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Category Archive for: ‘Vegetables’
How to Blanch and Peel Veggies and Fruit

For anyone who has tried to peel a “mess” of tomatoes, potatoes, peaches, apples, bell peppers or any other thin skinned fruit of vegetable, you know that peeling with a knife or vegetable peeler isn’t any fun and is very time consuming not to mention the large amount of the “meat” of the veggie or fruit that is lost in the process.

Blanching

Blanching is a method of dropping the fruit or vegetable into rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then removing straight into cold or iced water to stop the cooking process.  Have you ever gotten a bad sunburn and later your skin peeled off?  Well, blanching is a similar process.

You’ll be amazed at how fast and efficient it is.  It is totally worth the time it takes to bring a large pot of water to a boil.  With tomatoes, cut a little x on the end opposite the stem.  When you put the tomato into the cold water the x will give you small handles to start the peeling.  If you are going to make an apple pie, apples will peel the same way.  Going to “put up” some of those nice bell pepper you grew this year?  Blanch them, that tough thin clear skin that makes the pepper hard to cut and eat will peel right off.  I thought that I’d freeze a large batch of beautiful white peaches that were so sweet this year.  I blanched them first to quickly remove the skin, then easily pushed out the seed and cut into quarters before filling some freezer bags.  Easy peasy

If the skin doesn’t easily peel off, almost by itself, increase the time in the boil.  Make sure you cool them in cold water for at least as long as they were in boiling water.

I still catch myself pulling out the potato peeler to quickly skin 3 or 4 potatoes, but any more than that, or if I’m trying to get the skin off of small red potatoes, I most definitely blanch them. – jughandle

Stuffed Mushrooms

My niece Kellie has inspired me to find out all I can about stuffed mushrooms.  Here goes nothing.

 

It seems that everybody has a recipe for stuffed mushrooms.  They come in small, for hors-d’oeuvres, medium sized, for side dishes and large for main courses.  Mushrooms can be stuffed with just about anything from meat to veggies or any combination there of.  They can be grilled, baked, pan-fried, sauteed, roasted or any other way that sounds good to you.  Mushrooms have a subtle flavor (most that we cook with anyway) and a great texture and mouth feel.  They are sponge like and absorb liquid easily.

There are a couple of things you night need to know about mushrooms to make good cooking decisions and some information that is just fun to know.

Nutritional Information:

  • 3.5 oz of mushroom has around 27 calories
  • 4.1 grams of carbohydrates
  • .1 gram of fat
  • 2.5 grams of protein
  • various vitamins and minerals

Cooking and storing information:

  • shrooms are sponge like and should be marinated or coated in liquid before cooking to keep from drying out.  Becareful not to marinate too long (no more than a few minutes should do) or you’ll have a soggy, dense mushroom.  Taste the marinade before using to insure it isn’t too strong.  With mushrooms, what you taste is what you get.
  • high heat quick methods of cooking allow the mushroom to heat throughly while getting a nice crust without shrinking
  • You should never wash mushrooms, just brush off the dirt.  If you just have to wash them wait until you are about to cook them then pat them dry.
  • Store in a cool, dry, dark place.  Do not cover in plastic or put in a plastic bag.  Wrap in a cloth,cheese-cloth, or store in a cloth bag or use them soon after purchase.

Best Cooking Methods for un-stuffed mushrooms:

  • Saute is great for small button sized or chopped mushrooms.  Saute in butter or olive oil and season while cooking.  No marinating is necessary but pickled mushrooms saute nicely and are a great addition to a stew or stir fry.
  • Grilling or Broiling in the oven – These methods are best suited to larger whole mushrooms or caps such as Portabellas and Shiitakes.  Brush the shrooms with oil or butter and season.  Grill or Broil close to the heat source for 4 minutes per side flipping once or twice. Baste a couple of times with your seasoned butter or oil mixture while cooking.
  • Roasting – Preheat your oven to 450°, brush mushrooms as with the grilling method and roast in a shallow pan for up to 20 mins, flipping once.

