Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dad’s B-Day Gift – Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and Seeded Rye Crackers


For my Dad’s birthday this year I put together a jar of my homegrown crushed cayenne peppers and these seeded rye crackers with amaranth, sunflower seeds and fennel from the garden. 


My dad like’s spicy food, so I figured he could get some use out of my peppers!  Here is my post about drying the peppers, and then I simply crushed the dried peppers up a mortar and pestle until they were nothing more than seeds and pepper flakes.  So good!


This was my first time making crackers.  I didn’t have much wheat flour left, but I had a whole thing of rye flour.  I followed this recipe as my base and added seeds and more rye flour.  My adjusted recipe goes as follows:

½ CUP plus 2 TBSP rice milk
3 TBSP olive oil
1 CUP whole wheat flour
1 CUP rye flour
½ TSP baking powder
1 TSP garlic salt
2 TSP amaranth seeds
¼ CUP sunflower seeds
1 TBSP fennel seeds

Mix the milk and oil together.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until dough is formed.

Roll out on a floured surface and cut into cracker shapes (either into squares or use a cookie cutter).  I flattened the dough to about 1 cm, but you could make thicker crackers too, just cook a little longer.


Place the crackers on parchment paper lined baking sheets and cook for 18 minutes at 350°F, rotating about half way through.


They taste great!  My dad will love them.  I put my goods in glass jars and made a couple personal labels using sticker paper and permanent markers.

(I grew Joe's Long Cayenne Pepper's; I crossed the "E" in Joe's out and put a "Y" above to spell my name, Joy :) )

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stuffed Tofurkey


I’ve been vegetarian for over 10 years now and I’ve never made a tofurkey!  So I figured it was about time.  I looked at a bunch of different recipes, combining several but mostly followed this one; it has great pictures of each step.  It’s also an easy recipe to adapt depending on what herbs you have available.

This is a bit of a process, but after tasting the results I may be making it every year!

Basically you are making 3 parts; the “turkey”, stuffing and a marinade.  I started 2 days before Thanksgiving, because I had to drive to Columbus this morning, but you can make it work starting the day before.  And if you’re already out of time, there is always this fabulous beer can tofurkey idea!



3-4 14 oz containers of extra firm tofu
1-2 TBSP of each of the following herbs:
   Garlic Scapes (/Chives/Green Onions)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Let the tofu sit out overnight or at least a few hours so it’s at room temperature. 


With your hands, squeeze all the liquid you can get out of the tofu.  Then mix in the remaining ingredients.

Take a clean, wet piece of cheesecloth and drape it over a strainer.  I sprinkled some rosemary and chopped sage leaves down first.  Then scoop the tofu mix into the covered strainer.  Use the excess cheesecloth to wrap the top of the tofu and press any liquid out.  Put a bowl under the strainer and a plate on top of the cloth.  Sit in the fridge overnight and place something heavy (I used a juice bottle) on top of the plate so that the presser will continue to squeeze liquid out of the tofurkey. 



You can make this the day of your meal or before and refrigerate.

3 CUPS bread cubes
1 TSP or so olive oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 small apple, diced
3 TBSP herbs (I used sage, cilantro, rosemary and thyme)
Pinch of cayenne (crushed red pepper)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 TSP balsamic vinegar
½ CUP sunflower seeds or other nut/seed
¼ CUP dried fruit (I used dried goji berries from the garden but you can use cherries, cranberries, etc.)
½ CUP vegetable broth

First cut the bread into cubes and dry in the over for 20 minutes or so at 250°F.

Heat a pan with a little olive oil and sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft.

Add celery, cook another 2 minutes

Add apple, herbs and spices and cook 5 more minutes.

Add syrup and balsamic vinegar, mix and remove from heat.

Combine this mixture with the dried bread cubes, seeds and dried fruit.

Put the stuffing into a greased pan and pour the vegetable broth over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 300°F.



I also made the marinade the day before and let it soak in all the flavors.

