Tag Archives: Recipes

Grinding Popcorn

Popcorn is notoriously hard to grind. Many grinders specifically forbid the use of popcorn in their units. Not having a grain mill yet I had never really tried grinding popcorn for fresh cornbread but was looking forward to it when I do finally break down and pick up the grinder I’ve had my eye on.

This past week I had stopped by the local Goodwill looking for goodies when I ran across a coffee grinder for a few dollars. I think I paid about 8 or 10 for it after the discount for that day. It is a Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder. It is the stainless model which sells for about $120 or so. It had never been taken out of the package that I could tell. Not bad for less than $10. It grinds from course to very fine (for Turkish coffee) and, since it had never been used it didn’t come with a coffee bean smell that I had half expected. I thought, why not try it on popcorn. What is the worst that can happen? I lose a few dollars.

First I ran some white wheat through as a test. I thought if it couldn’t handle the wheat, there was no way it could handle the popcorn. The wheat was ground into a consistency slightly finer than cream of wheat but coarser than flour. I ended up running the popcorn through twice. It did get hung up a couple of times but it was easy to take apart and clean. I looked for a recipe online and found a good sweet cornbread recipe on the All Recipes site. I used the flour and cornmeal I had just ground. It ended up taking a little more milk than the recipe called for. I let the corn soak up the milk for about 10 minutes before mixing in everything else. I baked it in a cast iron skillet in the oven. VERY good flavor but a little crumbly. I will probably add another egg next time. All in all I am very pleased with my grinder. I can see fresh cream of wheat and cornbread in my future.

Peach jam and homemade noodles

Last week I had picked up 5 large peaches from Jungle Jim’s. They were huge and not quite ripe. My plan was to make a peach cobbler (or two) but since the kid had a b’day on Friday and we have more goodies than we can eat around here from that I decided to go the jam route. Fast forward a little while and we have 7 jars of jam on the counter and one in the fridge.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Ciao Italia, one of the cooking shows I record on the homemade tivo. Mary Ann was with her mom making homemade noodles. What caught my eye was the fact that she had the same pasta machine (Atlas) that I have except hers has the motor attachment. I had tried once or twice to make noodles but was not happy with the result. Too thick and tough. She made it look so easy I decided to try it again. I am so glad I did as they turned out perfectly. To look at them you couldn’t tell they weren’t from the store. Thin and somewhat longer than what you pick up at the grocery they had a lot more flavor. I may never buy dried noodles again. I didn’t have a pasta dryer then and ended up hanging the noodles over plastic coat hangers. It worked but I wanted something easier to manage. While I was at Jungle Jim’s I picked up the pasta dryer in the pick for just over $10. I could have made one for next to nothing but this was easier. I decided to make another batch today. This is a triple batch of 1egg to 1c flour recipe. I added a tiny bit of water as my eggs were on the smallish side. This is the result.

On Friday I was at the thrift shop with the kid and found yet another Atlas with two extra attachments for $7.50 after the 50% discount. I don’t have a need for another machine but now I have a lasagna roller and a smaller noodle roller to go with the machine I have. I think I have a home for the extra pasta machine, I’ll find out Tuesday.

Filmjölk aka Swedish Yogurt

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some filmjölk online. I had heard about it before and wanted to give it a try. I have made lots of yogurt in the past but the cultures I had always used required the milk to be heated to a certain point then cooled to a given temperature while the culture did its thing. The type of cultures that requires higher temperatures like that are called thermophilic cultures. By contrast, mesophilic cultures tend to work at room temperatures and do not require the higher temps. Filmjölk is a mesophilic culture which means it can be produced at room temperature.

The taste is about like yogurt, maybe not quite as tart and it isn’t as thick as the yogurt you will buy in the store. I’ve used it anywhere I would use yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream. Since the culture works on the lactose, it doesn’t bother lactose intolerant individuals like plain milk does. Its great in pancakes, cake and with fruit. You can make a cream cheese substitute called yogurt cheese by draining off the whey. I like it with berries and a little bit of sweetener.

The photo shows some gooseberries I picked earlier in the morning. It takes about 12-18hours to incubate a batch. The ratio is 1Tbs of the starter to 1 cup of milk. I use whole milk but you can use 2% or even light cream. I generally start the process when I get home from work. The culture goes into the milk in a 1 pint jar and is placed on the kitchen counter out of the direct sun. By the following morning it is ready to be put in the fridge. It does continue to thicken in the fridge and that evening the process is started again. I can take a break if I don’t want to make it every day though it may take a little longer to get a finished product if the culture has been in the fridge more than a few days.