Seasonings and Marinades:

  • dry seasoning combinations sprinkled on a olive oil brushed mushroom are great.  Try Lemon-Pepper or McCormick’s Grill Mates
  • Olive oil, seasoned with herbs and or vinegar is nice.
  • Sherry or other cooking wines make a good marinade.
  • Sauces, such as brown sauce, white sauce or tomato sauce are a great way to raise the flavor profile.
  • Don’t forget Balsamic vinegar and
  • Soy sauce
  • Try your favorite salad dressing, like Italian or ranch.

Stuffing:

  • like I said before – anything – try:
  • bread crumbs, sausage and onions covered with Parmesan cheese
  • chopped bell pepper, onion, cheese and herbs
  • roasted veggies chopped or diced and marinated in soy sauce or balsamic vinegar for a vegan solution
  • seasoned rice and tofu with a balsamic sauce

Best method for Cooking Stuffed Mushrooms:

  • Baking– you can bake a stuffed mushroom in a 400° oven for 30-45 mins. cover with foil for the first 2/3 of the cooking time
  • Roasting in foil – wrap your stuffed mushrooms in foil and put on the grill for 30 mins or until they seem done.  This is best if you have a cheese topping or stuffing that shouldn’t brown too quickly.
  • Pan frying/steaming – For smaller stuffed mushrooms fill a frying pan with the stuffed mushrooms and fry on med/high heat in a little oil until the bottoms start to brown.  Pour in a 1/2 cup of wine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce or a combination and cover with a tight fitting lid, reducing the heat to med and steam in the liquid for 10 or 15 mins.  This is also a good way to melt a cheese topping.
Look for stuffed mushroom recipes I’ll be adding in the next few days.  Let me know if you have a good combination you’d like to share with the Farmers – Jug
Rice and How to Cook it

Wikipedia says

“Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima. As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in East and South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the West Indies. It is the grain with the second-highest worldwide production, after maize (corn).

We are more interested in how we can prepare it and what nutritional value it has for us.  The most common type of rice in the US is white long-grain.

100g or 3.5 oz of raw rice has

Calories – 365

Carbohydrates – 80 g

Sugars – .12 g

Fiber – 1.3 g

Fat – .66 g

Protein – 7.13

 

GI of boiled long grain white rice – 64 where 0-55 is low, 56-69 is med and over 70 is high

Serving size is 1 cup = 36 g of carbs

GL per serving is 23 where 0-10 is low, 11-19 is med and over 20 is high maxing out around 60

How To Cook Rice

Most rice can be cooked by boiling 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water for around 20 minutes.   The way I prefer is to use a rice cooker.  The following is a video of Jamie Oliver showing you how to cook rice.

 

The Glycemic Index and Load

 

We on the Fat Farm are interested in eating well but eating things that will keep our blood sugar in the 60-80 mg/dl range. That is the concentration of milligrams of glucose  in deciliters of our blood.  Rice is all over the Glycemic Index depending on which type you choice.  Before I get into the index values of the various rice types, I want to confuse you some more.

The GI compares foods at the same carbohydrate level, rating their ability to raise your blood sugar, with glucose being 100. This is the Quality of the food.  Since different foods contain various amounts of carbohydrates we need an index that shows the blood sugar effect by volume.  That is the Glycemic Load indicator. The GL measures the Quantity of carbohydrate in a food.  The GL is a much more accurate measurement of the effect of the food on our blood sugar.  The glycemic load of a food is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate in grams provided by a food and dividing the total by 100.

Neither the GI nor the GL are easy concepts to grasp, but for the health of our pancreas it is important that we try.

Notice in the list below that Jasmine Rice has a higher GI rating than Glucose itself.  That means that Jasmine Rice will spike your blood sugar very quickly.

 

 Types of Rice and Their Loads

There are literally hundreds of different kinds of rice and most even very by country.  Here are a couple to contemplate.

Type
white Rice
Brown Rice
Basmati Rice
Jasmine Rice
GI
64
55
58
109
Serving Size
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
Carbs/serving
36
33
38
GL/Serving
23
18
22
46

To sum it up – Brown rice good, white long grain rice OK, Jasmine rice Bad.

Farm On You Fat Farmers.  Let me know if you have any questions – Jughandle

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)

If you aren’t familiar with Quinoa you are in for a treat.

