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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!  :)

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 sue me.  It’s Friday and I’m posting a recipe.  But honestly, it’s THAT good that it can’t wait until next Tuesday.  It’s so good, in fact, that I was completely miffed that Mark took all of the leftover taco meat for lunch yesterday.  Even though he says I encouraged him to do that, I have no recollection of those words.  I just know that I tore the fridge apart looking for the stuff and finally concluded that it was in Tempe, not in my kitchen.

So the impetus for making this stuff was multi-fold.  #1)  I bought a large container of taco seasoning (that was pretty decent) at GFS sometime earlier this year.  Unfortunately for me, there are no GFS stores out West.  Boo.  #2)  I am a member at Costco, but Costco’s taco seasoning has dehydrated onion in it – and sifting out all of that onion just to use the seasoning is a waste.  #3)  All of the online spice e-tailers have dehydrated onions in their seasoning mix as well.  #4)  For whatever reason, commercially prepared taco seasoning gives me indigestion.  Some brands more than others, but all do to some extent.  I’m loathe to blame MSG, as I can eat other things with MSG and not have indigestion.  Maybe it is, and maybe it’s not.  And #5)  Being a certified Food Storage Nut, I really wanted something that would be easy to replicate from my own stash of spices and whatnot in my pantry.

Happily, this recipe meets all of my motivations and criteria.  First and foremost, no onions – well, onion pieces.  This does use onion powder (or onion granules, as I found at my local Sprouts store), but onion powder/granules (in reasonable amounts) doesn’t bother either one of us.

One of the upsides to making this myself in a mason jar (and one I realized a tad too late) is that is layers really attractively.  Which means if you’re looking for healthy, beautiful, and useful gifts, this one totally counts.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late and didn’t shake out the bottom layer to level it before I added more on top of it.  Ah well – it didn’t stay pretty and layered for long – I shook it all together and used its tastiness to make our taco meat.

Homemade Taco Seasoning, a la Sue
  • ½ c. chili powder (regular or mild)
  • ¼ c. onion powder (or onion granules)
  • ¼ c. cumin
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. sea salt (I like Redmond Real Salt)

I know, a half-cup of chili powder sounds crazy, right?  Trust me – it’s not.

Layer these ingredients in a mason jar – I used a canning funnel to make it easier – and either gift-wrap it with a ribbon and nice lid, or put the lid on and shake any frustrations from the day out.  Use 4 T. of the mixture to 1 pound of cooked meat and add 2/3 c. of water to the meat and spices.

Heat thoroughly and use the finished taco meat in whatever recipe you’d like.  Truly delicious, and definitely left-over worthy.  :)

fsr-grfx

In my quest to remove more and more pre-made, convenience foods from our kitchen and dietary habits, I went hunting for a granola bar recipe.  Granola is yummy, and we love it as cereal, on oatmeal, or just as a snack.  Our son loves Quaker Chewy bars, and now that Quaker has removed the HFCS part of their recipe (which purportedly keeps whole grains ‘fresh’), I didn’t mind buying them – with a doubled coupon when they were on sale.

But what I found was that even on sale, he plowed through a box.  And when I had one, I found them tasty, but unsatisfying – they felt like a lot of air in my mouth and didn’t give me stuff to chew on (literally).  And because I have oats in 25 lb quantities from the Cannery, I decided there must be a whole-grain/whole-food recipe out there.

I found a decent one at Food Storage Made Easy, but it wasn’t quite up to my nutritional goals for my family.  So I began tweaking.  The first tweak found them cloyingly sweet.  Nuts.   Time to muddle with the sugar content.  I found that by mixing sweeteners (brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup), I hit a great combination of tastes (a less one-dimensional sweetness; a fuller taste of lightly-sweet), and I cut the sugar content of the original recipe by 2 tablespoons.  In an attempt to make the bars “chewy,” I under-baked them.  That didn’t work so well, so the next time I baked them longer – I intended to go the full time on the original recipe, but I found that the goal of “light browning” wasn’t met.  The “chewy” aspect (as in, “soft & chewy”) wasn’t met, but the chewiness of whole grains was certainly met.

I will likely add in dried tart cherries the next time I make these – you can use any variety of dried fruit you’d like for yours.  I do add dark cacao chips to mine – they’re not too sweet and they add a decadent taste.  Because the ingredients came from our food storage, I’m also classifying them as a Food Storage Recipe.  :)

Homemade Granola Bars
  • 4½ c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 5 T.  coconut oil or butter, softened
  • ¼ c.  honey
  • 3 T. packed brown sugar
  • ¼ c. Grade B maple syrup
  • ¾ c. dried fruit (raisins, cherries, diced apricots – whatever)
  • ¾ c. dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease a 9×13 pan liberally with either coconut oil or butter.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine all except the dried fruit, optional nuts, and chocolate.  Allow the mixer to mix everything thoroughly and well – I use speed 2 or 3 on my Kitchen Aid for several minutes.  Add in dried fruit, chocolate, and optional nuts and mix thoroughly (I do this in the mixer).

Spread out the crumbly mixture in your pan, as seen here:

Then you must pack the granola down so that it will keep its shape as a bar once they are pre-cut and baked.  I do this with a wooden rice paddle – the flat side really helps with compacting the grains and good stuff in the recipe.  If you skip this step, you’ll have bars that are crumbly and make a mess when you try to eat them.  😐

I tried something new when I made this batch; like the dog cookie recipe, I pre-cut the bars.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but the original recipe said you had to wait a specific amount of time to cut the bars after baking and then let them cool completely.  If I didn’t have my hands in so many things around here, that directive wouldn’t be a problem.  But that’s not my reality.  My reality is “I’m pulling something out of the oven, putting something else in, swapping stones, and cleaning or doing other work at the same time” – and remembering to cut dense granola bars at a specific time isn’t gonna happen.

As you can see, I used my scraper (I think Alton calls it a “Bash & Chop”) to press down in to the densely-packed granola and made appropriately-sized bars.

The final, pre-baked product looks like this:

I baked the bars for 25 minutes (I checked at 18, 22, and then 25) and they were great.  They aren’t soft & chewy, but they aren’t bricks, either.  They aren’t overly sweet, they have great mouth-feel, and they are substantial (in other words, one bar is completely fine with a cuppa coffee for breakfast).

Enjoy – we love ’em!  :)

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