My Garden and German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalad)

September 4, 2015 § 3 Comments

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Anyone who gardens knows what I mean when I say it’s my sanctuary. It’s the first place I go to when I get home from a trip and the last place I visit before I go in for the night. I go through the gate and everything else that’s been on my mind is left behind. Before I know it three hours have flown by.

It’s a special place, alive with birds, toads, bees, and I’m sure plant spirits and faeries turning sunlight, rain and dirt into flowers and vegetables magically overnight.

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I’ll be in the middle of weeding when I feel the sunflowers beckoning. I’ll stop to have a look at them and see that the finches and chickadees have been busy working on the huge heads. I love watching them flit around, going from one to another, like their own buffet table. I’ll leave about half for them and the rest I’ll dry and feed to the chickens.

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I’m not a very neat gardener I think you’d say. I know I should have pulled out that tomato seedling that sprouted up from last year, right in the path. But I didn’t and so now I have to step over it and soon won’t even be able to do that. There are poppies everywhere, and again, right in the path. I even saved an elderberry sprout that flew into the garden somehow (faerie probably) and it’s now a small tree near the back. Oh well!

And my garden this year is the best one ever. Each day I bring up a basket of tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce and cucumbers. So many cucumbers! I juice them, make pickles and salads and add them to water. I slice them in half and give the chickens a treat too.

One of my favorite salads is one my mother always made, Gurkensalad. She didn’t really have a recipe, but this is how I make it now.

4 cucumbers, peeled

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 TBL red wine vinegar

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper

1 to 2 tsp caraway seeds (optional but really good)

paprika for garnish

After you peel the cucumbers, slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I use a melon baller for this.

Using a mandolin, slice them. A food processor works or if you don’t have one, just slice as thinly as possible. Even if they break apart, it’s ok, you don’t want big chunks for this salad.

Put slices into a colander, salt them well. About 1 TBL salt will do it. Let sit about a half hour.

While they’re draining, in a separate bowl, mix the dressing by combing sour cream, vinegar, red onion, sugar, a dash of pepper. Set aside.

After at least a half hour, grab a large bowl, then take a handful of cucumbers at a time and squeeze as much water as you can out of them, then put them into the bowl. (Don’t rinse the cucumbers by the way)

Add the dressing and mix well. Taste for seasoning. You’ll need a little more salt. Add the caraway seeds, mix then dust with sweet paprika.

Chill for at least an hour before serving. This is a very refreshing salad that gets better the longer it sits. I’ll make a ton of it and grab a bowl as a snack. Enjoy!

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Kitchen Sink Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

April 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

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We’ve had two days of sun and the temperature right now is 60 degrees. I’m thinking spring might be here?

In honor of that what else but make a big juicy salad for lunch. I wasn’t sure exactly what I felt like eating when I opened the refrigerator, so I looked in the drawers and shelves, scanning for possibilities. Here are some of the things I found and used:

Eggs (of course)

cottage cheese

lettuce and kale

red cabbage

parsley and pea shoots

1 cooked chicken thigh

2 last pieces of turkey bacon

leftover broccoli from last night

handful of cooked chickpeas

1/2 a cucumber

roasted salted pumpkin seeds

leftover cherry tomato salad with feta

 

I call this the Kitchen Sink salad. Everything in it but. Leftovers are great, meat or vegetables or both. Lettuce as the base, something crunchy, something salty, and of course eggs in some form always make it a meal. For my Kitchen Sink salad today I hard boiled the eggs, cooked the turkey bacon and chopped it up, added the cooked broccoli, chickpeas, cut up the cucumber and chicken. On went a  scoop of cottage cheese to make it nice and creamy, and a few tablespoons of the  pumpkin seeds after it was dressed.

I can’t waste food, saving even a few stalks of asparagus knowing I’ll use it somehow. So that cup of last night’s tomato salad with a few chunks of feta, perfect! All these things went into the bowl. I then made a big batch of buttermilk dressing.

Here’s the recipe, makes a lot.

2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream
1 cup buttermilk (shake well)
Salt and pepper

Put everything into a bowl and whisk well.

Pour over your kitchen sink (salad) and dig in!

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Lentil Soup for Lunch

December 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Guylas Suppe

November 9, 2014 § 2 Comments

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I remember eating Guylas quite often growing up. There are some things I remember not liking too much, like lentils and liver (who did?) but most of my mother’s cooking I loved. And Guylas and Guylas Suppe, aka goulash soup was probably my favorite. Having a Hungarian father paprika was put on almost every dish. Eggs, chicken, fish, even toast with cream cheese had some paprika sprinkled on it. But Guylas has more than a sprinkling, 2 heaping tablespoons go into this, and that’s what gives it it’s unique flavor.

I’ve heard that peppers are very often added, but my mother never put peppers into her Guylas, only meat, lots of onions, carrots and paprika. You could always add them if you’re a pepper fan, me not so much. If you want to make a stew instead of a soup, just cut down on the liquid somewhat. And don’t forget the sour cream, that’s another thing we put on and in everything!

Ingredients:

bacon fat, lard or olive oil for browning the meat, about 3 TBL

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into small cubes about 1/2 ”

handful of flour, for dusting the meat

2 medium onions, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 TBL tomato paste

2 heaping TBL good sweet Hungarian paprika

1/4 cup red wine

handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt and  1/4 tsp pepper

3 cups beef stock or water will do, heated

2 large potatoes. peeled and cut into small pieces, 1/2 ”

sour cream

 

Prepare the meat by salting and dusting with some flour.

