Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Jan 4, 2017

How & Why to Get Started with an Electric Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot - with 31 Pressure Cooker Recipes!

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There are three main reasons pressure cooking is fantastic:

1. Pressure cooked food retains 80-95% of its nutrients - the most of any cooking method.
2. pressure cooking reduces energy use by 70% or better (depending on what type of pressure cooker you use).
3. Using a pressure cooker, you save a lot of time!

What I love most about using my Instant Pot (which is an electric pressure cooker) is that sometimes I save on total cooking time...but always, I save personal time because I can throw the food in the Pot and walk away. There is literally NO need to stir, adjust settings, or check on the food until it's ready to eat. This means extra time with the kids, to write, to read...to do whatever I want. I love that!

Some people are scared to pressure cook because they've heard horror stories about pressure cookers exploding. This used to happen back in Grandma's day, but as long as you follow some very basic guidelines (found in your pressure cooker's owner manual), it doesn't happen with today's electric pressure cookers.

Others wonder what on earth they'd cook in a pressure cooker. A simple answer is that if you'd normally slow cook it,  boil it, braise it, or steam it, you can pressure cook it. And today's pressure cookers even off more variety. For example, the Instant Pot (IP) allows you to saute, make yogurt, proof bread, and even bake some things. Another thing I love about my IP is that usually I only have to dirty one dish to make a meal - the pot or "bowl" of the pressure cooker. (Fewer dishes and more free time? How can you beat that!)

So far, I've cooked perfect, easy peel hard boiled eggs; super quick (unsoaked) dry beans; yogurt; meat; stock; and (oh yeah) meals in my IP. (Oh, and whole, fall-off-the-bones, chicken that's so much better than anything I've roasted before!) It's so easy! And the food is really delicious. In fact, I've made several of my slow cooker recipes in my IP and my family strongly believes they taste much better when pressure cooked. I'm at the point now where I don't want to cook...unless it's with my IP. I love it that much.
Cheesecake can be tricky to bake...but not in an Instant Pot!
Why an Electric Pressure Cooker?

For years, I've used my wonderful Presto pressure canner for occasional pressure cooking. (Read this to clarify the difference between pressure cookers and pressure canners.) But it was a bit of a pain. Not only is my Presto hard to clean (because the pot is so large it doesn't fit in the sink), but I had to keep checking on the pot, making sure the pressure was where it was supposed to be.

But with an electric pressure cooker, there is a removable pot (Instant Pot is the only pressure cooker I'm aware of that has a stainless steel pot (remember that non-stick coatings are unhealthy). This pot can go right into the dishwasher. In addition, there is no need to regulate the heat of the stove top and adjust as necessary. In other words, an IP is about as hands-free as cooking gets!

Why An Instant Pot?

Instant Pots cook at a lower psi, which makes them a bit safer than other pressure cookers. In addition, they are highly versatile, with yogurt, saute, and slow cook features. (Though I understand the slow cook feature isn't perfect. I personally haven't tried it yet.)
An antique pressure cooker. Thank goodness for modern tech!

Instant Pot Recipes

* Hard boiled eggs. So easy and they peel easily every single time! Place 1 cup of water in the IP stainless steel pot. Add the trivet. Place eggs on the trivet. (You can stack eggs on top of each other, if needed.) Put the bowl in the IP and shut the lid. Turn the vent to "Seal." Press "Steam." Press the "Adjust" button until it reads 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes are over, let the IP do a natural release for 5 minutes. Remove the stainless steel pot from the IP (using hot pads), remove the eggs, and dunk in cold water for 5 minutes.

* Dry Beans 

* Yogurt 

* Risotto

* Brown Rice 

* Frozen Ground Beef 

* Taco Meat

* Sloppy Joe Meat 

* Stock or Bone Broth

* "Rotisserie" Chicken 
 
Yogurt made in my Instant Pot.

