Crock Pot Roast with Stealth Vegetable Gravy

The roast is fork tender and the gravy has a secret…

My family is a blended family. Half the family likes spicy. Half doesn’t. Two of the six will eat a wide variety of vegetables. The other four avoid vegetables unless they’re deep fried. Interestingly, the liked and disliked things don’t always fall along genetic lines! 

What does that have to do with a recipe for pot roast? A conscientious mother, faux step mother, partner not only cooks what her family likes, but what will be good for them. Unfortunately, the family isn’t always very interested in what’s good for them. This MIGHT lead a normally straightforward woman to engage in duplicitous acts of cookery. Ahem. It’s possible. 

This crock pot recipe includes one such act of hiding vegetables. In the gravy. Yep. I have no idea what exactly the nutritional differences are, but it has to be an improvement. Perhaps at some point I’ll have it together enough to do a nutritional comparison between the sneaky version and the typical version. Today is not that day. Let’s get straight to the food. 

Ingredients

3-4 pound beef roast

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 pound baby carrots or regular carrots peeled and coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 cups water

salt

pepper

8 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water

brown food coloring (optional)

Procedure
Place the roast (I used a rump roast its a less expensive cut and it won’t matter since its going to slow cook anyway), onion, celery, carrot, 2 cups water and some salt and pepper in the crock pot. Cover and cook on low 10 hours. I put it on before work at 6:30am and its fork tender by 5pm.You could probably do it on high for 5 hours. 

 

Mmmmm. Roast beast.

 
After the low or high setting cooking time remove about 1/2 to 2/3 of the vegetables and all of the broth and place it in the jar of your blender. Turn the crock pot down to warm to keep the meat and remaining vegetables warm but not dry. Puree the broth and vegetable mixture. This mixture should be about 4 cups. 

 

See the vegetables in the broth? im gonna do a magic trick and make them disappear!

  

Bring the purée to a boil

  

Add cornstarch mixture and stir, stir, stir.

 

Put the purée into a large low sided sauce pan and bring to a boil. 

While the purée is warming mix the cornstarch (2 tablespoons per cup of purée) with the 1/4 cup water and mix until smooth. 

Once the puree is boiling, add the cornstarch to it, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute until the mixture is thick and behaves like a good gravy should. 

Add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

It’s only a little bit orange.

 
YOU CAN STOP RIGHT HERE. Unless your people will complain about the gravy being slightly lumpy and just a bit orange. Yes. Orange. You could decrease the orangeness by using fewer carrots in the puree. I am not at all above using a few drops of brown food coloring to tone down the orange and not get questions about WHY EXACTLY the gravy is ORANGE. 

After the color adjustment

Additionally, at this stage (even after color adjustment) the consistency is a bit grainy and carrot flecky. If that isn’t a problem for your intended audience, then you’re ready to serve. If you, like me, do not wish to entertain questions regarding any ‘fleckiness’, head back to the blender. A quick second round in the blender results in a smooth perfectly lump free gravy. Pour it back in the pan to warm and serve over bread, rice, pasta or mashed potatoes paired with the meat and remaining roasted vegetables in the crock pot. 

Final product. Contains about half an onion, half a pound of carrots and a stalk of celery. With no one the wiser.

Running. Ragged. 

It has occurred to me that all both of you that don’t know me in life might be wondering how my face is doing after the whole tripping and NOT making lasagna episode. You may be curious to know if I participated in the races I had planned for the weekend of November 21st. You might have thought that my hand was horrid and that it could possibly be broken too. (Spoiler: It isn’t.) 

At this moment, I’ve cleaned the kitchen just in time to mess it up with dinner. I cooked, but didn’t measure. No recipes for you today. I made meatloaf and baked potatoes. The recipe would read something like: some ground meat in a big bowl. Two? eggs (probably) Smoosh that up with a little can of tomato sauce, some minced veg, whatever spices and stuff you like and some breadcrumbs until it looks like meatloaf should. Form into a loaf and bake at 350 until it’s done. Oh wait. 30 minutes before its done slather it with ketchup (because I’m fancy like that). 

Dinner isn’t quite ready. (I just slathered.) The four kids are busy with video games or hobbies. The gentleman is working, it’s busy season for the ladies and gents in the big brown trucks.  Both dogs are napping. I’m doing this and fighting back the fatigue. 

So. How is my face? Much better, thank you. We’ve been through a bit of a rough patch, my face and I. This was probably the day when I looked the worst.  

