Sunday, September 11, 2016

How to can, using zucchini ginger jam.

So, from the Internet, I'm getting a lot of vibes that people are really nervous about canning.  So I'm putting together a tutorial, along with a fabulous recipe from a British friend, for zucchini ginger jam.  This is my adaptation of her recipe, based on what I have here.  
So, to start, two pictures, one, what you need for basic canning, and the other for the zucchini ginger nirvana. 

A large pot, deep enough to cover your jars.  Jars with lids (you can reuse jars, but you need to buy new lids) a ladle, tongs, and a paper towel.  And a dishcloth.  I recently bought a funnel and canning tongs, but you can go without and use regular tongs.  I try to wash the jars and lids in the dishwasher right before I start so they are clean and still warm.  You can put the lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them and boil the jars if you want.  I have not yet had a problem.

For the jam you will need at least one large zucchini, if not two (the first time I made this, I had one enormous one) salt, sugar, lemon, ginger, and an apple.  The original recipe calls for equal weight zucchini and sugar, once the zucchini is peeled and seeded.  

So once you chop the squash, sprinkle it with some kosher salt, and put it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, pull it out, rinse it off, and put it in a pan with half the amount of sugar by volume, approximately (if you have four cups of squash then two cups of sugar), juice and zest of a lemon, a small Apple, peeled and chopped, and ginger to taste.  (You could also add a cinnamon stick or a teaspoon of vanilla to gild the lily), and cook until the squash is translucent. 

Ended up with three cups of squash.

Lemon zest, juice, a small cooking apple, cup and a half of sugar and 1/8 to 1/4 cup of chopped ginger onto the stove.  

While that is cooking, prep for canning.
Fill your tall pot with water.   Start it boiling.
If you are using clean but cool jars, not straight out of the dishwasher, you can pop the lidless jars into the boiling water, and use a bowl for the lids with boiling water poured on. (It is better to use warm jars and lids, basically). If you buy one of those accessory packs, it comes with a little magnetic lid lifter, just put the lids in the bowl seal side down!  Like so...

It makes it easier to lift and put on the hot jars.  
Once the jars are heated, and the jam is ready to go, line the jars up like so.

Don't forget something to wipe the rims for a good seal.  And you want to leave some headspace in the jar so you make a good seal.  I usually just fill to the neck, but you can look up specific headspace if you are worried.  Then it is just an assembly line of filling the jars, and putting the filled, lidded jars into the water bath for at least ten minutes.  Let them cool, press on the top to make sure you have a seal, and then label!   Voila!  You have canned!  Any questions?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Kicking the water bottle habit...

I see way too many people, myself included, who drink too much bottled water.  Recently, we found out about a proposed water bottling plant coming to the area.  Which is going to devastate the local environment.  Plastic bottles are awful for the environment.   They are not recycled often enough.  So this is a post about how to lessen your use of bottled water.  First, buy a reusable bottle or cup.  I bought a great glass one (with a silicone 'jacket') at Costco.  I've also bought ceramic 'coffee cups' there that again, have the silicone lids and hand grip.  You can buy nalgene water bottles, or aluminium if you want something lighter.  Fill them up at home, and take them with you.
A few of the various water bottles I own.  You can find them in a lot of spaces.

But! But I don't like the taste of my water!  I like the kiwi-watermelon flavor!  I like raspberry-cherry!  It is so easy to make flavored water at home!  And you can come up with some amazing flavors.  Steep an herbal tea and add a cup to a pitcher of water...  I buy frozen fruit in the winter, and freeze fruit in summer, almost any fruit, except bananas, will work...  Think outside the box, cukes, herbs, extracts, rose water, vanilla (I love vanilla and lemon)...  If you are making a fruit salad, add a slice or two to your water pitcher.   
The pitcher here has tap water and frozen cherries and raspberries.  Fresh also work.  

And the benefit to making your own flavored water is that you control the sweetening, the flavoring.  I personally hate the artificial sweeteners out there, and most commercial products are too sweet.  What are some of your fave water additions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quick clam chowder

This is more of a guideline rather than an actual recipe, but can be tweaked depending on what you have in the house or dislike.  I'm not a fan of celery, for example, so I left it out.  A handheld slicer makes this fast, as you can zip zip right into the pot.

Canned chopped clams

(Optional ingredients, carrots, celery, frozen corn, chicken broth)

For one can of clams I used one onion, one large potato and two carrots.  You could make this a Manhattan chowder by replacing the milk and cream with a small v8 and canned tomatoes.

Start by slicing the onion into a pot with a little oil.

Brown the onions, then slice the potato into the pot.

 Followed by the carrots (and celery if you use it)

Then add milk and water (or chicken broth, or v8/tomatoes). Cook until potatoes and carrots are soft.  Then add the clams and juice from the can.  This is also when you would add corn. 
Then finish with cream and dill right before serving, add, heat through, and serve.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Costco, gluten free.

So, on my last trip to Costco, I decided to take some snaps of things I buy there regularly.  This does not include things that are a one-off, like the gluten free flour blend from Namaste foods...   But they often have some great surprises while wandering through the store....

So here goes, costco in pics...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Quick Cucumber salad. (and a green juice suggestion)

The cucumbers are in and are bountiful!  Some of us will be pickling as well, but, in the meantime, a slightly different cucumber salad...

Someone shared a post on The Book Of Face of their twist of an Indian-inspired salad with peanuts.

