A new and easier way to make lemon curd, sorta.

There is a you-tube video, entitled lemon curd take 2, which shows how to make a lemon curd type product with your vitamix. It’s not really lemon curd as the texture is too frothy and light for true lemon curd, but boy is it much easier than the other lemon curd recipe you can find on my site. This video is made by Williams-Sonoma.

The recipe is as follows:
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Cubed Butter (sweet cream butter)
1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Peel

Put the eggs, sugar and lemon juice into the vitamix. Start at variable one and increase to high. If you have the vitamix with the presets, use the hot soup setting. Blend/Cook for four minutes. At this point, add the cubed butter, one pat at a time, with the blender still going. Wait until each butter pat is fully incorporated until you put the next one in. Continue to blend for an additional minute to get the curd of the proper consistency. If your curd is not thick enough, you can continue to blend for another minute.

The video goes on to talk about making the cutest little tartlets with the newly made lemon curd. I prefer, however to eat mine with scones and cream.

So there is no question this is easier than the lemon curd recipe that I have elsewhere on this site. Why do I say it’s only sorta lemon curd? The texture is not right, it’s more like lemon chiffon. It’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not curd.

What do you do with all this lovely lemon curd, other than eat it out of hand? I made the most amazing ice cream with my donvier pint size ice cream maker. First I made a blueberry ice cream base and froze that with the ice cream maker. Then I took the ice cream maker and filled half of it with lemon curd and half with blueberry ice cream and spun. It was delicious. Too delicious.

My DH made a solar oven yesterday. What a sweetie. I had mentioned that I wanted to make one, but I was really busy with the garden and housecleaning for guests and all the other little minutiae that fills up the day. I looked up from the kitchen window about midday, and what did I see but an enormous cardboard box with an Elizabethan collar. You remember Elizabethan collars, don’t you? They’re the ones that the vet gives you to put on the dog so it can’t lick whatever injury it has. The fact that it makes the dog look like it has a satellite dish on it’s neck is just a happy accident.
DH had taken a old 1/2 bushel peach box (cardboard) and lined it with tinfoil. He then cut up another box to make the wings of the solar collector and attached it to the top of the box, so it looks like a large funnel. Finally, he cut a piece of plexiglass and trimmed the edges with tape and fit the plexiglass between the solar collector and the box of the oven. I was planning on buying a turkey basting bag from the grocery store, but since we had the plexi just lying around, it was probably better.

So, what am I doing with my wonderful little solar oven? Right now, I have my dutch oven out there with my beef tallow in it. I need to render the beef tallow, but it’s too hot to turn on the oven. I’ve heard, but have no experience yet, that the solar oven WILL get hot enough for this purpose.

Backwoodshome, a magazine which has lots of near information in it, has many recipes for solar ovens.

Listia.com and Dr. Pepper EA sports game codes.

So you say that nothing good in life is free? You think that you can’t get something for nothing? You want dr. pepper game codes so you can get that neat virtual weapon in Battlefield Heroes but you can’t buy dr. pepper with the code where you live? Have I got the solution for you!

Listia.com is a cool up and coming website which acts as a mediator between people who have junk they want to get rid of and people who want more junk. It’s sorta like Ebay, except it doesn’t cost actual money. It’s sorta like freecycle, except people actually want what you’re giving away. It’s sorta like craigslist, except it’s safer because you have the “listia assurance” against scammers.

What exactly is it? It’s a website, where people auction off their unwanted items. Anyone can join and it’s completely free to do so. Even before you’ve joined, you can browse the auctions and see what sort of cool and interesting things people are giving away. Once you’ve decided to join, you get a certain amount of free credits to get you started. If you link your listia.com account with your facebook or twitter account, you’ll get even more free credits. The geniuses at Listia will even give you free credits just for checking in, making comments on other people’s auctions and all sorts of other things.

Where does this lead you if you’re not a US citizen and you want dr.pepper codes? Well, the site is international, so you can sign up and get the free credits just like anyone else. Then you search for dr. pepper in their handy dandy auction search and start bidding. Of course, you have to verify your account before Listia will let you bid on those auctions, but it doesn’t take long to verify your account.

Listia has a seller/buyer feedback mechanism much like Ebay. Good sellers can be weeded from bad sellers by their feedback rating. You can even see what previous buyers have said about a potential seller by looking at their profile.

Does this sound like something you’re interested in? Use this link and look me up when you get there.

What to do with all this yummy summer fruit.

This week has been good for making jams and other fruit preserves. I picked blueberries last weekend and am up to my eyeballs now in blueberry jam, blueberry pie filling, hedgerow jam and the like. While taking a break from the canning pot I came upon an old copy of HomeFarmer, for dreamers and realists. It’s a magazine from the UK which is really great for people like me who dream of living on their own homestead.

I found an article on old curd recipes in this edition and have decided that I would make some curds next. I have made orange curd in the past, and it was yummy. Unfortunately, my source of organic citrus has dried up so I need to find a new type of curd.