Does my left eye count as a ‘smoky eye’?!



My fall was on a Sunday. I went to the ER Monday morning after getting the kids off to school. This was the point  at which I learned an important lesson: one only has 14 hours in which to present oneself to suitable medical staff to get stitches. After 14 hours of being open, statistically speaking, the risk of infection goes way up. Consequently, your conscientious medical staff will refuse to close the wound and instead will likely super glue some steri strips on either side of the wound to try and hold it closed and proffer a prescription for oral antibiotics.  YES. You have correctly deduced that I waited too long and was unable to get the wound on the bridge of my nose stitched up. This ginger is headed to scar town. Oh well.  I now tell perfect strangers not to wait if they THINK they might need stitches. The strangers don’t need to be injured for me to tell them. I just tell them. 

I stayed home on Monday after the not so useful ER visit with an ice pack on my horn. I mean, the bump on my head. I chose to frighten my co-workers by working half days the rest of the week. I tried to work full days but the gentleman was having none of that. He was right. I was wiped out after 4 hours at a desk job. 


Race Day One 

Six days post face smash, Saturday rolled around COLD and windy. As I dragged out of bed to dress for the 5k I had registered for months before, I questioned what I was doing. The plan was to walk the 5k and the half marathon the following day. I felt confident I could walk them both. At the starting line I was less than enthusiastic. It was MUCH colder than it had been this fall so far. The gun went off. No going back. I started out at a brisk walk. Within a quarter mile I was freezing my ass off. I decided to jog a bit to warm up. If it hurt, I’d stop. It didn’t. I ran the rest and finished right about 30 minutes. 

Heck yeah I had a post race beer at 8:40am!

 



















Race Day Two: Just like Saturday but longer!

I was initially jazzed about my first corral B start. (If you’re not a runner or aren’t subjected to the nonsense of runners, this won’t make sense.) When walking was the plan, I was going to have to mosey back to Corral D and start there. After being able to run Saturday, I decided to stick with B. One of the angels from my inadvertent rescue crew, Marcy, is also a runner. She offered to walk onto the course and run or walk with me, valiantly protecting me from any malicious paving. I accepted, but sadly she wasn’t able to find me in the crush of runners. (We WILL get a training run in together at some point. We WILL!) I ran my race and didn’t put any pressure on myself.  I was rather conscious the whole race about my footing and the status of all surfaces.  The last three miles were tough. They weren’t tough for any of the usual reasons.  My legs and lungs were totally fine. My face didn’t hurt (yet).  The back of my neck and shoulders got SO tight I had to walk in several spots and stretch them. I finished in just under 2 hours 13 minutes. I was 38 seconds faster than last year. I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine!

I think I may have won the half marathon ‘broken nose’ division

The race was pretty emotional for me. The gentleman’s sister and her two kids made signs and came out to cheer me on. Oh man. I teared up big time. I was so grateful that they came out in the cold to watch me in ‘the worst parade ever’. When I crossed the line I started to cry. I was immensely grateful that I was able to do it at all. I was tight but fine immediately post race. I developed a whopper of a headache as the day wore on. I suspect from the neck and shoulder muscles that were over stretched in the fall tightening up from the stress of two plus hours of running. The nose ached a bit as well. 

Two-ish Weeks After Arguing with Gravity

Today, I’m still finding that I tire easily and the back of my neck aches by 8pm. My eyes are still a bit purple, the shadows under them a combination of bruising and fatigue.  The part of my hand that I used as a brake is very very tender. It’s on the mend too. I’m mostly back to being my annoying self. The ear, nose and throat specialist that I followed up with HAS recommended that I have surgery to correct my septum. It turns out that isn’t supposed to be a curlicue. Huh. So she’s going to straighten that out at the end of the month. In the meantime, I’ll be cooking and baking and canning and crafting. I have all kinds of planned recipes and ideas for you. I’ll have a post with a double dose of dill (relish and pickles), crock pot apple butter for canning, pickled  habaneros with vegetables, roast beef with stealth vegetable gravy, orange cinnamon rolls… the list goes on. I hope you’ll check back for more!!

After a long day. Still have bruising around the eyes and monitoring the healing on the cut that didnt get stitches.

And finally. SWAG.  

This is why we race, right? ‘Free’ beer and swag!

Cinnamon Cinnamon Chip Pancakes and More!

