Posts Tagged ‘in the kitchen’

An Herbal Recipe: Chickweed Grilled Cheese…

HerbFairies-Chickweed4 One of the joys of homeschooling is getting to spend our mornings together at the park.  Every morning the kids and I take a walk around our local park for a little fresh air and exercise to start our day.  It was beautiful this morning and the dandelions were beginning to pop up along the trail in the grass.  A couple of the kids ran to pick a bouquet and they all agreed it’s been way too long since we last had dandelion fritters. 

My bunch absolutely LOVE eating dandelions. 

Do you ever eat the “weeds” in your yard?  Those pests are actually nutritious, delicious plants that can provide wonderful nutrients for your family!

Kimberly and Hailey share a recipe today using chickweed that you can probably find in your own yard.  This recipe, chickweed grilled cheese sandwiches, can be found in the free Herb Fairies cookbook you can get here. 

 

Look for more delicious herbal recipes right here this weekend!

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A good pot of soup…

Here in the midwest you never know what kind of weather you’re gonna wake up to.  Fourteen years ago, just before I permanently moved here, I remember waking up to snow covering everything when the week before it had been 85 degrees out.  St. Louis weather is never a disappointment when it comes to variety.  Today we’re looking at a typical winter day.  When I woke up this morning it was 9 degrees – a perfect day for a big pot of soup. 

soupI’m pretty sure my love for soup began with my great aunt Thel.  Thel made the absolute best pot of soup in the whole world.  When I was a child, every summer we travelled to the hills of eastern Kentucky for a few weeks to stay with my great aunt Thel and uncle Dewey.  They lived on ‘the ridge’ where the water ran only in the sinks, lighting came from oil lamps and going to the bathroom meant a trip out back.  Pray you didn’t have to go at night!

Since then I’ve discovered the wonders of soup of all kinds.  Chicken soups, stews, minestrones.  Once I grew ill from eating tomato-based soups every day for my school lunch.  It’s no fun being allergic to your favorite food when you’re a kid.  Sad smile  Thankfully, I grew out of that and tomatoes make it to our plates (or bowls) at least 4 times a week. 

Recently, I was asked for my recipe for vegetable soup.  As I thought about how I would write it all down, I realized I don’t have a recipe for vegetable soup.  I have a formula.  Amazingly, no matter what I put into the mix, it comes out tasting roughly the same every time. 

So here I share with you my formula for vegetable soup – as it was scribbled down by myself for a good friend this morning.

 

this is for a regular size batch. you can double and triple for large groups if you need to. When doubling, you don’t really need two big cans of tomato juice. Just add extra water and maybe a little can of tomato sauce instead. remember it’s just a formula so add or subtract whatever you need to as far as veggies go. I’d say the potatoes, carrots are your mainstays, but everything else is up to you. You can add a good dollop of butter at the end if you want a smoother, creamier flavor. Just taste it first to see if you really want it.
1 lb. ground beef
1 lg. can of tomato juice
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, whole or diced. (if you have real canned tomatoes, even better!)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 heaping tsp. minced garlic (if you don’t have it just dust the meat with garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste (really to smell. after you dust the meat with it, jut smell the pot to know if its enough. same with the garlic, really)
1 15ish oz. can each of whole kernel corn, green beans, peas, black-eyed peas
about 5 medium potatoes, diced large (yukon gold are really good and buttery) don’t dice em too small or they’ll all turn to mush. leave the jackets on them.
about 6 med. – large carrots, sliced kinda thick
1/2 – most of a head of cabbage, chopped (if it’s a small head you’ll probably use most. cabbage gets much smaller as it cooks so don’t be alarmed when you throw it in the pot)
dried parsley
celery seed (if you got it)
1) brown the ground beef and drain most of the juice. leave a little in for seasoning. just tip the pan sideways and let what’ll come out, come out. whatever’s left just leave in. Add your chopped onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the meat. Cook til the onions are clear.
2) add in the carrots and let cook for a few minutes. then add the rest of the canned veggies, tomatoes and juice. when you start to boil, toss in the potatoes. Oh, you’ll probably need to add water once you add all the veggies. Just take your big can and fill it with water. You want to have about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of liquid over the veggies in the pot. You can let that simmer as long as you want to, but if it’s gonna sit for more than an hour I would wait to put the potatoes in. If you’re an hour or less away from serving, add them then. You can add the cabbage then too. Give the top of the pot a good dusting of dried parsley, about 1/2 the top with celery seed.
3) once everything is in and boiling, turn it down to a simmer. Stir it ever so often so nothing gets too hot and sticks. Especially if you add noodles!!! They WILL stick if you don’t watch them.
*a couple notes about noodles – I almost always add noodles to my soups. Usually either spaghetti noodles, quartered or shell or macaroni noodles. Noodles are a great way to add volume to your soup without costing you a ton of money. this is great if you’re feeding a bunch of people. also I never add cooked noodles to the soup. If you just add extra water to the pot, let it get to boiling and then add your noodles, they will take on the flavor of the soup – SO much better tasting. When you first put them in, stir them constantly. They will stick most at the beginning. Scrape the bottom of the pot cause they WILL stick there when you first add them and they won’t go anywhere unless you get ’em up.
How to save a ruined soup:
too salty – throw in a large peeled potato and it will soak up the extra salt. be sure to take it out before serving.
if you burn the soup (it smells smoky): #1 rule DO NOT scrape the bottom of the pan! Stir very gently and you can maybe salvage it. Sometimes, the smoky smell/taste will dissipate if you don’t disturb the burnt stuff on bottom.  Just let it sit for a bit with the lid off.  If you need to reheat it I would transfer it to a clean pot. 

Don’t forget the cornbread!

–knittingprose

A good pot of soup…

Here in the midwest you never know what kind of weather you’re gonna wake up to.  Fourteen years ago, just before I permanently moved here, I remember waking up to snow covering everything when the week before it had been 85 degrees out.  St. Louis weather is never a disappointment when it comes to variety.  Today we’re looking at a typical winter day.  When I woke up this morning it was 9 degrees – a perfect day for a big pot of soup. 

soupI’m pretty sure my love for soup began with my great aunt Thel.  Thel made the absolute best pot of soup in the whole world.  When I was a child, every summer we travelled to the hills of eastern Kentucky for a few weeks to stay with my great aunt Thel and uncle Dewey.  They lived on ‘the ridge’ where the water ran only in the sinks, lighting came from oil lamps and going to the bathroom meant a trip out back.  Pray you didn’t have to go at night!

Since then I’ve discovered the wonders of soup of all kinds.  Chicken soups, stews, minestrones.  Once I grew ill from eating tomato-based soups every day for my school lunch.  It’s no fun being allergic to your favorite food when you’re a kid.  Sad smile  Thankfully, I grew out of that and tomatoes make it to our plates (or bowls) at least 4 times a week. 

Recently, I was asked for my recipe for vegetable soup.  As I thought about how I would write it all down, I realized I don’t have a recipe for vegetable soup.  I have a formula.  Amazingly, no matter what I put into the mix, it comes out tasting roughly the same every time. 

So here I share with you my formula for vegetable soup – as it was scribbled down by myself for a good friend this morning.

 

this is for a regular size batch. you can double and triple for large groups if you need to. When doubling, you don’t really need two big cans of tomato juice. Just add extra water and maybe a little can of tomato sauce instead. remember it’s just a formula so add or subtract whatever you need to as far as veggies go. I’d say the potatoes, carrots are your mainstays, but everything else is up to you. You can add a good dollop of butter at the end if you want a smoother, creamier flavor. Just taste it first to see if you really want it.
1 lb. ground beef
1 lg. can of tomato juice
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, whole or diced. (if you have real canned tomatoes, even better!)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 heaping tsp. minced garlic (if you don’t have it just dust the meat with garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste (really to smell. after you dust the meat with it, jut smell the pot to know if its enough. same with the garlic, really)
1 15ish oz. can each of whole kernel corn, green beans, peas, black-eyed peas
about 5 medium potatoes, diced large (yukon gold are really good and buttery) don’t dice em too small or they’ll all turn to mush. leave the jackets on them.
about 6 med. – large carrots, sliced kinda thick
1/2 – most of a head of cabbage, chopped (if it’s a small head you’ll probably use most. cabbage gets much smaller as it cooks so don’t be alarmed when you throw it in the pot)
dried parsley
celery seed (if you got it)
1) brown the ground beef and drain most of the juice. leave a little in for seasoning. just tip the pan sideways and let what’ll come out, come out. whatever’s left just leave in. Add your chopped onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the meat. Cook til the onions are clear.
2) add in the carrots and let cook for a few minutes. then add the rest of the canned veggies, tomatoes and juice. when you start to boil, toss in the potatoes. Oh, you’ll probably need to add water once you add all the veggies. Just take your big can and fill it with water. You want to have about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of liquid over the veggies in the pot. You can let that simmer as long as you want to, but if it’s gonna sit for more than an hour I would wait to put the potatoes in. If you’re an hour or less away from serving, add them then. You can add the cabbage then too. Give the top of the pot a good dusting of dried parsley, about 1/2 the top with celery seed.
3) once everything is in and boiling, turn it down to a simmer. Stir it ever so often so nothing gets too hot and sticks. Especially if you add noodles!!! They WILL stick if you don’t watch them.
*a couple notes about noodles – I almost always add noodles to my soups. Usually either spaghetti noodles, quartered or shell or macaroni noodles. Noodles are a great way to add volume to your soup without costing you a ton of money. this is great if you’re feeding a bunch of people. also I never add cooked noodles to the soup. If you just add extra water to the pot, let it get to boiling and then add your noodles, they will take on the flavor of the soup – SO much better tasting. When you first put them in, stir them constantly. They will stick most at the beginning. Scrape the bottom of the pot cause they WILL stick there when you first add them and they won’t go anywhere unless you get ’em up.
How to save a ruined soup:
too salty – throw in a large peeled potato and it will soak up the extra salt. be sure to take it out before serving.
if you burn the soup (it smells smoky): #1 rule DO NOT scrape the bottom of the pan! Stir very gently and you can maybe salvage it. Sometimes, the smoky smell/taste will dissipate if you don’t disturb the burnt stuff on bottom.  Just let it sit for a bit with the lid off.  If you need to reheat it I would transfer it to a clean pot. 

Don’t forget the cornbread!

–knittingprose

Harvesting and drying lemon balm…

lemon balm harvest Today I harvested some of the lemon balm growing in our garden.  We have two patches of lemon balm that started from a tiny, half-dead seedling I started last summer and nursed all through winter.  It was getting way too big for it’s tiny pot when I put it in the ground this spring.  Honestly, I thought it would just wither away and die.  But true to it’s mint heritage, you just can’t kill lemon balm. 

It’s a little late for harvesting and I should have done it before the plant began to flower, but here we are.  At least I found the time to take a cutting of it. 

How to harvest lemon balm:

Lemon balm is pretty easy to harvest.  Like I said, the best time to harvest is right before it flowers because this is when the plant has the highest oil content.  The oil is what gives you that delicious lemon scent and flavor.  Once you see signs of flowering, grab the scissors.  A good pair of strong kitchen scissors or some pruning shears will work well.  Lemon balm is in the mint family and you’ll notice it has a tough square-shaped stem.  The plant itself with be about 18” or so tall.  You can cut all the way down to the ground because it will grow back from the roots. 

overnightdry Once you have your harvested lemon balm inside, lay it out on a towel or sheet to dry overnight.  Now, if your intention is to use this for dinner, a quick rinse will be all the prep you need.  If you plan on using it as fresh for something like an oil, this is all the drying that will be necessary, but it IS necessary for preparing an oil.  Don’t skip the overnight drying when making an infused oil!  By drying out some of the water content, you are greatly lessening your chances of ending up with a rancid oil.  Lemon balm has a high moisture content so the less water, the better and the less time until dry, the better. 

How to dry lemon balm:

With a dehydrator

For long term storage, continue on with the drying process by one of three methods.  If you have a dehydrator, move your plant material to screens and place them in the dehydrator.  That initial overnight drying will give you a little more room on your screens. 

In the oven

You can also use your oven for drying your herbs.  Turn the oven on warm and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, spread the herbs out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  After the 20 minutes of warming, turn the oven off and place the cookie sheet in the oven.  Let them sit all day and night.  In the morning, if the herbs are not dry, turn the oven back on for the 20 minute warm-up and stick the herb back in the oven for the day.  After this, your herbs should be pretty dry. 

Air drying herbs

Gather the herb into small bunches evening up the stems.  Remove any leaves on the first couple inches of the stems to give you plenty of room for tying.  Tie the stems together using some twine or whatever you have handy.  Don’t knot the string because you’ll want  to tighten it later.  Rubber bands make excellent ties for drying herbs because they will automatically tighten as the plant material dries out and shrinks.  After you have your bundles all tied up and ready for hanging, choose an airy, dry spot that’s not in the sun.  If you’re hanging them on a covered porch or anywhere else outside, check the forecast for the next few days.  Make sure you’re in for warm, dry weather.  Moisture in the air will only prolong the drying and leave more time for mold to grow. 

You can pin the bunches to a line with clothes pins, tie the bundles to the string or use a paper clip to clip them onto the line.  If you use metal paper clips, keep the metal from touching the plant as much as possible.  If you’ve tied them like bows, you can hang them from the loops with the paper clips. 

