Pantry Cooking: Where the West meets the Orient Carrot Soup

I try to eat as local as I can. I moved to this town almost 2 years ago. There is a lot of farming of potatoes, carrots, onions and wheat. All are good storage items. I buy in bulk from the farmers. During my years at the university, I spend during the summers, at least 3 months abroad, mostly in the southern parts of Europe and the Middle East. There I learned a lot about herbs we don’t know here and my interest in cooking with all kind of herbs was a fact. Nowadays I make sure I have a good supply of herbs in stock. I also have a lot of herbs from the Asian continent, which I buy at the oriental supermarkets which you can find in most big cities here. Herbs are a fantastic addition for spicing up simple recipes. In this recipe I use a mixture called Garam Masala, which you can use to give your dishes a curry flavor. Make sure you fry the Garam Masala in some oil to bring out their flavors even more.

Where the West meets the Orient Carrot Soup is a very easy but delicious carrot soup. Wonderful as lunch but also a super easy and fast dinner.

1 quart home canned carrots + one quart of water
2 medium onions, minced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of Garam Masala (a yellow curry mix you can buy at most oriental supermarkets)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil (olive, sunflower or any other neutral oil)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and mix in the onions until they are caramelized. At the garlic and the Garam Masala and keep stirring so the mixture will not burn. Add the carrots and water. Keep stirring until the water boils. Then put the heat on low. The soup is ready when the carrots are soft. Puree the soup in your mixer and serve with some sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Frugal savings week 7 – 2014

It was quite a busy week and spent a lot of time outside the house. But I did manage to still do something selfsufficientish:

* I made another 3 pillow cases from fabric I already had.

* I started (but not finished yet) a small lunch bag from leftover fabric from the pillow covers I made last week. The fabric has such a lovely pattern, I didn’t want to throw it out.

* Some one gave me a LOT of spring onions, I dehydrated most of them and I made a spring onion savory pie.

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* I started with my small vegetable garden and planted broad beans, lavender and rocket lettuce indoors.

* I mended again a couple of clothes. I started with a small cardigan from my oldest but after I mended one small whole, I found another one and another one and so on. I decided to not go on and told my oldest. She said she didn’t want to throw out the cardigan, she will be making some barbie clothes out of it. An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess.

* I cut some fabrics from my stash for future quilts (just preparation before I start sewing the quilts).

* I baked all my bread, this week it was sunflower bread and a banana, honey and almond bread.

* I took warm soups in my thermos to work and also small canning jars with tutti frutti. We snacked on dehydrated fruits.

* I reorganized the kitchen cabinets because I want to make my mornings more easy to be able to bake and make breakfast.

* I refilled my working stock with the stock i have in plastic buckets. So I can keep on baking during the busy weeks I have.

* I started a new batch of alfalfa sprouts and mixed sprouts.

Pantry Cooking: Elderberry Muffins with a crumble topping

I love Elderberries, I always make some elderberry syrup, elderberry jams and of course elderberry tincture for my herbal medicine cabinet. This year I also have dehydrated some wild picked elderberries and it is a good time to try them, with the flu hanging around!

Elderberry Muffins with a crumble

500-600 grams/2-2,5 cups home ground, whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup applesauce or oil (I use organic, extra virgin olive oil)
1 cup buttermilk
⅔ cup sugar (or substitute with your favorite sweetener)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rehydrated (after rehydration it totals 2 cups!) or fresh elderberries when in season, rinsed and drained
1 egg

Crumble Topping
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup almonds ( I had sliced almonds in stock, when you use whole almonds, just cut them into smaller pieces)
¼ cup home ground, whole wheat flour
¼ cup butter

Heat oven to 190 Celsius/ 350 Fahrenheit.
Mix crumble topping ingredients and set aside. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (applesauce or oil,  buttermilk or whey, sugar and vanilla).
Place elderberries in a small bowl and add enough tablespoons of the flour mixture to coat the elderberries.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Add the berries. Put the batter into muffin tray and sprinkle with the crumble topping and bake for about 20 minutes.

Pantry Cooking: Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta from scratch

One thing I have enough is, wheat. I buy that locally from one of the farmers. I grind my wheat with a lovely grinder I have with real milling stones. I like pasta and the taste of home made pasta is way better then what you buy in the stores.

This is my basic recipe for Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta from scratch:

450 grams or about 2 cups home ground, whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
Water, as needed (I use the water from my  Berkefield)

Mix the ingredients except for the water. Add the water tablespoon at a time to create a firm dough and it doesn’t stick anymore. You can use either your pasta maker or role out the dough as thick as you can with a dough roller and cut it.

Pantry Cooking: Carrot Soup

We love a soup for lunch with some nice home baked bread, it makes a warming moment in the middle of the day. I like to make a lot of different soups. This is an easy soup with a lot of flavour but your kids will love as well. This recipe serves lunch for 3-4 ppl but you can easily double the recipe.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
400 grams of fresh carrots (or the equivalent of dehydrated carrots after rehydration)
1 leek (or the equivalent of dehydrated leeks after rehydration)
2 tbsp clear honey
Chili flakes to taste (optional)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1.5 liters of vegetable stock

Warm the oil in a pan, fry the leeks until soft. Add the carrots, honey and chili flakes, bay leaves and the stock and put it to a boil. Let it simmer for 30 minutes until all the vegetable are soft. If you use the rehydrated vegetables you can skip the frying step. You can just put all the ingredients in a pan and bring it to a boil.

You can blend the soup until soft but you can also leave it as it is.

Dehydrating Potatoes

I live in an area where a lot of farmers grow potatoes. When I buy directly from them, the potatoes are fresh and cheap, and evenly important: I support their business!

I love potatoes and I always buy some more to dehydrate. It is fairly simple: clean the potatoes, put them in a big pot and boil them until they are almost done. I let them cool off overnight so that I can peel them easily. Then I slize or grate them and dehydrate until they are completely dry.

Another way of dehydrating potatoes is peeling them and blanch them in a big pan and dehydrate. We always make our French Fries from scratch and one day I had some raw fries shaped potatoes left. I blanched them and put them in the dehydrators:

Apples, apples, apples…

A lot of apples. Where I live there are a lot of apple orchards. I am given permission to get fallen fruits and after the last harvest, pick the apples which are still on the branches. It means a lot of free fruits most of it has to be preserved fast. I dehydrate a lot of apples: slices and chunks (for apple pie), make all kind of fruit leathers. I make apple sauce (more a compote like sauce we like the chunks) which I mix also with other fruits like strawberries (pink apple sauce) and pear/apple sauce. I make a lot of juice as well, but tell in another post about the juices!