  

I LOVE this recipe. I love it for several reasons.

1)Phase 1 of this recipe is the basis for a bunch of recipes and having this mixture on hand is a big time and money saver.

2)The cinnamon-cinnamon chip pancakes are easy and awesome.

3)The (any kind or none)-chip pancakes in a jar would make a super gift. 

PHASES?? There are phases to this recipe?? You said it would be easy!
It IS easy. There are two parts to ultimately producing the cinnamon-cinnamon chip pancakes. The first phase is an intermediate. The intermediate step is an awesome recipe in it’s own right. The first part makes a generic baking mix. This mix is fantastic. It’s shelf stable for 2 months. It’s fridge stable for 6 months or it can be frozen and kept for up to a year. There are tons of baking mix recipes around the web. I like this one because it contains the non-fat dry milk. With this on hand, biscuits can be made in no time by just adding water. MAGIC. A ton of other things can be made with just the addition of some eggs and water along with staple pantry items like sugar or some fruit (muffins!). Use this mix anywhere that calls for Bisquick or Jiffy baking mix, but add water if it calls for milk since the milk is already included. 

Phase 1: All Purpose Baking Mix

Ingredients

9 cups all-purpose flour 

1/3 cup double-acting baking powder

4 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cups shortening—which does not require refrigeration

1 3/4 cups non-fat dry milk

Procedure

In a large bowl, stir baking powder, non-fat dry milk, and salt into the flour. 

Cut shortening into flour mixture until all particles of shortening are thoroughly coated and the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. This can be done with a food processor, blender, electric mixer, pastry cutter, whisk, or fork. I’m a pastry blender kind of girl myself.

Store in a tightly covered container, at room temperature for up to eight weeks. In the refrigerator for 6 months, or freezer for up to a year. (See? Easy.)

  

Now for Phase Two! Cinnamon Cinnamon Chip Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose baking mix

2 cups water

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup cinnamon chips

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Procedure

Preheat your favorite pancake cooking device. I use the flat top in the middle of my gas stove set to 6. (No judging the pictures of my flat top. It looks the way it does because it gets used a lot. Its well loved, okay?!)

In a large bowl, add the sugar and cinnamon to the baking mix and combine. 
Stir in the water and egg. The mixture will be lumpy. Do not be concerned. It will be totally fine once it cooks. 

Pour roughly 6″ diameter pancakes onto the cooking surface. 

  

Sprinkle a scant tablespoon of cinnamon chips onto the cooking pancakes (OCD alert: there are 8 tablespoons in a half a cup.This recipe makes about 10 pancakes. Sooo you can either use scant tablespoons or use 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons of chips. Normal people can just sprinkle some chips since a bag has way more than needed for just this recipe.). 

  

When the edges look dry, flip them.

  

Cook for 2-3 minutes or as you normally would for pancakes and your favorite pancake cooking device. 
VOILA!!

  


Phase 3: Gifting and Variations
As shown in the title picture, this whole shebang will fit perfectly in a quart mason jar. (I KNOW. I have a thing with jars.) To make a great gift: Add the baking mix with the cinnamon and sugar to the jar, placing the chips in a plastic bag on top of the dry mix, add a lid and tag with these instructions:

‘Preheat griddle or pan. Remove the bag of chips from jar. Add the 2 cups water and 1 large egg TO THE JAR, put the lid on, shake until well mixed and pour directly from the jar onto the cooking surface. (Mix will look lumpy. Don’t worry, they will cook up fine.) Sprinkle chips onto the cooking pancakes. When the edges are dry flip them over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.’

 That’s right. Totally easy homemade shake and pour pancakes. You can omit the cinnamon in the mix and use chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips, or peanutbutter chips or no chips at all. Or you could add nutmeg and cloves and make spicy fall inspired pancakes. Let your imagination run wild. Here’s a shot of my drippy jar, proving I made the pictured pancakes using the shake and pour method:

  

BONUS: Phase 4 – Drop Biscuits (Because I’m generous like that)

Ingredients

3 cups baking mix

3/4 cup water

Procedure

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

Mix baking mix and water until well combined. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, or into well-greased muffin pans. Bake 10-15 minutes until peaks of biscuits are golden. 

Variations: Add 1/4 cup grated cheese, 2 Tbsp. snipped, fresh parsley, other chopped herbs or raisins (1.5 teaspoons cinnamon and 1.5 teaspoons of sugar along with the raisins would be good too) to mix before water is added and mix as above.

