Dry, sweet and stringless. We love using this with curry, especially in soup form. 
6. Delicata: Sweet potato like flavor, awesome sliced and roasted with olive oils, s+p.
7. Turban: Mild and nutty, use in recipes that call for sugar pumpkin.
8. Butternut: Sweet and mild, roast this cubed/peeled with a granny smith apple and onions for soup or eat alone.
9. Sweet Dumpling: Sweet and mild. Perfect for roasting whole or in cubes.  

 

 

Apple What? Apple Who? Varieties + Uses

Of the nearly 7,000 varieties of apples grown in the United States we match up eight common varieties with their ideal preparation and usage for you autumnal cooking adventures. And to get you through these adventures we've also included some equivalents when it comes to chopping and measuring. You now have no excuse to take full advantage of this year's incredible apple crop, get cookin! 

 

 

HOW MANY APPLES IS THAT?
1 large apple = 2 cups sliced or chopped = 1 1/2 cups finely chopped 

1 medium apple = 1 1/3 cups sliced or chopped = 1 cup finely chopped

1 small apple = 3/4 cup sliced or chopped = 3/4 cup finely chopped 

1 pound apples = 4 small apples or 3 medium apples or about 2 large apples

Peck = 10-1/2 pounds

Bushel = 42 pounds (yields 20-24 quarts of applesauce)

illustrations by Ashley Mary

The Forest Floor: Spring Foraging 101

Early spring time is our absolute favorite time of the year to use any excuse to explore what winter has been hiding from us over the last several months. 

As the spring foraging season starts to makes its way up toward the midwest, all kinds of edible magic can be found off the beaten path tucked gently into the forest floor. Many a foodie's obsession, we enjoy not just eating foraged foods, but often the hunt more than the spoils. 

We've highlighted a couple of our favorite spring foraging treasures with tips we've learned over the years. It's important to know that any forager must pick these goods only on public land (check local restrictions) or from a friend's private property. Don't say I didn't warn you. Happy hunting!
 

RAMPS

 Ramps can be identified by 2-3 thin smooth leafs and a burgundy stem.

Ramps can be identified by 2-3 thin smooth leafs and a burgundy stem.

WHEN TO LOOK 
Now (Aprilish) new leaves will emerge from the perennial bulbs around the same time tree buds are really starting to emerge and green up. 

WHERE TO LOOK
They can be found in cool, shady areas with damp, rich soil high in organic matter. They like sandy, wet soils, so a good place to look for them is on slopes with pines, near streams and creeks.

BEST PRACTICES
This part is very important. The whole magic in foraging is the return of plants or mushrooms year after year. Sustainable foraging practices are critical to allowing these critters to return next year and to spread. Leave isolated bunches alone, and take only around 20% of larger patches you find in the ground, leaving the rest for next year. Pack a knife with you because you will want to limit the amount of bulb and roots your remove, cutting just below the soil surface leaving half of the bulb and roots intact.  

 

FIDDLEHEAD FERNS

WHEN TO LOOK
Anytime between May and June in the Northern part of the country

WHERE TO LOOK
Like Morels and Ramps, Fiddleheads or baby ferns can be found off the beaten path in wild wet areas on the edges of rivers, stream banks and swampy areas. They are bright green and can easily be seen amidst the dark soil, twigs, and leaves from which they emerge. They should be found in clumps of about about six. Pick the tender tight little rolls as soon as they are an inch or two above the ground. 

BEST PRACTICES
All ferns have fiddleheads at some point, some more edible than others. Ostrich ferns are the most safe for cooking. Ostrich fern fiddleheads, which are about an inch in diameter, can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern, as well as the smooth fern stem, and the deep ”U”-shaped groove on the inside of the fern stem. Please make sure and leave at least a few unpicked fiddleheads to avoid devastating and killing the fern completely. 

 

 

MOREL MUSHROOMS

 Pick only the common (yellow or grey) or black Morel. Do plenty of research before you head out so you can be confident you are eating the non-toxic variety. 

Pick only the common (yellow or grey) or black Morel. Do plenty of research before you head out so you can be confident you are eating the non-toxic variety. 

WHEN TO LOOK
This can totally depend on the type of spring you are having and varies geographically. Once the first dandelions start to spread and the lilacs are in bloom you have about a three week window to start foraging. Keep in mind the crop is moving up from the South so as of April 27th southern Minnesota has started picking.

