Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Living On Tulsi Time

We grew Tulsi this year.  A bit of a challenge to grow in zone 5, but we did.  All of the garden centres in the area claim they can't provide stock in plant form, or in seeds.  We ordered the seeds from a source on Amazon.  One can also get a hold of the seeds from Johnny's Select Seeds.  There are other names it comes under; Holy Basil (not to be confused with Thai Basil, or Holy Herb), Ocimum tenuiflorum and tulasi .  It can come in the form of tea, dried powder, essential oil , or mixed with ghee.  It is believed to be a stress reliever and is also used as a healing herb in several cultures. 


Tulsi / Holy Basil

We found that it grows pretty slow.  It took months to get to this point.

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Here is the major reason we decided to grow it!  Sean loves to cook Thai cuisine.  


We dedicated a whole garden bed to Thai plants for delicious meals made by Sean.  

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We even have a Kaffir lime tree under LED grow lights for the lovely flavour in our Thai dishes.


Purchased in California and brought back by Sean's father.


Here Sean is making Tom Yum - Thai Mushroom soup.

This is the recipe he used:

http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/mushroom-tom-yum

 

We got to use some of our Kaffir lime leaf in this soup!



Second course is Pad Prik King.  This is the recipe he used, except his is a Pescetarian version with some adaptions:

http://hot-thai-kitchen.com/pad-prik-king/

The first adaption is tofu cutlets instead of chicken.




The second adaption was using the Tulsi in the dish and as a garnish.


We also had fried garlic and peanuts as a garnish.



Our Tulsi had to be brought in...It was truly living on Tulsi time when a arctic blast brought us very cold temps. and lots of snow.  Grows lights are the remedy.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Pineapple Sage Advice

 It finally bloomed!  The wait for my Pineapple Sage Pound Cake is over.  I didn't think it would be the end of October until they blossomed out, I thought it would be more like the end of September.  



Pineapple Sage is used for all kinds of things, delicious things.  It is good to brew as a tea, I have dried some for that purpose.  It is good in poultry dishes, pestos, flavourings for lemonade, smoothies and etc.  Plenty of uses!


Pineapple Sage Pound Cake

1 c. butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
5 eggs
5 tbsps, leaves and blossoms of pineapple sage
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour

1/4 . c sugar seperately.

Preheat oven to 325 deg. Grease and flour a loaf pan.  Then, sugar it with 1/4 c. additional sugar.

Place some small tender leaves and blossoms in the pan as pictured.


Prepare the batter and pour into the pan in blobs, such that the leaves and blossoms aren't displaced. spread to flatten on top.


Bake for approximately 55 minutes.


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkick Fairy Cakes

This foots many bills!  A seasonal pumpkin recipe for Halloween, or Thanksgiving.  This recipe also came about from Pinterest, so another for my "I Did That!" board, created based on several beer cupcake pins. 

   

This is not Smashing Pumpkins....


It is Pumpkick Fairy Cakes!


 This also suits my continued use of local products.  New Belgium brewery has a proud home in Fort Collins.  Since Pumpkick is very limited in availability, it would be fine to substitute other pumpkin beers.  




Shall we finally uncover the recipe?


Right then....



2  1/2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. softened butter
1 c. pumpkin beer
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. cranberries

Coat cranberries with a small amount of the flour and set aside.  Combine remaining ingredients.  Add the eggs and liquid alternately, until a batter is formed. Fold in the reserved cranberries and flour.   Fill regular sized paper-lined muffin tin. Each muffin cup should be filled 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.

Icing:

1 c. butter
1/2 c. pumpkin puree'
7 c. icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

You can thin the icing as need with cream.

Cool fairy cake completely and then pipe, or spread the icing.  Mine are garnished with chocolate covered cranberries.




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Harvest Creations Part 2 - Twice Fermented Pickles








 It is such a bother when while bottling cider, one runs out of bottles.  It is a scramble to figure out what to do with the precious liquid that remains.  Well, I had that very problem!



 The cider was captured and parked into the refrigerator, until I decided what to cook with it.



Well then, enter Pinterest, I stumbled on a recipe for Wort Pickles.  That got the wheels turning....Cider Pickles!  Then, I thought, lacto fermentation, as well.  Which lead to this creation - Twice Fermented Pickles.  I guess they could be called Drunken and Fermented Pickles.

Start with approximately, a dozen medium sized cucumbers and a 3 quart jar (of course, you could use 3 - 1 quart jars).  These jars should be swing-top, unless you happen to have a fermentation set-up with canning type jars.


Wash your cucumbers and then top and tail them.


I used my handy crinkle cutter to slice them, as pictured.


Put those slices into your jar.  Now make a brine from boiling 12 oz. apple cider vinegar, 3 pinches of sea salt, 2 handfuls fresh dill weed, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of peppercorns, 2 pinches turmeric, and 2 cups of sugar.   Pour this over the sliced pickles.  Let cool.  They can be put into to refrigerator to cool.  They should definitely be cool for the next step...


.Add 1/4 cup whey.  I used the liquid from my  home fermented saurkraut.  You can use whey drained from plain yogurt.  Mix this well with a wooden spoon.  


 Fill the remaining gap in the jar with apple cider.  Let set outside the refrigerator for 2 days.  After the 2 days, place in the refrigerator and enjoy right away.  The pickles should be very good in about 2 weeks.




