Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Lauren: The Best Sauteed Fresh Corn Recipe: the taste of grilled corn on the cob in a fraction of the time July 23, 2013

Filed under: Food & Cooking,Veggies — lkcook20 @ 11:30 am
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I don’t know about you, but I have not mastered the art of grilling corn. We’ve tried leaving the husks on, taking them off, wrapping them in foil and found that it is just so hard to predict the precise moment they are done. And sometimes they end up burned which is such a waste because I love the taste of grilled corn on the cob.

And then I discovered the awesomeness of sauteed fresh corn. How did it take me so long?

It was like the scene from Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally meet on the top of the Empire State Building: perfect and a long time coming. They stare into each other’s eyes and just know. Cue happy, emotional music.

Sauteed fresh corn is that good.

Our story: I needed something to do with all the fresh corn we get from our CSA (community supported agriculture) program. Side note: I highly recommend CSA’s. When we pick up our box of local fresh produce, it seriously feels like Christmas every week. Some weeks our present is a bushel of corn. That’s 45 ears! We give some away, freeze some, and one day I decided to slice the kernels off and saute them. The idea just came to me. Then it was love at first bite and the rest is, as they say, history.

It’s so easy I feel weird calling it a recipe. So here’s the “recipe”:

Ingredients:

1-2 ears of corn per person

1 tbsp of butter per 3-4 ears of corn (or more or less to taste)

Kosher salt to taste

Directions:

1. Remove husks and silks from the corn cob.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. DSCN17873, Slice off kernels with a knife (remember to cut away from you!) into a bowl or right into the skillet.DSCN1791

4. Saute over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add salt. Salivate, then enjoy! DSCN1792

 

5 Reason It’s So Good: 

1. It still maintains its fresh crunch. Canned corn cannot compete.

2. You can taste the butter and salt in every bite.

3. It’s the taste of grilled corn in a fraction of the time!

4. You can eat more of it because you can pile giant heapings on your spoon instead of trying to maneuver around a cob.

5. You can avoid the debate of whether it’s better and more efficient to eat in rows across the ear of corn or to go around in circles. My husband claims his family tested it one time and the circle method was far superior time-wise. I’m not convinced and think maybe he’s been reading too much Cheaper by the Dozen. But anyway, if you saute your corn, you can avoid that argument. That’s right, I’m claiming that sauteed fresh corn is better for your marriage. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

Sarah: Popcorn January 7, 2013

Filed under: Food & Cooking,Snacks — suburbanpioneers @ 4:09 am
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Waaaay too delicious...

Oh, yes…another batch please…

Here is yet another I-meant-to-post-this-in-Deprocessed-December-and-didn’t recipe for those chilly winter evenings.  There’s nothing extraordinary about this…other than that it’s something we think will be too much work to make ourselves.  Instead we settle for chemically-laden, microwavable popcorn.

Making your own isn’t hard, I learned from my sister, who has made it her specialty (and who says she has to stop making it her specialty as she makes it far too often and eats far too much at once).  Here’s what you need:

Homemade Popcorn

1/2 c.-2/3 c. corn kernels1-2 Tbsp. oil (I use olive oil, sunflower or grapeseed oil instead of vegetable oil)
salt to taste
grated parmesan cheese and/or melted butter (optional…but dangerously delicious, though I hear you can use yeast or olive oil as a healthier option…I myself go for full calories whenever possible)

  1. Put oil in a tall pot with a lid over medium-high heat.
  2. Add corn kernels and cover.
  3. Continually shake the pot a bit to keep the kernels from sticking and burning.
  4. When the pot is full of fluffy goodness, you’re done.  Top with salt and cheese and butter.
  5. Consume.  Repeat.  Consume.  Repeat…

Believe it or not, this whole process takes about 5 minutes…ironically, only two minutes longer than the normal popping time for a bag of microwavable popcorn.  And the finished product tastes far, far better.

Put oil and corn kernels into a pot.

Put oil and corn kernels into a pot.

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Shake pot to prevent sticking and burning.

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When pot is full of fluffy goodness, you’re done.

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Drizzle with butter, salt, cheese…whatever you feel like!

