Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I'm a complete sucker for PBS. Big surprise there. I was at home knitting the other night and found myself watching this cooking show called Daisy Cooks! Ms. Daisy started talking so enthusiastically about this condiment she grew up with called "vinagre" and made the bold claim that she would live without ketchup before she'd live without vinagre.

I was hooked.

I think God really wanted me to try out this concoction because Tim Felton showed up to my house on Monday with the key ingredient of vinagre: pineapple. Who buys pineapple in December??? Like I said, this was divine intervention.

Daisy claims you can use vinagre on just about anything. I haven't actually eaten anything with it yet, but I think I'm going to cook some pork chops and then spoon the peppers and onions from the vinagre on top. I did taste it, however, and it's pretty wild!

My belief in the divine fruition (pun intended) of this recipe was evidenced last night by the fact that I was actually hugging the quart of vinagre will singing its praises to my husband. Winter in Indiana will do strange things to a person....

2 ripe pineapples
1/2 large Spanish onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon smashed fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
20 garlic cloves, crushed
6 Habanero peppers or chili pepper of your choice, stems cut off, peppers coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or as needed

1. Cut the tops off the pineapples and discard them. With a big knife, cut off the rind from the pineapples with as little pineapple attached as possible. Put the rinds in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably and pour in enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil until the pineapple peel is very tender, about 30 minutes. Top off with water if necessary to keep the rinds submerged.

2. Meanwhile, put the onion, oregano, peppercorns, garlic, Habanero or other chili pepper, vinegar, and salt in a large jar with a tight-fitting lid.

3. Strain the pineapple liquid over the seasonings. If there is not enough liquid to cover the ingredients, re-cover the pineapple with water and boil for 20 minutes. Taste and add a little salt and/or a little vinegar, if you think it needs it. You can use it as soon as it cools, but it will get better as it sits.

Monday, November 30, 2009

tryptophan is my drug of choice


I was recently challenged by my friend, co-communer, and fellow blogger Josh to update my blog. Well, here it is.

Some of you bloggers out there may be wondering, "why such the long hiatus?" I've got a good excuse--cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. Our camera is shrimped and therefore I've been unable to take any pictures. In fact, the only reason I'm able to do this post is because my sister took some pics over Thanksgiving and I swiped them from the ole' facebook. That's my story. We've been doing plenty of canning and gardening and cooking over the last several months, but I guess you'll just have to put your big girl pants on and hold tight until next year. Now, moving on...

This Thanksgiving we decided to shrimp the ole' Butterball turkey and instead went with a more local, less synthetic, and more fresh (you'll learn how fresh in a minute) Schact Farm heritage turkey.

  • Local=Schact Farm is on the southside of Bloomington and is operated by our friends Matt and Mandy Corry.
  • Less synthetic=check it out here. They can say it better than I can.
  • Fresh=This turkey was caught and harvested the week before we ate it. Since we help out at the farm from time to time, I wouldn't doubt if Will had caught or at least attempted to catch the bird we eventually enjoyed on Thanksgiving day.
Here's us with the bird...

(This picture likely qualifies us for Awkward Family Photos.)

And here it is as part of my mom's exceptional Thanksgiving spread...

And here is a picture of a guy trying to be funny at the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning...
Oh, and ps--the turkey was REALLY good.

Happy blogging y'all. Maybe I'll see you after the holidays when I hopefully have a new camera???

Monday, August 10, 2009

Red pepper and tofu recipe

I discovered this recipe in March while we weren't eating meat during Lent. It's now one of my favorites and is perfect for bell pepper season. It'll feed you for a couple of days as well!

Tofu Stir-fry with Noodles and Red Peppers

2 T canola or vegetable oil
1 package extra-firm tofu. Cut it into lots of cubes.
2 red bell peppers, cut long and thin, seeds removed.
1/2 head of green cabbage, cut thinly.
2 garlic cloves, slivered.
1/4-1/2 t. red pepper flakes (I use ground red pepper since that's what I have).
2 T peanut butter, smooth or creamy.
1/4 c. soy sauce or tamari
1/4 c. rice vinegar.
1/2 package of spaghetti, cooked.

Heat 1 T. oil in large skillet over high heat; add tofu and 1 t. salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, 8-10 minutes until golden.* Transfer to plate when finished.

Heat remaining 1 T. oil in same skillet over med-high heat. Add bell peppers, cabbage, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 t. salt and mix. Cover. Cook, tossing occasionally, until veggies are crisp-tender, 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Stir together p.b. and 1/4 c. hot water in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in soy sauce and vinegar.

Add tofu, spaghetti and sauce to skillet. Simmer until heated through and saucy, 1-2 min.

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas

*I've talked to a lot of folks who never feel like they're able to cook tofu correctly. The key is to get the oil HOT and be patient while the tofu cooks. The more it looks like the color of french fries, the better the taste and texture!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Yes, I know it's supposed to be called spanakopita.

