Friday, February 15, 2013

Hummus with Naan and Spiced Meat

Spiced meat is awesome with hummus and the Naan provides a delightful utensil for scooping it up.
MMMMM Delish.

There are sooooo many recipe variations but here is the one my family likes best.

This dish is highly adjustable to taste preference and availability of ingredients.
You can substitute beef for lamb or any flat-bread for the Naan.

Spiced Meat


 Ingredients:

2 lbs of finely diced lamb, beef, or other meat although lamb or beef are the best for flavor.
1 large onion finely diced
1 bulb garlic finely chopped
1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 tbsp Baharat Spice mix (recipe below)

My Baharat Mix
2 part each: Allspice, paprika
1 part each: tumeric, clove, nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Star anise to taste (optional but nice)
Cardamon (I used whole cardamon, 2 pods)


Method:

Preheat skillet or pot to medium high heat with oil.
In separate large bowl mix together the meat, spices and onion, garlic and flour.
Brown meat mixture in pan. When cooked through, add lemon juice and cover and simmer on low for about an hour. Mixing occasionally. You can serve it if the meat has cooked all the way but the extra cover and simmer time gets the meat nice and soft and lets all the awesome flavors blend and soak in.



Naan



Ingredients:

3 cups flour (plus some extra for rolling)
2 1/2 tsp or 1 package of instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1/2 cup warm water

Method

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar (or honey), and salt
In separate bowl combine egg, oil, yogurt and water.
Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients, blend well.
Divide dough into about 24 equal pieces and let each piece rise till double.
Roll each piece into a thin disk about 1/8 inch thick.

Cook on a greased skillet over medium high heat till done on each side (about 60 seconds total).



Hummus


Ingredients

3 cans chickpeas (about 5-6 cups)
2-3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds (or about 1 tsp sesame oil)
6 large cloves garlic (about 2 tbsp crushed)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Optional ingredients:
roasted red pepper, cayenne pepper, cilantro, pepper, yogurt


Method

In food processor, add chickpeas, sesame, garlic, salt, and process on pulse to chop the peas.
Add the lemon juice and process continually, adding oil slowly until smooth.

toasting seeds
Tips

Add or subtract the following according to your taste.

Garlic - more makes it spicy

Lemon juice - gives it tang and acidity

Sesame - a toasty aromatic flavor

Greek plain yogurt will give it more moisture, tang and smoothness




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Cuisinart FP-12 12 cup Food Processor Review

So. My old Hamilton beach had a heart attack and died after 5 years of occasional processing.


I need a new one that can handle more but cant' afford a thousand dollar pro model.


And if you know me, you know that I don't' just go out and buy a replacement without hours of research.


I started out with a budget and what I wanted or did not want in my next processor.

Here is what I experienced in my old HB.
Good for occasional use. As I have a much larger garden and process my own foods a great deal more than I used to, I need an upgrade. Here is my evaluation of a good little home budget unit that is higher end than what you will find at the local Walmart.

Wants and not wants:
bigger bowl
deeper liquid capacity
much much bigger feed tube
better quality / motor

Budget #1 - under $100
Research - nothing under $100 had the features or good product reviews

Budget #2 - under $200
Research - much wider options here. It was a toss-up between a kitchen aid and this one. My reviews that follow will explain why I chose this unit.


REVIEWS

Purchase

I found this unit for the best deal on 3 sites. Color finishes vary in price greatly among all retail sources.
I went with the black as it was cheapest and I prefer it over white.
Amazon, Cuisinart and Bed Bath and Beyond all had it within pennies of each-other.
Now was to see if I could get the best shipping and coupon options.
Amazon had no coupons or deals and charges tax and free SH.
Cuisinart did not charge tax or shipping (for my state) but as I needed the unit within 5 days and there were severe storms on the eastern coast (Connecticut location) they informed that SH may not be quick or reliable.
BB&B had reliable, fast shipping and a coupon for 20% off any item at the time so, I used the savings from the coupon to pay for the faster shipping. It came on-time via Fed ex and in great condition.

Just in time for Hummus B' Laham nite!