* Chicken Breasts

* Chicken & Dumplings 

* Salmon 

* Beef Stew

* Kalua Pig

* Baked Potatoes 

* Mashed Potatoes 

* Potato Salad 

* Crispy Potatoes 

* Loaded Mac & Cheese 

* Lasagna 

* French Onion Soup 

* Split Pea & Ham Soup 

"Roasted" chicken is fall apart tender in an IP.*
* Baked Beans

* Steamed Broccoli

* Breakfast Hash 

* Ham, Egg, and Cheese Casserole 

* Cheesecake 

* Chocolate Pudding 

* Applesauce 

* Popcorn



Other Helpful Links:

* Pressure Cooker Recipe Converter
* How to Convert a Recipe to a Pressure Cooker Recipe 
* How to Convert Old Pressure Cooker Recipes
* 10 Things You Need to Know About Instant Pot
* 8 Instant Pot Basic Techniques
* My Pinterest Pressure Cooking Board


* Photo courtesy of Joe Randazzo.

Dec 28, 2016

How to Make Yogurt in an Instant Pot

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

I'd been eyeballing electric pressure cookers for a while, but since I could use my Presto pressure canner as a pressure cooker, I was hesitant to spend money on another kitchen gadget. Then I learned about the Instant Pot. This pressure cooker is so versatile, on Black Friday, I took the plunge...and I'm so glad I did! Later, I'll type more about this super handy machine that has pretty much taken the place of both my stove and my crock pot, but today I want to show you how it makes yogurt.

I've long been an advocate of homemade yogurt. Not only is it much cheaper, but it's healthier, too. There are no weird chemicals or artificial ingredients in it, and you control exactly how much sugar (if any!) to add. For some time, I made yogurt in my crock pot, and thought it was easy as could be. But I've since learned it's even easier in an Instant Pot.

An added bonus: Now I can make more yogurt at one time (which means I have to make it less often). (But if you don't want to make a full gallon of yogurt at one time, you can easily make small quantities of it instead.)

How to Make Yogurt in an Instant Pot

1 gallon milk* (makes about 4 1/2 quarts of yogurt)
6 oz. container of plain or vanilla store bought yogurt that contains "live active cultures"
1/2 cup of powdered milk (optional, for thickening. The photos here are of yogurt that hasn't been thickened)
Even without thickener, my whole milk yogurt is pretty thick.

1. Begin by making sure everything you'll be using is very clean. Run utensils through the dishwasher, wash your hands thoroughly, and then sanitize the Instant Pot's stainless steel bowl by doing the following: Put 1 cup of water in the bowl, and turn the valve to "Sealing." Press the "Steam" function. Press "Less" (a.k.a. "-") until you've set the IP to run 1 minute. Once the IP has done this, release the pressure and pour the water out of the bowl.

2. Scald the milk. Some people consider this an optional step, but it is recommended, no matter what kind of milk you're using. Without it, it's possible for a strain of dangerous bacteria to develop in the yogurt. Pour the milk into the IP bowl. Push the "Yogurt" button, then push the "Adjust" button once so the display reads "Boil." When the IP display reads "Yogrt," you're done scalding. (For me, using a gallon of milk, the scalding process takes about 30 minutes. It should take less time if you're using smaller quantities of milk.)

3. Now wait. The milk needs to reduce in temperature so you don't kill the active cultures you're about to add to it. You want the milk to be about 115 degrees F....Or, if you're like me, just wait until you can put a (clean!) finger into the milk comfortably. Use common sense here, and don't burn yourself! (The waiting takes about 30 - 40 minutes if you're using a full gallon of milk.)

4. Add the container of store bought yogurt, stirring in a zig-zag pattern until the yogurt is completely dissolved in the milk.

5. Put the lid back on the IP. The valve can be in any position. Press the "Yogurt" button, then press the "Adjust" button to achieve the amount of time you want the yogurt to sit. Eight hours is typical, but some people prefer to have their yogurt sit for longer; just remember, the longer it sits, the more tart it becomes. You will need to let the yogurt sit for a minimum of 6 hours, or it won't thicken. When this time is up, don't worry if the yogurt looks thin. It will thicken once it chills. It should, however, be thicker than milk.
Stirring in fruit.
And that's it!

