Monthly Archives: November 2011
Tonight I made up a batch of my favorite mulling spice mix.
Poured some cider into the crockpot with a splash of orange juice, and put a couple of teaspoonsfull of the spices into a muslin bag and let it stew happily on low for a few hours. Even better with a splash of brandy or port tossed in at the end (before it can all cook off)…
I get my spices from Mountain Rose Herbs. I highly recommend them for spices, essential oils, tea blends–pretty much anything they sell.
Of course, you can also mull cider with a few cloves and cinnamon sticks tossed in, maybe a few orange slices…almost as good!
Thanks to my brother for sending this link:
And this one:
Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves (This one especially is a fascinating article–all about the illegal process of “honey laundering,” hiding the origins of the product.)
Bottom line essentially is that unscrupulous honey suppliers abroad (China and India mostly) filter out all the pollen from the honey they sell, which makes it all but impossible to track where it came from. Which means if it came from India, where FDA-banned antibiotics were used to try to stop a disease epidemic in their hives, or from China, where a significant number of beekeepers store their honey in lead-soldered barrels, you just…don’t really know. Let alone if it’s not even really HONEY but some other product cooked up with flavorings and sweeteners.
And there aren’t really any safeguards or enforceable laws to keep this from happening, either. It’s essentially unregulated. Which is good for the economy, right? Regulation is bad, non-regulation is good. So companies selling inferior and possibly unsafe products for a few pennies less a pound, imported from other countries, and squeezing beekeepers in the States out of business, is GOOD. Right? Erm…right?
No, not really right.
So basically–watch where you get your honey. Buy local if possible. Know where it comes from, or buy from a store you trust.
Starting school has been a big challenge on both the sustainability and financial front. I found myself for the first few weeks buying way too many cardboard cups of coffee and bagels that come with plastic-covered butter pats wrapped in paper and then put into a paper bag with a plastic knife and about 9 napkins. And it was getting expensive.
So it’s taken some adjustment, but I cleaned out the disgusting choral office coffee maker and took a mug to school. I bring my own lunches in reusable containers. And instead of buying bagels for breakfast, I have started bringing my own packets of oatmeal.
These are so easy, and so much more delicious than those packets of microwavable glue you buy pre-mixed. I make up 4 or 5 a week in little ziplocs, which I save and then re-fill the next week. This is fast, easy, and delicious.
Easy Single Serving Microwave Oatmeal
In a small container or ziploc bag combine the following (make several at once):
- 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1-2 tsp brown sugar (depends how sweet you like it)
- a small handful raisins, dried cranberries, or dried fruit of choice
- a good sprinkle cinnamon or other sweet spice mixture
- a light sprinkle of salt. (optional, but it gives a nice little flavor kick)
To prepare, pour the mixture into a small bowl or mug, add about 2/3 cup water, and heat in the microwave 2-3 minutes. Stir well and eat.
And on days I forget my lunch–oatmeal is good for that too.
…I must make applesauce.
We have a little family-owned produce market nearby where I sometimes shop. they don’t have organic produce, and usually I get my stuff either from someplace I can get organic or from the local farmstand down the road. But a friend alerted me to this place’s really great prices and their seconds rack…which I checked out today, and wound up buying about 15-20 lbs of apples for maybe $5. Bruised, ugly, not the kind you want to drop into a kid’s lunch–but definitely the kind you want to cut up into a crockpot and make applesauce or apple butter.
So once again, since I’m stuck at home and can’t go anywhere anyway, I have two crockpots going in the kitchen–one with peeled cored apples for applesauce, and one with chopped up apples that still have peels for apple butter. (I like my applesauce chunky, and I don’t like the peels in it that way.)
Click here for the recipes for both–I’ve sort of shifted the recipes since I created that post, but it basically works. The applesauce, like I said, does best with peeled apples, and it usually cooks down beautifully.
For apple butter, I no longer peel the apples, and after letting it cook down to “soft,” I hit it with the immersion blender and blend it very smooth. Then I let it cook another few hours with the lid set just off-center a little so that some of the moisture can cook off. I then usually add a few more seasonings and take it from there.
Both of these recipes do great in the hot water canning bath, or can freeze well. I prefer the canner mostly because I tend to forget about things when they go into the freezer!
Eleven quarts of apples cooking away…
Many of you know I am a big fan of making one’s own very delicious, very easy, very decadent-tasting and yet very low-fat hot cocoa. And I spurn any implication that it’s a “kid” drink.
Try this recipe, and you’ll never think of it as a “kid” beverage again.
Grown-up Hot Cocoa for One
In the microwave, heat 8 oz lowfat (or nonfat, or whole, or whatever–I have used almond milk too) milk about 2 minutes or until hot.
While the milk is heating: in a mug, put the following:
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 heaping (or really generously heaping) teaspoon unsweetened fair trade baking cocoa
- a sprinkle cayenne pepper
- a sprinkle pumpkin pie spice (or just cinnamon, or other sweet spice mixture)
Drizzle in a little brandy or rum (or frangelico, or amaretto, or whatever sounds yummy to you…warm water would also be just fine), just enough to form a smooth paste of the sugar-cocoa mixture.
When the milk is hot, pour over sugar-cocoa paste and stir well. Sip while reading a steamy novel or 18th century music analysis textbook. (I have homework.)
I make this for myself a few evenings a week, or some version of it, as a substitute for more caloric chocolatey things I might otherwise be eating. A lovely end-of-day hot sweet beverage to sip…