*note on drying herbs – check your herbs for mold while they’re drying.  If you see any sing of mold throw the bunch out.  You do NOT want to use moldy herbs!

Once you have your herbs all dried, remove the plant material from the stems and store them in an airtight container.  This can be as simple as a paper bag, taped up very tightly to keep the critters out  or you can use glass jars or metal tins etc.  Just make sure it’s an airtight container and not in the direct sunlight.

Now that you’ve harvested your lemon balm, you can use it to make dinner, tea, popsicles, an infused oil, honey and many other things.  Your infused oil can then be used for things like lip balm or salve. 

I’ll be making an oil with this batch as well as some lemon balm honey which I’ll share in another post. 

Harvesting and drying lemon balm…

lemon balm harvest Today I harvested some of the lemon balm growing in our garden.  We have two patches of lemon balm that started from a tiny, half-dead seedling I started last summer and nursed all through winter.  It was getting way too big for it’s tiny pot when I put it in the ground this spring.  Honestly, I thought it would just wither away and die.  But true to it’s mint heritage, you just can’t kill lemon balm. 

It’s a little late for harvesting and I should have done it before the plant began to flower, but here we are.  At least I found the time to take a cutting of it. 

How to harvest lemon balm:

Lemon balm is pretty easy to harvest.  Like I said, the best time to harvest is right before it flowers because this is when the plant has the highest oil content.  The oil is what gives you that delicious lemon scent and flavor.  Once you see signs of flowering, grab the scissors.  A good pair of strong kitchen scissors or some pruning shears will work well.  Lemon balm is in the mint family and you’ll notice it has a tough square-shaped stem.  The plant itself with be about 18” or so tall.  You can cut all the way down to the ground because it will grow back from the roots. 

overnightdry Once you have your harvested lemon balm inside, lay it out on a towel or sheet to dry overnight.  Now, if your intention is to use this for dinner, a quick rinse will be all the prep you need.  If you plan on using it as fresh for something like an oil, this is all the drying that will be necessary, but it IS necessary for preparing an oil.  Don’t skip the overnight drying when making an infused oil!  By drying out some of the water content, you are greatly lessening your chances of ending up with a rancid oil.  Lemon balm has a high moisture content so the less water, the better and the less time until dry, the better. 

How to dry lemon balm:

With a dehydrator

For long term storage, continue on with the drying process by one of three methods.  If you have a dehydrator, move your plant material to screens and place them in the dehydrator.  That initial overnight drying will give you a little more room on your screens. 

In the oven

You can also use your oven for drying your herbs.  Turn the oven on warm and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, spread the herbs out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  After the 20 minutes of warming, turn the oven off and place the cookie sheet in the oven.  Let them sit all day and night.  In the morning, if the herbs are not dry, turn the oven back on for the 20 minute warm-up and stick the herb back in the oven for the day.  After this, your herbs should be pretty dry. 

Air drying herbs

Gather the herb into small bunches evening up the stems.  Remove any leaves on the first couple inches of the stems to give you plenty of room for tying.  Tie the stems together using some twine or whatever you have handy.  Don’t knot the string because you’ll want  to tighten it later.  Rubber bands make excellent ties for drying herbs because they will automatically tighten as the plant material dries out and shrinks.  After you have your bundles all tied up and ready for hanging, choose an airy, dry spot that’s not in the sun.  If you’re hanging them on a covered porch or anywhere else outside, check the forecast for the next few days.  Make sure you’re in for warm, dry weather.  Moisture in the air will only prolong the drying and leave more time for mold to grow. 

You can pin the bunches to a line with clothes pins, tie the bundles to the string or use a paper clip to clip them onto the line.  If you use metal paper clips, keep the metal from touching the plant as much as possible.  If you’ve tied them like bows, you can hang them from the loops with the paper clips. 

*note on drying herbs – check your herbs for mold while they’re drying.  If you see any sing of mold throw the bunch out.  You do NOT want to use moldy herbs!

Once you have your herbs all dried, remove the plant material from the stems and store them in an airtight container.  This can be as simple as a paper bag, taped up very tightly to keep the critters out  or you can use glass jars or metal tins etc.  Just make sure it’s an airtight container and not in the direct sunlight.

Now that you’ve harvested your lemon balm, you can use it to make dinner, tea, popsicles, an infused oil, honey and many other things.  Your infused oil can then be used for things like lip balm or salve. 

I’ll be making an oil with this batch as well as some lemon balm honey which I’ll share in another post.