Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Best smelling compost on the block

Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
When we bought our house we inherited a completely overgrown rose bush/tree in a weed covered, overheated bed next to our patio. Every fall I've trimmed it back and every spring, my mom comes a few weeks before my son's birthday and mixes up her super special organic "rose cocktail" and it blooms bigger and bolder every year. This year it's just been insane... so far it's been blooming for 4 months straight. And I mean it has been B L O O M I N G!!! Every evening I'm out there deadheading 3, 4, 5, 6 flowers, and it seems like every time I trim it back, it comes back with more and more. Apparently the scraggly old bush just needed some love and care.

What does this have to do with my compost heap? Well, I'm not really one for potpourri, and it's not a particularly fragrant rose, so all the trimmings are going straight into the bin. The biomass of roses is probably equal to the amount of kitchen trimmings going into our compost. It sure keeps the compost heap smelling good though.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The joys of a kitchen scale

Originally uploaded by thatgirljj
My kitchen scale is by far my favorite tool in the kitchen. I first got it to measure portion sizes, you know, figuring out what a 4oz piece of chicken really looks like, instead of going by restaurant portions. But it's oh so much more useful than that, especially for baking. Take the chicken pocket pies I made for dinner tonight.

When I went to the store on Sunday, I thought to myself "Oh, I have enough butter for the piecrust," then of course when I looked today, I had less butter than I thought. Poop. If you're new to baking, here's a tip. When you're cooking you can eyeball it, when you're baking, you need to measure properly or it will be a disaster. Thankfully, I had a substitute, I've been using coconut oil for pan frying lately (it's very stable at higher heats), and I knew that as a saturated fat, I could substitute it for a small amount of the butter in the pie crust. Time to pull out the trusty kitchen scale... 8 tablespoons butter should be 4oz, I had about 3.2oz, I just scooped some coconut oil in for the rest, and popped it in the food processor. Man, I LOVE making pie crust in the food processor, it's so much easier than by hand.

BTW: The pies in question were from the totally amazing cookbook Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys. There's only 4 in the picture because the others went in the freezer for the Bearded One's lunches. Beats the pants off a hot pocket, I'll tell you that much, they were pretty damn tasty.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July? Really?

How is it July already? It sure doesn't feel like it! Here in Southern California the "June gloom" is still hanging around and it's cloudy half the day.

Our eggplants don't seem to care though, we've got eggplants coming out our ears. I need to make a big link-parking post for eggplant recipes, because I'm getting kind of bored with just roasting it with a little balsalmic vinegar. (I can't believe I'm saying that, the clouds must be getting into my head!) Is there any way to preserve eggplant without a pressure canner? I'm running out of room in the freezer, but canned eggplant doesn't sound all that great.

I got our chicken delivery schedule wrong this month, and they came today while I was at work. I am VERY proud to say that I got all three chickens prepped and one in the oven in less than the length of time it took for the Little One to watch one episode of Miffy the Bunny. (25 minutes?) That's pretty darn good, if you ask me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Month of Pastured Chickens...

This post is mostly to wrap up links to this month's chicken adventure for Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays, but also to take a moment to talk about what my adventure in sustainable meats has meant to my family, namely my husband. (Scroll down if you just want to read about the chickens.)

Now my husband eats badly. He'd be the first person to admit that to you. It's not that he eats the worst of the standard american diet, but there are a lot of potato chips, white bread & lunch meat and not much in the way of veggies. He's made some efforts to improve it in the last few years, but he doesn't seem to engage with his food in the same way I do. And frankly, it's easier to just go with the flow and eat prepackaged sandwiches than search out better quality food. So what does this have to do with chickens, wild salmon and grass fed beef? Apparently everything! You see, I pointed him to a recent study about the health risks of processed meats and it really seemed to get him thinking. As we've been talking about pastured chickens and grass fed beef, it's really seemed to click with him. And then I got it... meat makes sense to him. He can talk in a more sophisticated way about meat quality simply because he's thought more about meat than he's ever thought about veggies. Veggies are what sits on the side of the dish, meat is his main course (most of the time). So meat quality matters in his world, much more than it ever did in mine. That was a really new thing for me to realize about him.

OK.... onto the links:

I am a Food RENEGADE!