Welcome to Growbox Hill

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Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Camping weekend cooking...

Do a fall camping weekend every year. We all get together and share food and brewing, good times and bonfire action.

A few of us seriously do the food action. Last couple times I've prepped up serious food, but then had a couple others whip out.. So this year I decided to do more in-between eats. Breads and spreads.

Of course I will be bringing along several jars of homemade salsa and fruit preserves. So I went ahead with that and decided to do a bunch of other goodness along those lines..

Boursin style spread-
1 package cream cheese
1 stick butter
2 T parmesan cheese
1/2 t dried dill
1/4 t dried marjoram
1/4 t dried basil
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme, about 1 t
few sprigs fresh parsley, about 1 1/2 T when chopped fine
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on the size. Creamed or pressed
let cream cheese and butter get to room temp
cream cheese and butter together
add all the seasonings, and cream all together
refrigerate at least 24 hours, up to 7 days

Roasted veggie spread/dip
1 medium onion
1 medium sweet potato
1 large carrot
1 head garlic
1 small zucchini
1 small eggplant- optional
2 T. olive oil
¼-1/2 t. cayenne pepper
8 oz package cream cheese- room temp.

Deseed and coarsely chop red pepper. Coarsely chop onion. Peel and dice sweet potato and carrot. Peel and leave whole the garlic cloves. Large chop summer squash or eggplant. Drizzle lightly with 2 T. olive oil- just enough to coat, and salt and pepper. Toss well to make sure all is coated. Roast at 300 till all veggies are soft and able to be pureed. You might want to start out the first half of cooking uncovered, then cover for the second half to really cook everything through. Depending on the chop, this might take 1-2 hours, and the carrots will be the most likely to be the last bits done. Watch out for scorched onion and garlic- stir a couple times while roasting, and if those start to really change color, it's time to cover the whole thing. Once roasted, pull from oven and set out till cool. Puree veggies. Add to cream cheese and cayenne pepper and mix well, adding salt and pepper to season if needed. Mixture will be thick, so if you want to thin it a little to your dipping preference, you can do so with either milk or cream. 

I used several sweetie peppers and the half bag of leftover baby carrots from making antipasta bucket the other day instead of a red pepper and large carrot. Used a couple small yellow summer squash instead of zucchini, and left out the eggplant this time. Used about 3 T of milk while mixing. 

Honey cinnamon butter
tub of spreadable butter

This really is a taste preference recipe. I used an 8 oz tub of butter, about 2 T of local honey, 1 t cinnamon, and 6 grinds of nutmeg, which is about 1/4 or so of a t. 
You must let your butter get fully to room temp. Any lumps when you stir it and it hasn't sat long enough. Yes, this is a hand stirring recipe. 
Put your butter into a bowl and stir it to loosen it up. Put about half the honey, all the cinnamon and nutmeg in and stir well. Let rest for about 15 minutes, stir well and taste. Add in more honey if needed for sweet. Stir well and let rest for another 15 minutes. Taste again, and only now add more cinnamon or nutmeg if needed. 

Roasted garlic
A pan to roast in- choose a pan that sort of snugly fits all the heads. It either needs a cover, or use foil to  cover when needed.
Whole garlic
Olive oil

Chop the top of the heads off your garlic while your oven heats to 350. 
Place your garlic into your baking dish cut side up
Drizzle heads with olive oil- just a little at a pour- you are looking to coat and lubricate the heads, not drown them in oil. I usually make 2 passes with the oil.
Cover your dish- this is important. 
Bake at 350 for 45-75 minutes depending on how many heads you are baking off. 
You want to check your heads about 15 minutes before done time and check them for tenderness. Some should be popping out of their skins, and some still kind of firm. Drizzle a bit more oil over each head at this time and put back into the oven COVERED to finish. 
You know when they are done when all the big cloves are tender to the poke of a toothpick. 
Kill your oven and take the heads out. 
Keep them covered till they reach room temp- carryover cooking will do it's job
Once they are room temp- a couple things... 
Either keep heads whole for presentation, or pop the cloves out for service. 
It's easier popping out after chilling. If you are making popped cloves ahead, chill overnight then pop them out and into the freezer till a few hours thaw time before service.

