Tuesday, August 2, 2011

~Stinging Nettle and Squash Blossom Frittata~


5 Eggs
2 garlic cloves,minced
Dash of nutmeg
6 Squash blossoms (from zucchini or summer squash)
2 zucchinis (shredded using a mandoline)
splash of almond milk
one diced green onion
handful of nettle (measuring this amount with gloves on,of course)
salt and pepper to taste

I came up with this easy frittata recipe using a few ingredients that were readily available (within a short distance from my kitchen).  Nettle is very good for you as it is a mild nervine and it contains high levels of vitamins and iron.  I treated the nettle in a manner similar to spinach in terms of its use in this recipe.  The outcome was fantastic!  However, the kids didn't want to take even one bite! Oh well.

Photo Gallery

Aren't the blossoms beautiful?  They remind me of Daylilies.
Here is the Stinging Nettle.  Make sure that you only use the leaves and that you are very careful when handling the nettle.  If you happen to get stung, simply rub half of an onion on the wound for instant relief.  It is the formic acid in the nettle plant that produces the "sting".  Once the nettle is sauteed,boiled,or dried the tiny hairs that deliver the sting are rendered non-functional at this time. 
1) Melt some butter (a tablespoon or so) in a medium skillet. 2)Lightly brown the diced garlic.  3)Next, gently saute the squash blossoms for one minute per side until they are light brown in color (time varies depending on your stove).  4)  Remove the blossoms from the pan and set aside.
5) Next, add the 5 beaten eggs, and other ingredients to the pan (not including the blossoms and squash). 6)  Now sprinkle the shredded zucchini on top of the eggs and then add the nettle.  7)  Place the sauteed squash blossoms decoratively around the frittata.  8) Let frittata sit on stove top using medium heat until fritatta has set.  9) Place under the broiler for several minutes until it has lightly browned.  Enjoy!

~A Wild Dinner!~

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rose Petal Ice Cream

Recipe is from At Home with Herbs by Jane Newdick.  Story Publishing, 1994.

* I suggest doubling the recipe for a larger batch*

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 scented roses
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsps. honey
2 drops natural pink food coloring ( I omitted this)

1)  Put the cream, milk, and rose petals in a saucepan and bring to just below the boil.  Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to infuse until cooled.

2)  Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and honey together in a large metal or china bowl until pale and creamy.

3)  Strain the rose-flavored milk into the egg mixture and return to pan, or put the bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Cook very gently until slightly thickened, but do not let it boil.  Add a drop or two of coloring, if desired but this is NOT necessary.

4)  Chill the custard mixture, then freeze it, or process it in an ice-cream maker.  Store in the freezer.  Leave it to soften from frozen for about 20 minutes before serving. 

When I'm in the garden, I often have ideas about what I'd like to cook with the kids.  I remembered this rose petal ice cream recipe and so I decided to give it a try.    
Here is the rose bush from which we harvested our roses.  It smells great and it sits right under our bedroom window. I've been feeding Rosie our leftover banana peels and she just loves it!
The kids got all confused when I told them to pick the roses.  Maybe it's because I try and discourage them from picking roses most of the time?
The roses...
Sarah enjoyed plucking the petals off the roses.
Here are the ingredients.  It's very simple.  If you want to make this non-dairy, substitute with MimicCream instead of whipping cream and use coconut milk instead of half-and half. 
Sarah thought that it was so cool to put rose petals in a pot.
The rose petals are cooking...
This is what the mixture looks like after cooking.
Now the mixture is run through a sieve.  I used my chinois for this.
As you can see, it thickens up nicely.
Just simply let the rose petal ice cream sit in your freezer to solidify.  If you have one then pour it into your ice cream maker.
After about half an hour it was ready!
The finished product.
I did not add the suggest food coloring to our ice cream (for a variety of reasons).  I think it still had a pretty pastel pink color.  I also added a vanilla bean (and seeds) at the first step just in case the rose flavoring was too light. 
Rose petal Ice Cream
Sarah Elizabeth loves the ice cream!
If Gabriel likes it then you know its gotta be good!

~Summer Days~

~Lemon Balm Lemonade~

This is some of the lemon balm from our garden.  The green leaves in the picture above is the lemon balm  (not the pink flower).

Recipe is from At Home with Herbs by Jane Newdick. Storey Publishing, 1994

* I suggest doubling the recipe for a full pitcher*

4 unsprayed lemons
Small bunch of lemon balm
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups water
Lemon balm sprigs to decorate

Preparation and infusing time: 30 min. Makes 1 quart.

1)  Scrub the lemons well before peeling the rind thinly, avoiding as much as possible of the white part.

2)  Put the lemon rind in a small heatproof pitcher.  Tear off the lemon balm leaves, and add these with the sugar.  Pour the boiling water into the pitcher and stir well, crushing the balm leaves to release their flavor.  Leave this mixture to infuse about 15 minutes.

3)  Cut lemons in half and squeeze out the juice.  Put a few fresh sprigs of lemon balm into a large glass pitcher, then strain lemon juice into it, and add the cooled, strained syrup.  Top up with rest of water or half-water half-ice, and chill until needed. 

To make the most delicious lemonade that you have EVER tasted before, here are the simple ingredients.  If you don't have any lemon balm, Whole Foods or your local nursery has it in stock.  It is also a natural sedative that is non-habit forming.  After drinking this, you will definitely be relaxed.
Pour the boiling water over the lemon peels and the lemon balm.  Make sure you pour this into a heat-proof pitcher or container. 
After the mixture rests, strain and pour into serving container along with water and ice. 
Add a few extra springs of lemon balm to the pitcher and you're ready to serve.  This truly is the BEST lemonade on the planet as of June 2011.  Search no more, it's time to serve it up!

~Summer Bliss~

Saturday, February 19, 2011

All Natural Caramel Body Scrub! Scrumptious...

*Recently, I've been finding myself in one kitchen escapade after another (see my marthaandmorgan.blogspot.com blog for more).  A few months ago, my homemade caramel was nothing but a jar full of sweet, buttery, grit until I decided to give it a second chance.*

As I was cleaning out my refrigerator this evening, it occurred to me that some of the items being mindlessly tossed into the trash could indeed receive a second chance.  I love second chances simply because giving up has not become one of my coping skills (I was a teen mother turned college grad).  Unfortunately, not everything in life allows for "seconds".  On the other hand, second chance can be applied to items that we find around the house, in our closets and even inside our refrigerator.  Like an old sweater re-gifted to a friend, items in the refrigerator can be thought of in a similar manner.  Let me explain.

At my house, mid-December was one big, giant baking bash.  I baked goods ranging from chocolate-almond bark, to my very first croquembouche.  In between, other items popped out of the oven and simmered on the stove.  However, one item in particular comes to mind, when we're talking about second chances.  Hot, ooey,gooey, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth caramel (OK, right about now you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about, right?  The suspense is unbearable! Read on).

Back to de-cluttering my fridge.  I was shuffling through the refrigerated items when I began to carefully cup in my hands a glass jar of my homemade caramel from December.  It was then that my novice baking skills led me to believe that I could approximate the finishing point of the caramel (without the use of a candy thermometer).  So not true.  Cooking, like relationships, can have abrupt and confusing finishes that turn out to have a very gritty ending.  Without the proper tools, often times we make mistakes. Consequently, I was left with a pan full of wonderful caramel, except for one very obvious imperfection...the grit (the grit is the sugar that has not yet melted). My fellow bakers out there know what I'm talking about.  You walk a thin line when making caramel, or fudge for that matter.  Temperature, among other factors, is extremely important. 

While at my kitchen sink this rainy and cold afternoon, I pried the jar of caramel open and ran the tip of my finger over the sand-like surface. I thought to myself, "certainly I can find one more use for this? I hate to throw this away." Then, it came to me. A body scrub!  This idea is for all  you caramel lovers and novice bakers out there.  Now, you don't have to waste a batch of "almost caramel" again!  I must admit, as I walked my old mason jar full of wanna-be-caramel to the bathroom, I felt like I was walking a young child to a school for the first time.  We were both a little unsure of what was about to take place. However, my skin felt and smelled delicious after my long soak in the tub! I realized that caramel cooked imperfectly makes the best body scrub! Consequently, I've learned yet another life lesson from the kitchen...do make mistakes.  Even more importantly, I've learned to not be afraid of making them. A "mistake" is really a second chance in disguise. Happy baking...and scrubbing!

Lesson Learned: De-program yourself from thinking in linear ways.  Challenge yourself to construct something new out of something very common.  You'd be surprised at what you can discover.  Remember, when thought of in the right way,  mistakes can actually be put to good use

I do suggest that you refrigerate the caramel to prolong the shelf life.  Use your favorite caramel recipe for the scrub.  Just before reaching the required temperature, remove pan from heat and let it cool.  Then, bottle and enjoy as needed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

For the Birds!

For the Birds!

On any given day, inside or out, I can hear a bird singing its beautiful melody.  Since I've been working on knitting, I happened to open two balls of yarn (purchased at a discount store) that were of no use.  Cut to tiny pieces, I was literally left holding the yarn.

What to do? Can't knit with this stuff...ding!  It occurred to me that I could hang the pieces of yarn from our beloved plum tree for the birds!  Come spring, I can't wait to take the kids out to find birds nests made with our yarn!  In the meantime, our tree looks very dazzling.  Remember, birds knit too!

At first, I couldn't believe it!  I was getting ready to knit, when I discovered  small fragments of yarn coming loose.   I decided to find an alteternate use for the beautiful wool.
Simply take segments of yarn, about 12 inches long and toss over branches.  If desired, get kids involved.  If they can't reach, give them a lift.  The tree looks very stunning decorated in this manner.
Tried to get a few angles.  My little camera phone can't capture the big picture, but can give you an idea.

~Happy Decorating~

Friday, January 28, 2011

All Natural Sidewalk Paint for Kids!

I'm always looking for things to do with the children that are easy, cheap, non-toxic, and environmentally safe. Recently, I came across this simple sidewalk paint recipe that the kids loved.  When using the sidewalk paint, the kids can use their fingers, toes, paintbrushes or whatever they like. I think the recipe cost about fifty cents for the project. 

Sidewalk Paint Recipe

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
6-8 drops food coloring (can mix natural colors too)
Mix together and create a work of art.

Here are the bowls of paint mixes.  The kids mixed the colors themselves.  This was also a great way to learn about creating different color combinations.

Gabriel is holding up the corn starch that we used.
In action, Gabriel and Sarah are practicing becoming little Picassos.
This is what the sidewalk paint looks like.
It was a cold day outside.  What better way to warm up than with a nice, warm cup of homemade hot chocolate? Mmmmm.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Become a Sprout Farmer In a Kitchen Window?

I'm a bargain shopper.  Always have been, always will be.  At first I started hunting down bargains for purely economical reasons.  Then, once I kept on snagging those bargains faster than I could reel them in, I became hooked.  Did you know that studies have shown that finding a good bargain releases very similar chemicals to those that are released when falling in love? Yes, it's true. These days, my reasons for bargain shopping have evolved into a combo of, I would say an eco-econ reasoning( meaning ecologically and economically).  I take pride in knowing that we are doing our part to purchase second hand, or recycled items whenever possible.  Not only does it save you money, but you are helping to create a world that will likely be much more pleasant than its alternative. 
Below, I demonstrate how to easily grow sprouts.  You can use broccoli, radish, clover, etc.  I used radish and mong.  Keep in mind that my kitchen window does not get direct sunlight.  As long as some light filters through, that is all you need.

Cut a circle out of screen door mesh the size of your jar lid.
Before I trimmed the edges.
Here are some examples of what the mason jar looks like once the mesh is fitted.

Fill the mason jar with 1/4 cup of seed and let soak in water (half full) for 8 hours.  Empty water.  Fill jar with water again and swirl around.  Pour out all water and let jar sit at a 45 degree angle for another day.  Do this for three days.  On the fourth day, fill and rinse seeds.  Let sit in a very sunny window, or outside.  That's it!  Now you can reap what you have sewn.
Simple and easy sprouts!  You too can be a kitchen window sprout farmer *winks*