I found a recipe for mixed berry curd, which has possibilities. Here is that recipe:

Makes 3 small jars of curd.
500 grams of frozen mixed berries
2 eggs from your own free range happy hens
60 grams (that’s 2 oz) unsalted butter
200f (7 oz) caster sugar (I think this is powdered sugar)

Defrost the berries in a saucepan then warm them until they turn mushy.
Push the berries through a sieve unto a large heatproof bowl.
Add the butter and sugar to the sieved berries and balance the bowl over a saucepan of fast simmering water, bain-marie style. The base of the bowl must not touch the water. If you want a thick curd, cook the berries directly in the saucepan.
Stir until the butter and sugar have dissolved, then take off the heat and sieve in the egg, stiffing continuously until it is all mixed in.
Continue to warm over a medium heat, stirring continuously, when the curd starts to thicken. When the curd is thick, glossy and coats the back of a wooden spoon, it is ready. If you’ve been stirring for 30 minutes since adding the egg, then this is as thick as it gets.
Ladle into the jars, twist on the lids and leave to cool.
Place them in the fridge to thicken or keep them in a cool dark cupboard. Use within two months.

Just writing about homemade curd makes my mouth water. Homemade curd is sooooo good you’ll want to find a way to make your own double devonshire cream and scones and have a proper tea.

How do you can your curd? Some say you can’t (thanks USDA) but if you’re willing to take your life into your own hands, then you might want to can it. Believe me, once you’ve tasted the curd, you won’t mind thumbing your nose at the USDA.

Wash and sterilize your jars and lids. Never reuse the lids of your canning jars, but you can reuse the jars and the rings.
Ladle your hot curd into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove any trapped air bubbles with a clean plastic knife. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply rings. Process 4 ounce jars and half pint jars for 10 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure in a dial gauge pressure canner or a 10 pounds pressure in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.

Aunt J’s Lemon Curd (courtesy of Cooking Light):

1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup fresh lemon juice

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1) Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan.

2) Add juice and eggs. Bring mixture to a boil while whisking constantly.

3) Reduce heat and continue to stir until thickened, about 1 minute.

4) Remove pan from heat; add in butter and lemon rind, and stir until butter is melted.

5) Cover and chill in refrigerator until completely cooled and thickened.

Makes about 1.5 cups.

Approximate nutrition for 1 tbsp serving: 35 calories, 1 g fat, 6g carbs, 0.5 g protein

Blueberry Soda Syrup

Today I used up the last of my blueberries. Last weekend DH and I went and picked blueberries at a upick place. We had about 20 pounds of blueberries. The berries were getting old and I had made as much jam and blueberry pie filling as I could stand. I was looking for another thing to do with the blueberries. I still had frozen blueberries from last year, and my dehydrator is on the fritz.

Enter Alton Brown! He can always be counted upon to do something interesting with ingredients. I searched the food network site and found that years ago he made a blueberry soda. Just the thing, as I am still playing with my sodastream.

I took 2 quarts of fresh blueberries and 2 cups of water. I boiled them for 15 minutes until nearly all the blueberries had split. I then drained the fluid with my jelly strainer. I added 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 7 ounces of sugar and warmed up the fluid enough to dissolve the sugar.

Alton says that the blueberry syrup will last for months in the fridge. I don’t think it’s going to last that long. I added a quarter cup of syrup into 8 ounces of carbonated water and YUM!

Best use of blueberries yet!

Homemade Syrup for Italian Soda or Coffee Flavoring

In my previous post, I talked about my italian soda experience. In an effort to remove artificial flavorings and sweeteners from my diet, however, I decided to look into making my own syrups for italian soda. These are various recipes I have gleaned and altered from all over the web. As you can see, this is basically simple syrup made with 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 brown sugar. You then add your flavorings in different ways. On Chowhound, there was a discussion at one point that if you used simple syrup at a one to one ration such as this, you would end up with mold in your syrup even if kept in the fridge after only a few short weeks. Some suggest that you should can the syrup, but I suspect that would change the flavor. Others suggest that if you make your simple syrup in a 2:1 sugar to water ratio, that it would keep longer as the resulting liquid is hyperviscous, thereby preventing growth of the mold. Food for thought.

INGREDIENTS FOR CINNAMON SYRUP

* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

1. Stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir in vanilla extract and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Continue to boil and stir until mixture thickens to syrup consistency. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes before serving.

VANILLA SYRUP

If you use vanilla beans in cooking, always reserve the pod (wrap and refrigerate) once you have scraped the seeds out because it is perfect for something like this. Simply add the pod to the sugar and water, prepare as above except without cinnamon, and remove it once the syrup has reduced. If you are only making a small batch, you might want to only use a portion of the vanilla pod. If you don’t use vanilla beans at home, you can add approximately 1 tsp. vanilla extract to the water & syrup instead. The syrup manufacturer Torani says that vanilla is their best selling flavor.