At this point, I spoon the yogurt into canning jars and pop them in the fridge. Let them sit overnight so the yogurt can thicken. When you're ready to serve, you may notice watery stuff on top of each jar. That is whey. Stir it into the yogurt, if you like (it's got lots of good nutrients), or pour it off. (It's an excellent treat for chickens!) Don't dump it down the drain, because it has the potential to acidity rivers or other natural water sources (depending upon how waste water is treated in your area). For more ideas on what to do with whey, click here and scroll down.

With future batches, you can use your homemade yogurt as a starter. (I use 1 cup.) Over time, though, the cultures in your homemade yogurt probably will weaken, and periodically you may need to use store bought yogurt as your starter.


If You Want Less Yogurt
I like to add mashed fruit to our yogurt.

If you need less yogurt, just use less milk and add about 1 teaspoon of store bought yogurt per 1 cup of milk.

You can even make your yogurt in ready-to-go canning jars. To do this, change the way you scald the milk: First put the trivet in the IP, along with 1 cup of water. Put the canning jars on the trivet and pour the milk into the canning jars. (You may use any size canning jar that fits in the IP with the trivet in place. Most people use jam jars.) Set the valve to "Sealing" and push the "Steam" button. Push the "-" button until it's down to 1 minute. When the IP is done, push "Cancel" and allow the contents to cool naturally to115 degrees F. When it's time to add the store bought yogurt, add about 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of milk.


To Make the Yogurt Thicker

Add 1/2 cup powdered milk when you add the store bought yogurt. Or, strain the yogurt. (Straining will reduce the volume of the yogurt by half.) FYI: Store bought yogurt is usually thickened with gelatin or pectin.


How to Sweeten Your Homemade Yogurt

In the past, I've used honey or homemade jam to sweeten our yogurt, but recently I've found a better option - one that pleases everyone in my family (which is not easy to do!):

* Put 2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit in a saucepan placed over medium heat. If desired, add sugar. (I use 1 cup of cane sugar; my family thinks this mixture makes the yogurt taste like store bought.) Stir often until the mixture thickens a bit. If you like chunks of fruit, use a potato masher or two knives to cut up the fruit. Otherwise, puree the fruit mixture with a blender.

I store this mixture in canning jars in the fridge. For large servings of yogurt, I add about 2 - 3 teaspoons of this mixture to the bowl. It makes the yogurt no longer tart, but also not super-sweet.


f you’re going to make yogurt in little jars, anyway, you can sanitize the jars and scald the milk at the same time (as shown in the video). Add a cup of water and the steamer basket into Instant Pot. Pour the milk in the jars and place the jars in the cooker. Set the valve on the lid to “Sealing” push the [steam] button and then the [-] button until you get down to one minute. When the program is finished push [cancel] to turn off the instant pot and let it cool down naturally.

Read more: Instructions & VIDEO: How to make Yogurt with Instant Pot DUO & SMART http://www.hippressurecooking.com/video-how-to-make-yogurt-in-instant-pot-duo/
Step 1: Sanitation Ensure that all of the equipment, containers and utensils to be used in the yogurt-making process are carefully cleaned. This ensures that no other bacteria compete with the yogurt starter during the incubation. If you’re making the yogurt directly in Instant Pot’s stainless steel container, sanitize the cooker by running Instant Pot on the pressure steam program for one minute with one cup of water. Set the valve on the lid to “Sealing” push the [steam] button and then the [-] button until you get down to one minute. When the program is finished, release the pressure and then pour out the water. Then, scald the milk by pushing [yogurt] button and [adjust] until the screen says “Boil”. Let Instant Pot bring the milk to a boil until the screen says “Yogt”. If you’re going to make yogurt in little jars, anyway, you can sanitize the jars and scald the milk at the same time (as shown in the video). Add a cup of water and the steamer basket into Instant Pot. Pour the milk in the jars and place the jars in the cooker. Set the valve on the lid to “Sealing” push the [steam] button and then the [-] button until you get down to one minute. When the program is finished push [cancel] to turn off the instant pot and let it cool down naturally. For both milk that has been scalded in the pot or little jars, wait until the yogurt cools down to at least 115F/46C before proceeding to the next step. That can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour (make sure to take the temperature with a clean thermometer). If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you’ll want to wait until the jars are cool enough to handle.