I hope you make this basic mix and experiment, experiment, experiment! I had a ton of fun making this and enjoyed the heck out of the cinnamon-cinnamon chip pancakes from a jar. I think they have the tastiness of cinnamon rolls for breakfast without the waiting that comes with yeast bread. 

Trip ups. Literally. 

I had this awesome plan to make homemade lasagna noodles and do a whole dinner extravaganza last night. I was going to document the whole shebang for you. I JUST got the pasta rollers for my stand mixer. I’ve made pasta twice so far. Once it went pretty well and once not so great. There was definitely a decent chance that the evening’s culinary events would slip toward the ‘Other Disasters’ arena. I always learned chemistry best in the lab, so I was totally prepared to view it as an experiment. Like the Mythbusters always say : the difference between screwing around and science, is taking data. I had my notebook at the ready. 

We definitely made it to Other Disasters. Here comes the back story: 

I think it’s pretty clear that I love food and love eating. A few years back I let that love of food go a little to far. I was eating a lot and not eating well. I was getting practically no exercise. I was about 80 pounds overweight. I made some changes and one of the ones that really stuck was running. I SAY running but it’s more of a jog. I normally jog a few miles a couple times a week. I do some races as motivation. I’m way too cheap to plunk down the money for a race then not show up or show up woefully unprepared. These days I hover around 10 pound above the ‘goal weight’. That’s okay. Fitness is more important to me than an arbitrary number on the scale or on the tag of my clothes. As long as I am healthy and feel good, that’s (usually) enough. 

Back to the present:

Yesterday was cool, wet and dreary. I had ONE LAST long training run to do before a scheduled race next weekend. I drug myself out to do it. I didn’t want to. I ALMOST quit with less than half the planned distance in. Everything hurt. I was soooooo tired. I pushed myself to keep going and pretty soon I wasn’t feeling quite as bad. I had given myself permission to bonk. It was fine if I was super slow. Just finish the distance. I reached the halfway point and turned around to head back. I was five miles from home. I had gone about a tenth of a mile when…..

CRASH. 

I tripped. I’m still not even certain on what. I keep replaying it in my mind but it’s blank there. All I remember is knowing that I was falling and that it was going to be bad. The good news is that I avoided breaking my wrists. That’s a super common injury when taking a bad fall. You put your hands down and the force and mass…. anyway, the wrists break. Mine didn’t. I cleverly decided to stop my descent with my face instead. Yes. My face. 

After the screaming stopped, I knew I needed to go for help. The amount of blood told me that. I stumbled out of the quiet backstreet and toward Main Street downtown. I got my wits together enough to call the gentleman. He was out running errands and was about 30 minutes away. I fear I was not very coherent. I said something eloquent like ‘Help. Help. I need help.’ Then started to sob. I told him some vague notion of my whereabouts and he headed my way. About this time I remembered my gloves were in my pocket and pressed one to my bleeding face. There was some notion there that I’d be somewhat less appalling a sight. At this point, there’s blood coursing down my face from a gash on my nose and multiple abrasions on my face. I’m thinking the obnoxious striped glove didn’t help much. 


Things that are great about small town USA: The people are so so so kind. 


I made my way through an empty parking lot behind some downtown businesses. I was looking around trying to figure out which one I could go to for help and cause the least ruckus: i.e. not a restaurant. I was SO fortunate then that the Phantom Diamond was making her way to an event and saw me. She stopped and asked if I was okay. I said: ‘No. No I’m not.’ She instructed me not to move, parked her car, summoned her minions and came to my aid. (Her name is really Susan Keirn, but she told me she wanted a super hero name. So now she’s the Phantom Diamond. I hit my head really hard. Roll with it.) The Phantom’s minions, Eye of the Storm (Kristi Champ, she’s so calm!) and The Nightingale (Marci Rodell, she flitted about helpfully to be a nurse to me) glued me back together along with the first aid kit supplied by some passersby Marty, Tanya and Bailey Templeton. These six strangers were my heroes. If you know them, high five them. They cleaned me up as best they could, kept me calm and made me laugh until the gentleman could get there. (I hope I got the right names with the right people. The whole experience is a little hazy.) The Phantom Diamond, Eye of the Storm and Nightingale graciously accepted my thanks and disappeared in a swirl of diamond glitter, feathers and wind into the grey afternoon. 

