Mindy's Slideshow

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Preserving Herbs In Olive Oil

This season, I have been super lucky in my herb garden. Not only has there been overgrowth since many plants lived thru the winter into spring, but Ive also had to cut back entire plants to make room for summer peppers. In other words, Ive had a huge amount of herbs on my hands. This most recent bouquet of herbs is from my co worker Trish who has a green thumb and is always willing to share her harvests.

I knew that I had too many fresh herbs to use before they would start to turn. In the past I have used the dehydrator but this time, I wanted to try freezing them in olive oil. Ive seen it on Pinterest and gave it a try. Please feel free to play along...

Tonight I have in front of me - Sage, Parsley and Rosemary. Go ahead and clean these up and pat them dry.

Herb bouquet

Once you get them chopped up - split them up into separate ice trays and then fill each square half way up with olive oil. Make sure to cover as much of the herb as possible to seal it all in.

Swimmin in oil

Once you've got everything evened out - place in your freezer. If you are concerned about herby smell in your freezer - feel free to stick in a freezer bag. Let sit overnight.


Freeze baby freeze

 The next morning, remove from freezer. Let trays sit on your counter for about 5 min to warm up a little bit and then turn upside down against cutting board and the cubes should fall out freely. Aren't they kind of pretty?

Rosemary in oil

Parsley in oil 

Once you get them out of the tray, you have to move pretty fast because they start to melt fairly fast. I put them in separate jars - labeled them and then protected them with a dinosaur. I suggest you do the same.

T-Rex guarding the herbs

And now, lucky me and lucky you - anytime we want fresh herbs we can just grab a square or two! Perfect for fish, potatoes, chicken, rice, pasta and a million trillion other things that taste wonderful with olive oil and herbs! This was a pretty easy peasy one - let me know if you give it a try!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Adventures in ripeing of winter tomatoes

Its hard to believe its been 3 months since I last posted on my blog. Truth be told, this blog that I love writing and sharing so much has become the red headed step child. The "holiday season" for me and my crafts is crazy time! I'm working a 40 hr work week and then pouring concrete, sanding, painting many nights a week. I digress... its nice to back in the world of my sunny, grassy, fresh aired blog.

In Austin we are very lucky to have 2 separate tomato seasons! The spring tomato plants go in the ground ideally around March 15th. They grow and produce till about mid July. That's when its 104 out and everything just stops producing fruit. I pull those up early Aug, add compost and get my fall tomato plants in by the 1st week of September. Ironically, that's the hottest week of the year here - usually in the high 100 - 110. For this reason, I sometimes just cant torture my lil plants in that hot sun and I wait till mid Sept.

In this 2012 fall its been rather warm. Today is Dec 18th and its 83 out! About a week ago, we had our first cold front and it hit 30 degrees. It was sad to have to harvest all my green tomatoes but its what must be done. Ya know how your not suppose to put tomatoes into your fridge because it ZAPS the flavor ... well, covering your tomato plants with towels is kinda like the same thing. Just pick em before they freeze!

The Fall Plants in Dec 2012 

I had 3 plants that I got from Red Barn Nursery off Pondsprings Road. They were pretty tiny when I started but grew at least 3-4 ft each and produced about 15 tomatoes each. Overall, a great harvest!

Green Tomato Harvest 

Washed and Laid Out

There are many different methods of ripening green tomatoes into pretty reds! Feel free to Google search all the other methods - everyone seems to think they all work pretty well. There is even advise to do nothing to them and they will ripen on their own!

I decided to go with the method of wrapping each tomatoes and placing them in a dark box at room temperature.

Wrap it Up

Filled it up to the top! 

I got the cutest little box set at Ikea that was perfect for this project and since the tomatoes have to be checked every few days, it helpful that its cute to keep out on the counter top!

I love owls! 

After I wrapped up all the green tomatoes individually, I put them in the owl box and closed the top. It sat on my counter for the past week and today I checked in on them!

And look! They are almost orange!

