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Okay, so last week’s intended Two-fer Tasty Tuesday was a bomb, but this week’s is NOT.  I have finally found a mayo recipe that is easy, delicious, and fresh – and did I mention it is delicious?  :)

I’ve experimented with other “no fail” mayo recipes – from stick-blender recipes to “so-easy-you-could-do-it-in-your-sleep” recipes.  The stick-blender recipes were a massive failure – I think because my stick-blender isn’t new and is the better part of 15 years old, it just doesn’t do it right/well/enough.  And the SEYCDIIYS (“so-easy-you-could-do-it-in-your-sleep”) recipe?  Yeah, it tasted bad.  I think mayo “blooms” after it’s made and you refrigerate it.  It’s the only way I can describe the different flavours that appeared after I made it – and that made the final product inedible.  😐

So I’ve searched and hunted.  I’ve tried butter-mayo (a great concept, but I’m not buying a different kind of butter than what we normally use, just to make mayo), olive oil mayo (it needs another oil to mellow its flavour), and finally settled on a blended-oil mayonnaise.  The key to making any homemade mayo is this:  DRIZZLE YOUR OIL IN.  Sounds simple, but really, it can be frustratingly challenging.

My blender is a Bosch and fits on my Universal Plus mixer.  I love it.  The top to the blender has a hole in it, effectively making it like a funnel.  You can see it a little more clearly below and to the left.  If you have a food processor whose “plunger” piece (the one you use to shove food that you want to shred down in to the whirling blades without losing a finger) has a tiny hole, that’s also used for oil emulsification.  I just happen to have a blender with a nifty spot for it.

The other option you have is to use a squirt bottle – like the ketchup/mustard kinds that are $.50 apiece once the summer picnic season starts.  The real point is to drizzle the oil slowly, otherwise you’ll end up with an Exxon Valdez-type mess in your kitchen, and as Alton Brown says, “That’s just not good eats.”

Speaking of Alton Brown, he has a great tutorial on making mayo that I’ll include at the bottom of this post.  They’re worth watching just to get the idea of the science behind the stuff.  I’d be remiss in my duties as an AB-fangirl if I didn’t tell you that his recipes are the bomb and nearly fail-proof.  My one dissension from AB’s advice is this:  NEVER EVER MAKE MAYONNAISE IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOUR EGGS COME FROM.  AB talks about using “pasteurized eggs,” which means they’ve been pasteurized in the shell, but since we’re all about Real Food and Unadulterated Food here, I’m not going to recommend those.  I would never, ever make mayo with store-bought eggs.  Ever.  I’ve had salmonella poisoning and I never want to have it again.  Know where your eggs come from, wash them before sticking them in the fridge, and make sure they are the freshest eggs around.  These are cornerstone rules for making homemade mayo.

My recipe is divergent from AB’s in a few things:  I omit his dry mustard (see above, where I explain my “blooming” theory – dried mustard in mayo = a very strong mustard spread in 24 hours) and I don’t use his corn oil (see above for “Real Food” comment).  I did use a blend of coconut oil and olive oil, and it turned out spoon-lickin’-good.  I prefer an unflavoured/unscented coconut oil for this application – I always have some of Tropical Traditions’ Expeller Pressed CO on hand for stuff like this.  As far as an olive oil, make sure it’s extra-virgin.

Now that I’ve got my explanations and disclaimers out of the way, here’s the actual recipe.  This will make just over a pint of mayonnaise – about a pint and a quarter.  I find it easiest to assemble all of my ingredients first and then begin the mixing process.  :)

Sue’s Homemade Mayonnaise
  • 2 whole, fresh eggs, room temperature
  • 1 t. sea salt (fine grind, I like Real Salt)
  • ½ t. sugar
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ¾ c. TOTAL olive oil & expeller-pressed coconut oil (equal portions of each)

In your blender, toss your eggs (whites included!), the salt, sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice.  Whirl on highest power for 30 seconds or so.

In a gentle, slow stream, with the blender (or food processor) on high, begin adding your oil combination.  You’ll hear the blender chug differently as the oil begins the emulsification – but keep going until all the oil is added.  Whirl it for about 30 seconds after the last bit of oil is incorporated and then scoop it in to a jar.  The flavour should be light, slightly lemon-y, and altogether creamy.