The upshot is I have an open fracture of my nose, bad bruises on both knees, a gigantic goose egg on my forehead, a very black eye, several abrasions on my face and almost no skin on the outside of my right little finger. I think those will all be fine. My pride may take a bit longer to heal. Urgent Care couldn’t patch me up all the way. I decided to go home, eat, clean up and sleep then head to ER for stitches and such today. 

Hopefully I’ll get back in the kitchen this week. If not…well I have some things documented already that I can post for you. I hope your week goes better than mine has so far! 

UPDATE: There has been a request for pictures of the damage. It’s a pretty rough thing so don’t look if you’ll be grossed out. Scrolllllll down. 

 

 

Green Tomato Salsa, Courtesy of the Lackadaisical Gardener

  

I am going start off by saying that if you have a Martha Stewart image of me and how I operate, we’re going to dispel that right now. I love to cook, can, garden, sew, crochet, whip out the hot glue gun. I’ve been doing most of that nonsense from as early as I can remember. Because of that, most of my genuine disasters were a long while back. Experience has taught me how to avoid most disasters or at the very least, head them off, change direction and salvage the project. The engineering part of my brain always has a plan. Unfortunately, it’s my curse to continually overestimate what I have the time and/or talent to do. That means I end up handling my life, my projects and my eyeliner with the same idea: wing it. 

The household consists of myself, my gentleman suitor, his two teenage sons and my teenage daughter and son. The gentleman and his sons don’t really live here but they stay here a lot. The adults both work full time. Three of the 4 kids have extra curricular activities. The point of all that is to say: we get busy or  lazy and things fall through the cracks. Things like preparing the garden for winter. Which I did not do last year. Here’s what greeted me on planting day this past spring:

  

Martha Stewart,  I ain’t



The upside of my total end of season failure last year was this:
    
‘Lettuce’ be clear, I’m a lazy gardener. 



It gets HOT here and the lettuce I planted in the spring would germinate then wilt and die. I couldn’t water it enough. It turned out that a bunch of the seeds I set had washed around in the water but never germinated….. until about late February when they came up. If you look closely in the photo before I cleared the mess and planted for spring,  you can see the lettuce among the mess. Late April I noticed the growing lettuce. Surprise! Laziness lead to a gorgeous crop of early lettuce and a lesson about veg that can and should over winter in the garden. 

I do reasonably well with keeping up with garden tasks until about the first week of August. My idea of ‘keeping up’ is periodically realizing that the space between the plants looks like the rest of the yard and I should probably weed it, watering (often because I finally notice things have started to look drooooopy), and treating for tomato caterpillars because OMG they’re so giant and hideous I could never pick them off by hand. Once all the school activities start to ramp up, the garden falls through the cracks a bit. By September it’s typically a bounteous wild tangle. This year was no exception. BUT, yesterday I razed the garden and prepared it for winter (go me!). The tomatoes didn’t do very well this year. It was cool and damp in the early summer, so they never really took off. The ultimate consequence was that the silly things were still flowering out yesterday and had lots of small and green fruit. After picking everything and clearing the garden, I had about 5 pounds of green tomatoes that needed a home along with some jalapeños and habaneros. I was thinking the green tomatoes would be a good substitute for the  tomatillos in salsa verde. After  a bit of googling, the InterWebs told me I was right. The finished flavor is garlicky, tart and tangy with a hint of sweetness. My version is very mild, almost no heat. Since I’ve made several really spicy items, I though it would be a good idea to change  it up with something more mild. 

  

This recipe for green tomato salsa is a variation on the recipe provided on the Ball Fresh Preserving website. I altered the ingredients a bit, quantities to suit what I had on hand and ratio of seasonings to my taste. I also simplified the procedure because the majority of the tomatoes I had were cherry tomatoes and I couldn’t be bothered to try to chop, core, peel, seed all that. 

  

The processing time for boiling water canning is recommended. I am not a canning expert. Please check the FDA canning guide or your local cooperative extension for safe canning procedures for all home canned products. 

Ingredients:

5 pounds green tomatoes 
5 to 10 jalapeno, Habañero or Scotch bonnet peppers chopped
3 cups chopped white onion (about 2 large)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
3 tsp canning salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper

Procedure:
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

Quarter any large tomatoes. Check all tomatoes for imperfections and remove any bad spots.

Place half of the onions, peppers (I used 5 small jalapeños since it’s what I had on hand and I wanted to keep this sauce on the mild side) and tomatoes into blender. Add 1/4 cup lime juice. Puree. 

