Archive for March, 2010

Potatoes and leeks are scrumptious together.

Potato Leek Soup simmering in the pot.

This eating everything through a straw is not really that difficult.  You have to spend some time cooking the food, but having real food is much better than the Ensure and gatorade diets that I have seen some jaw affected internet people advocate.  I want real food, none of that chemically based edible food-like substances.  Mostly, it has been just cooking good local food,  like I did before, just a little more liquid than before.  I do miss my salads, but hopefully they will be back soon.  Today, the star is Potato Leek Soup.

  • 1 bunch of leeks, white and light green parts
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup 2 percent milk
  • salt and pepper

Wash leeks carefully and slice.  separate rings and rinse in cold water to remove any dirt from inside.  Chop coarsely.  Chop onions.  Set leeks onions and potatoes aside.  Melt butter in soup pot.  Add flour and make a roux.  Cook til it smells a little nutty, but don’t brown it.  Add leeks and onions and potatoes and chicken stock.  Bring up to a boil and then turn down heat and let it simmer about 30 minutes or more till everything is very tender.  Blend it all til smooth in a regular blender or with an immersion blender.  Add milk and bring back to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe came from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes, which you can click on in the sidebar to the right and find lots more delicious, healthy and real recipes.

Yummy Sweet Potato Soup and some work in the garden.

Sweet Potato Soup

The next recipe is for Sweet Potato Soup.  It is very tasty and provides a nice contrast to some of the spicier things I’ve been making.  The recipe is adapted from epicurious and goes like this:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1.4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk

Place sweet potato, and all other ingredients through chicken broth in the blender.  Cover and blend until contents are smooth.  Pour into saucepan.  Add milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until soup comes to a boil.  Turn down heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.   Serve.  It drinks through a straw just fine. 

I have not given up on my pursuit of  all foods local.  In fact, those potatoes and the milk and chicken broth in that soup came from local sources.  I am trying to get as much of my local food as I can from my own yard.  To that end I have been working this week to get some new areas of my yard planted, now that I have more sunshine.

Artichoke plants in new space.

I got the new areas tilled up and have begun to fill them up.  My friend, Tamela who lives nearby came over during the week to help me get some artichokes planted.  You can see the tiny little plants right here at the right.  I put in lots of seeds too, of Swiss Chard, English peas, carrots, and radishes.  We were supposed to have two rain events in the past 4 days but neither one of those really panned out, so I got out and watered today.  I also planted potatoes in another new area near the privacy fence.  I still have lots of spot weeding that needs to be done, because the weeds like living in my yard as much as the vegetables do.  I’ve got extra light in the evenings with daylight saving time and I need to let the chickens out for a while anyway.  So I’ll have plenty to do to keep me occupied while I’m out there. 

Weedy Swiss Chard that overwintered.

There are a few things left in the garden from the fall/winter garden.  Here’s some Swiss Chard that has hung around and is still pretty tasty, but it is one of those things that need weeding.  I also still have a little lettuce and a couple of bunches of green onions.  My collards are about to bolt and the arugula already has.  So they need to come out to make way for more summery stuff.  I’m getting really excited about that.  I’ve got plants coming from Mary Denton and I will be happy to get them in.  I’m going to plant tomatoes in the bed in front of the porch and in the amongst the English Peas in the new bed in the back.  As the peas go by the wayside in the heat, the tomatoes will be coming on.  So things are looking good.  I’ve got to figure out some kind of blended thing to make with the Swiss Chard.  That will come soon.  I’ve got lots to look forward to.  My wires come off and the CSA starts at just about the same time.  That will be a happy week.

Settling in to the new routine.

Eating everything through a straw is starting to feel normal.  I don’t want that to last for long but I guess it’s better than fighting with it.  I have some kind of fruit juice and smoothies of various kinds for breakfast, but mostly my standard banana peanut butter.  I made it once with canned pears instead of bananas and that was good also.

I try to have at least two kinds of soup for each meal just to have some variety.  I’ve got a stack of soup recipes that we are going through.  I keep at least two kinds made at all times.  I’ve only had  malts from the ice cream shop twice, but mostly that was subterfuge to get the big fat straws, which make drinking soup a lot easier.  The thin everyday straws just don’t cut it except for water and juice.  I am going to make myself a childhood favorite for a snack this afternoon or this evening for dessert.  That is a Purple Cow.  It is too easy and too good.  Blend together 1 cup ice cream and 1/2 cup grape juice.  Pour in a glass and drink with a straw.  If you don’t have to drink with a straw, I prefer it lumpy and just stirred together in the glass.  It’s great and you can’t have too much of that purple juice.

