Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preserving and Ice Cream making


At first the picture above just looks like a whole mess of stuff, but I loved this picture because it shows all of our preserving efforts at once. Like the I Spy books my students love so much, if you look closely you can see a juicer, with a few ice cube trays full of juice (including a dinosaur ice cube tray), a baking sheet with tangerine wedges on it, and a silver bowl filled with orange chunks that will later go into jars. I would also like to point out the red container that we regularly fill with our green waste that either goes into our green trash cans or to our worms.


Here are our jars of oranges right before that last two steps of adding boiling water, and then putting them in a water bath.

Why are we preserving oranges? The main reason is just because we got so many of them, we didn't want to waste them. At the time of preserving we had citrus from our CSA box, Blake's parent's tree, a student in my class, another teacher at the school and my parents. Not to mention that our own orange tree has oranges that could probably be picked too!

We do love oranges, but the fact is that we can only eat so many before they go bad, and we hate to see good food get wasted. The jarred oranges sound strange to people, but consider them like the canned mandarins you can get. We intend to use them sometime in things like salads, where you want oranges cut that way anyways.

The orange juice cubes will be great for cooked recipes that need some orange juice added to them (usually in larger quantities than a single cube, but is was much easier to freeze that way).

The frozen tangerines can be eaten like a frozen treat, which we already tried, and were great, or can be taken out, slightly defrosted, and then eaten (haven't tried this yet). I imagine they would also be good in a smoothie ... but we usually don't remember to get out the blender to make ourselves one :-p .

Speaking of frozen treats, we made our second batch of ice cream this weekend, and loved it even more than the first one! It was peanut butter! YUM! The sad thing is that we are actually spending more to make our own ice cream... but we can't help plotting out new recipes to try! The next one we are contemplating would be a banana chocolate ice cream.


Thursday, January 20, 2011


First, the tangerine ice cream was a huge success!

The biggest downsides of it was that it really had sit outside the freezer for a while before it was able to be scooped, but we are hoping that it was just the tangerine ice cream, not the ice cream maker in general. Next, we want to try peanut butter ice cream... not to use up supplies... but because it's my favorite!

Adoption updates is that we are currently at a "we can't do much stage"... which apparently there will be a lot of! This stage is because although our adoption agency has received and accepted our application, they have mailed us the paperwork for the next step and we haven't received it yet. I don't know if our homestudy agency has received our paperwork yet, but the next step for them will also be them sending us papers, and us having to send them back. So... currently, life is focused on our normal stuff like cooking, exercise and my parent teacher conferences coming up, which is enough to keep us busy. Though, for the record, I probably won't make a point of talking about the adoption stuff in every post, but I do plan on keeping the top ticker as accurate as I can, if you just want to see what's the latest news in our process.

Here are our two most recent CSA boxes:

Most exciting thing of note in this box was the avocados! I forgot about getting those in the box! Yum! Though, I was sad to not get the nuts this week, those are an amazing snack.

Exciting thing this week is leeks! Funny thing is that although we only have a few of the supplies needed for the recipe, they made me want to make minestrone this week with them. Most of the other things I am making this week are full of things we already have, so one recipe that we have to buy most things for can't hurt.

This weekend we are going to try preserving oranges in two different ways because Blake's parents' tree is producing lots of fruit right now, and we are excited to try new things. We were first thinking marmalade, but that would take almost all of the fruit, takes lots of sugar, and it isn't like we love it (we are more of berry jams here), so we are just going to jar the oranges (like canned mandarins) and freeze some of them. I'll try to remember to say how it goes.

One other thing I wanted to say is that we had a really tasty variant of the Emerald Green risotto that I talked about here before, where we added the kale and sorrel. It was great, and we used it as one of our leftover meals for the week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One small step... one giant leap

As my little tracker says at the top, I got the information I needed from our adoption agency, and now we are in possession of the applications for both the adoption process and for the home study (which we can be working on completing both applications at the same time because both have to be done before the next step).

Being eager, I was all set to fill out the adoption application and submit it (relatively small comparatively, only two pages) so I started filling it out, and ran into a few minor setbacks on the first page... like Blake doesn't know where he was born (?) and we needed to look up information on our income for another blank. No big deal.

Unfortunately, the last paragraph stopped me in my tracks, because we not only need a copy of our marriage liscense, but tax forms from the last three years, and a copy of our medical insurance that states it will cover kids. That will take some work to uncover.

The home study application is even more difficult with a lot more questions, a lot more pages, and tiny things (like a passport number) which become big, because I don't have a passport, or my birth certificate to get a passport at the moment.

So... getting the applications is a small step... nothing really...

but it is a giant leap for us... it's really starting! We are completely and totally starting this long journey with this paperwork... yay!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Last few CSA's and other cooking adventures




It is definitely winter in our CSA's now with the majority of the box being greens. But as people who have found a true love for swiss chard and kale through our boxes, we are pretty happy with our very green boxes.

Of note new items in the boxes:

Macademia nuts! Not the ones at the store, all salted and roasted, these are totally raw, and delicious! I keep thinking that I will make them into cookies or something... but they always get eaten as a snack first.

Kolrabi- This is the weird thing in the bottom right of the second picture. We only knew what it was because we had been looking at Burpee's seed catalog the day or two before, and had seen a picture of it. Oh my goodness it was so good! I found recipe to roast them in the oven... and I could have eaten three times as much!

Peas- This was new this week, and Blake was quite excited. I like them, but only cooked. So I planned a stir fry for them this week... but wasn't able to make it (grading) and Blake forgot to put them in it! I said he did it on purpose so he could eat them in his lunches.

We are still getting lots of citrus in our boxes (funny to think that during one season we were rationing them), actually our cupboard is pretty full of lemons and limes at the moment, and we keep getting oranges and tangerines too! (Oranges from CSA, tangerines from my parents and a co-worker)

So, we decided to try out the ice cream maker that we were given years ago and make tangerine ice cream! So far we have done the first few steps... but can't freeze it because one portion of the ice cream maker was supposed to be in the freezer for 24 hours first before using... and we just decided to pull it out... so we'll get to taste it after a day or two. Here are pictures of some steps for it:

we mixed half and half with some sugar and the peel, brought it to a boil and then let it sit.

Because I am so awesome at picture taking... here is a step somewhere in the middle of the process... :-)

In other cooking news, I am working on a big goal for the year (besides adoption lol): a cookbook!
There is a website where you can build your own cookbook for a very reasonable price and it looks very professional. It will definitely be an improvement to our current printed papers that just get put haphazard into a binder and then written all over as we change them to our taste.

The hardest part is that I have to be really good about taking pictures of the meals after we make them, so I can add them to the cookbook. Since I had the camera handy anyways, I was struck by the simple beauty of this scene:

all fresh, beautiful ingredients! (This was for a soup) We try really hard to not use anything from a can anymore, so we buy dry beans, and cook them instead of using canned beans, and we buy fresh tomatoes and cut them instead of canned tomatoes. Not only does this make them healthier (because we don't have the added sodium) but we have found that it makes a huge difference in taste too! If you don't believe me... try it! You might just get hooked!

p.s. yes, that is a Ghana book in the background... I am having to appease my desire for haste by reading adoption/Ghana books (also evident in the right side of the page) since I still haven't gotten a return e-mail since I sent one to the person/agency I want to work with. But I plan to give her another week before I write an additional e-mail.