Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Home Made Applesauce October 7, 2009

Filed under: Eating local,Garden Fresh,Home Economics,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:34 am
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Spiced Applesauce

Spiced Applesauce

Last week a friend of mine was kind enough to invite me to her aunt’s house in rural NM to pick apples. We arrived expecting to come home with a bag each, but then we looked at the trees. I think I ended up walking away with over 50 pounds of apples! I split them 50/50 between Jonathon and Winesap, as I wanted to make some applesauce as well as some pie filling.

We have been slow to get started on this project, as peeling, coring, cooking and canning 50 lbs of apples when you have a 2 year old boy in the house has proven difficult. We have completed one batch however and it was absolutely divine so I thought I would share the recipe with everyone, as well as the process for those of you who may be first time canners.

Spiced Applesauce

5 lbs of Jonathan apples (or a similar variety)
1 c water
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 – 1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash cloves

Peel and core the apples and place them in a large stock pot with the cup of water. Cook over very low heat for an hour to an hour and a half or until the apples are soft and can be crushed easily with a potato masher or a fork. Stir frequently!

When the apples have reached the desired consistency, add the sugar and spices and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so. Any longer and the flavors will get muddy. When the applesauce is finished, it is time to can it. At this point you have two choices: hot or cold?

The key to canning is to start with everything at the same temperature (ie, if you want to can the hot applesauce, you need hot canning jars and hot water). You can either heat the jars prior to canning or you can let the applesauce cool to room temperature, which could take half a day. I prefer to let the applesauce cool simply because it allows me to can in shifts.

Applesauce requires a simple water bath canning. Leaving 1/2 inch of headspace, fill your jars, removing any large air bubbles. After filling, tighten the lids and place in a water bath canner. Cover the jars with anywhere from 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of water in order to guarantee they remain covered during the canning process. Standard recipes call for 20 minutes in the water bath, however at 7000 feet I typically add an additional 10 – 15 minutes. The temperature for boiling water is marginally lower at this altitude, so you need to let the cans go longer. Standard adjustments are about 5 minutes for every 2000 feet above sea level. Remember – start timing when the water BOILS, not simply from when you place the jars in the canner.

Let the jars cool completely before removing them from the canner. I like to let them sit overnight. You can remove them while hot if you need the canner again, but you have to be very careful – a) they’re hot! and b) the temperature change from boiling to room temperature has been known to cause glass to crack – a risk frankly I don’t feel the need to take.

The next applesauce attempt is going to involve ginger and if it turns out I will post that recipe as well. Until then, Happy Eating!


The Slow Money Dinner September 14, 2009

The menu

The menu

Apologies to those of you who might have been looking for this post earlier in the weekend. Without going into a whole lot of detail, my bad goat karma created a number of dilemma’s for me and I was simply overwhelmed dealing with that. In either case, I wanted to share the wonderful meal put together for the attendees using all local ingredients and highlighting several local specialties, including a sacred Native American bread whose cooking technique is in danger of being forgotten.

The menu included a starter of zucchini and summer squash in a delicious tomato chutney, a fabulous salad using local greens, goat cheese and pecan, a buffalo relleno with a tomato reduction and at the end, a toxicatingly sweet chocolate honey pinon tart. Each diner was gifted with a corn necklace hand made by Navajo elders and the iced tea served was Cota tea, a local plant that has a surprisingly mild, sweet flavor and makes a refreshing drink whether served hot or cold.

Sadly, there was one down point to this experience. The event was catered and none of the food was prepared on site, so each dish, with the exception of the salad, suffered as a result. The food was still phenomenal, however something was lost. Perhaps it was that nothing arrived piping hot, or that certain aspects of the meal where somewhat drier than they might have otherwise been. In either case the abundance, not to mention the creativity, more than made up for the effects of transport.

The bread was diverse; a blue cornbread, a chipotle flat bread, and a molasses pepita bread all blended to create quite an interesting flavor palate and each type of bread went best with a particular part of the meal. The cornbread with the zucchini, for example, and the molasses bread with the relleno. The most unique bread of all, however, was certainly the sacred corn bread mentioned a few paragraphs above – paper thin and made only with blue cornmeal, water and ash, it reminded me of rice paper in texture, although the flavor was nothing similar.

My most favorite course was the salad – containing roasted pecans, local greens, locally produced goat cheese similar in texture to feta, and fabulous yellow and orange cherry tomatoes. All these ingredients were paired nicely with a delicious vinaigrette. I could have eaten four times what I did and this is why I have no picture – it was gone before I remembered the camera!

All said, the meal was a fabulous conclusion to the Slow Money conference as it really allowed each attendee to sample the results of successful investment in local agriculture. I am grateful to be living in a place that supports this kind of economy and I am hopeful that the success of both the conference and the meal encourages all the people who came to Santa Fe for this event to return home and try to implement these ideals in whatever ways they can.

Until then, Happy Eating!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday blog carnival.

Bread plate

Bread plate

Sacred bread

Sacred bread

Zucchini Starter

Zucchini Starter

Bison Relleno with Tomato Reduction

Bison Relleno with Tomato Reduction


Fig, honey and pine nut tart August 31, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Eating local,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 6:56 pm
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Figs, local honey and pine nuts. Delicious!

Figs, local honey and pine nuts. Delicious!

We had a dinner party last night. The company was fabulous and the food even more so. It was pot luck so I can’t take credit for it entirely, however I can take credit for the desert. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t tried this recipe before and I had to make some modifications due to a shortage of pine nuts and my desire to include the figs. It turned out fabulously however so I thought I’d share the recipe with everyone!

I found a recipe in one of my cook books that I had been wanting to try for some time. It was a honey and pine nut tart and I thought it would be a great way to utilize local ingredients. We buy raw honey from a vendor at our local farmer’s market that has a great flavor. It is from the tamarisk or salt cedar tree and has a very full bodied flavor that I have been dying to try in this desert. Additionally, pinones (pine nuts) are gathered here in New Mexico off the local pinon trees and can be found on road-side stands everywhere.

Lastly, the addition of the figs to the recipe was inspired by the weekly Blogger’s Secret Ingredient. Sadly I was unable to get this posted by the deadline, but I figured I’d go ahead and make the tart anyway given that I was hosting a dinner party and didn’t want to waste all those delicious figs.

So here is the recipe!

Fig, honey and pine nut tart

The first step in this tart is making the crust. You can use any tart crust you’d like, although I would recommend a sweetened dough. I used an old standby from The Joy, slightly modified. The recipe is below:

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 unsalted butter
1 lrg egg yolk
1 1/2 TBSP heavy cream

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and using a pastry blender, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a large crumb. Add the egg yolk and the heavy cream and mix until it barely comes together. Pour the dough into your tart pan or pie dish and, using your fingers, spread it evenly around the pan creating a crust. Poke some holes in the crust with a fork, then line with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Set aside until you are ready to fill.

For the filling:

1 lb figs, quartered
1/2 c roasted pinon nuts*
1/2 c raw honey
4 TBSP butter
3 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP lemon juice

*I use raw pine nuts that I have toasted in my oven. To do this place the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 3 minutes.

Calimyrna figs.

Calimyrna figs.

Prepared tart prior to adding custard.

Prepared tart prior to adding custard.

Prepare the figs and set them aside. You do not have to remove fig skin! Simply remove the stem and then cut into quarters. Line the blind baked crust with the roasted pine nuts then arrange the fig quarters on top of them. Set this aside while you work on the honey custard.

In a sauce pan, combine the honey and butter and heat over low until the butter starts to melt and the honey softens and begins to get runny. While you are waiting, whisk the three eggs together a few times in a non-reactive bowl. Once the honey and butter are warm, stir a few times to combine then add the vanilla and almond extracts as well as the lemon juice and the lemon zest.

Here is the only tricky part of the process. You want to add the warm honey mixture to the eggs, but you don’t want to cook the eggs in the process. You can let the honey cool a bit, but let it sit too long and it will start to firm up again, which you also don’t want! The best way to solve this problem is to add the honey very slowly while you continuously mix the eggs. Similar to making a hollandaise sauce or a mayonnaise emulsion. It also helps if you drizzle it in from a height of about six – 12 inches. This allows the mixture to cool a bit before it hits the eggs.

Once you have combined the honey with the eggs, pour the mixture over the figs and pine nuts. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes until the custard sets.

Serve with mascarpone cheese or creme fresh. The rich fat of these two dairy products will compliment the sweetness of the tart and it will be melt in your mouth good.

Happy Eating!


Tomato Bread Soup August 21, 2009

Filed under: Eating local,Garden Fresh,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:03 pm
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Tomato Abundance!

Tomato Abundance!

The tomatoes keep coming and I have to find something to do with them, so tonight we are having an old favorite; a very rustic and fresh soup that is both filling and light. Sound like a conundrum? Well it is kind of. The soup itself has a very fresh flavor and a lightness due to the simple combination of basil and tomato. The filling part comes in because it is served over a thick slice of sourdough bread. Unfortunately, due to the heat, I did not make the bread this evening, however the soup contains tomatoes, onions and basil from the garden!

