Domesticity Nouveau

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grandpa Jim's Pink Beans, good cheap eats!

My Grandpa Jim was an interesting man. I remember being over for dinner at his house one time. My other Grandpa was there and had said something mean and hurtful to me, so I had left the dinner table to got sit in the living room. A short time later my Grandpa Jim had excused himself from dinner to visit the bathroom and on his return paused and looked at me with loving understanding. I felt comfortable enough at that moment to say something along the lines of "Grandpa Walt is an ass hole." Very calmly without skipping a beat, Grandpa Jim replied, "Yes he is, but you can't say that. You need to respect your elders even if they are ass holes." I love Grandpa Jim.

He had a rough life and I'm happy to know that the last half was filled with love for my Grandma, a comfy chair, a great library filled with good books, evening cocktails and one very agile and loving cat. He taught my Father many things, some very tasty meals being on the list. Here is his recipe for Pink Beans... just because you are poor doesn't mean you have to eat poor tasting food.

Grandpa Jim's Pink Beans (So simple it is amazing they taste so good!)
1 large onion, chopped
2 pounds of pink beans (that is their name, they are NOT pinto beans)
2 smoked ham hocks
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp crushed red pepper, to taste
salt and pepper to taste at the end

Soak beans in a large pot over night. In the morning, pour off the water.
Around 10 am, add to beans the chopped onion, ham hocks and red pepper. Cover with water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer all day long, stirring occasionally, more so toward the end of cooking.
Dinner will be ready around 5 or 6 pm. Serve with bread and butter.
Makes anywhere from 8-12 servings, depending on what you call a serving :)
Costs around $5-$6 for a full recipe, which ends up being anywhere from $.75 or less a serving.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Homegrown Grape Juice

We have an abundance of grapes. I mean an abundance! It is so wonderful to walk out the back door into the smell of grape jelly. We have so many grapes that I had to come up with something to do other than make grape jelly, since we can't eat that many pb & j's!

So what does one do with so many grapes? Make grape jelly of course! But the first step to making jelly is making the juice... so I pulled out the canning books and figured it out. Here's what you do...

Step 1. Pick those grapes & give them a good rinse
Step 2. Sit in front of the boob-tube and start pulling grapes off the stem, resist the urge to feed them seductively to your love. As you pull them off, give them a squeeze when you drop them into the pot, or after you have plucked them all into the pot, give them a mash with a potato masher.
Step 3. Add enough water to almost cover the grapes and start to heat over medium high heat until you get to a simmer.
Step 4. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until everything is all soft and falling apart, and you can't find any whole grapes.
Step 5. Strain through several layers of cheese cloth.
Step 6. Chill in the fridge, at least over night.
Step 7. Strain one more time through cheese cloth, trying to leave as much sediment in the bottom of your container as possible.
Step 8. Enjoy your amazing treat or can for a rainy winter day.

To preserve the grape juice:
Step 1. Bring the juice from above recipe to 190 degrees and keep at 190 degrees for 5 minutes.
Step 2. Pour into canning jars that have been sterlized and heated in boiling water of your canning kettle.
Step 3. Fill hot jars with hot grape juice to 1/4" of the top, and close with two piece canning lid.
Step 4. Process in boiling water, covering tops of jars by at least 1", for 15 minutes.
Step 5. Allow to cool undisturbed overnight and make sure the lids have sealed by pushing down on the tops. If there is any movement of the lid, your jar didn't seal and you should just enjoy that beautiful grape juice now because you don't want to drink it later after it has spoiled... although I do believe they call that wine :)

The really neat thing about having so many grapes, is that I get to pass on my abundant blessing to others, and this year I am doing this by canning grape juice for Communion at church. It is really amazing to think that my passion for gardening and cooking is something that I can share with my entire community! It is so amazing to me that I get to share my gifts this way :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beef Strogganauf, or however you spell it, personally I eat it

Well, it has been quite a while since I posted anything on my blog and a lot has changed...

