Author Archives: badkowalik

Oh Boy! Pickled Asparagus!!!

Yesterday I ran up to Penticton to check out on the possibilities of getting into their weekend Market or Farm Market. And I got fresh picked asparagus!

Normally I would be buying pounds and pounds of it, but as we can’t “officially” make anything to sell yet, I bought 10 kilos (or 20.25 pounds). Now that sounds like a lot, but I knew I would only get 7-8 jars of pickled yumminess. A bunch of Baby Dill, a handful of Thai Peppers. At the grocery store I got a couple of lemons.

Today, I washed and trimmed the asparagus to size. The size is determined by the height of the jar, less 3/4 inch. And I washed and put the jars in the processor to boil. I also put on the lids and rings to boil. As soon as they boil, I turn off the heat.

Asparagus

I like to leave it in cold water while I get the rest if the ingredients ready.

Ingredients - Before

One everything is trimmed and cut, I can take the jars out of the processor for filling. I also put on the vinegar/water/salt solution to boil.

Spices in the Jars

Into each jar I put: 1/2 tsp mustard seed, 1 Thai Chili pepper, 2 garlic cloves and a sprig of dill.

The easiest way to fill asparagus jars is to lay them on their side. I place a slice of lemon on top of the asparagus and then roll the jar to get a piece on the other side. I then stand the jars on end and jam the asparagus in to get a tight fit.

Add the Lemons

I pour the boiling pickle brine into an 8 cup measure and then fill the jars with the brine.

Pickles1

I wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp paper towel, add the lids and rings, tighten and put them in the canning pot.

Canning

Put ion the lid, and bring back to a boil and Voila!

Yummy Goodness

In a week we can open the first jar!

Ingredients

Makes 6 Jars

  • 3 pounds asparagus
  • 2 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 3 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 lemon, sliced and seeded
  • 6 12-ounce mason jars with lids

Directions

  1. Wash your jars, lids, and bands with hot, soapy water. Once the water in the canning pot is boiling, use your jar tongs to lower the jars into the pot.  Make sure they are completely submerged.  Boil for at least 10 minutes (longer is OK).  Place the lids in a small saucepan and cover in water.  Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let sit.
  2. Pour water, vinegar, and salt  into a saucepan, bring to a boil.  Trim asparagus to fit the jar.  Cut them short enough that when they rest in the jar there is about 3/4 inch to the rim.  (I use a jar as a guide as you see in the picture above). 
  3. Once the jars have sterilized (boiled for 10 minutes) and the vinegar solution is hot, it is time to pack the jars.  Using jar tongs, lift each jar from the boiling water, pour any water trapped inside back into the pot.  Place the jars, open side up on a tray.  Into each jar place two garlic cloves, a pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed.  Pack the asparagus spears in tightly (I like them tip down, but it does not really matter).  Slide a lemon slice or two down the edge of the jar.
  4. Pour the boiling vinegar solution into the jars leaving a 1/2 inch head space.  Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rip of each jar.  Lift a lid from the hot water.  Place the lid on the top of a jar.  Place a band over the lid and screw down with your fingertips.  (Do not really crank it down with your whole hand.  You want the seal to form from the processing and not your force).  Repeat with the rest of the jars.
  5. Use your jar tongs to lower the full jars into the boiling water bath.  The water will temporarily stop boiling as you add the jars.  Wait until the water is boiling and then set a timer for 10 minutes.  After ten minutes of boiling, life the jars from the boiling water.  Let cool on the counter.  Label with date and a description of the contents.  You can store the pickles for up to a year.
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Ox Tail Soup!

When I was a kid, we ate a lot of soup out of tins. My Mom could cook a few things, but growing up, her mother did all the cooking. We became connoisseurs of Campbell Soup.

campbells_21soups

My Dad is English and one of his favorites was Ox Tail.  As kids, if Dad was away on business, we used to fight over the oxtail (there was one in every can).

When I was older and working in the hotel business, I worked with a great chef who cooked may traditional English foods. I learned how to cook a really great roast beef, make horseradish sauce, rack of lamb, Shepard’s Pie, Pickled Onions (made with malt vinegar) and among other things – real Oxtail soup.

