Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Haven't done a post recently...

There really hasn't been much to post recently. Fall has come on with a rush here, full of wet and chilly weather and all the leaves coming off the trees.

So what have I been doing?
Brought all the tomatoes in and set them up in a couple trays in the kitchen to ripen, and they have been. Brought in a lot of the pots and containers to the solarium for overwintering and attempting to extend some harvest. Picking radishes.
Lots of cooking, tons of cooking experimenting. So, pulled together from a few drafts worth of notes, here it all is for future reference. They all still need some work though, lol.

First was a fall veggie roast.

1 can tomato paste
1/2 c white wine
1 large shallot, diced
1 cup water
1/4 c dried parsley
1 t each salt and white pepper
5-6 cloves, sliced

Mix all this together in the bottom of a 9x9 dish
6 golden beets, scrubbed and finely segmented
2 rutabega, scrubbed finely segmented
Spread a layer of beets, then rutabaga, then beets, then rutabaga- all the layers should be partially submerged
Cover and bake at 400 for 20 minutes

8 tiny eggplants- each one cut into 1/3ds, plankwise
1/2 pint grape or small cherry tomatoes, halved
5-6 small or 1-2 big NON green peppers, cut into slices
Layers these onto the root veggies, cover and turn the oven down to 300 and bake for another 30 minutes... Or till all the veggies are tender.

I used this to dress a big chunky pasta with, as a general side for a meat and potatoes kind of dinner, and as a leftover veggie chopped up and made into a skillet :)

Chucks White Chili- he gave me a wonderful version with how he always doubles the original.. I kind of went with what I had.. So here's how I made that

1T olive oil
3 lb chicken breasts, diced- do this while the chicken is half frozen, and makes for easier cubing.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced- using big cloves
3 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock from the freezer
3- 4 oz cans green chili peppers, undrained
1/2 cup dried yellow banana peppers, crumbled
3 dried serrano peppers, crumbled
1 cup water- to rehydrate peppers
2 T garlic powder
1 T cumin
1/2 t each cayenne, black, and chili dust peppers
1 T salt
16 oz sour cream
8 oz cream- and yes, real cream is required here
2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

This is a two stage chili. It starts out on the stove, goes into the fridge overnight, and into the crockpot the next day for finishing.

Heat the 1 cup of water in a 4 cup bowl or measure. Add the dried yellow banana and serrano peppers to get them started hydrating. Add in the 3 cans of undrained chilis to this mash and set aside till needed.
Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large dutch oven and brown up the chicken with the onions and fresh garlic. This should go almost au sec before proceeding.
Add the great northern beans, stock, rehydrated/canned pepper mash, and seasonings
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and summer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, and use a potato masher to mash up the mix a bit, paying particular attention to the beans.
Cool quickly, and pop it into the fridge overnight.

The next day, pull out your chili and let rest on the counter for an hour or so before you start heating. Start taking a spoon during this time to help break up the bits.
Then pop it into the crockpot- on high for two hours, though you can stretch it by an hour or two if neded by turning it down to low at this time.
About an hour before serving, turn the temp back to high if you turned it down.
Add the sour cream, cream, and garbanzo beans, and keep it on high for half an hour- make sure you don't let it boil.
Serve up.

Squash fritters
3 squashes- for this batch I used a medium each of carnival acorn, delicata, and kabocha squashes.
2 T butter, divided into 6ths
1 t each salt and pepper
1T or 6-8 leaves crumbled of dried sage
2 t turmeric

Halve, cleanout, and set up squashes in a pan with sides for baking
Fill the pan about half full of water
Sprinkle the salt, pepper, sage, and turmeric into the 6 cavities, and drop 1 piece of butter into each cavity.
Cover well, and bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours
Kill the heat and let squash rest in cooling oven for another hour
Pull out squash, uncover, and let cool to room temp before putting into fridge overnight- with shells on. You do this cavity side up to allow the seasonings time to sink back into the flesh
In the morning, scoop out this pulp and then use it to make yummy stuff, like fritters.

I took this overall recipe, and then divided the result into three bowls to try out three ways of doing this..

The main recipe:
All of the squash pulp
3 eggs
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 T baking powder

I stirred the pulps of the squashes till smooth/chunky instead of mashing to a smoother pulp. Stirred in all the rest of the ingredients and poured into 3 bowls.
bowl 1 got about a half cup of dried herbs, mostly dill and parsley
bowl 2 got 1/4 curry sauce, 1 oz tahini
bowl 3 got a few shakes of hot sauce, 1/4 t hot flake, 2 t each paprika and garlic 1 t worst..

