Mash Browns

This is one of the ways I like to use up leftover mashed potatoes. I turn them into hash browns, hence the name. It’s not fancy, it’s real, simple home cookin’. You probably do this already, but if you don’t, here’s how I do it.

This makes 3 patties. Take about 3/4 to one cup of leftover mashed potatoes and put it in a small bowl. Add one egg, salt and pepper to taste or other seasonings you like (garlic is really good!) . Mix well with a fork. Add butter or duck fat to a skillet and let it get hot. Pour the potatoes in three piles and flatten with a fork to about 1/2 an inch thick.

Turn the heat to medium.  Allow to brown well before turning over.  If you flip them too early, they will fall apart.

Cook the other side until brown.  Serve hot with eggs.  I like homemade ketchup or salsa with my mash browns and eggs.  They are plain good  (or good plain), on their own too!

How do you use up leftover mashed potatoes?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Culinary Bliss and GNOWFGLINS.

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Cucumber yogurt dip

Tzatziki

Looking for a dip to serve tonight? Here’s what we’re having! This cucumber yogurt dip, also known as tzatziki, is easy, simple and quick to make.

Ingredients
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 cup yogurt, drained
1 cup sour cream
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tsp. chopped fresh or frozen dill

Mix the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream with a whisk. Stir the oil/vinegar mixture into the yogurt/sour cream. Add the chopped cucumbers and dill. Refrigerate for 2 hours to blend flavours.
Serve with fresh veggies, or warm flat bread triangles.
Draining the yogurt first makes the dip less runny and thicker.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve! Stay safe.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by Sustainable Eats, Culinary Bliss, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, and GNOWFGLINS.

Cheese in a homemade cheese press

One of the things I wanted to try after getting a milk cow was make cheese! I was encouraged by Wardeh’s post at GNOWFGLINS on homemade raw cheddar cheese, so I tried it. I thought I didn’t have much to lose, after all I’m getting 4 gallons of milk a day. 😯 The first time I tried it, I over cooked the curd and it turned ‘corky’. That’s okay! I figured that out and tried again. The second time, all I can say is WOW. Sooooo good!

In one recipe, I started with 2 ½ gallons of milk and that turned into 2 ½ pounds of cheese. All the curds fit comfortably into my homemade cheese press.


Cheese presses are so expensive. I did a little research and decided we could make our own. Hubby made the frame for me. Do you recognize what the cheese mould is? It’s a hamburger press. I found it at the thrift store for 50 cents. I used a crayon to mark a grid on it and a soldering iron to melt the holes. The tray that collects the whey was also from the thrift store, also 50 cents. There are different styles of the same thing out there. Dh drilled a hole in the tray so the whey could flow out. I position a pail, sitting on a stool to catch the whey. A little basic but it works. The frame, dh made for me was made out of material we had, except for the dowel which was $3.40. Total cost of cheese press: $4.40

I can’t wait to try some different cheeses! I don’t know which ones yet, there are so many different kinds!

I’m sharing this post as part of Simple Lives Thursday, hosted by Diana @ A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Annette @ Sustainable Eats, Alicia @ Culinary Bliss, Mare @ Just Making Noise and Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS

Farm fresh cream!

What’s better than farm fresh cream, so thick you have to spoon it?! I know of a farm to get it but it’s quite a distance away. I was in the area last week so was able to get some. Also got 5 lb.s of butter and 2 lbs. of cottage cheese. So good! I was a little exuberant about getting cream so I was looking for ways to use it up. I tried making homemade sour cream, it turned out really good! Also made cream of turkey soup and ice cream, which I haven’t done in a years. My ice cream maker is older and really loud so I made it outside. I add a heaping dollop of cream to my coffee every morning.

What’s your favourite way to use fresh cream?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.

Muesli, egg salad and kefir

Muesli – I tried making muesli this week.  I added raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and soaked it overnight.  I ate several spoonfuls but couldn’t finish it. 😦  I had to cook it.  Guess it’s not my thing.  We all ate the porridge, though.

Eggs – We eat a lot of eggs.  Scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled, pickled.  Hubby takes sandwiches to work for his lunch so I made him some egg salad.  I mixed in my homemade sandwich spread, salt and pepper and a little Herbamare.  If it was just for me, I’d also mix in some chopped onion. 😀

Kefir – Life got busy at the end of November so the kefir got neglected.  I’ve started it up again and am enjoying a glass each morning.  I’m using the powder, not the grains (at this time).  The little bit of kefir that was left in the fridge for several weeks smelled like sourdough starter!  It was a good yeasty smell but not bubbly.  I threw it out. I was wondering if I could have used it in baking or something?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Kefir and Butternut Peanut Soup