Pour into a large sauce pan. Repeat the puréeing process with the remaining ingredients.

Rinse the blender jar with the remaining 1/4 lime juice and add to pan. 

Bring to a boil. Stir in cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt, sugar and pepper. Use a garlic press to press the garlic directly into the pan. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

  

Remove air bubbles. 

Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Variations: Add more or less peppers of various types to reach the level of heat you desire. When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear gloves to prevent hands from being burned. 

Lemon Pepper Ginger Chicken

  
I said that lemon and ginger marmalade made a great base for an Asian style sauce. I BET you squinted at the screen and made a face. You go right on making a face because it DOES make a great base for a sauce. 

I LOVE this recipe. In the spirit of full disclosure, my family did not. The gentleman liked the flavor of the sauce and chicken. My daughter liked the sauce and chicken too, and the carrots. My hungry horde, generally speaking, isn’t big on vegetables. Two of the horde detest the texture of cooked onions. That’s why the * in the recipe. I would have preferred slender slices of onion in with the vegetables. That absolutely won’t fly with a third of the audience. Instead, I substituted some onion jam and onion powder to get the much needed savory flavors and acid in what would otherwise be a much too sweet sauce. I also used whatever vegetables I had on hand. That happened to be a mixture of fresh and frozen: frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrot blend and fresh (from the garden) zucchini. I liked it this way. My daughter suggested she’d prefer more carrots, less broccoli and zucchini, no cauliflower and to use onion. If I were shopping specifically for this dish (and I didn’t have to dodge the onion issue) I’d use onion, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and pea pods. Really, that’s the beauty. Use what you have and your horde will eat. 

This recipe is scaled for a household of six. Cutting it in half is reasonable. Depending on the type of vegetables you use, making the full recipe and freezing for another night or portioning for lunches is a good option.

There’s a better than decent chance that you aren’t into canning and don’t have lemon and ginger marmalade on hand (don’t you wish you did now?!). I haven’t tested this but would guess that about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a teaspoon of lemon zest, a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger and a tablespoon of sugar would be a reasonable substitute. The pectin in the marmalade also contributes to the thickness of the finished sauce, so you may need a bit more cornstarch or allow some additional time for the sauce to thicken after you add the cornstarch and before you mix it into the rest of the dish.

Ingredients:
3 lbs chicken, diced

5 cups of your favorite stir fry type vegetables

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 warm water

4 tablespoons lemon and ginger marmalade

4ish tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons roasted onion and sage jam*

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons lemon pepper

2 teaspoons onion powder*

1 teaspoon turmeric

*If you use fresh onion with your vegetable mix, omit

Procedure: 
In a large skillet or wok heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. 

Add the minced garlic and chopped onion if you have the privilege of using onions, stirring frequently. 

Once the onions have just started to turn translucent or after 2-3 minutes if you have no onions as an indicator, add the chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through. 

  
No onions in my version.  


Add soy sauce, lemon pepper, onion jam (if using), onion powder (if using) and turmeric. Stir to combine. 

  
 

Add vegetables and simmer covered until the vegetables are bright and tender. 

Add lemon and ginger marmalade. 
  

Just like I promised. Marmalade sauce. Sounds weird, tastes good. Trust me!



Combine the cornstarch with the warm water in small bowl and stir until well incorporated. 

Scoot all the chicken and vegetables over to one side tilt the pan slightly to accumulate all the pan broth. Give the water cornstarch combination a quick thorough stir before pouring into te pan broth. IMMEDIATELY and constantly stir the pan broth and cornstarch in the pan until it begins to thicken. Once it has thickened to a suitably clingy consistency, stir the sauce into the chicken and vegetables coating all components. 

  Stir stir stir. Thicken sauce!




Serve over rice or lo mein. Or nothing at all. I like this just like it is right out of the pan. I served with white rice and freezer section egg rolls. Most of the household doesn’t like it spicy. You could easily turn up the heat with dash of red pepper in the sauce or a squeeze of sriracha over the top of your plate. I garnished mine with homegrown habanero salsa. The sweet, hot, garlicky flavor was just the hit of heat that I wanted. 

