Backyard Grape Jam

Backyard Grape Jam

Our house is surrounded by wild concord grape vines which form a blind and the neighborhood kind of disappears. It reminds my of my childhood on Cape Cod hanging out with friends in the trees with the smell of ripe grapes in the air, filling up on the fresh grapes and spitting seeds.

Our yard is not that sunny so the grapes rarely are pickable but do make cutting the lawn tricky, you try walking on green marble like grapes that have fallen. I have made stuffed grape leaves with some of the young leaves and this year a vine that snaked its way thorough the tree limbs into the front yard grabbed enough sun to ripen. So I grabbed my pruner on an extension pole and snipped what I could reach, must have been a comical scene to watch not know what I was doing.

I proudly ate some that night while watching the news but the skins were a little on the bitter side so using my wife face as a guide I decided to and try and make some jam. I reviewed a few recipes for ideas but they all had so much sugar so I decided to cut that amount down by a good half. I did not use pectin so it was basically grapes, chopped skin and sugar.

It as fairly easy although time consuming and a little PIA getting the seeds out.

First squeeze the grape out of the skins forming two piles finely chop the skins and place in saucepan, cut the grape in halve and remove the seeds. That part was time consuming and the PIA so much so that Lyn came over and helped. When completed into the sauce pan with the sugar. To me the “jam expert” making this one and only time it appeared that there was enough liquid so I did not add any water. then I brought to a boil while mashing with a potato masher then simmered mashing and stirring until it got to what I thought looked like a good consistency about 20-25 minutes. Many seed that were in the mixture floated to the top and were easily picked out. Note: the seeds are easily swallowed and really don’t need to bbe taken out but for a jelly or jam I suggest they are.

Then into canning jars and placed in the canning pot of boiling water for a 10 minute bath which I had dug off a shelf in the basement, dusted off and rinsed. Turned off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes then on top towel on counter to cool. I had read that it should be aloud to set for 48 hours so after they popped and sealed I placed to the side. This morning I mad toast and had my first taste. Not bad, not too sweet and not to thick. I would prefer it a little thicker but and not going to empty the jars and boil down again, I’ve had enough.

Thinking about using some a for basting/glazing grilled chicken maybe a piece of salmon.

Seeing that I am a google/android user it is always listening to me making suggestions etc., basically invading my privacy, and this morning in my news feed was a link to Martha Stewart’s article on concord grapes.

Rosemary Blossoms

Rosemary Blossoms

I could go on a long babble about rosemary blossoms but the thing I like most is my wife’s face when she see them.

Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. It is used as a culinary condiment, to make bodily perfumes, and for its potential health benefits.

Rosemary is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender.

The herb not only tastes good in culinary dishes, such as rosemary chicken and lamb, but it is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.

It is typically prepared as a whole dried herb or a dried powdered extract, while teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves.

The herb has been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.

Fast facts on rosemary

  • Rosemary is a perennial plant (it lives more than 2 years).
  • The leaves are often used in cooking.
  • Possible health benefits include improved concentration, digestion, and brain aging.
  • Very high doses may cause vomiting, coma, and pulmonary edema.
Pasta With Roasted Pepper and Manchego Pesto

Pasta With Roasted Pepper and Manchego Pesto

Makes 4 servings

Melissa, my pseudo adopted daughter,  and family sent us a nice cheese package for Xmas and one was manchego cheese. Lyn saw this recipe in the Boston Globe and we tried and will try again and again. Of course, I cut it in half since there were only two of us but here is the complete recipe for 4.

From Milk Street: The idea for this pesto came from Spanish romesco, a heady sauce that counts nuts, olive oil, smoked paprika, and dried ñora peppers among its ingredients. In keeping with the Spanish theme, we use manchego cheese, a semi-hard aged sheep’s-milk cheese with grassy notes, a subtle piquancy, and a salty-savory finish. A generous dose of oregano adds bold herbal flavor and freshness.

2¾ ounces manchego cheese (without rind), chopped into rough 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup whole roasted or raw almonds

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

Note: I used a heaping tablespoon of dried, since my fresh is buried under 15″ of snow

1½ teaspoons smoked paprika                

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry

1 pound Fusilli pasta (you could use whatever pasta you like)

In a food processor, pulse the manchego to the texture of coarse sand; transfer to a bowl. Process the almonds, oregano, paprika, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper until finely chopped, scraping the bowl. Add the manchego and half the oil, then process until smooth. Add the peppers and remaining oil; pulse until creamy.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup water, then drain. Toss the pasta with the pesto, adding cooking water as needed to help the sauce cling. Season with salt and pepper.

What is Fusilli (foo-SILL-ee) it is a type of Italian pasta shaped like curly spirals or little springs. Fusilli is often served with thicker sauces like meat sauces and heavy cream sauces, since the grooves in the pasta trap sauce. The word fusilli comes from “fuso” meaning spindle—a spindle rod is traditionally used to spin the strips of pasta into a spiral shape.