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Homemade kefir

I have been looking for kefir or kefir starter for ages!  Ready to eat kefir is not available in the stores anywhere here. I finally found some starter!  Actually hubby found it when we were out together. I was so excited! I don’t have raw milk to make it with but if it’s as good as I’ve been reading, even made with store milk we should see the benefits.  Eventually I would like to make it with raw milk.  You can read here about the difference between kefir and yogurt.  I have some questions, though.  How is making kefir with the starter different than with grains?  The kefir was ready this morning, I gave it a stir like the directions said.  It looks really good, thick and smooth, but there’s no grains.  It tastes good, a lot like plain yogurt.  My youngest son likes yogurt but said ‘bleh’.  I gave him half a glass and he drank the whole thing.  Maybe first thing in the morning wasn’t the best time to get him to try it.  😀

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Butternut Peanut Soup

The other new recipe I tried was Butternut Peanut Soup. Doesn’t the name sound yummy?  I have quite a few butternut squashes from my garden this year so thought I’d try this different looking soup.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because there were a few ingredients I didn’t have and don’t normally so I adapted it to my pantry.  The recipe posted is my adapted version.  It’s very good and filling too.  I think I’ll try it with turkey stock next time.

Marg's Sandwich Spread

Marg's Sandwich Spread

I promised to share my sandwich spread recipe so here it is.  It turns out a lovely creamy-yellow colour.  Yellower than the picture. The next batch I may experiment with adding different ingredients to this base recipe.

Marg’s Sandwich Spread

2 egg yolks
½ tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. raw honey
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dry mustard mixed with a little water.

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a blender. With the blender running, drizzle in olive oil very slowly. Mix the dry mustard with a little water to make a paste and add to the blender. Keep refrigerated.

Yield: approx. 1½ cups

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

There’s good news and bad news.

On goes the quest to eat more real foods and eliminate processed crap.  It’s been a week of ups and downs. Here’s a short review of what has been slicing and dicing (twisting) in my kitchen this week.

Sourdough breadMy sourdough starter was a success and I was really anxious to make some healthy bread for my family! Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. The bread is far too sour and will be croutons in its next life.  Come think of it, I’m sure I did this once before, years and years ago.  I’m so discouraged and fear this learning curve is just too steep for me.

That was the bad news, now the good news:

Gazpacho – I made gazpacho again this week for hubby’s lunches and packed it in 1/2 pint jars to-go. I changed up how I made it from last time and it turned out much better, I think. Super healthy for hubby too as everything is raw.

Tuna Noodle Skillet Dinner – this I winged. I improvised on my homemade version of hamburger helper to make a tuna helper. Tuna, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, whole wheat rotini, in a cream sauce and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. It was surprisingly good!

Tomato cucumber and onion salad – very basic, simple ingredients but so delicious! Peel and slice 3 small cucumbers thinly, cut tomatoes into wedges and slice onions thin. I use twice as much tomatoes and half the onions as cucumbers, but you can use any ratio you like. Drizzle with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and toss gently.  You can try different types of vinegar but the white wine vinegar is so good!  I may never use regular vinegar again. 😉 Refrigerate for at least an hour to blend the flavours. A lovely summer salad!

Food for thought – No matter what happens – there’s always someone who knew it would.

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Bread baking battle

breadI used to make bread for my family a few years ago. Then life got busy and I resorted to store bought.  So here I am trying to make bread for my family again. Why? For the hell health of it.  Here goes another babystep towards feeding my family REAL food.

My attempts at making healthy, moist, delicious bread have not met with success, actually they have all been just ‘edible’.  Did I lose my touch? I’m even trying my hand at making sourdough starter in attempts to create the healthiest for my family.  

I love reading stories from the pioneer days, hear how things were done back then.  Some of their struggles were a lot like mine, but some struggles I can only imagine.  If you are like me and have yet to turn out a perfect loaf of bread, I hope you find the following an encouragement:

Taken from “Come ‘n Get It ~ Favorite Ranch Recipes” by Beulah Barss.

Bread making used to require the preparation of the flour yeast sponge the night before baking. If kept warm all night, the sponge would be nicely risen by morning, no small task in houses with wood-burning stoves and fires that died out.  Ranch wife Monica Hopkins wrote: “These evenings I wrap my bread in a blanket and Billie’s fur coat, put it in one of the wicker chairs and cover all up with a travelling rug and you should see it next morning, right up to the very top of the bread pan.” Monica Hopkins, Manuscript “Log Cabin and We Two” 1909-10.

Mrs. Short arrived in High River in 1884.  There was neither yeast nor a stove available.  She baked sourdough bread every day in an iron pot with a heavy lid, a Dutch oven. “A fire was built of dry willow wood, as it died down a hole was scraped in the ashes and a covered pot containing the large round loaf was placed therein, and the hole covered with coal and ashes.  In an hour or so the bread was cook. From the diary of Lulu Short

The First Batch of Bread

We had just moved to our place near Swift Current and mother had never tried making bread before.  There she was in the kitchen, banging the cupboard doors, slamming the oven of the new Kitchen Queen, tears of frustration in her eyes, angry words on her lips.  Dad heard the commotion and came in.  He took one look at those hard, brown blocks spread out on the kitchen table and then went over and put his arms around her.