WHERE TO LOOK
First off most hunters guard their hunting spots with their lives. Any serious hunter would never even hint at their hunting locations. (real talk, my uncle Pete claims to have a cave somewhere on his corn field where he collects several pounds each year, have I ever seen this cave? Hell no. A corn field with a Cave?) 

Second off, if you find a good score chances are the mushrooms will return to that same spot each year, veteran foragers will say to collect your shrooms in a mesh bag or basket to allow these spores to drop and spread as you forage. 

Friends will likely find one or two randoms in their backyard, sure. But the best places to look are wild areas, creek or river banks but not areas that have been flooded. Morels have a symbiotic relationship with trees and in many areas that relationship seems to be the strongest with dead Elms. This is Morel hunter nerd for: look for dead Elms and a Morel or two should be near by. 

This is about as much as we can say about the subject before we get angry letters from our husband + the morel hunting community. Do you really need any more excuses to get out and go for a hike (adorable basket in hand)? 

BEST PRACTICES
Picking wild mushrooms requires a good deal of caution, because even a small nibble of the wrong mushroom can be lethal. Check local restrictions on foraging in public parks and wild areas.

LET'S TALK ABOUT TICKS
Foraging season for the above happens to also be the beginning of Tick season. If you have an irrational fear of Ticks (maybe like us) we suggest the following.

  • Wear tall rubber boots with knee high socks.
  • Wear tight thicker pants/leggings to prevent the critters from crawling up your legs. The little devils usually live on the forest floor and make their way up via a pant leg.
  • Dryer sheets, yes toss a few dryer sheets into your boots. 
  • Soothe irrational undiscovered tick fears by taking a hot warm bath and washing your hair when you get home. (really can't most irrational fears be soothed by a little bath salt and hot water?) 
 

ALL NATURAL DYE JOB: EASTER EGGS

Time out for a little nostalgia..

Every year growing up my sister and I would dye Easter eggs in my Grandmother's apartment building's laundry room.

We bickered, made a mess and for some reason always ended the evening eating Pringles and watching the Statler Brothers (no thanks) while my mother and grandmother played cards in the background. Every year since Tootie's death I can recall this Easter routine and I feel close again to my Grandmother once more.

We hope you have some traditions of your own that from time to time are able to transform you back to the ole ladies in your life who loved you more than you could ever know. 

So here we go; I'm going to say it, I'm not crafty at all.

Pinterest tutorials are in fact pretty intimidating to me, I also hate to read instructions and would rather take a guess then go back and read the instructions for the first time just to troubleshoot. BUT we were inspired by our tour of Born & Dyed in Minnesota and wanted to take their natural dye philosophy into the kitchen for a spin.

What better time than Easter egg dying, especially when you are avoiding taking your colorful, boisterous sometimes nudist two year old daughter anywhere to pick up a box of PAAS. The important lesson is that this was not hard. You aren't eating them, so it really doesn't have to be perfect.

And really doesn't perfection take all of the character of what you are doing? 

SUPPLY LIST
White vinegar
A dozen white eggs
A sauce pan for each color you plan to make
Strainer
Cheese Cloth (optional) 
Empty egg carton

 

DYE + COLOR KEY
Yellow/Amber: Yellow onion skins with a teaspoon of Turmeric
Pink to red: Red beets
Pale purple to red: Red onion skins
Purple: Red cabbage
Green: Spinach
Lavender: Purple grape juice
Tan to brown: Coffee (but really why not skip this and just use a few brown eggs?)
Orange: Chili powder
Pink/Purple: Raspberries or blackberries
Pale Green: Yellow or green apple peels.

 

 

 

INSTRUCTION

  1. Get organized, decide on what/how may colors you want to try and ensemble the same number of jars and sauce pans. Set aside the cheese cloth+Strainer over a bowl.
  2. Get your water boiling and toss in a big handful of the cut up veggie/fruit or about a tablespoon of the spice you are using into the individual sauce pans. 
  3. Add the eggs, you are going to hard boil the egg while the dye gets cookin'.  
    *make sure the eggs are completely covered by the water.
  4. The eggs need about ten minutes to cook, but really get the water boiling then let it simmer for about 30 minutes. 
  5. If you want to avoid spots, you can stop half way thru set aside the eggs and strain the dye liquid. Return the dye water to the sauce pan with the eggs for a little more time on the stove. Keep beet chunks in with the dye jars or the eggs will be a pink/brown color.
  6. Pour out the water into the individual jars and carefully return the eggs to the dye water. 
    Let the eggs sit out over night. 
  7. Carefully remove the eggs and let them dry in the egg carton.
  8. Sit back and enjoy your edible, crafty creation.