In the Box

USES 1-3


Loves:

buttons
Unit - this thing is HEAVY! With it's rubber feet it stays put! No need for suction cups as this thing does not know how to walk across the counter under any load. Although it does need a hand on while doing bread dough.

The Buttons are encased - no getting the junk out with a toothpick here. Big buttons and are easy to engage with minimal pressure.


easy to clean & solid blade tops
Cord storage area is nice but nothing special.

Dishwasher-ability is nice but, I prefer to hand-wash and I can be sure no gunk gets down in the crevices.

Blade lock is GREAT!

The blades themselves come nice and close to the bottom and edges and incorporate very well.
I LOVE that the blade top is solid. this allows you to be able to pour stuff right on top without worrying about it getting down the shaft.

NO LOVE:
gave yeast bread 2 chances - kept getting up the center of the blade and down into the base


ON HUMMUS


It went through the hummus nicely - even pureed the sesame seeds to make a super smooth yummy hummus. The engine did not skip a beat or slow down. I was able to make a 3-can batch no problem.


ON YEAST DOUGH


The powerful motor gave it a beating for sure. It did slow and stop at a point in both batches.
It DID get dough up the middle shaft and down into the base. Both times and even after following the directions by Cuisinart both times.
The cleaning tool that came with my unit made it nice to be able to clean the base post but, I prefer not to have to do this again.
Summary - Leave the yeast dough's to your mixer or bread machine.



More reviews coming later as I use this unit more.


ADJUSTABLE SLICING DISK & shredder

Pretty awesome. there are 15 sizes available between 1mm and 6mm.

Overall the slicing and shredding disks are great.
The beef:
- seems to leave more odd pieces than the old processor and
- can't use with the small bowl.


ON SOUPS = A+

OK. Lemme say... how did we ever get along without locking blades and blades that cover the center hole psot.

WOW - making soup is actually FUN with this -
 - just pour the saute (or whatever) from the pan right into the bowl - no fuss with getting it along the edges - just pour it right on in!
 - then, let the machine quietly do its work
best part - pour it back into the cooking pot - no getting your fingers all up in the soup or blades plopping into the pan.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Infused Vinegars

I received these beautiful bottles from a friend as a gift and knew exactly what to use them for.

 
Storing Infused vinegar. 

Vinegar is used for TONS of household and farm work from laundry softener,dishwasher rinse aid, surface cleaner and more. Why not infuse the vinegar with a wonderful scent or flavor.

I suggest using fresh, rather than dried plant products. I have used dried lavender but it needed a month of soaking and did not release a strong enough fragrance for my preference. 









For Orange, I used peels from a bag of delicious blood oranges that I devoured over the course of 3 days.



I used large mason jars for soaking and transferred the vinegar to the bottles. 

Be sure not to let vinegar contact metal during soaking or storing as vinegar is acidic and can ruin the metal.


The rosemary is taking a few weeks longer than the orange which only took about a week.

Try infusing you own vinegar.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Un-cluttering the files 2012 into 2013


In the effort to continue my "spring cleaning" I am going through my overcrowded photo files and decided to blog them. Mainly because I was going to do it anyways but it (like so many other things) was put on the back burner.

In addition to the holiday scramble, I have decided to make hoop row covers and build a potting bench for the garden. I am frustrated with the super long winters here and am looking forward to trying to beat nature and be able to grow peppers and tomatoes with success as well as make the most from the "mild" winters here. 


Can one OD on  Fresh PNW Bing Cherries?
Diego, the neighbors' Alpaca says "m".














Panoramas


view of Mt Rainier from my "office" window (only available in the winter).


Seattle space needle view


A cold, short visit to Mowich Lake, Mt Rainier




Christmas of 2012

I got a chance to play with my new camera. Before I had to sent it back to Nikon for repair and missed out on shooting the folks while they were here :-(














Around the block.


neighbor dog joins us on a walk
neighbor horse joins us on a walk









father and daughter on a walk




Around the house.














garden in early summer


















We welcome my 2nd  Niece into the world!!!!