So, since I'm not such a peanut fan...  I came up with this adaptation of an adaptation.  No amounts, because its basically to taste...



unsweetened coconut flakes (I used the big, fat, organic ones that look like someone used a veggie peeler on a coconut)

oil (or ghee)
cumin seeds
mustard seeds
chili oil (or fresh chili pepper to taste)

white balsamic or apple cider vinegar


slice the cukes into a bowl, (I used a mandoline for thin slices)  If you are using a fresh chili, dice it up and add it here.  

Put some oil into a pan, toast the cumin and mustard seeds in the oil until they start popping, remove from heat, add chili oil to taste.  add the vinegar to taste and dress the cukes with the mixture

Toast cashews and coconut in a dry skillet and add them and the salt right before serving.

Cucumber-pear juice

Juice a large cucumber or two.  Juice a pear.  

Add chopped Thai basil, salt, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.   Serve cold.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A very zucchini post...

So I got a CSA share again this year.    And we've recently been getting tons of zukes (and cukes, and Napa Cabbage, but focussing on the zukes right now)

So, two zuke recipes, unfortunately meaning you have to turn the oven on...  but they are worth it...

The first is based loosely on a children's cookbook recipe for "Martian Cookies", I may call them Plutonian because I made them the day of the flyby... 

Preheat oven to 350.  Use Silpat or parchment paper on your pans.

Cream 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup sugar together.

Add vanilla to taste (I usually don't measure vanilla) and the juice of half a lemon.   1 tsp of ginger. (more if you want it)

One egg.

I used green pea flour here to enhance the green, you can also use chickpea flour or your favorite gluten-free flour blend.

1/2 cup green pea flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup almond flour

Mix in.  

Add 1 cup gluten-free oats and one heaping cup of shredded zucchini.

Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips.

Let sit for ten minutes or so to hydrate a little.

Then dollop onto cookie sheets and bake until brown around the edges.

Possible additions to the batter? Bits of ginger.  You could add lemon zest as well, if you want a little more lemon flavor, although the zucchini tends to slightly bitter, as does the green pea flour, so just be careful with bitter ingredients.  The original recipe added nuts, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, but that seems like overkill.. You could probably add nuts or maybe cinnamon chips, if you can find g-f ones.  Or it might even work with vanilla and fresh mint (I'd leave out the ginger, then) chiffonaded...    

The second is based loosely on a recipe I saw on FB, of all things.  They are basically cheese and zucchini.
No-name.  They would make a nice snacky thing with drinks or a side to soup.

2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded parm/pecorino
1/4-1/2 cup of shredded Jarlsberg
1 egg
scant 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour blend (I used Namaste foods)
grinding of pepper
About 1/4 tsp curry powder (or to taste)
(you could add fennel or basil if you were feeling more ambitious than I was)

Mix all ingredients together.  Drop globs onto cookie sheet and then flatten out.  
Bake at 350 until GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

BOO! I'm baack! (Plus a granola "recipe")

Why, yes, I am still alive...  I have toyed with several post ideas, including healthy gluten-free shopping at various places...   but self-promotion has obviously never been my big thing...  heh.   So I want to talk about the current state of affairs in being gluten-free, and in being healthy.  

I picked up America's Test Kitchen's gluten-free cookbook, which, while not doing everything I wanted it to (because I don't use flour blends) has helped me on my quest for a whole-grain gluten-free bread.     The secret is psyillium husk.  

For me, I need fiber in my diet, but it is one thing that most gluten-free baked goods lack.  There is too much sugar, fat, and tapioca flour in most gluten-free baked goods.    

Or they are HORRIBLE (certain gluten-free graham crackers come to mind).  And I am working on a recipe for those, too.

And that is what worries me about a tendency of doctors to tell people to "cut out gluten" to lose weight.  Doctors, if you suspect someone has a gluten issue, TEST them first.   They can always go off it, even if the test is negative, and see if it helps.  But if you do have a problem, and go off of it, you can't be tested unless you go back on.  

Now, yes, I know, I went off of it as an experiment.  But I kind of regret that.   I wish I had an official diagnosis, i really do.   But I refuse to go back on gluten and be sick (er).  

So I've been working on baking whole-grain bread, whole-grain treats, less stuff that comes in a bag or box...

I even made marshmallows the other day.   Yes, I know, not whole grain, or low sugar.  But easy.   And probably healthier than the junk in the grocery store, with dyes and whatnot.  

The thing is, being gluten-free does not mean you should not have treats.   But instead of the high-sugar, low-nutrient stuff from your grocer's freezer, play with your food.   Make granola.   Which is actually really easy, and you barely need a recipe, just a guideline.

Preheat oven to 350.

Take some butter and sugar, you can add honey as well...   heat it up until the sugar is melted, and it is all combined, but you don't want it caramelized.    You can add vanilla or almond extract if you want.

Put gluten-free oats (I buy mine from Trader Joes) in a big bowl, along with any additions you'd like.  Sometimes I use flaxseed, chia seed, sunflower seeds, any kind of nut, coconut...  you could add gluten-free oat bran or rice bran, up the fiber...   sometimes I'll even add cocoa powder or cacao nibs.    Pour the sugar syrup over the oat mixture, making sure to leave clumps as you mix.   Put on a cookie sheet and bake... until golden brown.  

Let cool, put into a jar or other container.  This is when you can add dried fruits, if you want, or chocolate chips...   enjoy on yogurt, with fruit, on ice cream....