Fall is coming, School is About to Open. It’s SLOW COOKER Season!!

We’ve had some glorious cooler weather here in Southern Ontario and being so busy trying to bring the garden in, freezing, canning I took the opportunity to warm up the slow cooker!  What a delightful tool for the busy households that want to maintain a healthy diet.

When we got home from a business meeting yesterday, the wonderful fragrance of this hit us when we opened the door:

 

beef stew

This was without a doubt the best most delicious tender beef stew possible.  (no bias here, eh?)  Of course we used my home made bread to sop it up.

Recipe (adjust volume to need and likes) I did for a hungry family of four as we love left over stew.

Ingredients:

5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and halved.

2 medium sized onions quartered

Carrots as you please, I had these lovelies fresh in my garden

Peas to please.

2 stalks of celery cut rough

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground thyme

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder or fresh garlic chopped

1 bay leaf

1 cup of wine, I use rose’ or white as I find red too over powering

1/4 cup water and a heaping tbsp of corn starch.

2 cups of good quality beef broth, use low sodium or no salt as it’s always better to add your own salt to taste.

1 good pound of stewing beef.

Method:

Put the meat, celery and onions in the bottom of slow cooker.  Always start a slow cook with potato and carrots on top so they don’t over cook on you. The liquid does not have to cover them!  Add the carrots and potatoes.  Add the liquid.  Start the cook on high and turn to low when the liquid starts to bubble at side.  Or, if you won’t be home, just start it on low.   Now, just leave it alone.  Let it cook all day, 6 to 10 hours.  If you have one you can preset,  set it for 8 hours and then let it go to ‘keep warm’

Now, it’s time to serve, boot heat up to high.  Wait 10 minutes, mix the water and cornstarch.  Carefully stir into the stew until you get the consistency you like.  (some people don’t add any and like the watery broth, which is good too)

Remember, stew is what it means to you.  You can add or take away whatever you like.  Sometimes I add parsley chopped.  But, you also don’t want to over power it or over crowd it.  Also, don’t add things that will go mushy.  Corn is always nice to add…. Have fun playing with it.

What else is nice about the slow cook is that you can get all the ingredients ready at night, toss it in (in the right order) in the morning, turn it on and supper is ready when you get home!!

Thank you for visiting!

Leasa

 

 

 

White Asparagus Soup

Hi everyone.  I have to start by saying I’m sorry it’s been a while since I posted.  Today, one of my lovely white asparagus customers told me how disappointed she is that she cannot find my recipe for white asparagus soup.  She’s heard me talk about it and of course went looking for it.  So, I promised her that I would get it posted hence forth.

This is an extremely busy time of the year for us.  The fields are all being sewn and the massive home garden is going in.  This is my only excuse for not posting this soup until now.

First step:  Peel and chop about 2 lbs of white asparagus.

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Next, bring to a gentle boil your chopped asparagus in enough water to cover them.  I use plane water.  Using broth might overpower the delicate flavour of your asparagus.  Let them cook until fork tender and the flavour has infused into the water.

 

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While it cooks to fork tender measure out your other ingredients.  1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper, 1/4 butter, 1 cup of cream, 2 cups of whole milk, 1/2 cup of chopped ham.

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Next, after it’s nice and fork tender, add the butter and ham stir until melted over medium heat, gently whisk in the flour, as it thickens add the milk and cream.  Add the salt and pepper turning heat to low.  Stirring constantly and adjust salt and white pepper to taste.  20170528_173943

This is where you can adjust your personal preferences, thickness, salt, pepper…taste, taste and taste.  If you prefer it thinner, just add a little milk.

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Now, all that’s left to do, is enjoy!

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We had this tonight preceding our main course of slow roast beef, gravy and fries.  The roast had been on since this morning while I worked in the garden…but that’s another delicious story for another day.

Thank you so much for visiting my page.  Leasa

Liz & Joe’s

This goes back to when I was a kid.  Way, way back.  I was about six years old.  So, we are looking at about 50 years back.  I don’t know if either of my brothers will remember this, but I can remember this day like it was just yesterday, the smells and WONDERFUL taste of Elizabeth’s soup.

Liz and her husband Joe had a very tiny cottage like, outdated, very old restaurant on the top of the hill at Booth’s Harbour where my parents had a small boat and we had just put in our very old brand new to us, cottage!  Our ‘cottage’ was an old school bus that my parents found.  They working together gutted it, painted it, put in major bunk beds on both ends with cots and it was our escape for many years to come down by the water on Lake Erie.

One spring day, when there was bits of dirty snow on the sides of the road, my family, mom, dad, brothers Mark and Randy must have gone to the lake to check our brand new very old cottage.  For supper, we went to Liz & Joe’s, as the hand painted little sign said. My thinking is that this was a Hungarian couple.  They still had thick accents…  I remember walking into this dank little restaurant and the smell of cooking cabbage and savoury hunker down goodness just hit my nose and I’m sure I was drooling.  As a child I loved soup, stews all vegetables and meat and potatoes.  Much unlike both my brothers.  The lady with the brown grey streaked hair had a very large pot on the stove.  They had home made bread.  I don’t think there was a great menu choice, but they did have a grill.

Liz trotted over to the little table we all sat at, I think there was only maybe four tables in all and a little bar counter with swirly round seats.  She pretty much told us what we were going to get.  My brother Randy kicked up his heels.  I won’t eat that!  So Liz told him..’what’s the matter with you, no wonder you are so skinny!’  Joe yelled, ‘it’s okay, I make you a hamburger, you eat hamburgers?’  And, with that Randy was happy.

To this day, I remember that bowl of thick, thick soup, this ‘everything left over’ soup and that huge chunk of bread dripping with real butter and to this day, it still ranks up there with the best meal I’ve every had.

Today, I cleaned out my freezer, refrigerator and added a few ‘things’ and thought of Elizabeth and Joe.  As the day goes on, this soup will change as I try to get that wonderful flavour Elizabeth brought to my forever memory.  I will add the starch, either potato or pasta later in the day and it will thicken as the day goes by….

liz-n-joes

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING AND I’M GOING CRAZY. Are you? ;)

For most of us, this time of year and we are turning ourselves inside out trying to make things nice for Christmas.  The cooking, the shopping, the planning, wrapping, cleaning….painting….(yes we just painted and papered the living room)…on top of your regular work and it’s not a far stretch to get overwhelmed.

We don’t want to resort to feeding our family expensive processed food, or CRAP for short, yet we need meals to be quick and easy.

Tonight, after shopping and doing what has to get done, I did a home made sloppy Joe’s and fries.  So much better than the canned stuff.  You do have to simmer it a bit and stir a bit, but other than that, easy-peasy.

sloppy-joe-101

 

Ingredients:

1.5 cups water, divided

1 lb of lean ground beef

1/2 bell pepper (green, yellow, orange, red ~doesn’t matter) chopped.

1/2 medium sized onion chopped

3/4 cups ketchup

2 tbsp packed brown sugar

2 tbsp garlic powder (heaping if you love garlic)

1 tbsp onion powder (don’t have to have this, but it’s nice if you do)

1 tsp Dijon mustard (if you don’t have dijon any mustard will do)

dash Worcestershire

1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (to taste)

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/8th tsp cayenne (or more depending on your taste for heat)

Okay, here goes:

Saute your onion and bell pepper in some butter in a fry pan until the onion starts to get a a bit soft.

Add the hamburger and work with a fork until there are no big lumps.  Brown this up a bit.  Add half the water.  Stir it well.  Let it simmer a few moments.

In a bowl combine all the other ingredients.  All of them.  Make sure you don’t miss any.  Mix them up well, including the other half of water.

Stir this into your fry pan with the meat mixture.

Simmer, not boil all of this on a medium low heat stirring occasionally.  Simmer roughly about 30 – 40 minutes until it’s nice and thick like in the picture.  Taste and adjust your salt, pepper and cayenne. (some like it hot, some not)

Toast your buns during this time.

We have this with french fries.  I have a deep fryer but you can oven cook your fries or make home fries in a fry pan or have soup with this.  Or a beer and nothing else.  Depending on your mood and needs.

Trust me, this is delicious.

 

 

Belgian Endive (witlof) Casserole ~with zing!

Good morning my friends!  Welcome to my blog.  Today I want to share with you a recipe that I found on line, I’ve read a few versions of this wonderful dish and wanted to offer you my own variation.

belgian-endive-casserole

Ingredients:

2 lbs of potatoes peeled

2 heaping tbsp of Dijon mustard

1/4 cup cream

1/4 butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

6 medium Belgian Endive (witlof)

6 larges slices of black forest ham (if your slices are very thin double)

2 to 3 cups of shredded gouda cheese, or white cheddar cheese, or a mix of Monterrey jack, cheddar and some mozzarella.  I’ve used a few versions now and all are very nice.  I also like cheese so I go the three cups.

Method: (easy)

Boil your potatoes until fork tender.

While they are boiling, wash your endive, and cut them from top to bottom into 4 quarters.  Take out the nasty core.

Scoop potatoes out of water and put into a bowl.

Toss your quartered Endive into the hot boiling potato water.  Bring back to boil and boil them for 3 minutes.  Remove from water to a colander and let drain.

Now, add to the potatoes the Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cream and butter and mash well.

Now line the bottom of an 8 by 10 baking dish (or close to that size) with the mashed potato mixture.

Next, on top of the potato mixture place your ham slices until all of the potato is covered.

Then, in a single layer place your belgian endive quarters.

Then on top of that put your lovely cheese.

Bake at 400 F for about 1/2 hour or until cheese is bubbly and browning a bit.

You and your family will love it.

Oma’s Crackle Chicken (a new spin)

This one is so delicious I have to share!!!  

omas-crackle-chicken

Dry Rub ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Hungarian paprika (not hot!)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 tbsp (heaping) garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Other ingredients:

Sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, sage.

Three cloves of garlic smashed

One onion quartered

One cut up celery stock

2 healthy tbsps of butter

One can of ginger ale.  (yup, so much better than beer)

~preheat your oven to 425 F.

Take all of the above dry rub ingredients and mix well together.  I use my hands and try to really infuse them together, the sugar helps this.

Next, take your chicken, about a 5 lb or more bird and rinse well and pat dry.  Tie the wings straight down the back. In the ‘other ingredients’, put everything except the butter and can of ginger ale inside the bird’s cavity.  Put the chicken over your can of half full ginger ale.  If you don’t have a way to affix this so it will say upright, that’s okay.  Make sure you have a rack in your roasting pan and pour the entire can of ginger ale in the bottom.  Now, tie the legs together. Gently lift small areas of the skin over the breast and legs and put in your butter. I use a small tablespoon to do this. Make sure you put the skin back and keep as much skin on as you can as it’s key to a tender meat.   Take your time and really rub and pat the dry rub into and onto your bird.  Patting it in place will help make it stick.

Carefully put your chicken in the hot oven.  Set timer for 25 minutes.  When timer goes, turn heat down to 225.  Slow roast her as long as you want.  I left my bird in for a few hours.  Check the temperature.  If you’ve hit the 165 mark testing inside the thighs and breast (take temperature in several areas to be sure) then turn your heat down to 200 and just let it go.

My husband and son raved about this chicken.  It’s a new variation of my old crackle chicken and they absolutely loved it.

Feel free to ask any questions…hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

CANNING SEASON!!

Although I can all through the year, this is the time where it can become all consuming and a full time job.  If you aren’t in the throws of doing it, you are thinking about it and making plans.

Last week I finished stocking up my beef and chicken broths to make sure I had it on hand and now I’m going full tilt into the fresh local offerings and of course from our own garden.  If I can’t can it, I freeze it.

So far I’ve got my strawberry jam done for the year and I just finished two batches of blueberry.  I have three ten pound buckets of local cherries on order.  1/3 will become jam, 1/3 will become pie filling and the final third will be canned in alight syrup to be eaten straight out of the jar.

As I move through my canning I promise I will post and make pictures, even videos.  I am learning this new software for my blog…so be patient with me.  Old dogs can learn new tricks, but just a bit slower at times.

Blueberry JamFresh blueberry jam.  Enough for the entire year.

I try to keep my canning and freezing to what we will use for the year.  This year I did pretty good.  I just ran out of green beans, I have one jar of corn left and only six quarts of tomatoes left.  As a scratch cooker having only six jars of tomatoes is very little.

I use only safe recipes for my canning.  Tested recipes and have learned that some things can be varied for personal taste, like with spices and flavourings of broths but that’s about it.  You have to stay true to the tested recipe and method to keep your family and loved ones safe.  I know that your grannies did it one way and ‘nobody died’ (as far as you know) but why take the chance.  Botulism kills.  When I was a child, I used to ride in my parents car laying in the back window.  Nobody died, well at least not in my family.  Today you wouldn’t even think of letting a child ride like that.  It’s the same with canning.  I don’t like vomiting.  I don’t like diarrhea.  And, I certainly do not want to kill anyone from botulism.  Tested, safe recipes are the way to go.  Bernardin, Ball or NCHFP (National Center for Home Preserving).

Stay safe and stay tuned.  Thank you so much for checking out my blog.  ~Leasa