Fermentation What?

 Fermentation is one of the oldest known food preservation methods. The process uses  bacteria and enzymes  to convert carbohydrates or sugars into alcohol and organic acids. Illustration by  Rachel Rolseth

Fermentation is one of the oldest known food preservation methods. The process uses bacteria and enzymes to convert carbohydrates or sugars into alcohol and organic acids. Illustration by Rachel Rolseth

 

So Pickling + Fermentation, Same Thing–Right?
Wrong, the quick and dirty of pickling vs fermentation is that pickling involves heat processing and fermentation does not. 

When you pickle, you usually heat vinegar, salt, and sugar (which is called "brine") in water and pour it over the vegetables. To make the pickles shelf-stable, you can them using a canner (a big pot that you put the jars in to get them to seal). 
When you ferment vegetables (there are so many other ferments and methods!) you generally use a salt water brine and submerge your chopped (or not) vegetables underneath the brine using a weight of some sort. The brine creates an environment that is conducive to the growth of "good bacteria" (lactobacillus plantarum in this case) and prevents molds and such from growing on the vegetables (which would happen if they were exposed to air).  Fermentation also involves time– sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, depending on your desired result. Some sauerkrauts can ferment for months. Ideally, you'd ferment for more than 5 days to hit a good flavor and probiotic level. You can check the pH to make sure if you don't trust your tastebuds, which should read lower than 4.0. Ferments are not usually canned after they are done fermenting because the heat would kill the good bacteria. Instead, they are stored in a cool environment to slow down the fermentation (in the case of refrigeration, it nearly stalls the process). 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Behaving Well, A Lesson in Giving Thanks

We asked our dear friend and etiquette expert Therese Sterling-Little her advice for behaving yourself around the dinner table this Thanksgiving. Perhaps you are a recent kid's table graduate or spending your first Thanksgiving with the new in-laws, we promise you some great advice along with a healthy side of Thanksgiving's conflicting backstory. So with that, we turn it over to Therese. 

 Norman Rockwell's  Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving

We have writer and civic activist Sarah Josepha Hale to thank for our modern celebration of Thanksgiving. Hale was adept at cultural myth making; she counts the classic “Mary Had a Little Lamb” amongst her works. She was an early pioneer of opportunities for women and girls, and considered somewhat of a domestic expert in her time. For thirty-six years, beginning in 1827, Hale aggressively petitioned to unify the USA in one national celebration of Thanksgiving. At the time, the holiday was celebrated only in New England, and on a different date in each state. Abraham Lincoln eventually responded, and in 1863 declared Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. In 1939, Roosevelt briefly moved the national celebration up a week, hoping to spur holiday retail sales. But the people wouldn’t stand for it.  Two years later, the feast was moved back to the end of the month. In 2015, we will celebrate on Thursday, November 26th. 

I grew up under the tutelage of a master hostess. My memories of Thanksgiving are drool inducing and bathed in hygge; roasted pears and gorgonzola, the pope’s nose, dripping gravy in a fine china boat, twenty hands clasped in a circle for pre dinner blessings. But I’m a little conflicted about this love. The Thanksgiving holiday is incredibly complicated. Of course, festivals and celebrations of the harvest bounty date back to ancient times when Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks gathered their crops and paid tribute to the gods with epic feasts. The Jewish faith historically celebrates the harvest in Sukkot, a seven day festival. Sukkot is derived from the Hebrew Sukkah–a temporary dwelling where farmers lived during harvest. Similarly, Native American commemorations of the fall harvest likely pre-date any European invasion of their shores. And the story of Thanksgiving we learn and propagate in the United States, that we want to believe, is one of peaceful collaboration amongst disparate communities.

We learn that Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, taught malnourished settlers from the Mayflower how to hunt and grow on his homeland. That he helped these same settlers form an alliance with the Wampanoag people and that together the communities flourished harmoniously. That the Native Americans and the Pilgrims celebrated their bond with feast and merriment. 


Of course, none of this is true. Before Squanto met the “pilgrims”, he had been kidnapped by an Englishman and sold into slavery, eventually escaping and returning back to North America. It is likely that the Thanksgiving we celebrate today first occurred in 1621, after  a violent struggle. Settlers arriving on the Mayflower found hunting and growing in their new environment incredibly difficult. Many displayed hostility towards Natives, and some were exceedingly brutal. Their three day Thanksgiving celebration occurred after a long period of hunger and a battle. The European Settlers rejoiced at the opportunity to fill their starving bellies. The United States has not made things right with the Native Americans, and propagation of the myth behind this national holiday is only one small aspect of that. The National Day of Mourning and UnThanksgivng are amongst protests that acknowledge this truth on the fourth Thursday of November every year, while our nation gives thanks.