Read more: Instructions & VIDEO: How to make Yogurt with Instant Pot DUO & SMART http://www.hippressurecooking.com/video-how-to-make-yogurt-in-instant-pot-duo/
* What Kind of Milk to Use

I always use store bought, whole cow's milk. But truly, you can use any type of milk you like - except ultra pasteurized milk (UHT). If you use reduced fat milk, you will probably want to use powdered milk as a thickener, or at least strain the yogurt once it's done. I have even heard of people using coconut or almond milk to make Instant Pot yogurt. But whatever milk you choose, make it the freshest milk possible. That means you should use only an un-opened carton or jug of milk.



Nov 29, 2016

From Scratch, DIY Hot Cocoa Recipe

DIY Hot Cocoa Recipe
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Recently, my kids asked for hot cocoa - one of their favorite winter treats. We were at Walmart, and sticking to my rule of reading all food labels, I picked up their favorite brand and read the ingredients list. I stopped reading at the second ingredient: corn syrup. Then I read every other hot cocoa label on the shelf. All of them contained corn syrup, plus a host of other icky ingredients. Sigh.

(Wondering why I don't want my family consuming corn syrup? The short answer is that high fructose corn syrup is one of the most common and most unhealthy ingredients found in processed food. It is linked to diabetes and a host of other health problems...and now it can be listed simply as "corn sugar." In addition, corn products are almost always genetically modified (GMO). I am not comfortable feeding GMOs to my family; you can read about some of my reasons here.)

When I got home, I got on Facebook and asked my friends if they knew of a brand of hot cocoa that didn't contain corn syrup. Some suggested Ghirardelli's, and one friend touted AhLaska Organic Cocoa Mix. But another friend said, "Why don't you make it from scratch?" I was a little embarrassed, because I'm that annoying person who's always suggesting making everything from scratch - yet it never occurred to me to do DIY hot cocoa.

So I looked at a gazillion from scratch hot cocoa recipes, and finally settled on this one (from Epicurious). Incidentally, you can find recipes for making your own hot cocoa mix, too, but everything I saw was contained processed ingredients (like powdered creamer), so I decided it was better to make each batch fresh, with fresh dairy.


From Scratch Hot Cocoa Recipe

Multiply this recipe as needed for the correct number of servings.

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (found in the baking aisle of grocery stores)
1 - 2 tablespoons cane sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 cup whole milk (or 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup cream)
1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Organic marshmallows (optional)

1. In a saucepan placed over medium-low heat, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk until sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Whisk in the remaining milk/cream; whisk occasionally until the mixture is hot.

3. Stir in vanilla.



A Few Notes About the Recipe

* When choosing sugar for this recipe, I prefer real cane sugar. That's because beet sugar, or sugar that doesn't mention its source, is usually GMO. Avoid agave, since it's proven the worst source of sugar you can eat. I also avoid Truvia, which is highly processed and full of questionable stuff. Real, pure, stevia may work for this recipe, but I have not tried it.

* I use sea salt exclusively, because processed salt (any salt other than natural sea salt) is linked to autoimmune disease.

* For the dairy, I recommend whole milk, since it's less processed than other types of milk. (It will also make the cocoa creamier.) Ideally, I'd use raw milk, since it isn't processed at all, but it's illegal in my state. (I need to add dairy goats to the homestead!)

* Check your vanilla extract to be sure it's the real thing, and not full of artificial ingredients.

* Regular marshmallows are made from high fructose corn syrup. Look for organic marshmallows, which are usually made from real cane sugar.

But most of all, enjoy! No matter how hard we try to eat healthy, we live in a fallen world, and our food will never be perfect! Eat the foods God provided through nature, but don't get stressed about every bite (or sip), friends.

