Tasty Asian-Style Plum Sauce for Dipping or Stir-Frys

This year we were fortunate enough to receive 200 lb of Italian plums from my parents. 200 lb! What to do with 200 lb of plums! With 3 large dehydrators working 24/7, 12 quarts of plums canned, frozen plums, plum jam… I was searching for another recipe to use up some plums before they went bad. A reader suggested plum sauce, and I found a great recipe in the Bernardin (Ball) Home Canning Recipe Book. I made some alterations though, based on ingredients I had and flavors I liked. The result was a fantastic sweet and sour dipping sauce that is perfect for stir-fries, egg rolls, chicken fingers and more!

This recipe has been adapted from the Bernardin Home Canning recipe book.

 

Asian-Style Plum Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Asian, American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8 half-pint jars
 

A simple and delicious Asian-style dipping sauce made with fresh Italian plums that is great on stir-frys, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or chicken fingers etc.
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds plums, pitted and chopped. (about 10 cups)
  • 2 cups brown organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup white organic cane sugar
  • ¾ cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (adjust to desired spiciness)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c. distilled white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except plums in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add plums and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until desired consistency, stirring frequently.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend ingredients until sauce is uniform in texture.
  5. Pour into prepared ½ pint canning jars, wipe rims clean, and add prepared lids and rings, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Hot water bath can for 20 minutes.

Copy-Cat Campbell’s Tomato Soup with Fresh Tomatoes!

My family gave up Campbell’s soup years ago because of the additives, and then we gave up canned soup altogether when we became more aware of the BPA in the lining of the cans. I make soup from scratch now, and I must admit my children still prefer the flavour of Campbell’s soup to my own soups. While this is disappointing, it must be said that kids LIKE Campbell’s soup. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t spicy and it tastes good. Why fight a losing battle my making soup they won’t eat in the first place? So my next step was to try and copy it, but with fresh, wholesome ingredients.

I started with pure tomatoes and no added water. This year I have had 100+ lbs of my own tomatoes so I am thrilled to use them any way I can. I seasoned with salt, then I added one of my own onions, some celery stocks, and handful of my own fresh basil. After letting simmer for a bit I put the whole lot through a food strainer, then threw in some organic cane sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and presto! I have a healthy version of Campbell’s tomato soup! I then pressure canned it and it is now shelf stable for many months. It can also be served fresh, or it can be frozen.  A quick, healthy lunch is just a jar away! And the best part is, the kids love it. Makes 16 pint sized jars (or 32 servings).

5.0 from 1 reviews

Copy Cat Campbell’s Tomato Soup for kids with Fresh Tomatoes!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 32
 

Ingredients
  • 20lb Fresh Tomatoes (Washed, stemmed and halved.)
  • 1 Onion (Peeled and halved.)
  • 6 stalks Celery (Whole.)
  • 5 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 12 leaves Fresh Basil (Including stocks.)
  • ½ cup Organic Cane Sugar

Instructions
  1. Add tomatoes to a large soup pot and mash with a potato masher to release juices.
  2. Add onion, celery, salt and basil. Bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Pour through a food mill or food strainer. Alternatively, you can use a fine, wire sieve, pushing the vegetables through the sieve until all that is left are the skins and seeds. Compost the skins and seeds.
  5. Pour soup back into a pot. Bring to almost a boil then turn heat off.
  6. Add sugar and stir well.
  7. Serve fresh or freeze or can the soup.
  8. For canning, pour into prepared jars, wipe rims clean with a clean cloth, add prepared lids and rings and pressure can according to your pressure canner’s instructions. My Presto required 11 lb of pressure for 25 minutes for pint jars.

Notes
This recipe is made to be canned, but can also be served fresh, or can be frozen. If you want to make it a cream of tomato soup do not can it with milk in it. Add milk to taste when you are reheating. For cream of tomato soup do not bring to a boil: boiling milk will curdle the milk.

 

Best Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe Ever!

Mayonnaise is a staple in a North American refrigerator. It finishes a sandwich, adds to a salad, and provides a tasty dip for vegetables. It can be transformed into a dressing, whipped into devilled eggs, and slathered on salmon. And it can also contain preservatives, additives, high fructose corn syrup, transfats, and GMOs. It is also often sold in plastic jars which may or may not be leaching toxins into the product. Yum. Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to make.

