Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bread Pudding (Large Batch) with Sarah's Cinnamon Syrup

Well, I kept stashing away stale bread, bread duds (my husband doesn't like the breadmaker bread),  a few hotdog buns and some breakfast bread with dried fruit my Mom gave me and some burnt toast in the freezer.

While searching through the freezers to see what was actually in there, I found I had a half dozen different bags of bread stashed away! Meijer, our local grocery store is finally carrying their own line of organic bread, among other things, but it is not taking off as well as it should and I forget to check the date in the store... so a loaf usually only lasts a couple days before it doesn't taste fresh anymore. Even a couple days before the date. Which, is fine, I'd hate to think they filled it with tons of preservatives anyway. So, in the freezer these quarter loaves go.

Today I pulled them all out, chopped them up into bite sized pieces and found I had 30 cups worth! So, I did some searches online. I wanted one with lots of fruit and eggs and little sugar. Honey, molasses fine. I found this one:
and this one:
and some others, and then kinda did my own thing. Of course. :)

So, I had a dozen eggs I needed to use up, put that in a bowl with almost 2 cups of organic milk, 2 cups of organic coffee, 2 cups of plain organic yogurt, 1/2 cup of molasses, 1/2 cup honey, 1/3 cup of raw, organic cane sugar, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, about 1 Tablespoon each (give or take) of freshly ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. I grind them in my coffee grinder. I don't know how fresh the nutmeg was because I was able to press down on it with my knife and split it apart to get it in my grinder. 1 heaping spoonful of ground ginger. I would have used fresh, but wanted to use up my store bought stuff. :) 4 black peppercorns, and 4 cloves freshly ground.

1 also got the zest from 3 smaller grapefruits since I didn't have any oranges. I used about a teaspoon of almond extract since my homemade vanilla is still infusing. :)

I ran everything (but the bread) through my blender and poured it out evenly over the bread crumbs which I put into 4 separate casserole dishes. I then blended about 4 cups of fruit in my blender, an apple, 3 stalks of rhubarb, 3 grapefruits. I then poured about a cup over each casserole dish. I then sprinkled some raisins into each dish. I mixed everything thoroughly with a spoon.

I baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes wrapped with aluminum foil and then took the foil off and let it go for another ten minutes or so til somewhat crisp.

Tried some with maple syrup - okay. Tried some with my niece Sarah's Cinnamon Syrup - awesome!!!

Sarah's Cinnamon Syrup (Simple syrup with cinnamon): 

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of raw cane sugar
  • 5 cinnamon sticks, ground
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer approximately 30 min­utes. Stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Keep stirring. Sarah: "It takes forever Auntie Katie". You're doing good Sarah, keep stirring. :)  Let cool. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Couscous Red Curry but not quite - so good! Vegetarian.

Well, I finally broke down and bought some CousCous - Whole Wheat at Trader Joe's, 16oz for $1.99 I believe. I've never made anything with it before and this was great!! :) So, what to do with it??

We had a phenomenal Guam Curry meal at an impromptu meal with our new friends at and decided I had to try to duplicate it. It didn't happen this time, but we still loved it!

First I prepared the couscous immediately regretting it as it only took 5 minutes to mix equal parts water and couscous and boil... I did squash a garlic clove and put it in there too.

I chopped and sauteed an onion in EVOO for a few minutes, added 8 cloves of minced garlic and a small chunk of minced ginger and minced tumeric.  I then sliced up some carrots and celery and threw that in. I added most of this to the couscous in the other pot. I left some in, added some more EVOO and sauteed 3 banana peppers and 2 Jalepeno peppers, then put those in the couscous pot and stirred it all up.

I then put some butter in the pan and sauteed some mini portabella mushrooms. Put that in the couscous.

Poured about a cup of organic milk into the frying pan. I would have used coconut milk if I had it, or put coconut in if I had it, but I didn't. So I splashed some coconut oil in the couscous. Didn't notice the coconut flavour tho... I ran a few chili de arbol peppers through my coffee grinder. This is how I make my chili powder. Put that in the milk. I also ran some cumin seed through the coffee grinder, about a tablespoon or so. Probably a little more than that actually. We use medicinal quantities of our herbs and spices in case you didn't notice! :)

So, I slowly stirred the spices through the milk and added a bit of cottage cheese to see if it would thicken it up. It didn't, but we were also very hungry, so I didn't wait for it to melt either... I added 2 tablespoons of organic ketchup. One of these days I'll can tomato paste and have the ability to grab that off the shelf. Yesterday was not that day though! :) I added a 1/4 tsp of white pepper. I probably should have added more ginger and garlic, but I didn't.  I didn't add cilantro either as I just chopped it up and put it in just before I served it. I also didn't use shrimp paste, fish sauce or soy sauce, or lime juice. I was going to use soy sauce, but I forgot. Just as well as we're trying to stay away from soy. I did add some lemon zest though. We definitely missed not having Lemongrass!!!

