Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gingerbread cake

A lot of people in my neighbourhood know that at lunch we have gingerbread cake. And most of them like it. A lot of times people ask for the recipe. 
The expectations are high, so you may think that it is a very difficult recipe. It isn't and it doesn't take a lot of time either to make it. And because it is made of wholemeal instead of plain flour it also got fibers.

To make it, you need:
- 1 egg;
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup;
- 1 cup water at roomtemperature (240 mL);
- 250 gram brown sugar;
- 250 gram whole meal;
- 8 gram baking powder;
- If you can achieve it (it's a dutch speciality): 1 tablespoon of speculoos spices mixture.
Otherwise for the speculoos spices mixture you need:
- 30 gram ground cinnamon;
- 10 gram ground nutmeg;
- 10 gram ground cloves;
- 5 gram ground corianderseed;
- 5 gram ground white pepper;
- 5 gram ground aniseed.
Mix the spices and keep them in an airthight container (because you will only need one tablespoon at a time).

Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius (or 320 degrees Fahrenheit). For the gingerbread cake, mix the egg, syrup, water, spices and brown sugar for about 1 minute with a whisk. At the wholemeal and the baking powder. Again whisk the mixture and pour it to a cake tin. Place the cake tin 70 minutes in the oven and the gingerbread cake is finished.
When you don't like the crispy top (however that's what everybody likes at our house), than place a piece of baking paper on the top of the batter.

Serve it with a bit of butter on top, when it is slightly warm. Eitherwise, you can also eat it cold it's just as nice.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vegetable sticks for the bbq (4 sticks)

 A nice meal for when you're using the bbq or grill. There was nothing left, and I forgot to put the end result (after the bbq) on the picture. Fortunately I've got a picture just before the stick was on the bbq, and in my opinion it gives a good idea, how tasteful the recipe was.

What do you need for assembling the sticks:
- 1 red or green paprika and 1 yellow paprika;
- 1 zucchini;
- 1 eggplant;
- 8 sundried tomatoes;
- 8 cherry tomatoes (home grown!!);
- 4 fresh bayleaves;
- 8 mushrooms;
- 4 tablespoons olive-oil;
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped;
- 2 tablespoons white balsamico vinegar;
- 2 cloves garlic, grated.

Mix for the marinade the oil, vinegar, rosemary and garlic. Cut the paprika and eggplant in 8 equal pieces. Shave 8 strokes of zucchini.
Put all the vegetables at least 1 hour in the marinade.
String the vegetables on the stick. It looks great when you use opposite vegetables on each site of the stick. In the middle you can put the bayleave and the cherry tomatoes.

And the final result:

Have a nice meal.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home made beef stock

I've a vegetable and fruit package from a local farmer in my neighborhood. He doesn't use any toxins and grows food in season. That means in winter a lot of cabbage, but also beets. And we (all of us) don't like beets. But my personal challenge is to not throw anything away. 
I've finally found something for my beets that tastes good. I'm using the beets for my home made beef stock. 
Normally I would use carrots, but beets are also very sweet. So I replaced the carrots with the beets and it tastes delicious. 

The ingredients for this very nice stock are:
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into third;
  • 3 beets, sliced in two parts;
  • 1 onion, quartered; 
  • a veal bone;
  • 3/4 pound stew meat, cubed;
  • 2 dried bay leaves;
  • 5 sprigs parsley;
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary;
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns;
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme;
  • 2 cups red wine.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (225 degrees Celsius). Arrange the vegetables, stew meat and the veal bone in a heavy roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven for 100 minutes. Turn the vegetables, the bone and the meat every 20 minutes (total of 5 turns). Put everything in a large stockpot. There is always a residue in the roasting pan, which got a lot of taste. To obtain this, put the wine in the roasting pan and put the pan 5 minutes on high heat. Be sure to use a wooden spoon on the bottom of the pan to losen the residue on the bottom. Poor the wine in the stockpot and put enough water in the stockpot to completely cover the bones, meat and vegetables. Be sure to put at least  6 quarts of water to the stockpot.
Tie the bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, peppercorns and the thyme together and put that in the stockpot. Bring the liquid to a boil and skim the residue that will appear on the surface of the liquid of with a slotted spoon. 
Simmer the stock for at least 3 hours. When fat appears on top of the stock you can skim it off with a slotted spoon.
Poor the liquid through a fine sieve and your stock is ready.
It's nice to eat it like this, but most of the times I make a nice tomato soup with the stock. But that recipe will appear another time on my blog.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Garlic butter

One of my favorite recipes is garlic butter. It's delicious on a baguette, when you're eating your soup. Nice to put on your toast. Because it has lots of flavors (and also a bit of odor, so you will have to get your friends / family joining in you're garlic butter experience).

You can buy it in our store, but unfortunately there are a lot ingredients that doesn't belong (in my opinion) in there, that still gets in. Like E621, a flavor enhancer, but one which can have negative site effects if you eat them (I know from experience).
So I choose to make it myself. It tastes much better, it doesn't take a lot of time to make it and it is healthier to.

You need for the butter the following ingredients:
- 3 ounces of butter, unsalted (about 70 gram), room temperature;
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine;
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated;
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice;
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.

Use a fork to soften the butter. Mix the parsley garlic, lemon juice and sea salt through the butter.
Put it in a nice jar and leave it in the refrigerator until you're going to use it.

Have a nice dinner.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My meadow

As written yesterday, I want to have a kitchen garden, a herb garden and I want to grow my own fruit orchard. But nothing is in my meadow yet.
At this moment I only have 800 square meters of grasses. The plan is that in March everything will be levelled and new grass (only one kind) is sown. That is if the weather is good.
My previous plan was to sow the grass in August 2010. But we got rain, a lot of rain in August and also in September. So we prosponed it. That had as a consequence that my orchard is not yet realized. Fruittrees can be planted before the first of April, so I hope that this time the raingods will close there gates.  

Is there something to write until that moment? 
Enough from my believe. I want to share my plans with you as a drawing. And write the plan out on the blog (It's a plan, the weather gods are still ruling).
And I've started to cultivate. Partial because of the finances, if I have to buy every plant at a nursery I can file for bankruptcy. And it's a challenge to sow and grow my plants. There will be enough to write about. About what goes wrong, but off course also what works for me.
And as a starter for this blog, I post a picture of my meadow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Diced pork in soy sauce

 Last summer I grew red peppers in my garden (unfortunately I don't have a picture of them fully ripen, because I have 3 very enthusiastic gardeners whom every day got into a challenge to bring the ripe fruit and vegetables into my kitchen). However, the plant with the not yet fully red peppers has made it into my picture archive.

And today I have planned a chinese meal with it: Diced pork in soy sauce. There was nothing left at the end of the meal on any of the plates (and in my pan), so the meal was a huge success.
I subscribe that to my self grown pepper.

What are the ingredients?

- 1 pound (500 gram) gammon steak, diced in 1 inch cubes (2,5 cm);
- 2 tablespoons oil;
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce;
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce;
- 2 cloves garlic, grated;
- 1 pepper, no seeds, diced;
- about 1 inch (2,5 cm) ginger root, grated;
- 1 cup (220 mL) cream;
- 6 tablespoons cocos, grated;
- 2 tablespoons lime juice.

 Heat a wok on high heat. Put the oil in the hot pan and fry the meat in about 3 - 5 minutes. Set the meat aside.
Put the garlic, ginger root and pepper in the wok and fry it about 2 minutes. Put the meat back in the wok, together with de sweet soy sauce, the dark soy sauce, the cream and cocos.
Put the wok on the lowest heat and simmer it for about 60 minutes. Stir the lime juice through the meat and serve immediately.
Have a nice dinner.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

About me....

I'm in my mid thirties, married and mother of three children under 10. My husband got's his own company and I' m working three days in an office (also of course in my house, because there's always a lot to do with a family of five). My passion is everything that's got to do with the environment. And I like to cook (and by hear so, not that bad either).

Why this blog? I love to garden. I love to eat well. And I love the environment. And what's the best combination of these three? To grow your own food. No toxins, no pesticides and eat what's growing in the season. Strawberries in June (and not with christmas dinner).
I'm very lucky that we have a piece of land (about 800 square meters) where currently only grass is growing. That's going to be my future project. I want to garden my veggies over there. And I've planned my herb garden and fruit trees in that piece of land.
I also want my own chicken and a glasshouse (so I've got a bit more possibilities in winter dinners). The glasshouse can be heated, but not with electricity, nor with gasoline heating of something like that. I've watched the series of It's not easy being green (BBC) and I've seen heating on solar-energy. That will be the solution, but... that's for a later moment.
To garden 800 square meters and to have a job for three days (and a bunch of children around the house) will require a tight schedule. First the fruit trees will arrive, next the herb garden and the latest part of the plan will be the veggies (that will cost me the most hours after all).
In my backyard I want to plant flowers that I can cut in every season. Because I do love flowers in the house.

So what are the plans:
A fruit garden with all kind of fruits: apple, pear, plum and hazelnut. A walnut tree is already growing  in my backyard.
Then the herb garden will be completed. A classic design, with straight paths. Naturally, I'm going to cook with these herbs, but I'm also planning to use it as tea and as the base of shampoo, lotions and I'm trying to make my own cough drops.
Also there is going to be a rose bush, there is definitely nothing as beneficent as relaxing in my bath with rose oil. Fruit bushes and berry bushes will also take part in the garden. And strawberries (which I love), all sorts of them so we can eat them until the first frost. 
Finally the vegetable garden, with the glass house and a solar dryer. There also going to be three compost bins. Composting your own food is the ultimate way of giving nutrients back to the soil.
And chicken, I always wanted to have chicken, so I have fresh eggs to cook my meals with.
That's of course my second passion: to cook. As healthy as possible.
Our meat is already coming from a butcher which is specialized in free-range meat. When you've tasted that, you don't want to eat other meat.
And of course I'm going to process the harvest of my garden, canning, drying and smoking. I want to find the best ways to cook my meals as tasteful as possible.

In short a busy couple of years, but I'm full of energy!