Alton says that the acids allow this to “proof” on the counter for up to 12 hours – I let mine sit for no more than 3-4 hours.  I think the heat of Arizona is stronger than the heat of Atlanta, where he is.  😉  Cap it up and stick it in the fridge.  Most people say to use it within 7-10 days, but I can’t find a reason why it wouldn’t be good past then, assuming optimum refrigeration is followed.  The eggs don’t spoil in the fridge, the salt, sugar, and acids won’t spoil, and the oils would still be good.  But follow your own best judgment – never eat something that smells “off” or you find questionable.

My final product looks like this (the mayo has a yellow tinge because the farm-fresh eggs have bright orange yolks and aren’t pale like factory-farmed eggs):

~~~~~~~

And, because I just can’t stop now – here is my homemade ranch dressing recipe.  The seasoning is kept in a jar and then when mixing it to make salad dressing, I add in 2 T. of dried whole milk.  I love that this has no MSG in it and that it tastes SO good.  Brendan declares it to be as good as store-bought ranch dressing; I love that I know how it’s made.

MSG-free Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 4 T. onion powder (granules)
  • 7 t. dried parsley
  • 4 t. sea salt (I like Real Salt)
  • 1 t. garlic powder (granules)

Mix these ingredients in a jar and cap it tightly.  To make ranch dressing, use 2 T. mix, 2 T. powdered whole milk (for a richer flavour), 1 c. of mayo (hey! you just made some!), and 1 c. of milk or buttermilk.  Mix all together well (I use my stick blender) and refrigerate at least 3 hours for optimum flavour-blending.

The spice blend is cheap (important as food prices are rising), is made with spices in my food storage, tastes really good, and is usable in dips as well as dressing (just blend with 2 T. of the mix with 2 T. of dried whole milk and 2 c. of sour cream).  It takes a remarkably small amount of cupboard space, too.  :)

As promised, here are the AB videos on making mayonnaise – enjoy your newfound culinary skillz!  :)

This week was set to be a two-fer Tasty Tuesday, but thanks to what I consider a fail (with a side of epic), the second recipe is on hold.  What was scheduled to be lemon curd AND english muffins is now just lemon curd, because, darnit, the english muffin recipe was a bomb.  It was more like a cornmeal-baked biscuit than something that was crunchy and had delightful little nooks & crannies to hold butter and lemon curd simultaneously.  😛  Brendan likes them, but blech.  I won’t touch them.  Happily, I’ve found another recipe for english muffins that holds a decent amount of promise, so that will go on next week’s schedule.

On the up-side, this lemon curd recipe comes from Alton Brown and it is AMAZING.  A friend of mine gave me a huge box of citrus – one of the benefits of living in Arizona is that everyone has citrus trees and nearly everyone gets tired of picking lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.  As one without said citrus trees and plenty of opportunity to figure out what to DO with all of those delightful things, I am pleased to accept box after box of free fruit.  :)  And so my experimenting began.

I juiced and zested the better part of 20-25# of lemons this past week and learned several things:  1)  Lemon zest does better when stored in the freezer.  The oils that make it so special seem to evaporate when set out to dry, so freezing it seems to be the next best thing.  2)  Lemon oil and juice (specifically) eats through latex gloves.  It’s a good thing I have lots of these for cleaning and kitchen work, because I got about 10 lemons done with one pair of gloves when the thumb would rip out from the citrus’ acidity.  3)  A well-made lemon curd is one of the most divine things ever, especially on toast.  Mark wants me to fill a pie with the stuff, but right now, we’re shmearing it all over toast.  4)  All of those lemons produce about 2.5 quarts of lemon juice, which is more than enough for my needs in the course of a year.  If you make fresh lemonade, you’ll go through that amount quickly, but we stick to water almost exclusively here as the beverage of choice, so it will last quite a while.

I was surprised to find butter as a key ingredient in lemon curd – I never would have guessed this to be the case.  We’re not afraid of butter here, and when I thought about it, it made sense.  If you want a full creamy mouth-feel to a finished product, fat is the best way to achieve that.  Melting and slowly incorporating butter is a logical step in the process.

Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 c. of sugar (for lemons – for oranges, drop to ½ c. of sugar)
  • 4 large lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 c. of juice is your goal)
  • ½ c. butter, cut in large pats & chilled