I’ve come up with some fairly interesting soups to keep myself hydrated and fed.  The first I want to mention is split pea soup.  I had already been making it just because I was trying to incorporate at least one kind of dry legume into each weeks rotation.  It gets some good protein into your diet.  It is especially good and only needs a little extra chicken broth for it to blend up perfectly.

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup of dry green split peas
  • 4 cups of chicken broth

Saute the seasonings in the olive oil.  Add the peas and chicken broth and stir well.  Bring up to a boil and then down to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.  The peas should be totally mush.  If you are not drinking through a straw, ladle it up and squeeze a little lemon juice on top along with a dollop of really good olive oil.  You can add that too if you are drinking, but then put a cup of it or a little more through the blender along with about 1/4 cup of chicken broth.  It should slurp up very well.

Split Pea in the jar, waiting to be blended. It makes about 2 quarts. This is all that is left.

After the Procedure.

Carrot Ginger soup

Well, I have had the worst day.  Monday was it.  I could not keep anything down and it was miserable.  But by Tuesday morning all the bad drugs were out of my system and I was feeling much better.  I started on a rehydration campaign, drinking lots of water and juice and getting myself stronger.  Pat got me a malt from Scoops, the local ice cream shop on the square, just a few blocks from our house.  It was lovely.  And, it provided the motivation for me to learn how to drink from a straw with all this stuff in my mouth.  It is not too bad.  One thing that taught me was that I need a lot more of those big fat straws. 

I went back to the doctor yesterday to see how things are going.  She said that it all looked very good and that I don’t have to come back for a couple of weeks.  That’s good.  I have found,  scrounging around on the net looking for guidance, a really good website, “Jaws Wired Shut,”  http://jawswiredshut.tumblr.com/post/144140751/the-panic-button, which gives the culinary adventures of Emily Kornblut during her broken jaw experience last summer.  She has some really good looking recipes on there.  I made one today, the remains of which are shown above waiting in the refrigerator for the next meal.  I had some at lunch, pureed in the blender.  It is called Carrot Ginger Puree.  It is really good. 

I also made up my own breakfast smoothie, based on one I have been using all throughout my weight loss adventure, but with more protein in the peanut butter.  All you do is put 1 container of greek yogurt, about 6 oz, 1/2 cup milk, 1 frozen banana, and 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter in the blender and whir till smooth.  It has lots of good stuff and is tasty.

What kind of diet did you say? Liquid Diet

Well, I have really gone and done it this time.  I passed out on Monday and fell and broke my jaw and four front teeth.  On Friday, I have to go to the hospital and have my mouth wired shut.  I will stay that way for 6 weeks.  During that time I can only eat liquids.  That’s right, no crunchy stuff, no chewy bread, no scallion pickles, and no salads.  Ok, now let’s focus on what I can have.  Those soup recipes up in the recipe section actually blend up very nicely.  I can start with that.  I need lots of liquids, fruit juices and water and such.  I’ll need lots of calcium to help with healing.  Lots of protein they say also.  So, my blog will consist of lots of information about liquid diets for the next few weeks.

I made avocado ice cream yesterday.  It was amazingly delicious.  It is very simple and I can let it melt a little and squish it in.  Here’s the recipe, adapted somewhat from Eating Well magazine:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Blend all ingredients together till very smooth.  Put blender container in fridge for at least 1 hour to cool, can leave as long as 8 hours.  Pour into ice cream freezer and follow manufacturers directions.

Believe me, this is good even if you can chew.

Pickled Scallions, Blah!

Me, pulling green onions from my garden.

Wow!  Finally the food of the month is something I have in my own garden.  I don’t have to go to the store or anything.  After foreign oranges and carrots, I can do something local.  See, that’s me right there, pulling them up myself.  I was so happy to be able to do this one right.  I pulled up all the remaining green onions I had in a bed, that had once grown irises, yarrow and coreopsis, among many other things.  My current desire for more local food has forced me to convert several flower beds to vegetables.  Over the winter, I also had carrots and beets out in that same bed, but, unfortunately, I had eaten all the carrots before the carrot challenge was announced.

In a very busy weekend I worked half a day on Saturday, worked in the garden in the afternoon, supervising my young helper, Holmes, while he was turning compost and spreading it on my asparagus bed; then, on Sunday, a friend came out to hang out and make two batches of mozzarella.  We went out to the dairy that is about 20 minutes from my home , got the milk and made the cheese.  After she left, taking a jar of the Rosemary Pickled Carrots with her, I also made a batch with Patrick, my DH, who wants to move right ahead to gouda and cheddar.   We made ricotta from all the whey left from all that cheesemaking.  Then I pulled those onions and washed them about 10 times.  I kept remembering that botulism spores reside in the soil.  I don’t want botulism, so I kept washing.

Prepared for the soak.

