There are lots of fresh foods you can store without needing a freezer, canner, or fridge. I haven't built a root cellar, but discovered that different places in my yard, garage, and house have the right conditions for several of these foods.
Potatoes are happy on my bare garage floor until late January. After January they have to be moved up 1-2 feet, onto the cement stairs, to avoid freezing. Same with onions. Apples are better in the garage on the workbench, which is a couple feet off the ground and a few degrees warmer (but still cold). Pumpkins are happy in the basement or in a dark closet, off the floor so they avoid moisture. Carrots and parsnips are fine to leave in the ground, covered with a pile of dead leaves or a thick layer of straw if I want any hope of digging them during the winter. Otherwise they can be dug in spring, after the winter cold has made them sweeter.The link below is a 5-page handout from the University of Wisconsin which lists types of foods, their ideal storing temperature and any necessary humidity, expected length of storage, and plans for creating your own root cellar.http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/store/wisc_vegetables.pdf
What will you store this year?
We discovered roasting vegetables about three years ago. Now when I buy broccoli or cauliflower, they are almost always served roasted. Even my kids who "don't prefer" (the PC term at our table) broccoli, like it roasted.
Roasted Cauliflower and Chicken - serves 6-8
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked chicken
Preheat oven to 475, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position about 20 minutes. Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with salt. Roast about 20 minutes, stirring once about after about 15 minutes. Cauliflower is done when parts of it turn a deep golden brown. Stir in the chicken .
We ate this with rice and chicken gravy (see below) on the side; conveniently enough, it also takes about the same amount of time to cook. If you start the rice first, then cut up the cauliflower, the rice should be done about the same time if you're using regular white rice and cooking on a stove top.
Since I didn't have any leftover chicken, I put 1 lb of chicken in my pressure cooker along with two medium-small onions (or use one med-large) and about 1/2 tsp. salt. My pressure cooker does not lose water when it cooks, so I didn't add any. (If your pressure cooker does, please add water! Probably 1/2 cup, as the chicken and onions release moisture as they cook.) It was done after 15 minutes of high pressure.
Clear Chicken Gravy
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup juices from cooking the chicken and onion
In a 1-cup glass measuring cup, stir together the water and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in a little of the cooking juices, then stir in enough that you have 1 cup total. Microwave for 1 minute; stir. If it hasn't thickened yet, microwave another minute and stir again. Add salt if needed. (Mine didn't need it.)
Most salads like this use so much dressing that there's a pool of it at the bottom of the bowl. And the dressing is about all you taste.
Not this one. There's enough oil in the salad to help you unlock those fat-soluble vitamins; both cabbage and cashews are very high in Vitamin K. And you can actually taste the cabbage, in a way that accents only its best features.
If you have any left over, even though the noodles will not stay crunchy by the next day, the cabbage does.
Cabbage Ramen Salad Serves 4-6. Or two who really, really like it.
1 tsp. olive oil
1 package Ramen noodles
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey or sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ginger OR 1 1/2 tsp. chopped crystallized ginger OR 1 drop ginger essential oil
1 small cabbage, shredded, OR a 14-16 oz package coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots)
2 green onions, chopped
1 c. cooked turkey or chicken, diced
1/2 c. cashews, optional
Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet on high heat. Break the Ramen noodles into small pieces and add to the hot oil. (You won't need the flavor packet for this recipe.) Stir dry noodles constantly for about 2 minutes, until some of the noodles start turning a toasty brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, honey/sugar, salt, pepper, and ginger. Stir well to combine. Add the cabbage or coleslaw mix, green onions, turkey/chicken, and cashews. Stir thoroughly, until no puddle of dressing remains on the bowl's bottom. Serve right away for the crunchiest noodles.