After 1 week

From what Ive read, these will ripen over the next two weeks. I will continue to check them and post anything exciting! Once everyone is pretty and red, I'm going to make a HUGE batch of marina on can it all for the winter!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bacon Panko - Food of the Future

When it comes to TV and mindless watching of it - I tend to favor shows on the Food Network and Travel Channel. I know that I make my husband crazy by watching some of these shows more than once but its like free culinary school if you pay attention!  Iron Chef, Top Chef, Chopped ... take me away!

This past weekend I was finally vindicated for my dedication to watching others cook when I spied someone on Iron Chef combing crispy cooked bacon with Panko bread crumbs in the food processor. I leaned into the TV and said -" that's amazing" - just then Alton Brown the host of the show says " Coat anything in that and I will eat it!!" Indeed. This is a great payoff!

Gots to get this at the store

I didn't waste much time - next morning in fact to fry up some bacon for breakfast - along with another 6-8 pcs for later. I did try to get them a bit overdone - not burnt but on the crisp side.

Later that eve, I collected all my ingredients together with a blind attempt to make a delicious meal using this new found Bacon Panko wonderland!

First - I mixed a few cups of Panko bread crumbs with some pre cooked crispy bacon. Twirl it all together until everything is the same size.

Mix it up

It should look something like this.

Tasty bits

Next gather up your ingredients - This time I had fresh salmon fillets that I have cut into think chunks. Make sure to remove all bones. Instead of egg wash, I used goats milk. And of course our Bacon Panko in a shallow dish.

Everybody get ready

Make an assembly line - First dip the fish in the goats milk and then roll into the bacon Panko mix until fully coated on both sides. The goats milk helps everything stick and has great sweet flavor. * Of course regular milk or an egg wash would work just as well if you dont have a goat handy. 

Get a nice even coat on it 

In the mean time, get some oil heated about 1/2 inch. I always test the heat by throwing in a few bread crumbs to see if they will start to brown. Let each side brown for about 3 min on each side. I find they are easiest to flip by using chop sticks.

Nice and brown

When done, let the fish rest on a paper towel to blot the oil.
At this point, you could use them just as fish nuggets with tartar sauce.

This night - I wanted a fish taco. This amazingly tasty combination is bacon Panko covered salmon, slaw mixed with scriachia, mango salsa, cilantro with a lemon wedge. So so so good!

I could eat this everyday

Ive got some left over bacon Panko in the fridge - Im going to try it on some scallops next. I predict we will start seeing bacon Panko in restaurants within the year. This stuff is the food of the future!! You heard it here first.

Salmon provided by K&S Seafood - local vendor at Lakeline Farmers Market.
Mango Salsa provided by Aunt Nita Homestyle Food - another great vendor at the farmers market.
Goats Milk provided by Swede Goat Farm - local vendor at Triangle Market in Austin.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Black Drum Fish

Once again we got some amazing fresh caught fish at our market today. We thought to try something new - a big white fish called a Black Drum.

Black Drum Fish from the Gulf of Mexico

Black drum are edible, with a moderate flavor and are not oily. Some restaurants in the southern US serve smaller black drum (puppy drum). Big drum can be challenging to clean; removing the large scales is a challenge. Many fishermen prefer to fillet with an electric knife, first removing the fillet from along the backbone, and then using the electric knife to cut the fillet from the skin and scales. Fish over 15 lbs can become tough and have a consistency comparable with chicken, rather than the flaky texture of many species of fish. Younger fish are often indistinguishable in flavor from red drum.

Once again - our dinner had a face. I know this photo is a little odd but I kinda liked the artsy aspect of the gray fish against the black and white tray with the red spilling out. Art in the kitchen!

My big eyes and lips freaked Mindy out

Here is nice black and white of him in case the red really turned you off.

Still has big eyeballs

We have baked many whole fish before but wanted to try something new so we put the whole fish onto our Weber grill. After Mike spent a long time getting all the scales off - we rubbed him with lots of oil, herbs and thinly sliced lemons.

Sliced sides and filled the belly

We also made slices into the skin of the fish and inserted the lemons, oil and fresh herbs directly into the slits.