With basic ingredients such as egg yolks, oil, salt, mustard and a bit of sugar, you can easily make up a batch that will last for several weeks in your fridge. The hardest part of making mayonnaise is getting it to emulsify. Normally, oil and water don’t combine, but we can force a combination with the use of egg yolks and this makes a creamy sauce. The first few times I tried to make it I made an oily, separated mess. That’s because each recipe I read about told me to use a blender. I have discovered the secret of easily making it emulsify and now I am going to share it with you.

The key to any emulsification is (lack of) speed. TAKE YOUR TIME! When you are adding the oil to your mixture, do it REALLLLLLLLLY slowly. A very slow, steady stream is key. Now here we go!

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar but the taste will change subtly)
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (or my homemade mustard)
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (Optional. I use organic cane sugar. With sugar it tastes more like Miracle Whip )
  • 1.5 c. neutral-flavored oil (I use grapeseed)

Directions:

  1. Combine eggs, vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar in a wide mouth mason jar.
  2. Using an emersion blender, combine ingredients well.
  3. SLOWLY and steadily pour oil into the jar while blending continuously. Move blender up and down a bit, and around the jar constantly, while pouring the oil in. An extra set of hands to hold the jar is helpful but not vital. Pour the oil so slowly that it will take several minutes to complete. Once about 3/4 of the oil has slowly been added you will start to feel the mixture emulsifying, or thickening.
  4. Continue to mix until oil is completely emulsified.
  5. Store in refrigerator for up to several weeks.

Note:

This product contains raw eggs so make sure your eggs are from a good source, and keep product refrigerated.

This post has been linked to From The Farm Blog Hop #40, Waste Not, Want Not Wednesdays #35Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #80, and Fat Tuesday July 9th.

Chai Spice Sugar Scrub… and more! Great Gifts!

Last year I discovered the joys of sugar scrubs.  They are a great exfoliant, leaving your skin soft, moisturized and bright.  They make a great shaving “cream” or overall body scrub.  Talk about dessert for the skin!  Hand me a spoon!  They are almost too easy to make, and they make fantastic gifts.  My favorite to date is Chai Spice.  It is as simple as opening a Chai Spice tea bag, mixing it with the sugar, adding 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil to a base oil, and stirring!

Basic recipe:

2 parts sugar, 1 part oil. 

Choose your sugars.

  • Regular white sugar gives a soft, gentle exfoliation. (My favorite texture, although I don’t bake with it since it is likely GMO)
  • Brown sugar gives a deeper exfoliation.
  • White cane sugar gives a firmer, deeper exfoliation.
  • True demerara sugar (as opposed to demerara style) provides the deepest, firmest exfoliation.

Choose your oils.

Most liquid cooking oils will work fine.  I have used olive oil, sweet almond oil and grape seed oil.  Smell it first.  Make sure it isn’t rancid.

Choose your additives… or not.

  • Ground candy canes (run it through the blender to get small bits)
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Almond or Vanilla Extract
  • Essential oils (Ex. Cinnamon)
  • Loose leaf teas (think, Chai Spice with cinnamon!)

Mix your ingredients.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients.  Add wet to dry and stir well.  Spoon into jars and decorate jars to your liking!  Enjoy!

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices,oils, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

 

 

School Snacks! Healthy, Chewy, Granola Bars.

Granola bars are one of the snacks of choice for many children, and adults too.  They are convenient, they taste good, and they fill you up.  But are they healthy?  Most granola bars are high in sugar and salt and in many cases, contain high fructose corn syrup.  Lots of granola bars contain soy ingredients, and most, unless they specify it or are certified organic, contain genetically modified ingredients.  They are also individually wrapped in plastic or foil which is unsustainable and adds unnecessary waste to the landfills.  Fortunately, they are easy to make, can be made with less sugar and salt than commercial bars, and can contain wholesome, natural ingredients. 

Until recently I haven’t made a granola bar that ALL of my kids enjoy ALL OF THE TIME.  But now I have, and this recipe is so flexible you can change the flavour easily by adding different fruits, nuts, seeds, and more.  These bars hold together nicely, are sweet enough to keep the children coming back for more, and are low enough in sugar to make most moms happy.