Lemon and Ginger Marmalade. Because Sweet, Tart and Ginger Seems Familiar 

  
Today I’m back to talking about the wonderful world of mason jars. It HAS occurred to me that the recipes for canning are not as well received as the recipes for regular cooking and baking. That’s okay. I understand. Not everyone cans things. Almost everyone cooks at least a little bit. It doesn’t bother me one single bit. I’m going to keep talking about the things I like. I like canning. It’s a very gratifying feeling to feed your family and give gifts of delicious food that you grew and preserved or just preserved yourself. I’ll keep canning, blogging and enjoying the whole procedure. Perhaps, just perhaps, I will eventually pull one or two of you down into the rabbit hole of home preserving. You won’t regret becoming jar junkie. 

On to the weird mess of the day…

You read that title correctly. Lemon and ginger marmalade. Marmalade is a wonderful thing. I’m a big fan of sweet orange marmalade and toyed with the idea of making a twist on that for the holidays. I still might. *squints and stares thoughtfully into the distance* ANYWAY, I decided on the lemon and ginger route for three reasons:

  1. It’s different. You know how I love different. I’ve never seen it on a store shelf so that automatically makes it climb the list of possibilities.
  2. It has uses beyond slathering it on a tall and flaky buttermilk biscuit. It’s lovely as a sweetener for your black tea. It’s a nice glaze for poultry. It’s a great base for an Asian style sauce. 
  3. Ginger. This ginger loves ginger. 

The components of this recipe are identical to the ones in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The procedure and commentary are a bit different. The Ball recipe uses powdered pectin. I prefer liquid pectin – so there’s a slight procedural variation for that. You’ll see versions of this recipe all over the web, some even saying how easy it is. I agree, making the marmalade itself was super simple. It’s one of the quickest cooking recipes I’ve done for canning any kind of jam-like substance. The prep though. The prep is a whole affair of it’s own. These two components are, frankly, a pain in the ass. It was worth the hassle though. The end product is sweet and tart with a gingery zing (sounds like someone I know…). I also love the half pint jars I picked for this one. The clear sides and round shape are perfect for the sunny yellow finished product. 

The processing time for boiling water canning is recommended. I am not a canning expert. Please check the FDA canning guide or your local cooperative extension for safe canning procedures for all home canned products. 

Ingredients:

6 lemons

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2.5 cups water

1 cup coarsely grated ginger root

1 package liquid fruit pectin

6 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Procedure:

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in strips. You’re supposed to scrape any white from the back of the zest or else your zest will float. I did this for a couple strips and decided I was okay with floaty zest. I just stirred it up when I opened the jar. Massive time saver. You’re welcome. Julienne the strips. I have decent knife skills. This still took a while. 
  

Take your now naked lemons, halve them lengthwise and carefully and laboriously cut the pith from the membrane of each segment. This will take roughly forever. If you have a hangnail or perhaps a cut or burn on your hands from some other kitchen shenanigans, this procedure will be a special experience. Work over a large bowl to catch juice and segments. Squeeze the remaining membrane of your naked lemons over your bowl (OMG. I have to take better care of my cuticles. Lemon juice, ragged cuticles. OWWW) to remove as much juice as possible.

Discard the seeds and membrane that fall into the bowl.

Peel and grate the ginger. The flesh of the ginger is all hairy. I grated for a while then cleared the ‘hairy’ accumulation on the top and continued. I made some attempt minimize the amount of the hairy component that went into the jam. 

In a large deep saucepan, combine lemon peel, baking soda, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes until peel is softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Measure 1 cup lemon segments and juice. Add to the pan with the lemon peel along with the grated ginger.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add liquid pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming if desired. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.

Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if necessary by adding hot marmalade. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are covered by at least an inch of water. Bring to a boil and process covered for 10 minutes. Remove lid from the pot. Let the jars sit in the pot for 5 minutes. Remove the jars to a kitchen towel placed on the counter and allow to cool. Shortly you should hear the gratifying *ping* of another successfully sealed jar. Makes about 7 half pints. I used a combination of half pint (4) and quarter pint jars (7). 

  

Biscuits!  Because Dough is Really Cheap Therapy

  

I buy flour in 25 poundbags at the  wholesale club. That SEEMS like a lot flour. With six people in the household and my love of all things dough, it doesn’t last as long  as you might think. 

