Category Archives: Food and Drink

Fermenting Our Own Hard Cider

This year’s apple harvest was fantastic. Our little orchard produced so many apples – too many even for the deer to keep up with, which means we were able to pick a lot for ourselves. At first we made applesauce. But there were still bushels and bushels of apples. What next? Apple cider! We’ve made applesauce plenty of times but never tried making cider. We were up for the challenge.

IMG_1751We let our apples sit and “sweat” for a couple weeks – allowing them to rest in a cool place before pressing them makes them juicier and sweeter. We’re not sure what types of apple trees we have, but it seems to be a variety of tarter green apples and sweeter red apples. The combination makes for a great blend.

7Josh ordered a nice, sturdy looking fruit press, and we got to work. After some trial and error, we found that quartering the apples and then grinding them in a large food processor worked best for extracting the maximum amount of juice. Some folks have fruit crushers for this part of the process, but we made it work without one.

3We filled the fruit press with the fine apple pulp that we prepared in the food processor. Once the press was totally full, we pressed! The juice was sweet and flavorful. Nothing beats fresh apple cider, and it was really satisfying to work hard and be rewarded with something so tasty.

2We kept a small amount to drink as sweet cider but put the majority in a six gallon carboy to ferment into hard cider. We used some champagne yeast, combined with some wild, natural yeast, and added in a little bit of sugar to help the fermentation process. Over the next few weeks to months, we’ll monitor the sugar content and ABV to see when it’ll be ready to drink. Hopefully we’ll have a nice hard cider to enjoy later this year.

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Eggs in a Cloud with Green Mango Smoothie

IMG_6786Scrambled, over-easy, and hard-boiled are all really delicious ways to cook and eat an egg – I couldn’t pick a favorite, but every once in a while it’s fun to get a little creative. Recently, I tried out a new method that involves whipping the egg whites and then baking them with the yolks balanced in the middle, often called eggs in a cloud. They were really neat! The pillowy whites have a light texture, and it’s nice to add herbs, cheese, or other flavors to this part of the dish. I think a little cayenne would be great, too.

IMG_6780To accompany the eggs, I made bacon and a really fantastic and refreshing green mango smoothie.

Eggs

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup white cheddar, finely grated
  • ¼ cup blend of thyme, parsley, dill (or any combination of your favorite herbs)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

IMG_6772And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place in different bowls.
  • Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  • Using a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon 4 mounds of egg whites onto pan, and make a well in the center of each with a spoon.
  • Bake at 450F for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and place one yolk in each well. Return to oven for an additional 2-3 minutes or until yolks have set.

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Green Mango Smoothie

Adapted from Thriving Home Blog’s Green Pineapple Smoothie.

IMG_6774Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • ½ of a large, ripe banana
  • 1 cup fresh spinach or baby kale
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tblsp chia seeds
  • 1 tblsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp honey

IMG_6775And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Combine and puree in blender until consistency is smooth. Enjoy!

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Ricotta Pancakes with Mulberry Compote (“Marionberry Pancakes”)

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Did you know that Portlandia, the TV show, released a cookbook in 2014? Well, they did, and it is awesome. Most importantly, it includes a recipe for marionberry pancakes. One evening, I gave the recipe a try and made our own version using fresh mulberries.

pancakes

If you don’t have the book, there are a lot of nice looking ricotta pancake recipes online, including this one and this one.

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The pancakes are nice and fluffy. I happen to like small pancakes (I think they cook more evenly), but these would probably work well as larger pancakes, too. For the compote, I added our freshly picked mulberries to a small pot, added a little bit of water and lemon zest, and simmered until the everything was thick and syrupy. No marionberries or mulberries? You can use any kind of berry, or apples with cinnamon make a great topping, too.

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I served these pancakes with some locally made sausage and some beautifully dry rose wine from Veritas winery. Breakfast for dinner can be so festive!

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If you haven’t seen any Portlandia episodes, I highly recommend watching a few. The humor is very dry and quirky, and we love that they have a few skits about a bed and breakfast.

Protein Granola Bites

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As an alternative to buying and eating packaged protein bars like Cliff and Luna Bars, we started making these protein granola bites to refuel after outdoor activities. Depending on how much peanut butter and honey you use, you can adjust the consistency and either create a looser granola or a more dense texture that keeps its shape in bars or balls. These snacks taste really, really good and use natural ingredients – nothing mysterious or unnecessary! I can find most of the ingredients in the bulk food section of our local grocery store. 

Ingredients like peanut butter and chia seeds already contain protein, but to add extra protein to this recovery snack, I’ve used a natural whey protein powder. These are so easy to make – no baking required. Just stir it all together! Plus, it’s really easy to pack on hiking, camping, or climbing trips.

Recipe adapted from Easy No Bake Protein Energy Bites.

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Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • I cup oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)
  • ½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup cacao nibs (or mini chocolate chips)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • 2 tblsp vanilla whey protein powder (optional)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir.
  • Shape into balls and store in the refrigerator in air-tight container. 

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If you leave the mix as a loose granola, it tastes great eaten in a bowl with a little milk. 

Hope you enjoy making and eating this healthy and less expensive protein bar. Happy adventuring!

Turmeric Tea

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Turmeric tea, also known as Golden Milk tea, is a healthy and comforting hot drink. I make it with fresh turmeric root in the colder months when the root is available at our local market, but you can also make it anytime with ground turmeric. The root is an absolutely beautiful golden yellow color and will stain everything it touches (including your fingers!). It has a fresh, almost citrusy spicy taste, and it is thought to help the immune system and is anti-inflammatory. It’s also great to drink when the seasons are changing.

There are many recipes out there for turmeric tea, but this is the way I prefer to make it – with honey, cayenne, and a splash of milk. Some also include fresh ginger root, but I love the turmeric on its own. This recipe makes one cup.

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • fresh turmeric root (about 1 – 1 ½ inches per cup of tea); peeled
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • teaspoon of honey
  • splash of milk

IMG_5891And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Using the mug or cup you’ll be drinking from, fill with water and pour into small sauce pot. Fill mug or cup with 1/3 more water and pour into sauce pot. Using a little extra water will take care of the water that evaporates while the tea simmers.
  • Over medium-high heat, grate the turmeric root into water. Stir to distribute.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of cayenne (or to taste) and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  • Strain the tea, making sure to press all the remaining liquid out of the turmeric root. Pour into your cup with a spoonful of honey. Stir to melt the honey. Add in a splash of milk and stir to combine. The tea will change from deep red-orange to a milky golden color.

IMG_5892Hope you enjoy it!

Skillet Potatoes and Eggs

I’ve started to make breakfast for dinner once a week so that I can test lots of recipes and perfect my breakfast making skills. I’m keeping track of the successful recipes and noting changes I’ve made to each dish. This week I made skillet potatoes and eggs, a recipe I adapted from Taste of Home. The recipe is fun because of it’s versatility – you could use kale, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, or you could add in breakfast sausage or bacon, and you can include any cheese you like!

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Serves 2.

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 2 tblsp butter
  • half of 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 red potatoes, chopped
  • 4-5 stalks broccolini, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • minced fresh parsley, rosemary, and sage (1 mixed bunch)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan

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And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (I used my cast iron), melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add potatoes and cook until golden brown, adding broccolini to the skillet just before the potatoes have browned.
  • Stir in garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Break eggs directly over potatoes and broccolini.
  • Bake 9-11 minutes or until egg whites are set. Sprinkle with cheeses and bake until melted (about 1-2 minutes).

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This dish turned out really great and is so easy to make. The potato portion can definitely be made in a skillet and then transfered to individual baking dishes for personal-sized meals. I love the idea of a personal baked veggie and egg dish. It would go great with some fresh fruit and a slice of banana bread. Let me know what you think and what ideas you have for breakfast!

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Homemade Chai Tea

It is the perfect time of year for making and enjoying chai tea. This tea will warm you up and cheer you up, too. It’s easy to make at home using a crock-pot, and I make a large batch so that I can drink it throughout the week. The recipe is really flexible – you can use more or less of each spice as preferred, and you can add vanilla, peppercorns, orange peel, anise, or herbs. Have fun!

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Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • 8 black tea bags (I use a basic English Breakfast tea but use any kind you like; I’ve used other types of black tea and also green tea)
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 7 slices fresh ginger
  • 16 whole clove
  • 16 cardamom seeds
  • milk
  • honey

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And here’s the method of preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except for milk and honey) in crock-pot. Set on high for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, covered. If you’d prefer to sweeten with sugar instead of honey, add the sugar in now. I think around 3/4 cup should make a nicely sweetened batch.
  2. Strain or remove tea bags and spices using a slotted spoon and pour tea into pitcher. 
  3. Keep refrigerated. Pour individual servings into a cup and add honey and milk to taste.

That’s it! It’s so simple but so good. Plus your house will smell nice and spiced for hours. Happy holidays.

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