Start a pot of water for the bottom part of your double-boiler on high heat, lowering to medium heat once the water boils.  In the meantime, separate your eggs and combine the yolks with the sugar in a large metal bowl – one that is suitable to use in a double-boiler fashion.  Whisk the mixture until well-combined and then add in the lemon zest and juice.  Whisk further and set whisk aside.  Place bowl over simmering water on stove and use a (rubber/silicone) spatula to stir regularly.  You’ll feel the sugar crystals dissolve and see some thickening take place – as the mixture thickens, stir consistently, making sure you’re pulling up from the bottom of the pan to the top with your spatula.

When the mixture hits “pudding thickness” in the pan (this took me about 15-20 min of cooking), remove it from heat.  It will easily coat the back of a spoon at this point.  Putting one pat of butter in at a time, stir until the butter is fully melted, and then add the next pat of butter.  Based on the rate of cooling of your pan, the last pat or two of butter will be more stubborn about melting and being incorporated; that’s how you know it’s almost done.  When tasting it at this point, you should have an overwhelming taste of lemon, a curve of sweetness, and a slight pinch of saltiness (from the butter), as well as a creamy mouth-feel from the butterfat.  When all the butter is incorporated, bottle your final product and allow it to cool completely before refrigerating.  Your lemon curd will last two-three weeks in the fridge, assuming you can leave it in the fridge and not eat it with a spoon, with yogurt, on toast or english muffins, top pancakes, etc., etc., etc.

I’ve been meaning to try a recipe for baked oatmeal for I don’t know how long.  At least since my friend Misti mentioned it as a tasty breakfast option.  My brain is full of these tidbits – someone mentions something or gives me an idea, but then due to life and schedules, it doesn’t actually get tried/implemented/experimented until a while later. Someday my life will be simpler and I’ll be able to try new stuff out immediately, but that will probably be after Brendan’s done with school & is out on his own.  😉

Regardless, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the recipe – maybe a bit more loft and “cake-like texture,” but then again, there is no flour in it, and that’s generally where cake-like texture comes from.  It’s delicious, easy, and allows for tons of variations on a theme.  This batch used frozen black raspberries from my egg-guy’s garden last year… next time I’ll likely use blueberries, bananas, strawberries, or apples (finely diced).  I love that I can use food-storage items to make this – the oats, the honey/sugar, and the fruit are all food-storage worthy.  I will even try using freeze-dried fruit next time; I’m sure it will turn out delightfully. :) The original recipe used regular milk and a fraction of the cinnamon (we like cinnamon!), and I’ve changed out some of the sweetener to reduce the brown sugar content and use honey in its place.

The resulting breakfast food is easy to slice and take on the run, but is even better when warmed slightly and drizzled with a touch of maple syrup.  It’s not overly sweet (in this case, the raspberries make sure of that!), and it’s completely filling. Yesterday I made it until about 1230p for lunch after eating a piece of this with some coffee at about 745a.  I was delighted with the longevity the oats give me – I was able to work for hours and not be interrupted by the pesky need for food.  :)

Baked Oatmeal
  • 3 c oatmeal (I use quick oats, but regular oats would work fine as well)
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. sea salt (I like Real Salt)
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. honey
  • 1 ½ c. cultured buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ c. coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c.  fruit; raspberries, blueberries,  mashed bananas, apples, etc.
  • ½ cup of pecans (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together, add to wet ingredients in mixing bowl.  Combine thoroughly (I let the Bosch do the work). Allow to rest for 5 minutes to increase loft (from buttermilk/baking powder combination), pour in to well-greased 9×13″ pan and bake at 350F for  30-40 minutes. Center should be firm and poke-able just like a cake; top should be lightly browned.

Cut in pieces and serve warm (or cold) – it’s especially delightful with a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.

As we dig further and further in to a self-sufficient, food-storage inspired lifestyle, I’m always on the hunt for new things to make that I either a) don’t want to spend the money on at the store, or b) don’t like the GMO or added ingredients in the store-bought variety.  Happily, granola fits the bill on all criteria.  It’s easy to make, uses food storage supplies, tastes really good, is stupid-expensive at the store, and has undesirable ingredients when it’s store-bought.

I made granola bars last year and love them – but finding the right proportions on a loose granola was a little trickier for me.  I’m pretty good with substituting things, and although I used a recipe from Food Storage Made Easy as my base, my actual recipe really doesn’t look very much like the original.  Funny how that happens sometimes! :)  We love this to snack on or in my Greek-style yogurt (regular goat-milk yogurt that is strained for 12 hours).

