Thursday, June 20, 2013

radish overload

As far as I can tell, there were two reasons God created the radish.

The first was to help gardeners mark rows of carrots.  The second was to prepare us all for zucchini season.  Radishes all seem to be ready at the same time and in great quantities if you've planted lots of carrots.  Besides that, they aren't especially versatile.


So there I was this spring, thinking that everything was peachy in the radish department until Captain Awesome came home one afternoon and dropped the bombshell that he was growing weary of golf ball-sized radishes in his lunch every day.  Too many fresh vegetables make him feel like a cow, he says, and his jaw gets tired of frantic munching on his short lunch break.  I had already been making regular radish deliveries to the neighbor, so what to do next?


Why, radish jam to the rescue.  I ran across the recipe in one of my cookbooks years ago and it so intrigued me that I had to try it.  And this year was time for another round.  Does radish jam sound a little too weird for you?  Well, it's nothing you'd want to put on a peanut butter sandwich, but it does make an excellent little appetizer/snack when you top a cream cheesed cracker with it.  It's a bit of sweet horseradishy zing.

gorgeous natural color!


Radish Jam

2 c. shredded radishes
2 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice sugar
2 t. prepared horseradish
3/4 c. water
1 3/4 oz. package pectin

In a saucepan combine radishes, cane juice and water and stir over medium high heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a rolling boil and add the package of pectin, stirring until dissolved.  Bring to a rolling boil again and boil 1 more minute.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Stir in horseradish, pour into sterilized jars and seal.  Makes 3-4 8 oz. jars.


This post shared at Simple Lives Thursday.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Winging it in the kitchen

Have you ever looked at old cookbooks--the really old ones?  Many of the really old ones are dainty and rather sparse compared to the encyclopedic modern cookbooks.  And the recipes are generally only special occasion recipes.  How did they do everyday cooking?

I know an older woman--Seasoned Housewife, I'll call her--who took over the cooking in her family, which included 9 siblings, when she was 11 years old.  She rattles off recipes for homemade lasagna, (with from-scratch ricotta cheese and homemade noodles, naturally), doughnuts, and stroganoff from memory the same way the rest of us can recite instructions for making a tuna sandwich.  And she makes them all sound just as effortless. 

I recently asked her if she used a cookbook when she cooked.  She scoffed and said she only follows recipes when she makes a cake.  She thinks too many people just follow a recipe and aren't truly cooking--they don't know their ingredients or what combines well with other ingredients.  And, she emphasized, they don't taste enough along the way and show any intuition.

It made me wonder how much time I waste poring over a recipe, double checking to see if the recipe called for 1/2 t. or 1/4 t. of basil.   Seasoned Housewife explained to me how she uses her palm to estimate a teaspoon and a scoop of her hand to measure out flour and suggested I learn what different measurements look like in my own hand.  Although I have good kitchen sense, substitute ingredients when needed, and don't carefully level off measuring cups and spoons, this is a whole new angle.

A few weeks later I had my chance to try out this revolutionary (to me) technique when I called my mother-in-law for her sloppy joe recipe.  She hesitated, and said that she really didn't have a recipe, but could tell me the ingredients she used.  I winged my way through her vague recipe:

ground beef, fried with some chopped onion
ketchup, with a little water (enough to make the mixture "sloppy")
a squirt of mustard
brown sugar (I used sucanat)
a splash of vinegar



It worked!

No cans of sloppy joe sauce, no measuring cups, not even one measuring spoon.  I could get used to this.

This post has been linked to Simple Lives Thursday.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And there went May

The fact that it is the 4th of June and I am finally noticing the end of the past month should say something, I think.

A few things I've learned in the past month:

One cannot clean the house from top to bottom and do a massive de-clutter that concludes with a garage sale and keep up on blogging consistently.
One can have scads of blog ideas rolling around in one's head, but they can't be recorded during wedding cake and graduation cake season.


One cannot undertake the task of managing and coordinating a growing farmer's market and still blog.

And one can most definitely not plant two gardens, keep up with soap production, and blog with proper frequency.



Whew.  What a spring.  But I am back now.