Dutch Oven Cake

A while back our chimney leaked mercilessly. The landlord came by and did his thing and after he was finished there was a pile of bricks…I didn’t ask. Anyway, I told him that I would like to have the bricks if he didn’t want them. They have been stacked by the side of the house while I decided what to do with them. I used some as a platform for the third rain barrel but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the others…till today.

I have been wanting something sweet but didn’t want to heat up the house to do it. The front room a/c isn’t putting out like it could so I try not to do anything to make it any hotter inside. I was really wanting some cake when I remembered reading about being able to make a cake in a dutch oven. It just so happened that I had a new 12″ dutch oven that I had picked up this winter on sale and hadn’t tried it out yet. I remembered the bricks on the side of the house and knew a cake was in my future.

It took about 10 minutes or so with a screw driver and hammer to get the old mortar off the bricks. I had an old cookie sheet that the d.o. sat on nicely and decided that would be the width of my ‘fire pit’. I laid the pan and started stacking bricks.



Its really a wind break more than a fire pit but fire pit sounds cooler so I am going with that.


An old number 10 can and a coat hanger make a great charcoal chimney. I used a bottle opener to cut the triangular holes around the bottom edge. The bottom was removed and a long handle added.


The chimney was placed on the pan and 28 briquettes were added on top of a couple of pieces of wadded up newspaper. The paper was easily lit through one of the triangular holes. The briquettes were kept in the chimney till they turned white.

For the cake I halved one of mom’s recipes with a little tweak.

Chocolate Cake

3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2T sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Mix everything together and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

The original recipe omits the sour cream and doubles the milk. It also calls for baking at 350 for 30-35 minutes. I had some sour cream to get rid of so I substituted half of the milk for the sour cream. The cake cooked at approx 325 rather than 350 so it took 45 minutes which was about the life of the coals.


The cake was baked in a disposable square pan placed on my pressure cooker plate which was sitting on 3 canning rings. This lifted it off the bottom and allowed some air circulation. Placing 17 briquettes on top of the d.o. and 11 on the bottom should give 325F for about 30-40 minutes. About half way through the d.o. was rotated 180 degrees.


The cake turned out perfectly. Light and moist, no crusty or burnt spots and completely done in the center. I have dessert and my house wasn’t heated up. Woooo hoooo!

Harvests and THE best Chocolate Raspberry Brownies on the Planet.

Looking on the counter I see today’s haul. A dozen or so jalepenos for hot poppers, a quart of raspberries, a handfull each of blackberries and strawberries, a couple of zucchini and a few green tomatoes for frying.

The Weatherbug calls for the possibility of rain today. I’ve known about this for a couple of days but I’m not buying into it. There have been promises of water before and here we sit not a drop. Just a few miles either north or south of us seem to get it but often it misses us. So… I am watering anyway. Not a lot, just an inch or so to soften the soil a bit. It is so hard in some spots now any rain would just run off anyway. I can almost hear a distinct ‘ahhhhh’ coming from the garden as I turn on the water.

I am putting the propagation bench (see the archives) to good use. A coworker gave me some rose cuttings last week from her miniature rose bush. I have 5 in cups on the bench. Another 5 black knight butterfly bush cuttings are also trying to root. I also have some basil that never made it to the garden growing in cups. It actually looks much better than the stuff outside. I’ve been harvesting it along. I got enough day before yesterday for a pasta salad that I love. mmm.

On to the brownies…

I picked this recipe up from the net. I made a batch with a couple of minor modifications and OMG it is THE best brownie I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself 😉 ).
Chocolate Raspberry Squares Recipe by Robert Rothschild Farm

1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 oz. Chocolate, unsweetened
1/2 tsp. Instant coffee
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup Fresh raspberries
1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. Flour
6 Tbsp. Flour
3 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted, melted
Garnish Robert Rothschild Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce and fresh raspberries
3 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For brownie layer: Combine 1/4 cup butter, chocolate and coffee in a small sauce pan and melt over low heat. Cook and reserve. In electric mixer bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup butter and sugar. Beat to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat just until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and flour. Pour batter in a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes.

For raspberry layer: In a small bowl, combine the fresh raspberries, walnuts and flour.

For top layer: Combine brown sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla, eggs and melted butter in a small bowl. Reserve.
Remove brownie layer from oven and distribute the raspberries and walnuts over the top. Drizzle the top layer over raspberries. Return to oven and bake another 20-30 minutes.

To serve, spoon some Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce on a dessert plate, place a raspberry square on top of sauce and garnish with fresh raspberries.


When I made them I left out the coffee and raspberry sauce, substituted almonds for walnuts (didn’t have any walnuts) and probably used about 1 1/2 cups of fresh (just picked) raspberries. They turned out very moist and you could really taste the raspberries. I think they were even better the second day. This recipe is a keeper.

Raspberry Syrup, hot poppers and planting time

Raspberry Pancake Syrup:
Yesterday I pulled the raspberries out of the freezer that I had been gathering every other day for the past two weeks. They filled an 8 qt pot to overflowing while frozen and once thawed and mashed took up about 3/4 as much space. This was heated slowly for the better part of two hours while I did some much needed weeding and painted the cold frame. The hot raspberry mess was poured into a colander lined with a double layer of cheese cloth and allowed to drip till cool. Last night I stuck the whole contraption in the fridge and let it drip overnight. I ended up with about 12 cups of clear juice.

I used blackberry pancake syrup recipe, keeping the sugar @ 2/3 cup per cup of juice. I ended up canning 8 pints this morning. Most of these will be given away this Christmas.

Hot Poppers:
I love hot poppers aka jalapeno bites. Halved jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese. I grew 8 jalapeno plants this year just to have some to try my hand at making them up and freezing them. Right now I have about 2qts of the halved, seeded peppers soaking in water to mellow them out a little. I scoured the net and found a recipe I am going to tweak a bit and will make them up tonight.

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese
25 jalapeno peppers, seeded, cut in half
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1-1/2 cups dried packaged breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tps onion powder

Mix up the cheeses and spoon into jalapenos. Mix garlic and onion powder with bread crumbs. Drop in milk and coat with bread crumbs. Freeze on cookie sheets. Package. To eat, bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until hot all the way through, golden brown, and crisp.

Cold Frame Planting:
The cold frame is painted, situated and half planted. Actually I probably didn’t need to put these things in the cold frame yet as they will all withstand a frost or two. I just wanted to plant something in there.

I dug a bag of manure/compost mix I had laying around into one half of the cold frame (4×4 area) . I sowed some spinach, cherry belle radish, daikon radish, green onions and raab broccoli. The onions as well as the cb radish and spinach were planted in wide rows as we will eat the thinnings. I have yet to make the covers but they really aren’t necessary yet. If anything I may make them and put screen on them to keep bugs out. If this is a typical fall it will be another month before our first frost and even then frosts are generally sporadic till late November. I’ve actually picked broccoli in December with no protection at all but that wasn’t a typical year. Generally “serious winter” takes about 6-8 weeks and usually fills January and February.

A Sticky Subject

The better part of yesterday afternoon was spent getting my floor so sticky that you can’t stand in any one place very long for fear of being ‘stuck’ there for good. The end result was 5 pints of blackberry pancake syrup and 6 pints of blackberry jelly.

I started out with about 15 cups of blackberry juice that was not easy task obtaining. One hint. Don’t bother trying to use an electric juicer to extract blackberry juice. What you end up with is a rather pale thick purple pulpy mess that I ended up not using. After many layers of cheese cloth and a sieve I ended up with enough juice for the projects. Next year I am probably going to invest in a steam juicer. I feel like I ended up wasting a lot of juice the way I did it.

I went with blackberry jelly over jam because of the seed issue. Most of the berries were ones I had grown this year but I did add some wild berries I had in the freezer. They are loaded with seeds, too many for my taste. I went with the jelly recipe from the pectin box but used the following recipe for the syrup.

Blackberry Pancake Syrup

Blackberry Juice
Lemon Juice

For each cup of blackberry juice add 2/3 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 8-10 minutes, remove from heat. Once it settles down skim off the foam with a metal spoon if there is any and pour into hot pint jars. Seal in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This will take a while to thicken and will seem quite thin when you remove from the canner. I’ve had it take a couple of weeks to thicken up before but if prepared properly it should thicken up fine.

I haven’t tried it but will try using raspberries with this recipe too perhaps adjusting the sugar a little as they aren’t nearly as tart as the blackberries.

I gathered some raspberries this morning and will work up a batch of raspberry jam this afternoon. Stay tuned…


If you have never heard of Kefir you can find out all about it at Dom’s Kefir site. Kefir is a milk product, somewhat similar but yet very different from yogurt. The ‘starter’ used to make kefir is called a ‘grain’. These grains are not like cereal grains but are actually living organisms that somewhat resemble small pieces of cauliflower. It is a complex mix of bacteria, yeasts and other goodies. Like sourdough starter the grains must be fed. I believe goat’s milk is the traditional ‘food’ for kefir but people have used non-diary products too. I’ve only used 2% cow’s milk from the grocery store.

In a nutshell you harvest your kefir daily, keeping back the grains. These go into a new batch of milk for tomorrow’s kefir. I’ve heard of making kefir in the fridge but I never seemed to get it to work well. The grains will grow as they are fed and these can be given away or dried and frozen for a backup. Extra kefir can be stored in the fridge and used to make cheese, in any recipe calling for milk or buttermilk, to make bread etc.

Earlier this past week I pulled out the rest of the grains I had in the freezer as I recently lost my kefir due to neglect. These grains had been frozen since Feb 2003. That is right at 2 1/2 years. Prior to freezing the grains were rinsed in filtered water and left out to dry on papertowels for about a week until quite dry. These dry grains were packed in non fat dry milk inside of a 1 cup wide mouth canning jar. The grains were completely surrounded by the dry milk for protection. The non-fat dry milk is a very dense powder, not the light and airy stuff.

Even family members who do not like whole wheat anything love my blender whole wheat pancakes. I use white wheat and the kefir gives a slightly tangy flavor and light texture to these pancakes. I’ve also used the natural yeasts present in the kefir to rise bread. The bread has a sour taste to it much like sourdough.

Blender Whole Wheat Pancakes
Yield: 3 Servings

1 1/2 Cup Kefir, (Sour milk or Milk with 1T Vinegar added may be substituted)
1 Tbl Sugar Or Splenda
1 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Wheat berries
1 Tsp Baking soda (add this last)
1 Egg
1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 Cup Oil
handful of walnuts or almonds (optional)

Combine milk with wheat in blender. Blend on high speed for 5 minutes or until creamy. Add remaining dry ingredients except for the baking soda. Add vanilla, egg and oil. If you add the egg and oil before the other ingredients it might get too thick to blend properly. Add a bit more kefir if you added the nuts as it will probably be too thick to blend. Just before you are ready to cook add baking soda. It will bubble up when you ad it and be kind of hard to mix. Pulse it a couple of times and that should do the trick. Pour mixture from blender into frying pan. Extra pancakes can be frozen and popped in the toaster to warm.

Carb counts (without the nuts): The wheat has aprox 90 carbs per cup, the Kefir has 6 carbs per 1 1/2 cups. The recipe makes aprox 18 4-6″ pancakes. That is about 5 carbs per pancake without syrup.

My Favorite Pasta Salad

Last night we had bbq beef ribs and my favorite pasta salad for dinner. I used our own cherry tomatoes, dried tomatoes and basil from the garden. I have a pasta maker but didnt’ go that far though I might try it one of these times.

Pasta Salad

1 box (1 lb) of penne pasta, cooked, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 – 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup basil, chopped (measure before chopping)
1/4 cup dried tomato bits
1 package (1/2 lb) feta cheese
1/2 cup (or less depending on taste) Italian Salad Dressing

Pour the salad dressing in a bowl and add the dried tomatoes. Mix well. While the pasta is cooking, chop the basil and half the tomatoes. Allow the pasta to cool a bit so that it doesn’t melt the feta. Mix together the pasta, salad dressing/tomato mix, basil, and feta well. Gently mix in the cherry tomatoes. Serve cold. I’ve added grilled chicken pieces to this as well as some chopped onion. Sometimes we have just this as a meal.

My first attempt at making hot sauce

I really like Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Its a cayenne pepper sauce, more flavor than heat. I am actually a wimp when it comes to hot things. I like the flavor but the heat sends me cryin’. But… being the “I gotta try everything at least once” kind of person I am, this year I decided to try my hand at making hot sauce. I don’t expect it to be Frank’s but am hopeful it will be edible and wont require a trip to the ER to replace my lips.

This recipe is a combination of several I have found at various places on the net. I’ve not tried it yet so I can’t vouch for the outcome.

Hot Sauce

1 1/2 – 2 lb mixed chilis (I used aprox 60% green pepperoncini, 25% red cayenne, 10% green anaheim, and 5% green jalepeno)
1 qt canning jar
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
3 tbs canning salt
2 pair gloves

Wear gloves. I actually had to change into a second pair of gloves mid recipe as I started feeling the heat through the first pair. My right thumb is burning as I write this.

Wash and seed the peppers. I also removed as much of the membrane that attaches the seed to the pepper. I go for flavor more than heat. If you like it hotter leave the seeds and membrane. Chop in a food processor.
Mix chopped peppers with salt thoroughly. Combine vinegar and water, set aside. Place peppers in jar, cover with vinegar and water solution. Cap and keep in a dark place for as long as you can stand it. (some people recommend 4-7 years. I’ll do good to let mine sit for a couple of months) At the end of the ferment, strain and bottle. Some people recommend cooking before or after the ferment. I may try cooking half after the ferment just to see if there is a difference.

I’ll post the results several months from now unless it rots between now and then. Oh what a lovely thought THAT is.

by: kerry