So, I mixed everything together, and added some cilantro and feta cheese on top - incredible! The jalepenos were kinda hot for my taste, but my husband gladly ate them for me.

Inexpensive, good and healthy! He said I definitely need to make this again. :)


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zucchini Casserole, with a kick! :) Then modified the next day. 2 meals in one! :)

Well, I finally harvested my first bunch of zucchinis the other day - 3 green, 6 yellow, or so. Yeah!! Fruits of our labour and $$ invested in topsoil and pots, etc. :) So worth it!!!!!

So, I made zucchini casserole. I only used one big pot, when I normally would have used 2 or 3, but didn't feel like washing a zillion things - heat wave WEEK here in the midwest. Today it will reach 100 degrees if it hasn't already. I am sitting 6 inches from the A/C. Too hot to blog! but none the less, want to get my about monthly post in. :)

First I sauteed some onion and garlic in the bottom of the pan. I opted out of including ginger which is habit, I usually saute the 3 together. Anyway, when the onions were translucent, I added the garlic. Then I poured in a few pints of my homemade canned salsa yumminess. :) Ingredients: tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalepeno, cilantro and lots of vinegar. Yeah, the canning monsters online scared me into it in case my tomatoes weren't acidic enough. Thus we only use it for cooking now - it's too vinegary to eat as salsa dip. :( But tastes great in stews, soups, casseroles, etc.!

Started chopping up the zucchinis and throwing them in the mix. Added some sea salt and ground pepper, and cumin. Then I added my own chili powder - homemade from grinding up chilis in my coffee grinder. Yeah, we don't drink much coffee anymore - although I'm sure it would just add to yummy flavour. :)

Let that simmer for an hour or so. If I had planned better I would have done it in the morning and thrown it all in the slow cooker! One of these days...

I then chopped up some fresh oregano, marjoram and basil from my garden in pots outside and threw it in there. I wish I hadn't killed my cilantro because that would have gone in there too. Did you know that cilantro is a natural metals detoxifier? I recently read that somewhere. Another reason to pour on the cilantro - stems and all! :) But, not this time. :( Although, I did put cilantro in my salsa when I made it! Marjoram aids in congestion, sinus, etc. Yes, I use all my herbs in medicinal quantities - ie a whole bulb of garlic and way too much onion.

Your body eventually gets used to these quantities and you don't go around smelling like a garlic onion catastrophe. Or so I'm told. :) Life is short, go for it!

It tasted soooooo good!!! My dear husband was all mmmmmm through the whole meal! He ate more of that then the chicken off the bbq. :)

The next nite I sauteed some enoki mushrooms and shrimp in butter. Added a bit more sea salt and ground pepper and threw it in the mix. A whole new meal!!!

Next time, we'll maybe make it with some turkey sausage or something. Or maybe the real deal. Yummy!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sangria with Raspberry Green Tea!!!!

I made Sangria for the first time recently, and it turned out awesome! I used the iced tea I already had in the fridge which was made with Raspberry Green Tea.

I took two cups of the Tea and mixed 3/4 cup of Raw Organic Cane Sugar in it and simmered it on the stove just until the sugar melted. Otherwise, you can boil 2 cups of water with 3/4 cups of sugar, then steep the tea, but I didn't want to wait for it to cool down and wanted to use the tea that had been nicely infusing for a few days so it was at optimum quality.

I then added slices of a whole orange, lemon and lime and simmered them in the pot also for a few minutes, then turned it off and let them sit, with the cover on for about 5 minutes. Waited a bit for things to cool, then put the mixture in one of my glass iced tea jugs with a bottle of Charles Shaw (2 buck Chuck) Cabernet Sauvignon and 2 shots of vodka and let that cool in the fridge for a few hours.

I added some lime juice ice cubes to the mix as well. I created these cubes by chopping whole limes, including the rinds and blending them in my awesome Blendtec Mixer with a bit of water. It made a great juice concentrate for Margaritas, and the rest I poured into ice cube trays for future use.

You can add some sparkly to the mixture, like tonic water or other carbonated water, Sprite, Ginger Ale, etc. but I did not. If you do add this, wait until you are ready to serve it or it will lose its bubbly content. :)

Serve and enjoy!

Warning, do not operate heavy machinery if you eat all that fruit in one sitting the next day that has been soaking in the alcohol! :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

So I made Rhubarb Jalepeno Ginger Relish, or Chutney, or something. :)

I started out making pickled ginger, Japanese style, called Gari in Japanese; but I didn't have Rice Vinegar. Undaunted, I proceeded with a combination of plain white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Here is the recipe I used:
Pickled ginger is usually served with sushi and is called gari. Try to eat gari between different kinds of sushi. It helps to clean your mouth and enhance the flavors. It's best to use fresh young ginger (shin shoga) to make pickled ginger.
  • 2 lb fresh young ginger (shin shoga)
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 3 cups rice vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
Wash young ginger root and rub off skin. Slice the ginger thinly and salt them. Leave salted ginger slices in a bowl for about one hour. Dry the ginger slices with paper towels and put them in a sterilized, heat-resistant container/jar. Mix rice vinegar and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil. Pour the hot mixture of vinegar and sugar over the ginger slices. Cool them. Pickled ginger changes its color to light pink. (*If you are using old ginger, it might not turn pink naturally.) Cover the jar and store it in the refrigerator.

I put all the ingredients in about a 32oz pickle jar, smushing (yes, smushing) everything down with a wooden spoon so that the liquid comes over the top of everything, then shmushed 2 jalepeno peppers in there as best I could. 

I covered it with a cloth and wrapped a rubber band around it and let it ferment on top of the fridge overnight in a glass pickle jar, then covered it with the pickle jar lid and put it in the fridge. I don't know to much about fermentation, so I decided I'd wait and do a dedicated fermenting project instead. 

After a couple days, I decided to have some with Dinner. Thing is, I didn't have the patience to slice the ginger "paper thin" as the Japanese do. Or a good enough knife I think. How do they get it that thin??? 
So, I took a bit of ginger which was almost twice as thick as a coin. Oooh! Peppery!! My Dad had some, and started coughing like crazy. He was done with the idea.
So, I put it back in the fridge. 

After my parents left, I started canning salsa with the 30 lbs of Tomatoes they brought for me from Florida, yeah! And decided maybe I should do something else with my Shin Shoga.  :)
So, I started looking up relish and chutney recipes. 

Decided to add 4 cloves of garlic, 5 whole cloves, a stick of cinnamon and an apple, not cored or seeded, but quartered. Dumped everything in my new Blendtec Blender - AWESOME by the way, saved me HOURS because I did not have to seed and core all those 30 lbs of tomatoes... I got it on QVC - 5 monthly payments of $90...
Blendtec Fine Livi...
Best Price $325.00
or Buy New $399.95

Anyway! I blended. Well, I had to divide the mixture because it wouldn't all fit in one blend, but that's okay. It was so good!! :)

I loved the taste of this new relish. Now I'm debating boiling it all and canning it because I have so much. Then, I think if I did that, it would become a chutney. Not sure. 
Ha ha, but you have to try this!! So spicy, sweet and delish!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Be Clinquant (KLING-kunt) Glittering with Gold and Silver: Purpose(FULL) Life

Be Clinquant (KLING-kunt) Glittering with Gold and Silver: Purpose(FULL) Life:

What is your purpose in life? What are you meant to do while you're here? Life is so short, it can be over in the blink of an eye. What do you contribute to the world around you? Who are you? Do you know? Who do others perceive you to be? What is driving you, day by day? Is it hum-drum, gotta get up, go to work, eat and sleep and do it all over again because you have bills to pay?

Is there purpose in what you do? Did you choose this life and what you do? Was there a conscious decision some time in your life, when you were a kid perhaps, where you said I want to be a .... fill in the blank. Are you doing that now? Are you fulfilling your lifelong dream of being or doing whatever you thought you were going to be when you were a kid?

Have your dreams changed? Or have you settled because you think you will never attain what lofty ideas you had as a kid? Are you okay with the changes in mindset and deed? Or do you secretly long to be what you've always wanted to be and keep stuffing that dream down because it's not realistic, you'll never achieve it.

What are you doing right now, from day to day? Are you enjoying it? Are you doing things that you like to do, or have to do, or both? What goes on your daily task list, and why? Did you put those lists there, or where they dictated to you by someone else?

What are the things that you're good at? What are you not so good at? Do you even really know? Do you have the chance each day to do things that you enjoy and are good at? Why or Why not?

There are no right or wrong answers here. Just looking for honest answers from you. You may not have the answers now. I urge you to consider these questions though and come up with some answers. They may change a day or two, month or two, year or two or more down the road. That's okay. Right now, lets focus on finding out where you're at today and where you want to go.

I will endeavour to help you along the way come up with answers to these questions and others, usually by asking you more questions. Please feel free to comment and ask questions and if this post is causing you to think, go ahead and click to subscribe to these posts via email.

CHOOSE each day to BE Clinquant!

Success to you!!

Katie Gonzalez

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Food Storage; is it necessary, is it the end of the world? Here's my take.

