Food

Reviewed by Julie: a slightly unhinged fabric junkie! She is stitching and crafting obsessed as well as being addicted to tea and cake. She is a work at home Mumma to three energetic little girls and blogs at procrasticraft.

fired-up-cover

The Mr of our house recently stated that “we eat too much meat”. I took this a challenge to prepare and eat only vegetarian meals for a whole week (not long really, I know! BUT, I have a house full of meat lovers) and thankfully the very next day, Ross Dobson’s Fired Up Vegetarian arrived in the post for review! I love how serendipitous life can be on occasion.

This is one cracker of a vegetarian cookbook. The recipes really do work as complete meals even for my carnivorous family. The most amazing transformation for us was that it has even inspired the non-cooking Mr of the house to commit to cooking one vego meal each week! The flavours throughout are diverse including Asian, Middle Eastern, European and South American dishes and the book includes useful tips and advice for maximising your barbecue potential.

With Fathers Day coming here in Australia next Sunday, as a gift for Dad the author has kindly provided a recipe for us to share with Whipup readers and the good folks at Murdoch Books have provided us with a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Just comment below with your favourite vegetarian meal idea (I love a good recipe tip!).

**Conditions:  Comments must be received by 8am Tuesday 27 August.  The winner will be selected by random number generator and announced on Whipup.net on Tuesday 27 August.  We apologise to our international readers but this giveaway is open to Australian residents only **

Thanks to those who shared their recipes with me, Number 2 was chosen by the random number generator. Congratulations Catherine.

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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

The theme for this month is Make It Local :: with Alexandra Smith of Lola Nova.

Today, Alexandra introduces Lindsay McCoy. Lindsay is a writer/blogger and a self-proclaimed homebody from Oregon City, Oregon who loves crafting, cooking, gardening, and simple living. You can find her writing about all of this and more on her blog, A Wooden Nest.

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When I think “make it local,” I think “make it in my own backyard.” While supporting local businesses and farmers is one of the best ways we can contribute to the health and diversity of our community, taking advantage of the space around us to grow our own food, or make our own artwork, or produce our own goods, can be a huge step toward frugality and self-sufficiency. And, in some ways, it forces us to get creative with the materials that are around us rather than going out and spending money on something generic from a big box retailer.

I don’t consider myself a locavore or a backyard homesteader by any means, but I do try to buy local, and to provide for myself more often than not. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to go about doing this is by growing my own edible garden. I don’t own a lot of land, but I find that using the space I have to grow fruits and vegetables helps cut down on costs for fresh, delicious, and organic food. Plus, I find that if I put a little effort into planning the layout of my garden, I can effectively take advantage of every inch of space I own to grow as much as possible.

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My goal with gardening is to harvest and preserve enough food to last me through the entire year and into the next growing season, and despite the fact that we have a small yard, I find that a little goes a long way. Even back when I was living in an apartment, I was able to grow several containers full of vegetables and herbs on my patio and windowsill. I eventually learned to cook meals based on what I had growing, which meant I had fresher, tastier ingredients to work with, and I knew exactly where they were coming from. Sometimes even a few plants can make a noticeable difference.

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One hidden benefit to growing your own food – and this is something I never expected when I first started gardening– is the joy that comes from sharing your harvest with others. For instance, I love making pickles. I pickle cucumbers, beans, carrots, and anything else I possibly can. This means that when birthdays or holidays come around, instead of racking my brain for gift ideas only to fall short, I like to give away my homemade pickles and preserves. So not only am I able to grow food for my family in my own backyard, but I’m also able to produce awesome homemade gifts from right outside my door. It’s a win-win situation.

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Right now, radish season is upon us, and they’re growing like crazy in my garden. To keep up with the harvest, sometimes I have to get creative with the recipes I use so I can make my produce last as long as possible. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available that home gardeners can turn to for recipe ideas and food preservation. For instance, if you do a search on the internet, you’ll find several recipes from reputable sources for pickled radishes.

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Of all the pickled radish recipes I’ve tried, I tend to gravitate toward those with a sweet and sour brine. I think it complements the peppery flavor inherent in radishes very well, and makes them taste especially delicious as a cold and crunchy component in sandwiches, or over crackers and cheese. Here is one of my all-time favorite radish pickle recipes:

Sweet & Sour Radish Pickles

1 bunch radishes

1-2 teaspoons salt

½ cup white distilled or rice vinegar

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup water

4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Remove the stems from the radishes (set aside the leaves), and rinse them free of any dirt and debris. Slice radishes into thin rounds, discarding the tough ends, and place slices in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain radish slices, and then pour into a sterilized wide-mouth jar.

To make the brine, combine the vinegar, sugar, water, and peppercorns in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, and bring liquid to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Pour brine in jar over radishes.

Cover the jar, and let sit until it cools to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months, and serve in sandwiches, over cheese and crackers, on hamburgers, etc.