Nov 3, 2016

Crock Pot (Or Not) Cheesy Noodles, Beef, & Spinach Recipe

slow cooker
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

I have a sort of love-hate relationship with my crock pot. Like the rest of the first world, I love it's convenience and simplicity. But I'm also not much of a fan of most crock pot recipes - and neither is my family. Recently, though, I discovered a recipe that is inexpensive, hearty, and the whole family loves. Yay for me! So very yay, I gotta share the recipe with you.

A Few Recipe Notes

I found this recipe over at Becoming Betty, and I've discovered there are lots of ways to go about preparing it. The original recipe called for using a slow cooker or crock pot for almost the entire cooking process. I have a smallish crock pot, so this doesn't work for me. Therefore, I pour the contents of the sauce in the crock pot and let the flavors cook and meld together all day, then finish the dish on the stove top. But if you wanted to, you could do the whole thing on the stove top. It's your choice: All in the crock pot, partially in the crock pot, or entirely on the stove top.


So far, I've only used ground beef for this recipe, but you could easily switch that out for ground turkey, venison, or a mild sausage.

Crock Pot (Or Not) Cheesy Noodles, Beef, & Spinach Recipe

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
15 oz. tomato sauce
about 15 oz. crushed tomatoes (I actually use a quart jar of home canned tomato halves, then use two knives to cut the tomatoes up into tiny pieces my children won't recognize in the finished dish.)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (scroll down for a recipe to make your own)
Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper
about 10 oz. fresh spinach 

16 oz. spiral pasta (I use Tinkyada gluten free)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup + 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese


Make the Sauce:

1. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the ground beef. (If the meat is lean, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan first.) Crumble and cook until no longer pink.

2. Add the onion and garlic and stir and cook until onion is tender and almost translucent. Drain off the fat.

TIP: Cook the beef, onion, and garlic mixture ahead of time and freeze. When you're ready to cook this meal, toss the frozen ingredients directly in the crock pot. (No thawing needed!)

3. Pour the beef, onion, and garlic mixture into the crock pot, then add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook in the crock pot for 6 hours on low, or 2 hours on high. (I turn the crock pot to "warm" after 2 hours on high and let the sauce sit for most of the day before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. This helps bring out the flavor of all the seasonings in the sauce.)

TIP: If desired, you can make the sauce on the stove top, simmering over low heat, and stirring occasionally.

Putting It Together:

4. 20- 30 minutes before you want to serve, cook the pasta according to the package directions, and drain. Add the pasta to the crock pot.

TIP: If your crock pot is small, return the pasta to the pot you boiled it in and pour the sauce over the pasta. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot on the stove, rather than the crock pot. Be sure to keep the heat on the stove very low, and stir occasionally.

5. Add the spinach. Add the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the Mozzarella cheese. Stir. Cook on low for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted.

6. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of Mozzarella cheese, stir, and serve.

Makes about 8 servings. 



DIY Italian Seasoning

Why make your own? It's cheaper, for sure. But it also means you don't have to worry about any added, unwanted ingredients, like preservatives.

2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried sage

Mix ingredients together. For a finer texture (more like what you'd buy bottled), run through a food processor or clean coffee grinder for about a minute, or until desired texture is reached.

Sep 20, 2016

Loaded Chicken and Potatoes Recipe

Confession: My family does not like eating chicken. They love my home canned chicken, and they love KFC, and sometimes my hubby's real barbecued chicken because all you really taste are the seasonings...but any other chicken dish pretty much makes their noses turn up. However, as a person striving to be Proverbs 31 Woman, I'm always trying to get chicken in their diet because it's more frugal than beef or pork. That's why I was so pleased when I made Loaded Chicken and Potatoes (which I discovered over at Singing Through the Rain) and my family loved it! Here is my slightly altered version:

Loaded Chicken and Potatoes Recipe

about 1 lb. chicken (I use boneless chicken breasts, but any chicken will do), cubed into 1/2" pieces*
about 12 medium yellow potatoes (or any baking type potato), cubed into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon Tabasco (Too hot for you? Try 2 tablespoons homemade ranch dressing, or sour cream, or cream cheese, or barbecue sauce with real sugar - no high fructose corn syrup! - instead)
2 cups Cheddar cheese (or a Mexican-style cheese blend; for this photo shoot, I used Cheddar and Monterey Jack)
1/2 - 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (about 1/4 to 1/2 lb.)
1/2 - 1 cup diced green onions (scallions)





1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with coconut or olive oil; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, paprika, garlic powder, and Tabasco (or alternatives to Tabasco) until well blended.


