Monday, October 25, 2010

Meet my Big Blue Pot

Allow me to introduce the new to me, beautiful blue granite-ware, deep canning pot, with the riser insert.

I found this darling gem at a second hand collectible shop in downtown Deleware, Ohio while shopping with my mother. For $16.25. Quiet a bargain. For my first few canning attempts, I build my own, M*A*S*H style canning system with a galvanized bucket and aluminum foil. While it worked and the jars sealed and nothing exploded, I do not recommend this method, at all.

Canning you say, yes canning.

I know it is very domestic and Martha of me, but I have been up to my eyeballs in fruits and veggies. H and I decided on a CSA with Wayward Seed this year. One veggie and two fruit shares to be exact. We have feasted on all manner of fruits and veggies, at their peak of freshness and many we might not have ever tried otherwise.

What started me on this quest was the almost 3 pounds of plums we got. So many plums. So I tried a pickled plum recipe. The nice thing about Wayward Seed, is they give you cooking and storing ideas each week. I have yet to taste my pickled plums, but the jars sealed and I plan to crack one open this week.

Next was the concord grapes. Made my own grape juice. Going to try some of it soon also.

Now let's talk apples. Holy Cow do I have apples. I have made and froze some applesauce, but I have apples on top of apples. I have made apple pies, baked apples and apples something else. Still I had apples.

At the market, I picked up a copy of Edible Columbus. In it there is an article about canning and a recipe for Curried Apple Chutney. I thought, why not. I like chutney. I like curry and man do I have apples.

I made a few modifications. I used jaggery instead of brown sugar and I omitted the garlic and I used a high end, spicy curry powder instead of the run of the mill curry powder. Both I bought at my local Indian market. I left out the alspice and mustard seeds, as this curry powder can stand alone.

It was easy to make and I canned 12 .5 pint jars of chutney.

I ate the bit I had left over and let me tell you I was licking the plate, seriously, it is that good. This is going to be yummy for months to come. For this canning job I used my new pot and wow, the right canning pot makes all the difference. It made the job easy. The jars all sealed perfectly. I was able to process six jars at a time.

Today I decided to use up the sweet potatoes I got in my farm share and I made sweet potato butter. Recipe also from the Fall Edible Columbus Magazine.

I think I should note, I am not inclined to follow recipes exactly. It is pathological I suppose. I replaced the brown sugar with jaggery again, and I did not use my slow cooker, but instead cooked everything down on the stove. It yielded one pint jar and one half pint jar and a bit extra. This is velvety smooth and so super sweet.

The jars sealed just fine and I am looking forward to eating this all winter long.

I have a pile of apples still, so I think more pies are in order and more apple sauce. I ordered a bushel of apples from Hirch Farms and will pick them up this week. After that the fruit will be gone but I will have veggies until the beginning of December.

I never thought I would be canning anything, but it is easy and it does mean I can make foods which are safe for me to eat and enjoy. Since I have to make almost everything I eat, in order to avoid corn, wheat, gluten, eggs and dairy - I have become increasingly adventurous in the kitchen.

Now about that M*A*S*H still... eh maybe next summer.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Outside voices

The FCKH8 little video floating around facebook and twitter, dealing with repealing Prop 8 and advancing the legalization of marriage for all Americans has caused a stir. I reposted it on my Facebook because I think it is savvy and clever and spot on.

Since 2008, I have been clear that I see marriage as a social contract and ergo it is a legal convention of the State and under the US Constitution,  all Americans must be afforded the same rights and protections under the law. (Here are two of my blog entries which deal with marriage: Contract of Marriage and Marriage is a Social Contract)

That said I am equally opposed to the casual use of the F-word and HATE is a banned 4 letter word in our house. In this case I think the words are being used with the gravity and brevity they both deserve. I think that the time has come to use an outside voice and speak up and speak loudly.