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When it comes to radishes, I try to make the most out of the entire plant. One thing a lot of people aren’t aware of is that radish leaves are edible, and they’re especially delicious when harvested young. You can eat them straight-up in salad, sandwiches – and this is one of my favorite things to do – you can make apesto with the leaves to mix in soup, pasta, or as a sauce on homemade pizza. And, of course, you can bottle up both the pesto and the radish pickles with pretty decorative paper, twine, and tags to give as gifts for holidays and birthdays. Your radish-loving friends and family members will love it!

Radish Leaf Pesto

1 ½ to 2 cups radish leaves, washed with stems removed

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup roasted unsalted almonds

1 clove garlic

2-3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Blend together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or store in the freezer.

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Book :: The Soupbox Cookbook

by Jules on June 3, 2013

in Books, Food

Reviewed by Julie: a slightly unhinged fabric junkie! She is stitching and crafting obsessed as well as being addicted to tea and cake. She is a work at home Mumma to three energetic little girls and blogs at procrasticraft.

SoupBox Cover

Julie reviews: The Soupbox Cookbook: Sensational Soups for Healthy Living by Jamie Taerbaum and Dru Melton contains 125 recipes (yes, 125) out of the kitchen of their Chicago restaurant. Published by Race Point Publishing (December 13, 2012).

With the beginnings of autumn has come the need for warmth and comfort and what better comfort food than a hearty, nutritious and satisfying soup. I simply cannot believe the number of recipes in this book. So. Many. Soups. From that American classic, the corn chowder, to Mexican tortilla soup, Thai Tom Yum and Tasmanian Duck Soup, there has got to be at least 50 that I would like to cook just today. As I had some beautiful just picked autumn pumpkin (squash) in the pantry, I went with the Autumn Memories Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Apple. One word only : yum!

Soup

The recipe contains heavy cream, which I left out due to food allergies but I’m home alone today and was able to indulge in one of my most guilty pleasures, soup with sour cream and hot, buttery toast. Delicious!

Here is an extract of this recipe for whipup readers to enjoy.

 

Recipe

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Reviewed by Julie :: a slightly unhinged fabric junkie! She is stitching and crafting obsessed as well as being addicted to tea and cake. She is a work at home Mumma to three energetic little girls and blogs at procrasticraft.

Allergen Free Cover

Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts is written by Collette Martin, a self-described “food allergy mom”. She has experience and understanding of the complexities that are multiple food allergies and has overcome the challenges of feeding a family where those allergies are a constant threat to health and wellbeing. Published by The Experiment (June 19, 2012).

For as long as I can remember, food has been one of my passions. As a small child, I remember learning to make scones with my great-grandmother and I now enjoy spending time in the kitchen with my three girls. Our youngest daughter has allergies to both eggs and dairy and since her diagnosis a year ago, I have struggled to find recipes that are suitable for her to not only eat, but where she can participate in the preparation. What child doesn’t love to lick the beaters? Food in our home has never been something we just buy with little regard, we have always been careful about our choices and we read the ingredients on the packets. Now though, with the severe allergies we are faced with, we can take nothing for granted.

It is in this context that I can say that this book has been a life-saver for me! The pages provide many recipes for baked goods (and they are seriously good, try the Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping, the Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake and the Blueberry Scones, just for starters), though what I have found most helpful are the twelve baking lessons (each its own chapter) including “No Butter, No Problem”, “Baking Without Eggs”, “The Allergen Free Pantry” and “Replacing Wheat”. The author not only provides recipes with replacements, but she has taken the time and effort to explain how and why each replacement works which means that I have been able to transfer the knowledge and develop or adapt my own recipes. For that, this is worth every penny.

Baking without Eggs

If you are struggling with food allergies or intolerances in your home, I highly recommend you pick up a copy, the explanations have been life changing for us, our daughter can fully participate in family meals and celebrations and the rest of us don’t feel like we are “missing out” either – we can still have the most amazing and delicious cakes and baked goods, and I think they taste even better as they are safe for us all so we can relax while eating.

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During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Mary Jo for the month of April :: The theme for this month is functional creativity.

Mary Jo :: Five Green Acres


Functional creativity Feed

Some days I feel like it is such a burden to have to eat. Again and again — it feels like a never-ending chore to feed myself and my family. These are the days when my creative bandwidth is entirely consumed by other, more exciting making, leaving nothing for creative meal prep. These are the days when a frozen pizza becomes the go-to meal, when all of our food ethics fall to the wayside out of sheer necessity and poor planning.

But there are other days when my kitchen is humming with creative food energy, with bread dough rising on the counter, milk for yogurt scalding on the stove, and supper emerging from the glossy pages of a new flashy cookbook. These are the days when there are more meal choices than mealtimes, and my countertop is littered with spent citrus halves and the papery sheathes of garlic cloves. These are the days when we eat like kings, fulfilling the tenets of our food dogma bite by bite. I sure would like to bridge the gap between these two extremes. I’d like to have a backup plan to the frozen pizza program that doesn’t require me to pull a gourmet meal out of a hat, because on those days, I’ve got no magic left.

