Monday, March 29, 2010

Yogurt / Breakfast at the Osbornes

I made yogurt this weekend.  As I have mentioned, I like yogurt and eat it regularly.  My prefered brand is Mountain High Yogurt, which comes from Colorado.  I leave the house early and pack a good amount of food and other things with me.  This berry box goes with me every morning.  Often, my yoga clothes are packed in the bottom, then my calendar (that's the red book below the bowl), and mail or other paper.  In this particular case, I'm having yogurt, apple butter and a pear.  The orange will get split with husband at lunch time. 

For the corresponding packing for lunch, see this entry:

Heat 4 cups of milk to 200 degrees and hold that temperature for 10 minutes, stirring.  I used my candy thermometer to keep the right temperature and stirred fairly regularly to avoid sticking.  You shouldn't boil it. 

Make a sink full of icewater when you near the 10 minutes.  At 10 minutes, place the pan in the icewater to cool.  When the temperature decreases to 125 degrees remove it and stir in 1/3 c. powdered milk.  Continue watching the candy thermometer until it cools to 110 degrees.  Dip out 1 cup of the milk mixture and add 1/4 c. of commercial yogurt, stirring to combine.  For the non-cooks out there, that's called Tempering.  When you add volatile ingredients of different temperatures, there can sometimes be unexpected results.  Add the mixture back into the milk.  This is your starter and contains the bacteria which makes the yogurt thick and tart. 

Now you need an incubator.  You need to keep the milk at 110 degrees for about 5 hours while the bacteria develop and make the yogurt.  I researched several methods.   Here is the one I chose.  I laid a towel on the counter and my heating pad on the towel.  Then the pan.  I left the candy thermometer in it so I could monitor the temperature.  I turned the heating pad to medium and wrapped the whole thing in a couple additional towels.   

I pulled up the towels a few times to determine that the thermometer was right where it needed to be.  The first couple hours nothing seemed to be happening.  Towards about the 5th hour, it had thickened and was looking like yogurt or pudding.  I put it in the frig and went to bed. 

I was a little hesitant to eat it in the morning.  It tasted great, but had I just created some bug cocktail of unknown nasties.  But I researched this carefully.  I followed the directions carefully.  I had a very nice breakfast of it and felt great.  I'm researching a somewhat easier incubation method.  I doubt that I will be willing to do the towel and heating pad thing every week.  If I can't simplify things, I may have to buy a plug in yogurt maker.

Remember to try things and experiment.

Easter Chickies and Duckies

Just a little rant from the Osborne Compound.  There is an article in the local newpaper, which says that you shouldn't give children baby chicks or ducklings for Easter gifts because of the increased risk of Salmonella and that anyone who touches a chick or duckling should immediately wash his or her hands.

Normally I have a high opinion of our local paper, so this isn't a complaint against the Columbian at all.  It is a complaint against the general dumbing down of our culture and a decrease in basic common sense. 

First, of course you shouldn't give baby chicks or ducklings as Easter gifts for children.  Most children and most households are not prepared to take care of Chickens and Ducks which is what chicks and ducklings turn into.  On the other hand, getting a child an animal that the household is able to care for to teach the child responsibility may be a good thing.  But only, if the adults are aware and able to handle the responsibility and if they believe the child is up to the lessons they will be learning.  The majority of modern households are doing fine with kitties and doggies and can't handle poultry.  

Second, somehow hundreds of generations of human beings have survived contact with small animals.  My mother grew up in a house without plumbing.  They used an outhouse until she was in her early teens.  The human immune system is an amazing thing.   I'm not a doctor, but I believe that the immune system works by being exposed in small doses to all sorts of nasty things throughout a single lifespan.  Todays interest in disinfecting everything may not be in our own best interest.

And third, one of the many responsibilities parents have is to teach age-appropriate personal hygene.  You teach your children to wash up after using the toilet, handling garbage and dirt, and handling animals.  If you are not doing that already, please consider ceasing to have children.

Sorry, about this, but I feel better now.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Local Meat

I recently determined to find a local source of meat.  I live in a rural area within an easy drive of a metropolitan area. There are open fields and working farms near where I live.  But, finding local meat is not as easy as I had hoped.   There is a butchers shop in the country not far from where live, rural Clark County, Washington.  I mean, it is a little building on its own with nothing else around it.  I stopped by it a couple days ago and was delighted to see a lovely big butchers counter and refrigerated cases.  I asked where the meat comes from.  The lady said "Iowa."  They just cut it up and sell it. 

I asked where the chicken comes from.  She said "Its Foster Farms."  They buy whole chickens and cut them up just like Safeway does!  I asked whether there was any meat that was local in their shopSeems the meat for the sausage comes from Charlton, Oregon.   They add the seasoning and make the sausage on site.  Well that's not too bad, so I bought some.  And she put me on her list for the next time they had local meat.

It should be feasible for local ranchers and farmers to market what they grow.  Isn't it?  I want there to be small entrepreneurs producing a needed product with pride and selling it to their neighbors.  That's where money comes from, not the government.  I want children of business owners to learn to be productive and self sufficient people.  You can't buy prosperity at Starbucks.  I want to know and have some control over where my food comes from. 

But this is where I find myself on a bright sunny day doing the first grilling of the season.  

The big grill is still stored in the shed, but the smoker works just fine.  Husband has it heating.  We are both happy, talking about good times.   

We are joking that the neighbors will be jealous. 

Now for the salad.  Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing and homemade croutons.  I'm all over croutons, but I'm still tweaking with the dressing recipe, so I'll come back to it later. 

The Romaine came from Safeway.  Then, I dropped by Diane's only to find out that she had perfectly acceptable Romaine!

This buying local food thing can be hard.  Now I have Romaine planted in raised bed 1, so we'll be eating this Caesar salad for a while. 

At last, spring seems to be coming.  All is well at Casa Osborne. 

Remember to live a real life and question the matrix.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lemon Chicken and Rice

Off to Yoga at 5:30 and come back after 6:30.  Husband comes out his cave and we start our evening.

Lemon Chicken.
3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
! T. butter
1 T. canola coil

In one pie place the flour and salt.  In another the milk.  Wash and dry in a paper towel each chicken piece.  Then into the milk to coat   Next, use thongs to move the milk coated chicken piece into the flour mixture.  Carefully move each piece until coated with the flour. 

Now heat the butter and oil in a skillet. Get another clean set of thongs.  With the thongs carefully add the chicken to the skillet cooking at medium high heat until brown on both sided.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan.  Start a kettle of cooked rice.  Clean 2 big heads of brocolli and start a pan of salted water to boil for cooking the brocolli.

Now the sauce for the chicken. 

Juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 c. dry white wine.  1/2 t. fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped.  Bring to a boil for a couple minutes carefully scraping up the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan.  Then return the chicken to the pan.  

We watch a show about young Albatross who are hunted by sharks, have some conversation about the kids, what's wrong with the furnace, what laundry didn't get finished and ready to go upstairs, calling the Golden Retriever to join us.

I have one of my hot flashes and throw the covers back.  He carefully removes himself, the sheet, the blanket, the comforter, as I lay there and practice Sleepy Mothers Breath from Yoga class.  Until I reach for the covers again. 

He carefully covers me with sheet and blanket but keeps back the comforter and himself until called for.  And we go back to listening to each others breath and feeling each others warmth.

And suddenly it is morning and time to do it again.

Remember to share your life with someone.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Apple Butter

I'm almost out of jam.  I found one little 1/2 pint in the back of my pull out, but that's it.  It will be a while before I can start strawberry rhubarb jam.  I've been enjoying all the blogger talk about marmelade, but I'm just not a marmelade sort of girl. 

So back to my roots once again.  And back to Diane's produce.  I bought a total of 4 pounds of apples (1/2 fujis and 1/2 galas) from her for a total of $2.76.  They came through the Hood River distributor, which I've decided is okay with me for now. 

My canning isn't original or family recipes.  As I've already mentioned the only canning recipe I came away with from the family is the strawberry rhubarb jam.  And it was my own fault for not listening.  So I've decided not to post canning recipes unless to are truly mine to give.  Here is the recipe I used.  I following the directions exactly. 

I sterilized everything including the funnel and ladel in the dishwasher.

I kept my lids hot by keeping them in a skillet of simmering water and fishing them out as needed with tongs. 

I used my big kettle as my canner. 
This recipe isn't very clear on the yield, but I got (7) 1/2 pints plus most of another.

And what will I do with my apple butter?  Well on toast of course.  Also, in my yogurt, to sweeten my cereal, and maybe on ice cream.  We'll see if Papa likes it.  And I'll try to give it to the kids.

As I found myself saying this week, "food doesn't come from Starbucks."

Remember the old fashioned things. 

Breakfast at the Osbornes

Husband doesn't eat breakfast.  When he does, he doesn't eat lunch that day.  I think I can get more nutrition in him at lunch time.  Breakfast is about me. 

I have little baby spinach plants in raised bed 1, so I'm planning on a crop, but I'm buying it now. Here is my current favorite egg dish for breakfast.

A big handful of spinach leaves cleaned and ripped into bite size pieces and a half a baked potato left over from last night.  I removed the peal from the potato and cubed it.  I heated a skillet with a little canola oil and added the vegetables.  I cooked them until the spinach wilts.

Remove them to a bowl. In another bowl, 2 eggs and a little milk whisked together, then into the skillet to scramble. 

When the eggs are nearly as cooked as you like, add back the vegetables.  A little salt and pepper.  A little squirt of my favorite Asian sweet chili sauce.

Breakfast is ready.  Add a piece of toast with homemade apple butter (the next blog) and I'm ready to start my day.

 Remember to eat breakfast.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beef and Brocolli

I absolutely love Ginger.  It has like a mood altering sort of anti-depressant sort of thing for me.  Here is a link to the best ginger dressing that I have ever tasted.

Peel ginger by scrapping it with the back of a spoon.  Use a carrot grater to mince it.  Seal it tightly in a freezer save bag and freeze it.  Take it out next time you want to use it and repeat until you are down to nubs, then buy another.

Wait a second.  Let me stand and sniff a little bit. 

Okay, so I've been working on a ginger stir fry sauce of my own for most of a year.  I have it tasting just about right for us.  Husband loves it.  The problem is that I want it to thicken up.  The amount of cornstarch stated in this recipe thickens into a lovely smooth sauce for some "Asian" recipes, but it is too thin for some foods.  The amount of liquid already present, the types of foods used, all affect the thickening of this sauce.  Still tastes really good. 

There are so many purchased sauces available and most taste good.  But they are expensive and what's really in them?  

This sauce suits our taste and I'm satisfied that I understand the ingredients.  I measure out the ingredients in a measuring jar and have it waiting for me. 

Stir Fry Sauce
1/4 t. fresh minced ginger
3 T. soy sauce
1/4 c. white wine
1 c. water or beef broth
1 1/2 t. hoisen sauce
1 1/2 t. corn starch
1/2 t. Asian sweet chili sauce, optional

Broccoli & Beef with Rice

Prepare all parts before starting to cook 

2 good sirloin steaks, purchased on sale then cut up.
1/2 half red pepper cleaned and finely diced
2 stalks celery cleaned and finely diced. 
In a cast iron skillet, 2 T. canola oil.  Add the red pepper and celery.  Saute until a bit soft.  Add meat and cook, turning the meat to cook on all sides. 
Add the florrets of two large heads of broccoli, cut and cleaned. 
Continue to cook until meat is cooked through and brocolli is just tender.  Add the sauce and bring to a boil.  If the sauce reaches a satisfacory thickeness, serve with a pot of rice. 

If you'd like it a little thicker, use a large spoon to drain off a few T. or a 1/4 cup of the liquid into a small bowl.  Add another 1/4 t. cornstarch and stir to combine.  Add it to the sauce and bring it back to a boil to thicken. 

Remember that sauce improves the quality of life.

A Few Things You Might Not Know About Me.

First, the Osborne compound generates very little garbage.  I hate garbage and I hate throwing things away.  I'm not a hourder, mind you.  We just don't take much non-consumables into the house.  One way I do that is by buying things with recyclable packaging.  This is my rice.  When it is on sale, a package comes home with me - 5 pounds.  I pour it in an air tight container.  The packaging going into the recycling. 

The next thing you might not know about me.  I'm a yogurt freak.  I've decided to try to make yogurt soon.  I've been researching how to do it and picking the way I want to go about it.  But then what will I do without the neat reusable containers?  I buy the carnivore's meat in large packages when they are on sale and repackage them in yogurt containers.  Everything takes a turn through my freezer.

And the final thing you might not know about me is that I am a post-it freak.  They are stuck everywhere and label everything.

What can I say?  It works for me.

Remember to be organized.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Notes from the Greenhouse - Week of March 14, 2010

When I was little, the place where my grandparents lived had a large English Walnut tree.  It was in the way and Grandpa wanted to cut it down, but Grandma won't let him.  She loved that tree, well not the tree itself.  She loved the walnuts.  I haven't seen walnuts grow for years, but as I remember it, there is some sort of fleshing coating around the shell.  As they fall, you just go around and pick them up, but then they need to dry. I can't remember whether the outer coating splits away from the shell as it dries, or whether it gets removed.

My grandparents grew crops that migrant workers would come to pick.  He built little cabins for them to live in while they worked for him.  They'd arrive to pick the strawberries and stay through the pole beans.  Then, quite frankly, they went back to Mexico.  Don't mean to offend anyone.  That's just what happened.  Many of them came back each year.

So at the end of the season, these little cabins would be vacant.  I remember walking through the place where the cabins were and seeing the floors covered in walnuts drying.  I can't imagine what she did with them all except every cookie we ate all winter long had nuts in them.  Grandma gave us sacks of them.  In the evening, mom would sit in a chair with two bowls at her feet, cracking nuts and putting the shell in one bowl and the meat in another.  Then she would carefully pack quart canning jars full of the nut meat and put them in the freezer for cookie baking day.

I mention this memory because I have a great crop of argula growing in my greenhouse.  Pear Walnut and Argula Salad will be on the Osborne table soon.  Looking forward to it, but I'll have to buy walnuts. 
  • The beefsteak tomato starts are starting to come up.
  • The lettuce starts in the greenhouse are looking good.  The two I put in raised bed 1 a week ago don't look that great, so that experiment wasn't so successful.  They can just stay warm for a few weeks longer. 
  • Oh, and the spinach is coming up in raised bed 1.  I planted seed directly in the soil one day when I was feeling optimistic.  I've got the ground covered with a mulch of clippings from the ornamental grass.  I brushed it away this afternoon to see rows of little spinach plants.  Yeah.  Husband won't eat spinach, so more for me.  I think spinach and blue cheese goes together, so that will be my lunch at some point later in the season.
  • The rhubarb plant looks good.  I've used the last of the strawberry rhubarb jam from last summer.  I plan to make quite a bit this year and give part of it away.  I'll buy strawberries at Bi-Zi Farms in late May and use my own rhubarb.  That will be fun.
  • As previously mentioned, the argula in the greenhouse looks great.  I need to remember to put a pear and walnuts on my grocery list.    
  • It rained a bunch this week, but temps were mild.  The ground is wet.  My work in the yard was mostly just cutting back the roses.  
  • I'm hoping to take the day off work the next nice sunny day.  We'll see how that works out for me.  
Oh, and an update on the pickled carrots.  I highly remcommend that recipe.  They taste awesome and they are beautiful.

And a question for anyone who can answer it.  Foy?  Annette?  Some seeds sprout almost every seed in the package, but some seeds sprout like 80 % of the seeds in the package.  Why is that?  

Friday, March 12, 2010

This may be my 15 minutes of fame.  If you don't know what I mean, google "Andy Worhale + 15 minutes".

Annette, at, asked me to be a guest blogger.  I was delighted and honored.  Annette is a very interesting person with all sorts of interesting and stimulating ideas. 

I wrote about my sort of quest to buy only local food and to know where my food came from.  I talked about  two year round, produce-only markets in my area and my imperfect desire to buy all of our fruits and vegetables from them. 

Check it out if you want. 

One leg of this quest involved the decision to buy a pressure cooker.  What is it in our culture that says any real change requires that we buy something new?  During the process, I discovered that some, but not all, of what I want to do next can be accomplished with the stuff my mother and grandmother tried to teach me during my teenage years but that I didn't listen to because I was so cool (big surprise). 

We ended up moving forward without the pressure cooker for now.  But the question persists.  Where does our food come from?  I insist on reaching a point where I know the answer at every turn.  It is up to me to decide whether the answer is acceptable for me and my household.   You may find another answer, which is perfectly fine with me. 

As for part of where I used the 8 pound sack of carrots,

Pickled Carrots. Not my recipe (see link below)  I used it as stated and it is very nice.  The step-granddaughter asked me that the little balls were.  I said they were mustard seed.  She asked if mustard seed grows into carrots.  (She has seen her mother and myself grow seeds into a garden.)  I told her no, mustard seeds add seasoning and flavor.  She is a brilliant and perfect child.

Brought me back to some memory of my grandmother planting red mums in her planter box.  Funny how the mind works.  Probably, I figured some of this stuff out myself about the time that my grandmother changed her planter box plan.

Husband came through the kitchen as usual, sniffing the air, and said the house smells like vinegar. 

Remember to share.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Musings by the Youngest Osborne

Everyone eats at the Osbornes, even the youngest. 

Our grandson.

Meemaw (me) has mushed an over ripe barlett pear into a wet pulp.  It makes yummy eats for a baby. 

Happy to have it.  Thank you Meemaw.

I'm a good baby, Meemaw.

 Oh, maybe a little bit more.  I'm a hungry baby.   

Now a little walk with Papa.

Think I'll just hang here in the doorway and watch Meemaw put stuff in the bread machine.  Have I had bread yet, Meemaw?  No, baby, but soon.

Remember to spend time on important things.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Buttered Carrots with Marjoram

The price of those packaged and processed vegetable dishes you can buy in the freezer section is just outrageous.  I was buying the Husband's icecream last week and saw a woman and 2 teenage kiddos loading frozen entrees and side dishes into a cart.  Ever looked at the ingredient list on some of that stuff?  Not real food. 

If I have extra money, I'd rather save up for a vacation or other luxury.  Good food is not a luxury and putting thought and care into feeding the people you love adds quality to life.  I bought carrots at Diane's Produce Market a couple days ago.  More about that later.  I like marjoram with carrots, oregano with beans, and dill with corn.  It is fun to try these combinations until you find what you like.  Of course, you can double or triple this recipe depending upon the number of people.
Buttered Carrots with Marjoram
3 carrots, cooked and drained
1 T. butter
1/8 t. marjoram
1/8 t. salt

Peal each carrot and chop off both ends.  Wash them well  Cut them into thin rounds.  Cook in water until the stick easily with a fork.  Drain them in a collandar.  Return them to the pan and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir to combine until the butter has melted.  Serve immediately.

Remember to eat vegetables.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

I haven't been completely honest.  I've always said that I never cook with powder or seasoning packets.  And that's almost true.  My husband loves, and I mean loves, long grain and wild rice mix.  He always has.  And he is a good husband.  Although he is a carnivore, he eats every piece of fruit I give him.  So when the stuff is on sale at my local market, I buy a few boxes and set them back.  They are some sort of comfort food for him and don't we all need comfort now and then.  

This is another one of those, I've been making it forever and everyone loves it, things

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole.
1 box of long grain and wild rice mix, prepared according to the directions

Meanwhile, melt 1/4 c. butter.  Add 1/2 red pepper diced and 1 stalk of celery diced.  Cook until the vegetables are nice and soft.  Add a 1/3 c. flour and stir into a paste.  1 cup milk and 1 c. chicken broth and stir until smooth.  1/2 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper. 

The remainder of the lemon and thyme roasted chicken which I made last night but didn't blog about.  About 2 cups, chopped.  The rest will be chicken broth tomorrow.

I normally add 1/3 c. fresh parsley chopped, but my step-grandaughter has been eating it while I cooked, the silly girl.  1/4 c. slivered almonds and stir it well.   

Then turn into sprayed casserole dish and cook at 350 for 30 minutes.  The liquid sets up into a savory custard.  Left overs are good.  

And now, I'll get busy on Buttered Carrots with Marjoram, from the carrots a bought at Diane's produce market.  That story is coming up.

Remember to be happy.