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? 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Black Bean, and Green Split Pea Yellow soup! I got high ratings for this one! :)

So, this post is by request from William, we loved having you here this weekend! :)

I used my freezer scrap broth to make this - see how to do this on the previous post. It is yellow because of the amount of Organic Tumeric used.

I soaked the black beans overnight - 2 nites, then boiled them rapidly for hours and they weren't cooked! Then boiled them again rapidly for hours the next night and then they were almost cooked, so I just threw them in the crock pot with some green split peas.

I didn't really intend to make this a soup, I wanted it to be like an Indian Dal to put over rice, but because I put so much extra broth in it to cook the beans and peas in the crock pot, it turned into soup! :)

Probably a cup each of organic black (turtle) beans and organic green split peas. 

I put the crock pot on high to bring the broth up to a boil to cook the green peas and finish cooking the black beans. By the way, it's wise to simmer beans slowly - I have no idea why it took so long to cook these beans, especially after they were soaked for two nites! :)

Anyway, to the beans and peas I added 2 teaspoons of Organic Tumeric. I know, that's a lot of Tumeric, but according to the Culinary Herbalist, these are medicinal quantities. I also added some Steak Salt that I was trying to get rid of, that had pepper in it and God knows what which is why I was trying to use it up. I don't want to be cooking with things I don't know about! :) Yeah, I guess I could throw it away... but I won't!  It's almost gone now. To this I added about a teaspoon each of Curry and Ground Organic Cumin Seed (ground in my coffee grinder), later I will make my own curry when I run out of this commercial variety and then I sprinkled some pepper seeds into it. As I use up my dehydrated Chile de Ancho, Chile de Arbol, New Mexico and Guajillo peppers, I just pour the little pieces of pepper and seeds that fell to the bottom of the bag into a spice jar and sprinkle them liberally over just about everything I cook.

Also according to the Culinary Herbalist, you should always start out with sauteeing onions, garlic and ginger. So, I did that and all scraps went into my freezer scrap bag for the next broth. The Culinary Herbalist also says our daily intake of Garlic should be 3 cloves per person, so since I was making soup for four, I minced about 12 cloves of organic garlic in this saute. I also minced a piece of organic ginger the size of my thumb, two sliced up (julienne?) jalepeno peppers and half to 3/4 of a bright red organic onion. Bright greens, deep reds and purples - these are the colours I look for in my produce, get your phytonutrients!! :) To this saute I added about 4 chopped, unpeeled organic carrots and 4 chopped un-deveined (sorry Grandma) stalks of organic celery and sauteed them just for a minute.

I threw the sauteed mix into the crock pot and chopped up an organic zucchini and threw that in there. Let it simmer until it was time to eat. Yummy!!! We're almost all organic, still using up some conventional stuff, but we're getting there!

So, this is not a standard recipe where I list all the ingredients first, but listed them throughout the steps so I wouldn't forget what I did. I hope this style reads okay because I do prefer the traditional style recipe myself!

I think you will LOVE this soup! It should feed about 6 or 8. There were 3 of us eating friday and the guys each had two bowls, I could only eat one as it was so filling due to the spiciness.

We have one quart mason jar leftover which we will eat tonite for dinner along with some leftovers from our unplanned Cinco de Mayo party this weekend (on Triente de Avril), yum!!! Fun fun fun!!!

Freezer scrap bag for stock/broth, and a new vegetarian life, smaller footprint

So, we started composting, but we are also keeping ALL fruits and veggie scraps, and left over bones, shrimp shells and the like in our repurposed produce bags, sandwich bags, etc. Plan to get away from storing food in plastic soon, (leaches chemicals) but one thing at a time. :)

Every night as I cut up vegetables for dinner, it seems if I don't start with a crock pot around lunchtime, I start in the evening with onions, ginger and garlic - sauteed. I never used to peel the ginger, but I do now, and those skins go in our scrap bag. The garlic and onion paper as well as the ends, also go into that scrap bag. Any soft spots, bruises, brown spots, anything I woudn't want to eat for any reason, go into that bag. Then it's simply, thrown in the freezer.

The dog gets the carrot ends, unless there's significant greens, but he lays claim to carrots. And of late, kale. Go figure. He's becoming a vegetarian too I guess. We've gone down to eating meat only 2 or 3 times per week and everything else is made from scratch.

Beans have always been a staple side, pinto beans, and rice. We've been trying to go to brown rice, but last fall we were gifted with a 50lb bag of white rice and then this spring with a 20lb bag. We keep giving much of it away, but still have lots to eat and can't justify buying brown rice til this is gone. So, we keep giving more away, and yet, I think the rice is still reproducing in that cupboard. So, we are blessed.

Beans and rice and vegetables are now what usually fills up our plate, and if we do have meat, we have a much smaller portion. The other stuff takes up more space on our plate. It's a good thing. Our goal is 80% produce and the rest can be whatever. I find we're probably closer to 60%, but it's a start. :)

So, start throwing your produce scraps in the freezer - don't forget your citrus rinds, apple cores, pineapple scraps, anything goes!

We then just fill up our crock pot with the produce scraps once a week or so and fill it with water, let it come to a boil, then simmer anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Add some sea salt and whatever spices out of the cupboard that need to be used up and yummo!! Sea salt is the least processed...

I use this broth for making rice, soaking or cooking beans, peas, lentils, etc. I use it in the blender to provide liquid for salsas, at the bottom of the roaster when cooking a roast and of course as a starter for soup, we love soup in this house!! And I love that nothing goes to waste!!

We have even reduced how much trash we throw out. Most of it is either compost or freezer/broth scraps, and the last bit of plastic that we're trying to get rid of. I've been repurposing as much plastic as I can for seed starters, etc. but sometimes I get overwhelmed with stockpiling it and have to purge, but we are doing much more to reduce our footprint. Instead of one kitchen bag a week for the two of us, we only have about one grocery bag of trash in a little bin that fits under the sink - outta sight!!! I hate tripping over the trash in the kitchen!!

I am buying everything in glass jars now, but we are even starting to make our own condiments, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, mayo, salad dressings, this way we know we are eating 100% WHOLE food, organic, less processed, etc.

Loving our new life of just being aware! :)

Le Chaim, to life!!