 

 

 

 

Quinoa is a grain from South America that can be prepared like rice.  Unlike rice, Quinoa is a whole balanced protein and is high in fiber and is gluten-free.  In its raw state it can be spouted in as little as 2-4 hours activating its natural enzymes and multiplying its vitamin content.

To prepare Quinoa buy the pre-rinsed variety which has the hull or saponins removed. Rinse the grain briefly in cold water.  Cook as you would rice.  One cup of grain for 2 cups of water or other favored liquid, such as stock or even vegetable juice.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook 10 -15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed.

 

 

 

 

 

With any satisfying meal it is important to not only have good flavors, but combine different textures and even different temperatures.  The crunch of the pepper with the mouth texture of the quinoa and the spice of the tomato mixture and topping provide depth of flavor, texture and spice that is hard to find in any dish.  For a whole meal serve with a cold tossed salad.  This recipe is an original Fat Farm creation.  Let me know what you think. – jug

Stuffed Pepper Directions – Recipe

1. Bring a large pot of water (1 to 2 qts) to a boil.  Put spinach into boiling water for 30 sec. then remove and quickly place in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Reserve.

2. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 additional minute. Stir in spinach and  Ro Tel brand tomatoes & green chilies (reserve juice). Cook 5-10 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

3. Stir in kidney beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup crumbled extra firm tofu. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Cut the top off of each bell pepper and with a spoon remove the seeds and as much of the white membrane as possible, then rinse.  Fill each bell pepper with heaping amount of the quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, top with 1 T of tomato spread and bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and sauce each with seasoned pan juices before serving.

Note: any remaining stuffing can be frozen for later use.

 

Ingredients

4 large bell peppers (use multiple colors)

3/4 c of uncooked Quinoa

1 medium onion finely chopped (1 cup)

2 T olive oil

2 ribs of celery, finely chopped (1/2 c)

1 T ground cumin or 1/2 T cumin seeds

2 cloves of minced garlic (2 tsp)

1 cup of extra firm tofu (optional)

1 lb of fresh spinach, blanched and squeezed dry

1 – 10 oz can of RoTel brand Diced tomatoes & green chilies 

 

 

 

 

1 15 oz can of kidney beans.

 

 

 

 

4 T Tomato Spread or similar *

 

*This topping can be cheese which would be very tasty but would change the dish from vegan to vegetarian.  For my vegan friends, Tofutti brand foods have some acceptable dairy substitutes.  Try the health food section of Whole Foods or your local store.

 

 

These stuffed peppers can be made and frozen for several months.  Frozen peppers make a very fast meal, just put in a 350 deg oven for 30 mins or until completely heated through. – jughandle

 

Spicy red onion spread

This is a modification of a recipe I saw on the web.  I think you’ll love it.  You can use the onion jam on roasted or grilled meats, hamburgers, over Mexican food or just spread on bread. You can also find the recipe under condiments in the recipe tab section of the blog.- jughandle

 

Spicy red onion spread

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, peeled and sliced into slivers

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 chipotle chiles in adobo, diced

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Salt to taste

Method:

Heat the oil in a large skillet on med heat.  Add the onions and garlic, and while sauteing for 10 minutes stir occasionally or until softened.

Cover, and cook for 20 more minutes, stirring once. Uncover and add the chipotle chiles, balsamic vinegar and cayenne. Stirring often, cook until the vinegar is reduced and onions are softened and a dark, red brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Yield: about 1/2 pint

Note: You can add more chipotle chiles if you want it to be hotter.

 

Tomato jam recipe | Homesick Texan

This sounded so good I just had to copy this post for my readers.  I’m trying this today. – jughandle

 

“One of my favorite guilty pleasures when I was in preschool was ketchup on biscuits. I’m not sure how I got into the habit of doing this, but a bit of that old, strange love lingers on today when I eat barbecue: I won’t put sauce on the meat but I’ll dip those soft, spongy slices of white bread in a bucket of a tomato-based sauce if given the chance.