Easy Italian Purple Cabbage Rolls

Easy Italian Purple Cabbage Rolls

I got a red cabbage with my Misfits Market order thinking it would be a small head that I could add to my salads, but it turned out to be huge. I like stuffed cabbage and figure why not.  If your interested in trying Misfits use my code (COOKWME-FG1DCQ) that way we can both save some $$. This is a quick, easy and pretty good. I have made other recipes like sweet and sour but I kind of like this one.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head purple cabbage
  • 3 cups water or unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (optional)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium marinara sauce (my mother in-law used to use tomato soup)

How

Carefully cut or remove 6 large leaves from a head of cabbage—the bigger, the better; they are your vessels in this recipe. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then drop in the leaves. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and malleable.

Bring the 3 cups water or broth to a boil, then add the rice. Cover and cook until the farro has softened and can be fluffed with a fork, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

In a large bowl, mix turkey, egg, garlic powder, onion, bell pepper, sage, Italian seasoning (if using), salt, black pepper, 2 tablespoons marinara sauce, and rice.

In a baking dish, spread 1 cup marinara sauce over the bottom.

Take a scoop of the meat mixture ( I used my medium ice cream scoop) and roll into a cylinder or ball. Place at the bottom of a cabbage leaf; roll up the bottom, fold in the sides, then continue rolling the leaf to seal. Repeat. Depending on the size of the leaf, I had some left over so I just made small meatballs with leftover and placed in pan. I think they are called porcupine balls, I call it chef’s treat.

Place the rolls side by side on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake at 400˚F for 55 minutes. 

You could also use this for stuffed peppers, acorn squash

Info

Hearty Lentil Soup with Kale + Potatoes

Hearty Lentil Soup with Kale + Potatoes

I don’t think that this recipe needs more than what my wife texted to our son and new daughter “I made this soup and it is really good!”. They are both avid soup lovers and Gail’s favorite restaurant is a hot pot place I think it was Spring Shabu-Shabu.

Who doesn’t love a good lentil soup? This one came from

a blog by Kate Scarlata RDN, FODMAP & IBS Expert
https://blog.katescarlata.com/2020/11/09/all-about-lentils-the-low-fodmap-diet-a-hearty-lentil-soup-recipe/

I borrowed picture from her site.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 large potato (white), peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 4 teaspoons Fody Foods vegetable soup base dissolved in 4 cups of boiled water (or 4 cups of Low FODMAP vegetable broth)
  • 3 cups canned lentils, rinsed and drained (about 2, 14 ounce cans, you may have a little lentils leftover, this can vary depending on the product you use.)
  • 1, 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 3 cups kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup parsley, washed and chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, add olive oil.
  2. Over medium-high heat, sauté carrots, celery and potato in olive oil for about 10-12 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add soup broth and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Then, lower heat to medium, and continue to cook the vegetables for 15 minutes.
  5. Next, add the lentils, diced tomatoes, kale, tomato paste, coriander, cumin, cayenne, oregano, salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Let soup simmer on medium-low heat for about 12 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice.
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve!

About Lentils

Lentils are particularly high in protein, fiber, folate, iron, zinc and magnesium! Let’s talk a bit about these important nutritions. 

Lentils contain 6 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup canned portion.

For those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, lentils make a great protein option. For those of us who do consume meat, they’re still a tasty, fiber rich, protein rich and nutrient dense ingredient!

Fiber is key for digestive health. One serving of Delallo canned lentils provides 6 grams of fiber; that’s about 25% of your daily requirement!

Lentils provide a great source of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. While folate is crucial for all (it helps the body make healthy new cells), it is particularly important for women of reproductive age. Adequate folate intake can prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain, making it an important nutrient for those planning to conceive and during pregnancy.

Lentils provide a nice dose of plant-based iron too. 

There are two types of iron – heme and non-heme – with heme iron being found in meat, poultry and fish, and non-heme iron being found in plant foods (whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and leafy greens). Non-heme iron is less readily absorbed in the gut, but pairing it with foods high in Vitamin C has been shown to increase absorption.

In my lentil recipe, we’ll be using lemon juice, tomato paste and kale as sources of Vitamin C, but some other foods high in Vitamin C include: bell peppers, strawberries, oranges and broccoli. 

Lentils contain a good amount of zinc.

Zinc levels have been shown to be low in some GI conditions, such as chronic diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease. Boost your zinc intake with lentils, or other zinc rich foods such as oyster, pork, or pumpkin seeds. For more information on zinc click here!

Lentils contain magnesium too!

Did you know that most of us don’t get enough magnesium?

Magnesium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and blood glucose, among a plethora of other crucial bodily functions. Lentils are a good source of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, peanuts and avocados are some other food sources of magnesium.

Now that we know lentils can fit into the low FODMAP diet, let’s get to the fun part – cooking! 

Lentils can be cooked in advance and kept in the fridge to be reused throughout the week, or you can opt to buy some of the canned varieties when on a low FODMAP diet. Whether you decide to sprinkle some over your salad or stir some into your soup, you’ll be adding a nutrient-dense ingredient to any dish.

Weird Spring

Its been a weird spring March warmer than usual and Now April colder