26 January 2010

The Food Mill: a truly awesome kitchen gadget

For Christmas, my parents gifted me with a new food mill.

This is a truly awesome kitchen gadget!

Applesauce: Cook up a bunch of apples (just slice them, don’t bother peeling or coring) with a wee bit of water and a shot of cinnamon, then when they are soft, put them into the bowl of the food mill, crank the handle, and voila – you have smooth, seedless, peel-free apple sauce in the dish underneath.

Cream of vegetable soup: Cook up your vegetables until they are nice and soft – or take the leftovers from last night’s dinner. Fry up some onions in a generous helping of butter, add a bit of garlic or spices if you like, and when the onions are nice and golden, thicken the butter with flour and stir it to cook a little. Pour in some milk, heat it through, then dump the cooked veggies and their cooking liquid, into the mix. Ladle into the food mill and puree into the serving dish. Serve with grated cheese to sprinkle into the bowl … just beware of dangling cheesy bits!

Lentil soup: Heat your oil, then add onions and stir while they turn golden. Add curry and spices (the spices need to be absorbed by the oil, the flavour is much richer than if they are just added to the liquid), some chopped or mashed leftover potatoes, and maybe some diced or leftover carrots (or whatever other veggies are kicking around – peas would be good), then add your rinsed lentils and 4 times their volume in broth (or plain water with a generous shot of dried, blendered greens for flavouring). Cook until the lentils fall apart, potatoes are cooked through (if they weren’t already), then ladle into the food mill and puree into the serving dish.

I’ve used the food mill three times in the last few days. It’s great! I can’t wait for tomato paste season. :) Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Independence Days: January 2010

It’s about time we did another Independence Days update, I think. Having just obtained my very own copy of Sharon Astyk’s book of the same name, I am officially inspired. :)

So, although it seems like one would not do much in the way of ‘preparing’ in the winter, let’s see what’s been going on.

Planted: Okay, planting is out of the question – although, I am considering planting some catnip in a pot. Not for the cats, for me: I often have trouble sleeping and catnip is an amazingly effective sedative, and it tastes good as a tea! Yeah, I know: it makes cats all goofy and wound up, and it puts people to sleep. Now you know why you can’t assume veterinary medicine is the same as the stuff for people. 

Harvested: Well, not much. In fact, we had the Annual Winter Egg Drought over the holiday season, of course, in the dark time of the year. The hens were all recovering from moult, it was cold, it was dark, nobody was laying eggs. Then … on Saturday … the Egg Miracle occurred. An egg! Finally! And another the next day, and one more the next, and three this morning! You have no idea how happy this makes me. I love fresh eggs.

 Preserved: Now this, I have done! I found a bag of red, yellow and green peppers on sale at the grocery store, so I bought them, used some fresh, and then dehydrated the rest. We use the dehydrated peppers in our soups and stews to add a bit of colour and sweetness – and now that the kids have finally realized that just because it is called a pepper it doesn’t necessarily mean it is hot, we can use them in everything. I also grated some orange rind from the lovely oranges that came in the monthly food basket from WECAN, and put that in the dehydrator too, for my mom. She asked for some at Christmas time.

Waste Not: The aforementioned dehydrating probably counts, as does the ongoing creative use of leftovers. We had a few potatoes and carrots left from dinner, and I was making lentil soup … which needs to be thickened with potatoes, so in they went, along with the carrots. Being flexible with recipes is a great way to avoid waste.

Want Not (Preparations): The trip to the Thrift Store turned up some fun yarn for projects, as well as a $2.50 teapot that has a base to hold a tealight. I have tested it out and you can actually heat water to the right temperature to make a decent pot of tea, just by leaving it on the tealight. It’s slow, but it works. The pot also can sit on the woodstove, which was, in fact, the primary requirement for this new purchase.

Community Food Systems: Ordered more hay from my local hay farmer, and sold more lamb to some local customers.

Eat the Food: The food basket this month contained a head of cauliflower (as well as a head of broccoli, some potatoes, and assorted other things). My More with Less cookbook had a recipe for an easy cream of cauliflower soup, and it turned out fabulous. (Stay tuned for more on that.)