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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in DIY (19)

Saturday
May292010

DIY // Good Morning Homemade Natural Body Scrub

Updated on Sunday, May 30, 2010 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

This body scrub is like breakfast: oatmeal, coffee, and honey.  The perfect formula for a good morning, right?

I know, I know, this is a total departure from food (although you could eat this body scrub if you really had the deep urge to do so).  I am hoping to increase the focus of the blog and include more information about natural health, sustainable living, mindful life choices, and all the other DIY stuff I'm into.  Don't worry, I'll still have lots of good recipes - I'll just be including other information as well! I reorganized the blog a little to make it easier to follow, and I'm ready and rarin' to get this train moving. So, here we go, starting with something delightful for the bath. Why? Well, in the wise words of the band Phish, "Cause we're all in this together, and we love to take a bath!"

Yeah, I used to be a total Phish follower, patchwork skirt, semi-nappy hair, and all.  It was a different life. Moving on...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr132010

How to Cook Fresh Fava Beans

Fresh fava beans are such a treat, and are totally representative of springtime.  They can, however, be a little intimidating. How do you turn a gnarly looking pod into a succulent, nutty, tender, bright green little bean?  It is a time-consuming process, but worth every minute.  Plus, spending all that time peeling beans makes them taste really good when you finally get around to being able to use them.  My dad and I embarked on our first fava bean adventure last summer, and I've been excited for this year's fava season ever since.  When I saw some at the co-op the other day, I couldn't resist putting them in my basket.  So, I cooked them up and made a delicious Italian-inspired dish that I"ll be sharing very soon.  Before posting the recipe, I decided I wanted to demystify the fava bean for any of you who haven't yet prepared them fresh, so here's a little guide.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar072009

Basic Vegetable and Chicken Stocks (gluten free, vegan option, ACD)

I adore chicken stocks and vegetable stocks in soup, to cook rice or other grains, to use for sauces, or sometimes just to drink warm like tea. They are nourishing, satisfying, and versatile, and form a good cornerstone for every kitchen. But buying high quality broth and stock that is free of preservatives, sugars, yeast extracts, and crazy additives can be very expensive, and can sometimes be hard to find. Sure, t is great in a pinch or when you just want something convenient, but the cost adds up! So whenever possible, I like to make my own in a big batch and freeze it up for later use. Not only is it incredibly easy, it is also incredibly economical. You really don't need to buy anything extra to make stock, because it uses all the leftovers and "waste" that is leftover from cooking endeavors: bones, skin, scraps, vegetable trimmings, etc. The best stock is cooked for a long time over low heat; it allows for the flavor to become full and rich. Whether making a vegetable stock or a chicken/turkey stock, the same rule applies: the longer you simmer, the richer the flavor. The richer the stock, the more delicious your soup or other dish will be!


There's a million stock recipes out there, some are more complex with others. I usually make a really big batch at once, and just keep it simple so it can be more versatile later on in recipes. Here is what I do for making vegetable and chicken stock. I've never tried making beef stock before, but would like to try my hand at it! You can make as little or as much stock as you choose - obviously, the ratio of water to vegetable/chicken, as well as the length of cooking time, will determine how flavorful your stock becomes. My favorite way is to make it in the slow cooker, because it requires no effort at all and you can leave it simmer all day. once you spend 10 minutes getting your ingredients together, your work is done!

VEGETABLE STOCK (gluten free, vegan)

Instead of throwing away vegetable scraps when you cook, save them! For example...

  • carrot peels,
  • onion peels (not too many)
  • parsley stems or other herb scraps
  • celery ends
  • broccoli or cauliflower staulks
  • mushroom stems
  • green bean ends
  • other vegetable trimmings
If you cook frequently, you'll have plenty of good scraps in no time! Sometimes I"ll keep a container in my fridge for scraps, they will last for a few days without going weird. When you have a a couple cups worth of scraps, throw them in a big stockpot or slow cooker with a bunch of water, a little salt, peppercorns, and maybe a bouquet garni of fresh herbs (if you have any on hand), and if desired, a coarsely chopped carrot or two, celery branch, and an onion for extra flavor. Then let it simmer away for 6-24 hours (if using a slowcooker, put it on low and let it sit), and soon enough, you've got great vegetable broth!
Pour through strainer to remove vegetable scraps and herbs, and if desired, add salt to taste. Use immediately, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Will keep 7-10 days in the fridge; bring to boil before using in recipes if storing in fridge.

 

CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) STOCK (gluten free, dairy free, egg free)

My favorite stock ever is chicken stock. I love cooking whole chickens, removing the meat, and then using the drippings and leftover skin and bones to make stock. Sometimes, if I don't feel like cooking a whole chicken myself, I'll buy a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods or the co-op. Once I get that sucker home, I'll eat some right away, and by that I mean LITERALLY the second I get in the door, because those things are so good fresh and warm. Like chicken candy.

After I've finished gorging myself on chicken (sorry for that image, vegetarian and vegan readers), I'll separate the rest of the meat from the bones and skin, freezing most of the chicken for later. Don't throw away that skin and bones when you disassemble your bird! That's the good stuff! That stuff just wants to be transformed into nutritious, delicious stock. This is the perfect thing to do after cooking a holiday turkey! You could also do this with any other poultry - cornish hen, duck, capon, etc.

All you need is...
leftover bones, tendons, and skin from 1 chicken
any chicken drippings
water
1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery branch, coarsely chopped
a splash of apple cider vinegar
If you want to get fancy...
a bay leaf
other herbs or seasonings
other vegetable trimmings

Put the chicken in the pot with the vegetables. Fill the pot with water, add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 6-24 hours. Strain broth to remove solid matter - remove vegetables and use them for something else, and discard chicken bones and skin. Use immediately, or freeze for later use! Will keep in the fridge for around 7 days, boil before using.

If making in the slowcooker, sometimes I like to start it in a stockpot to bring it to a good boil - this well help kill any unwelcome bacteria on your chicken bones - then transfer it to the slow cooker. I'll leave it on low for up to 24 hours, and get the tastiest stock ever! Again, strain before using.

 

Sunday
Mar012009

BYOCJ: Let's Make Sauerkraut Party

BYOCJ = Bring Your Own Cabbage and Jar

I decided to host a Let's Make Sauerkraut Party on Saturday night.  I made an Evite for it and everything.  I have been totally fascinated with the idea of making my own raw sauerkraut and cultured vegetables lately, and wanted to make a party out of it.  Why not?  Everyone likes to eat good food, people like to hang out, and this is a pretty cheap way to have a night of fun.  Anyway, this is the kind of party to expect from a hippie foodie German girl.  Eight of my more food nerdy friends were able to make it; six made sauerkraut with me, and two observed the whole thing.  It was a hit!  I invited a ton of friends, but to be honest, I'm glad only eight came - we had so much cabbage flying around as it was, I don't know what I would have done with more guests!
I instructed everyone to bring at least one 1 qt jar, at least 1 head of cabbage, and any other stuff they wanted to add. I also told everyone to bring their own cutting board, a big bowl, and a knife.  I provided salt, filtered water, and extra add ins and some backup heads of cabbage.   It was a wild mess of a party.  I think that cabbage has now been ground into my carpet, somehow cabbage ended up in my bathroom sink, and I got covered in cabbage juice after an unfortunate incident involving a bowl of salty cabbage water and a very slippery, heavy jar of newly packed kraut....
Lacto-fermented vegetables are really good for you. I've discovered that I tolerate them well,  and while I do love the convenience of purchasing all those tasty, high quality prepared krauts, I don't want to pay $6 or $7 for a mere 16 oz of fermented vegetables any longer.  Time to cut the cord and do this myself, the way that my German farm wife great grandma probably did back in the day, long before anyone in their right mind would pay $6 for a 16 oz jar of humble cabbage.  According to the inflation calculator I found online, a $6 jar of cabbage in 1920 would be the equivalent of $65.62 jar of cabbage today.  That really puts all of this in perspective.  Cabbage is cheap.  Chopping vegetables is easy. And fermenting stuff is totally effortless  - nature does all the work for you.  So let's get it on.  Let's make some sauerkraut.

To prepare for this whole thing, I bought all sorts of extra veggies for my guests to add in: green onions, a big bag of carrots, onions, jalepenos, garlic, red peppers, ginger, beets, lemon, and turnips.  I also had all the basics from my pantry: chili flakes, some different vinegars (rice, apple cider, ume), soy sauce, honey, different seaweeds, and a pantry full of herbs and spices.  I also had an extra head or two of cabbage, just in case - which was good, because we NEEDED it. I was hoping my guests would want to use some of those vinegars and soy sauce packets and other pantry items that I can't use anymore.  : )  For reference, I had out a few books so we could get proportions of salt to water right, and have some recipe suggestions: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, and Vibrant Living by James Levin, M.D. and Natalie Cederquist.
Everyone got really creative with their krauts, and it was fun to have so many ingredients to choose from. Here's the kraut round-up, left to right:
  • Becky and Dylan made a kim chee-type kraut, with a mix of green and purple cabbage, carrot, jalepeno, ginger, green onion, and garlic.  It was a beautiful rainbow in a jar!  
  • Scott and Tracy went classic with green cabbage, garlic, and dill. Beautiful in its simplicity.
  • I made a dilly kim chee thing, with napa cabbage, green onion, grated carrot, slivered red pepper, garlic, and dill weed and dill seed, it was very pretty and very juicy. That napa cabbage really crushed down - I ended up needing about 2 1/2 cabbages!
  • Dana and Ben, a.k.a. Team Cilantro, made two Thai inspired krauts:  one with bok choy, tons of cilantro, green onion, yellow onion, jalepeno, and ginger, and another batch that used that mix as a base with added napa and green cabbage, red pepper, and red curry paste.  The first batch was a beautiful dark emerald color, and second batch was kind of an everything-but-the kitchen-sink thing that smelled awesome. 
After everyone left, and I cleaned up the crazy mess that was my kitchen and dining/art/craft room, I also made a batch of pickled turnips and beets, because I positively adore turnips and beets, I had the ingredients ready to go, and I was on a roll, baby.  
This party was really fun.  My friends were totally surprised at how much fun they had cutting up cabbages and pounding the cabbage and getting all covered in cabbage juice, and are really stoked to see how their kraut turns out!  In the end, it was a total blast! Plus, it gave me a great excuse to make some tasty food for my guests: Squash, Parsnip, and Carrot Soup, raw and steamed vegetables with Red Pepper Goat Cheese Dip and Beet Bean Dip, pear and blueberry salad, and some tasty Asian rice crackers, just to name a few things. And from a monetary perspective, as suspected, making kraut ended up being way cheaper than buying it pre-made. For example, I ended up with a 1 qt (32 oz) jar of lovely kraut for about $4. My batch of pickled turnips and beets were also a pretty good deal; I ended up with 1 1-qt (32 oz) jar and 1 1-pint (16 oz) jar for probably about $6 total. Great grandma would be proud. 

You know, I think more people should have sauerkraut parties.  Just try googling "sauerkraut party".  Not a lot of results.  The most prominent match documents a sauerkraut-making birthday party for an 80-year-old guy named Al in Michigan.  It looks like a lot of fun, and they are making their kraut in big buckets!  I've always connected well with old men due to my interest in history, the ways of old, and other such things; apparently, the similarities continue.  Anyway, not a lot of mention of sauerkraut-making festivities online; this needs to change.

So, in sauerkraut making solidarity, I will be offering up recipes for the two batches of lacto-fermented goodness I made at my sauerkraut soirée: the newly named Kim's Dilly Chee (my own spontaneous creation) and the recipe for Pickled Turnips and Beets from Nourishing Traditions.  Right now these are both fermenting in my kitchen. In a few short days, I'll open them up and try them. Then I'll post the recipes and let you know how they turn out!

 

Yours, in cabbage loving solidarity,
Kim

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