...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.


Inspiration for Preservation

photo courtesy Food Mayhem
On Sunday I took a short field trip to the new Asian mega-grocery store, Pacific Produce, on south 27th St.  I went alone knowing I would want ample time to browse, explore, and pick up a few odd things on my list as well as some "novelty" items I might find.  What a store!  There was an entire aisle in this former Kohl's supermarket devoted just to noodles--rice, wheat, egg, thick, thin, and instant.  Another whole side of on aisle was all tea--loose, bagged, boxed, in metal tins and fancy jars.  As I strolled the aisles I recognized many items I once knew well in my days cooking at a Japanese restaurant.  Many other items required a bit of exploration as I turned them upside down and right side up trying to find some indication in English of what the package contained.   As I perused the fresh seafood section and saw salmon heads on ice I was again reminded of working with Izumi-san.  One day after dressing some fresh fish (probably flown over from Japan the day before) he presented me with a box of fish heads, fins, and tails.  The whole fish--especially the intestines--is prized and edible in some Oriental cuisines.  Though I held back a cringe as I received this "gift" I knew I could not turn it down--though I tried because I was flying out the following day to meet my parents.  The chef insisted that I tote the plastic box of fish parts with me and simply stow it under my seat in flight.  All I remember is that it made the base (stock) for a lovely fish stew later.  I digress.  One of the interesting items I found at the asian store was gingko nuts.  I had just come across a recipe for wild foraged gingko nut dumplings in Lucid Food, which I mentioned here.  I will try the frozen variety to see if I like them before going out to harvest my own and process these stinky fruits.  I also checked out the frozen treats and got an idea to develop a recipe for a dairy-free red bean ice cream (Japanese cuisine uses adzuki beans as well as making frozen treats from both mung and black beans.)  The biggest inspiration and excitement came from the pickled products lining one whole side of another aisle.  There was everything from pickled gooseberries and mimosa leaves to brined mustard greens, ginger, and daikon.  I can't wait to outline my preserving plans for this season and to clear out the other side of my basement pantry to accommodate my expanded larder.  As you can see, I'm officially excited to start the gardening season.

I've also been working on some homemade self-care products.  There's a lot of dental care going on in our house these days (oh, the drama!) and with that I decided to make some mouthwash to treat my "condition" about which I will spare you the details.  This mouthwash contains essential oils known for killing bacteria.  The flavor takes some getting used to but after a few uses I'm enjoying the "clove-y-ness" of it.  I think it's much better than that stinging blast of artificial mint-y-ness that some store bought products provide.
Homemade Mouthwash
Makes 2 c.

Adapted from Natural Beauty.
2 c. purified water
2 t. vodka
2 drops clove essential oil
2 drops thyme essential oil

Mix the ingredients well and store in a container at room temp.  Use several times per day.  

On a more appetizing note, I prepared a memorable soup yesterday for Monday Soup Night

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Serves 8

Adapted from The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook by Cybele Pascal.  I used our home-canned crushed tomatoes and roasted red peppers as well as a fresh yellow pepper and some julienned frozen local red peppers.

Mmm, warm soup
2 medium potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces (skins in tact), cooked in salted water until very soft
4 c. vegetable or chicken stock
1 c. roasted red peppers, sliced
Home-canned Roasted Reds
2 c. red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, minced
4 T. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. canned tomatoes, chopped
2 T. oat flour or rice flour
1 c. almond or rice milk
1 T. honey
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. ground cumin
2 T. dry white wine
salt and pepper
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Blue corn tortilla chips for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, heat 2 T. of oil and cook the onion until soft, but not browned.  Add chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes, and stock.  Cook until peppers become soft.  In the meantime, puree the potatoes and their cooking liquid in a food processor until smooth; add to pepper pot.  When peppers are soft, turn off heat and puree in batches.  Heat remaining oil in a small skillet and add flour.  Cook for a minute or so to make a roux.  Add milk and cook for a couple of minutes until sauce thickens.  Add to pepper puree.  Combine and turn heat to medium, then stir in honey, paprika, cumin, wine, salt and pepper.  Cook and simmer about 20 min., stirring occasionally.  Serve with suggested garnishes, if desired.

Speaking of hot soup, today was the perfect cold rainy day to go out and puddle jump then warm up with some hearty food afterwards (we chose hot cocoa and homemade cookies).  The last bit of cabin fever is lingering and today we did not hesitate to get outside to fight it.  Even Mommy stepped into her rain boots; Vera and I had a great time running and splashing in the puddles along our cobblestone alley.  She was pretty soaked after it all, but the fun was worth a fresh change of clothes.  

Last but certainly not least, at a conference a few weeks ago I met a young rural homesteader from Viroqua who is involved with the Driftless Folk School.  Their calendar of classes is now online; I hope to get over to that neck of the woods one of these summers to learn some new skills.  Check it out!

1 comment:

  1. How funny! I was just looking for a way to make homemade mouthwash. I will just have to try this recipe. Another recipe I saw used white wine and mint essential oils.

    It seems that often we are doing parallel things! I am happy to have found this on your blog!

    I hope all is well,