Let's call it as it is. Nothing short of prejudice is stopping marriage from being legally allowed for all couples who meet a baseline set of standards. It is illegal to disciminate for jobs based on a persons sexual orientation so it is not a magic leap to say it is illegal to disallow some couples from availing themselves of all the perks of marriage under the law.

Politically speaking, I think the government's job is to manage the business of running a nation and provide for smooth international relations and commerce. I think less government is better and I think the prudent management of the US check book is in order. At the moment I am disgusted with both parties and I think the lot of them should be sent packing and we should start over. A multiple party system is in order. Accountability and what not.

That said, I find it objectionable that both parties say they are defending the Constitution and clearly having marriage being the litmus test for 1000s of rights and privileges and then limited those who can participate in said Unions goes against the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Sexual Orientation should not be a valid reason to prohibit a couple from all the tax perks (and penalties), insurance benefits, the right to transfer property with tax advantages and the right to be at a loved one's bedside in the event of a tragedy.

I shan't belabor my stance on marriage, go forth and read the links I referenced above.

That said, I think it is time to use an OUTSIDE VOICE. Being nice gets one no where and make no mistake we are at a social crossroads. Our rights are being eroded at every corner and basically we have forgotten that we are a melting pot. There should be some base line social niceties and the rest of our private lives should be that, private. If people want to practice their faith, I am fine with that, I just don't want to hear about it, be roped into participating in it and be subjected to that faith's arbitrarily designed rules. The government is secular, was designed to be secular and should remain so.

Harvey Milk said "“More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is true perversion.” The celebration of love, family and the American dream should know no color, race, gender or sexual orientation. Family units look and feel differently for everyone, but what cannot be disputed is families are the bedrock of society. We already live in a society where those units are a myriad and various as makes of automobiles, now is the time for the law to catch up with the social reality.

The other reason I thought this campaign was worth discussing is I am a MBA geek. I love thinking and writing about business and specifically marketing. I find marketing to be fascinating. I also am currently writing and thinking about social media. I attended a workshop on the use of social media in one's business model.

This campaign in the short 12 days it has existed as raised over $100,000 and has done so through the use of social media. Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. This is cutting edge. Whether you agree with the message or not, you have to admit that it is an example of what viral marketing is capable of generating. Social media, for now, is free. Set up a Facebook Fan page, a Twitter ID and You Tube channel and you are off to the races. Free.

Twitter is like a large chat room with a huge bulletin board. It never sleeps and the beauty of all social media, I think is the content is user controlled. I can say whatever I like (withing reason) and only the people who follow me or are #hastag watching will see my content. It is searchable. If you want to troll for information, it is there and totally searchable.

If for example you think I am a mouthy good for nothing blowhard, you have options. You can unfollow me, block me and go about your merry way. On the other hand, if you think I am intelligent, confident and thought provoking, you can encourage your friends to follow me, by re-posting (called retweeting) my posts or doing a follow Friday post and include me in your list.

Twitter, I think is an example of free speech at its best.

Less than 100 years ago, I was property. African American men had the right to vote before women did and in the 60s, a black man or woman could not legally marry a white man or woman. It took some loud talking to effect those changes.

When I was in college, being gay was rarely talked about.

Times change and we must change with those times. We grow in our enlightenment. Look ye across the pond. Europe, while rife with their own issues, are examples of societies which trace their roots back to Roman occupation and then further back yet. They aren't still governing the way they did 1000s of years ago. They have grown and evolved. Beheading your political opponent and enslaving his followers, is so passe.

We now must learn to grow and evolve.

Fancy that. A movement advancing the evolution of marriage and the definition of family is embracing the new marketing tool.

Ponder that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Flour-less peanut-chocolate cookies

I adapted this recipe from the March 2005 edition of Everyday Food.

It was flour-less, hence gluten free from the get go, but I now have to eliminate eggs and that has proved my bakers Achilles heel. Until my friend and chief dough slinger at Rogue Bakery set out on the making me cookies that I could eat AND other people would want to eat. In the process he discovered and perfect a formula for replacing eggs in baked goods with Xanthan Gum. I used his formula and got these yummy gems!

