Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Grapefruit sex

The weather was so nice today, Sirius and I had to take an extra long walk. Keep it coming Mother Nature, keep it coming!

In honor of our nice weather, have some bonus pictures.

This is my mini grapefruit tree. I think if I planted it outside, and lived in Hawaii, it would be a full size tree. But it's small because it's in a pot in my living room. This is the first year that it has flowered. I'm excited to have my own fresh grapefruit in a few months. But you know where babies come from. I've been using a Q tip the past few mornings to spread the love from flower to flower. My living room smells amazing!

We also brought home a gerber daisy from the grocery store this weekend. We should have some flowering bulbs by now, but it's just been too cold. So I brought home some flowers for the inside. Husband wasn't thrilled that it was orange (go Knights!) but it was the only color they had.

Albus thinks it's pretty though!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Egg roll experiment

When I started posting recipes on this blog, I decided I didn't just want to post recipes that were perfect, that I had made four or five times and finished (If you can ever consider a recipe finished). I want you to see that it's okay to start with an idea, and have it be okay, or even bad. And that's not the end of the world. We see chefs on TV that tell us this is the exact way to make a dish. They don't show you the time they put into each recipe. They don't talk about how it's their job to come up with new recipes, and they don't have to scramble to put dinner on the table after working until 7pm. They don't show you the two other variations on their technique that would also taste great. I want this blog to show that it's okay to experiment and make mistakes because we are almost never exposed to that in food media. You cannot be a home cook if you're afraid to make mistakes. And we know that cooking from scratch at home is better for your health than eating out or buying processed foods.

I have never made egg rolls before, but it seemed like an interesting vehicle for leftovers. We had a leftover pork roast that needed used up, so I decided to give it a try. These are pork, sweet potato, and onion egg rolls with dijon dipping sauce. They are not Asian themed egg rolls, this was just a means to use up my leftover pork roast and one, lonely sweet potato.

Since I had a huge chunk of roasted pork shoulder left, and I HATE shredding meat, I decided to see if all the hype on Pinterest about shredding your meat in your stand mixer is true. My response with pork is, sort of.

First, you have to remove the bone. :) Also, it did not work with a piece of meat this size. I had to cut it up into two inch chunks. After cutting it into smaller pieces, the mixer did break the meat down. Some of it was shredded, and some of it was, well, mashed. I was not impressed. Maybe it's a better technique for chicken.

I almost never peel vegetables, and this was no exception. I gave my sweet potato a good scrub and cut it into thirds. I then cut it into planks, and cut the planks into match sticks. One of my main concerns was that the egg roll wrappers would finish baking and the sweet potatoes would still be raw.

I then cut 1/4 of an onion into match sticks.

Then, covered the veg in olive oil, salt and pepper, using my hands to toss everything and make sure it was all coated.

For Christmas I was given new baking sheets! They are aluminum. I don't use teflon. I don't like cancer. So I gave these a coating of olive oil as well to help the egg rolls not stick.

To assemble, I placed one wrapper at a time on my cutting board, point towards me.

I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of pork, and enough veg to cover the pork.

Then I rolled them thusly.

After rolling, place the egg roll on the baking sheet seam side down.

You can see here where I tried to tuck the corners too tightly and ripped the wrapper. This happened several times. I tried to just wrap the top over the holes.

I filled all 15 wrappers in the package. The last two were a little overstuffed, but I used up all of the potatoes and onions. ;)

I had a hard time deciding at what temperature to bake them. I found recipes ranging from 350 to 450. I decided to settle on 375, hoping that the sweet potatoes would bake at that temperature. I also debated whether or not I should have brushed the tops of the egg rolls with oil. The bottoms would get browned from the oil on the pan, but I wasn't sure about the tops. I decided not to.

I baked them at 375 for 10 minutes, flipped them over, and baked for another 10 minutes.

smashing garlic with my knife

For the sauce I combined 3 ounces of Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of dijon, a clove of garlic that I minced, then smashed with my knife and a pinch of salt (the course salt helps break down the garlic), another half teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper.

First the bad news. When I flipped the egg rolls after the first 10 minutes in the oven, most of them were stuck to the baking sheet in spite of my layer of oil. I'm not sure how to fix this problem, except to not use aluminum pans. I didn't love the texture of the meat. This was probably more of a problem with the stand mixer's shredding than with the pork roast itself. I guess next time I'm back to using a fork and my fingers. Sigh. And finally, the texture of the wrapper wasn't the best. The first side down was very crispy except for where it had ripped when then stuck to the pan. But the second side wasn't as crisp. I could either brush the tops with oil next time as I had considered, or FRY THEM!

The good news was that vegetables were delicious and the sweet potatoes were fully cooked! None of the holes I made in the wrappers made any difference with the finished product. And the dipping sauce was delish. I'd say I enjoyed the sauce more than the egg rolls themselves.

This was far from my favorite meal, but I'm glad I made it. I'm closer now to being able to make a delicious egg roll than I was before I tried. And the assembly process was simple enough that I'm motivated to try again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Spring is here! I refuse to have any more negative thoughts about the weather. It is spring! Green things are happening. The chickens were spotted yesterday scratching in the dirt for live things to eat for lunch.

Broccoli sprouts in the morning sunlight.

It's been just over a week since I started my indoor vegetables, and look at everything that's come up!


I was out of pea seeds, so I picked up the packet of sugar snap peas for $0.20 at Walmart. I didn't expect them to do well, but almost every pea of the over 20 that I planted has sprouted!

Tomato row.

These tomatoes are all from seeds that I saved last year and back in 2010 before we moved. Almost every single one has sprouted. I'm so proud.

My favorite baby crop is the broccoli seedlings. They come up such a pretty shade of green with dew drops clinging to their little heart shaped leaves. They scream spring!

It's so much easier to keep my spirits high when I've got seedlings to check on every morning. A little bit of green always makes me feel better.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Depressing weather!

Yesterday I harvested these.

The chickens devoured the green tops! I'm making a casserole today, sausage over potatoes, carrots, and onions. We dug the carrots I planted last October. There were quite a few weeds thriving happily in the cold frame. I'm sad to report that the glass in the window broke. I would blame Sirius Black, who loves to sit on the window, but it was the inner layer of glass that broke. I'm wondering if there was such a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the glass that it cracked. The top layer of glass was still intact, so we just set the window back over the frame. I planted spinach and a lettuce mix to replace the carrots. Yesterday was in the 40's, overcast, and raining most of the day. Perfect spring weather for spinach.

This is what my backyard looks like today.

My log cabin bird feeder.

Even the cats are huddled together for warmth!

I just want some green grass and sunshine! Last March I had tomatoes in the ground! I did start all of my indoor seeds yesterday. Some things, like green beans, I start in the ground once it's warm enough. Others, like my tomatoes and broccoli I start inside and harden them off by slowly leaving the pots outside for longer amounts of time before finally transplanting them into the ground. Nothing says spring to me like the smell of potting soil!

If only Mother Nature would get the message!