For the longest time, I used to pester my husband about the fact that he didn’t like ketchup. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this. We would go out to breakfast at IHOP and while I would slather my hash browns in ketchup, he would pour maple syrup on them. Which, in my very humble opinion, is just not right. When we’d have fries, he would use barbecue or steak sauce on them–anything but ketchup. I nagged him and nagged him to give ketchup another shot and when he finally did, he admitted it wasn’t that bad. But he still wasn’t crazy about it and he still preferred maple syrup on his hash browns.
When I saw a recipe for cranberry ketchup in Cooking Light, I decided that homemade ketchup would be the best way to get my husband fully onboard the ketchup train. Rather than using the ground red pepper suggested by the original recipe, I opted to add chipotle chiles instead. I keep these on hand in the freezer–when we buy a can of them, we puree them and freeze for future use. It’s a great way to add a little heat to whatever you’re cooking. Anyway, the chipotle and adobo mixture gives the ketchup a nice, smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with baked sweet potato fries. My husband is now a believer in the power of ketchup–or at least cranberry chipotle ketchup.
1 2/3 c. fresh cranberries
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped shallots
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (more or less is fine–use what you’re comfortable with)
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes. Process until smooth in a blender or food p
Yesterday I spent more time than I’d like to admit working on redesigning my blog. I took a basic template that I found elsewhere and started playing with the HTML in order to personalize it. Of course, thinking I’d be able to finish it this weekend was a wee bit ambitious–I’m going to put it aside and plan on going live with it next week.
I did manage to squeeze in some time for baking yesterday. In my ongoing quest to use up pantry items before we move in June, I found a recipe for Chocolate Gingerbread Bars that used several ingredients we had on hand–we only needed to buy sour cream and eggs. This alone is enough to make any recipe a winner in my book. Oh, and the bars tasted great! And they were easy! So there’s three reasons to love this recipe.
I’ll include the recipe here–as I mentioned above, it’s not mine. I got it from Everyday Food, one of my favorite cooking magazines (even if a certain blogger I know is mad at Martha Stewart right now for stealing her bottle cap magnet idea!). I love Everyday Food because the recipes tend to be quick and simple to make (as the name of the magazine implies), and they almost always turn out well too.
Chocolate Gingerbread Bars
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used a chopped dark chocolate bar I had on hand)
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Line bottom with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper. Dust paper and sides of pan with cocoa; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.
You know what I’m talking about. That sponge you use for wiping down work surfaces after you’re finished cooking. After a while, it kind of starts to smell, right? And everything you use it on smells too. This, of course, means your sponge is harboring bacteria and decaying food particles. Yuck! Or maybe your aversion to the funky sponge has you using paper towels for cleaning instead. While it’s great to be able to toss them when you’re finished, they don’t always hold up as well as sponges do, especially for those jobs that require a little elbow grease. And when we’re all trying to do our part to reduce waste, paper towels don’t seem very eco-friendly, do they?
This is why SKOY cloths are such a great product–they’re like a cross between sponges and paper towels. They’re strong enough to handle even the most stubborn messes (hello, baked on stove spills!), but they’re thin so they dry out quickly and don’t retain food particles the way sponges do. Unlike paper towels, they can be reused several times–one SKOY cloth saves the average user 15 rolls of paper towels! But when you do have to throw your cloths away, you can take comfort in knowing that they’re made of natural materials so they’re 100% biodegradable.
Using SKOY cloths is easy–you can either wet them with water or use them in conjunction with any household cleaner. After I made my Chocolate GIngerbread Bars over the weekend, I had a lot of flour and cocoa on the countertop, so I used one of my SKOY cloths to clean up the mess.
Spring is almost here! Or, judging by the fact that it was 80 degrees one day last week, maybe it’s already here? I don’t know! But either way, I’m really excited about getting all of my seedlings out into the garden soon. Even though the last frost date for my area is next month, crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.) can stand up to a little bit of cold, so the time to transplant them is now.