Bowls 1 and 3 did well in making fritters. I layed out breadcrumbs for 3 and it was a pointless mess. Just draining onto paper bags was good. Heat up about a half inch or so of oil and fry up.
Bowl 2 just fell apart- the extra liquid from the curry sauce really made a difference! So I decided to dump the whole bowl into the pan, let it fry up as best as possible- and used the bottom of a paper bag as sort of a bowl with a couple layers of bag under the bowl. Dumped the whole mess in and let it sit in a 200 degree oven for about an hour. Then I dumped on a ton of cracker crumbs, carefully folded down the "bowl" and flipped the whole mass and let soak out some more. The result was a surprisingly firm cake.
None of my seasoning additions made a huge impact to the overall squash taste though. They all taste good- squashy. But nothing to dance about.

Spicy beans and rice soup
1 lb ham
3 c dried kale
1 box beans and rice
1 c instant rice
8 cups water
1 T dried minced garlic, and 1 t pepper powders to the water

Bring ham, kale, and water up to a boil, covered. Reduce heat and hard simmer for about 30 minutes
Stir in beans and rice, cover, and drop down to a low simmer for about 30 minutes
Taste, and see if you need to add any spicy- hot sauce, ground peppers and salt if needed
Add instant rice, cover, and keep on low simmer for 10 minutes
Kill heat, uncover, and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving

Upside down leftover meat casserole
2 leftover porkchops and mushroom gravy- you can use whatever meat of a couple portions- you will need at least a cup and a half of gravy, so make more if you need to. I ended up needing more, so made a quick dried mushroom and beef gravy with cornstarch
a couple portions of tail end veggies- I used broccoli this time from the freezer
tatertots- about a couple servings

So.. Toast up the tater tots in the oven as per package directions
reset oven for 350
put your tater tots on the bottom of the dish
Cover with your leftover veggies- since I used unseasoned broccoli, I dotted it with about a tablespoon of butter.
Cover that with your meat and gravy stuff
Cover the dish, and bake for about 45 minutes or so

Cabbage, bacon, and noodle casserole

1 package bacon- I used 12 oz, but recipes vary from 8-16 oz
1 large onion, cut on the radial thinly
4-8 cloves garlic, sliced
1 head cabbage
1 cup water
thyme, parsley, caraway, pepper...
8 oz package egg noodles

Cut bacon in half and fry up crisp, lay aside
Don't drain off your fat, use all of it!
Add in onion and garlic, saute a couple minutes
Add in cabbage, saute a couple minutes
Add in water and seasonings, cover, and simmer for 20 min or so till cabbage is tender
Add in cooked egg noodles, bacon, stir together, and serve

Note about seasonings here. Thyme and parsley are wonderful. Be careful of caraway- if you don't like it, yes, it's still necessary and you should add it. Pepper and salt are per taste at the end of the dish. I ended up adding in about 1/4 cup parsley, 1 T dill, 1t caraway, 2 T salt and 1/2 T pepper. I did all of the seasoning on the cabbage/onion mix, and made it potent on purpouse to offset the egg noodles and bacon.

Made a cheesy Halloween bake :)
1 package bacon- you can omit entirely since you use butter later on, and use up to 1 cups of other shredded/cubed leftover meat. Or use 1 can of beans.
1 head cauliflower
1 cup dried from frozen peas- NOT dried soup peas
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 T parsley
1 T dill
1/2-1 1/2 cup dairy- I used a combination of a leftover bottle of non-sweetened creamer and a bit of milk. Needed to use the creamer up.
bunch of velveeta 1-2 cups depending on your cheesiness level- or use other super melty cheeses.