I realize this isn’t the most sophisticated thing to eat, heck, some of y’all might even say it’s downright gross. Well, fortunately, a reader asked me if I had a recipe for tomato jam. Now, I’d never eaten tomato jam but I’d certainly heard of it. I even have a T-shirt from the Tomato Jam café in Asheville, North Carolina that my mom sent to me. (I haven’t been to Asheville but I hear it’s the Austin of North Carolina, which means it’s probably a very cool place.) So when this reader asked me for a recipe, I told her I’d get right on it.

First, I checked my old recipe files to see if any of my grandmas and great-grandmas had directions on how proper tomato jam was done. They didn’t. So before I came up with one, I asked the reader what exactly tomato jam was supposed to taste like. She said it was a wonderful mix of sweet and savory; she ate it on her biscuits while her grandpa spread it on his rye toast.

A sweet and savory tomato spread that isn’t ketchup? I was curious. I started thinking about how I would make my jam, and decided I’d do my usual citrus, sugar and spice blend as I do with my apricot jam.

A little research led me to Mark Bittman’s recipe in the New York Times where he had the same idea. I followed his approach with a few modifications and, I must admit, this tomato jam was curious. It looked like a cross between strawberry jam and ketchup. Which seemed odd. But once it cooled a bit and I could really taste it, I was hooked.

Tomato jam is indeed sweet, spicy and savory and, because I’m Texan, I also make it a little bit fiery. It’s like a more sophisticated ketchup, though it could certainly pose as a fruit spread as well. (Though I’m not sure if tomato jam is quite ready to be paired with peanut butter.)

Spreading it on my biscuit, I was a kid again dipping my biscuits into ketchup. But this time it was not only socially acceptable but a heck of a lot more sophisticated and delicious as well. I’m now a fan of tomato jam and I think it’s splendid on burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, eggs and, of course, biscuits as well. And if you try it, perhaps you’ll find it splendid, too.

Do you eat tomato jam? What do you like to do with it?

Tomato jam (adapted from the New York Times)

1 pound Roma tomatoes, chopped and cored

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 or 2 dried chiles de arbol, crumbled

Pinch of chipotle powder

Method:

Combine all the ingredients in a pan, bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring often until tomatoes have dissolved and jam is thick and glossy, about 45 minutes. Pack jam into a sterilized container. Keeps in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Yield: 1 pint

Note: Variations on this could be made by adding chopped jalapeños, chopped cooked bacon or I’ve even heard of people stirring in a bit of bourbon. And if you thinking this is close to chipotle ketchup, it is, though that has a few different spices and vinegar to give it that familiar tang.”

via Tomato jam recipe | Homesick Texan.

How to Roast Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness  and flavor of our garden vegetables, especially the root vegetables.

 

The best way to achieve tender, creamy and flavorful
roasted veggies is to preheat your oven to 450 deg F.
and lightly coat the veggies with a fat of some kind.
Put the coated veggies in a roasting pan that will allow
the heat to circulate around them as they cook.  Put the pan in the oven
covered for 20 minutes, then remove the cover for 20 minutes more and you are done.

Fat

The fat you use can be oil, bacon grease, butter or any combination.  For a healthier dish try to use the very smallest amout of oil that you can.  I cut my vegetables into 1/2 or 3/4″ chunks and put them in a large bowl.  I warm  a tablespoon of bacon fat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to thin the oil and aid in better coverage.  Pour the oil over the veggies in the bowl and toss with your hands until well coated.  Spread out on in the pan and season with herbs, salt and pepper.

Pan

 

A roasting pan works nicely but a cookie sheet is good too.  There really is no right or wrong here, pile the veggies up no more than two layers thick, if possible, to allow for even cooking, but you can also turn or stir the veggies half way through the cooking too.

 

Cover

 

 

A roasting pan usually has a cover, but if you use a cookie sheet, try covering with aluminum foil.

 

 

MultiTasking

My favorite way to roast veggies is while I’m also roasting a chicken.  Use the big chunks of vegetables as a rack on the bottom of your pan to hold the chicken up.  The juices of the chicken add to the flavor of the vegetables and you have a one dish meal.

 

 

 

We will add many recipes for roasting in the near future. Until then try roasting a few veggies and let me know what you think.  – Farm On you Fat Farmers – Jughandle

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