Wanna have these tonight? Here is what you will need to do.

Preheat oven to 350.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum with 1/4 c slightly warmer than room temperature water. Beat as you would an egg and let sit about 3-5 minutes. It will look like egg whites.

In a large bowl combine 1 c Creamy Peanut Butter (I used Skippy Natural, cuz that was what was open), 3/4 sugar, Xanthan Gum mixture, 1/2 tsp baking soda and pinch of salt. Mix well. Stir in 1/2 c whole unsalted roasted peanuts and 3/4 c semi sweet chocolate chips.

Mix well.

Using a table spoon or a medium scoop, spoon even amounts of dough into hands and form into balls with damp hands (to prevent sticking)

Mine did not spread much, but leave ample room between. You should get 12-14 balls.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the trays once.

My neighbor, my mom and my kids loved them. I think they are pretty tasty. No one guessed they were gluten and egg free.

If you are feeling lazy but still want some cookies - might I suggest emailing Rogue Bakery. His cookies are worth every penny and HE brings them to your DOOR.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stuffed Squash

I had one acorn squash and one random little yellow "sweet potato" squash. I decided to stuff them. Here are the results.

Wanna have this for dinner - here's what you need.

3/4 lb or slightly less bulk sausage. I used spicey Italian chicken sausage from Whole Foods.
1 1/2 c hot cooked rice (I used basmati from my local Indian market)
1/2 c golden raisins (also from my local Indian market)
1/2 med yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbs ginger paste (yep, local Indian market)
1/2 Tbs garlic paste (yep, local Indian market)
2 Tbs hot water
1/2 c grated cheese (I used some leftover sheep's milk regiano)

Cut and seed the squashes. Place on a baking sheet and preheat oven to 400.

Place raisins in a large mixing bowl and and toss with the hot water. Cook the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. Add onions, garlic and ginger pastes to the raisins and toss. Stir in rice and cheese. When sausage is almost done, dump - drippings and all - into the mixing bowl. Toss to combine.

Stuff into the squashes, mounding it high. Extra stuffing can be baked off in a small casserole dish.

Cook for 35 minutes or until the squash is tender.

H is not a fan of raisins or squash exactly and he ate one of each.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sewing 201

I finally made good on my promise to myself this summer and took a sewing class. My basic skills are decent, but I want to make myself some clothes and frankly I knew I needed some professional guidance.

Monday I took a sewing class at JoAnn's and we made option A from this pattern. I made a modification, becasue I wanted it to button differently. I am 98% finished and will post pictures once I complete the hem and ornamentation.

I feel inspired now to try more versions of the jacket this winter and to finally tackle some of the other dresses and such that I have been afraid to try.

(jacket A is the middle one in a aqua. I choose a very pretty burgundy print fleece for my jacket.)

Help Wanted

Help Wanted: Congressional Reps and Senators

Reasonably well spoken, energetic self starter, with an eye for details, fantastic reading comprehension skills, and unsurpassed active listening skills. Must be able to manage a staff and an active calendar of events, understand modern communication methods such as Twitter, SmartPhones and email.

Desirable personality traits include: humble nature, ability to put others and their well-being ahead of personal gain. Must be dedicated to working on behalf of others and still maintain the ability to say "No" when it is warranted. 

Having read the Constitution of the United States of America is a requirement. Understanding what is and is not covered by said document extremely important.

The ideal candidate must refrain from involving him or herself in the private lives of others. All personal opinions of a moral, religious, or cultural nature must be kept to one's self at all times.

Extensive experience in accounting, money management and fiscal responsibility a bonus. Having taken classes or seminars or having on the job proven negotiation skills will be judged most favorably. An understanding of the concepts of "Prudent Man" and "Fiduciary Duty" also required.

Educational requirements vary and personal skills will be weighted equally to educational achievements.

Vacancies to be filled in early November - the applicant pool thus far, substandard.