Hardening off cruciferous vegetables is the first step in transplanting them. As I mentioned in last week’s post about spring seed starting, hardening off means getting plants adjusted from growing in a controlled, indoor environment to growing outside. If you have a porch, this is the perfect place for hardening off your transplants.
We have a screened porch here, so on Sunday, I brought all of my crucifers out late morning, when it wasn’t too cool out and wasn’t too warm. When mid-afternoon rolled around, I brought them inside. On Monday, I brought them out an hour earlier and took them back in an hour later. I’m going to increase the amount of time I let the plants stay outside each day and then this Saturday, I’ll plant them in the garden.
This week I also planted my peas, bok choy, edamame and te you (Chinese kale). I’m planning on doing snap peas and bok choy in containers on the porch, so I planted those seeds directly. I started my snowpeas and edamame inside, in peat pots. You’re not supposed to start peas indoors, but I’ve had bad luck with direct-sowing in my garden, so I’m taking that chance. The te you is in my flat, with most of my other seedlings. Everything has sprouted now except the San Marzano tomatoes.
As I was coming up with my meal plan for the week, I had the idea to make lasagna with sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and kale. The more I thought about the logistics, though, the more it sounded like a bad idea. Or maybe I was just too lazy to attempt to make it. One of those things. And then it hit me–this combination would actually make a good pizza. Sweet potato pizza! So that’s what I did–instead of a traditional tomato sauce base, I made a sauce with sweet potatoes and fresh sage and used caramelized onions, kale, and Fontina cheese as the topping. If you’re ambitious, you can make your own crust, in which case you should probably add the kale halfway through your cooking time so it doesn’t burn.
1 large sweet potato
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped kale
3 tbsp. skim milk or soymilk
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 prepared whole wheat pizza crust
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce sweet potato several times with fork and roast about 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool slightly–do not turn off oven.
While potato is baking, heat oil in medium skillet over low heat. Add onion and dash of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes or until just caramelized. Add kale to skillet and cook until tender and wilted. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
Scoop insides of potato into medium bowl and mash; add milk, sage, and salt and combine until well-mixed and smooth. Spread mixture onto pizza crust.
Top with half of cheese, kale and onions, and then remaining cheese. Bake pizza in oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until kale begins to crisp and cheese melts.
If you want to have your garden and think you do not have the right space to start it. One of the best ways is to ensure that you have a lot of space for alternatives which is the vertical garden. This is a garden which requires you to have a wall which you can build you are garden in if you are wondering how to keep reading the article.
Choose a wall
For a vertical garden, try to make sure that you have the right kind of vertical garden institute. Try to make sure that you have chosen a wall where enough sunlight reaches. The plant that you choose also is very important if it requires sunlight or not.
Build a frame
This is the basic structure of a vertical garden wall which is a three-layer sandwich made of frame, plastic sheeting and fabric. It is important that you build the whole setup before you can hand the plant. Try to make sure that you hang these plants in a proper way to ensure that there is not a lot of moisture that can seep in the walls.
Attach plastic sheeting
Attach a sheet of plastic to the frame to make sure that there is a backing which can give it the right fabric layer which keeps the water off the walls.
Attach the fabric
Attach a layer of fabric to make sure that the plants can hold the water long enough to absorb. If you can try to attach at least two layers of clothing to make sure that the fabric is secure and your plants healthy.
Add fertilisers and water source
To make sure that your plants are fertilised make sure that you add a fertiliser injector which adds a simple irrigation value. This allows the fertiliser directly into the irrigation. The other things is that you will have to make sure that you have an irrigation water filter to ensure that the irrigated water does not go back.
Choose your plants
With any kind of gardening, you need to take into account the sun, shade, humidity, wind, etc. If you intend to leave the garden out in the winter, you need to make sure that the plants can handle cold weather. Try to consider the place you stay in and also plants which are native to the place as this can ensure that the plants thrive.
If you want to insert the plant, you will have to make a cut through the fabric layer. Now get the plant and insert the plant into the cut. You can also make sure to cut it into a semi-circle to not make everything into a mess.