 

Lauren: Top Eight Easy, Healthy, Less-Processed Substitutions Anyone Can Make December 18, 2012

1. Coconut Oil or Olive Oil instead of Canola or Vegetable Oil

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According to organicfacts.net, coconut oil’s health benefits include:  “hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.”

Now that’s good stuff.

Tips: Coconut oil is usually solid unless it’s kept in a really warm place. Use as a solid to saute or place the jar in warm water to turn it into a liquid.

You can also massage the oil onto your body as a moisturizer or into your hair to help combat dandruff.

2. Whole Wheat Flour instead of regular white flour

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Regular white flour is often bleached as well as highly refined (a.k.a. processed), which causes it to loose nutrients. I use regular whole wheat for breads, white whole wheat for muffins, roux, pancakes, etc, and whole wheat pastry flour for cookies and desserts (Seriously! You can’t even taste the difference!).

See this article for more information on whole wheat.

3. Honey, Molasses, or 100% Maple Syrup instead of white granulated sugar

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I mostly use honey as my white or brown sugar substitute since molasses has a distinct taste and real maple syrup is pricey. Here’s more info on honey.

Tips: When using honey in baking, use 1/2 a cup of honey for each cup of sugar called for in a recipe, reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 of a cup, and set your oven 25 degrees lower than the directions say.

4. Whole Grain Pasta

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This is a super easy switch to make and you get used to the more wholesome taste.

Tips: Look for 100% whole grain.

5. Natural Peanut Butter

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A lot of the peanut butter on the market has hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar or dextrose, and salt. All you really need is peanuts!

Tips: Steer clear of ones that say “Natural” and then add more ingredients like palm oil, etc.

6. Recognizable-ingredient (five or less) snack foods

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Let’s be honest. Sometimes you just need an easy go-to snack. The ingredients for Triscuit Thin Crisps are: whole grain soft white winter wheat, soybean oil, salt. And the Unique Pretzel Shells include: Unbleached Wheat Flour, Canola Oil, Salt, Yeast, and Soda. These break some rules (the oils) but are a lot healthier than most other snacks on the market.

7. Real Butter

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Real butter doesn’t have all that hydrogenated fat. Go organic if you can. And if you’re able to find butter from grass-fed non-hormone-treated cows, that’s even better.

Here’s more on butter versus margarine.

8. Brown Rice in place of White Rice

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White rice undergoes a process that removes most of its nutrients. Brown rice has only had the hull removed so most of the good stuff is still there. And we like the good stuff:)

Here’s some more info if you’re interested.

That’s it. Most of these substitutions don’t cost all that much more, if at all. And your body will thank you. It’ll be like getting a massage. . . on the inside. . . sort of. . .

 

Lauren: Salted Caramel Mocha / Hot Chocolate December 12, 2012

This is one of my very favorite treats. I like the homemade version even better than the Starbucks one- and so does my wallet, which also makes my husband happy. It’s a win-win-win!

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Shout out to my incredibly talented sister-in-law who made the mug!

Ingredients:

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp honey

1/4 cup water

2 tsp caramel (Try to find some at the store with only five or six ingredients. They are out there! Or make your own!)

generous pinch of sea salt (not coarse)

1 cup milk

Homemade whipped cream (see below)

caramel and salt (for drizzling and/or sprinkling)

Microwave Directions: 

1. Add cocoa powder, honey, and water to a mug. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Add caramel and sea salt. Stir until dissolved.

2. Microwave milk in a seperate glass for one or one and a half minutes. Slowly pour into chocolate sauce while stirring. Top with whipped cream, caramel, and salt.

Stovetop Directions:

1. Add cocoa powder, honey, and water to a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until honey is dissolved. Add caramel and sea salt and stir until both are dissolved.

2.Add milk. Heat until hot but not boiling, stirring occasionally.  Pour into your favorite mug and then top with whipped cream, caramel, and salt.

For the more caffeinated version:

Reduce milk to 1/2 cup and add 1/2- 3/4 cup strong coffee. Pour in the coffee at the same time that you add the milk in the recipes above.

Homemade Whipped Cream:

1. Chill the mixing bowl for about fifteen minutes. Add 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract to the cold bowl. Mix on medium speed until soft peaks form (about five minutes). Don’t leave it too long or you’ll make yourself some butter!

