On days like today when the baby has kept me up all night I am so thankful for all the healthy food I “put by” last fall. Lunch is a cinch with bags of frozen Pesto around. I can even enlist Proeun’s help. While I try to recover the Pesto thaws and then it is as simple as cooking pasta. Here’s how we did it.
small handful walnuts
2-3 garlic cloves
1 cups or 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
dash of salt
blend walnuts and garlic together to make course grind. Add basil leaves. Remove center piece from blender lid or leave lid off and slowly drizzle in olive oil to make smooth paste. Stir in salt to taste.
Originally I had more solid numbers I was working with but when you are trying to preserve several plants worth of pesto in a afternoon measurements just slow you down. I would make a batch, put it in quart size freezer bags and move on to the next one. Since they were all the same thing I didn’t even take the time to wash the blender in between. Working this way you can put away about 5 batches in less then half hour. That’s a lot of meals for the winter. Just make sure to seal the bags as soon as you add the pesto as it tends to discolor quickly. Freeze right away.
My only problem is I love to eat my pesto with a thick slice of fresh tomato on the top. I haven’t had a fresh tomato in such a long time.
Families eating together is very important. Numerous studies have been conducted that talk about just how important to growing children. But for our family, meals don’t always happen around a table.
The first time I met Proeun’s family they didn’t even have a table in their house. Instead the family would eat gathered around mats on the floor. I was prepped ahead of time saying that I must never sit higher then his parents and that it was polite to sit on the floor to eat. About halfway through the meal my legs hurt so bad I could hardly stand it. I was still hungry but I knew the only polite way to sit in a chair was to finish eating. So I did. I have come a long way since then and a couple times a month we will have traditional Cambodian meals on the floor. Our mats are former rice sacks cut open to lie flat.
This dish is one of my favorites–Yeh Hanh. We aren’t really sure how to spell it in English but are doing our best to write it phonetically. The dish consists of a seasoned coconut broth which is put in a hot pot and various greens and meats added to the broth to cook to taste. It can be as elaborate or simple as you want. One time last year we took a bunch of greens from our CSA and went up north camping. We did pretty much the same thing over the fire. We had chard and spinach and bok choy it was wonderful.
For last night’s meal we went simple with pea tips, cilantro and green onion. We had a little eggplant left over from another meal so we added small dices of that. For meat we used sliced beef and beef meatball. Veggie options include mock duck (I like soy curls from Country Life) diced tofu or just eat the veggies. My in-laws love shrimp in it.
I like to top it with peanuts. Here is Avril using our mortar and pestle to grind them right before the meal.
To make the Broth
8-10 cups broth. I like to use water and add my chicken style seasoning at a rate of 1 tsp. per cup
Tom Yum paste–can find this at a local Asian store or Asian section at your market. I normally look for vegetarian. Each brand is different so follow the directions for adding to the water. I think it is normally 1 Tbsp for 3 cups.
1 can coconut milk
3 Tbsps sugar, more if you like it sweeter.
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsps fish sauce, also from the Asian storee.
Combine all this in a pot on the stove and heat. When hot you can add it to the hot pot. Meanwhile cut the meat or meat substitute and wash the veggies. Add greens and meat to the pot and cook until done. Use a hand held strainer to ge them out and a ladle to spoon the broth. Eat over rice or rice stick noodle. Top with peanuts.This is one of the children’s favorites. They love having a picnic. But be careful because they will want to help themselves to the pot. It is a good rite of passage for them though.
I grew up surrounded by health conscious people. I didn’t even know it wasn’t normal to breast feed babies until I was in college. Anyway most people I knew said the were vegetarian. I was to for awhile. Now I am a vegan that eats meat occasionally. it’s a long story but the short version is I discovered I had a dairy allergy and expect as much in my children and Southeast Asian husband. So now non-dairy recipes are my favorite. See I loved cheese and ice cream and dairy products of all kinds. When I stopped eating them cold turkey that was really hard on me. Now I am discovering some amazing recipes that have really made the transition easier. Here is one of my favorites.
Coconut Ice Cream
1 can coconut (or use 3 cups soy milk instead and omit the 1 cup water)
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup honey (2/3 cup sugar may be used in place of dates and honey)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp guar or xanthum gum (optional)
1 tray ice cubes
water as needed to make 5 cups total mixture
1. Blend all the ingredients (except ice cubes) in a blender until very smooth (may take up to 2 minutes). There should be no grittiness when a drop of mixture is felt between your thumb and finger.
2. Add ice cubes and blend smooth (speeds chilling time). Add more water as needed to make 5 cups total mix.
3. Pour into ice-cream maker and freeze according to its directions. (Or pour into a shallow pan and freeze. When ready to use, thaw slightly until just soft enough to cut into squares. Place in blender with enough soy milk or water to blend into the consistency of soft ice cream.)
4. Spoon into containers as soon as the mix is done (if the ice cream is left in an ice-cream maker some will freeze to the container and become hard). Store in freezer until ready to use.
Hint: This ice-cream recipe will harden more in the freezer than store-bought high-fat brands. To serve, thaw slightly.