For the second year in a row we've had pretty measly (not measle-ly) spinach production. We have, however, had a BOUNTIFUL harvest of beets (they are super easy to grow and can be started outside from seed). The Roses love their beets, so much so that Will risks his life by drinking the beet brine straight from the jar when we pickle them.


With so many beet greens, Will had the idea of making his own "Beetakopita" recipe. It goes something like this...

2-3 lbs beet greens, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. feta cheese
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped (1/4 c. dried)
1 T. dry dill
2 sticks butter
1/2 box of phyllo dough
Saute onions and garlic in large saucepan until translucent. Gradually add handfuls of beet greens until wilted. Stir in feta and ricotta.

Layer phyllo dough and mixture in a greased glass baking dish: 10 sheets on the bottom, add beet/cheese mixture, 10 sheets in the middle, add mixture, and 10 sheets on top. Brush butter on the top of the phyllo as you layer.

Cook at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered.

(picture missing; camera is on the fritz).

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rhubarb Orange Jam

Yes, this is my jam.

I have some sort of debilitating, romanticized idea of rhubarb. No idea why, really. Maybe it's because my dad told me this story once about how rhubarb seemed to be growing every where in Logansport, IN, and that he'd pick it and just eat it like candy when he was a kid. I guess I developed a dream of doing the same and believing it would be easy to grow this supposedly ubiquitous plant. Unfortunately, I'm afraid the rhubarb I've been waiting two years to harvest is going to be a dud in it's third, harvest-able year. It's maybe had two sickly stalks over the past two years.

This summer during a trip to the infamous Kedzie house in the
Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, I noticed they had a rhubarb plant that likely had about 30 stalks on it. My spirits were crushed.

Oh well.

In a moment of weakness the other day, I impulsively bought 1 1/2 lbs of rhubarb at the store. It was just so red and
stalky...I couldn't resist. As I cut it up for my recipe, I yearned for the day I would have my own absurdly-producing rhubarb plant. *sigh*

This is one of the easiest and quickest canning recipes I've ever made. A great endeavor for a beginning canner!

Rhubarb Orange Jam--makes 7 8 oz. jars (via Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

5 c. rhubarb, finely chopped
( chopped mine in the food processor)
2 oranges

6 c. granulated sugar

1 package fruit pectin.

Prepare jars and lids (i.e. bring to 180 degrees in a water bath until ready to use).

With a vegetable peeler, peel half of one orange. Thinly slice the peels into 1 in.-long slivers. Set aside.
Juice both oranges to produce 1 c juice. Add water if needed.

Combine rhubarb, orange slivers, and orange juice in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil. Now, add sugar all at once.

While stirring frequently, return mixture to a boil. Once it is at a rolling boil, stir constantly for one minute and then remove from heat. Skim off foam with a spatula.

Ladle mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4 in. headspace. Use spatula or plastic chopstick to remove air bubbles. Put lids on and screw until finger tight. Process cans for 10 min. Let sit in bath for 5 min. afterwards, then remove.

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas.

Monday, July 13, 2009

presto, pesto!

Since we can't keep up with eating all of our garden basil, we end up making a lot of it into pesto and freezing it for the rest of the year. Kevin (a.k.a. the Guff) is harvesting some here...

We use a pesto recipe from Simply In Season (see link on left).

1 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. walnuts (walnuts are cheaper than pine nuts)
1/2 t. salt to taste
Chop together in food processor. Freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen, remove cubes and place in a resealable plastic bag. When ready to eat, microwave and add minced garlic and parmesan.

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas.

Friday, July 3, 2009

tommy pickle

I like pickles.

I've come to learn over the last several years that apparently a lot of people don't. Weird.

Last year was my first attempt at pickling cucumbers, which had mostly disastrous results. Overprocessing, using not-completely fresh cucumbers, and timid packing on my part are just a few of the reasons I think the pickles sat in the cabinet all year without being eaten.

This year, however, I am determined to win over the skeptics. We had just enough cucmbers on the vine yesterday (ok, i had to buy one from the store too) to make a first batch. I made a bread and butter pickle recipe in the hopes that at least our friend Tim would eat them. The recipe comes from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Here's our cucumber teepee...

And here's the cucumbers and onions in the pickling salt...

And here's the final product...yum!

Merry pickling! Adios mis amigos, hermanos, y hermanas.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Holy Cow

Check out this episode from PBS's Nature on the evolution of our relationship with the udder-ly wonderful cow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I like my fishies, I like to boogie

Will (Guille) y amigos have done a lot of work over the last two years to amend the sucky quality of our southern Indiana clay soil. I think all that clay can at least partially explain the underwhelming size of our peppers the last two years.

Anyways, I decided I wanted to start helping our plants out a bit by giving them something to eat.