 

Lauren: Spiced Stuffed Acorn Squash December 9, 2012

DSCN1124I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of plain baked acorn squash, but I love it stuffed with couscous, garbanzo beans, carrots, peppers, raisins, and apples. Underneath all those delicious ingredients, the acorn squash gives just a hint of sweetness in every bite. Yum!

This recipe is very flexible. Feel free to substitute other fruits or veggies, and if you don’t have some of the spices on hand, omit them or use other ones.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter                                                                              1 tsp cumin

4 acorn squash                                                                           1/2 tsp coriander

2 tbsp olive oil                                                                            1/2 tsp turmeric

2 cloves garlic, minced                                                                1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 carrots, chopped (small)                                                           1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped                                                     1/4 tsp ginger

1 can garbanzo beans, drained                                                   1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins                                                                           1 14 ounce can chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup peeled, chopped apple                                                  1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut squash in half. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until tender. After removing the squash from the oven, spread butter on squash.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, carrot, and pepper. Cook approximately five minutes. Add garbanzo beans, raisins, and apples. Stir in cumin, coriander, turmeric  cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.DSCN1122

4. Pour the broth into the skillet and mix in the couscous. Cover and turn off heat. Let sit for five minutes. Then stuff squash halves with the skillet mixture. Serve and enjoy.

 

Sarah: Join us for Deprocessed December! December 6, 2012

I don’t know about you all, but I find December one of the harder months to resist…

chocolate

In fact, I’d better just admit the dark (or milk) chocolate truth.  I love most sweets.  And chocolate is pretty much at the top of the list.  I would eat it for breakfast.  And lunch.  And dinner and dessert, too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert in various forms (and quite possibly on the same day).

The down side (apart from cavities and possible weight gain)?

This:

The problem is that, in December, the chocolate pie, the chocolate chip cookies, the hot chocolate, and all the other sweets that end up getting passed around the office or at a potluck or with family are often processed.  And that’s pretty much because we all think we don’t have enough time to make actual food with real ingredients.

That’s why we’d like to invite you to join us on a winter adventure: Deprocessed December. Let’s kick the intake of chemicals, preservatives, refined sugars, and hydrogenated oils this month.

That doesn’t mean we won’t eat sweets or snacks or other delicious comfort food at all.  No, indeed!  That’s not possible for me in December (or any other time, really).

Instead, we’ll look at all the things we could easily be making with real food, without additives.

Every few days, we will post a recipe for snacks or food that we often buy prepackaged that just isn’t that difficult to make at home.  Here’s our promise: as few ingredients as possible.  No refined sugar or prepackaged items.  And as fast as possible.  The above stipulations are necessary because we’re both busy people with children who scream if we are in the kitchen too long.

So…this might mean spending just a few extra minutes in the kitchen before the office holiday party or the family gathering. But our bodies, our scales, and our wallets will thank us for resisting the over-processed and instead taking responsibility for the process.  Who’s in?

And to start us off, here’s our first recipe:

Replace this   Protein Bars which not only contains exciting ingredients such as Organic Oat Syrup Solids and Vegetable Glycerin in addition to the ever-mysterious “Natural Flavors,” but also costs $1 per bar

With this:

Homemade Protein Bars

2 c. flour (+ more if needed)
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. peanut butter (all natural…no sugar, no oil)
1 c. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. molasses

Those are all the necessary ingredients…the fun part comes when you add extra goodies:

1/2 c. flax seed (this just makes it healthier, but if you omit, you might need more flour)
1/2 c. slivered almonds or walnuts or any other nut you desire
1 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract (or none at all if you prefer)
1/2 c. raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips, or any other goodies

Combine all dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt, baking soda, flax seed, nuts, and dried fruit/chocolate.  Then stir in wet ingredients (peanut butter, maple syrup, and molasses).  Press mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and bake 20-30 m. until a fork stuck in it comes out clean.

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 10.43.31 PM

A 9×13 baking pan will yield about 12 thick and delicious bars.  I eat them for breakfast.  Or lunch.  Or dinner or snack, as the mood strikes.

