Friday, July 22, 2011

Culinary Adventures

First of all, I have to thank my friend RP for so much inspiration! She is very creative and very wonderfully frugal (the kind of frugal that feels more like abundance than frugality because she makes so much more from so little!). You must visit her blog and enjoy her creativity.

So... here's what's going on in the kitchen right now...

•Drying tomatoes. We have a couple of tomato bushes that are loaded with mediocre tasting tomatoes. I cut them in half and put them on the fruit drier and WOW now they're delicious. I'll totally dry some of them, and partially dry the rest to put in salads. They taste as good as our ever-dependable Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes when they are half-dried. The Sweet 100s have just been served in a bowl for meals, or just eaten while we water and weed the garden.

•Pickles. I did 7 quarts of pickled cucumbers and 2 pints of pickled jalapeƱos. I love jalapeƱos! To preserve them, you can also just toss them whole into the freezer. Their skins fall off effortlessly when you defrost them. The pickled ones are good in salsa, or just diced and put on top of... whatever! :)

•Roasting coffee beans in the Whirly-Pop. After exactly two years, our $100 coffee bean roaster gave out. Shortly before it gave out, I got a Whirly-Pop (usually used for popcorn). I love this low-tech solution! Instead of roasting 1/3 cup at a time (enough for 2 days), I can roast 2 cups at a time (probably even more). It takes about 10-12 minutes. DH figured out the best setting on the stove was one notch below mid-way. For the first 5 minutes you can just let it sit over the flame. After that you need to crank it until it's done. I love how the beans start to crackle as they get near to being done. They keep on crackling for quite a few minutes after they're off the stove too!

Some things that only live in my head so far:

•Last year Kroger's lowest price for peaches was $0.58/pound. Right now they're at $1.00/lb. A good price, but I'm hoping for less. It's the only reasonably priced fruit for quantity jam-making around here! As soon as it goes down I want to make a year-supply of peach jam, while I daydream about the endless quantities of cheap raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries in Oregon... YUM! Those berries were about $1.25/lb in Oregon. Here, the cheapest is about double that or more. :( But we sure can grow a lot of things I could never grow well there — peppers, eggplants, tomatoes (ripe ones before September - a thrill!), watermelons. Very fun.

•Get koji (aspergillus mold) and make homemade sake, fermented black beans (which are actually soy beans that turn black during the fermentation process), miso, and soy sauce. Well, one of these days...

•Make my own tofu more often. It's fun and easy to make. The only thing I'd like to get is a tofu mold so it's a little neater looking. :)

•One of these days I'm going to get a grain grinder. One of these days. Not only is freshly-ground flour delicious, but you can also make all sorts of flours that are more expensive to buy (but very cheap to make) like chick pea flour, rice flour, etc.

Okay, enough daydreaming. On to shabbos prep. Keeping it simple-ish this shabbos. First shabbos with savta here (she moved here on Tuesday!).

P.S. Our best investment ever? The 12-foot above-ground pool. The kids swim 2x/day most days. We might use it for fish next year (tilapia!) and get a larger pool for the kids. Once you get the chemicals down then it's no trouble to maintain at all. It's a little tricky since there's no single recipe - it depends on what's in your local water. And here algaecide is a must! It doesn't take long for a pool to turn green...

No comments: