Winter Is Coming: Autumnal Prep for the Homestead Garden

While I already had a surprising and unpredicted temperature drop to 34 degrees Fahrenheit about a week prior, which did some crop damage, we’ were  predicted to have 31 degrees by morning on Saturday October 5th.  It turned out we had a low of 29 degrees F (that’s -1.7 degrees Celsius) around 7 -7:30 that morning.  Not a horribe thing in itself, and a part of the cycle of Nature – but it helps to plan on your garden harvest ahead of such an event.

homesteading, frost, harvest, garden

Discussion here will include potted citrus, basil, delicata squash, cherry/other tomatoes, ornamental tuber plants, and prepping for maple syrup.  

The Evening Before

Bringing Indoors:  I pulled the citrus “trees” indoors (and the pathetic fig), leaving them with southern light exposure (I am in the Northern Hemisphere).   I have plotted my house to have most light entering from the south due to this.  I also potted some basil and brought them indoors to sit on my kitchen  windowsill (I do hope I remember to water them, I’m not really good with remembering to water indoor plants.  Cats at least have the ability to say something… I think I’ll have to set up a Sunday/Tuesday/Friday sort of scheduler… with a mean beep!)

Harvesting from the Raised Beds:   Basil, peppers, cherry tomatoes, purslane, the final potatoes.   Plus, seed saving from those basil plants that went to seed.  More below on preserving the harvest… I’ve been collecting and using the peppers and cherry tomatoes during the season, so there weren’t that many to harvest – so I’m not preserving those I’ve just gathered, but eating them during this coming week.  Next year, I should be growing more.  There were a LOT of green cherry tomatoes, so I left those (temporarily).

Rough and Ready Cold Framing  in the Raised Beds:  Delicata squash, the rest of the cherry tomatoes (many of which still have flowers that need to fruit).  I have two-three small delicata squash – the squash had gone in late due to the raised bed delay in construction.  Okay, this turned out REAL rough and ready – I covered with plastic and then with a bedsheet.  I also covered what remained of the basil – this was much less effective.

The delicata survived.  The fellow across the street, with a verdant patch of pumpkins – well, the pumpkins themselves survived, but all the leafy greens died in that frost. For him, it didn’t matter, as all the pumpkins had reached full size, but my delicata still yearns to grow a bit larger, as I’d planted mine later.  I’ll note that delicata are one of the less-hardy (when one talks about the squash part itself) of the winter squash.  I will continue to keep an eye on them.

The side yard herb garden I left alone.  It abuts the house and most of the herbs that live there should survive short term.    There’s also kale there, which is known to be hardy to very low temperatures (relatively speaking).  Parsley also turns out to be remarkably cold-tolerant.

Basil preservation:    (I did this the following day and two):

I opted to try three ways.  I’ve preserved in butter in the past, but this year I’m going for three methods to see which ways work best for me.  I did this with both the purple basil and the regular “generic” basil.  Actual results won’t be known by time of posting, but here they are:

homesteading, basil, harvest

One of my basils, jarred.

  • Chop, compact into jars, and freeze I used those little sample-sized canning jars.  You can re-use old sealing lids for this purpose – obviously, never use those lids for re-canning via hot water or pressure canning!!!  But if you are going to stick your jar into a freezer – you don’t need a true seal.  Any rate, no water or anything else.  When you want some, reach in and pull out as needed.  Best using DRY leaves that have not been recently rained on – and best to make sure they aren’t soiled, either.
  • Chop, fill ice cube trays about 2/3rds or so full, cover with water, freeze.  You can either transfer these cubes to a tightly-sealable bag and pull cubes out as needed, or use something to cover each tray once it is frozen.  I think as a subcategory I will try both methods.  I worry that cubes will anneal to each other…
homesteading, harvesting basil, preserving basil

Regular and purple basil, being put up. Top – basil stalks with leaves. Bowl – seeds. Ice cube tray top row – purple basil, chopped and filled to about 2/3rds or 3/4ths per slot. Bottom row, regular basil, treated the same. These will be covered with either water or with extra virgin olive oil, and frozen. Seeds are drying for next season.

  • Chop, fill ice cube trays about 2/3rds full, cover with (REAL) olive oil, or a quality melted butter (cooled down to just before solidifying), and freeze.  Cover once frozen.  I suppose I could also experiment to see if cubes will anneal to each other if removed from the trays and put into bags with each other…  Nah, not this year.   If you know differently, let me know!
homesteading, basil, harvest

Three types of basil are now growing indoors. Not sure how they will last, but at least they are trying in this south-facing kitchen window.

And again:  With the basil, one can transplant some of the plants indoors; and, if seeds are available, save them tiny things!   (Keep dry!)

Potatoes:

I’ve been collecting them over the past few of weeks or so.  Dry-brush all dirt off, and toss out any growing mold or that otherwise seem rotten.  I’m storing them in the root cellar, but seriously, any cool and dark place in your kitchen will do.  Do NOT store near onions.  They don’t work well with each other.  While tubers for potatoes are underground, I wouldn’t give them too much leeway with freezing temps.   If you do have to pull them after a killing frost, I’d eat them immediately – they WILL NOT keep.

Do see my potato harvesting post!

homesteading, harvesting, garden, cherry tomatoes

The next morning’s harvest of (mostly) green cherry tomatoes.

Extra cherry tomatoes (and this is true of other tomatoes, too):  

  • Eat the red ones fresh.  (Check!)
  • Can either/both red and green tomatoes.  (I did not have enough this year for canning.)  You can either make freezer tomatoes or do a hot-water bath canning method.  Other, related, options incude salsa.
  • Make fried green tomatoes (This is a recipe I plan on making down the road, but I didn’t want to do it with the cherry tomatoes because of a personal dislike of the ultimate breading to tomato ratio that cherries would give over full-sized tomatoes.)
  • Use the green (and possibly the red) in soup.  Indeed, earlier today a ham and harvest soup was posted!)
  • Dehydrate the tomatoes.
    Green Tomatoes:  Slice into 1/4 inch segments, lay out on the mesh of a dehydrator so that slices don’t touch, dehydrate approximately 6 hours at 135 F.  Time will vary depending on air humidity as a major factor.  Store in a cool dark place in airtight jars.
    Red Tomatoes:  Same as above, but since reds have more moisture than greens, allow them to dehydrate longer.  I’ve done mine overnight in the past.

The Cannas and Dahlias:

homesteading, cannas

Cannas plants, evening prior to the frost.  They were a gift from my friend Scott’s father, way back in the early 1990s.

They’re fine for awhile.  The tubers won’t stand severe cold but will be fine down to at least the mid 20’s F, with ground protection.  The leaves and flowers all died back.  I plan to pull the tubers and store them prior to the end of October.

homesteading, garden, dahlias

The Dahlias were a gift from Noreen, a local friend who has also helped me with my chickens. Photo taken Oct 4th, just prior to killing frost.  The tubers are fine.

Jerusalem Artichokes:

Homesteading, jerusalem artichokes

These spread by seed and by their tubers. They grow sunflower-style flowers, but I will need to ride herd on them!  You don’t need to bring them in!!!

I’m not sure you can kill these things!  Leave their tubers in the ground, until you want to harvest and eat them.  I will probably pull most in the spring for salads and perhaps a soup.

Planning Ahead:  Maple Syrup!!!!!!:  

homesteading, maple syrup, harvest, maple tree

With the leaves still hanging on comes the best time to site the trees to tap for maple syrup come the stirrings of spring.

Before the leaves all drop off the trees, determine which of your trees are sugar maples.  Mark them.  I used a ribbon with a color that will stand out when it does come to tap.  You can use Day-Glo Hazard Orange spray paint, if you prefer.  I just happened to have yellow ribbon in the house, and rather than going out to buy something, I used this.  (Besides if it faces my house, I don’t have to look at the spray graffiti…)  You want to be able to SEE this in February or March, whenever the sap runs in your neck of the woods.

Yes, there are ways to determine if something is a sugar maple by the bark.  But these attributes will change as the tree matures.  I’d rather rely on the shape of the leaf itself, which means looking NOW.  Sugar maple leaves vary from other maple leaves by pretty much looking like that leaf on the Canadian flag. But if you don’t look closely you may mistake the red maple for being “similar enough”.

homesteading, maple syrup

Maple leaves this autumn

Nothing wrong with tapping other maple tree species (or birch), but the ratio of sugar syrup to water will have you banging your head in frustration as you boil down to the proper level of syrup to make syrup.  Since I’ve never done this before, I want to be CERTAIN I’m only tapping sugar maple trees.  Oh, and yes… your tree diameter should be about one foot or more.  (For the Canadians, and the  wonderfully-metric-savvy, which I was back at my pre-retirement career, that’s 30 centimeters in diameter).   Tapping immature trees is not healthy for the tree, nor will it yield much sap for your effort.

homesteading, harvest, maple syrup

Central tall tree is scheduled to be tapped this March for maple syrup and maple water.

I’ll post what happens here with maple syrup (and maybe even some maple water, which I’d love to make) come Syrup Time…  But for now, a photo of some maple syruping gadgets I bought, with a “usefulness review” to come then.

homesteading, maple syrup, kit

To the left, a maple syruping kit. Including 4 recipes. The Apple Cranberry Crostini with Maple Glaze, and the Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin look most interesting to me. The center cylinder is a hygrometer for measuring sugar levels when you start cooking down. There’s a drill bit, and some more old-fashioned taps for draining directly down into a bucket.

For those out in Colorado and environs… yes, your drop in temperature was much more severe.  I hope you have been able to harvest in time.  For those not yet at the cold end of freezing temperatures – the above may be suggestions to help you along as it approaches you.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ham & Harvest Green Tomato Soup

Contains:  Nightshades.  Is: Grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo, Whole30.

recipe, soup, ham, harvest, garden, green tomatoes

Soup’s On!

Well, as any gardener or homesteader knows (those who live at higher latitudes, that is) into every year a killing frost must fall.

I had a very prolific cherry tomato plant – just one, actually.  For future reference (at least on my part) it was an indeterminate Husky Cherry Red, and I’d grow this again.  I received a lot of ripe red fruits over the past month or so, and there were many more green ones when the killing frost swept down and told me, sort of like Bugs Bunny, “That’s All, Folks!”

harvest, homesteading, garden, recipe, green tomatoes, soup

(Mostly) green cherry tomatoes!

Scratched my noodle, and decided to turn some of the crop into soup.

Note, this recipe is extremely flexible.  Whatever you have to hand may become a major ingredient here.  All quantities listed in this recipe is approximate.  This is about using what you have!  Although it does assume you have some ham and/or pork, and that you have other veggies beyond the green cherry tomatoes.  But vary things in and out as you see fit.

While I am recommending adding in some hardy greens into the soup – some of these do not need to be harvested just yet, but if you have access to (or are growing some), some indeed will add extra dimension to the soup.

The pork/ham base of this soup is complemented by a mirapoix – although I had no carrots to provide here.  While I am not a fan of carrots (and don’t really plan to grow them, at least not until I’m working on selling my veggie crops), carrots do add extra nuance to a mirapoix – so feel free to throw a couple shredded carrots into this soup at the same time the celery goes in.

I add in the splash of vinegar to help the bones release nutrients and flavor – the amount of vinegar should be about two tablespoons, which is not enough to make the soup taste sour.

recipe, ham, soup, green tomatoes, harvest, garden, homesteading

Enjoying

I use cloves as a seasoning as they complement ham/pork nicely.

I taste at the end for salt – evaporation while this cooks might make the soup too salty if added on the outset – besides, ham comes already salted.

The ham and pork in this recipe:  Last year I acquired some pork from a local farmer (via a Facebook-originated pork share).  It included a smoked ham.  This year, I got a full half a porker, which arrived in August.  I do have TWO new hams, so eventually we will see what happens  to those (I’ll need company to share these with.)  Anyhow, the old one had been prepped up and moved out of the freezer to make several meals – but there was still some left I had to re-freeze and await a future destination for it.  Those portions became the ham for the current soup.

Prep Time:  10-15 minutes.
Cook Time:  4 – 5 hours.
Rest Time:  Not needed.
Serves:  3 – 6.
Cuisine:  Clearing the Harvest, Kitchen-Cleanout.

Leftovers:  Yes! 

Ham & Harvest Green Tomato Soup

All ingredient amounts are approximate – this is partially an exercise in kitchen clean-out.

  • Ham (leftovers, bone included if you have).  About 3/4 – 1.25 pounds.
  • Pork bones (about 1/2 a pound, more or less.  Leftover from chops, roasts, or etc.
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion (peeled and divided in half).
  • 1-2 shredded carrots (I didn’t have so I didn’t use – but if you have…)
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar.
  • 1-2 teaspoons of ground cloves, or 1 generous tablespoon whole cloves.
  • About 0.75 – 1 pounds of green tomatoes.  Mine were cherries – halve this.  Chop up any full-sized tomatoes to bite size, if using.
  • About half a pound of potatoes (I used “baby-sized” – if larger, chop in half or quarters.)
  • Half a bunch or so of turnip greens, chopped (other hardy greens such as beet greens, kale, or Swiss chard can work as well, or in addition to.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (you may not need the salt as the ham itself is salty).
  • Optional parsley for garnish.

Cover ham, and pork bones, with water, bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, prep the onion half (large chunks), celery (small bits), and any carrots.  When the water with meat has reached a boil, reduce to a simmer and skim any scum off the top and discard.  Add the onion, celery and carrots for the mirepoix.   Add the cloves and the splash of vinegar.

Simmer, covered, for about 4 hours, checking and adding more water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered.

Remove meat and bones from the pot, remove any meat from any of the bones and reserve that meat.  Discard bones and chop up the ham and any additional pork into small bits.  Return meats to the pot.

Add green tomatoes (Cherries should be halved), potatoes, the other half of onion (chopped), and the greens.

Simmer for another 30 minutes.  Taste, and add salt (if needed) and ground pepper (as desired).  Serve, and garnish if desired with fresh parsley.

ham, recipe, green tomatoes, soup, harvest, homesteading, garden

There are SO MANY modifications one can make to this basic recipe!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Chicken Sandwich: “The Un-Popeye” – Two Variants – Regular or Gluten-Free


RECIPE ONE:  Contains:  Dairy, eggs, nightshades, gluten (wheat).  Is:  Closer to the “real thing”.

RECIPE TWO:  Contains:  Dairy, eggs, nightshades, almonds, coconut.  Is: Gluten-free, and grain-free, primal.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh, grain-free, gluten-free

The “Un-Popeye” – A Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich makeover with thigh and lettuce wrap. This variant uses a Paleo breading that is grain and gluten-free. Both variants use chicken thighs and lettuce wraps.  Both variants here do contain dairy.  

I’ve heard of this “fabulous” Popeye’s chicken sandwich.  Mind you, the last thing I’d ever order out, especially at any fast food type of environment, is a chicken sandwich.  (It’s that white meat thing, and I really don’t want a hunk of not-so-tasty breast surrounded by not-so-tasty wads of commercial bread and tons of salt.  No amount of sauce will help that!  Plus just about everything you might pay for to dine out at has so many more delectable items on their menus, anyways!)

It was so popular, or at least the “in” thing to eat, that this sandwich sold out nationwide (here in the US, which I think is the only place it’s been on the market so far) quickly after introduction.  I’m not sure if it’s back at Popeyes’ yet or not, but I figured it was worth a try to see if I’d enjoy a “Primal”, grain-free type.   Primal is the lesser-known brother to Paleo – which allows dairy, as Paleo recipes do not.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, gluten-free, makeover, chicken, thigh

Two bowls of flour for the coatings: Left – self rising flour (contains gluten). Right – Paleo grain-free, gluten-free flour.

But, I’m a curious pup.  So I figured I could create the Popeye sandie in my own image by 1) switching out the boneless skinless chicken breast for boneless skinless chicken thigh and 2) enclosing the thing in a sheaf of lettuce instead of the bread wad.  Y’know, kinda like how I approached the Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwich, making a tasty “Un-Philly”…  And just maybe, while about it, test drive breading the sandie with King Arthur’s “Grain-Free Paleo Baking Flour” (contains:  blanched almonds, cassava flour, coconut flour).

Hence, I’m calling this sandwich “the Un-Popeye“.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh

The boneless skinless chicken thighs, marinating in buttermilk and a little salt. (This set of bowls is fun.)

Out of curiosity, I looked to see where the nearest Popeyes’ to me is – I do know none are on my various beaten paths.  The nearest is in Springfield, MA, a city I have little cause ever to visit.  Besides there’s no clue on their website as to whether they sell the dark meat in any shape or form.  So… pffft.  I’m more interested in running across a genuine Philadelphia cheesesteak, anyway.

At any rate, why not investigate a “copycat” recipe on line?  So, here we go!

https://topsecretrecipes.com/popeyes-chicken-sandwich-copycat-recipe.html

They call for self-rising flour, but also provide an option for the stuff that doesn’t rise by itself – so I followed those instructions for RECIPE TWO.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thighrecipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh

Their recipe also calls for MSG*, which I never purchase, but I figure that thigh meat has enough inherent flavor that it would not be missed.  I used store-bought thighs rather than my own (well, by that, I mean my own chickens’ thighs….) as deboning isn’t yet a skill set of mine and I’m in any case not practicing on the in-house flock which after all, is costly enough not to waste any meat, as they’re still paying off housing and organic feed.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh

To save on oil, I used around 1/4 inch or less of it, and flipped the thighs accordingly. I did cook that one thigh to the left a little too dark on its exposed side – but it tasted fine & not burnt. The second was added later (along with chicken bits that broke off, not to be included in the sandwich…)

Since many healthy high temperature cooking oils are also expensive, I used a bare minimum of grape seed oil.  I’d also consider safflower oil for such a project, or if one has no objections to the peanut legume, I’d consider peanut oil, for cost cutting.  (Since this is I believe only the second time in 2020 that I “deep”-fried anything, I went with the grape seed oil.  It’s still less expensive where I am than avocado or, say, coconut oil.)  I’ve begun writing up a post on healthy/unhealthy oils and fats, which probably won’t see the light of day until the tail of November, at the earliest.  

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh

Draining on a rack.

I also make sure that my dill pickles have no sugar or sweetener added, whether store-bought or home-made.   (This is actually my taste preference, not something that I’m trying to “hide” from!)  These were store-bought, since I haven’t had a good canning chance these past three years.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh

Setting up the lettuce “bun”. Mayo and pickles on bottom, more mayo on top.

Note:  You should be able to replicate the actual recipe (RECIPE ONE), at least according to the source I worked from, by re-subbing back boneless, skinless chicken breast, and using real brioche-style hamburger buns instead of the lettuce.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep mine this way, but… Have at it!

Prep Time:  1 hour + 10 minutes.
Marinating Time:  4-5 hours.
Cook Time:  6-8, or 11-15 minutes, depending on frying method.
Rest Time:  Maybe two minutes.
Serves: 2 – one sandwich apiece.
Cuisine: American, copycat, make-over.
Leftovers:  Why not?  Reheat the chicken and assemble the wrap and toppings when ready to eat.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh

Popeyes chicken sandwich, makeover, chicken thigh, recipe, lettuce wrap

Assembling RECIPE ONE – self-rising wheat flour. Pickles and more mayo underneath.

Popeyes chicken sandwich, makeover, chicken thigh, recipe, lettuce wrap

Served, and ready to eat!

RECIPE ONE
Chicken Sandwich:  “The Un-Popeye”  (with wheat flour/gluten)

For the Brine:

  • 1 cup / 235 mL buttermilk (or enough to cover the chicken).
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 7 – 8 total ounces / 200 – 225 total grams / 2 medium-large boneless skinless chicken thighs.  (Basically, use one thigh per person; this recipe makes two.  For four – double everything except the buttermilk, which merely needs to cover.)

For the Breading:

  • 7 – 8 total ounces of boneless skinless chicken thigh, see above…
  • 4.5 ounces / 0.875 cups of self rising flour.  Source recipe does not recommend Lily (whatever brand that is).
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons milk

For the Cooking:

  • High temp oil for frying. (I used a bare minimum of grape seed oil.)

For the Surround and Toppings:

  • Thick lettuce leaves for wrap – Romaine or Iceburg
  • 6 – 8 dill pickle slices
  • 2 tablespoons mayo, preferably home-made.  (I used store-bought because I wasn’t going to have much use for the rest of a batch and the store bought lasts longer.  And I already had some of that.)

Method:  

Remove any fat from the chicken.  I find kitchen scissors are at least as efficient as a knife for this task.  You might consider using the tines of a fork to pierce the smooth side of the chicken (thigh or breast) in order to further the marinating process, and tenderization.  Make sure whatever cut of chicken you use, it is no thicker than 1/2 inch (1.3 cm).  You can slice the piece in half longitudinally to make two thigh filets, if needed.  You can trim off bits aesthetically, of course.

In an appropriate bowl, place the chicken, add enough buttermilk to cover, and add the salt.  Make sure this coats all sides of the chicken pieces, which will also help mix in that salt.  Set aside in the fridge for 4-5 hours.

Remove from fridge, remove marinate by washing.  Dry with paper towels.

Allow to sit at room temp for 45-60 minutes, so the meat will cook more evenly.

Preheat your high temp cooking oil to about 300 F in a suitable pot or pan.  High heat is your friend for this.  I’d actually recommend something closer to 350-375 F / 175-190 C, especially with dark meat.  I’d go above 300 F for the white, as well.   Also – for whatever reason, the higher the temperature of the oil (as long as the temperature is within the smoke point for that particular oil), the less oil will be absorbed into your meal.

To make the breading, combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl that will be suitable for breading the pieces.

And in another bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and milk.

When everything is ready, dredge the chicken in the flour, then in the egg batter, then back into the flour again.  This second time you want to build up a craigy or bumpy texture on your chicken.  You can let the pieces sit there a bit.

Place each piece on a plate to rest five minutes, then cook in the hot oil, 6-8 minutes.  You want this golden brown, and to reach an internal temperature of 185 F.  Since I limited the amount of oil used, I flipped pieces at 6 minutes, and carried on for at least another five.  Watch as you cook – cooktops are definitely NOT all alike.

Remove from skillet and place on a rack to drain for at least a couple minutes.

Each lettuce “bun” should get about a 1/2 teaspoon of mayo, top and bottom.  3 or 4 pickle slices should adorn per each bottom “bun”.  (And of course, sub in a real bun, or perhaps even a couple slices of toast, for all this if you should prefer…)

 

 


recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh. gluten-free, Paleo

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh, primal, grain-free

Assembling the grain-free sandwich.

recipe. chicken sandwich, popeyes, makeover, chicken, thigh. gluten-free

Enjoying the grain-free one. Notice cross-section.

RECIPE TWO
Chicken Sandwich:  “The Un-Popeye”  (with Paleo, Gluten-free flour)

For the Brine:  (Same as above).

  • 1 cup / 235 mL buttermilk (or enough to cover the chicken).
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 7 – 8 total ounces / 200 – 225 total grams / 2 medium-large boneless skinless chicken thighs.  (Basically, use one thigh per person; this recipe makes two.  For four – double everything except the buttermilk, which merely needs to cover.)

For the Breading:

  • 7 – 8 total ounces of boneless skinless chicken thigh, see above…
  • 4.5 ounces / 0.875 cups of any Paleo/gluten-free recipe for flour intended for baking.  (This is automatically going NOT to be self-rising, hence the additional ingredients.  Also choose this method if you have wheat flour that isn’t self-rising to hand – this just won’t be gluten-free….)
  • 1/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons milk

For the Cooking:  (Same as above).

  • High temp oil for frying.  (I used a bare minimum of grape seed oil.)

For the Surround and Toppings:  (Same as above).

  • Thick lettuce leaves for wrap – Romaine or Iceburg
  • 6 – 8 dill pickle slices
  • 2 tablespoons mayo, preferably home-made.  (I used store-bought because I wasn’t going to have much use for the rest of a batch and the store bought lasts longer.  And I already had some of that.)

Method:

Remove any fat from the chicken.  I find kitchen scissors are at least as efficient as a knife for this task.  You might consider using the tines of a fork to pierce the smooth side of the chicken (thigh or breast) in order to further the marinating process, and tenderization.  Make sure whatever cut of chicken you use, it is no thicker than 1/2 inch (1.3 cm).  You can slice the piece in half longitudinally to make two thigh filets, if needed.  You can trim off bits aesthetically, of course.

In an appropriate bowl, place the chicken, add enough buttermilk to cover, and add the salt.  Make sure this coats all sides of the chicken pieces, which will also help mix in that salt.  Set aside in the fridge for 4-5 hours.

Remove from fridge, remove marinate by washing.  Dry with paper towels.

Allow to sit at room temp for 45-60 minutes, so the meat will cook more evenly.

Preheat your high temp cooking oil to about 300 F in a suitable pot or pan.  High heat is your friend for this.    I’d actually recommend something closer to 350-375 F / 175-190 C, especially with dark meat.  I’d go above 300 F for the white, as well. Also – for whatever reason, the higher the temperature of the oil (as long as the temperature is within the smoke point for that particular oil), the less oil will be absorbed into your meal.

To make the breading, combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl that will be suitable for breading the pieces.

And in another bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and milk.

When everything is ready, dredge the chicken in the flour, then in the egg batter, then back into the flour again.  This second time you want to build up a craigy or bumpy texture on your chicken.  You can let the pieces sit there a bit.

Place each piece on a plate to rest five minutes, then cook in the hot oil, 6-8 minutes.  You want this golden brown, and to reach an internal temperature of 185 F.  Since I limited the amount of oil used, I flipped pieces at 6 minutes, and carried on for at least another five.  Watch as you cook – cooktops are definitely NOT all alike.

Remove from skillet and place on a rack to drain for at least a couple minutes.

Each lettuce “bun” should get about a 1/2 teaspoon of mayo, top and bottom.  3 or 4 pickle slices should adorn per each bottom “bun”.  (And of course, sub in a real bun, or perhaps even a couple slices of toast, for all this if you should prefer…)

 


Note:  I found both recipes to be excellent, but I recommend you eat them right away.  The crispy breading is essential for a tasty sandwich.  I couldn’t really discern a real taste difference between the two – so the option should go with what you prefer/what your food sensitivities/allergies and needs require.  The added seasonings add a nice kick to this, without overwhelming anything.  And I’m always a fan of a good pickle.  Keeping the chicken crisp (yet moist inside) seems paramount, and moisture is still best attained with the boneless, skinless thigh meat. IMO.   I don’t find myself craving to try the real sandwich, when I can do either of these.

PS:  This has been my most klutziest meal ever.  The balance for weighing flour tossed about three ounces of the stuff onto my floor when the pan decided it didn’t want to stay where I’d put it.  Then, when I was cleaning up after cooking, the milk quart (which only had 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons removed from it) slipped out and landed all over the floor.  I perhaps buy milk 2 or three times a year… and here I was cleaning up, dredging the stuff out of my grout.  Lovely.  GRRRR.   At least, unlike an old Potato Au Gratin recipe, I didn’t cut myself!

Popeyes chicken sandwich, makeover, chicken thigh, gluten-free, recipe, lettuce wrap

* MSG::  Is monosodium glutamate as bad as some claim?  I really don’t know, but yes, there are those who are subject to headaches if they consume it.  I think the world of spices and seasonings is diverse enough that it is not an essential ingredient to purchase, ever.  And yes, to those who will point out that some foods naturally contain MSG, that’s fine.  I just don’t see the need to ADD it, and so I don’t.


Serving this to the following link parties:

Fiesta Friday
Full Plate Thursday

 

 

 

 

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Red Snapper, Green Sauce

Contains:  Seafood, nightshades, wheat, gluten.  Is:  Dairy-free.

Page 90, Italian Immigrant Cooking, by Elodia Rigante.

I’d bought this cookbook ages ago, because I was eager to try Italian cooking that hadn’t been overly-sweetened, overly-carbed- and had some true roots to the culture it came from.  Immigrants will tend to cook that way.  (It turns out I am not certain this is a best cookbook for the purpose I bought it for, but hey.  Do let me know what cookbooks you may use for authentic Italian from whichever region of that nation you rejoice in cooking…)

red snapper, italian, recipe, bell pepper, capers

As unfortunately, most of the Italian restaurants I’ve seen either in western Connecticut or in western Massachusetts, don’t really go there – overly sweet, an over-abundance of tomato sauce, (AND the SAME tomato sauce from dish to dish…) a lack of true care – hence, I’ve been fairly neglectful of this cuisine in my blog.

For the sake of a challenge on Cookingbites.com, where I had to pick the 14th cookbook in my collection… I’m making this recipe below.  Since I recently did a pasta salad or three, I decided I wanted to make a lower carb / lower starch recipe from the book.  Hence, I chose Red Snapper, Green Sauce.  Plus, I found great red snapper back down in my old Connecticut stomping grounds.

I made a half-recipe, as shown below.  I live alone…  But otherwise I created this recipe exactly.  In the future, I’d half further the amount of oil… we don’t need all that, and most of it pooled off elsewhere in the cooking pan.  A waste.

cookbooks

Cookbooks. The 14th book in just had to be one I had to remove adjacent cookbooks to pull this one out for the challenge. Oh, well… I see some good recipes.

Prep Time: 15 minutes max.
Cook Time: 10 minutes.
Rest Time: A couple minutes.
Serves: 2.
Cuisine:  Italian.
Leftovers: Sure. 

Red Snapper, Green Sauce

  • 1/2 slice Italian bread (I had to buy a whole loaf of bread for this!!!)
  • 1/2 cup / 115 mL olive oil  (Recommended to drop this in half!)
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL lemon juice 
  • 1/16th cup / 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/16th cup / 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 to 3 red snapper fillets

Toss everything above up to and including the ground pepper into a blender.  Blend.

If too thick for your tastes, add a 1:1 mix of olive oil and lemon juice, blend further, to the consistency you want.

Stir in the minced bell pepper and capers, but don’t mangle those fellers in.  Just stir.

Take the fillets, and lay them on a lightly-oiled pan.  Top with the rest of the ingredients.

Broil in pre-heated oven for ten minutes.

I’d say:  half the amount of oil.  The top photo was the first photo I took, but less than five minutes later…. ahem, more oil seeped out.  Good quality REAL olive oil I lost, too.  This is THAT photo:

red snapper, italian, green sauce, dairy-free, recipe, pepper

Red snapper, overwhelmed by the oil in the  green sauce. Very good, but could have used much less olive oil.

Oh, here’s the current cookbook corner in my kitchen:

Cookbooks

Here they all are. Top shelf: cultures around the world. Second shelf: General, sauces, vegetarian, vegan, soups, BBQ. Counter: Rice, grains, Native American, Paleo, meat, fish, restaurants, and overflow.

This recipe has been shared at Fiesta Friday (hosted by Angie).

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Vegetarian Avocado Omelet

Contains:  Eggs, dairy, potentially nightshade.  Is:  Vegetarian, potentially Paleo / Whole30 if cheese is omitted. 

Omelet, vegetarian, avocado, eggs, breakfast, recipe

A vegetarian avocado omelet. There are so many ways to make this! Serves one or two.

As you may recall, I made guacamole two weeks ago, and shortly  prior I posted a review of a restaurant that I featured as my favorite dish:  avocado salad.  So hey, we have an avocado omelet, with a break last week from this wonderful healthily-fatty fruit, a couple of tofu recipes.

Omelet, vegetarian, avocado, eggs, breakfast, recipe

The egg and avo mixture is poured into the skillet, the extra egg liquid is maneuvered to the edges so it can cook better, then fresh pepper is added atop.

Well, one of the avos from the guacamole was way too hard and solid to end up as guacamole that day… so it ended up (half of it) in an omelet made 4 days later.  Pretty good!  So, I re-made it the following day with the other avo half.  That’s the recipe I’m putting here, although it is some weeks since I made it.

Omelet, vegetarian, avocado, eggs, breakfast, recipe

Then, the previously cooked bell pepper bits are added atop – on the side that there’s more avocado that would make folding more difficult.

I don’t add salt to my omelets (or scrambled eggs for that matter).  I figure the cheese has sufficient for me – your mileage may vary.

DO use whole eggs.  You’re really not getting any “health bennies” by tossing the yolks.

Omelet, vegetarian, avocado, eggs, breakfast, recipe

Cheese and cilantro added… we are ready to fold!

Prep Time: 10 minutes.
Cook Time: 10-18 minutes, depending on ingredients.
Rest Time:  None.
Serves: 1-2.
Cuisine:  Western breakfast.
Leftovers:  I suppose you could.

Vegetarian Avocado Omelet

Note:  EVERYTHING IS OPTIONAL, except the eggs and the avocado.  Well, you can omit the avocado, but you’ll have to name this omelet something else…  You can use mushrooms, spinach, onions, scallions (the list can go on) as you choose.  Just don’t so overload the omelet that it becomes hard to fold.  You can eliminate the cheese for Paleo or lactose intolerance.  The avo will provide the missing creaminess.  

  •  An ounce or so of bell pepper (or sliced mushroms, or finely chopped onions, or a good handful of fresh spinach, or…)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten.  
  • 1/2 avocado, minus seed and skin, coarsely mashed. 
  • Ground pepper to taste (and/or whatever your favorite seasonings for eggs may be)
  • An ounce or two of a good melting cheese (I used cheddar).  
  • A sprinkling of cilantro, torn apart (and/or scallion greens, or perhaps a fresh basil)
  • A healthy cooking oil (I used – natch – avocado oil).

Heat your skillet to medium/medium-high,  add the oil, then add the veggies of your choice (bell pepper in small slivers, sliced mushrooms, chopped onion, or that spinach).  At any rate any veggie that will be best pre-cooked before going into an omelet.

Sauté for 5 minutes or so, until fairly cooked, and water has been extracted / cooked off.

Remove and reserve veggies.

Add the avocado to the beaten eggs, and mix, mashing down any large hunks of avocado with the tines of a fork.

Decant evenly into the hot skillet, spreading the mix out with a spatula.  In order to get any excess egg in contact with the skillet, I gently lift up edges, tilt the pan, and let the eggs fun there.  You may well have another method.  Do not be adding these or subsequent ingredients to eggs that are NOT cooking – the cooking process can happily continue to occur as you add them.

Grind fresh black pepper around the omelet.  (Or whatever spices you use.)

Add the bell pepper to one side of the omelet – I pick the side that looks like it would be harder to flip – ie in this case, a thicker amount of avocado.  Spread it around so there’s not just one or two big clumps.

Add the cheese to that side.  Spread it around so there’s not just one or two big clumps.

Add the cilantro (scallion greens, basil or other leafy quick-cooking herb) atop that.

Cover with a lid or foil (this latter can be re-used for subsequent dishes) if your skillet lacks a lid.

Reduce heat if needed.  Cook this way for about 3 more minutes, then gently fold the omelet over itself.  At this point, definitely reduce the heat to medium low, and re-cover.  Allow to cook until reaching the level of done-ness you prefer – if you don’t cook omelets often you may need to check ever so often because different range tops and skillets may vary.

Serve.  Cut in half if you plan to share.  Enjoy!

Omelet, vegetarian, avocado, eggs, breakfast, recipe


Thus ends my full month of making vegetarian or vegan recipes for the blog.  I’m planning for at least one a month for future months.  Meanwhile, this has been the month when I took my half-a-pig pork share, and I’m also putting truly farm-fresh cockerels by, so expect some recipes along those lines in the next few months.  Oh, and yes… potatoes..  Perhaps, many potatoes!


Come on over and visit Fiesta Friday.  A good batch of recipes, as per usual.  Then, make a stop over at Full Plate Thursday, which always has a plate-full of treats.  Or maybe a cabinet full of plates?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbooks (at My Home)

No, I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but I really do appreciate good recipes in these categories.  Plus I like to be able to cook appropriately for friends who are visiting who might fall into either category.  (I seriously don’t mind food challenges where someone comes to visit with an allergy or sensitivity or philosophical or a religious – ie kosher, reason… but PLEASE be courteous and let me or any host you visit, know in advance!)  

When I moved, I did downsize my cookbook collection.  I think only two vegetarian/vegan books got sent to the local cookbook exchange. 

Nava Atlas – American Harvest:  Regional Recipes for the Vegetarian Kitchen. 1987.  Quite the good variety of recipes to try.

Vegetarian, vegan, cookbooks, Silk Road Vegetarian

My favorite of these books. Physically, it doesn’t stay open, unless I’m willing to break the binding – which is something I never do to a book!

Debra Abraham-Klein – Silk Road Vegetarian:  Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook.  2014.  For me, it is wisest to choose vegetarian and vegan foods from cultures that have eaten these items over generations.

David Hirsch – The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden:  Creative Gardening for the Adventurous Cook.  1992.  I had actually bought the first Moosewood cookbook back in the day, but it was printed in a horrendous-to-read script, so I donated it to the Litchfield Farmer’s Market book exchange when I was prepping to move.  No regrets.  BUT…. I am much happier to be able to read the regular typeface in this book!  Definitely some great (and creative) recipes here.

Madhur Jaffrey – World Vegetarian: More than 650 Meatless Recipes from around the Globe.  1999. Not as good as I’d hoped.  It is definitely worth being on your cook book shelf especially considering the number of recipes, but I get the feeling she’s cutting corners on ingredients.  At least for those recipes I’ve worked on.  I’m sorry because I really do love that intro book to Indian cuisine she wrote back in the 70s.  I cooked the heck out of that one!  

The Moosewood Collective – Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, Flavorful Recipes for Healthy Meals.  1996.  Although I’ll note fats can indeed be healthy, this book does contain a LOT of great and tasty vegetarian and vegan foods.  This restaurant has had some time in beginning to up the ante on vegetarian foods in the Western world.

Junko Lampert – The Tofu Cookbook:  Recipes for Traditional and Modern Cooking.  1983.  I bought this shortly after making vegetarian friends a few decades ago, and wanting to make tofu taste much better than I could at that point in my own kitchen.  It’s okay plus enough of a plus that I didn’t downsize this cookbook when I moved.  Nothing extremely great, but some good basics available here.

Tommy McDonald – Field Roast:  101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share & Savor.  2017.  Some pretty cool vegan choices in here, and I don’t get the sense the author wants to make everything “taste” like meat.  Many enticing photos, too.