Birth of my beautiful neice #2


Sabrina makes us a cake for our 10th aniversary














Had some cold cold weather (at least for here).
Anything below freezing is pretty cold here.
Some days the clouds were low and the fog was frozen in the air - that is pretty cool.


Overall, It has been another crazy, fun year. Everyone is healthy (once again). We still love it here. The rainy season was a bit much this year for me because it started so early and was sooooo cold. But, there have been breaks recently and it is still cool but not unbearably anymore.


For 2013, I am hoping (and working super hard) to get Poultry Playground in the black this year. 
Getting an early start on the garden - hoping to fill the new deepfreezer to the top, and have to buy more canning supplies.
Looking forward to shaping the Japanese garden.
And, getting some remodeling done on the interior (that 30 year old furnace is killing us on electric bills).


first attempt at a portrait of my daughter
Till next time...





Oreo Peanut-butter Brownies

Mmmmm...

I have seen this (several variations) on Pinterest.

Here is my variation.



Ingredients:
a box of brownie mix (your choice)
a package of Oreo or similar cookies (or any cookie)
Peanut-butter (about a cup)
Ingredients listed on the box of brownie mix




How:

Follow directions on the box of brownie mix.




Before you pour the mix into your chosen dish, top oreos (one at a time) with about a teaspoon or so of peanutbutter and place cookie-side-down in single layer into the pan.


Then cover with the mix. Bake according to directions.


EASY. YUMMY!



The cookies are so soft when the brownies are still warm. When they have cooled to room temp, the crispness comes back.



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Egg Confusion

 Egg confusion.


Eggs. I love eggs. "In a shell" (ha ha), they are a great, natural, nutritious, food. It is also a great way for folks who choose not to eat meat to get protein.

In my quest to live healthier, greener and more self-sustaining, I am lucky to have my own chickens (sans rooster - all girls here!) and to know exactly what is and what is not going into my eggs. An even better feeling is to know that the hens are kept happy and humanely. The chickens also make great, inexpensive, and highly entertaining pets!

I have learned a lot in the short time I have had birds. One of the most eye-opening things I have learned is about egg labeling and nutrition.
Egg labeling can be confusing. Free Range, Organic, Pastured ... which is best? Omega 3, Brown vs White ... which is healthiest?  Large, AA ... What does it all mean?

Here is the break-down from the USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture) and the American Egg Board and others.
  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Focus_On_Shell_Eggs/index.asp
 http://www.incredibleegg.org/health-and-nutrition/egg-nutrients

  First lets' look at the basics of size and quality

 

GRADES

 I wish I got those grades...
USDA Grade AA and USDA Grade A shields
source USDA

Eggs you find in the store come with one of 3 different grades:
U.S. Grade AA, A, and B.
These grades are basically given based on 2 factors:
1 - the interior quality of the egg judged by candling prior to packaging
2-  the condition of the egg shell prior to packaging
Keep in mind that this may or may not be the condition in which they are in at the time you purchase or consume them.

U.S. Grade AA
Whites are thick and firm; yolks that are high, round, and practically free from defects.
Shells are clean & unbroken.

U.S. Grade A
Whites are "reasonably" firm.
This is the quality most often sold in stores.

U.S. Grade B
Whites may be thinner, yolks may be wider and flatter than eggs of higher grades.
Shells unbroken, but may have slight stains.
This quality is usually used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products.


SIZE

... doesn't matter.

Size is just the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs.
It does not refer to size or shape of the individual eggs.
It is the total weight of the carton that puts them in one of the following classes:


Size or Weight Class Minimum net weight per dozen
Jumbo 30 ounces
Extra Large 27 ounces
Large 24 ounces
Medium 21 ounces
Small 18 ounces
Peewee 15 ounces
Chart from USDA


Now that the easy part is over, on to the nitty gritty.

COLOR  

Eggs come in a variety of colors. Forget the USDA's explanation of this 'cause they are just plain wrong with their feather mumbo-jumbo. Here is the truth = If the hen has a white skin patch under the ears the eggs will be white. If the hen has a red or splotched skin patch under the ears, the egg will be not white. I say not white because eggs can be any shade of brown from a light tan to a rich dark mocha. Some eggs may have an auburn tint and others can even be shades of green, blue or pink! Very Cool.