Veggie Plant Food (sans scary chemicals)
1 can/bottle of beer
1/2 c. fish emulsion*
6 oz. water
4 T epsom salts**
2 T Ivory dish soap
Hose end attachment***

Mix it all in the hose end attachment and set for 6 oz./gallon. Don't water the plants with this mixture (there won't be enough)...spray their leaves instead. Use all at once, and repeat every two weeks.

We have a pretty large garden and this made enough to cover everything at least twice. It seems to be working though!

*fish emulsion: I got mine at Bloomington Hardware. You can likely find this at any decent-sized hardware or garden store. This stuff STINKS, BAD.

**epsom salts: I bought this at K-Mart. Any drug store would do too. For those of you with bad bowels out there, epsom salt relieves constipation as well!

***hose end attachment: my oh my did I struggle with understanding how these things work. I ended up buying mine from Lowe's because I was too dense to understand the ones at B-town Hardware. All you have to do is pour your mix into the attachment, attach the end of your hose to it, set the oz/gallon, and spray. Buy one you understand, or have someone at the store explain it to you. Mine was only $10.

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas

Monday, June 8, 2009

Choppin Broccoli

For all you soy sauce addicts out there, here is your jam. I've been drooling over this recipe for about three months now and have to resort to finding ways to cook it when Will isn't around because he's so sick of it.

There's lots of good broccoli at the farmer's market, so head on down to downtown Saturday mornings.

Tofu and Broccoli Stir-fry

1 block extra-firm tofu

2-3 T. canola oil
Chop into lots of cubes (I usually cut the block 3 ways through the side and 4 ways length-wise). Fry in pan of hot oil on med. heat until all sides are golden.

2-3 stalks broccoli (use the parts of the broccoli you like to eat).
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil broccoli for 2 minutes, until it's bright green. Don't boil too long! Drain.

1 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. red pepper flakes (or ground red pepper)
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. cashews or peanutes (optional)
Combine. Set aside.

Add broccoli to skillet and toss with tofu for about 2-3 minutes, until crisp. Add sauce and stir to coat. Continue stirring and cooking until sauce thickens. Serve with rice!!

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Straws and berries

This year the Rose garden is producing strawberries out the wazoo, compared to last year's meager handful.

Other than just eatin' em whole and having them with yogurt at breakfast, here's what we've been doing with them...

Strawberry Pie (courtesy of the Mennonites and Simply In Season)

1 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch (or more)
Blend in a saucepan

1 c. strawberries (mashed)
1/2 c. orange juice or water (omit if you have an additional cup of strawberries)
Add and cook over med. heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils (Note: It's REALLY important to get this sauce nice and thick!). Boil and stir for at least 1 min. or longer. Remove from heat.

2 T. lemon juice.
Stir in and cool.

4-6 c. whole strawberries
9-in. baked pastry shell or graham cracker crust.
When cooked fruit is cool, gently fold in the rest of the berries and pour into crust. Chill for 3 hours.

Shortcake Biscuits Supreme (courtesy of Will's mom).

4 c. cut strawberries
1c. sugar
Stir together, cover, and let sit at room temp. for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. sugar
Sift all ingredients together.

1/2 c. shortening
Cut into sifted ingredients with a knife or pastry blender until crumby.

2/3 c. milk
Add milk all at once and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Loosely form small handfuls of dough into biscuit shapes and place in a greased baking pan. (dough should be moist and your hands should be messy!). Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes. Don't brown. Pour strawberries on top and enjoy!

Strawberry Jam (makes about 8 8-oz jars; water bath canning recipe)

8 c. crushed hulled strawberries
6 c. granulated sugar
1. Sterilize jars and lids
2. In a large, deep, stainless steel saucepan, combine berries and sugar. Bring to a boil over med. heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and test gel to make sure it sticks on spoon. Skim off foam.
3. Ladle hot jam into jars with 1/4 in. headspace. Put on lid, but not too tight.
4. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water. Wait 5 min. before removing jar from pot.

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gittin' bold, gittin' blogged

So a couple of months ago I remember vehemently telling my good friend Carrie that I did not want to jump on the recent blog bandwagon. But, here I am now, tail between my legs, blogging away.

What happened?????

I don't know really. I didn't want to create something that felt like it didn't have any direction behind it, BUT...I was excited about something with some structure that focused on my favorite things...

and urban homesteading.

Yes, please feel free to start throwing flaxseed, hemp-infused granola my way (just make sure it's from Bloomingfoods, ok??).

For a really good blog on these topics, you should actually visit Anything that makes it onto my blog represents elementary proficiency and patience.

In the meantime, I need to go make something up to post on this blog.

Adios mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas.

p.s. The title from this blog comes from a recent foray in chicken catching at a friend's family farm. To get the crates of chickens in the trailer correctly, we were told to put the red crates in first, the white crates in second, and the turkey crates in last., white, and turkey. Try that out for patriotism Betsy Ross.