Truth is an onion, shedding skins all across our lives. At best we leverage heightened understanding to empathetically inform our actions, big and small.  It is important to remember and note the complex history of Thanksgiving. Just as we gain historical perspective with age and inquiry, we can gain insight into the lives and histories of those around us and in turn be better guests. Many of us will sit around a Thanksgiving table not starved in the least, having ate our plenty the day before at dinner. Many of us will find the holiday hectic with travel, perhaps dashing to multiple feasts, dealing with missed flights and bad weather. Everyone can take the opportunity to give back and give more. Emotionally, energetically, as a guest, a host, a citizen, or a friend. To try, in a scary and shifting world, to be earnestly thankful. 

Just like I didn’t understand the full significance of Thanksgiving growing up, I was for the most part blissfully naive to the magnitude of planning and labor that orchestrating and hosting Thanksgiving, or any event, entails. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of hosting many lovely, kind people in my own home. My gatherings aren’t as fancy, but they’re still perfect. Guests mix craft cocktails, come replete with bouquets and loud laughter, hand us scented oils and tell stories. These great guests have inspired me to be more thoughtful and conscious of my behavior in other’s homes, and more appreciative. Below you’ll find some tips I’ve acquired along the way:

1. Don’t be a maybe.
Dinner Parties require a lot of planning, and this is just rude. If someone is nice enough to invite you to Thanksgiving, respond promptly. And don’t ask what they’re making or who’s coming as a predicate to your response. 

2. Ask what you can bring, and bring your own tools.
Inquire with your host as to what you can contribute. Bring your own serving dish and spoon, as well as any last minute ingredients or tools your dish requires. Don’t figure out how to cook it when you get there, or bring something raw (exceptions exist, obviously). When necessary, inquire in advance about oven and counter capacity so the host can incorporate your needs into their planning. 

3. Pick up a little gift.
Bring your host something! They’re going to a lot of trouble, and probably spending lots of money. Plus, you’re nice! Make something, bring flowers, pick up a jam or a knick-knack. You know them better than me.

4. Warn of allergies. And if they’re severe, offer to bring your own provisions. If your food allergies are severe, warn your host. If you are on a restricted diet, it’s nice to give a warning and perhaps bring your own food if you can’t eat most things. It’s nice to set expectations and not accidentally offend, or have a reaction!

5. Don’t be early! Or more than 45 minutes late.
Send a text if you’re running late.  We all know it’s rude to be late. But when hosting a party, a half hour to forty five minutes of wiggle room between guest arrivals can give you some welcome time to breathe. As a guest, what might be worse is coming early. Unless you’ve arranged with the host, don’t ring the bell before starting time.

6. Offer to help, of course, but generally stay away from the kitchen.
Kitchen crowds can cause stress, and everyone tends to congregate near the kitchen at parties. Be conscious of your utility in keeping things moving, at times you can contribute greatly by conversating in another room. 

7. Don’t be on your phone the whole time, come on.
Also, don’t be an asshole about people being on their phones, and loudly call them out. You don’t know what’s going on with them. Engaging with conversation works better than humiliation.

8. Help clean up.
Maybe insist on it–and if the effort seems discombobulated you can always arrange the willing hires and manage the situation. Step up for clean up.

9. Don’t overstay your welcome.
After spending hours prepping, planning, and hosting a party, your host probably doesn’t want you to eat and run–they can finally sit down and chat! But don’t linger too long or get too drunk, after a long holiday nothing is more relaxing than chatting with an overly imbibed guest late into the night... 

10. Send a thank you.
It’s the digital age, so I think a text or email will suffice. My wife often sends a handwritten note, and I admittedly swoon whenever we receive them. No matter the medium, it’s nice to acknowledge your host after the swirl of their effort has subsided. 

Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving!!  

 

 

Therese lives in Brooklyn with her wife. She spends her time reading, ranting, and thinking about how we might build better communities. She has too many decorative platters

 

Preserving: Applesauce

Canning used to be the only way the family farm could enjoy fruit and the flavors of summer during winter months. Farmers would share resources and can large quantities of apples, peaches, or anything they grew in abundance and could share with the neighbors. My Grandmother Tootie always had homemade applesauce around and she always liked to share. Below is our version of Tootie's applesauce recipe that we love to eat alone, spoon over ice-cream or serve on top of pork chops.  We rarely get to actually canning this recipe because it gets eaten up so quickly from the fridge.  