3. Add the potatoes and chicken to the bowl and toss until well coated. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

4. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Stir. Bake another 25 minutes or so, until the potatoes and chicken are cooked through and browned. Remove from oven - but keep the oven turned on.

5. Sprinkle the casserole with cheese, bacon, and green onions. Return to the oven. Bake another 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

If desired, serve with sour cream.

Singing Through the Rain says you can make this dish in the crock pot, too. I've never tried it, but if you're interested, click here and scroll down to "Frequently Asked Questions."

* HINT: When using chicken that's been frozen, don't thaw completely before cutting. It will be much easier to chop!



Sep 1, 2016

Old Fashioned Baked Apples Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

 Around here, we love apple everything. Each year, I can applesauce, make dried apple rings, fill the freezer with apple pie filling...and of course we eat lots of plain, fresh apples - or apple slices slathered in peanut butter. But, for some reason, until recently, I'd never made my children an apple classic: Baked apples.

This old fashioned recipe is so simple, and so much healthier than most other desserts. But I didn't grow up eating it. In fact, I'd never even heard of baked apples until I was in my early 20s and a doctor put my mom on a special diet. Baked apples were on her short list for desserts. We hated most of the recipes her doctor gave her. But baked apples? That dish was a keeper!

People have been baking apples for hundreds of years, and there are about a bazillion ways to make baked apples, but I tend to stick with this simple recipe. It takes only four or five minutes to prepare and has great flavor.



Old Fashioned Baked Apple Recipe

4 apples (Pippin, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold are considered great for baking, but experiment to discover what type of apple you like best! For this post, I used apples from our orchard; I have no idea what variety they are, but they are yummy!)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using an apple corer or a knife, remove the core from the apple. The dessert will be less messy if you leave the bottom (blossom end) of the apple in tact, but it's not the end of the world if you remove the entire core, as I did.


2. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Fold in the nuts.


3. Place the apples in a baking dish and spoon the nut mixture inside each apple. Pour the water into the baking dish and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the apples can easily be pierced with a fork.


4. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow apples to cool in it. Serve warm. If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream.


Related Posts
 
Apple Skillet Cake Recipe

Apple Spice Bread Recipe 

Apple Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars Recipe

Canning Apple Pie Jam

Freezing Apple Pie Filling

The Best Tasting, Easiest Applesauce Ever

Making Dried Apple Rings in the Warmer Drawer

How to Preserve Apples 

What to do with Crab Apples

Picking Unripe Apples for Making Apple Pectin

Jul 18, 2016

What to Do With a Bumper Crop of Plums

A few days ago, I finally got around to counting the trees in our orchard. We have nine apple trees and eleven - yes, eleven! - plum trees. Fortunately, they don't all ripen at the same time, but currently I have two trees that need daily harvesting. We can't possibly eat all those fresh plums before they rot, so I'm planning ahead: What else can we do with all these plums? How can I preserve plums for winter? Here's what I've come up with:

Canning Plums

* Plain canned 
* Mulled plums
* Plum Sauce
* Plum Butter (a really thick jam)
* Spiced Plum Jam
* Low Sugar Plum Jam 
* 2 Ingredient, No Added Pectin Plum Jelly 
* Simple No Pectin Plum Jam
* Plum Pie Filling 
* Pickled Plums