Seasoning him up

We cooked him for about 40 min on the grill on a low/med heat. I thought the taste was good - a white fish but maybe a bit bland which was surprising due to how much we seasoned it. Overall a good fish to bring home for a high yield of meat that can be used in many ways!

Root Soup - cheap and tasty!

I hope your not getting tired of posts that are about SUPER finds from our farmers market. Once again, my hope in posting things about what we get at the market is that is makes it more relateable and more possible for you to try in your life too!

In early spring - root vegetables that have grown under the ground all winter are prevalent at the market. Johnson's Backyard offers a large bag of mixed  ROOT veggies for $4. I thought I would grab a bag and see if I could make a tasty and affordable soup.

Bag of Roots

In my $4 grab bag, I got Carrots, Turnips, Kohlrabi, Beets and Onions. I washed them all and peeled them - chopping them into similar sized squares. After doing some recipe research most people suggested that I roasted the veggies first rather than boiling them. So, I mixed everything together in the roaster pan and tossed in some olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper.

Roasted Veggies     

I put the oven to 400 degrees and let them cook for 40 min. I like my roasted veggies with a good scorch on them so if you don't, cook them for 30 min instead. In a large pot, I added chicken broth and then the roasted root veggies. I let the pot simmer for 1 hour and added salt to taste.

Veggie Soup

I thought it came out very good - it turned really red due to the beets so the second time I made this soup, I left out the beets. I probably spent a total of $6 and it made a clean healthy soup for many days! I suggest you give it a try!!

But it has a cute face - Guineafowl

 Every once in awhile my dinner around here is served to me with a face. The eyes and mouth or beak still intact. Its something that I am getting used to but I am very grateful that Mike will hack off the head with a knife cause there is no way I can do that!! This lil hen had a pretty cute face.

Little face

I literally had to look up Guinea Hens on Wiki to see what the heck to do with this special bird.

Guineafowl have a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guineafowl; in the UK they were usually known as "gleanies". The young (called "keets") are very small at birth. The keets are kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure. They eat lice, worms, ants, spiders, weedseeds, and ticks while on range, or they can also eat chicken layer crumbles (one kind of commercial bird feed) while housed in a coop. The cooked flesh of guineafowl resembles chicken in texture, with a flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey.

After searching many recipes - the best bet seemed to go with covering it in butter and many herbs and spices!

butter and seasonings

I roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour. He came out tasting just like a little chicken. Which was very tasty but I will probably skip buying a Guinea Hen in the future because my Chickens are larger and they never have a face. Thats a plus!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Making Homemade Dog Food

If you are ever interested in whats in your pets dog food - Google the brand and then look into where these factory's are getting their meat. You will usually find very low quality meat and lots of filler - chicken meal, etc.

My dog Linus, a wonderful dachshund died early - his whole torso full of cancers. I cant help but wondering if his whole life of Alpo canned dog food that I microwaved everyday contributed to his early death.

I must give credit where credit is due - Poochy Trends made some homemade wet dog food at their booth last week that we bought. The pups liked everything but the blueberries. It only fed them for 2 days so I needed to find a simpler and more cost effective way to feed them high quality dog food.

This is the protein blend I came up with. You will need :

1. Sweet Potato - steamed and mashed

Sweet Potato

#2 - 2 cups of rice - I meant to get brown rice but picked up the wrong box


#3 - 1 lb Ground Beef - I added salt and some Worcestershire sauce for taste. Brown and Drain

Ground Beef

#4 - Fried Eggs - I used 5 eggs this time with S&P and paprika. Chop up once cooked

Fried Farm Eggs

#5 - for some fresh greens - added a small about of local chives. It brighten it up and adds flavor


Then all you have to do is mix all together in an air tight large bowl. I toss in a bit more salt and then stir is all together! When you are done - it should look something like this:

Finished Dog Food

I broke down the cost :
Rice $1.00
Eggs $1.20
Beef $ 3.50
Sweet Potato $1.00
Chives $0.50

Total cost of a weeks worth of dog food - $7.20

I think this amount of food mixed with some dry every morning will last a week or so. I know that they will love the flavor and also saves having to buy $1.50 cans of dog food that have lot of chemicals in them. Let me know if you try this or a variation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting into a Jam

I have been canning and pickling about a year and a half now but I have been weary of getting in Jams and Jellies. Mostly because I had no idea what to do. Also there are sugar ratios and pectin ratios - plus fruit is kinda expensive.