  Our favorite apples for sauce are Cortlands, McIntosh and Gala apples. We toss in a one or two green Granny Smith for a hint of tartness.

Our favorite apples for sauce are Cortlands, McIntosh and Gala apples. We toss in a one or two green Granny Smith for a hint of tartness.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8-9 Sweet red Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into 8 Slices 
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into 8 Slices
  • 1 cup of Apple Cider
  • Juice Of 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 cup  Light Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 2 teaspoons of Cinnamon
  • Large pinch of Nutmeg & AllSpice 
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter 

Cooking Applesauce is extremely forgiving, just make sure to taste as you go. 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine all of above ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. At about medium heat this should take 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently because you do not want the apples to burn to the bottom of your pot. 

2. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes or until the apple slices break down and become mushy. Continue to stir frequently, and use a potato masher occasionally to help break down the apples. If you want a super chunky apples sauce, stop here and toss sauce into jars, allowing to cool before you cover and refrigerate.

3. For a traditional smoother sauce we use an emulsion blender directly into the pot with the heat turned off to puree the sauce. Stand back because the sauce is extremely hot and willing to splatter. 

4. Transfer sauce to mason jars, allowing to cool before you cover and refrigerate. Unopened jars will last weeks in the fridge. 

Preserving: Raspberry Jam

 Raspberry Jam, makes four cups. 

Raspberry Jam, makes four cups. 

Wam, bam, thank you jam!!

I recently had the distinct pleasure of joining Mrs. Rebecca Lunna at her lovely abode to participate in the wonder that is canning. AKA things Tootie & Dotes totally knew how to do ya know, no big deal... but in all honestly, it's something I still don't really understand how to do and totally should.

Eager to learn, mimosa ingredients in hand, I joined the canning crew for a lesson on a lovely Sunday morning.

Below is the recipe and process if you're following along at home.
 

CANNING SUPPLY LIST

  • Jelly jars, lids and rings
  • Water bath canner and rack. (21-qt. covered pot)
  • Funnel
  • Jar lifter or rubber tongs

INGREDIENTS   

  • 4 cups (1 liter) granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (1 liter) raspberries
     

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sterilize the glass jars you plan to use before you get started by boiling them, do the same for the lids and the rims. Set aside to cool/dry.
  2. Combine ingredients in a saucepan, mix and bring to a boil, stirring and skimming foam off the top. If you have a thermometer you want the temp to reach 221 degrees for 5 minutes. Otherwise to check, put some mixture on a plate, let cool slightly and then drag your finger across it, if it gel's it's ready.
  3. Use wide mouth funnel to pour mixture into jars.
  4. Wipe jar tops before screwing on the lids.
  5. To seal for longer term storage, put the jars in a canning wire rack and submerge in boiling water for ten minutes. 
  6. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours. Do not push down on the center of the flat metal lid until jar has cooled completely.
  7. Enjoy sound of canning jars pop! so you know they're sealed.

Preserving: Dilly Beans

 Dilly Beans awaiting their vinegar liquid mixture before being sealed and enjoyed.

Dilly Beans awaiting their vinegar liquid mixture before being sealed and enjoyed.

Beans, beans the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more you... eat!
If you use this recipe that is. We stopped by our favorite weekend canning spot to learn the basics of canning Dilly Beans.

Here's what you'll need if you want to follow along with us:

CANNING SUPPLY LIST

  • 16oz jars, lids and rings
  • Water bath canner and rack. (21-qt. covered pot)
  • Funnel
  • Jar lifter or rubber tongs. 

SOLID INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 lbs beans
  • 1/4th cup salt
  • 4 leads dill
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground mustard

LIQUID INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 ½ cup vinegar

  • 2 ½ cup water


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sterilize the glass jars you plan to use before you get started by boiling them, do the same for the lids and the rims. Set aside to cool/dry.
  2. Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars (you can heat them on the oven rack).