Mindy Toomay and Susann Geiskopf-Hadler – The Best 125 Meatless Main Dishes. 1992.  Personally, always leery when I see “the BEST” recipes or anything else claiming to be “best”.   They’re okay.  They may have been “best” back in 1992, dunno.  Still, worth a few ideas.

vegetarian, vegan, cookbooks

The center lot are the actual vegetarian/vegan cookbooks. The nearby books promote vegetables and good nutrition and contain many vegetarian recipes.

As you can probably guess, I lean heavily onto “Old World” recipes developed over time by folks who always had a strong tradition of vegetarian foods.  I also avoid cookbooks that need to rant at me about veganism or some such.  My personal viewpoint is that meats can be healthy – and like most anything else, extremes can be more harmful than moderation.  I also acknowledge that many modern food items – deli meats, TVP, etc. – really don’t have much place in a good and nutritious food plan.  Also that many of us in North America eat far too much meat overall.  As I’ve noticed in other posts, I’m not really concerned about making vegetarian or vegan foods taste like the things they are replacing – especially considering the ingredients being used to accomplish such goals.  The books above almost entirely avoid such recipes.  That being said I do respect those folks who won’t eat meat for the reasons of animal welfare – which for my part is why I am trying to move to a locavore non-factory-farmed set of solutions.  (This might not be “good enough” for some, but I’ve never been very good at a “black or white” mindset.)

 


Touchdown here at Fiesta Friday – Co-hosted by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

 

Posted in Cooking | 4 Comments

Steamed Soft Tofu with Swiss Chard & Sauce

Contains:  Soy, legumes.  Is:  Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, quick and easy.  

This what happened to the other half of my tofu from Friday’s recipe.

steamed, tofu, swiss chard, lemon, soy, nutmeg, sesame oil, recipe, gluten-free, vegan

Served! It was very good and should be on rotation around here.

I had the Swiss chard from a farmer’s market hanging around in my fridge, begging to be used.  I’m not one to not oblige, especially since Swiss chard is a really good and tasty leafy green (or yellow… or red… or white… if we look at some of their stems!)

Let’s face it, tofu can be kind of bland.  It’s up to us to season and spice it up properly.  And fried SOFT tofu just basically can break apart, although I like it in age dashi tofu, which is very gently fried.  (But it won’t brown up and caramelize nicely, as it has too much water.)  And without the sauce, that rendition of tofu, lightly breaded with corn starch as it may be… needs a sauce!

steamed, tofu, swiss chard, lemon, soy, nutmeg, sesame oil, recipe, gluten-free, vegan

Waiting with baited breath to be steamed!  (Sauna-time?)

So, by steaming, we’re going to do something like that here.  Cook it, have it enveloped in the chard, and kicked up a bunch of notches with added seasonings.

I put the Swiss chard and the tofu on a plate to cook in the steamer so as to make this easier to remove for serving.  Since my steamer isn’t very large, this limited what I could cook – but perhaps you have a larger steamer, or are willing to do multiple batches and keep the first batch or two in an oven on “warm” or lowest setting.  One could also serve this dish at room temperature, and it should still be quite good (I let a section of my meal drop to room temperature to test this for you, my readers – though it turns out I prefer it warm.)

steamed, tofu, swiss chard, lemon, soy, nutmeg, sesame oil, recipe, gluten-free, vegan

Post steaming. I set the steamer insert aside, and used a flatware knife to get an angle on the plate in there, to pull this dish out. Worked fine!

Let’s cook!

Prep Time:  10 minutes (most can be done while the Swish chard/tofu is cooking and then cooling).
Cook Time:  5 minutes.
Rest Time:  About 5 minutes or until cool enough to retrieve from steamer.
Serves: 1-2.
Cuisine:  East Meets West.

Steamed Soft Tofu with Swiss Chard

The Dish Proper: 

  • 3 leaves of Swiss chard.
  • 7 ounces / 200 grams soft tofu.  (Half a package as sold in the US.)

The Sauce:  

  • Juice of one lemon.
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari or soy.  (You could happily thicken the sauce by using a good gluten-free teriyaki sauce instead.)  
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (mild or spicy).
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • 1 scallion/green onion.  

Find your steamer, and be sure you have a plate that can fit in it.  Then, arrange the chard leaves on that plate, cutting or breaking into halves if you need to.

Rinse and slice the tofu, and cut into 10 slices.  Arrange atop the Swiss chard so that much of their surface is exposed.

Set up your steamer – as the water in the main pot below begins to simmer, then boil, put the plate in the top part of the steamer, off stage.  When the water boils, insert the steamer part with the chard and tofu, cover, and reduce heat to about half.

Steam for five minutes, then remove from heat, and remove lid.  (You may start prepping the sauce, now.)

Allow to cool long enough that the steaming element can be removed from the pot.

Remove that, and then gently remove the plate with the food from the steaming element.

For the sauce, combine all the sauce items except the scallion in a small bowl.

Spoon the quantity of sauce you want over the top of the tofu.  Sprinkle some of the scallion on, from both the white and the green ends.  Any leftovers can be reserved for a future dish.

steamed, tofu, swiss chard, lemon, soy, nutmeg, sesame oil, recipe, gluten-free, vegan

NOTE:  Beet or turnip greens should work as well as Swiss chard – spinach should work too, but will not hold its shape.  If you are not vegetarian, oyster sauce can be used instead of soy sauce, and will provide even more body to the sauce – however I’ve yet to run into a gluten-free rendition of said sauce, if you prefer or need to eat gluten-free.  (If you find one, let me know.)  

Let’s go share at:  Fiesta Friday (co-hostess this time is the wonderfully-creative  Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau ).  And with Full Plate Thursday.

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments