Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Mmmm ...Pesto!

As a lover of basil and mint and a frequent shopper at T n T Market I often pick up their packages of herbs for only a few dollars. The problem is that I do not use it fast enough and usually it goes wilted, mushy or brown. Now that I also have 3 basil plants and two types of mint plants I am again faced with the same problem. I love mojitos but with the amount of mint I have it might just force me to become alcoholic. So thus I have come up with another solution that used the random ingredients in my fridge. PESTO! Yay! 

Most pesto recipes ask for pine nuts and parmesan. I seldom have either of these in my fridge, especially since pine nuts are currently $60 a kilogram (*gasp*), so I have altered the ingredients a bit. It ends up very delicious!

Basil Pesto
1/4 cup almonds
1/3 cup feta cheese (Or another hard cheese... I imagine asiago or manchego would taste pretty nice)
3 garlic gloves
A few handfuls of basil leaves 
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and chilli's to taste

Put the first three ingredients in to food processor and blend till smaller chunks. Add the oil and basil. Blend till pieces are really small and it makes a paste. Season to taste. Makes about 1/2 cup or so.... enough for 4-5 servings of pasta.

This works well on pasta or as a seasoning for meat. If i have no use for it yet I freeze it in small containers for a day when I need dinner in a rush. 

Mint Pesto
A few handfuls of mint
1" of fresh ginger- sliced
2-3 tbsp lime or lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
chilli's- optional

Blend in food processor till smooth. Enjoy on fish, chicken, lamb or other meat. Makes about 1/3 cup. This can also be frozen for another day. 

Basil Pesto ready to go

Basil Pesto on spinach noodles...yum!

Lunchtime!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Experimental Smoothie

I was feeling a little adventurous today so I decided to make a smoothie from random things in my fridge. I wasn't sure what to expect but since it turned out so delicious I will share the recipe with all of you! I am very pleased with the results. 

Veggie Berry Banana Smoothie
1 Banana
5 Strawberries
1 Handful of blueberries
1/2 Large carrot (shopped in large chunks)
2-3 Sprigs of chinese broccoli
1 Cup 1% milk
2 TBSP Chia seeds
1 TBSP Unpasturized honey

Of course try to buy as local and organic as you can. (Not always the case... as such with my banana and chia) Blend all ingredients. Enjoy!! Yum!

Yield two servings

Veggies and Fruit ready to mix

Mmm...Smoothie. Ugly but very very good! 


Pickles, Pretty Outfits and Plants

Hello everyone, sorry I have been a little MIA lately. This has been a busy two weeks of pickling, making a new costume for our bellydance show last night, practicing the new routine, as well as declaring terms of war on the fruit flies and spider mites that have made themselves at home in my lovely little indoor garden. 

When I looked up how to kill fruit flies it said 1 TBSP of dish soap with 1 Litre of water and pour it into plants as well as spritz over leaves. So far i have been working on this but it doesn't seem to be super effective. :( I can kill a few but as soon as I spray one plant, they scatter from the others. Also the tip I found for spider mites was to make the following solution and spray it on the undersides of the leaves. 

Spider Mite Solution
1 TBSP cloves
1 TBSP cinnamon
2 TBSP Italian seasoning

Add these ingredients to 1 Litre of water and bring to a boil. Take off the burner and add 2-3 cloves of garlic when solution is halfway to being cool. Let tea cool completely. Strain out floaties and then spray on plants. Use treatment every 2-3 days. 

So far both treatments have been a little hit and miss. Does anyone have a good solution for me that doesn't involve chemicals?

On another note, my man and I had a wonderful day of pickling the other weekend here. We went to the farmer's market to get some delicious goodies to preserve. Our goal was to make pickled yellow and green beans, carrots, cucumbers and peppers. Even though it ended up being a pretty fun day our pickling solution was a little off. We used a 60-40 solution of vinegar water together with the pickling spices and garlic. I don't think I will post this recipe since they ended up too acidic. We read online later that a lot of recipes had more of a 50-50 solution. I recommend finding another recipe. Instead, I will post the process. 

Steps for Pickling
1. Choose nice fresh vegetables from the market with no blemishes on them. This will insure that your preserves don't produce harmful botulism while in the jars on the shelf. 
2. Use a boiling water canner to sterilize your jars and screw lids. Sterilize these at a roiling boil for about 10 minutes. 
3. The lid seals should be in a separate pot that is brought to right before boiling point. You do not want these to boil as the rubber seals will be compromised. 
4. Try and do this right before you are going to can your vegetables and keep them in the water until you are ready to use them.
5. Wash and clean your vegetables. Pick out bad ones. Chop if needed. 
6. On another burner boil a solution of the vinegar/water and a satchel of your favourite pickling spices. I like using cheesecloth and twine for this. 
7. Pull jars out of water with a jar lifter. Add a few cloves of garlic to jar and maybe some chilli's if you want it spicy. Pack with vegetables. Make sure vegetables are not within 1" from lid. Fill with vinegar solution. Leave 1/2" space at the top.
8. Wipe the rim dry. (Using a canning wide mouth funnel helps make sure drips don't get everywhere)
9. Use a magnet to pull seals and screws out of water. Put seal on jar. Tighten screw loosely. (Turn until you feel resistance then do one turn after that) Do not tighten too much or the jars will not seal properly!
10. Repeat for all the jars. Put jars in a boiling water canner and boil for 12 minutes. (Remember to add 1 minute on to each 1000 ft you live above sea level. So for example I live in Calgary so I usually boil for about 16 or 17 minutes) You want to make sure that the contents inside can get fully hot in the middle. For Litre size jars I usually leave them for about 20 min. 
11. Pull out of water and let cool on a towel. Do not just put on counter as they might crack while cooling. When cool take off screw tops, check seals for vacuum. Ones that did not seal properly you should put in the fridge and eat right away. (They should not pop in and out.) Dry off seals and put screws back on loosely. Store in a cool dark place. They will last for about a year but keep checking seals. If seals fail then discard contents. 
12. Enjoy!! 
Veggies fresh from the market
Green beans ready to go

Yellow Beans

Cutting the cucumbers for sandwich pickles

Veggies ready to go

Boiling the jars


Tools ready for canning

Canning peppers

Completed jars cooling

Salsa

For over a year now my sister and I have been trying to make the majority of our own condiments. Salsa is one of the ones that I have not bought in over a year since it is so darn easy to make fresh and takes only about 5 minutes! It takes me more time to walk to the store. 

Making your own condiments is cheap, easy and fast. You can also guarantee what has been put in your food. You can make smaller quantities so that they stay super fresh and delicious! This morning I whipped up some salsa to go with lunch. This recipe goes well also as a side or a topping for any meats, eggs, toast, salad, or any other thing you might want to use it for. This is also a great way to use up tomatoes that are on the verge of mushiness.

Home Made Salsa
yield 2-3 cups of salsa (Reduce recipe if you want less)

3-4 tomatoes (I used red and yellow today to give it a nice colour)- cut in quarters
1/5-1/4 onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
dried chilli flakes or fresh chilli's to taste
Salt
1/4 cup or so of cilantro... or to taste

Put everything in the food processor or chop by hand. Chop till it is as fine as you would like. Voila, Salsa! Easy isn't it? I bet that took you about 5 min? Enjoy!
My hand crank food processor (Love! <3) with my fresh batch of salsa