Take a 2 cup measure, put peas in it, fill with water, and heat- let sit to rehydrate
Coarsely chunk up the cauliflower into a dozen or so chunks, and put into a deep pan with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by a half inch or so. Tightly cover the pan and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the cauliflower chunks. Pull from the oven and let rest covered for 10-15 minutes. Then uncover, pull out of the pan and chunk it down into more bite or two pieces.
Bake the bacon in a single layer on parchment paper on a lipped cookie sheet 25-35 minutes, till chewy crisp. Baking is the better method for this dish. When done, put onto towels to drain. Once cool, roughly chop. And don't forget to pour off your bacon grease while still hot into it's crock- baking bacon makes for a very clean pour.
Saute the onion and celery with 1/3 of bacon in the butter till tender.
Add flour and mix well to coat everything
Add the liquid the peas have been rehydrating in for the first amount of liquid.
Add in half cup dairy and stir well
Start adding in your cheese.  When about half of it's melted in, adjust thickness of the sauce with another 1/2 c dairy if needed.
Add second 1/3 of the bacon
Melt in the other half of your cheese. Adjust thickness with the last 1/2 c dairy if needed.
Stir in the peas and last 1/3 bacon
Gently fold in the cauliflower
Bake uncovered at 350 for about a half hour- till the stuff bubbles and gets a bit of color on top.

Also baked up a banana-pumpkin loaf. As usual, we have a couple of bananas that were softening too fast, so I figured as long as I had the oven on already, why not?
You can replace up to a quarter of flour called for in a recipe with pumpkin flour- or in this case, pumpkin and squash powder that I made myself.

Half a stick butter, melted
2 eggs
3 soft bananas
2/3 c sugar- I would reduce this to 1/2-1/3 cup next time. I think the sweetness of the pumpkin flour was such that the sugar could stand cutting back on.
1 c AP flour
1/3 c pumpkin flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves
several grinds of the nutmeg grinder- 1/4 t or so?

Grease a loaf pan and set your oven to 350. I like to use a smidge of butter flavored crisco for this.
Mash the first 4 ingredients together- USE A PASTRY CUTTER! Way the hell easier than any other tool to use for this. Leaves you with a nice smooth mash with a little bit of small banana chunk in it. Pastry cutters are also the best tool to make a smooth and chunky guac :)
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well- this will make a slightly stiff batter
Pour into prepared loaf pan
Bake for about 40 minutes at 350
Allow to cool a bit before unpanning upside down- you want the surface of the bread to already be well cooled enough to avoid collapsing of either top or bottom, but the loaf to still be a bit warm.

Decided to make mom's kluski noodle casserole for dinner tonight. Cept I'm using egg noodles instead of kluski noodles since I'm not fond of kluskis and also happened to have egg noodles.
1 pound ground beef- I used savory roll sausage instead
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 pound frozen or 1 big can drained of corn
8 oz mushrooms undrained- which I didn't have so 1/3 cup dried mushrooms + 2/3 cup hot water to rehydrate
1/2 c dried shredded from fresh zucchini. My own addition, moms casserole never had this
2 cups noodles, cooked
Brown up yer meat, mix with everything else, and bake up at 350 for a half hour or so, till bubbly hot.
Turned out dead spot on with the yummy comforting casserole mom used to make.

Decided to make some stuffed squash for dinner :)
Halve and clean your squashes- set aside the seeds for roasting :) For stuffed squash, I use 4 mini springform pan rings set into my lasagna pan- throughout cooking you just need to handle the rings then, and the squash stay upright better. Put a bit of water in the pan, cover tightly, and bake at 400 for about 35 minutes. Pull from the oven, uncover, drain the water out of the bottom of the pan, and set aside so they cool a bit.
While this is going on, make your fillings. I decided on a bean and kale, and a spicy quinoa, mushroom, and corn. 
Kale and white bean- this calls for using fresh hardy greens, but since I didn't have any on hand, I used dried and cooked it back to hydrated. You have to cook the kale back to hydration rather than soaking because it removes the bitters better.
3-4 handfuls of kale- fresh or rehydrated
1 can white beans, drained- I used great northerns
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
couple tablespoons olive oil
4-8 fresh sage leaves, about a tablespoon
2 T each breadcrumbs and Parmesan, mixed
Fill a pot with your kale and cover well with water- simmer 15 minutes, then drain well
Into the pot goes the olive oil and garlic. Saute for a minute or two till fragrant.
Into the pot goes the greens- stir well and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Into the pot goes the beans- stir well and let burple 2-3 minutes.
Add the sage along with salt and pepper to taste, kill heat, and cover- let sit till stuffing time.