For this recipe I have used organic sunflower seed butter.  Sunflower seed butter is higher in protein than peanut butter, has a great flavour, and is generally safe to send to nut-free schools.  It is low in saturated fats, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and high in vitamins, especially vitamin B.  Click here for more information on the health benefits of sunflower seeds.  Rather than adding a highly-processed protein powder to make a protein bar, this bar is naturally and safely high in protein.  With grains from the organic oats, protein from the seeds and seed butter and fruit from the dried fruit, this bar is pretty much a complete meal and a great snack for anyone.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. rolled oats or multigrain cereal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. oat flour
  • 1/2 c. crisp rice cereal
  • 1/4 c. demerara cane sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 c. total of assorted nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate chips etc. I use dried cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, dried apricots etc.
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seed butter

Directions

  1. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl or 2 cup glass measuring cup, combine wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Combine wet with dry and mix well.
  4. Press very firmly into a well-greased 8×12 inch or 8×8 inch baking dish.
  5. Press again with a flat, firm object to compact it even more.
  6. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until it is starting to turn golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
  8. Press carefully and firmly once more with flat, firm object to compact the bars further.
  9. Cut into pieces before it totally cools.
  10. Do not remove from pan until it is cool to the touch.
  11. Store in an air-tight container.

Tips:

  • If you want to decrease the sugar, take out the demerarra sugar first.  The honey and seed butter are what holds the bar together.
  • Feel free to substitute the seed butter for nut butter if allergies aren’t an issue.
  • Coconut oil can be replaced with melted butter or another cooking oil of your choice.
  • Heating up the wet ingredients a bit helps them combine.
  • This recipe doubles nicely and can still fit in an 8×12 inch baking dish.
  • To guarantee these to be GMO-free, choose certified organic ingredients or ingredients labelled GMO-free.

This recipe is adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Quaker Style Chewy Granola Bar recipe.

This post has been linked to Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday October 2nd, Turning The Clock Back’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, Fresh Eggs Daily’s Farm Girl Blog Fest #3, Homestead Barn Hop#82 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days Sustainable Ways #47.

Zucchini Chips! 5 healthy, easy versions.

This summer I have zucchini coming out my ears.  The cold, wet spring, in the end, didn’t finish off my zucchini plants and the hot, dry summer provided perfect growing conditions. I made loaves and muffins, I grated zucchini and froze it.  We fried it.  And we still have more.   None of my company is allowed to leave without taking a zucchini… or three.  This year in desperation I dehydrated them.  I was amazed!  They were crispy, had a natural mild sweetness, and were a delicious snack.  I came up with a few easy toppings for variety.  And you know they are a hit when the kids are eating them out of the dehydrator before it is even turned off. 

Directions

  • Slice zucchini in thin slices. Thinner means they dry faster, and are more crispy, but slightly thicker is ok too, because they curl up into great little “cups” that make excellent salsa or sour cream scoops!
  • Choose your topping.  If using oil, toss in a bit of oil and sprinkle on your toppings.  Toss together in a bowl and place on racks in the dehydrator, or on cookie sheets in the oven.
  • Dehydrate at about 135F for several hours or until crisp.

Toppings that taste fantastic (and I know because I’ve tried them):

Salt and Vinegar
Soak zucchini slices in vinegar for a few hours or overnight.  Toss with a pinch of salt and dehydrate.

Cinnamon Sugar
Toss with a few tbsp. of melted coconut oil and a cane sugar-cinnamon mix.  Dehydrate.

Salt and Oil
Toss with a few tbsp. of grape seed oil or olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Dehydrate.

Herbs
Toss with a few tbsp. of your favorite herbs.  I would suggest freshly-dehydrated dill or basil.  Dehydrate.

Plain
Dehydrate as is.  Dehydrated zucchini has a slightly sweet flavour and are surprisingly good with no toppings at all!

  • Store in air tight container to preserve crispiness.
  •  Don’t over-salt them!  They dehydrate and shrink up a lot so use salt sparingly.
  • For the same reasons as above, don’t over-oil them.
  • Reaching crispiness may take longer than several hours.  My homemade dehydrator took a full day to do the job since I don’t have an accurate temperature adjustment on it.

Enjoy!

This post has been linked to Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, From The Farm Blog Hop #35 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #42.