Made tahini today too- I didn't have it on the shelf, but I did have sesame seed and olive oil, which is pretty much what tahini is.
1 cup sesame seeds
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil.

Since I had the oven at 300 for roasted veggies, I toasted the sesame seed at the same time. Took about 15 minutes with shaking the pan every 3-5 minutes. Most recipes call for a 350-400 degree oven, but I was happier to slow toast my seeds- more control over toasted to overtoasted state.
Let the seeds cool.
Pulse the cooled seeds in your processor before adding oil.
Start out with adding 1/8 cup oil and process. Since I use a mini processor, this is about a half dozen times of running for a minute, using a spatula to spread it to the bottom again, and repeat.
Add in the rest of your oil about a tablespoon at a time with several processings between till you reach a rather runny peanut butter consistency- you should not see any individual seeds at this time.
After you hit this point, process for another couple minutes just to ensure smoothness.
Keep in the fridge in a tightly covered container or jar- I used a recycled jelly jar.

Tomorrow and Thurs will be breadmaking and more spread and dip making. I'm going to make most of my doughs tomorrow and retard them overnight in the fridge.

On a gardening note.. It's late summer/early fall and I planted in fall crops recently- spinach, beets, radishes, and peas. And NOW we have to have a heat wave??? I shouldn't complain- I know I will bitch and groan over winter cold. It will break with rain tomorrow.

And as a heh while the veggies were roasting, I cleaned my headlights and windshield while waiting for cooking to be done.
I didn't have any plain white paste toothpaste in the house, but I did have some metal polish in the house. I scrubbed and rinsed the headlights first, then went on to 4 polishing coats of metal polish on the lights. They aren't perfect new, but a darn sight better than they were before with their totally clouded over state. Why plain white toothpaste? Because gel and whitening agents can cause extra problems on the plastic instead of helping.
ALWAYS do car cleaning in the shade.
I spent my time between drying/hazing coats and polishing pulling up weeds from the FOH garden. I can actually see my headlights now instead of a general fog.
I used recycled newspaper to clean the inside of the windshield.

Hump day :)
It was a bread prep today. I now have Parkerhouse roll, wheat roll, and fococcia doughs retarding in the fridge to bake up tomorrow. I'm a little leery about the fococcia since my recipe calls for hi gluten and bread flour, and I was only able to find bread flour and no vital gluten or hi gluten in the stores :( Baked up the pita bread today too- it's my first time trying that so I hope it's good, lol.

Parkerhouse rolls:
1 1/4 c whole milk
2 T sugar
2 1/4 t yeast
1 egg
20-21 1/4 oz AP flour
1 1/2 t salt
4 oz butter, room temp

Heat the milk and sugar together till lukewarm- do not go over 110, or let it cool if you do. Whisk in the egg and yeast and set aside.
Combine 4 cups of the flour and salt in mixing bowl and use the paddle on lowest speed to combine.
While mixer is running, add liquid in steady stream and mix till flour is moistened. Slowly begin to add softened butter. Increase speed to medium and beat dough for 2 minutes.
Change to dough hook and knead dough at medium speed till smooth but still sticky, about 6 minutes. Add flour in 1 T increments if needed.
Scrape onto floured bench and lightly knead for a minute.
do the 12 step proof process
make 1 1/2 oz rolls and brush with melted butter and bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes or till golden.  

Wheat rolls
10 oz warm water- do not let it go over 110
3/4 oz yeast
8 oz bread flour
8 oz wheat flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter, soft
2 oz honey
1 egg
1/2 oz salt

Mix water, sugar, honey. Whisk in egg and yeast and set aside
Combine flours and salt in mixer with paddle and stir on slow to combine dry ingredients.
While mixer is running, add liquid in steady stream and mix till flour is moistened. Slowly begin to add softened butter. Increase speed to medium and beat dough for 2 minutes.
Change to dough hook and knead dough at medium speed till smooth but still sticky, about 6 minutes. Add flour in 1 T increments if needed.
Scrape onto floured bench and lightly knead for a minute.
do the 12 step proof process
Make 2 oz rolls, and use an egg wash. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or till golden. 