¼ CUP Braggs (/soy sauce/tamari)
¼ CUP olive oil
½ CUP chopped herbs (I used sage, chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley)
1 TSP sesame seeds, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Just mix everything together and keep in the refrigerator.




Scoop out the center of the tofurkey, leaving an inch or so on the sides.


Fill hole with stuffing, and recover with scooped out tofu.  



Then very carefully flip the whole tofurkey into a cooking pan (I just sort of picked up the whole cheesecloth, placed the baking pan on top of the tofu and flipped).


Baste with the marinade, and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours at 350°F.  Baste the tofurkey as much as you want throughout the baking.


I had some extra stuffing, so I reheated it separately and added it in around my tofurkey!

Beautiful and tastes amazing!  Much better than eating something this cute…..


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits


I made a variation of these dog biscuits last Christmas for a few special dogs in my life.  All the dogs enjoyed them, as well as a couple of my friends who tested them for the pups :) They really are more of a peanut butter banana cracker, so these are approved for dogs and humans!



This recipe is super simple too, just mash up:

4 eggs

2/3 cup peanut butter

2 bananas


Mix in:

2 cups wheat flour

1 cup wheat germ

Until you have dough (you can see my pup waiting patiently in the background)


Then roll it out on a floured surface and cut your shapes out.  I found a dog bone cookie cutter at a craft store for about $0.75.


Put them on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.


Let cool and watch your dog devour them!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken Coop Addition and the Adventures of Integrating a New Hen

What a busy month it’s been!  Lots of projects in the garden preparing for winter, and a million things to make for the holiday season!


And to add to all the chaos I brought home a young hen to add to our flock.  There were supposed to be 2 little hens, but one was killed by my Dad’s older hens.  So I was really cautious about integrating The Buffster, as we have come to call her.  She is a Buff Orpington, and we kind of just liked that as her name, so Buff for short.  This page is an excellent resource for integrating chickens.  Apparently some people just put the new hens in with their flock when they are sleeping, but my city chickens are pretty tough and much bigger than Buff.  I used the other two options, seperate spaces and caging the bullies.
Unfortunately the 2 quail that were living in the garden died a couple months ago, but I was able to use their old cage for Buff.  I set it up next to the chicken coop so all the chickens could see each other and get used to the changes. 

This is how the integration began:



Not horrible fighting, but lots of pecking and chasing.  It was mainly the #2 hen, Corn Flake, that would pick on the Buffster.  I seperated her from the others a couple times when she was out of control.  It was strange though, her aggression seemed to bump her up in the chain of command and now she is the Alpha Hen.  We gave them time together almost every day and let them scratch around the backyard where there was plenty of room for Buff to run away if she needed to. 


After about a week the older hens didn’t bother her much at all.  So it was time for full integration.   We decided to actually combine the 2 cages.  The original coop needed a bit of reinforcing to begin with.  Once everything was covered in small mesh chicken wire we lined the quail cage up next to the chicken coop with the doorway facing in towards the coop. 


We cut a matching doorway out of the side of the chicken coop by cutting a vertical line through the center, then horizontal cuts along the top and bottom of the door.  This allowed us to bend the cut chicken wire into the quail cage to secure the gap between the two cages.  We used gorilla tape around any sharp edges that we couldn’t bend smooth. 


The overall plan is to add a sunroof to the quail cage section using an old window pane.  We plan to use the top of the main part of the coop to catch rain water, store supplies or turn it into a green roof. 

Even though there was still a little pecking and fighting between hens at this point, we left them alone together to sort out their differences.  And they were fine!  It took another 2 or 3 days until the older chickens let Buff sleep in their house, but now they are one happy flock.


Here is one last addition I’ve made to the coop that has made a big difference.  I saw this idea here.  The purpose of the rocks is to keep the chickens from throwing hay and dirt into their water.  Basically I laid a couple logs down in the corner of the coop to close in a square section which I filled with rocks and bricks.  It’s not perfect but much cleaner.