How about this for a new side dish? I love rosemary and olive oil. Or butter. Or both. :)
This recipe showed up at my house this week in a save-the-farmlands
newsletter, of all things. (I'm all for saving farmlands, but how about nixing the property tax instead of government paying them subsidies?!) And since my live rosemary died over last winter and there's a bottle of rosemary essential oil in my cupboard, I adapted it to use that.You can substitute about any squash you have on hand that is a similar size. Or use something large, like half a banana squash or pumpkin, or kabocha squash, etc, but if you do, then double the amount of other ingredients except rosemary oil.Caramelized Butternut Squash with Rosemary
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs rosemary or one
drop of rosemary essential oil (better if you have a 1 ml bottle, then use two of those tiny drops) on top of the butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. (You can wash, roast, and salt these, just like pumpkin seeds.) Put the squash cut-side up on a baking tray.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. In each natural 'bowl' where the seeds used to be, add 1 Tbsp. butter and a rosemary sprig. EXCEPT: if using rosemary oil, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and add the drop to it. Pour half into the cavity of each squash half. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.
Remove from oven and pull off the foil; let cool until you can handle it. Scoop out the flesh.
Heat the last 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over med-hi heat. Once melted and hot, add the cooked squash. Gently toss until some parts become caramel-y brown. Serve hot.
NOTE: the photo shows the squash as it comes out of the oven, not after being scooped out and browned. If you want it browned from the oven, do this instead:
When tender, pull off foil and brush the last tablespoon of butter over the cut edges. Return to the oven and turn on the broiling element. Broil, checking every minute. (I am not kidding. Seriously check every minute!) If your baking tray is on the middle rack in the oven, this will probably take about 3-4 minutes. If the tray is up high, close to the element, it might only take 1 minute, maybe 2.
Today I have a free e-book offer for you, a cookbook, “The Egg and I.” It has tons of recipes for making omelets and frittatas, along with great tips on mastering eggs in the kitchen.
It's just over 40 pages of recipes for all kinds of omelets plus pages of frittatas
You can get it here
, and you'll get to choose from four formats: PDF, Microsoft Word, HTML, or Kindle.
Here's what Dennis Weaver, the cookbook's author, says:
The difference between a frittata and an omelet is that the ingredients in the frittata are mixed into the eggs instead of folded into an omelet. Usually a frittata is started on the stovetop and then baked in the skillet in the oven. They are sometimes called flat omelets or farmers’ omelets. They are larger and cut into slices to serve.
This is not your ordinary e-Book
! It has 31 different scrumptious omelet recipes. Omelets you won’t find anywhere else plus more than $30 in recipe books. Plus it tells you how to make them and gives video instructions. Start making omelets like a pro. You can
eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The last time we visited my son and his family in Minnesota, we stopped at Keys Café in Saint Paul where I had “The Loon Omelet” which personifies how versatile an omelet can be. The Loon Omelet is made with wild rice, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, turkey, and topped with a hot mushroom sauce.
You can even make a party out of omelets, or host the next family gathering with an omelet bar. You’ll learn how here
Omelets are easy, you can make one in as little as five minutes. You can make American omelets, Italian omelets, puffy omelets, and Irish omelets; even an omelet casserole.
Breakfast at your house will never be the same.
Can you tell it's zucchini and tomato season? I've wondered before why so many recipes combine those two vegetables. I now suspect that it's partly because the plain zucchini excels at tasting like whatever you cook it with, and very few things can top a fresh garden tomato in the flavor department. This recipe also uses any mellow white fish, probably for the same reason. The other ingredients both perk up and round out the flavor. This one's a keeper.
Baked Fish and Vegetables
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest or 2-3 drops lemon essential oil
1 lb. zucchini or summer squash,sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb. tomatoes (3 medium), sliced thin, OR cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. minced fresh basil or 1 drop basil oil
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. mild white fish
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar*
Preheat oven to 450 F and move an oven rack to the lowest position. Mix together the butter, minced garlic, lemon juice, and zest. If using basil oil, add it to this mixture. Rub a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Put the zucchini slices in the bottom of the 9x13 pan; add the tomatoes in a second layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and with half of the basil (unless you used basil oil). Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then place the fish on top of the tomatoes. Dot the butter over the top, add the rest of the basil, and drizzle with the vinegar*. Cover tightly with foil; bake about 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes when you twist a fork in it. Serve immediately.
Serve over rice to pasta to soak up the delicious sauce!