  3. Add ¼ teaspoon cayenne and ground mustard to each jar.

  4. Add 1-2 cloves a garlic, a pinch of fresh dill and other spices to your taste preferences.

  5. Boil vinegar, salt and H20 together.

  6. Pour boiling vinegar water over beans in their jars.

  7. Remove air bubbles from jar.

  8. Cap jars.

  9. Transfer hot jars back to boiling water for a 10 min H20 bath to seal.

  10. Listen for the delightful popping sound as they seal themselves for your enjoyment later.

Quick & Easy Preserving, A story that ends in your Freezer

Or as my husband tried to put it the lazy kind of persevering.  How could making your own sauce from fruit you spent all morning picking be considered lazy? But really if you are canning solo, or for the first time stick to the freezer, if space allows. It's fast and easy and you can store the frozen jams for up to one year in your freezer or three weeks once thawed and in the refrigerator.


SUPPLY LIST
Four Le Parfait 7 Ounce Bail Closure Canning Jar 
Mixing bowls
Cutting board and Knife

 INGREDIENTS
Juice of one Lemon
3 Cups of crushed Strawberries (**measure after you've crushed them)
4 Cups of sugar 
1 (1.75 ounce) package dry pectin
3/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS
1. Mix crushed strawberries with lemon juice and sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute.
3. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.
4. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

nasturtiums, Veggies & Bread

I loooove edible flowers.

As a kid, I used to pick honey-suckle with my neighbor Charlie. We'd giggle as the tiny pockets of sweet nectar popped open as we ate them.

Fast forward 25 years and I decided it was time to broaden my horizons with an another popular edible, nasturtiums. I tried 4 varieties this year; Apricot Twist, Empress of India, Jewel of Africa mix and Alaska mix.

Theses flowers and their leaves are peppery, a bit like a radish, so you don't want to use too many or they might take over the flavor of your dish.

Nasturtiums can also be used as a medicine and are packed with Vitamin C. I read somewhere though, that they may not be totally safe for little kids to eat, so if you've got little ones, maybe shy away from giving them a bowl of flowers to munch on.

Now for the recipes!

I didn't really have a plan for what I wanted to make, but I gathered my flowers, veggies, sour-dough, a baguette and a few types of spreads and started experimenting.

Here were my favorite combos of the batch:

Fancy Nasturtium Bruschetta

  • fresh diced cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, dash of balsamic vinegar, diced clove of garlic (mix with ingredients above)
  • top bread with the mixture, a few nasturtium and enjoy!

Smashed Avocado & Nasturtium Garlic Toast

  • smash chunk of avocado onto olive oil garlic toast
  • drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, cracked pepper
  • top with nasturtium flowers

Spinach Artichoke, Veggie Nasturtium Toast

  • buy or make spinach artichoke dip, spread thin layer over toast
  • top with broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and nasturtium flowers & leaves 

Here's a pro tip on flower picking:

  • gather the flowers right before you're ready to serve the dish, if they're left out too long they will wilt
    • if you can't avoid this, refrigerate the petals in a container until they're ready for use
  • pick the petite nasturtium leaves, they have a milder flavor and are super cute!
  • if you want to get fancy, try using the giant nasturtium leaves as plate decor, I ended up using one to hold dips and that was a hit!

Send us your favorite edible flower recipes and be sure to Check out our full round up of edible flowers to eat and plant in this year's garden!

Happy eating!!

Recipe: Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

 

Right now our country's best orange crop is being picked and shipped out to your local market with the sweetest tasting juice beneath it's peal. While you can't run out of ways to use the peaking citrus our favorite and easiest two step method is below. Packed with vitamin C & A, a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice will put a smile on your mid-winter scowl and temporarily cure any cold. We mean it. The oranges traveled long enough to get here, don't they deserve a nice squeeze?! 

SUPPLY LIST 
Citrus Juicer or Squeezer 
Four Naval Oranges per cup of orange juice 

  1. You want to begin with soft room temperature oranges. Warm them in your hands and press them into your counter. 
  2. Slice each orange in half and press and grind the oranges into your juicer. 
  3. Mix in a splash or two or three of Champagne. (OPTIONAL) 
vscocam-photo-1-3.jpg

Herbs 101: Flavor profiles and favorite uses

 

How would you describe the taste of an herb and what it brings to a dish?
Knowing the true flavor profile of an herb is critical in developing good cooking instincts, weaning yourself from compulsive recipe glancing, and will allow you to make the most out of your herb garden. The following includes some flavor clues and suggestions adapted from Tootie's most trusted county cook book for everyday cooking herbs. As a general rule of thumb most herbs will lose their flavor once they meet heat and will cook down, so consider incorporating your herbs at the last possible moment. 