At the farmers market a few months ago - I won a bag full of pectin from the canning demo. With a bag of pectin in my house, I suppose it was just a matter of time till I gave it a go!

Fresh Strawberries! 

I like to mix 2 kinds of berries - the raspberry cooks down and the small slices of strawberry make a nice texture so its more like preserves than jelly.

Fresh Raspberries!

Get your jars all lined up and ready to go. Make sure they are clean and sanitized and have lids ready!

Wonder Jars! 

In a big pot - add all the strawberries, raspberries, sugar, pectin and let cook for 30 min. Everything will cook down nicely! See individual recipes to get your ratios - it all depends on how much fruit you have.

Bubbling Sticky Goodness

Once everything is cooked down, while its still hot, pour into your jars and seal them up with lids - do it quick and they will self seal. Nothing like the sound of lids popping as the jam cools down.

Many jars of tasty preserves

Once the lids have sealed - put in the fridge to help the "gel" process. By the next day you have super tasty - not too much sugar - wonderful berry preserves!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Dishes and New Years Eve 2012

Curly kale made into kale chips - with oil and coarse salt

Over the past few months, I have really developed a taste for leafy greens - things like kale, bok choy, mustard greens, chard, spinach, etc. I honestly like the taste and its so easy to make as a side dish. Almost all can be tossed into a pan with some olive oil and S&P and have a great and good for you side in minutes.

These are tasty mustard greens before the cook down. 

If you want to make the side into a main entree - just add a lean meat.

Chicken, Baby Bok Choy and Garlic stir fry

I am always trying to find a way to add more veggies into our world and I am striving to have more "meatless days". One of my favorite things to make is mushroom saute with garlic and onions. With all the local food we can get at our market - its makes for a tasty meal.

Habenero pasta Chibcha Roll  from Swedish Hill Bakery, Portabella Mushrooms,  Raw Colby Cheese 

On New Years Eve we celebrated the last day of the 2011 market. It was fun to stock up on winter veggies, chicken and treats for New Years day munching.

Cauliflower, Broccoli, Bok Choy, Chicken, Burgers, Shrimp, Fennel, Eggs, Pasta, Bread, Crab Dip, Texas Caviar 

The big winner of the week was from Aunt Nita's booth and made by Miss Addie herself. It was some sort of spinach souffle that had a mix of peppers and cheese mixed it. We baked it till it was bubbling hot and golden brown. So incredibly good - we were able to share it with our friend John and still eat it with 2 meals! Way to go Addie!!

Addie's Spinach Souffle       

We also got to ring in the New Year with Aunt Nita's homemade bloody Mary mix - that and our local vodka - TITOS! Read what all is one that label - this was not your typical drink. SO GOOD! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Happy 2012!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Garden Bricks

I really enjoy art for my yard and outside. I bought this brick making kit many years ago that was similar to the "word magnets on the fridge" that everyone had in the 90's. My original thought was once I owned my home, I would hand make a brick walkway and within it - have some great lyrics. I still hope to do this someday but I have yet to commit to a song. In the mean time, I make lyric bricks for the garden.

I mix my own concrete that I buy in 40 lb bags from Home Depot. I use old bookshelves as my smooth base to build the brick on. Its portable that way and I can take the bricks outside to dry in the sun or into the garage to remain damp.

I then use my lettering to make each word. It takes up to 3-4 days to dry and in this cold weather, sometime it took much longer. Once they are dried - I take them outside and paint them with about 3 layers of color.

This is how they look when they are done - such a  nice addition to a garden.

If you would like some for your garden - please check out my etsy site where I sell all different kinds of bricks, including custom bricks. If you have a lyric you need in your world - let me know!