I  love dough almost as much as the resultant products of making dough. There are cookies, bread, biscuits, noodles…. so may delicious options. There’s something else that happens for  me when I handle dough. I’m not sure why dough has always seemed magical to me. Maybe its because most of my early dough making experiences  were  with my mother in the  kitchen around the holidays.  It could be holiday magic bleedover. It could  be that  working with dough was Applied Chemistry Lab 0001.  Whatever  it is,  it’s persisted  for 35 years. There’s something therapeutic about the process  of  mixing, kneading, handling the dough.   Nothing  says  ‘home’  or ‘comfort’ or  ‘love’ like the smell of fresh yeasty breads or buttery biscuits baking. 

My gentleman loves breakfast food. He loves to make a big family breakfast, typically on Sunday mornings. The usual division of labor is for him to cook the sausage or bacon and eggs, and I make biscuits and gravy. Or pancakes. Or waffles. Basically he does the protein and I do the carbs! I’ve had a lot of practice making biscuits. I’ve monkeyed and tinkered and tried out a variety of recipes until I found one I like. So we’re gonna talk biscuits today. 

I’m going to begin by saying I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about this biscuit recipe. One thing it doesn’t do is stupid things like use 7 tablespoons of butter. I’m not upset because that’s a lot of butter. I’m going to make gravy from bacon fat to pour over top. I’m not counting calories when it comes to biscuits and gravy. Here’s why I find 7 tablespoons of butter annoying in a recipe: Do you know how many tablespoons are in a stick of butter?? Do you?

 Eight.  

Why in the hell would one not just use the whole damn stick? I can tell you who would: this girl. I’m not leaving one pat of better behind. That’s madness. 

I also double most recipes I find around the web then tinker with them until it’s right. Two adults and four teenagers can make serious quantities of food disappear. This recipe makes about a baker’s dozen 3″ diameter biscuits.If you  don’t have a hungry legion to feed then halving the recipe is an option.  The option I recommend though is freezing. Make the biscuits through the cutting stage then freeze them by placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer overnight. Once they’ve frozen separately, toss them into a freezer bag. Thaw as many as you need at room temperature, brush with buttermilk, then bake as usual.  

~~A note from the chick that is typically fine with making do~~

My first several attempts at buttermilk bicuits were cut out using a regular mouth canning lid. What? I have them laying about and they aren’t tapered or made of glass. It seemed like just the thing. It worked. It was fine. BUT the biscuits never really baked up sky high like I hoped they would.  There were 2 reasons for that. 1) The thickness of the dough is limited by the lid height. I needed to cut a thicker biscuit to have a nice high result. 2) Round edges. Once I started using a genuine biscuit cutter I could see that the layers showed more and they baked up higher because the edge hadn’t been smashed with the round lid edge. Buy some biscuit cutters. I bought mine at the local bedroom, bathroom and kitchen place (not a sponsor so I’m not naming names *coughcough*) for about $4. The money was definitely worth the improvement in the finished product. 

 
Four dollars worth of biscuit cutters.  Worth it.

Ingredients

4.5 cups all purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks salted butter, chilled in freezer and cut into slices

1 1/3 cup cold buttermilk plus some extra to brush on the tops

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 425 F

Grease a baking sheet or line it a with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 5 minutes.

(It’s also possible to do this bit by pulsing in a food processor. I don’t have one of those, so if you do it that way let me know how it works.) 

Pour in buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Turn dough onto a floured work surface, pat together into a rectangle.

~~WARNING~~

This will look like an impossible crummy mess at this point. This is normal. Do not add more liquid. It WILL come together. Many recipes will tell you to pat it into a shape and then fold the shape over onto itself 3 or 4 times. This is false. If you fold it over and smoosh it 3 or 4 times you will have a small piece of dough and a discouraging pile of crumbs.  

~~END WARNING~~

You will end up ‘folding’ the rough rectangle that you pat the crumb mess into a bunch of times. Fold, gather crumbs and squish it together until most of the crumbs are incorporated and it looks like a cohesive dough. You’ll find admonishments to work with the dough as little as possible or else the biscuits will be tough. I haven’t found that to be the case. 

Roll dough on a floured surface to about 1/2″ to 3/4″ inch thick.
Cut out as many biscuits as you can from the rolled out dough. 

 
Resquish and reroll the scrap dough and cut out some more biscuits.

I typically get 13 with a 3″ round cutter. (The last, most worked biscuit is usually the tallest flakiest one)

Brush the tops of biscuits with the extra buttermilk.

  
Bake in the preheated oven until tall and golden, about 15 minutes.

  
This is a great spot to use some homemade jam. You have some don’t you??!