 

ROSEMARY

FLAVOR: Strong and piney with a tea-like aroma. What does piney taste like? Think mint and pepper. 
USES: Goes very well with garlic and butter. Rosemary is an important seasoning in stuffing for duck, pork or turkey. We add a full sprig or two to roasted red potatoes. 

 

THYME

FLAVOR: Woodsy and mint flavor but much softer than Rosemary. 
USES: Salt+Pepper and a big pinch of chopped thyme goes well in roasted carrots and honey. This herb is great used as a rub over poultry and fish.

 

CILANTRO

FLAVOR: Fresh grassy flavor with a hint of citrus. 
USES: We cover most fresh summer vegetables in lime, salt, cumin and cilantro. Heaps of cilantro will also go into your favorite guacamole or salsa. With that said, cilantro is a staple in many ethnic dishes from Mexican to Indian to Asian. 

Warning: Ask before dousing your next dinner party in cilantro. Most people either love or hate this herb. According to internet legend there are some genetic variants linked to the perception of this herb having a soapy taste. We say quit your whining and embrace the fresh, citrus amazingness of cilantro! 

 

BASIL

FLAVOR: Cinnamon or licorice flavor with a peppery sweet hint. There are different types of basil plants that produce strong nuances in flavor from sweet basil to spicy basil. 
USES: If your recipe calls for tomatoes or tomato sauce, add a touch of basil to bring out the rich tomato flavor. 
Basil has a huge range in flavor so it works in a variety of ethnic dishes from Thai to Italian.

 

PARSLEY

FLAVOR: Savory and fresh flavor, soft pepper and mint but very mild. 
USES: Parsley, sage, rosemary are thyme are no joke, they go well together in just about anything. BUT, we urge you to mash them into some soft salted butter alongside some warm crusty bread. Traditionally a key ingredient in meatballs of any kind. 

 

SAGE

FLAVOR: Warm and savory with a earthy mint flavor. 
USES: Stuffing would not be the same with out a handful of dried sage. We associate sage with autumn flavors and cooking. Goes well with just about any squash dish or in a rub for pork. 

Recipe: Homemade Ricotta Cheese & multipurpose Whey

Now that you have this recipe you will never buy Ricotta again. It's that easy and delicious. Here are the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes you will make the next day. We've also included a few uses for the whey left over once your curds have separated.

Makes 2 cups of fresh Ricotta. 

SUPPLY LIST

  • Large sieve or mesh colander 
  • Fine-mesh cheesecloth
  • 6-quart heavy pot
  • Large bowl 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
     

1. Have at the ready a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty cheesecloth placed over a large bowl.
2. Pour whole milk, cream and salt into a heavy pot at medium high heat and bring to a bowl slowly, stirring frequently to prevent the milk from scorching. 
3. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
4. Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for up to 60 minnutes.
5. Discard or set aside the liquid (whey) and chill the ricotta in an air tight container for up to three days. 

Whey has a ton of protein and can serve many purposes. Waste not want not!

  • Set aside in a jar in the fridge and add to your morning smoothie. 
  • Come summer time whey makes an excellent defense against powdery mildew. Spray leaves at the first sign of this gray whitish powder and hey! switch your waterings to the evening time to avoid this problem all together. 
  •  Does your soil need more acidity? Strain your whey incredibly well with doubled up cheese cloth then pour it into the soil this spring to lower the soil PH around blueberry, tomato or other plants that prefer more acidic soil.  


 

 

Recipe: Not My Grandmothers Lefse

In Tootie's day she made lefse with something called 'Instant buds'. Thanks to my Mother's likely resentment towards said buds, I really didn't grow up with an intimate knowledge of instant potatoes. But when you are making Lefse for a crowd after all of the potatoes have been claimed, you might turn to Potatoes in an Instant to make life just a littler easier on the farm.

The following is a recipe for Lefse using whole Russet potatoes, and in honor of Tootie we have also included below her favorite never fail recipe from the Appleton Senior Citizen Center. 

SUPPLY LIST

Note: You will certainly need a lefse griddle and turning stick. The remaining supplies can be fudged a bit with with more common kitchen supplies.

  • Lefse Griddle 
  • Lefse Stick 1 1/2"
  • Lefse Rolling Pin - Corrugated
  • Rolling Pin Covers
  • Potato Ricer 
  • Potato Peeler
  • Huge pot for boiling potatoes, we used our water bath caner

INGREDIENTS 

  • 10 pounds potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cover potatoes with water and cook until tender.
  2. Run hot potatoes through a potato ricer or use a cheese grater to essential shred the potatoes. 
  3. Place into a large bowl. Beat butter, cream, salt, and sugar into the hot riced potatoes. This is very important, let cool to room temperature (this will take hours). 
  4. Stir flour into the potato mixture. Pull off pieces of the dough and form into walnut size balls. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and roll out lefse balls to 1/8 inch thickness.
  5. Cook on a hot (400 degree F/200 C) griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with damp towel until ready to serve.
     

