Monday, August 30, 2010

Mixed Grain Rice

Can you believe that the greenhouse is even more finished than this now? It has rafters! Soon it will have a roof and a door and it will be finished! Here are (from right to left) Theresa, Dan, and Alyssa showing it off.

And now, for some recipes.

Gillian says:

Medium grain, Japanese-style white rice is one of my major comfort foods, especially for breakfast. I love it with a super-fast donburi-style egg on top (lightly beat an egg with a couple teaspoons each of soy sauce and agave syrup or mirin, then cook like scrambled egg; while it's still soft and somewhat undercooked, put it on top of hot rice and eat.)

In Japan I often saw multi-grain rice mixes, but I never tried them. They looked to contain flattened barley flakes and millet along with white rice. Today I made my own multi-grain rice by taking 1 1/2 cups of rice (that is two "rice cooker cups") and adding 2 tablespoons of quinoa and 1 tablespoon of amaranth. I washed the rice and cooked it as usual in the rice cooker, adding a little extra water (I filled it to the 2 1/4 cups line). It turned out delicious and perfectly cooked--I would definitely make rice like this again. The amaranth grains were like tiny sparkling caviar balls and the quinoa added a nutty flavor, while the white rice kept it all soft and mild. I ate this rice smeared with a little ume shiso paste and wrapped in sheets of seasoned nori. Any kind of nori is OK by me, but Korean nori sheets with sesame oil and lots of salt are my #1. You can get dozens of kinds at Uwajimaya or a smaller but perfectly adequate assortment of nori choices at Anzen, and People's Co-op even sells a version that is from Oregon-grown seaweed. When I get into a rice mood I will make a rice-cooker full in the morning and eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

For the sake of continuity, here's a portrait of State Fair, the tomato of my dreams, which is going to be ripe very soon:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

back-to-school cooking

tonight's dinner, cooked by theresa so gillian could study...

garlic-squash-rice soup

the perfect meal for a cool late-summer evening!

6 cloves garlic
olive oil
1/4 c arborio rice
1/4 c white wine
3-4 yellow squash, cut into rounds
1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
veggie broth or boullion cubes
herbs -- basil, parsley are nice
salt and pepper to taste

start by sauteing chopped garlic in olive oil in a medium soup pot over med-low heat.  stir often so the garlic doesn't burn.  add the arborio rice and white wine, then the squash, and a pinch of salt -- saute for a few minutes to give the squash better texture (i forgot that step, actually, but the soup turned out tasty anyway!) when the squash is ready, add the broth (here at crabapple we like
this vegan boullion, i did 2 cubes in 4 cups of water) and tomatoes. simmer for about 20 minutes, until rice is cooked and the soup has a nice rich flavor.  add the herbs and serve!  you can shave parmesan on top if you want.

i also made a tasty beet-fennel-apple salad with basil and blue cheese and a simple olive-oil/lemon juice dressing, out of mark bittman's how to cook everything, which is like our house bible.

did i mention dan worked on the greenhouse all day?

and alyssa made waffles this morning, using bubbly water instead of milk?

and jenn is going to burning man?

and i go back to work tomorrow?

and chocolate chip cookies are hot out of the oven?

and zucchini muffins are just about to go into the oven?

gillian, you should really post the recipe for the zucchini muffins.  it's the perfect recipe. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Midnight Apple Butter, A Timeless Procrastination Tool

Art installation in the kitchen? Or Jenn's answer to the Bag-E-Wash?

Nursing school finals are only three days away, and yet I decided to make apple butter tonight. It was the usual problem--on the way home from picking up my CSA, I pocketed so many windfall apples that I had no choice but to make apple butter or let them all rot!

My recipe, fine-tuned over the years, goes like this:

Apple Butter

8 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (use at least three different kinds--tart, sweet, and super-flavorful; cooking apples that melt down work best)
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Optional: finely grated zest of 1 orange

Put everything in a crock pot (if you're using a 12 cup crock pot, you can multiply the recipe by 1.5 if you want!) and turn it on high with the lid off. Cook the apple butter for 3-6 hours, stirring every half hour or so. After an hour or two, use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. Some apples just don't do this and will stay chunky, but do your best. Continue to cook, uncovered, until the apple butter is reduced by at least 1/3, brown, thick, and making tar-pit bubbles. When it looks like it's getting done, bring your canning pot to a boil and sterilize 4 half-pint jars (I put them in the canning pot while it's heating up). Put the lids in a small pot of simmering water for at least 15 minutes. Fill the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Release air bubbles (I do this by banging the jars on the counter), then wipe the jar rims and threads clean before putting on the hot lids and fastening them two-finger tight. Put the jars back into the canning pot, return it to a full boil, and process for ten minutes. Let jars cool upright on a clean dishtowel on the counter overnight. Make sure they have sealed properly (listen for the wonderful popping noises the lids make as they seal, then in the morning, make sure all the lids are concave and don't bounce up and down if you press them in the middle). If any didn't seal right, just put them in the fridge and eat them right away.

I think this apple butter is the best! Not too much sugar, so it's nice and tart with good apple flavor. And not too many spices...just enough to make it taste like fall. Although while it's cooking your whole house will smell like a candle store...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday dinner

I, Gillian, said "I've given up hope. We're having fried green tomatoes for dinner."

Jenn said "That sounds better than hopelessness usually does." (Or something like that. We're always misquoting Jenn.)

And we did, in fact have some pretty good fried green tomatoes for dinner--with basil aioli, stewed green beans and sunburst squash, and Neighbor Dan's cucumbers. And I did feel despondent while watering the garden this morning because I have hundreds of green tomatoes and not one of my full sized tomatoes has ripened yet...and it seems to be fall already!

But I secretly have not given up hope, even though the weather forecast puts our high around 70 for the rest of the week. I've been harvesting a small handful of red and yellow currant tomatoes daily, and State Fair, an enormous Brandywine tomato that will be the biggest I ever grew if it ever turns red, was blushing just slightly pink today...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Alyssa is a little bit nuts.

But who am I to talk? (Do I have to talk about myself in the third person? Who is Gillian to talk?) I, Gillian, am already thinking about how to find and squirrel away nuts for our homestead next fall, because there won't be any nuts to harvest until the middle of our three-month adventure. But I think that we can do just fine without coffee and alcoholic beverages. I don't like them much anyway, plus I have plenty of homemade herbal tea! Dried mint, lemon balm, rose petals, and blackberry leaves, and lemon verbena when I can get it. Although, if we make some hard apple cider, I can further ferment it into apple cider vinegar, and that would be useful...

My main concern is getting our greenhouse finished so I can bring home a Meyer lemon tree to plant in it. And ordering my yuzu tree from One Green World with the gift certificate Kimber gave me for my birthday. Yuzu trees are supposed to be hardy down to 10 degrees, and I can't remember a time it's been colder than that in Portland, can you? But if you can really grow citrus in Portland, why haven't I seen anyone doing it?

Tuesday Night Dinner

Dinner tonight was Macaroni and Cheese from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. It was far too hot to have the oven on today, but Gillian rescued a large pile of partly-molding cheeses from her parents' house, and they were just screaming to be used immediately.

The recipe is easy enough and can be found on the How to Cook Everything website. I made the goat cheese and red pepper variation and served it with apple sauce (which goes without saying).

I whipped up the recipe right before our house adventure to Sprout, the new donation-based yoga studio across the street from our house. When we got back from yoga, I stuck the dish into the oven and we ate dinner "European-style" at 9 pm.

I don't know how we would make this meal if we were only living off our own stores. The cheese we can get through the milk man, and if we have success with the greenhouse next summer we might be able to grow and can peppers, but I don't think the Kitchen-Aid mixer has a "macaroni" attachment. I suppose we could make ravioli instead, but it might be better to start searching for recipes that will mate up better with the food we can grow.

At dinner tonight, we talked about possible issues for our project. We considered having a list of "exotic" foods (olives?) that we can "import" before the beginning of September. We worked on our coffee roasting plans (have hints? please share!), and we thought about home brewing. House friends Ann and Kelly are interested in joining us in our experiment, and Kelly started growing hops this year, so we're halfway to home brewing already, right? Ten bucks says my 21-year old brother will help.


actually, they were squash tacos.

in an attempt to record all our eatings so that we can keep track of the approximate amount of food we eat as a household (and to document and share all the delicious recipes!), here's what crabapple had for dinner last night:

squash tacos! (adapted from this recipe)

olive oil
chili powder
*2 cloves garlic
*1/2 walla walla sweet onion, diced
*4 asst. squash (i used 3 crookneck and one 'buttery stick' yellow zucchini), in bite-sized cubes
squeeze of lime juice
1 can black beans
8 oz. pico de gallo
small corn tortillas (alyssa used flour, she had a squashrito)
* are grown by us or from farmshare... everything else from Freddy's or Trader Joe's.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat, add diced onion and garlic saute until tender.
Reduce heat to medium, add squash and zucchini, add cumin and chili powder. Cover, let cook for three to five minutes until tender. Warm beans on the stove while squash are cooking. Uncover, mix in large bowl with beans, lime juice, and salsa - season with salt and pepper.

Serve as a 'taco bar' with fresh cilantro and more salsa. I also made a yummy 'avocado cream' by blending a mashed avocado with 1/2 cup yogurt (from our milkman!), a squeeze of lime juice and 2 tbsp chopped cilantro -- tasty topping for tacos!

I served it with grilled corn on the cob (from our farmshare) and fizzy mint limeade.

Dear friends...

Crabapple Cottage is thinking of embarking on an experiment.

This afternoon, upon arriving home from tea with colleagues, Theresa walked in the door to Alyssa shouting, "Want to hear our new plans?"

"After I feed this moldy tortilla to the chickens," said Theresa, and went out to do just that. When she came back inside, Alyssa recounted the plans, which started with a conversation with Gillian that morning.

As Theresa heard it, Gillian and Alyssa had been lamenting the fact that it was Alyssa's night to cook and she hated the idea of going to the grocery store. Alyssa always hates the grocery store -- the closest one, Freddy's, is so big and overwhelming and flourescent-lit and difficult to navigate, and Alyssa doesn't like the longer ride to more user-friendly stores such as People's or New Seasons. How could she avoid going to the grocery entirely?

Maybe that's how it started, or maybe it started with Gillian's obsession with urban wildcrafting, gardening and growing her own food, and canning all the plums and windfall apples we find around town. How long could she go without buying food she didn't procure herself?

Or maybe it's a way to save money. At any rate, here's Alyssa's plan--house challenge, really:

Buying bulk quantities in advance of the things we cannot grow (grains, oil, sugar, &c.), we will otherwise live exclusively off our land and our well-planned preparations. We will can, dry, freeze and elseways put away enough food to make it through September, October and November. Can we go three months without the grocery store? What will happen to our habit of having constant dinner guests? What will Thanksgiving be like when we only have a few jars and cans left? How did pioneers live without a bubbly water maker?!

Although the start of rationing won't begin until next fall, preparations must begin now. The first things we need to do are 1) begin recording everything we cook and eat so that we know exactly how much food we'll need to put away, and 2) plant garlic and onions to harvest next September.

For tonight, however, Alyssa's off to the grocery store for dinner fixings. (Macaroni and cheese!)