I used to make it more often, but  they (oxtails) are harder to find (and more expensive) than they used to be.  Yesterday, my husband found some in the grocery store and tonight, Oxtail soup is on the menu!

Butcher's tray of oxtail

Ingredients:

  • 1 beef oxtail (about 2 lb.), disjointed
  •  2 Tbsp. Oil
  • 1 head Garlic
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 1/2 c. chopped carrots
  • 3/4 c. diced peeled carrots.
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 1/4 c. barley
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

Directions:

  1. I like to roast the meats I use in soups rather than, dredge in flour and fry them. I turn to oven on to 400 degrees. Spray a pan for the oven. Add the Oxtails, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and minced garlic, then I add the 2 tbsp of oil and stir.
    The pan of oxtails goes into a 400 degree oven for half an hour to 45 minutes.
  2. To a pot on the stove, I add the tomatoes, water, parsley and water, when the oxtails are cooked I add them to the pot and then deglaze the pan using the beer, pouring everything into the pot.
  3. I then simmer the stock for 2-3 hours to meld the flavors and reduce the volume by 1/3 to a half (you can always add more liquid).
  4. At this point, if I want to remove the fat, I take the tails out o the pot and let both the tails and the stock in the fridge over night. The next day, the fat can be removed easily from the soup stock (lifts right off).
  5. Remove the meat from the bones and add the meat back to the soup stock with the carrots, celery, onion and and barley.
  6. Then simmer for another hour.

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Season to taste and serve it with some nice crusty buns or perhaps a nice old cheddar toasted on sourdough and this soup becomes a satisfying supper!

Pickled Garlic

Yes, I still have a ton of Garlic.

Lots of Garlic StillI’ve been making garlic powder almost every day, but as I only have one small screen for the dehydrator, I are making it one tray at a time, that is 1 cup of peel cloves sliced thin. And it makes 1/2 cup of powdered garlic.  I minced a quart and poured vinegar over it and am storing it in the fridge for making Blueberry Garlic Jelly. I still need to makes a bunch of 1/4 cup bags of minced garlic to freeze for out other goodies. And today I made a batch of pickled garlic! Russian Red Garlic has a tendency to turn blue when pickled, even when it is put in with the dills and pickled vegetables. This upsets some customers, who worry blue garlic is “bad”,

The blue or green color that some garlic turns is caused by an enzymatic reaction and is perfectly harmless. Natural sulfur containing compounds in onion and garlic breakdown quickly when exposed to oxygen to give us the typical pungent flavors we associate with these foods. These react in an acid environment with natural amino acids to form the harmless colors. Russian Red has stronger flavor and smell than regular garlics and this is the reason why it changes. I am trying an experiment before I make more to see if I can get less vibrantly colored garlic.

IngredientsPickled Garlic

Recipe: Makes 6 1/2 Pints

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups peeled garlic
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 6 dried chili peppers
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 6 1/8 tsp pickling salt

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash 6 1.2 pint jars. Put them in the canning kettle and bring to a boil.  Place the 2 part lids in a separate pit and boil for 5 minutes to soften the compound (or follow the manufacturers directions).
  2. Peel the garlic cloves.
  3. In a large pot, place the vinegar, wine, sugar and oregano. Bring to a boil. Boil gently or 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the peeled garlic all at once. Stir for 1 minute.

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  1. Remove jars from the canning kettle.

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  1. Add 1 Chili pepper to each jar. Because my chili peppers are from my garden, they are a little drier. I added a scant 1/4 tsp of the pepper “bits” to each jar. Then I added 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pack each jar with garlic to 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.

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  1. Pour the vinegar over the garlic to 1/4 of an inch from the to the top of the jar.

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  1. Using a clean paper towel wipe the rims of the jars, add the lids and tighten the rings.
  2. Place the jars in the canner.

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  1. Put the jars in the canner and ensure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from pot and let sit for at least 24 hours before being disturbed then check for seal. Store in a cool dark place.

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I assume I will need to wait at least a week before opening a jar and trying them. I will let you know what they taste like and if they turn blue!

Why you can’t get Marmalade from us at the Farm Market

Because we make jams, jellies, conserves and other great preserves, we often get asked for marmalade.People can get quite upset that we don’t have it. I presume they assume — because we can and are selling canning at the farm market, we should make everything. We don’t (often) make marmalade, not because I don’t like it – I LOVE marmalade, but there are a couple of reasons why I don’t.

#1 . It’s hard to get good oranges here.

Seville Oranges are the best, but the ones that get shipped to the part of Canada I live in are not the best quality. If you live in a city, you can shop around, there are specialty stores where you can get a fairly decent orange and sometimes they are organic and you don’t have to scrub the heck out of them because of insecticides and other sprays. I can’t get Sevilles very often and when I am in the mood to make marmalade, they aren’t there. I often have to “make due” with the oranges available.

#2. We get great produce here. We live in the middle of the best fruit and vegetable growing area in Canada.

With the bounty of great jam, jelly, conserve and pickle ingredients, I prefer to make what we grow. besides, great preserves come from great produce. Why create a so-so marmalade when I can make an exquisite Blueberry Garlic Jelly.

That said, today I made Strawberry Marmalade. This is not a true marmalade as half the fruit is not citrus but you do make it the same way as regular marmalade. The smell when you cook the marmalade is incredible! The house smells citrusy when you add the strawberries, the fragrance is awesome!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium oranges (I used navels)
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 quart ripe strawberries, crushed (these are from our garden and frozen last fall, picked at their peak and full of flavor even though they have been frozen)
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 pouch liquid fruit pectin (half of a 6-ounce package)

Directions:

First I peeled the rind off 2 oranges and 2 lemons. Then slices the rind.

marmalade_1 copy

Alas, I forgot to take any more pictures of the process.

The rinds are simmered for 10 minutes in a little water and a dash of baking powder.

Next, I sectioned the oranges and lemons and added the citrus fruit and juice to the saucepan; covered and simmered it for 20 minutes.

Then I put the Orange and Lemon cooked mix in a measuring cup and added the strawberries. And returned 4 cups to the saucepan. Added the sugar and mixed well.

I brought it all to a boil (for 5 minutes). I checked the temperature of the marmalade and made sure it was over 200 degrees .

Then I stirred in 1 pouch of liquid pectin, continued to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Ladel the marmalade into the jars and processed for 10 minutes.

The Marmalade is a gorgeous red color.

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I spread some of the extra onto a piece of toast.

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And it tastes fabulous! The perfect combination of sweet and tart.

We have 8 jars of extraordinary Strawberry Marmalade!

What is it about dates on food?

Last week in Kelowna, a local specialty store was all over the local media for changing dates on food products.  You can read the news coverage here and here.

This has led people to start looking at the dates they find on any food and has caused us some issues because of how are labels are presented.

Wine Jelly2

A Canned Date!

In the last couple years of production, we have printed a Canned: date. (This could have also been a Packaged: date, as referred to in BC MarketSafe training, but Canned is 2 letters shorter and we were having issues with the space on the label).

Although it is not necessary, we put it on our labels so we can track our inventory.  After the jars of stuff have been filled and cooled, I sit down at the computer and enter all the information. I put the date right on the label to save me time and energy, If I am printing labels for a batch of Cab Sheraz Jelly it takes me 2 seconds to put it right there on the label.

We keep track of all the produce we purchase or pick, by date, in a spreadsheet. We also keep track of where it was purchased and where it came from if it was not purchased from a specific grower. Fruit not used within 2 days of purchase is vacuum sealed and bagged with a date and number. When this fruit is used in creating a jam, jelly, preserve or other delectable delight, that number is transferred (often using a pivot table in Excel) to the Batch spreadsheet.  The Batch spreadsheet is sorted by Date and then by Batch number. On a farm market day, we look at the dates and Batch numbers of what is going to the market and print the sheet containing those and take them to Farm Markets in case the Interior Health inspector wants to know. Keeping track of all of this, also helps us to get a HACCCP* Plan in place for our future endeavors.
* HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

With the date, right there on the jar, it helps us to ensure our inventory is fresh. And stock is rotated properly. After all, cross-referencing spreadsheets when you are dealing with hundreds of jars of stuff, can cause accidents….

When we start our next year’s production the Batch number will start at #1-yy (yy being the last 2 digits in the year of production).

Add in some confusion!!

We also include the statement “Use within 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.” Now does it mean the product must be used within 1 year and is that the Canned date?

Small batch canning should be used within 2 years if stored correctly. And it should be used within 2 months after the jar has been opened stored in the refrigerator. We don’t know how the person buying our product is going to store the jam. We store our “stuff” under optimal conditions and we try to sell it within a year of the Canned date. Any product sold after that date has at least one jar of the batch opened and taste tested before we sell the rest of the jars in the batch at a 50% discounted price. The most we have ever had left over was the 4 dozen jars of “stuff” we have on hand right now.

When we create our new labels, we will change that statement to read  Refrigerate after opening and use within 2 months.

CIFA

First the Canadian Government’s rules and laws on dates on food

 

DateMarking

Click on the picture to be taken to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Interactive tool – Understanding a Food Label – for Consumers

 Our Stuff falls under CIFA’s Other Date Markings section  Other Dating Systems

Other date marking systems such as “sell by” dates, “prepared on” dates, “freeze by” dates and “manufactured on” dates may be of value to the consumer or the manufacturer (e.g., lot codes) and therefore are not prohibited on food products, provided they are not misleading and the label meets appropriate requirements. However, they do not replace the requirements for “best before” dates and any dating system that has the same intent as durable life information must follow the prescribed manner of declaration.

Related:

fall_asleep_at_computer_PA_300_clr_4077

Now that I have bored you silly….

‘Best Before’ confusion leads to needless food waste.

You open your refrigerator and find a tub of unopened yogurt with a Best Before date that says it expired three days ago. Would you toss it out? Most of us would. After all, “when it doubt, throw it out,” we’ve all been told. But most likely you would be throwing away perfectly good yogurt. As long as that yogurt had been stored properly since being bought, it would still be good a few days after its Best Before date. The same is true with milk, cheeses and countless other foods. Yet every year, thousands of kilograms of food are needlessly thrown away simply because consumers misunderstand what the Best Before date means.

Most people see them as an EXPIRATION date!  Best before dates are only an indicator of quality. For example, You open your cupboard and find a tub of unopened yogurt with a Best Before date that is 3 weeks from now. THAT I would throw away.

“You can buy and eat foods after the ‘best before’ date has passed,” the CFIA says on its website. “However, when this date has passed, the food may lose some of its freshness and flavour, or its texture may have changed.”

In other words, Best Before dates are merely suggestions about how long a food will taste “fresh,” not whether it’s safe.

The only foods that the government insists must have expiration dates are infant formula, meal replacements and nutritional supplements. These must come with an “expiration date” because the vitamins in these foods can deteriorate, rendering them useless.

What might also surprise many shoppers: while the government requires Best Before dates on foods that will keep fresh for less than 90 days, it’s left up to food makers to pick those dates; there is little oversight from the government.

Another surprise: Those canned and packaged items in your cupboard? These don’t need to have a Best Before date at all. Not that it stops manufacturers from adding dates to such products anyway.

There are whole websites dedicated to explaining food dates.

EATBYDATE

eatby

 

Oh Yes, it makes me wonder why we do it…

I wonder how many of these we can sell this year?

I wonder how many of these we can sell this year?

 

 

Starting to Eat Real Food

Are you eating real food, or are you eating the mix of chemicals that make up our modern, convenient diet? And do you know exactly what you are eating? Often, people want to make an immediate change. But contrary to this strong urge, it is better (and more feasible) to take things slowly and implement one or two changes at a time — and there are ways to make your transition easier.

First, you don’t have to do it all at once. You may want to, but it is better and easier if you transition. You can learn new ways to cook, try new foods and the shopping techniques that work for you.

#1 Change – Go Back to Butter

cowI trust cows more than chemists. As you move to real food, avoid processed pseudo-foods like margarine. Use real, butter instead.

Butter and margarine serve the same purpose. They are used for cooking, baking and as spreads. Butter has been a dietary staple for centuries. It is made by churning the fatty portion of cow’s milk until it turns into the final product… butter.

That’s it!

Margarine is made from canola and sunflower oils, water, modified palm and palm kernel oils, salt, whey protein concentrate, soy lecithin, vegetable monoglycerides, potassium sorbate, vegetable color, artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, alpha-tocopherol acetate.

It’s easy to see which one is real. Our body can tell the difference, too!

#2 Replace White with Whole Wheat.

whole-grains-explained1-610x366Start replacing white flour with whole wheat flour. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of white flour, replace a 1/4 cup with wheat. It may go unnoticed! Gradually increase the amount of whole wheat flour in baked goods and slowly eliminate the white flour. When you are using flour in other recipes, such as white sauce or as a gravy thickener, totally replace the white with wheat flour. Buy whole wheat bread instead of white and choose whole wheat pasta instead of regular!

Before you know it, you will have switched!

#3 Commit to avoiding artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup in store-bought products.

HFCStruths1Cane sugar was the sweetener of choice until the 1970s, when the much less expensive corn-derived sweeteners like maltodextrin and high-fructose corn syrup were developed. While regular table sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose and 50% glucose, high-fructose corn syrup can contain up to 80% fructose and 20% glucose. Both table sugar and high-fructose sweetener contain four calories per gram, so calories alone are not the key problem with high-fructose corn syrup. Rather, metabolism of excess amounts of fructose is the major concern.

Getting High Fructose Corn Syrup out of your diet can be difficult. You need to replace condiments (such as ketchup) and snacks (like granola bars), and look for items that are free of corn syrup, aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners (Sucralose, Saccharin, and Acesulfame K).

Store-bought snacks that meet this criteria might be difficult to find (or expensive), which leads to step #4.

#4 Replace some store-bought snacks with homemade.

pita chipsCookies, cereal bars, and muffins are easy to make at home. You can replace other snacks with fresh vegetables,  hummus, fruit and so on. But you need to set aside time to cook.

Eating real food is affordable to make and will save you money, but you need look at your schedule to make time for menu planning and bulk cooking. Taking an afternoon or evening to prepare some healthy snacks, precook meat, and put together a large salad will make it easier to eat real food on a daily basis.

If the moment of hunger strikes and there is no real food on hand, it becomes difficult to stay on track. Being prepared is key to your success. Next you need to collect recipes. Such as Baked Pita Chips, Fudgy Brownies, Edamame Crunch and Kitchen Sink Oatmeal Cookies.

#5 Shop the outside isles of the grocery store.

Most of the real food ingredients in the outer aisles of the grocery store. As you move into the rows in the center of the store, the more refined the food becomes. Spend some time looking around the produce and meat departments and see what is available. This is where you will be buying most of your food.

#6 Expand your shopping experience to Farm Markets

Dave

Its not just the fresh fruit and veggies at the market that you should be buying, the vendors selling prepared products are making their products from simple real ingredients. Meats are often local too.

What steps have you taken? Which are you going to take on next?

Mango Salsa!

We stopped at Overwaitea on our way home from our delivery to the Kettle Valley Food Co-op and the had yellow mangoes from Mexico on sale. These mangoes are sweeter and creamier than the ones we usually see so I had to buy them! Its been 2 years since I made Mango Salsa and the first thing I thought of was our favorite Chicken Fajitas with Mango Salsa! And I wanted a hotter flavor than I usually make, so I bought Habenaro Peppers rather than Jalapenos.

First we wash the mangos

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Then slice and dice the box of Mangos (9)

GE DIGITAL CAMERA Three Onions sliced and diced

OnionsThree Red Peppers sliced and diced

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThen Garlic, Lime, and the Habaneros!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAnd we put them in the food processor to mince them.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAll of that plus 1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp finely diced ginger, 1 cup brown sugar go into the pot.

Stirring

Note: I added some green pepper for color.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and mix the flavors. Reduce to simmering, and simmer 5 minutes.  We don’t want to overcook this!

Have the jars, washed, sterilized and waiting in a water bath.

Fill the hot jars.  Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp paper towel. Add lid, screw band and tighten firmly and evenly. Do not over tighten.

Return to the boiling water bath canner and make sure the water covers the jars by 1″. Process for at least 20 minutes for 250 ml (half pint) jars and 30 minutes for 500 ml (1 pint) jars.

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight). Check and make sure the lid seals are intact before storing.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAYum! I can’t wait to eat some. In my next post, I’ll show you how we like Mango Salsa!

 

Garlic Powder

Last year I ended up traveling to Calgary doing contract Instructional Design and we did no Farm Markets or festivals. with the fall in the oil price, contract work has dried up. We have an abundance of garlic left over from last fall as we did not plant the garden in garlic for year. I am making some garlic powder.

In the past, we thought garlic powder was a bad substitute for the real thing, minced fresh garlic, but having gotten some Russian Red garlic powder from a neighbor, and used it in a few recipes (like Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos) and Potato Soup, we began to rethink garlic powder and how we can use it to enhance the flavor in our ‘Stuff”.

Garlic powder is made from garlic cloves that have been dehydrated and ground into fine particles. The flavor is garlicky but vastly different than fresh-chopped garlic. It tastes  a little sweeter and has lees of a bite than our usual Russian Red. We have been also experimenting with it on barbeque rubs because it does not burn and become bitter like fresh garlic can. It also tastes great in our meat loaf recipe!

On to Making Garlic Powder!

GarlicPowder1

We want to make 1/4 C. of Garlic Power.

GarlicPowder2

We need 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves.

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Then slice it thinly.

Garlic Powder

When I was reading up on line about making Garlic Powder, they said the sprouts would be bitter. Having made our Russian Red Garlic powder before, both with garlic that was starting to grow and garlic that had been just harvested, we have not noticed any difference. But Russian Red is hotter and has a stronger garlic taste than other varieties.

Next we put the sliced garlic in the dehydrator.

Garlic Powder 3

We set the temperature to 145 degrees and turn it on. After about 4 hours we stir the chips and put it on another 4 hours.

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When the garlic is dry, its time to make the powder.

Garlic Powder

And put it in the Magic Bullet.

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And process until it is a powder.

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And it’s done!

Here are the ratios:

1 cup of Garlic Cloves, sliced thinly fills 1 dehydrator tray and makes 2/3 cup of dehydrated garlic, which makes 1/4 cup of powdered garlic.

Try making your own! Its quick and easy. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can spread your sliced garlic on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Set the oven temperature to 150 degrees and bake until dry. I use a blender but you can use a coffee grinder, a spice mill, food processor or mortar and pestle until you reach your desired consistency.

Store your garlic powder in an air-tight container in a cool, dry spot or freeze.

Here is a great Info graphic from Prevention Magazine on fresh garlic vs. powdered garlic.

garlic-A

garlic-B

Why I Hate Kraft Dinner

Actually I don’t mind KD. It is an iconic Canadian Comfort food.

KDIt is great to take camping as you can make it over a fire. You can teach your kids to make it and they don’t bug you when they are “starving to death”. What I hate about it is:

  • Its ready in less than 10 minutes.
  • It only messes up one pot.

Why does that bother me?

I make a truly marvelous Macaroni and Cheese.  One of the Italian chefs I worked with a million years ago taught me to make it. It takes about an hour and a half to make and then 45 minutes to bake and the amount of dishes and pots it takes to make it are incredible. My husband LOVES it. I did not mind when there were more than 2 of us, I’d make up a big batch and throw a few dinners worth in the freezer, but with just us 2 -I’d rather make spaghetti.  And when I suggest that, I hear, “Ah, come on, it can’t take that long, KD only takes 10 minutes!!!

After working at the food co-op doing the cash out from Thursday, I called home and asked what my husband wanted for supper, I heard, “I want Macaroni and Cheese.” I did NOT want to make it. We negotiated and I promised I would make it today (Saturday) and I would make up a big batch. I am taking a contract job in Calgary and will be away except for the occasional weekend for at least the next 4 months. So Dave will have some ready made meals in the freezer.

Baked

How to Macaroni and Cheese with Meatballs and Tomatoes

Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine egg, water, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper and combine. Add ground beef, broken into chunks, and mush with your hands to combine. Form into meatballs about 1″ in diameter and place on a broiler pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in center. Cool.  (I prefer to assemble the Mac and Cheese casseroles cool. )

OK, the meat balls are done.

meatballs

The Macaroni

Next I cook the macaroni according to the package directions. I want 8 cups of cooked pasta, so I cook 4 cups of dry pasta. Because it is going to be baked, you want the macaroni to be el dente.

I boil a huge pot of water, add some salt to it, add the macaroni and cook for 8 minutes. When it is done, I drain and rinse with cool water.

Macaroni

Cheese

Next I need to grate the cheese!

Because we are making a cheese sauce and using it to top the  macaroni I shred about 4 cups of 2 different kinds. One is a sharp cheddar and the other is a Jalapeno Jack.

Cheese

Cheese Sauce

I need 2 cups of cheese sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheese, grated
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Preparation:

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and and stir until blended.  Gradually add milk and cook stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in cheese and heat until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.

CheeseSauce

Bread Crumbs

Make 1.5 cups bread crumbs for topping.

All the parts have been made, it is now time to assemble the Casseroles!

Macaroni and Cheese with Meatballs and Diced Tomato

Preheat the oven to 375

Ingredients:

  • 24 Meatballs
  • 8 cups cooked macaroni
  • 1 large can (19 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cheese sauce
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 1.5  cups bread crumbs

Preparation:

  1. Spray your casseroles (I am making 3 as there are only 2 of us, but this could go into 2 medium sized casseroles or 1 large casserole) with cooking spray and then divide the meatballs evenly between them.
  2. Next, put the drained macaroni back in the pot and add the 2 cups of cheese sauce. Stir until well blended, Next add 3/4 of the can of tomatoes and stir gently to distribute.
  3. Pour the macaroni and cheese sauce over the meatballs. Add the reserved tomato as a garnish to the center of the top of the casserole.
  4. Cover with the grated cheese and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. (For added color, I like to put sliced fresh tomatoes on the top).
  5. Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes (or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees)

If you freeze the unbaked casseroles, you get the best results by thawing before baking.

Then its time to do the dishes!!!

  1. The cutting board and knife for the onions.
  2. The bowl the meatballs were made in.
  3. The pan the meatballs were cooked on.
  4. The measuring cups (3).
  5. Spatulas and whisks.
  6. Cheese Grater.
  7. Bowl the cheese was in before making the sauce and topping the casseroles.
  8. Cheese Sauce pot.
  9. Macaroni pot.
  10. The strainer the macaroni was drained in.
  11. The blender the bread crumbs were made in.

Total time (before baking)

2 hours -so that’s why I hate KD — Macaroni and Cheese is NOT a fast meal.

From Our Cat’s Blog…

It is winter and not much new has been canned. I have been busy writing the Kettle Valley Food Co-op’s 3Year Business plan. However, there has been excitement at our house.

Our Cat’s Blog – The Thoughts and Mewsings of the Cat From Hell has won the 2013 Best Canadian Pet Blog Award!!!

Here is Penelope’s Post:

We gots up yesterday morning at 4 AM to watch the Canadian and Swedish Olympic Hockey Game for the gold medal!

Shortly after us Canadians winned the the hockey game and wes is still celebrating when the door bell ringed.

Daddy was furry surprised to sees a Beaver standing there holding a trophy!

It was the beaver from the Canadian Blog Awards!!!

The Canadian Blog Awards is an annual event on the Canadian Blogosphere in which Canadian Bloggers and Blog Readers vote to decide which blog is the best – either overall or within a category.

Mes had winned the

BEST PET BLOG CATEGORY!!!

Winner copy

Mes could NOT has done it without

YOUS!!!

Thanks Yous!! Thanks Yous!!! Thanks YOUS!!

CanadianBlogAward

Yous can clicks here to sees the other winners!

One of which is our pal Nerissa who gots two firsts and two seconds!

AND

CONCATULATIONS TO ALL THE OTHER WINNERS!!!

AllSig