*The original recipe, from America's Test Kitchen, calls for 1/4 cup dry white wine. I don't cook with wine, so the white balsamic is what I found in my pantry to add the savory flavor. Since it's strong, I used only half as much (2 Tbsp. instead of 1/4 c.). If you have neither, chicken broth and a splash of soy sauce would give a similar depth.
The last time I cooked beet greens for my family was about three years ago. I grew up eating them because I 'had to', and continued it because their nutrition content reads like a fantastic multi-vitamin: protein, fiber, folic acid, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, Vitamins A, C, E, K, and three different B vitamins
But I'll tell you what- after that last time cooking and eating those soggy, bitter greens (I might have burnt them a bit too) all by myself-- sort of plugging my nose as I did-- cuz, dang it, they're good for me! I thought that'd be the last time I cooked them.
When I pulled the first beets out of the soil this year, though, the old "you oughtta" came back. This time I was prepared with The Best Vegetable Recipes cookbook
from the America's Test Kitchen people
. They had a recipe that could be completed in under ten minutes and sounded like it might not be as terrible as my last attempt.
It was so good I ate seconds. My husband ate seconds. My kids at least ate firsts. And I shared this and Pink Potato Salad
with a couple 'foodie' neighbors, who also loved them.
Not that anyone'd choose this over chocolate; maybe it was just that the greens were much better than anyone's latest memory of them, especially with the crunchy, fragrant nuts and the bit of sweet from the currants.
The amounts and technique will work on any moderately thick green like kale or chard. (The chard's up next in my yard.) The original recipe called for cutting out the stems, but they're also good, just take a bit of extra cooking to tenderize. They can be a little bitter, but the currants countered any of that.
The quantities I used were approximately
1-2 lbs. beet greens
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1/4 c. pine nuts, chopped (or other nut you like)
2 Tbsp. currants (chopped raisins work too)
See the slide show for instructions.
About twenty years ago, a group of my neighbors got together for a "Summer Salad Social". One of the more unusual offerings there was a salad from a friend from Argentina; she said it was a fairly common salad there- cubed cooked beets with cubed cooked potatoes. This one is not a lot like hers- which wasn't even pink-- but that was the memory that sparked this salad's creation. My husband says it's a keeper, especially since it was made using fresh-from-the-garden beets and potatoes. The flavor is even better the next day.
Since there are children to feed here, I called it something else for my girls' benefit: "Princess Pink Potato Salad". :)
If you live near me, I have lots of garlic chive plants to share!
Summer Pink Potato Salad
1 lb. beet bulbs, about 4 medium
1 lb. new potatoes, cubed, or halved if small
1 lb. summer squash, cubed
2 Tbsp. Italian dressing OR 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 oz. ham or smoked turkey, diced
6 oz. mozzarella, cubed
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. garlic chives, chopped, OR a handful of chopped green onions and a sprinkle of garlic powder
1/4 c. mayonnaise
Bring about 2" of water to boil in a medium-large saucepan and add 1 tsp. salt. Trim beets, leaving about 1" of stem on top. Scrub and rinse, but don't peel them. Let them cook, covered, in the simmering water for about 45 minutes, or until the largest can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove beets, saving the water.
Add the potatoes to the water. Simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon, and put them in a large bowl. Add the Italian dressing or vinegar, and toss gently to coat.
Add the squash cubes to the water; simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, or until barely tender. Pour into a colander and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
Add to the potatoes. Now that the beets are cool, slide the beet skins off, then cube the beets. Add to the bowl, along with the ham/turkey, mozzarella, thyme, and garlic chives. Stir to distribute evenly, then add the mayonnaise, along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until everything is a beautiful pink. Store any leftovers in the fridge, covered.
Everyone knows you can make bread with zucchini- but what if you have a giant yellow summer squash hiding in the garden?
Both zucchini and yellow squash-- either straightneck or crookneck-- are summer squash, with a similar flavor and texture, and CAN be interchanged in recipes.
My family's favorite quickbread is Lemon Zucchini Bread- so today we got Lemon-SummerSquash Bread. I no longer shred zucchini -or this squash- for recipes, but puree it instead. No more strings. As a bonus, if I'm freezing some for later use, the texture does not change when thawed, unlike shredded squash.
AND, if you're pureeing the squash, you can have the blender (or food processor) mix all the wet ingredients for you.
