...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.


The Big Game

Gluten-free focaccia with Celtic and Hawaiian sea salts

We said we weren't going to entertain for a while.  But who can resist hosting a Superbowl Party, especially when our home team is battling it out for the NFL title?  Truth be told, I've never been a professional football enthusiast.  Frankly, I never got my head around how the game works, despite my junior high gym teacher's best efforts to spend a whole quarter giving us pages of notes and details about the sport and actually letting us head out to the field with flagged belts.  (I think she just really wanted the girls to gain some knowledge of the sport at that point.)  American football for me is like Euchre--I've tried a million times to learn, but I just can't fully grasp it, though I do understand a few rules and plays, unlike with the card game.  But I love football season, if only for the food aspect of it.  There have been many Superbowl parties where I stuffed myself beyond walking capabilities, including once as a child when I gorged myself on cocktail weenies until I got sick (to this day, I can't stomach one.)  My favorite Superbowl food memories are of parties at the house of a chef with whom I once worked.  We'd all hang out to watch the game then somehow pull ourselves away mid-game for a sit-down multi-course meal at which it wasn't unheard of to be served an entree of Veal Osso Buco and finish dessert with French-pressed coffee.  These days the football parties feature more casual fare like chili, chips, and dips, but I still like to add a gourmet twist to the offerings.  We're keeping it fairly quiet tomorrow evening with just a couple friends and their kids, but will feast just as well.

Artichoke Pate with Homemade Gluten-Free Herb Crackers
Homemade Pickle Platter
Chips and Salsa
Raw Veggies
Bison Chili with Beans
Homemade Gluten-Free Sea Salt Focaccia
Green and White Vegetable Lasagna
Gluten-Free Apricot Date Coconut Bars

vintage pattern
T-shirt bag
This week has allowed me a little more time to be crafty.  I whipped up a quick pair of yellow pants for Vera to wear with a green striped shirt for the game Sunday.  I also got in a summer mood and made a pair of tailored shorts for Vera from a vintage pattern I found at the flea market last year.  And every now and I then I find time to chip away at my mending pile.  I zipped over some holey seams, patched others, and turned an old T-shirt into a grocery tote.  The shirt was a memento from my chef internship at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute so I didn't want to just toss it, though it was definitely on its way to the rag pile, in fact I may have rescued it from the bottom of the pile.  Here is a tutorial of how to upcycle T-shirts into bags much fancier than mine.

And once we finally finished all the leftover soups after my cooking class last week, I was back to cooking a new meal almost every night this week.  Tuesday brought us pasta with a slowly-cooked sauce.  Anything "Bolognese" reminds me of my week in Bologna, Italy and the surrounding region.  Ahhh!

White Bean and Country Italian Sausage Bolognese
Makes enough to serve with 1 lb. pasta

For a vegetarian version, sub. winter squash in place of sausage.

Sauteeing the blended mirepoix
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
handful fresh Italian parsley
2 T. olive oil
1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage (chicken, pork, turkey are all fine)
1 1/2 t. dried oregano
1 c. white beans (soaked overnight then cooked until very tender)
1 qt. tomato puree
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. xylitol (or sugar)
Mmm, a warm, hearty sauce.
1 c. vegetable, chicken, or beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, chopped onion, carrot, celery, and parsley until fairly fine.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium stockpot and add the chopped mixture.  Cook about 5 min.  Add oregano and sausage and cook another 5 min., stirring occasionally, until meat begins to brown.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered over low heat for 30-40 min., stirring occasionally or until sauce reduces to desired thickness.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and serve with gluten-free noodles or any other pasta of your choice.

I've been trying to use my resources this week and see how long I can go without a major grocery store trip; I feel like we have so much food in this house we should be ashamed of ourselves.  I'm thinking of it as a mid-season freezer and fridge inventory/clean out.  So instead of buying cereal, which I rarely eat anyway, I pulled out the econo-size bag of organic oats stored in the basement pantry and made granola.

Carrot-Raisin-Ginger Granola
Makes about 1 qt.

1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. xylitol
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. dehydrated carrots (like Just Organic carrot bits)
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1 T. ground cinnamon
2 t. ground ginger
4 c. rolled oats
1 c. dark raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine oil, sugar, xylitol, water, and carrot bits in a large stockpot on the stovetop.  Heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add vanilla extract and spices. Then stir in oats and mix until coated.  Pour onto a sheet trained lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.  Bake for a total or 20 min., tossing every 5 min.  Remove from oven and add raisins and toss to combine.  Let cool and store in a glass jar or other storage container.


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