Next morning he woke us children early and motioned us to follow him to the creek bank where he had only yesterday cut steps in the moist clay.  He stopped at the first step, fished one of the dry loaves out of his bag, set firmly on the clay step, marked its size, lifted it, cut a neat hole, then fitted the loaf perfectly into the hole to form a step.  Then he embedded the second loaf in the second step and the third loaf in the third step and right down the line until the six loaves graced the six steps as if they had been made for that purpose.

Then we fetched mother to share in the admiration of our new concrete like steps leading to the creek.  Well, we all laughed so hard we hardly had strength to make it back to the house.

But mother was not beaten.  She tackled bread baking again and again and soon was able to turn out six beautiful, golden crusted loaves.  Dad while munching a sample with obvious satisfaction said it was just as well since there were no more steps to make.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays, hosted by FoodRenegade.com

Bread and tomatoes

Bread: This week I made bread and buns.  I used to make it all the time a few years ago when I was involved in the local Farmers Market. I used the same recipe but I tried soaking the flour a day ahead but I could only soak about 1/3 of the recipe as the rest I had to work in dry. Not sure how I’m going to overcome that problem. 

Sourdough Starter: I also tried making sourdough starter this week.  I think it might have worked?!  It was a really warm windy day and I set it outside. By the end of the day, it was all bubbly. 🙂  I had to put it in a larger jar.

Gazpacho: I used a recipe at cheeseslave.com but modified it a bit to suit what I had.  When we went to Spain we had gazpacho and I loved it!  My attempt at it didn’t quite taste like what we had there but it was still good.  I tried to make it smooth but turned out more like a smoothy than a soup.  Still tasted good.  It’s a good food to put in hubby’s lunchbox.

Shrimp Pasta Sauce:  This is a dish I created based on pasta dishes we would have in Italy.  Saute chopped onion in coconut oil, add sliced mushrooms, lots of minced garlic and lots basil.  When the mushrooms are just about done, add chopped tomatoes and shrimp.  Heat and serve over whole wheat pasta.  You can substitute the shrimp for any seafood.

Chokecherry Wine: Not pictured but I started a batch of chokecherry wine.  Not sure how “real” this is as I used sugar, but I did use an old fashioned recipe, the way grandpa would have made it.  Doesn’t the fermentation eat up the sugar?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Real Food Rustling

Phew! It’s been a busy week of trying new things!  The only diet restrictions my family has is with hubby and his sugar, high glycemic index intake.  I really have to give credit to my family for trying all these new things.  They did so without a complaint and even if they didn’t love it, they still ate it.  When I asked them for their opinion, they were honest yet sensitive.

Here’s a look at what real food has been rustling in my kitchen.

Chicken broth –  I’ve been processing our home-grown chickens this week so I’ve got giblets for making broth, which I’m freezing in quart sealers for using later.  After the broth is made, I’ve been giving the giblets to the dogs but I’m looking at making chicken liver pate.  What do you do with chicken livers?

Cold Grain Salads – Honestly, it never occurred to me to make salad with cold grains but cold pasta was once a foreign idea to me too (long time ago when I was a kid).  Since I’ve discovered them, I’ve been having fun trying different kinds of cold grain salads on my family.  Some are hits, some are misses and some come close.  Here’s the two I tried this past week:

Cold Rice Salad – Leftover brown basmati rice inspired me to create this cold rice salad.  I mixed in carrots, tomatoes, green peppers, onions and tossed with a simple homemade vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette was apple cider vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Final vote: 2 hits, 1 miss and 1 came close.  I’m not worried about the “miss”, he’ll come around. 😉  I voted “came close” but I’m more of a critic with my own food.

Cold Barley Salad – This is an altered version of a favorite Greek pasta salad.  I mixed barley (soaked and cooked), green peppers, tomatoes, onion, mixed beans, black olives and fresh parsley.  The dressing is olive oil, lemon juice, a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Final vote: 3 hits, 1 miss (still holding out on the “miss”).  In my opinion, one thing that could have made this salad better was some feta cheese.

Mesclun mix salad – I have lots of lettuce coming out of the garden.  I planted a mesclun mixture which makes a very eye-pleasing salad.  We’re having a tossed salad almost everyday!  I rounded out the salad with whatever I had on hand… and lots of dill! Always a HIT!

Souffle Omelette with Mushrooms – You know I have to include an egg dish when I’ve got my own hens!  This is another new recipe I tried this week.  The egg whites are beaten separately from the yolks and folded in for a very fluffy omelette.  The mushroom sauce with fresh parsley is very simple and together it was a delicious, filling and very satisfying meal!  I liked it so much I had it twice this week.

Baked Peppers with Egg and Lentils – Okay, this one might be pushing it with my family.  The ingredients aren’t foreign to us.  We’ve all had green peppers, lentils, and eggs… but together?  It was good, everyone ate it. I didn’t mind it but it was nothing to write home about and as pretty as it presents itself,  I don’t think I’ll be making this one again.

With all the new recipes I’ve been trying this week, (which is not usual for me) I have made one huge observation.  Real Foods are much more filling. 

This post is part of  Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFLGINS.