velvetpage: (Default)
 I'm not really celebrating Easter this year, so instead I celebrated spring by making my first batch of dandelion jelly. My recipe:

As written (elderberry jelly):
3 cups tea made from dandelion flowers (yellow parts only) and half a sliced vanilla bean
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
4.5 cups sugar
Yield: 4-5 cups

Follow package directions on the pectin for jellies.

What I actually did:
4 cups dandelion tea
1 1/3 packages powdered pectin
1/3 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar
tiny bit of butter
Yield: 7 cups

Follow package directions on the pectin for jellies. I cooked the other half of the vanilla bean with the juice and pectin, but took it out before adding the sugar.

This recipe is based on the simple fact that my awesome tea steeper, in which I make the dandelion tea, makes four cups at a time, and I didn't want to waste it. It takes about two cups of flowers to get a good tea.

velvetpage: (Chicken potholder)
At least, this was friendly to my kids. YMMV.

2 cups water
1 cup broth
1 can tomato paste
1 cup cut-up, cooked meat (I used leftover roast; there's no reason why leftover chicken wouldn't work equally well)
4 carrots, chopped, or about a cup of frozen carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 cup barley or quinoa or rice (I used barley)
1 cup red lentils (if using green ones, you'll need to cook it longer)
salt, oregano, and a bay leaf, all to taste; pepper is not a favourite of my daughters so I left it out.

Variations: Got a quarter cup each of four different frozen veggies that's just slightly past the point where you want to use them outside of a stew? Toss them in. Ditto with last night's leftover beans. This stew is the-more-the-merrier.

Throw it all into the pot and cook until everything's tender. Makes a lot. This is the first time I've gotten my kids to eat lentils without a fuss. Serve with a slice of bread. Recipe would likely be just fine without the meat, especially if your grain of choice were quinoa. Moreover, this recipe is extremely cheap: you can feed a family of four on it for two nights running for under five bucks.

I'm off to cool this down and freeze it in 1 1/2 cup portions for (my) school lunches. I'm working on a bunch of similar easy lunches that I can pull out of the freezer and microwave for lunch.
velvetpage: (cake)
For red pepper jelly, just use all red peppers.

1 small bell pepper each of red, yellow, and orange; half a jalopeno
1 cup cider vinegar
pinch of salt
5 cups sugar
2 pouches Certo liquid pectin

Chop peppers. Measure out two cups of peppers and juice. Cook with vinegar and salt about ten minutes, until peppers are soft, in a large pot.
Add sugar, stirring. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in pectin. Stir for five minutes to ensure pepper pieces are evenly distributed (this never works for me; they always float.) Fill prepared jars, leaving half an inch headspace. Process for five minutes in hot water bath. Allow to cool 24 hours.

If the peppers floated during processing, you can turn the jars occasionally during cooling to redistribute them.

This recipe is not hot. If you want more heat, add in more jalopenos and take out some of the other peppers in a more-or-less even mixture. If you want less heat, leave out the jalopeno entirely. Mind you, the single jalopeno in there doesn't make the jelly particularly hot; just adds a bit of surprise.

I've never tried it with banana peppers instead of yellow; it might work just fine.
velvetpage: (cake)
Okay, there are several lemonade recipes online, and they're all very similar. Mine is better. Trust me.

Okay, you don't have to trust me. You can do a side-by-side taste test if you really want to. Mine will win.

The secret to a good lemonade is in the simple syrup. If you just put in lemon juice and water and sugar, the sugar won't dissolve properly and it will be alternately too tart and too sweet. A simple syrup is one part water to one part sugar, more or less - I use a little less sugar than that - heated until the sugar has dissolved.

The real secret, though, is that the simple syrup can be a tad more complex. For every two lemons you juice, get the zest from one and add the zest to the syrup before you heat it up. The zest in the syrup should be strained out before you add the lemon juice (and eaten, because it's just been boiled in sugar water and it's now lightly candied.)

So, the complete recipe:

2 cups juice - I use a mixture of lemon and lime, about a 3:1 ratio of lemon to lime, mostly fresh-squeezed, topped up with bottled juice
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar, more or less
Zest from two lemons and three limes

Put the zest, water, and sugar in a saucepan. Set aside the juice for now, preferably in a big bowl. Heat the syrup mixture until it's clear and you can't see any granules of sugar on a spoon. Then heat it a bit more; not quite to boiling but certainly to simmering. Now pour it through a strainer into the bowl of juice and stir. Put it into jars - there will be nearly six cups of the stuff, and two cups makes two litres of lemonade, so I use two-cup Mason jars for this step. You can use any container that can go in the fridge, really; you can't seal the jars properly because if you cook the lemon juice, it will go bitter, and that's no good at all, so you have to refrigerate it. It will last a while in the fridge though - longer than it will take you to drink it.

When you want to make it up, it's a ratio of one part mix to three or four parts water; so, one cup of mix to three cups of water gives you one litre of lemon/limeade.

It's really really good, mixes well with a variety of types of alcohol (the cherry brandy was really nice, and I suspect anything with grenadine would be divine) and relatively simple. If you are willing to use mostly bottled juice, you don't need to juice many lemons, which is far and away the hardest part.
velvetpage: (Chicken potholder)
I'm posting this for a friend of a friend, and to remind myself of all the summer canning I haven't done this year because my friends and I are all too busy. I've still got some of this - I think I'm going to have to find ways to start using it up.

For a nice sauce to go with meat, and a great way to use up tomatoes, this is a perfect recipe. It's not exactly [info]everydaycooking, but I'll be using the results as part of my everyday cooking all winter long!

20 large tomatoes (or 40 small ones - we estimated about 4 litres/quarts of tomatoes pre-prep)
8 medium peaches
4 pears
4 apples
6 large onions
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
4 cups white sugar
1 qrt cider vinegar (equivalent to one litre)
2 tbsp pickling salt
2 tbsp pickling spice

Peel and chop fruits and vegetables. (If you're planning to enter the sauce in a fall fair to win prizes, take care to chop everything to a uniform consistency; if you don't care, run most of it through the food processor and leave a few larger chunks of apples, pears, and peppers.) Add the cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. Tie the pickling spice into a small muslin or cheesecloth bag and suspend this in the sauce while it cooks. Cook it at a simmer for at least an hour, probably closer to two, until you get the consistency you want; it's designed as a sauce for meat, so a bit soupy is okay, but you want drips through the slotted spoon rather than torrents. Stir frequently during cooking - this is sweet and can burn. Fill sterile jars and heat process for twenty minutes in a boiling-water canner. (That means sterilize the jars, fill them, use rims and seals, and boil the filled jars with water that comes over the top of them, for twenty minutes. If you've never canned before, get a friend or family member who has to make this recipe with you.) For us, this recipe made six and a half litres, or 13 pints, though that will depend a bit on how much you boil it down; your mileage may vary. It's a great giveaway recipe, too - it looks very Christmas-sy.

My favourite way to use this: cut up some chicken, throw it in a frying pan with a bit of this sauce, add some stir-fry veggies, cook until the chicken is done, and serve over rice. It's good on pork and beef, too - if you can make it work in a tomato sauce or a sweet-and-sour sauce, it'll taste good.

June 2017

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