It’s easy for me to burn my granola – I’d love to blame the dumb oven in this apartment completely, but I think lowering my second-bake time from 20 minutes to 10 is the way to go.  :)

Another trick I use is to plump up the dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries – your choice) in heated, distilled water before using them.  When I do this, I don’t end up with little hard pieces of charcoal that once were raisins – they actually look and taste like raisins!  Adding the moisture to the raisins first insures that you’re not dehydrating them too much in the oven.  It’s a worthwhile step and is easy to cover the raisins with water and simmer them for a bit before adding them to the raw granola.

Sue’s Homestyle Granola
  • 4 c. of quick oats (or regular – I have quick oats stored, though)
  • 2 c. of chopped almonds
  • 1 c. roasted sunflower seeds (this adds a certain YUM to the finished product)
  • 1 c. raisins/dried cherries/craisins (your choice), rehydrated & drained
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. Real Salt
  • 3/4 c. honey

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and begin adding in the wet items – the raisins, coconut oil, vanilla, and honey.  Allow the mixer to do the blending until everything looks evenly incorporated.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 20 min. at 350F.  Stir at the 20 minute-mark (scraping the tray and turning the granola over as you do) and stick the tray back in for another 10 minutes.  Remove tray from oven and stir; allow it to cool completely before bagging it up and watching it disappear.  :)  This recipe makes about 2 pounds of granola, and if it gets soft from the moisture in the air, laying it on a tray at 200F for 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to put the crunch back in to it.  :)

Bon apetit!

 

Okay, so it’s Tuesday and time for a Tasty Tuesday post, but this one isn’t edible.  It does, however, make fantastic play-doh that doesn’t smell even remotely as bad as the commercial stuff.  I seriously cannot stand the store-bought stuff – the scent makes me crazy and God-forbid it gets on my hands… it’s nearly impossible to wash off!

That said, you can leave this dough unscented and uncoloured, or use unsweetened packets of Kool-Aid™ to scent and colour it.  It’s easy, cheap, and fun to play with.  :)

Sweet-Smelling Play-Doh
  • 2 c. flour
  • 4 T. cream of tartar
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 2 c. water
  • your choice of unsweetened Kool-Aid packets™ for colours & scents

Combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan and stir well.  Add oil, drink packet mix (for multiple colours, you’ll want multiple batches), and water – mix well.

Stir & cook over medium heat until the dough is done and is no longer sticky.  It isn’t hard to tell when it’s ready – it will look like regular play-doh.  Allow this to cool slightly before kneading – then knead on counter until dough is smooth, elastic-y, and uniform.

    Okay, so I lied.  I’m posting already, right after saying I wouldn’t be posting until Thursday.  But I’m overdue on a Tasty Tuesday post, so here I am.

    As luck would have it, today is January 4, and it’s exactly 2 months until Ashley’s birthday, so we’re celebrating her UN-birthday today.  I figure if the Mad Hatter and Hare did it, so can we.  :)

    Ashe’s favourite foods (and she has a list, believe me) that I make include sloppy joes and cheesecake.  So this is our menu for the night; the hamburger bun dough is rising now, and the joes are starting to simmer on the stove.  It’s not Manwich™, it’s waaaaay better.  It’s my grandmother’s version of sloppy joes!  The finished product is dark, spicy, slightly sweet, and very smooth.  Its key is to simmer it for as many hours as possible without burning it – so sticking it in a crockpot on low overnight is too long.  Trust me on this one – you will carmelize the sugars in the sauce and it won’t be tasty, even if you do serve it on a Tuesday.

    Sue’s Grandma’s Sloppy Joes
    • 2# ground beef, browned
    • 28 oz. non-HFCS ketchup
    • 1 c. water
    • 6 T. worcestershire sauce (hey! I spelled it right!)
    • 2 T. brown sugar
    • the juice of 2 whole limes (if using bottled lime juice, 5T.)

    After the meat is browned and drained, set it aside.  In a pot, mix ketchup, water, worcestershire sauce (hey! I spelled it right again!), brown sugar, and lime juice.  Combine well, add meat back in.  Simmer on low-medium (I have mine on about “3” on my electric range) with a lid for a minimum of 3 hours.  Stir occasionally.

    Serve over hamburger buns, with or without sliced cheese (as desired).

    Yum! :)

    I start this post off with an apology.  I was not put together enough when I made it to take photos of the steps along the way, and it was just too darned tasty to remember to take a photo of the final product before we devoured it.  I blame The Damsel for this – I tweaked her original recipe and holy COW it is good.  :)

    There are several things I’ve done old skool style; you don’t have to make a bone broth yourself (but I’ll include directions if you want to), and you don’t have to use dried beans if you don’t want to, but your budget and tummy will thank you if you decide to do so.

    I also used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in this recipe; you could easily use regular chicken meat (chopped roughly or shredded).  Any white meat would work, but the broth is a chicken broth, so whatever you choose should blend well with chicken.

    Bone broth is rich and heartier than its more anemic cousin, the regular chicken broth.  It has more minerals and health benefits, because it cooks longer than regular broth and uses a bit of acid to leach more from the bones, but it also has the flavours and nutrients of the vegetables in the pot as well.  I strengthen my chicken broth by added in chicken feet (yes, I know it’s gross.  But it’s SO good!), and the broth is rich, hearty, and healing.  I highly recommend it, although it took me a while to get over my squeamishness.  :)

    Soaking beans is an easy proposition – and takes almost no effort at all.  For this recipe, you’ll use about 1.5 cups of dried white beans.  Place them in a bowl after you’ve rinsed them and examined them for loose rocks – because even if you use a pressure cooker, a stone is still hard & will still break your teeth.  Soak the beans in 5 cups of water and walk away.  You can soak them overnight or the better part of 8 hours, your choice.

    Once your beans are soaked (and they’ll look wrinkly and considerably bigger when they’re done), you’ll need to cook them.  Most people don’t realize that canned beans are put in a can dry and then soak in water, getting a bit of heat from the canning process on the assembly line.  Even canned beans aren’t really cooked when you open up the can.  You need to cook them to get the full flavour and texture of the beans.  Whether you use canned or soaked beans, drain and rinse them in a colander, place them in a pot, and get ready to cook them until they are as tender as you’d like.  I like my white beans quite soft, so I cook them longer than most, but that will be up to you.

    If you want to make your own broth, here are the directions:

    • one chicken, minus the meat (in other words, the bones/carcass)
    • 3 or 4 chicken feet, washed
    • half a tomato
    • 5 or 6 tops of celery stalks (I chop them off of celery we eat and freeze them for this purpose)
    • 2 medium carrots or 1 large carrot, washed & trimmed at the ends
    • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
    • 6 peppercorns, whole
    • 3 T. dill seasoning
    • 1 T. sea salt
    • 2 T. vinegar or lemon juice
    • water

    Place these ingredients in a stock pot or pressure cooker.  Bring the water level to 3/4 of the pot’s level and begin to heat to a boil.  If you have time and opt not to use a pressure cooker, once this boils, you can let it cook all day on low.  If you don’t have time and/or use a pressure cooker, lower the temperature of the stove until your regulator jiggles consistently and slowly.  Cook in a PC for at least 5-6 hours (which is the equivalent of about 15 hours of simmering in a regular pot – and honestly, I tend to cook mine in a PC even longer; I readily go 8-12 hours at 15lbs of pressure).  When you’re ready, strain the goodies out of the broth and use the delicious golden goodness in your soups, stews, chilis, or stash in the freezer for future use.

    Back to the chili recipe.

    Place your drained/rinsed beans in the pot where you’ll make the deliciousness and add in the chicken/turkey meat to the quantity you’d like.  Add in about 5 cups of broth, 3 cloves of garlic, and stir.  Toss in two cans of chopped green chiles, although if you happen to have roasted and chopped chiles in your freezer (as I do), that will more than adequately work as well.

    The next ingredient will be up to your tastes.  We like spicy food.  Cumin is our friend.  But as The Damsel says, it’s much easier to add cumin than it is to subtract it.  So go 1 teaspoon at a time until it’s got a flavour you like.  The Damsel added between 1 and 3 teaspoons; I added 6.  (I told you we like cumin.) Stir well and toss in salt & pepper to your taste as well.

    The last step is to cook this until the beans are at your desired texture.  I cooked mine on medium, stirring regularly, for about 1 hour, but I pre-cooked my beans in my pressure cooker.  If you don’t PC your beans, you’ll want to cook it longer.  To thicken it up, mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornmeal with 1 cup of milk and add it about 15 minutes before serving.

    Serve with cheese, sour cream, and large spoons – your family will gobble this up!

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