In a large soup pot, heat the fat until hot. Add the meat cubes and sear on all sides. Don’t crowd the pot as you’ll end of steaming the meat.

Remove to a plate, add the onions to the remaining fat. You should have enough fat to sauté the onions, if not, add more. Don’t be afraid of fat!

Add the paprika, stir and cook slowly about 10 to 15 minutes until soft.

Add a little bit of red wine now to loosen everything up, then add the garlic, carrots, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme.

Put the meat back in, add the heated stock or water to cover everything, slowly bring to boil.

Turn heat to a simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours until meat is very tender.

Add the diced potatoes and cook until soft, about another half hour.

Taste for seasoning, put into serving bowl and add a big scoop of sour cream.

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This soup is even better the next day, like so many other things!

 

Makes about 6 large servings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braised Rabbit with Bacon and Sour Cream

April 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

 

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Most likely you’ve got your Easter meal planned already but in case you haven’t and are looking for something a little different, how about rabbit? Easter and rabbits are somewhat synonymous aren’t they?

It was hard to find rabbit anywhere not that long ago. Only farmers and the European cultures knew what a tasty and healthy food rabbit was. I remember my grandmother and her rabbits. She raised them for her food, like the chickens and ducks. And she would use every part of every animal, making sausage and stocks. Luckily now you don’t have to raise them, you can buy rabbit in major supermarkets and order online as well.

True peasant food, it’s a very lean, delicious meat that needs some fat in the cooking process. And bacon and rabbit go together like, well Easter and eggs. Though there’s not much that bacon doesn’t go well with! It’s even in chocolate now, a brilliant combination I think!

I love to braise meat and rabbit cooked this way comes out moist and tender. Simply start the process on top of the stove then put it in a hot oven to finish. A side dish of asparagus and boiled potatoes to soak up the sour cream sauce would make a wonderful Easter dinner. And it’s so simple, the way I like to cook.

 

Ingredients:

1 whole rabbit cut up

1 onion, chopped

2 or 3 slices of bacon, chopped

chicken stock, about 1 to 2 cups

salt, pepper, paprika

1 cup white wine

large scoop of sour cream

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Salt and pepper the rabbit.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon and onions until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

If you don’t have enough fat to brown the rabbit add some olive oil to the pan, about 3 to 4 TBL.

Turn the heat up high and add the rabbit pieces. Brown well.

After you finish browning, add the chicken stock so that the rabbit is submerged in it.

Return the bacon and onion to the pan. Sprinkle liberally with paprika.

Bring to a boil then cover tightly and put in the preheated oven.

Bake until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t boiled away. Add more stock if necessary.

When done, remove rabbit to a warm plate, cover with foil while you make the sauce.

Turn the heat to high. You should still have some liquid in the pan, if not, add more to the pan. Add the wine, then bring to a boil and boil a few minutes, stirring up all the good stuff on the bottom of the pan.

Turn off heat. At this point you can puree the liquid in a blender if you want (be careful with hot liquid!) Or if you like a chunky sauce, don’t.

Stir in the sour cream, taste for seasoning.

Return the rabbit and the juices on the plate back to the pan. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Serve with potatoes or a side dish to your liking, or just a vegetable. Applesauce or cranberry sauce goes well with this.

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Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Butternut Squash and Beef Chili

December 19, 2013 § 12 Comments

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These cold and snowy days I like to have some kind of soup or stew on the stove simmering away. I have to, I have a man with a huge appetite who comes in after spending most of his days out in the weather. Having a farm, taking care of animals, chopping and hauling firewood burn up the calories mighty quick. Something warm and hearty is what he’s looking for!

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I’d been putting off going shopping, not feeling like making the drive, so I didn’t have too much on hand in the fridge on this day. But I did have some ground beef and a couple of butternut squash. They keep just about forever thankfully, so are good to have around to make soup or this yummy chili. The rest of the ingredients are always in the kitchen, like onions, garlic, ‘canned’ tomatoes. (I don’t buy canned anymore, the BPA)

It’s the easiest recipe, really just a variation on my soup recipes. In fact, if you added a lot more stock to this you’d have soup. And you could add almost any vegetables to this, like some green or red peppers or cauliflower. Adding some spinach to it at the end is especially tasty.

Ingredients:

1 to 2 TBL olive oil or bacon fat

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 lbs ground beef, preferably grass fed

1 to 2 TBL chili powder, depends on how much you like

1 to 2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 dried chili pepper, optional

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

2 cups tomatoes, either fresh or ‘canned’ ( I buy Bionature or Pomi)

broth, like chicken, beef or vegetable, homemade if possible

salt and pepper to taste

parsley or cilantro for serving

Sauté the onions in the oil until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add the ground beef, breaking up with wooden spoon and cooking until it’s no longer pink. Add the spices, dried chili pepper, cut up squash, tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Add some broth, you want the squash to have some liquid to cook in. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer about 45 minutes or so, covered, until squash is soft. Taste for seasoning, then mash up a few of the squash pieces to thicken it up a bit.

Scoop some into a big bowl, top with sour cream, some chopped parsley or cilantro and you have a delicious warm lunch or dinner. Like most chili or stew, it’s even better the next day. You can serve this as is, or over rice or quinoa.

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Illustration by me

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