I have 5 hens and can tell who laid what egg by the color.

FACT: There is no difference in flavor, quality, or nutrition as a result of the color of the shell. No, really, I am not kidding. It doesn't matter.

Here is what does matter...


http://www.incredibleegg.org/health-and-nutrition/egg-nutrients/nutrient-label

FERTILE

OK kiddos, that means there is a rooster involved. If you need more explanation than that, ask your parents. The egg could be fertilized.
NO, the embryo won't develop into a chick because it has been either too cold, too long since laid or both.
NO, there is no difference in nutrition in fertilized vs. unfertilized eggs.
Although, they do not keep as well as unfertilized eggs. Commercial eggs are not fertile unless so labeled.

 

Regular 'Ole Eggs

'Y know... the ones in the store that are the cheapest. No fancy labels. Just plain old eggs. These come from large "factory farms". The hens are called "battery hens" and are "paked" several per cage; cage on top of cage, filling large warehouse buildings. They live this way from egg-laying age till death. I could go on about the miserable conditions but won't. You can learn more from the Humane Society at the following link: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/chickens/
Anyway... that is where the majority of commercial eggs come from. This is also why they are cheapest - "stack 'em deep -n- sell 'em cheap". Although, some argument can be made for the control aspect of this style. It is possible to maintain climate, air quality, feed, medications and water at optimal levels. Predators are not an issue.
 

FREE RANGE, Free Roaming and Cage-Free

Free-range. This label indicates that the flock was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material. This label is regulated by the USDA.
 "The insects and other organic matter in the diet of free-range hens may result in such a very small increase in egg protein content that it’s considered insignificant. The nutrient content of eggs from the same breed of hen fed the same diet is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations." (http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/f/free-range-eggs).

Cage free

Eggs laid by hens at indoor floor operations, sometimes called free-roaming hens. The hens may roam in a building, room or open area, usually in a barn or poultry house, and have unlimited access to food and water.
 (http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/c/cage-free-eggs)


Hormone-Free Eggs

All eggs are hormone free. In the U.S., by federal law, neither laying hens nor any other type of poultry are fed hormones. (http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/h/hormone-free-eggs)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafood are considered essential components of the diet because your body can’t make them from the foods you eat. Regular eggs also contain omega-3s, on average about 30 mg per egg. Omega-3-enhanced eggs provide more, from 100 to over 600 mg per egg. (http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/o/omega-3-fatty-acids)



Organic Eggs

Eggs produced according to national USDA organic standards related to methods, practices and substances used in producing and handling crops, livestock and processed agricultural products.
This is all extremely complicated and comes in varying levels.
Among other requirements, organic eggs are produced by hens fed rations having ingredients that were grown without most conventional pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers. Due to higher production costs and lower volume per farm, organic eggs are more expensive than eggs from hens fed conventional feed. The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether or not the ration is organic.
 (http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/o/organic-eggs)


And for those who go unconventional...

Backyard Chickens allowed to "graze"

Researchers from Pen State found that pastured birds produced eggs that contained about three times more omega-3 fat in their eggs than did birds raised on an industrial diet. They also had more vitamins A and E. (http://www.rps.psu.edu/0305/poultry.html)

 My fresh eggs have a super thick shell (from the "recycled" calcium supplement), a cloudy and thick egg white, a thick and dark yolk & virtually no air sac. This means they are fresh!


So, what to I do with all these fresh, healthy eggs from my happy birdies?
Breakfast sandwiches, scrambles, fritatas and quiches; deviled eggs, egg salad breakfast pizza; sauces and dressings, baked goods and deserts, homemade pastas and noodles. You can even make hair and skin treatments - but, that is not my specialty.
You can visit my blog for some of my recipes and to learn more about my flock.
Recipes: http://mossytrees.blogspot.com/p/edibles.html
My Flock: http://mossytrees.blogspot.com/p/chickens.html