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Meal planning emerges as a no-brainer solution to this vacillation, but I haven’t been able to make that a workable solution for me. I prefer slightly more spontaneity, and the ability to incorporate whatever I can get my hands on that is fresh in that moment. This is what I tell myself, all the while suspecting that I’m just not organized enough to pull off a successful planning program, or maybe I’m just overwhelmed by all the choices. Another voice reminds me that I find myself most fulfilled in the kitchen when I’m tasked with a limited amount of ingredients or a leftover chicken that is about to expire. These are the times when I’ve been able to shine, creating meals that I liken to shooting stars — one-off concoctions that we’ll never have again in exactly the same way. These are the meals that emerge as part of a natural progression, born from a need to use up leftovers, a cascade of dishes that spin off of one big meal. This is Functional Creativity in the kitchen, and I think it just might be the key to bailing us out of intermittent frozen pizza purgatory.

I’m discovering that there is (can be) a logical progression of cooking that can be harnessed with just a tiny bit of meal planning. The Chicken Dinner was the gateway for me into this kind of thinking. We have a freezer full of our home-grown whole broiler chickens that I personally pulled around on pasture, hauled water to, bought grain for. You can bet that I’m not going to let a drop of that sweat equity go down the drain.

So I’d roast a bird — there are a million creative ways to do this — and we’d feast on the fruits of my labors, and that was satisfying for about 2 hours. But then what? This family of four can’t (and shouldn’t) eat a whole roast chicken in one sitting, so what should become of the leftovers? (I wasn’t interested in making chicken salad sandwiches) I quickly learned that a roast chicken dinner can yield at least two more meals from the bits leftover: the meat is easily pulled off the bones, chopped up, and commingled with an entirely different array of flavors as, say, the anchor for enchiladas. The leftover bones and tiny meat bits can easily become the hearty base for a soup or stock — to be eaten fresh or frozen for later. At a minimum, one chicken can yield three different meals for our family, but I’m finding I can stretch that even further. I recently used the delicious pan drippings as the liquid base for couscous instead of turning them into gravy. There are a million different riffs on this progression; we’ll certainly not be limited to this sequence. And I’m not at all suggesting these meals must be served on consecutive days — my palate is bored just writing that.

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Through the course of exploring this kitchen synergy, I’ve identified some dishes/techniques that make a fantastic framework for the leftover-du-jour. Soups are a classic example, adapting themselves brilliantly to whatever you have on hand to throw in them — bones, beans, veggies, etc. I’ve never made the same soup twice. Enchiladas are another of my favorites, though my versions become very different interpretations of the classic, out of necessity. Lasagna is a fantastic vehicle for using up whatever I have; nearly anything will taste good smothered in sauce and cheese, sandwiched between noodles or thinly-sliced noodle-like layers (squash is a great not-noodle substitution). Salads are a whole playground of possibilities, you can well imagine, especially when hopped up with nuts, cheese, or fresh fruit. Pasta — another blank slate. Got eggs? Quiche is a nimble accommodator of whatever is lining your fridge or pantry. Call me lazy, but I’m a big fan of the one-pot meal, and these dishes reflect that desire for relative simplicity.

Being omnivorous has illuminated a meat dish as the natural starting point for cascade cooking in our house, but one could find the same synergistic chain of meals in a pot of beans or whole grains, or an armful of winter squash, or a spring harvest of fresh nettles. I’ve found the same kind of logical but creative use of resources a necessary complement to our fresh milk program. Every two weeks I collect the milk from a trusted organic farm and apply a similar cascade of use to it. The cream is skimmed off for our morning coffee, for use as half-and-half in cooking, or cultured with Piima or buttermilk as a delicious substitute for sour cream or creme fraiche. The milk is eagerly consumed as-is and used throughout the two weeks in other cooking/baking. What remains before the next pickup of fresh milk is turned into yogurt that will last for weeks, or if too sour, used in lieu of buttermilk in cooking. And we’ve not even ventured yet into the realm of ice cream.

My kitchen bookshelves are brimming with cookbooks — so many that I feel overwhelmed by the burden of choices if my method of meal planning is to pull out recipes at random. Trying to pair that with what is in season is a pressure that often drives me further off the cliff, into the frozen pizza aisle. But even I, with my exploding creativity thoroughly used up with wool or cloth, can manage to pick one starting point that can beget meal after meal by simply utilizing and remixing what’s left. Feeding the family is a functional need at its core. Letting that function drive your creativity, instead of trying to let your creative impulses contrive the meals day after day, can be a refreshingly nourishing way to fill the plate.

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