2 t yeast
1/2 cup water- do not go over 110
2 t sugar
4 oz hi gluten flour
Stir all together, cover, and let sit till it has more than doubled in size

1 c warm water- do not go over 110
1/3 c olive oil
1 1/2 oz sugar
1 T salt
1/2 lb hi gluten flour
7 oz bread flour

Once sponge is ready, put it in your mixing bowl. Using the dough hook, add warm water and oil and stir on low speed to break up the sponge. Turn off mixer, add the sugar, salt, and hi gluten flour. Turn the mixer back onto medium and knead, adding enough bread flour in 1 T increments to develop a smooth and exastic dough.
do 12 step process
scale into 1 1/2 oz rolls and brush with herb oil. Bake at 400 till golden brown.
Note: People seemed to like the bread- but I think it was missing a bit of the chew factor it was supposed to have. So it's either find the gluten I need if I make it again, or find another recipe I like that does not require it.

Pita bread
3 1/4 cups AP flour
2 t salt
2 t yeast
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c warm water- do not go over 110
Mix everything with the paddle on low speed till combined
Switch to the dough hook, and mix on medium for 10 minutes
Put dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let double, this can take up to 3 hours
Crank up the heat to 475, and preheat your baking stone or baking sheets
pour out your dough onto the counter and roll into a ropeish shape. Cut into 10-16 pieces depending on how big you want your pitas to be.
On a floured surface, roll each piece into a ball, cover with a towel, and let proof for 20 minutes
Roll into quarter inch thick disks, using liberal amounts of flour, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes
Bake a few at a time to help cut down on how much time the oven door is open. Bake on one side for 4 minutes, flip, and bake for 2 minutes
As soon as you pull them out of the oven, press with a spatula to deflate, allow to cool to room temp, and immediately bag up.

Made the asian chicken mushroom spread..
1 chicken breast
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 can mushrooms, undrained
sesame oil, to sear breast
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 t garlic powder
1/4 t ginger
1 cup water
1/4 c mayo
1 small onion
1 T sesame seed- optional

Sear chicken breast in sesame oil, then add mushrooms, ginger, soy, garlic powder, and water. Cover and reduce heat to medium, and let burble away till only a couple tablespoons of liquid are left in the pan. You might want to crack the lid a bit during the last 10 minutes of cooking to help with reduction. Kill the heat, remove pan from burner and uncover. Let sit till cool enough to handle the meat and mushrooms, 10-15 minutes.
Stir together cream cheese and mayo.
Finely mince the onion. You will only be using 2-3 T of the minced onion depending on your taste preference. Stir it into the cheese.
Pull the chicken breast and finely mince it and stir it into the cheese.
Squeeze the mushrooms to get out as much liquid as possible. Finely mince and stir into the cheese.
Using your leftover cooking liquid, stir in about 1 T at a time- this is your seasoning and thinning agent. You want it to be a little too thin looking because the cheese will firm back up in the fridge.
Stir in sesame seeds if using.
Refrigerate overnight prior to eating.
Note- I found the mix a tiny touch hmmm... So add 1/2 t of sesame oil and 1/4t of ginger to the final cheese mix. 

It's Monday :) Didn't feel like putting in the last recipes on Thurs night after I got everything else done. It was a fantastic weekend full of great friends and wonderful food, tasty libations and heap o fire.

So, Thursday I baked up the doughs I had tossed into the fridge on Wed. Took me a couple of rolls to really get the groove of rolling rolls back, but I picked it right back up pretty quickly. When rolling rolls, you want your rolling surface to be clean, and no flour or oil on it. Have a small pile of flour nearby to dust your hands with. You want the dough to sort of cling to the counter, but slip under your hand. I also made english muffin loaves and the hummus....