  • I'm gluten free now (and feeling so much better)
  • Found a great church (Epikos)
  • I was baptized at Horsetail Falls
  • We are praying for babies (well, that hasn't changed)
  • Another successful chicken, um, 'harvest' in June
  • I learned to make my own laundry soap
  • The garden has grown, harvested and the bounty put up for the winter
  • Had my first bee sting and a bizarre allergic reaction a week later
  • I made jelly for the first time (well actually I made syrup, whoops)
and well, so many other things that it would take too long to keep listing them, so I stop since I digress from my main point today which is....

Beef Stroganoff

I learned to make this by watching my Mom while I was growing up. I would sit at the kitchen counter and ramble on about this or that in the way that young girls are known to do (which is sometimes cute and sometimes annoying) while she would cut the onion and beef up and then begin to cook. At which time, I would move my self and my dictation of random and useless information and questions over to the stove to watch her brown the meat, anticipating the moment when I could officially taste test the evening's meal. When I stop and think about it, I did this almost every day of my life growing up. Hovering around the kitchen, watching my Mother do this or that, smelling, tasting, reading recipes, watching cooking shows. My passion for cooking started at a young age and has never stopped... but again, I digress.

Once that anticipated moment of the first taste arrived, I was always too excited to wait for it to cool down and would slurp the boiling hot broth into my mouth, scorching my tongue. Come to think of it, I still have this problem every time I make stroganoff. I don't think I have ever made a batch without burning my tongue. Perhaps you can learn from my mistake as I don't seem to be.

Back to Beef Stroganoff. I have made this meal for so many people and had many marriage proposals from it, a few of which might have been sincere. I would never think of sharing the recipe; somewhere deep inside I believed if I wrote it down it would lose it's magic... but I now know that it is simply too good not to share! So here it is, with notes for my gluten free friends at the bottom :)

1 Large onion chopped
5 Large cloves of garlic
2-3 pounds of beef
1/4 cup flour
olive oil
glass of red wine (optional)
3 cans of CAMPBELLS concentrated beef broth (must use CAMPBELLS or see note below)
3 cans of water
1-2 cans of mushrooms, or more :)
1 pints of sour cream
1 package wide egg noodles

-Cube meat into 1-2 inch chunks and coat in flour.
-Over medium heat in a large pot, add a bit of oil and cook onions for about 5 minutes, add garlic and continue cooking until onions are soft and transparent, remove from pot.
-Add a bit more oil to the pan and turn up to med-high. Place the meat in the pan, don't crowd, and brown on all sides. You don't have to cook it all the way through, you are just getting it kind of crusty and getting bits stuck to the bottom of the pan which add a ton of flavor.
-When done browning meat, pour in the wine or one can of beef broth, and deglaze (scrape up the bits) the bottom of the pan.
-Add in all the meat, onions and mushrooms, then pour in the remaining beef broth and water. Do it in this order or everything will splash at you when you dump it into a pot of liquid :)
-Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over med-low for several hours to reduce down by a little less than half.
-Set the sour cream out to warm up a bit, about 30-45 minutes before dinner time, and start the pasta water.
-When ready to serve, put sour cream in a large bowl, and laddle in a bit of the broth from the hot pot. Mix till combined and then stir into the pot. Bring the mixture back up in temperature if necessary, but not over high heat and don't boil it, it has dairy now and that does some funky things. Still tastes great, just changes the appearance.
-Serve over noodles and prepare yourself for a food coma.

Gluten Free Notes: Pacific Beef Broth is close to being as good as Campbells, but it isn't concentrated. I use two boxes and no water. Cook it down by about half. Of course leave out the flour. To thicken, before adding the sour cream, stir in a goodly size amount of cornstarch slurry. and of course, serve over gluten free pasta, the spirals and the tube shapes catch the sauce the best :)