Here is the recipe, modified from the original found the The Joy of Cooking:

Tomato Bread Soup

10-15 medium tomatoes, peeled and cored, with their juices
1/4 c chopped white onion
1/3 c loosely packed basil, chopped coarsely
1 tsp minced garlic (approx 2 cloves)
3 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 c fresh chicken stock (recipe below)
1/4 c diced chicken
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
fresh Parmesan for garnish
your favorite sourdough bread, cut into thick slices

Heat the oil in a stock pot and add the onions when hot. Stir and saute until they turn translucent, then add the garlic and the basil leaves. Reduce the heat and let cook for about another two minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching the garlic. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and stir. Be sure to crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon in order to avoid large chunks. While this soup is rustic, the flavors mix better when the tomatoes are allowed to really release all of those juices. Therefor they should be squished!

Allow the tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes to simmer for a few minutes before adding the chicken stock and diced chicken. Let simmer for a few minutes more, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare a bowl by slicing the bread approximately 1/4 inch thick. Some people like to remove the crust, but I think it adds to the flavor to keep it on. Ladle the soup over the bread, top with grated parmesan and serve!

Chicken Stock

6 cups water
1.5 lb raw chicken – I like to use the back and wings, but any part will do. If you want to use the breast meat for shredded chicken, for example, you can make this stock with breasts as long as they have the bone in and the skin on!
1 half onion, skin on OR 1 medium green onion cut into 2 inch pieces
1 small carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp celery seed
2 tsp salt (I like a salty stock, you can use less if you prefer)
5-10 pepper corns
2 4 inch sprigs of fresh thyme
1 4 inch sprig of fresh rosemary

Cook for 1 – 2 hours on very low heat.

The key to this stock is the slow cooking time and the use of the fatty parts of the chicken, including the skin. It creates a very gelatinous, rich broth that is easily clarified and provides a wonderful flavor to the simplest of things, such as the soup above, without overpowering them. Not to mention it’s cold curing properties!

Happy eating!


Fresh Peaches! August 11, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Eating local,Farmer's Market,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 11:59 am
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The peaches are plentiful at my farmer’s market this month and as a result I have been trying to find some interesting ways to use one of my favorite fruits. Of course, the old standby peaches and cream is still my favorite, but they disappear so quickly when prepared this way that the rest of the house tends not to get any!

This week I have tried two new peach recipes that I wanted to share. The first is a variation of an old household standby: the scone. The second is a slightly modified version of a recipe found in The Joy of Cooking, my favorite kitchen companion.

Peaches and Cream scones

Peaches and Cream scones

    Peaches and cream scones

These make a fabulous breakfast treat and are a great way to use up one or two pieces of fruit!

Because you are using fresh fruit in these scones, the juices from the peaches will make the dough much more sticky than it would otherwise be. As a result additional flour will need to be added towards the end of the process and worked into the dough. How much flour depends on your fruit and your willingness to work with sticky scones!

2 peaches, pitted, peeled and diced into 1/2 cubes
1 3/4 c all purpose flour + approx 1/2 c
2 1/4 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
approx 1/4c evaporated cane sugar (you can use more or less to your taste)
2 free range eggs
1/3 c organic heavy cream
1/2 stick (4 TBSP) unsalted grass-fed butter, cubed and chilled
1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 425.

Combine the 1 3/4c flour with the baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it is the consistency of small peas. Whisk the eggs together and reserve approx 2 TBSP of egg in a separate bowl. Add the heavy cream and the vanilla extract to the eggs and mix, then add to the flour mixture. Stir a couple of times with a wooden spoon. You will have what appears to be a very dry dough. It does not matter at this point if it is well mixed. Add the peaches and continue to mix until most of the flour is combined. At this point you will have a relatively sticky mess!

Turn out onto a large cutting board or a wooden surface and work up to another 1/2 cup of flour into the dough, until it looses it’s sticky consistency and can be shaped into a 1/2 inch thick disk. Try not to over-kneed if at all possible, as this will toughen the dough and you will loose the light texture.

Cut the disk into 8 pieces, like a pie, then brush the reserved egg on the top of each scone. Sprinkle with sugar if you’d like, then place the scones on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes.

Serve warm.

Peach Upside-down Cake

Peach Upside-down Cake

    Peach Upside-down cake with Pecans

This is a high altitude recipe, adjustments may need to be made for elevations under 7000 feet.

Preheat oven to 325.

Peel and slice 3 to 4 medium sized peaches
Combine in a 10 inch skillet or 9 inch cake pan:

5 TBSP unsalted grass-fed butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar or demerara sugar

Stir until butter is melted then add:

1/4 c raw honey
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Remove the mixture from the heat and arrange the peach slices in the syrup then evenly distribute your pecan pieces throughout the mixture and set aside. I used pecan pieces, but you could use halves if you’d like to play with the appearance of the design.

Whisk together in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

In a medium bowl beat together:

1/3 c (5 1/2 TBSP) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 evaporated cane sugar
1/4 c raw honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp organic vanilla
1/3 c buttermilk

Add the wet to the dry and combine until smooth, then pour over the prepared baking dish. The batter is fairly thick, so it will not spread easily, however it will expand while cooking so if it doesn’t meet the edges of the pan, don’t worry!

Bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool for approx 5 minutes before plating. To plate simply put the serving dish face down on the cake and holding firmly, flip the entire thing over. Tap a few times just in case, then remove gently to avoid disturbing the peach design.

Serve warm. Happy Eating!


Farmer’s Market Meals August 5, 2009

Eggplant varieties

Eggplant varieties

This week is National Farmer’s market week and in honor of the special occasion, I have been trying to cook much of our food this week solely from the farmer’s market. Since my market provides a good selection of meat, dairy and produce, it hasn’t been all that difficult, but there has been one particularly successful meal – ratatouille.

My market provides all of the ingredients, with the exception of sea salt. I learned a few tricks recently that really made this a successful dish. First, in order to improve the texture of the eggplant do the following: slice it approx 1/4 inch thick then lay it out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle each piece with salt and let it sit for about an hour. The salt will pull the excess water out of the eggplant, resulting in a firmer texture upon cooking. The other secret I learned was this: when making ratatouille, the key is the cooking order – Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes. So that being said, here is the recipe I used!

    Farmer’s Market ratatouille

1 small eggplant – about 3/4 pound
1 large zucchini
1 medium onion
1 sweet pepper (I prefer green as I think this compliments the flavors best)
2 medium or 1 large heirloom tomato, skinned (To skin the tomato, drop into boiling water for a few seconds, then shock in cold water. The skin will split and should peel off easily.)
2 – 4 TBS Olive oil
Sea salt

After preparing the eggplant and tomato as mentioned above, cut the vegetables into bite sized chunks – I like to go ahead and put the eggplant in the pan then cut the zucchini and so on, but you are certainly free to do all your chopping at once!

Heat the olive oil in a heavy cast iron skillet and put the vegetables in, eggplant first. Allow each veggie to cook down before adding the next, especially the eggplant. Once you have added the final vegetable (the tomato) season with salt to your taste and serve.

Voila! Easy ratatouille!

This post has been my contribution to Real Food Wednesday, hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.


Gardening update and a recipe to boot! July 31, 2009

Filed under: Eating local,Fight Back Fridays,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 1:02 pm
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The monsoon season has started here in Santa Fe and our garden is loving it. The squash and the beets were being sorely abused by the sun throughout July, wilting terribly and leading to several scorched young squash…so sad as they were our sugar pumpkins! Luckily there remain quite a few which didn’t get burned up. And while everything is happier, the recent bout of afternoon rainstorms has sent a couple of plants into full swing, leading to a rather large harvest of green beans, wax beans and dry beans as well as the summer favorite, zucchini.

Since we are all but swimming in zucchini, I have been experimenting with a variety of recipes for the delicious summer squash. Sadly, we didn’t plant nearly enough of our Indian Woman Yellow beans and as a result, ended up with only enough for one meal, even after all the rain. The following are two recipes I made this week using fresh zucchini from our garden:

    Sauteed Vegetables with Indian Woman Yellow Beans and Garden Fresh Tomatoes

This recipe is almost entirely from our garden, the only exception being the mushrooms.

1 zucchini cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz crimini mushrooms, cut into chunks, not sliced
two small roma tomatoes OR 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
6 oz cooked beans, washed and drained
1 tsp sea salt

Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release all their water and start to brown. Add the zucchini and the sea salt and saute until the zucchini starts to become translucent, then add the cooked beans and the sliced tomatoes. Cook until the beans and tomatoes are warm, then remove from heat and serve.

    Zucchini Pecan bread

2 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed of water
1/2 c sourdough starter
1 c all purpose flour – this is my local flour discussed here
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c sweetener (I used evaporated cane juice)
1/3 c shortening (I used butter)
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
~ 1/8 c locally grown pecan pieces
~ 1/8 c fair trade organic dark chocolate chips

Mix 1 c sourdough starter with zucchini, eggs, vanilla, shortening (melted butter), sugar. Mix flour, soda, powder and spices in a separate bowl and add to the starter/zucchini mixture. Stir until well integrated then add the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into a greased bread ban (I used an 8″ pan) and bake at 350 degrees for ~60 minutes.

This post has been part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays. Happy Eating!