English muffin loaf
1/2 oz yeast
1 T sugar
1/4 t baking soda
2 t salt
1 lb, 8 oz AP flour- you will start with 12 oz
1 pt milk, warm
4 oz water, warm
Softened butter and cornmeal for prepping the pans

Dust your pans first. You will need 2 loaf pans. Coat the entire inside with butter, then coat well with the cornmeal- this dough climbs and is really sticky, so don't skip this step!
Sift together your yeast, sugar, baking soda, salt and 12 oz of the flour
Heat your milk and water together till it's between 100 and 110 degrees- don't go over 110
With your mixer running on low, add the warm liquid in a steady stream to the dry, and allow to mix till well combined.
Put your mixer up to medium, and in 1 tablespoon at a time incorporation, add flour till you have a proper spoon dough consistency. It's way beyond liquid of batter, but way thinner than regular bread dough. The consistency goes from being globulous to sort of a stretching sheeting effect, a really shaggy dough tear.
Split your dough between the 2 pans- it will barely fill in the bottom, and move slow. Do not be tempted to spread the dough to distribute. It climbs high and fast.
Cover the pans with oil coated plastic wrap for proofing. You want your dough to proof till it just barely starts pressing the plastic wrap.
Bake off in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes- they will be dark golden brown.
Let the loaves sit in the pan to sort of let the top crust air harden a bit, about 5-10 minutes, before taking out of the pan. Then cool crust side down on cooling racks. This allows the cornmeal sides to cool and dry properly. Do not allow the bread to cool in the pan.

Hummus. I made a double batch, and it filled a big sour cream container.

2 cans of chick peas
4 T lemon juice
3 T tahini
4 plump cloves garlic
1 t salt
4 T olive oil

Drain and reserve the liquid from your chick peas, then rinse your chick peas.
Peel and crush the garlic.
Now, I only have a 1.5 cup mini food processor, so I processed this in 3 batches. Used a third of the peas each time, and added half of the rest of the ingredient list to each batch. Processed it till it was fine and smooth, adding a tablespoon or two to each batch of the reserved chick pea liquid to get to the right consistency. The last third I processed with 1 T of olive oil to help start it out, then added in 2-3 T of chick pea liquid to get the right consistency. I mixed the three batches together in a bowl till very well mixed.
Then into the fridge to chill till eating time.

I cooked up mushrooms at the site. They were pretty darn good but I think they would have been better if they had their initial burble on Friday night, and a second stewing through Sunday.
10 pounds mushrooms
2 quarts condensed turkey stock
1 32 oz jar chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups dried parsley
4 15 oz cans beef broth
1 T black pepper
3 quarts water

Clean your mushrooms. Cut off the end of the stem, then both cut stem and mushroom into the pot. The stems add mushroom flavor, you are just making a fresh cut on the mushroom to suck up flavor. 
I started out the burble using all the turkey stock, half the garlic, parsley, and broth, all the pepper and water. Once the mushrooms hit tender point, I tried one and it was bland. Added the other half of the garlic, parsley, and beef broth. Burbled a lot more, then for the last hour or so of cooking, removed the lid to reduce the liquid.
Can't really tell ya the flame levels and cooking times. It just burbled away for several hours over the campfire coals. My love tended the fire the whole time, and did an excellent job keeping them hovering between a burble and a simmer.

So... I may bring jelly next time for giving away, but all the jars went unopened during the weekend. The sweet there wasn't needed. The salsa was a big hit- I traded two jars for two bottles of wonderful homebrew. Meads, yummy! The hummus and Asian chicken mushroom spread went over well, as did the breads :)

Here's the link to the entry about making the salsa. How much salsa???

It was really a wonderful weekend. Got to see my brother which does not happen nearly often enough, especially with all of us kids together. Next time I go visit I get to raid their garden for all sorts of plant goodies. They have a lovely shade yard garden going on- the perfect host of plants for the FOH garden. Full of flowers and beautiful plants. I started snagging a couple seed heads at first, then we just made plans for me to come over and do a proper garden raid next time I'm in town.
And just hanging out with friends around the fire. Always such a good time.
Heh, found out I should add black currants to the grow list. I already want to establish gooseberries and tried once. Apparently black currants and gooseberries like the same sort of conditions.

Anywho, I should probably post this because its long enough as it is, ehehe.


  1. Sounds like a good time for all involved.

    I like the new writing style too.


  2. Thank you for your comment Don :) Didn't realize I was writing in a different style than usual, hehe.