This bread is great for breakfast.
The recipe is found over here
, though the blender method is below.
By Dennis Weaver
, May 13, 2013
This is the omelet for the omelet challenged. Never make an ugly omelet again. It’s nearly foolproof, it’s simple, and it’s quick.
We set off to make the best and easiest omelet, something that even a beginning cook could master. We bought ten dozen eggs and started testing methods. At the end, we were making five minute omelets—a little unorthodox but very good and nearly foolproof.
We called them “five minute omelets.” You really can cook them in five minutes. And the method is easy.
If you’ve ever made an omelet that didn’t fold well or broke apart or had a tough skin, consider this method.The Method
Getting the omelet to cook through without over cooking the skin is a challenge. You can lift the edges of the omelet as it cooks to let the uncooked egg flow under the omelet and onto the pan surface. You can put a lid on top to trap heat coming from the hot pan.
But for some omelets, that isn’t enough. A surer method is start scrambling the eggs when they hit the hot pan, stopping when the eggs are partially cooked. Then pat the eggs into a smooth layer and let them finish cooking without a lid. It works. It’s quick and easy.
Instead of folding the omelet in the pan, simply tip the pan and let the omelet slide onto a plate. As the omelet slips onto the plate, twist of the wrist, and fold the omelet onto itself on the plate. (It’s easy to do; in two or three tries, you’ll have the method mastered.)
This method worked so well that we declared a victory. We recorded our methods, developed a couple of recipes, and described the method in an email.
Later we started placing a plate over pan for just a couple minutes once we stopped scrambling and then removing the plate before the omelet was cooked. That accelerated the cooking a little and gave us warm plate on which to serve the omelet but we didn’t leave it on long enough to hide when the omelet was done.
We had perfect omelets in five minutes. Step-by-step instructions below.WHAT'S THE KEY TO SUCCESS? IT'S THE PAN. IT HAS TO BE THE RIGHT SIZE-- AN EIGHT-INCH PAN FOR A THREE-EGG OMELET-- AND ABSOLUTELY NONSTICK OR THE OMELET WON'T SLIDE FROM THE PAN.
How to Cook an Omelet Using This Method
- Choose the right size pan. A three-egg omelet requires an eight-inch pan. The pan should be nonstick.
- Whisk the eggs together in a bowl.
- Put a pat of butter in your nonstick pan. Place it on medium-high heat. On our stovetop, a high BTU gas burner, that’s 6 out of ten. Heat the butter to just short of brown and swirl it around the pan.
- Pour the eggs into the hot pan. Salt and pepper the eggs.
- Scramble the eggs with a soft silicone spatula scraping the bottom of the pan and the sides. The eggs will cook quickly and curds will form.
- When the eggs approach the consistency of cottage cheese with mostly solids but some liquid egg, stop stirring. Use the spatula as a paddle to pat the eggs down into an even layer. Place a plate over the top of the pan. The plate will trap heat and help cook the top of the omelet. It also warms the plate so that you can serve the omelet on a warm pan.
- Let the eggs continue cooking until the liquids are set and the top of the omelet is cooked.
- Place the fillings in a row across the omelet just off to one side. For most fillings, you will want them cooked.The omelet should slip around in the pan without a hint of sticking. Move the pan to a plate, tip the pan on angle over the plate, and gently shake the omelet onto the plate filling side first.
- When the omelet is about half way onto the plate, twist the pan with your wrist folding the remaining omelet over that on the plate. The omelet should be folded over with the bottom edge protruding about one-half inch.
What You’ll Need: Unless you’re going to make larger omelets, you’ll need an eight-inch skillet
which is the perfect size for a three-egg omelet. It needs to have a good nonstick surface so that it will slide out of the pan easily. If you are making larger omelets, you will need larger pans.
You’ll also need a good silicone spatula
to stir the eggs as they begin to cook and to slide under the omelet and loosen it if it starts to stick. (Note from Rhonda- I've seen a Betty Crocker brand of silicon spatula at Dollar Tree for the last year. The label does not specify that they're heat-resistant, but I called the company, and they're good to at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit!)Get an eight-inch pan and start making foolproof omelets.