Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back to.....the basics.....

Honestly I am all for shortcuts. But for some reason I never find them! I will do something the hardest way possible then find the shortcut AFTER I figure it out. This may seem like it becomes daunting but for me it rarely does. Its just my preference for the way I do things, and honestly after a lifetime of working things out the hard way, why change? Yes, I realize I am weird. I will be the first to admit it. So onward and upward to the reason for this post. A friend of mine recently pinned this great little idea on Pintrest. Pie cookies! They looked so cute and yummy! I was drooling......except the recipe called for pre-made pie crusts. Being ever resourceful, I went looking for a pie crust recipe that used ingredients I already had on hand. I found one and made them and they were yummy!!!! I ate the VAST MAJORITY of them.  Now, after I had eaten them, I wanted to know what was in them.....seriously.....I wrote down all the ingredients in the homemade pie crust I made and that of the recommended store bought variety......Holy burnt toast batman! I could pronounce the names of these........things (thank you college!) but what they actually were was beyond me. So I made a list (checken it twice gonna find out which is naughty or nice) and low and behold......there's allot of ingredients getting coal from me this year!

So here is the run down of ingredients in the store bought pie crust and the home made:
Store Bought pre-made crust:
Enriched flour bleached (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), partially hydrogenated lard (with BHA & BHT to protect favor), wheat startch, water. Contains less then 2% of salt, rice flour, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, sodium propionate, citric acid, yellow #5, and red 40

Homemade crust: (consisted of flour, butter and water)
All purpose flour: Bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid
Tillamook Salted Butter: Cream (milk), salt

19 ingredients (store bought) vs.9 ingredients (homemade)

Now I can see you scratching your heads. So let me break down what some of these ingredients are (the non obvious ones):

Thiamin Mononitrate - Synthetic Vitamin B1
Riboflavin - Vitamin B2
Folic Acid - A "B" Vitamin
Ferrous sulfate - Iron supplement
BHA -Butylated hydroxyanisole:  Man made compound used to prevent fats and oils from going rancid.
BHT - Butylated hydroxytoluene: Man made compound used to prevent fats and oils from going rancid
Potassium Sorbate - Potassium salt derived from scorbic acid. Scorbic acid: unsaturated fatty acid. Useful in inhibiting most common microbes that cause spoilage.
Partially hydrogenated Lard - Hydrogen infused lard, having a whipped consistency.
Sodium Propionate - A compound that is naturally produced in the body when certain fatty and amino acids are broken down. Synthesized sodium propinate  used as a preservative in the food industry.
yellow #5  - Coloring agent (aka tetrazine and E102) banned in some European countries. May cause allergic reactions
Red 40 - Synthetically derived from petroleum. (though they say no petroleum is found in the final product)
Reduced ironDe-oxified ironoxide(rust) 
Malted barley flour - Can replace some of the wheat flour; provides a nutty flavor.
Salt - Used to enhance flavor
Xanthan Gum - acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener (I see my sister use this allot, as my niece has Celiac disease)
Rice Flour - More easily digested, used to replace some or all wheat flour
Citric Acid - Vitamin C
Wheat Starch - Functions as a thickener.
Water - No need to go over this one!
Bleached wheat flour - Ground wheat
Cream (milk) - High butterfat later skimmed off the top of milk.

So that is all the ingredients. Each one is linked up so you can read more about them. I sat and looked at all of this information (yes I took notes, I wanted to be through) and I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND why a PIE CRUST needed yellow #5 and Red 40!! I mean my home made crust had a gorgeous yellow color.....Do you really need the synthetics?? Simply put? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

The point of this post? Make it yourself from start to finish. Shortcuts are great, but not when you get a load of crap with them. I would just as well take the long way round and come out crap free.

And if you are wondering the jam filling is also homemade (fruit, sugar (reduced amount) and pectin)!!

Here is the pie crust recipe: (This is not my own, and I tried to find the link but I couldn't!)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups butter chilled
1/2 cup ice cold water

In standing mixer cube in the butter till it has a crumbly consistency (Honestly, I left it along for about 10 minutes then came back and mixed it some more, and it came together wonderfully!) Dump water in and continue to mix till it all comes together. Remove from mixer and form a ball and smash it a bit so it looks like a wheel of cheese. Wrap in wax paper or saran wrap (tuck all edges under) and place in refrigerator for an hour. After an hour pull out, divide and roll to desired thickness. These circles were about 1/8 inch thick. I did use egg white around the rims to make the edges stick together better (I had some burp all over the baking sheet when I cooked them.) Use this for a regular sized pie or as these pie cookies. It had a wonderfully buttery taste and flaky texture. All that I look for in a pie crust and WITHOUT THE CRAP!

I baked them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (just depends on you oven. You have to watch them, LOL)

UPDATE: I am eventually going to try and get my pie crust recipe down to 2 ingredients! I am going to try my hand at milling my own flour and making my own butter!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Basic Pasta Sauce

I made pasta sauce for the first time this year. The tomatoes i used are from last year so they have been in the freezer since then. These are not your standard rhoma tomatoes. In fact I don't even remember which kind we planted! Anyways, since I froze and have thawed the tomatoes they have released allot of the liquid. I put a hole in the bottom of the bags, small holes, and let the water drain off, then I toss them in a colander and drained even more water off. After that I put them through the food processor to break down the skins. YES! I use the skins in my sauce. Why waste all that good stuff by removing the skins?? Now they are ready for my 6qt sauce pan and be made into sauce. The pan was about half full of sauce and gave me about 5 pints of finished sauce. Dice up one whole bell pepper minus the seeds and stems, about 5 cloves of garlic pressed, and one whole onion (I used the normal yellow onion in one bath and a purple in another. in the end it doesnt matter) and about 3tbsp Italian seasoning, and 2Tbsp apple cider vinegar. Let it cook on the stove to simmer and boil down for a 2 hours. I added some of the liquid I drained off back to the pot. You don't want it to be too thick. But you don't want to make a soup either. LOL. Once it has reached a consistency you like then can them as per normal canning instructions. This is a total off the cuff recipe that has yielded delicious results. I don't think you can make any mistakes with this one. I spent allot of time looking over various pasta sauce recipes and I didn't find any I liked and allot of them called for red wine. Well i don't drink wine (I know, that's blasphemy for some of you) and I didn't want to have to buy and open a bottle use 1/2 of it then toss the rest down the drain. It would be a waste. So this is what I came up with. One of the recipes I did look at was from Americas Test Kitchen (One of my fave shows and one of my fave cook books is by them) added the apple cider vinegar to help balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. No argument from me. It all turned out great! I will make a list of what I added to make it more reader friendly.

Mamma Seiders Basic Pasta Sauce

Italian Seasoning spice mix
1 large green bell pepper
1 medium sized yellow onion
3-5 cloves garlic
Slice up tomato's removing any blemished spots and stems; freeze them. this helps them release moisture.
Thaw and drain off excess liquid. reserve this for later
Pace tomato's in food processor and liquefy them.
Once you have pureed your tomato's pour them into your pot on medium heat.
Cut and removed seeds and stem of bell pepper. dice and toss into pot.
Remove peel and ends of onions, dice and toss in pot
Add Italian seasoning to your taste. I used 3 tablespoons.
Mix in 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. if your sauce has gotten to thick add some of that reserve liquid to thin it out.
Once your sauce has the flavor and consistency you like follow normal water-bath canning directions. and TA-Da! Delicious homemade pasta sauce!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Something Found

Holy smokes!! I haven't been on here in ages! Shame on me! We have been doing lots of stuff around here from our elk hunting trip to roasting sugar pumpkins and Halloween! The last few weeks have been jam packed with all kinds of fun. I have also started my Christmas gifts and one of them is HUGE this year. But anyways onto the post!

So we had our elk hunting trip this year and 7 of us went. 6 adults and one child. It was allot of fun and the weather was at its absolute finest! There have been years when we have gone that it was freezing cold, raining and snowy. This year we had NONE of that. Not till the very last day and that was just fine by us. We went on walks and played Deer poop Bingo. Yes. That is a game I made for us to do while we were out and about. It was actually allot of fun, and my 4yr old daughter had a blast looking for things on the card. Since she cant read or spell yet, each item was a picture. Totally kid friendly. With a dry erase crayon in hand we did our best to check things off the card (this is also not part of the reason for the post, LOL.)
We did allot of walking on this trip.

Kept us from going stir crazy. And while we walked we had a bag with us and we picked up trash as we went. We all just marveled at the absolute carelessness of people. I understand that this land is way out there, where very few people venture except during certain times of the year, but common people! Pick up your trash! We had bags for the things that we were taking back down the mountain with us, and those items, plastic bottles, tin cans and what not were recycled. So why do people insist on just chucking stuff out their truck windows, or drop it on the ground as they walk?? Why? You packed it in, Pack it out! Anyways, we always took a bag with us on our walks (which generally consisted of us 4 ladies and the dog as our chaperon) and we made it a bit of a game to see who could spot trash as we walked. At one point we stopped at a pond up there

Evidence of goldfish in the pond.

(someone had put goldfish in it, we can only speculate as to why) and we found a bunch of .22 bullet casings from someone who was shooting their pistol/rifle for the fun of it. Again, not sure why they didn't police their brass, but it was a great find for me! So instead of tossing the brass into the bag with the other things we had collected, I pocketed them and brought them back to camp, and brought them home. Because sometimes someones trash is someone else's treasure. this is the case for me! We collected 32 casings and they will all be used! I will be placing items I have made with them up for sale in my shop. Finding and reusing things is actually quite fun. you just have to keep your eyes open! It's also been my thing to teach my daughter to leave places better then when we find them. And so far it has been a good lesson to follow, and because we all reinforce this lesson with her, its become and everyday thing.

This is the first pair I made using cream and pastel pink seed beads with feathers. I love how they turned out!!