...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Making My Own Flour

Big Bag of Sunchokes
In the last month or so I've been trying to avoid gluten and generally cut back on carbs.  This has prompted me to consider alternative, especially gluten-free, flours.  I've learned that "flour" doesn't have to come from a grain, though it typically does.  There are low-carb, high-protein, high-fiber flours such as coconut, almond, and garbanzo that can be used in baking.  After further research of alternative flours I learned that there's also such a thing as "sunchoke flour."  A member of the sunflower family, sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem artichokes.  They are low-carb, high in inulin, native to our area, and they happen to grow in our garden.  (I say "they grow" instead of "I grow them" because they're perennial and completely self-proliferating.)  I don't have to do a thing but harvest.  I wrote about them back in the spring and noted that my neighbor had given me the first tubers to plant in my garden.  They've been extremely prolific since then.  As I worked to close the garden for the season this past week I cut the very tall stalks and dug up these "roots."  I'm sure I didn't get all of them--they can be quite elusive--but I ended up with nine pounds.  One can harvest them between October and April so perhaps I will find more in the spring when I prepare the soil for the garden again.  I washed and sliced them thinly, putting them into a pot of water with a little lemon juice to avoid discoloration while I sliced the rest.  I drained them then spread them on a few sheet trays and loaded them into my oven at a low temp. (175-200 degrees).  I found some information online about turning them into flour.  I chose not to peel them because A) it's an extremely tedious process and B) having worked with sunchokes before I know that the skin is completely edible though it adds a more earthy flavor and color.  I'm willing to adapt to that flavor in exchange for time saved on peeling.  One could also dry them in a dehydrator, which I do not have.  Stay tuned for the results.

"Midwest Capers"
I also finished my "local capers" this week.  I didn't reap many seed pods from my friends plot at the Hide House, but after a meeting earlier this week I found myself a block away from a restaurant at which I used to work (which has since closed) and knew they had nasturtiums growing in there planters outside.  I did some genuine urban foraging and helped myself to the seed pods that would otherwise go to waste.  I loaded my pockets then hopped on my bike for home to quickly get them brined.  I came up with about 3-1/4 pint jars, which should be plenty to take me through the year.

In another attempt to get more veggies into my daughter's and my family's meals, this week I prepared a split pea soup and added broccoli and bok choy.  She loved it and ate three (small) bowls for dinner that night.  Yay!

Split Pea Soup with Broccoli, Bok Choy, and Ham
Serves 5

Adapted from a recipe in 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles.  It could certainly be made without the cruciferous vegetables.

Split Pea Soup with Broccoli, Bok Choy, and Ham
2 T. ghee or coconut oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrots
3/4 c. green split peas
1/2 bunch bok choy, finely chopped in a food processor
4 c. water
2 c. vegetable stock
1 head broccoli, finely chopped in a food processor
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 c. diced ham (I use leftovers)
Salt and pepper to taste (don't add too much salt before tasting after adding ham.)

Heat ghee or oil in a stockpot and add onions and carrots.  Saute a few minutes until soft.  Add green split peas and toss to coat with oil.  Add bok choy and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, 1 hour.  Add vegetable stock, broccoli, garlic, and parsley.  Return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 30 min.  (Add more liquid if needed.)  Stir in ham and seasoning to taste.

1 comment:

  1. Really interested in the outcome of the sunchoke flour project! And those capers look amazing. Have to keep that in mind for next year!