Now is the really hard part, do you roll up your lefse with just plain butter or are you a butter and sugar kind of square head? Either way this recipe will make around 60 lefse cakes and is easily stored in the freezer for months. I have been told to let the lefse first cool in a plastic garbage bag so that the cakes absorb as much moisture as possible before freezing. Good luck!


NEVER FAIL LEFSE RECIPE: APPLETON SENIOR CITIZEN CENTER

 

  1. Make Instant potato buds like you would for eating except double the amount of butter used on the directions on back of the box. Also use cream instead of milk. Cool it well.
  2. Use half a cup of flour to each one cup of mashed potatoes and mix these to well together. 
  3. Roll out as thin as possible on a lightly floured cloth board. 
  4. Two cups potatoes and flour makes ten. 

 

Sunday Stew: Two for Ones

Whether you are under the weather or nesting quietly for a big week ahead we have two recipes to cleanse the conscience and soothe the belly. aka One hangover two solutions. 

 

BEET BISQUE DETOX

 

In order to achieve the rich and creamy texture of a bisque make sure you have an emulsion blender or food processor handy. We prefer the emulsion blender because it's cheap,handheld,  and requires minimal cleanup.

INGREDIENTS 

3 Medium Beets 
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 1/2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
1 Leek Chopped 
1/2 Onion Diced 
1 Celery stalk, chopped
1/8 Teaspoon ground Ginger
1/8 Teaspoon ground Allspice
1/8 Teaspoon ground White Pepper
2 Cups of Water
1 Dried Bay leaf
1 Fresh sprig of Thyme
1 Fresh sprig of Parsley 
1/4 Cup Whipping Cream

 

INSTRUCTIONS 

1. Remove greens and wrap beets individually in tin foil. Roast beets in the oven at 375°F for one hour. Cooked beets will easily be pieced with a knife. 
2. Cool and rinse with cold water while peeling the beets. Cube the beets and set aside.
3. Let's talk about the Leeks. These guys really hold onto their dirt so rinse and rinse again going as far as pulling the layers apart slightly. Then chop the white and pale green parts of the Leek only.  
4. Melt butter and oil into a larger heavy bottomed pot at about medium heat. 
5. Add Leek, Onion and Celery. You want them to sweat out a little and turn clear. Stir often enough so that they don't start to stick to the bottom of your pan. 
6. Stir in all of your spices and beet cubes and cook for about eight minutes. 
7. Add 2 cups water and your Bay leaf/herbs to the pot. Bring to boil.
8. Once at a boil, reduce heat and cover for about 25 minutes until your vegetables are all soft.
9. Remove Bay leaf and herbs and turn off the heat. Add cream and S+P to taste. 
10. Carefully use your emulsion blender to essentially cream the soup to your preferred thickness. (real talk, most soups served up in restaurants and in markets have tons of salt, just take a look at the ingredients. You may be surprised by how much salt you want to add, OR take this opportunity to reduce your sodium intake!)

 

KAES-SPAETZLE 
sprechen sie deutsch mac n' cheese  

 Kaes Spaeztle is a handmade  rich  doughy noodle that we combined with caramelized onions, swiss cheese and topped off with some fresh parsley.  Sure to stick to the ribs and comfort the belly. 

Kaes Spaeztle is a handmade rich doughy noodle that we combined with caramelized onions, swiss cheese and topped off with some fresh parsley.  Sure to stick to the ribs and comfort the belly. 

INGREDIENTS 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 3/4 teaspoon salt
 1/8 teaspoon pepper
 3 eggs
 3/8 cup 2% milk
 3 tablespoons butter
 1 onion, sliced
 1 1/2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese

 

INSTRUCTIONS 

Directions
1) Sift together flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
2) Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Alternately mix in milk and the flour mixture until smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes.
3) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
4) Press and shake batter through a larger blade cheese grater or colander into the boiling water.
5) When the spaetzle has floated to the top of the water, remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
6) Mix grated cheese in with the spaetzle. 
7) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until golden, about 15 minutes. 
8) Add caramelized onions to spaetzle and cheese. 
9) Serve immediately with a little fresh parsley.