The only canning recipe I could find for scallions or green onions was Pickled Scallions on several websites.  So I went with that.    After they were washed, I cut them to fit the 1/2 pint jars and stacked them in layers in a bowl with salt, covered them with water and allowed them to sit overnight.

That leaves me where?   Monday morning to make pickles before, I say before, I go to work.  I was up at 5:00 and moving slowly.  My first problem, was realizing that the tiny little half-pint jars would not sit in the rack in my water bath canner.  Now what do I do?  So I got out my Revere Ware stock pot.  I only had enough for 4 jars, so they would fit in that, but how to keep them from jostling into each other.  Somewhere I had read that someone put a dish towel in the bottom of the pot and that kept them steady.  It sounded half-baked, but I was desperate at that moment.  I had to get this done and go to work.     So I put the water on to boil.

I then prepared the spice bag to boil in the vinegar.  The recipe called for pure vinegar, no water to dilute it.  That made me feel better about the botulism.  It had only 2 Tablespoons of sugar in 3 cups of vinegar.  It called for white, I had cider and besides, what I had was organic.  Who knows what is in that white vinegar.  The recipe called for whole allspice, which I did not have, mustard seed and whole peppercorns, which I did.  I punted and used whole cloves instead of the allspice.  I hung the bag on the pot handle and draped it into the caramel colored vinegar and turned on the heat.  Then I packed the jars with the onions, a garlic clove and a bay leaf; then placed them just so on the counter.

So far, all was well.  Or, at least so I thought.  I poured the vinegar in and put on the lids.  Now, how do I get these jars in a pot of almost boiling water with a dish towel floating around in it.  It was supposed to lie on the bottom and behave, but that is not what it was doing.  It was flapping about crazily and there was no way it was going to protect my jars from jouncing around in the hot water.   The other thing I noticed was that there were suds in the pot.  My dish towel apparently had not been rinsed thoroughly in the washing machine.  I don’t want sudsy tasting pickled scallions.  It is now about 6:30.   I have to be at work at 8:30.  I dumped out the pot rinsed it several times and refilled it with clean clear water and waited for it to heat up.

Busted jars.

It took longer than you would think for that to happen.  I just sat and watched the pot come near a boil.  I never thought about how much the jars had cooled down by this time.  I also had nothing in the bottom of the pot to cushion the fall of the first jar that slipped from my jar tongs and banged into the bottom of the pot turned over and popped.  The entire bottom sheared off.  I fished it out.  Somehow the onions all stayed in.  The next jar went as peacefully as you please.  The third jar was going good, but then I heard that pop again.  The bottom had broken off that one, too.  All the vinegar rushed out while I held the jar with the scallions remaining suspended in the jar tongs.  I sat it down beside the other broken jar and crossed my fingers.  The last one was no problem.  They sat on opposite sides of the pot and I put the lid on and set the timer.  15 minutes I had to wait.

Finished!

They rattled away in the pot, but no pops or crashes.  At fifteen minutes, I took off the lid, lifted the two jars out  and set them on the towel to cool and seal.  It occurred to me then that I did not know what one did with pickled scallions.  Do you just eat them out of the jar like the pickled carrots?  Do you put them in cocktails?  Do you just admire them on the shelf?  The thing that  I was really wondering about, was what I was going to do with the mountain of green onion tops that I had left over.  I wrapped them up and put them in the refrigerator to use in salads and such, but would we really be able to eat them all before they wilted?  This seems like one of the more wasteful kinds of pickles that you could make.  I still had to get ready to go to work, but I was really hungry by this point, and what is better in scrambled home grown eggs than green onions?  I chopped up some of the tops and made me a lovely plate of scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast.

 

The Recipe – Pickled Scallions

To make 4 half-pint jars

48 green onions

3 cups apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup salt

2T sugar

2 T whole cloves

1 T whole mustard seeds

1 T whole peppercorns

4 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic

Wash and trim scallions to fit in jars.  Remove the tough outer layer of skin.  Wash again. Place the scallions in layers in a bowl, sprinkling each layer lightly with some of the salt.  Cover the cold water and let stand 12 hours or overnight, making sure scallions stay submerged in water.  Drain the scallions, rinse then in fresh water and drain again.  Combine the sugar and vinegar.  Add the spices together and tie up in a cheesecloth bag.  Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.  Discard the spice bag.  Pack the scallions, standing upright into sterilized jars.  Add one bay leaf and one clove of garlic to each jar. Fill the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top with the boiling liquid and place the covers on loosely.  Place the jars in hot water bath and process for 15 minutes.  Remove and let them cool and seal.Buy a mini canning rack from Amazon that fits in a Revere Ware stock pot.  These pictures won’t line up like I want them to, but here they are anyway.  That’s my blood orange marmalade on the toast.  A lovely breakfast and off to work.