...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.


Back to Baking Bread!

Food Processor Bread Cookbook
Dare I say I'm back in the habit of baking bread?  This was a goal I had planned for the fall when V's in preschool in the AMs, but after sniffing out a treasure at a recent library used book sale I was motivated to dive in sooner.  I don't expect to ever be as talented a bread baker as my fellow blogger over at rcakewalk, but I can at least get most of the way to homemade bread, though I would never call it artisan.  Those of you who know me or have taken some of my cooking classes know how much I adore my food processor.  I use it every day, sometimes 4-5 times/day.  Not because I don't enjoy slicing and dicing and shredding and blending and chopping and emulsifying, and all the other wondrous things this small appliance can do, but because most of my days with an active little one do not allow me to do every last thing by hand in the kitchen.  If I want to make food from scratch, this is my current avenue.  And by the way, there are many highly respectable cooks/chefs out there who also advocate incorporating the "Cuisi" now and then so I shouldn't act like I'm committing a culinary sin.  Never said I was a purist.

V's "Flower Bread" from last week's batch of Herb Dough
My mini herb loaf
I'm on my second batch of homemade "food processor" bread in a week.  First I tried a basic Herbed Loaf, with mild success, though I wish it had been slightly less dense.  Yesterday I made Cottage Cheese Dill Bread with some cottage cheese sitting around in our fridge quietly reminding me of its expiration date and the mother lode of fresh dill I acquired last week.  To backtrack a bit, a generous patron of the restaurant at which I work has been bringing in surplus herbs and salad mix from his garden.  We have kindly accepted all of the dill we can possibly use and preserve within a reasonable amount of time so when he showed up with another humongous shopping bag full last week I was asked--make that begged--to take some home.  As you've learned, I don't like seeing food go to waste so I was determined to salvage every last bit of this gorgeous harvest.  First I made a batch of Dill Pesto with the beautiful fronds.  Then I took the remaining leaves and all the juicy stems and put them through my juicer to come up with a couple cups of concentrated dill "juice."  (And nearly wrecked my juicer in the process...whew!)  I cleaned the fibrous portion of the dill out of my juicer, dehydrated and ground it into dry dill weed.  I froze the juice in ice cube trays to use in either a soup that lends itself to this flavor (i.e. beet borscht) or as a stand-in for part of the water required in a loaf of homemade bread.  Back to my Cottage Cheese Dill Bread.  I used a cube of dill juice topped off with warm water to bloom my yeast then added some of the home-dried dill weed in the dough as well.  The remainder of the dill scraps went into my compost so I consider that "nothing wasted."

The remains are ready for the juicer
Dill Pesto 
Mmmm, cube of frozen dill juice
Eating down the fridge/freezer/pantry continues and remains a fun challenge for me.  You've heard how much I love cleaning the fridge, but shining up the inside and enjoying all the space is extra thrilling.  (Though I'm beginning to wonder if I'll soon need to refrigerate some jugs of water for thermal mass.) I'm seeing this as a final push to get winter-storage veggies into our bellies before our neighborhood farmers' market starts next weekend.  One recent meal that's has arisen from our pare-down project is Curly Endive Mash, which utilized a huge head of Curly Endive remaining from a recent Entree Salad class I taught.  Leftovers from this combo made a surprisingly delicious quesadilla filling.  (Quesadillas have been my go-to way of using odd and ends lately.)

Curly Endive Mash
Cottage Cheese Dill Bread, not bad!
Also decided--via my new idol Tamar Adler--that it would be a brilliant idea to keep a jar of oil-preserved bacon in my fridge at all times.  In her book, she discusses extending the life and accessibility of fresh fish and meats by oil packing them.  I always want to use bacon as a "flavoring" in recipes, but usually only keep mine in the freezer and don't often plan ahead to pull out a partial package.  I found an affordable pack of preservative-free, uncured bacon end pieces at the store recently and packed it into a pint jar with lots of yummy extra-virgin olive oil.  So not only can I grab small pieces of bacon to chop into a dish, but I have bacon-infused oil to use for sautéing veggies, cooking eggs, or whatever needs bacon essence (and what doesn't!)

Sweet Corn, Kohlrabi, and Bacon
Serves 4-6

I adapted this recipe from one in Sunday Suppers at Lucques by the talented Suzanne Goin who I was lucky enough to meet one year at a James Beard Dinner in town.  I used the kohlrabi "pesto" I prepared pre-camping in place of green cabbage.  The corn was quick frozen from last year's farmers' market and held up beautiful in the freezer, I just drained it a bit before adding.  This was great the second day as well, pumped up with some basic cooked white beans.

Bacon Makes Everything Better!
5 oz. smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 T. unsalted butter
1 c. thinly sliced spring onions, plus more sliced diagonally for garnish
3-4 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
2 t. fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 t. dried thyme)
2 c. fresh/frozen corn kernels
1 c. kohlrabi pesto (or 1/2 small green cabbage, about 1 lb., sliced thinly lengthwise)
2 T. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for 1 min.  Add bacon and cook about 5 min., stirring often, until tender, and lightly crisped.  Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate, leaving fat in pan.  Swirl in butter; when it foams, add spring onions, asparagus (if using), thyme, 1/2 t. salt, pinch of pepper.  Saute over medium heat, about 3 min., then add corn, and continue cooking another 3 min., stirring occasionally.  Season with 1/2 t. salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add kohlrabi pesto/cabbage, and cook 2 min., stirring occasionally, until cabbage just wilts.  Taste for seasoning; toss in chopped parsley and crisp bacon.

I popped over to the Bay View Garden and Yard Society's annual plant sale on Saturday to pick up a couple more herb plants for the garden.  Ran into a friend and former CSA worker share who is also an avid gardener.  After a long-overdue chat I realized that just because my front yard is all perennial flowers doesn't mean it's zero-maintenance.  In fact, after this epiphany and gazing adoringly at another former CSA worker share's perennial bed Saturday evening, I looked at my garden with new eyes.  I had every intention of splitting and sharing lots of these perennials that were choking others out.  After transplanting a handful to pass along I went straight for the throat and just ruthlessly ripped stuff out of the ground.  After an hour or so, the garden and I let out a collective sigh of relief.  I did the same in the backyard around my edibles to re-establish pathways and generally give each plant it's personal space.  I look forward to seeing how this effort plays out later in the season, but I can only imagine there will be benefits both physically and aesthetically.

So the garden's been maintained, all my fruits and veggies are in (including the lovely tomato starts from a neighborhood friend who saved me after my poorly germinated tomatoes were then terminated tomatoes by one day of neglect), and other outdoor maintenance is done.  Time to sit in my lounge chair and dig into some summer reading, right.  That's the plan.

Beating the midday heat in our teepee with a basket of books

1 comment:

  1. Are you able to eat small amounts of gluten now? I would be happy to introduce you to sourdough, which is easier to digest and is a true "cultured" food as well... I've actually been doing no-knead breads now since my stand mixer died (and I've even mixed up a couple of straight dough loaves in my food pro too!), but I'm always excited to discuss bread, if you have some free time this Summer :) (OR, we can always wait until Fall!)