You do not want to can these pickles, it will kill the probiotics that you gain by lacto-fermentation.  These pickles are of the refrigerator variety.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harvest Creations Part 1

The garden took a small hit early with dipping temperatures a few weeks ago.  It is warm now and things are still alive, although not quite as productive.  There was a rush to pick tomatoes, herbs, peppers and the rest.

This first item to be preserved is Thai Pepper Jelly!  



I created this recipe based on good ol' pepper jelly.  


 The peppers in this case are for the most part red Thai chillis.  A nice handful, these babies are HOT!


Another feature of this jelly is Thai basil.  A precious ingredient I always hate to say goodbye to at the end of the season.



Make a syrup with 6 large palm sugar plugs and 1 cup water.  While it is still hot add as much broken and bruised Thai basil that you can fit into your pan. Stir and submerge the basil into the syrup.  Cool while stirring now and again.  Strain.

Place bell peppers, jalapenos seeded and membrane removed (about 1 pound) and a large handful of red Thai chillis (dont bother de-seeding these, just take the top off) into a blender with 3/4 c. apple cider vinegar and 1/4 c. lime juice.  Process into a very fine paste.  Add this paste to the syrup and add 3 cups sugar.  Bring to a boil and dissolve the sugar completely.  Add 3 packets of powdered pectin.  Stir and then let boil for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat and skim.  This makes 6 8 oz. jars.  Process in a hot bath canner for 10 minutes.


This jelly makes a good snack with cream cheese and crackers, or pretzels. Just like regular pepper jelly.  It is also a good dip for spring rolls, or stuffed wontons. It also serves as a great glaze for all your favourite Thai dishes. 


Next we have tomatillos.  This was simple.  Just make a batch of salsa verde and add peeled, diced cactus and you now have Salsa Verde Nopalitos.



 Char 2 bell peppers and a large onion.  Peel the skin off the peppers and set aside. Boil a mess (a large bowl full) of husked tomatillos with 2 jalapenos (I de-seed and take the membrane out of 1 and leave the other whole).  Drain and cool. Pop a clove of garlic, the peppers, and the tomatillos into a blender.  Lightly blend to a nice salsa constistency.  



 Dice the charred onion and along with 2 large peeled, cubed cactus, add to the salsa.  Chop a large bunch of cilantro and add. Salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in some lime juice.  Blend well. Start chip dipping!




Little watermelons are tricky to tell if they are ripe, or not.  In my haste to decide what to rescue from potential freezing temps, I picked one of my 4 watermelons.  I left the other three, hoping they would ripen and not perish.  They are still out there going strong, except a critter (squirrel, rabbit, racoon) scratching, or knawing one of them superficially.



With the unripe watermelon I made some:

Asian Spiced Refrigerator Watermelon Rind Pickles


1 small watermelon, the rind peeled and scraped, cut into chunks

2 tbsp. sea salt

1 c. sugar

1 c. vinegar

1/4 c. peeled, and diced ginger

6 star anise

2 tbsp. cloves

Boil vinegar, sugar, ginger and spices. Place the watermelon rind in the hot syrup and simmer for a few minutes.  Turn off heat and let cool.  Pack in a glass jar and place in the refrigerator.  These should stay nice for at least 6 months.



These are strangely addictive.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Vietnamese Coriander - Rau Răm

I'm growing Vietnamese Coriander this year.  I stumbled on it at the garden centre one day and decided to give it a go.  The description on the tin, a bit like coriander with a hot ending.  


Other names for this herb - Vietnamese cilantro, Vietnamese mint, false mint, Laksa leaf



A perennial plant and easy to propagate from cuttings.  I plan to over winter mine in the house, under a grow light.


 Health values include settles upset stomachs, reduces swelling, and can reduce fertility.



Vietnamese coriander is used mostly in cold salads and duck dishes.  There is a type of crystal roll it is found in, as well.

I used mine in a braised rib dish.  I started with my asian bbq sauce (linked below) and added a few dashes of fish sauce, 1/4 c. more vinegar, 1/4 c. mirin, a large knob of fresh ginger cut randomly, cloves, star anise, a squirt of agave,  2 drops of seasame oil and 2 dashes of 5 Spice powder. 

http://i-want-my-umami.blogspot.com/2011/08/boneless-braised-short-ribs-wrapped-in.html

 I put this to simmer for awhile on a burner, not reducing it. This infuses the flavours!  I also added a few sprigs of the coriander.  Strain and pour over ribs in a flat pan.  The sauce will be a bit thinner than everyday BBQ sauce, and this is how it should be.  Drain off any remaining sauce for dipping.


My ribs were seared off, then braised in the oven for 6 hours
BBQ, or finish off in the oven at a higher temp.  I did mine at 400 deg. F, but the ribs were close to the top element and watched carefully.  Baste the sauce over the ribs and get a good, sticky crust built up.  Serve with remaining sauce on the side and ample sprigs of coriander.  You can also mince the coriander and sprinkle over the top.

I didn't find this herb to be hot at all, just a slightly different spicy taste to coriander.  I thought it was quite mild actually.


I served mine with a cucumber salad with guess what in it?  Yes, more coriander!

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