There are many blogs out there now touting the need to store food. Not just for a few months, or even a year, but some indicate the dire need, necessity, of storing food for 20, or 30 years or more! This quite frankly amazes me. If, God forbid, we needed food then that we've stored now, if the world is not able to provide it to us as it is now, what makes us think that we'll be around? Well, there have been multiple times in my life where I should have died, but I didn't (and my forehead is mis-shapen as a reminder), so I'll probably be around, but I shudder to think what that would look like, especially seeing that Tom Cruise movie, the Will Smith one, sorry, not much for remembering movie titles... granted the alien theme is totally far fetched, but what if something happened and changed the world as we know it? 
Okay, moving on to a lighter part of the discussion. I don't really believe anything like that will happen, but how do I know? I know that we are to live like Jesus could be coming back tomorrow, but I don't believe that's going to happen either. He will return no doubt, but I really don't think it will be in my life time. Obviously, I could be wrong on that take too, it's just that the Bible says, no one knows when this will happen, so I kinda take the Bible at it's word. 
So, why store food? First let me say, I believe this is a good idea. I don't know about 30 or 40 years worth, but if you have the means to do it and the storage space, go for it. I know where to go then if I'm not sufficiently prepared and it is necessary. :) Just don't do it out of fear. Don't do anything out of fear for that matter. 
Read Proverbs 31 - New Living Translation (I like the whole chapter , but have highlighted a few verses)
A Wife of Noble Character
 10 [b]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
      She is more precious than rubies.
 11 Her husband can trust her,
      and she will greatly enrich his life.
 12 She brings him good, not harm,
      all the days of her life.
 13 She finds wool and flax
      and busily spins it.
 14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
      bringing her food from afar.

 15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
      and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
 16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
      with her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She is energetic and strong,
      a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
      her lamp burns late into the night.

 19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
      her fingers twisting fiber.
 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
      and opens her arms to the needy.

 21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
      for everyone has warm[c] clothes.
 22 She makes her own bedspreads.
      She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
 23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
      where he sits with the other civic leaders.
 24 She makes belted linen garments
      and sashes to sell to the merchants.
 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
      and she laughs without fear of the future.
 26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
      and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
      and suffers nothing from laziness.

 28 Her children stand and bless her.
      Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
      but you surpass them all!”

 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
      but a woman who fears the L
ord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
      Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

She LAUGHS WITHOUT FEAR for the future. I like that part. Nothing concerns her.

Food and supply storage is something to be considering to be sure. In light of the events in Japan and with the cost of food rising exponentially (Trump said that due to inflation a loaf of bread could cost $25 soon – maybe just in gas to get it to you). Also crops are failing the world over, we do need to be wise stewards of our land, with what we’ve been given and be open to what may be coming.
I haven't discussed this much here, but the Genically Modified and Non-Organic stuff that’s passed off as food with respected labels such as Kraft, Uncle Ben’s, Campbells, etc. that fills the shelves at the grocery stores is terrible for us to be consuming. Also, canned food is no good for you with all those preservatives and God knows what in it, not to mention the BPA lined cans, which most of them are.
Here are a few helpful documentaries to consider:   (and then watch the sequel to it)
Again, my intent is not to scare, I simply hope for the best, but I am slowly attempting to  prepare for the worst.
Use wisdom, a lot of those storage sites are over the top and many use scare tactics to get you to buy their stuff, but there is, I believe a thread of truth to it and we need to be discerning in it.

We bought a deep freeze with our wedding money, and are growing our own food for the first time ever and are planning to buy a pressure canner, have a water bath, and stock pot, some canning supplies, still building the supplies, and plan to buy a dehydrator.

We are starting to stock up on grains, legumes, coconut and olive oils, hoping to freeze fruit to make whole fruit juices later, etc.  Our goal is three month rotational storage, then 6 months, then a year.

Think of Joseph in the Old Testament, or to put it in our current economy's perspective, my husband doesn't work as much in the winter, so if we had freshly canned and frozen produce in the winter, that we grew  and preserved ourselves in the summer and fall, we wouldn't have to worry about potential global crop failures (happening now), contamination, etc. or finding produce and paying out of season and organic pricing.

75 to 80% of our diet is produce. 10-15% is beans, legumes, the rest is meat, grains, fat and other stuff on occasion. We are not vegetarians, but find it's cheaper and we feel healthier if we only eat meat (usually seafood or poultry) 2 or 3 times per week, and then it's only a small amount. Well, my DH does consume a bit more meat than I do and he does have organic milk once a day in his smoothies, he's not so keen on my nut milk, but will drink it if there's nothing else for his smoothie. 
This way, if for some reason we are short on funds, we have an abundance of healthy food stored up to choose from. Being self-sustaining and healthy are our main goals for producing and preserving our own foods. Besides, buying the rest in bulk is much cheaper also. Since we have started buying in bulk and reducing the amount of meat we eat, we show no increase in our food budget, even though we now buy everything Organic, in fact, the more we use our bulk storage, the less our output is on money, but we are gradually increasing our supplies.
What do you think?