And…to give credit where credit is due, I would like to thank Terry Walters’ book Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source for inspiring me to bake without butter and sugar.  Her “Teff Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies” on page 275 were a revelation.  The purchase of the entire book was worth it for that one recipe!

 

Lauren: It’s Apple Time October 25, 2012

Filed under: Food & Cooking — lkcook20 @ 12:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again, when the air turns crisp, when the leaves change to glorious reds, yellows, and oranges, when pumpkin patches open, and when my family and I head out to our favorite tree-climbing scavenger hunt: apple picking.

 

 

I love local apples. They feel a little rough, not waxy so they don’t need to be drowned in vinegar to get the yuckiness off. Picking them yourself is a little more work, but cheaper than the grocery store or farmers market.  Another perk where we go: apple cider doughnuts. Enough said.

There are three rules we all abide by: (1) using an apple picker tool is cheating, (2) the best apples are at the top of the tall trees, (3) you have to eat the first good apple you pick.

Rule number two got me into a little trouble in college on my first apple-picking outing. I climbed up a tall tree, sat on a branch, and stretched my arm out towards the perfect apple. The next thing I knew, I was flipping through the air and then my feet were hitting the ground. This time I decided not to attempt any gymnastic feats. I didn’t want any one else in my party to feel inferior.

After all was said and done, our two bags were full and we managed not to let our three-year-old wander off. On our way back to pay for our bounty, we noticed a couple of tears in our heavy-duty bags and envisioned an avalanche of our precious apples rolling down the orchard hill. We double-bagged and brought them all home safely. Lots and lots of apples, perfect for making applesauce and apple butter. I also planned on canning some applesauce in those cute little jars, too, for baby food on the go. I know its more work and you can just buy those little plastic containers at the grocery store, but I love the idea of giving baby A. local, unsweetened applesauce.

As far as preparations for canning go, I like that you don’t have to peel the apples before you cook them (unlike peaches or tomatoes). But, later, the recipes call for running the hot hot cooked apples through a sieve or food mill.  I’ve always ignored that step. I have to confess, I didn’t really know what a food mill was and assumed it was sort of like a blender. Instead, I usually picked out the peels by hand until I got so bored and frustrated that I just ground them up with the apples. This year, I tried several different methods for getting the peels out including my fingers (ouch!), two forks, and, my favorite, a potato masher and a wooden spoon.

My husband preferred the two forks method. He asked me if he was doing it wrong because it was taking so darn long. No, it’s just that slow going, we realized, when I couldn’t go any faster. The potato masher/wooden spoon method involves scooping up some applesauce in the potato masher, pressing down with the wooden spoon until the apple falls through the holes and you are left with the peel on top. Then the peel is transferred to another bowl for composting. So this involves picking out the peels one by one. Let’s see if I can do some math (always questionable): I chopped twenty-four apples into eighths with an apple corer. 8 times 24 equals 192 apple peels. Picked. Out. By. Hand. Wow. Writing that makes it seem even more ridiculous.

I know, so silly right?

And here comes the epiphany: Sometimes it’s not worth it to be cheap! Like a politician, I am changing my stance on this issue. I now believe it is worth the thirty bucks to own a food mill. It would save SO much time and energy. If you’re going to make applesauce or apple butter more than once in your entire life, invest in a food mill. Here’s one from Amazon I’m thinking about getting for next year.

It’s kind of embarrassing how often I need to learn this lesson about being too frugal. . .

Canning Applesauce Recipe

24 medium chopped, cored, and quartered apples (or enough to fill your largest pot) I use a mixture of apples. If you use sweet apples (Gala, Winesap, Fuji, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, McIntosh, Jonagold) then you don’t have to add extra sugar.

2 cups of water

1. In an 8-10 quart pot, combine apple and water. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 25-35 minutes or until the apple is soft and peel dislodges easily. Stir often.

2. Press apple through a food mill or sieve (or some homemade equivalent). Return to pot. Add water if you think it is too thick and/or cinnamon, to taste.

3. Scoop hot applesauce into sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in covered canner or pot for 15 minutes (timer starts when water returns to a boil). Remove jars and cool them on racks. This makes about 6 pints.

Enjoy and if you used a food mill pat yourself on the back for saving time!

The finished product

 

 
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