PUMPKIN PIE SYRUP
Follow the directions for cinnamon syrup, but substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon.

LIME (OR ORANGE OR GRAPEFRUIT OR OTHER CITRUS) SYRUP
Make the simple syrup as above. Use a microplane to remove the outermost (green not white) part of 5-7 washed limes. You don’t want any of the very bitter white rind, just the outer zest.

Just after the boiling is finishing add the zest. Let it boil for about a minute and turn the heat off and let the mixture steep until room temperature. Strain through a fine sieve or cloth and squeeze or press the zest to get out all the flavor. Put it into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.

STRAWBERRY OR BLUEBERRY SYRUP

Strawberries, 1lb Chopped and frozen
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water

Directions

Wash, remove stems, and cut up strawberries. Place in freezer overnight. I suggest that you place the fruit in the freezer because when making fruit extracts with alcohol, you get better more intense flavor if the fruit is frozen first. I do not know for sure that this step in necessary. The next day, put into saucepan, add sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Add water. Boil until it thickens a little. Bottle and store in fridge.

Coconut syrup: I have never tried, but here is one person that has: The hungry engineer

Italian Style Soda

In a previous post, I talked about how we had bought the sodastream jet home soda maker, which is just a small CO2 canister connected to a device which allows you to carbonate water. You then add their proprietary syrups to make your own soda. They have many wonderful flavors of syrup, but the “coke” syrup tastes more like Pepsi and my husband has gone back to buying Coke in bottles. He also tried the mountain dew equivalent and that was also not the success that I had hoped for.

Since I am not addicted to soda like he is, but I like sparkling beverages, I decided to be more adventurous and deviate from the sodastream syrups. Originally I just added lime juice to their cranberry and pomegranate syrup. I am not good about measuring, I just pour about a tablespoon of the syrup and a tablespoon of lime juice in a liter glass and pour in the carbonated water. Yummy.

One day I was at the local coffee shop, enjoying a budget busting latte, when I noticed they were advertising “italian soda”. Normally, they don’t advertise italian soda, but they are gearing up for warmer weather when their income goes down because people don’t drink their hot coffee as much. I asked them how they made italian soda, and they grabbed a bottle of the torani syrup that they use to flavor coffees. Apparently Torani syrup comes in many different flavors, not just the hazelnut that I like in my lattes. They place one jigger of torani syrup and then add seltzer water and ice. Voila! italian soda, which goes for $2.50 a glass!

Torani has more than 80 flavored syrups, and they also have sugar free versions. You can find them in your grocery store if you’re lucky, or in your favorite spendy coffee shop. World Market has a wide variety of the syrups for a cheaper price than the coffee shops around here. You can always buy them online directly from Torani. This is probably the only way to get some of the more unique flavors, like italian eggnog and bacon.

There are other italian syrups to buy, such as DaVinci, Dolce, and Monin. I personally have only tried Torani so far, as I can’t find the others at my local stores.

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Cooking Bobby Flay Style

What is Bobby Flay style? With apologies to the fashionable, personable TV host and chef, “cooking Bobby Flay style” is what my niece calls cooking from scratch. In the old days, when I was just a wee person, people had to cook from recipes, from ingredients. There were boxed meals that you could buy, but they were expensive, and only the most extravagant of people actually used them on a regular basis. I remember when hamburger helper came out. It was supposed to be such a time saver in the kitchen that everyone would want to use it. Who knew that now, years later, everybody does use that sort of premade, just assemble and eat, meals?
The argument has been made that the obesity epidemic is due to the use of high fructose corn syrup in our diet. 20 years ago, there was very little HFCS. But a lot has changed in 20 years. Not only is there more HFCS in our diet now, but there are also more preservatives, more chemicals and fewer people cooking now than ever before. Then of course, there are video games, three hundred channels on the average TV and the omnipresent internet for kids to play with. I think the obesity epidemic is far more complex than just eliminating HFCS.

I have compiled some of my favorite recipes, which are for cooking Bobby Flay style. Some are healthy, some are indulgent. I hope you enjoy them and consider adding your own.

Baked Oatmeal

Heineman’s Restaurant in Milwaukee had the best baked oatmeal. This recipe is not exactly like theirs, but it’s darn good anyway.

2 cups oats
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried fruit
1 large Macintosh apple, grated
4 tablespoons maple syrup
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Place mixture in casserole dish and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
Serve with milk, or Heineman’s style with brown sugar, sliced bananas, and raisins. Personally, I like maple syrup and goat’s milk, when I can get it.

Oatmeal pancakes

6 egg whites, beaten until fluffy
1/2cup cottage cheese
1 scoop whey protein
1/2 cup oatmeal, uncooked
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cooking spray

Place all ingredients except egg whites in food processor and blend until uniform.
Pour into bowl and add egg whites. Fold until just blended.
Prepare a griddle with cooking spray. Ladle mixture onto griddle and cook.
Top with applesauce, or fruit.

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