Dehydrating Plums

* Basic Instructions
* Plum Fruit Leather 

Freezing Plums

* Basic Instructions

Other Plum Recipes

* Plum BBQ Sauce
* Savory Plum Sauce 
* Plum Glazed Pork Ribs
* Plum Salsa, Sorbet, Chutney 
* Plum Lemonade
* Oven Roasted Plums
* Chocolate Plum Cake 
* German Plum Cake
* Plum Crumble 
* Plum Cobbler 
* Plum Cobbler with Cake Like Texture
* Plum Shortcakes
* Plum Tart 
* Upside Down Plum Cake 
* Sugar Plum Jelly Candies 
* Plum Kuchen 
* Plum Oat Muffins 
* Plum Coffee Cake Muffins
* Plum Bread Pudding 
* Plum Bread
* Plum and Banana Bread
* Plum Popsicle
* Plum Ice Cream 
* Plum Kombucha
* Plum Wine 
* Plum Vinegar 
* Lacto-Fermented Plums

BONUS: Plum Pie Recipe

This recipe is from my cookbook Easy As Pie: 45 From Scratch Pie Recipes - which is only $2.99 for the Kindle or $6.99 in paperback. It's got just about every fruit pie recipe you could want, plus recipes for vegetable pies, cream pies, and much more.



Pastry for 2 crusts

7 fresh plums (about 1 lb.), sliced, skins intact
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out one crust and place in a 9 inch pie plate. Refrigerate. Keep the remaining pastry in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and tapioca. Add the plums and gently toss. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

3. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie plate. Cut up the butter and scatter over the top of the filling. Roll out second crust and place over the filling. (If desired, make a lattice top crust, as pictured here.) Seal and cut 4 slits into the crust.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 - 50 min. or until the filling is bubbly and the crust golden. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.


* Title image courtesy of Michelle Tribe.

 

Jun 28, 2016

How to Forage, Clean, & Eat Lobster Mushrooms (with Roasted Lobster Mushrooms in Clarified Butter recipe)

I confess it: I've never been much of a mushroom person. But until recently the only mushrooms I'd ever eaten were button mushrooms found in the grocery store or on pizza. And as much as I love to forage for wild foods, foraging for mushrooms has always scared me: Every year, I hear stories about people who've seriously poisoned themselves by picking and eating misidentified wild mushrooms.

But my dad-in-law is a huge mushroom fan, and he's been telling me about a friend of his who's a mushroom expert. And, Dad claimed, he had an easy to identify mushroom growing on his property that he just had to try eating. So yesterday morning, when he mentioned he wanted to go pick some lobster mushrooms and hinted he'd like me to look into cleaning and cooking them, I decided to give it a go. (I did ask, "Are we sure we can't mistake them for something poisonous?" To which he replied, "No, we can't. I even showed one to my friend to make sure I was identifying them correctly." Further research revealed there are no poisonous look-alikes to the lobster mushroom.)


What Lobster Mushrooms Taste Like

Lobster mushroom.
First, you probably want to know what lobster mushrooms taste like. I found their flavor difficult to describe, in part because it varied slightly from mushroom to mushroom. However, to me they are reminiscent of a white meat in both texture and flavor, with mild overtones of seafood - and the butter I cooked them in. My dad-in-law and husband, however, thought these mushrooms were reminiscent of steak; I suspect this was due to the way I roasted them.

I was impressed by the mushroom's texture. It was not at all mushy, but firm and meaty. Again, I don't normally like mushrooms, but I found lobster mushrooms absolutely delicious.

If you're curious about how healthy these mushrooms are, you should know they are mostly carbohydrate (about 3 grams per cup), along with a small amount of fiber and protein (1 gram each per cup) and some iron and calcium.



Identifying Lobster Mushrooms

Lobster mushrooms are unique and tough to misidentify. Look for their bright red-orange color, which looks a bit like the red-orange on lobsters. We found our specimens growing on a north facing hill where Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees grew. Much of what we harvested was mostly buried beneath moss and weeds; fortunately, the mushrooms' bright color made them easy to spot.

Most of the mushrooms we found were largely buried under moss and weeds.
Lobster mushrooms have an irregular shape - in part because they are actually two fungi. They consist of the host, which is either a Russulas or Lactarius mushroom, and a parasite called Hypomyces. The Hypomyces infects the mushroom, transforming it into the deformed, dense, and roughly textured thing we call a lobster mushroom. The mushroom's caps often have cracks in them and the mushroom has no gills. Depending upon where you live, lobsters are available most of the year, or mainly in the fall. For more tips on properly identifying lobster mushrooms, click over to Mushroom-Collecting.com.

WARNING: Never, ever eat any wild food you cannot absolutely identify. It's just not worth the risk!

We found our lobster mushrooms on a north facing hill.
Foraging for Lobster Mushrooms

For best flavor, choose only the best specimens. Look for mushrooms with the characteristic bright red-orange color, that have few cracks in the caps. Slugs and snails, as well as deer and probably other wild critters, love to eat lobster mushrooms, so try to find mushrooms that aren't nibbled on. Before cooking lobster mushrooms, cut them in half to check for freshness. If they are good for eating, the interior will be very white. If the interior is browned at all, it's best to toss the mushroom.

It's best to remove the mushrooms by cutting the stems.
As a reminder: When foraging, be a good steward. Get permission to forage on private land, and make sure you understand state and federal rules about foraging on public land. Even when foraging on your own land, use care to ensure next year's harvest. With lobster mushrooms, the best way to do that is to cut the mushroom off its stem, rather than pull it from the ground. Always leave some mushrooms exactly as they are in the ground so they can send out spores to produce mushrooms for future foraging by humans and animals.

Cleaning and Storing Lobster Mushrooms

A few minute's worth of harvest!
Once you have the mushrooms home, you can prepare them for storage or for immediate use.

Preparing for storage: Lobster mushrooms are best eaten within three days of harvesting, but may store for as long as seven days. To prep them for storage, simply brush off as much dirt as possible. A clean pastry brush or paint brush works well for this. Then gently place the mushrooms in a paper bag, roll the top of the bag closed, and place in the refrigerator.

Preparing to eat: Once you're ready to eat some lobster mushrooms, you'll need to clean them in earnest. Although many mushrooms are ruined by washing, lobster mushrooms do just fine if cleaned in water: Fill a bowl with water, then add the mushrooms. Slosh them gently in the water and let them sit for a minute, then use a fabric or paper towel to gently brush away the remaining dirt.

Cleaning the mushrooms. Eat only the mushrooms that are bright red-orange. I had to discard the mostly white one at the top of the photo because it was brown on the inside and not suitable for eating.
When you cut open a good lobster mushroom, the inside should look bright white.
How to Cook Lobster Mushrooms

There are many ways to cook lobster mushrooms, but simple recipes are the best way to get a feel for the texture and taste of this unique fungi. Here's how I cooked them.

Roasted Lobster Mushrooms in Clarified Butter

Lobster mushrooms
Clarified butter (Learn how to easily make it here. You could also use ordinary butter, though the flavor of the dish will be slightly different.)
Onion
Sea salt
Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Cut cleaned lobster mushrooms in half. For larger mushrooms, cut in quarters.

3. Place an oven proof skillet over medium heat. Once it's warmed a little, add a couple of tablespoons of clarified butter. Once the butter is warm, gently add the mushrooms, cut side down.

4. Cook the mushrooms until browned, then turn and cook another side. Season with sea salt and pepper. As you cook, the mushrooms will give off a seafood-like scent. Keep cooking, turning the mushroom until all sides are browned. Periodically, spoon butter that's already in the skillet over the cooking mushrooms.

5. Place the skillet in the oven and set the timer for about 12 minutes.

6. In the meantime, chop the onion. (I cooked two medium sized mushrooms, and used about 1/4 of a yellow onion, and had more onion than I really needed.) Place a skillet over medium heat and add a little clarified butter. Once the butter is warm, add the onion and cook and stir until softened and golden brown. Keep warm over low heat.


7. After 12 minutes, check the mushrooms. They should be well browned, looking a lot like meat. Plate the mushrooms and sprinkle some cooked onion over them. Serve immediately.