One of the most useful items in my pantry is a good sized jar of homemade chicken style seasoning. Bouillon cubes have a ton of salt and depending on brand food coloring. If you have the time to make homemade stocks and keep them on hand great, but it is hard to keep just the right amount. What has been a lifesaver for me is powdered seasoning I can mix in the right quantity. Some recipes only call for a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of broth others much more, with this you can easily mix your own. Also you don’t have to wait for the bouillon cubes to dissolve. I sometimes even add it to chicken soups to enhance flavor.
Chicken Style Seasoning
4 cups yeast flakes (nutritional sometimes called brewers)
3/4 cup onion powder
3 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP salt
1/2 cup Italian seasoning (may use basil)
1/2 cup succanat or other raw sugar
1/2 cup dried parsley
Mix all ingredients, may blend for a finer powder. This will give you roughly 2 quarts of seasoning. I usually keep one and give the other to my mom. It will last you several months. To mix use one rounded tsp for one cup water, more if stronger broth is desired.
From The Best of Veggies, by Mary Bernt
Now that harvesting is winding down and days are cooler I am really enjoying cooking up fall’s bounty. During the busy harvesting season we ended up eating out way too much. Mostly because after a busy day harvesting and canning and with a kitchen still a mess the last thing I wan’t to do was make some big complicated meal. But now I finally had to call it quits canning. There is only so much you can do and at least if we run out there is always a store to tide us over till next year. I had to laugh that we were canning to save ourselves money and eat healthier then we were eating out a couple times a week.
Now I am trying my best to reclaim my role in the kitchen and at the table. With all of us coming down with something I realize it is even more important to eat healthy, wholesome food.
This morning I made “Three Sisters Stew.” It was originally named for the squash, beans and corn in the dish that was traditionally grown in a configuration known as “three sisters.” We had to rename it however since it caused some confusion with Avril who thought we were eating, “two girls.”
Anyway it is a great traditional dish. And I told Proeun this batch was particularly special because other then the spices and onions we grew everything in the dish–squash, beans, corn and tomatoes. Here’s the recipe.
Three Sisters Stew
1 cup dried beans
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1 1/2 tsp salt
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 cups winter squash cut in chunks
14 oz or 1 pint canned tomatoes
1 Tbsp chile powder
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn.
Cook the beans, I like to put them in a crock pot on high for 6-8 hours.
In large pot quickly dry roast oregano and cumin and cinnamon for about 30 seconds. Add oil, onion, salt and garlic; saute until onions are soft. Add squash, tomatoes and chile powder and cook about 20 minutes until squash is soft. Add some water if mixture seems dry. Add cooked beans and corn, simmer until corn is tender.
From Mothering magazine, Sept/oct. 2006
Today my project is tackling a more advanced recipe for canning. I told my grandma that canning is kind of addictive. I am now asking myself, “What else can I can?” I have always loved good food especially home cooked food using fresh ingredients. I have never entered the winter with a pantry full of food that I have canned myself. I am pretty excited about it. After spending yesterday rearranging shelves so that I could maximize my space and analyzing both canning jars left and things I might like to try I decided on a new recipe with my excess yellow tomatoes–Honeyed Tomato Butter. It is from the Ball Blue Book !00th Anniversary Edition pg 30.
5 pounds yello Tomatoes
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger
1 TBSP whole allspice
2 sticks cinnamon
Make a tomato pulp.
Combine tomato pulp, sugar, and honey in a large saucepot. Tie ginger and spices in a spice bag. Add spice bag to tomato mixture. Cook slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot butter into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process 10 minutes in boiling-water canner. Makes about 3 half pints.
One thing I have learned is that alot of these recipes only work if you are home a lot, like all day. I had been better at staying home before commuting to the farm, now it seems like we have places to go all the time, but canning has been a good excuse to stay home, though at times that can even be overwhelming, especially when the kids have been begging to go to the park and I am still trying to boil down the tomato sauce. Oh I can’t wait till the time when we live on a farm and I can send the kids outside to play.
We have spent nearly every morning at the farm this week. That means getting up early, grabbing some fruit or toast on the way out the door, driving a half hour to the farm working for 1 1/2-2 hours and coming back. Eating and showering all before noon when I have to take Proeun to work for his next 8 hour shift. Coming up with quick, nourishing meals is not easy but we are learning how to use what is on hand to make “Farm Fast Food.” Here’s a recipe we make frequently. Starting with the Gravy.
Egg Fu Young Gravy
2 TBS oil
2 TBS flour (use whole wheat or white flour with the germ. Conventional white flour does not thicken well)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 TBS Hoisin (Chinese Barbeque sauce)
Heat oil and add flour. Cook stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes otherwise the flour will taste raw. Add the broth and continue stirring, it should thicken pretty quickly. Add the Hoisin sauce salt and pepper to taste.
Egg Fu Young
Prepare about 2 cups of 3 or 4 vegetables. Today it was grated zucchini, onion and mung bean sprouts. I also like bell pepper and carrot in it–experiment. Garlic is another great addition. Saute the veggies briefly while you beat 4-6 eggs. We make a real quick, real simple version of egg fu young which is basically scrambled eggs. Pour the eggs over the veggies and cook through, try not to overcook. Farm fresh eggs have a lot of good flavor that is hidden when overcooked. Serve over rice, top with gravy. Serves 2 adults, 2 children and an extra serving packed for “lunch.”