Spicy quinoa, mushroom and corn filling- the quinoa I used follows a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water.
1/2 c quinoa + 1 c water
1/3 c dried oven roasted corn
1/3 c dried mushrooms
1 c hot water to rehydrate the corn and mushrooms
1 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t hot pepper powder
1/4 t salt- depending on salt taste. I used it on this batch and I found the first taste of the quinoa before stirring in the mushrooms and corn too salty. By the time it was cool enough to stir in the cheese, the salt seemed right. 
1 package Golden G Washingtons
2-3 cup shredded cheese, divided
Put corn, mushrooms, and hot water into a bowl and set aside to rehydrate
Follow packagage directions for making quinoa- add the Golden G Washingtons to this water
Once quinoa is done, stir in the chili powder, cumin, and hot pepper powder
Drain the mushrooms and corn well and stir into the quinoa- let sit till stuffing time. When it's stuffing time, stir 1/2c of the cheese into the stuffing, reserving the rest to sprinkle on top.

When it's stuffing time..  Stuff your squashes, duh. Top the beans and kale with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese,  top the spicy quinoa with the rest of the shredded cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-25 minutes, uncovered.

I shared around the stuffings in the squashes so we could get a wider range of tastes. We agreed that the quinoa stuffing was way yummier in the buttercup, and the bean was better in the sweet dumpling

I'm pretty positive if you wanted to and chilled everything down right, you could stuff your squashes, store them overnight, then pull them out, top them, and bake them off. Not sure if freezing would be good or not, that will have to be a future experiment.

Potato soup- my soups are rarely the same twice, hehe.
8 cups of stock
3 pounds potatoes- peeled and very rough chop
1/2 cup dried carrots- rehydrated 15 minutes and drained well
1 cup diced celery
1 medium onion, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 head garlic, peeled and sliced thick
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
2 T bacon grease- yeah, that stuff you should be saving when you make bacon
2T parsley
2 T tarragon
2 T lemon verbena
1 T thyme
1 cup sour cream

In a large stockpot, heat bacon grease and saute the carrot, celery, onion, shallot, and garlic.
Once a fond starts to appear, and the veggies are really releasing steam, deglaze the pan with some of the stock.
Pour in the rest of the stock, add the beans and herbs, cover, and bring up to a boil, uncovered. Once at the boil, reduce heat to medium-med low, cover, and let simmer 15 minutes.
Pour in the potatoes, cover again, and let simmer for 45 minutes or so, till the potatoes are fall apart tender.
Stir the snot out of the soup with a potato masher to break up the chunks if you like your soup chunkier, or run it through a blender if you like it smoother.
Put in the sour cream and stir well to blend. Kill heat, and serve.

With the stuffing of the squash gone well the other day, and having a bunch of tomatoes handy... hmmm, how about stuffed tomatoes for dinner? I had thought about making a wee batch of yellow spaghetti sauce to go over the spaghetti squash, but decided to stuff instead- more experimentation for me :) I picked out 6 tomatoes, and am doing 3 stuffings.

Quinoa and spinach:
1/4 c quinoa+ 1/2 c water. Cooked according to package directions.
1 c frozen spinach, defrosted
1 T fresh parsley
1/2 T fresh rosemary
2-3 garlic cloves, coarse dice
1-2 T olive oil
1 t dried minced garlic
Bring oil up to heat, briefly saute the fresh garlic, add the spinach and saute 3-4 minutes. Kill the heat, stir in the parsley, rosemary, and dried garlic. When quinoa is done, stir into spinach. Season to taste, and set aside till stuffing. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Tomato and rice:
1/4 c brown rice
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 T olive oil
1 T basil
1/2 T marjoram
2 T dried mushrooms, crushed
tomato puree- when you core your tomatoes, reserve the guts and whir them up in the blender or food processor.
Sweat the shallot and garlic
Add rice, and toast 3 minutes or so
Stir in 1/4 cup of puree to moisten
Stir in basil, marjoram, and mushrooms
Stir in another 1/4 c of puree
Allow to sizzle away for about a miniute or two, stirring the whole time
Stir in another 1/4 of puree, cover, and drop the heat down to low. Let cook for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring and adding in more puree if needed, ended up using 3/4 cup.
Tuna and cheese:
1 can tuna
1/2 block cream cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 T butter
1/2 T dill
1/2 T old bay seasoning

When it's time for dinner, stuff your tomatoes, and bake off at 350 for 20 minutes or so.
Realized after dinner some things.. The quinoa was best. The rice should have been at least par cooked before the puree, didn't cook up tender correctly. And the tuna should have used less bread crumbs, better flavoring- and in general needs a serious overhaul before I try that one again. But they were are pretty good anyway. 

Nova is sitting there wondering WTF that is on the other side of the stove.

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