Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's almost 8pm New Year's Eve and my date just fell asleep. My husband is at work ensuring drunken cheer when it turns midnight in Washington, DC so here I am sitting on the couch with the dog and the cat. This was the first year that my kid was old enough to continue a tradition from my childhood so that was my highlight. Every New Years' Eve as a kid my parents went out and left my brother and me at home with a babysitter. We were allowed to go and pick out large amounts of our favorite candies to fill our own big bowls, grab our sleeping bags, and watch tv all night in the family room til the ball dropped in Times Square. Which reflecting right now was kind of slick on their part since we were in Kansas (an hour behind New York). HEY! I don't think we ever made it, if anyone did it would have been my little brother, he has always been the night owl. I didn't have candy until my brother came along 4 years later and loosened up my parents. Until then they told me raisins were candy. Clint came and all the rules went out the window (he also saw a rated R movie -Pretty Woman- waaaaaay before me). So this was a REALLY big deal for me to have mounds and mounds of junk food on New Year's Eve.

So tonight my kid and I had our first New Year's Party for 2 and I stepped it up a notch from my early days.
With a quick run to the party store to grab a $5 backdrop of Times Square, an $8 ball pinata, and some party hats and noise makers we were ready to go!

Yes, he was very excited to use a bat indoors

Goodbye 2010!

So after the ball dropped and broke open we were ready for our feast

Tonight my kid had his first pixie stick and his first ring pop and loved every minute. We watched "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown" and "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" and he then asked if he could go to bed.
So here I am. The rest of the candy is hidden, Times Square is down and put away, and I about to type up the first blog menu of 2011 for Arubula's Kitchen while enjoying some peace, quiet, and champagne.

Happy 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I have to laugh because of all my recipes requested throughout 2010 my pickles were the most popular. I have heard from friends that they polished off the jar the same day it arrived (or very shortly after) even one report that they drank the pickle juice. I added a jar for good luck in my basket of goodies for my kid's teacher and she asked for more jars for her son as a Christmas gift. These pickles are super easy to make and if you don't have the time to can them you can stick them in the fridge.

6 pounds pickling cucumbers
3/4 cup sea salt
4 cups white vinegar
1 head garlic cloves, peeled
Dill seed
Fresh Dill
Black Peppercorns
8 mason jars

Rinse cucumbers in cold water, cut off the ends.Cut into wedges. Put cucumbers in glass bowl, add 1/2 cup salt, and cover with water. Cover for at least 8 hours.
Drain off brine. Rinse cucumbers.

In a medium pan combine vinegar, 3 1/2 cups water, 1/4 cup salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

In each jar place 4 garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon dill seed, 1 teaspoon dill, 8 peppercorns.

Pack cucumber into each jar and cover with vinegar solution. Wipe rim clean with damp cloth. Place on lid and screw bands until finger tip tight.

If canning, process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath (you know it's properly sealed if lift lid with fingertips and it doesn't loosen), let cool.

Otherwise just throw in the fridge, and any jars that don't seal through canning put in fridge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Top 5 Cooking Resources of 2010

I was making my Christmas baking list, then my menu for Christmas dinner, and it got me thinking what cookbooks have I bought this year, which one's have I actually used, which one's have I loved. While thinking about it and thinking about sharing it with you I began to think about the publications I subscribe to and what I use most from those, and what about online, blogs, websites. Browsing through a cookbook should be inspiring, but not off putting....I would love to eat that, but there is no way I can make it or that looks awesome, but what is with all these absurd ingredients that will send me to 5 different stores to find maybe half of them. As a dairy free house who eats locally/seasonally and my sister in law is gluten free I have a lot of cookbooks for vegans, gluten free, seasonal cooking. I have an addiction to cookbooks. My "save for later" checkout cart at amazon is pages upon pages and I browse through picking up another few every so often (more often than every so). My top 5 may or may not be on NYT must have cookbooks of 2010, they may not have even been released this year, but they have been my go to's this year, giving me extra confidence when I am looking for inspiration they are going to help me out. So here is my list of Top 5 Cooking Resources of 2010.

1. The Divvies Bakery Cookbook
I have loved Divvies products for a few years, regularly ordering 5 lb bags of chocolate chips or festive lollipops for my kid or chocolate bars for s'mores in the summer. When I heard they had a cookbook coming out I could not wait. It was a name I trusted, and the cookbook has not let me down. I have by now made several items from the cookbook and nothing has been short of mouthwatering. I always enjoy people who sneer at dairy free claiming you can taste a difference. I laugh, because trust me, these days you can't and this cookbook proves it. (and this comes from a dairy lover) But not only is it dairy free it is also nut and egg free too. And it is hands down turning into one of my all time favorite baking cookbooks. *Note even if you don't have food allergies you should pick this one up.

2. Gourmet Today
I miss Gourmet magazine. It feels like I lost an old friend. Thankfully I have Gourmet Today to fill some of that void. Sometimes cookbooks feel like they left out that one ingredient that would put the dish into the WOW, but didn't want to share it's secret, well Gourmet Today is sharing the secret. When I'm wondering dinner and looking for inspiration this is my go to book.

3. ChopChop Magazine
Ok this one is a little young to get too excited about, but I have loved what I've seen so far. It's a quarterly magazine that launched in 2010. It is for kids, teaching them about food, choices, and getting them cooking. My 3 year old has loved looking through and we read it together. I hope this magazine sticks around for a while because it's a good one for a kid at any age.

4. Twitter
So I changed this one (if you read a little earlier). I was driving around thinking about it and I felt I needed to change it. I know it's broad, but following folks who cook and/or tweet links to blogs or food news, there have been many times this past year where I have a read a tweet and then printed out the recipe or run into the kitchen to make it or just gotten inspiration, advice, or a connection. Twitter has opened up my world to people who have similar interests from the farms that my food comes from, to chefs, to hobby cooks, gardeners, restaurants, etc. So Twitter should definitely be on this list.

5. The Flavor Bible
This is a fantastic resource to have in your library. It is full of awesome flavor profiles: what compliments each other, helps in what to stay away from combining, what is in season, it goes on. I have used this most of all of my cooking resources. Knowing what I have in my kitchen I would look up an ingredient and from there create a dish. Instead of reading a recipe and going to buy the ingredients, this book allows real creation to begin. Love it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Egg Nog Doughnut

I responded on a post yesterday for Kids with Food Allergies and had a good response asking for my Egg Nog Doughnut Recipe. We are a dairy free house so the recipe is written dairy free, trust me you won't taste a difference if you can have dairy, but you can use full dairy egg nog and butter if you choose. In parathesis are alternative allergy substitutions. I love Rice Dream Rice Nog and Kids with Food Allergies posted a recipe to make your own.

Rice Nog Doughnuts

3/4 cup rice nog
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour (gluten free all purpose flour)
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg (cinnamon can be substituted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp Chinese 5 spice (remove if you can't have nuts)
4 Tbsp vegan butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (egg substitution is fine here, just mix it with seltzer)

vegetable oil or shortening for frying

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 Tbsp Rice Nog
Nutmeg to sprinkle on top

To make doughnut:
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed beat butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and continue to beat until mixture is smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of bowl. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add rice nog. Add flour mixture and continue to mix until dough comes together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and SPRINKLE VERY GENEROUSLY (dough is really sticky otherwise) with flour. Turn dough onto one of the baking sheets and top with flour. Flatten with hands until 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if dough is still wet. Transfer to freezer until slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Cut out doughnuts (or I like using a circle cutter for doughnut holes). Put cut outs on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20-30 minute. (you can also cut out dougnuts and place in a freezer safe container for up to 2 weeks- great to make ahead for Christmas morning)

Add enough vegetable oil or shortening to deep sided pan for 3 inch deep. Line a plate with paper towels. When oil is hot fry each doughnut for approx 60 seconds- golden brown- flip. Drain on towel.

For Topping:
Slowly whisk rice nog in with confectioners sugar until it is a thick syrup.
Dunk donuts into topping and let rest.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Peppermint Truffles

This year I received a great present from my wonderful friend, Carrie (who needs to open her own bakery), a cookbook made just for me, "Kate's Just Desserts". It is full of her amazing dessert recipes. I received it a couple of weeks ago and have just been drooling over the recipes deciding what to make this year for my Christmas baking. Finally it's crunch time for holiday baking and I have a week long schedule of at least 2 treats a day. Whew. Today, day one, was truffles and day one prep for gingersnap cookies (a recipe I need to share with Carrie). The truffles are for the Sweet Swap at my kid's holiday party at school. I actually chose this recipe because I like to handwrite all my recipe cards and this one is the shortest recipe of all the sweets I am making in the next week. Also great is they are safe in the fridge for weeks and yield 60 a batch. Awesome to make ahead and not have to worry about them. I made two batches today, one is Carrie's original recipe for Chocolate Truffles and then my improv to make a festive Christmas Peppermint Truffle.

Carrie's recipe Chocolate Truffles from "Kate's Just Desserts"

1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate
1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp prepared coffee, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
confectioners sugar
cocoa powder

Chop the chocolate finely with a sharp knife. Place them in a heat proof mixing bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boils. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour the cream through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and coffee, if using.  Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

With 2 teaspoons, spoon round balls of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll each ball of chocolate in your hands to roughly make it round. Roll in confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, or both. These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

Now here's Arubula's Kitchen modified version for
Christmas Peppermint Truffles
as with anything that happens in my house, it has to be dairy free so in parathesis I have added the dairy free version

1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (vegan)
1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (vegan)
1 cup heavy cream (Silk non dairy creamer)
1 Tbsp prepared coffee
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup smashed to powder candy mints

In a food processor chop chocolate until a fine powder. Place in a heat proof bowl.

Heat cream in a small saucepan until it just boils. Turn off the heat and allow cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour cream through fine mesh sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate together until becomes creamy. Whisk in peppermint extract and coffee. Set aside at room temperature for one hour.

With 2 teaspoons, spoon blobs of chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Remove, roll blobs into balls in your hands to roughly make it round. Roll in powdered candy mints. Roll again in hands, then again in powder. Place back on baking sheet. Finish all truffles.
This will keep for refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.
*For extra holiday sparkle, 1/2 cup powdered candy mints, 1/2 cup red colored sugar

Now here's the really exciting part! I've just talked to Carrie and she has said I can give away a copy of her fantastic cookbook that was made just for me. So to one lucky reader you too can have Carrie's fantastic dessert cookbook! Thanks, Carrie!!! All you have to do is comment on this blog post. Share what you are baking for the holidays, a family tradition, something festive. For an extra entry you can "like" Arubula's Kitchen on facebook, retweet this contest on twitter, and/or mention in you blog comment that Carrie should open her open bakery. Winner will be chosen randomly Dec 26, 2010 at 12pm EST.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chicken Croquette...Mice

Chicken Croquettes Over Lemon Mache

This is such a fun meal for my kid and a fun meal for me because he eats it all up, greens and all. Then goes for seconds.

Chicken Croquettes

Sauce Bechamel: Combine in a small saucepan over very low heat 1 1/4 cup milk (almond milk works great for those who can't do dairy), 1/4 onion with 1 bay leave stuck to it using 2 whole cloves, and pinch of fresh nutmeg. Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, to infuse flavor into the milk. Discard the onion, bay leaf, and cloves. Meanwhile, melt in a medium, heavy suacepan over low heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (vegan butter works fine), stir in 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, over medium-low heat until the roux is just fragrant, but not darkened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Slowly whisk in warm milk and return the saucepan to the heat. Bring the suace slowly to a simmer, whishing to preven lumps, and cook, stirring often, and skimming any skin that forms on the surface, over low heat without boiling, until it reaches the consistency of thick cream soup, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat 1 tablespoon butter, stir in 1 cup chopped onions. Stir often until tender but still crunchy, 7-10 minutes. Add the sauce bechamel and cook for 1 minute. Scrape the sauce into a large bowl and combine thoroughly with 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 cup cooked rice, salt to taste. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and refrigerate until very cold and firm, at least 2 hours.

Spread in an even layer on 2 separate plates 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Whisk together in a wide shallow bowl 2 large eggs. Drop a generous 1/4 cup scoop of the croquette mixture on the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and gently roll until the rough ball is evenly coated on all sides. While rolling, shape the croquette into ball. Set aside on plate. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat heavy pot over medium-high heat 8 cups vegetable oil. Gently drop 4 croquettes in the hot fat and fry until deep brown on all sides, 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Fry the remaining croquettes.

For kids, cut two slices of carrots for "ears" and a thin slice of carrot for a "tail", get 3 craisins to create "eyes" and "nose". Place appropriately on croquette ball to create a mouse. Put mache in front of mouse as though he's eating the greens. This is one of my son's favorites.


Using a handful of mache for each serving put in large bowl. Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon's juice over greens, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/4 cup craisins and mix. This is my son's favorite green, especially served this way.

Make a bed of greens on a plate, place two croquettes on each plate, and serve with 1 lemon wedge.

Birthday Cakes

Every year I try to make a cake that gets my kid to say "WOW". Since he has food allergies I have to make his birthday cakes. I had never made a decorated cake unless you count mix out of a box and frosting out of a can put on a round cake. Well, 3 years later I now agonize just how I am going to pull off the wow factor this year.

 First Birthday, "Little Einsteins"

Second Birthday, Rockstar Birthday

Third Birthday, Superheroes.

And of course, 1/2 a cake on your 1/2 birthday. This was 3 1/2.
My most stressful cake. Happy 4th Birthday!

School Snacks

One of my joys is seeing how creative I can be with preschool snack. We are in charge of snack one day each month, so I like to focus on the letter of the week or what subject they are focusing on that month. Here are some of my snacks.

"Alphabet Ocean"
This was in June as the kids were about to be out for the summer. I floated gummy alphabet letters in blue jell-o (each ocean did make a word if you dug out the letters) and put Teddy Grahams in life saver floating the seas.

This snack was for the month when the kids were working on their class garden. I used a cookie cutter to cut watermelon flowers and a hole cookie cutter to make a cantalope center. The insects are made from celery, piped with hummus, and pretzel wings.

Vroooommmm into "C" week. A Teddy Graham takes the wheel of this race car made of celery, carrot, and currants.

At the end of the rainbow discover the magic of learning the letter "R".  By using jello and some popcorn this becomes a very popular treat.

1/4 cup butter
3 Tbs corn syrup
1 pkg of jello- color/flavor of choice
4 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Bring butter and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Add in jello and reduce heat to low, stir until jello is dissolved. Pour syrup over popcorn. Mix well, coating popcorn. Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool then break apart. Serve.

Keep checking back as more snacks will be added as school goes on!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Double It Up

As you are doing all of your cooking for the Holidays, double the recipe. You're already cooking, cook twice as much and have some freezer meals for those hectic days that are sure to come up when you don't have time to cook. Make sure you date and label the contents in a freezer safe container for storage. Also make sure the dish/ingredient you are freezing has completely cooled before freezing. It is even easier when you freeze it in individual portion size.
For more frozen recipes Arubula's Kitchen: A Week of Frozen Dinners

Recently I was making a sweet potato puree for raviolis, so I doubled it up. I do this with vegetable purees, soups, meatloaf (cooked in a mini muffin pan), lasagnas...Anything that has a high water content so it will make for good freezing.

This is a really easy dinner to make. You will need:
Wonton Wrappers
6 sweet potatoes,
whites from 1 egg,
2 tablespoons maple syrup
                                                                   1 teaspoon salt
                                                            1 tablespoon brown sugar
                                                                       fresh sage

Put a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Half the sweet potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over sweet potatoes and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 1 hour or until soft. Let cool. Scoop insides of sweet potato into food processor. Add maple syrup and brown sugar. Puree.

Put a large pot of water on stove and bring to a boil.

Start assembling your raviolis.
*You can do this using only one wonton wrapper and folding over and pinching or using two, sandwiching the puree inside and using a fork to pinch edges.

Either way of assembly start with a small spoonful of the puree in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Brush egg whites on edges of wrapper and fold over pinching the sides. Add a second on top if you are using two.
Place in finishing raviolis in boiling water and cook for a little over a minute. Drizzle melted butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and chopped sage over. (I sometime add chopped sausage with the pasta for my kid)

Kid's Plate

Taking the extra puree put into an ice cube tray (mini ice cube trays work great too!)

Let cool completely, then place in freezer till frozen, depending on size ice cube tray will depend on freezing time. Anywhere between 1 hour-4 hours.
Pop them out when frozen put in a dated and labeled freezer bag and put them in the freezer. This is great to take out for sweet potato dishes, pies, raviolis, baby food, soups.
For more frozen recipes Arubula's Kitchen: A Week of Frozen Dinners
*Thank you, Sonya for the time saving genius of using wonton wrappers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Arubula's Kitchen is teaming up with Run4Haiti. Their goal is to raise $10,000 before the anniversary of Haiti's earthquake on January 12, 2011. For your donation you will receive a one week menu from Arubula's Kitchen, created just for your table, complete with grocery list.

How to make the donation and receive this offer:
Donate at They will send me your email address after receiving your donation. I will email you a questionnaire helping me learn more about your table. After you email it back to me your menu and grocery list will be emailed to you the following Friday. If you would like to give your week as a gift a printable gift certificate can be emailed to you or recipient or a gift certificate can be mailed to an address provided.
No minimum donation required.
Run4Haiti also has Christmas Cards available!

Need to reach us?
Arubula's Kitchen:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Polyface Farm

I have no idea where the fall went. It feels like just yesterday school started and now as I look around Christmas decorations are up. Way back in September we went out to Polyface Farm, seen in movies such as "Food, Inc" and "Fresh" and the spot where Michael Pollan had his epiphany for "Omnivore's Dilemma". I have been fortunate to meet and talk Joel Salatin, 2nd generation farmer at Polyface, before. He presented "Fresh" to Congress and I, along with my mother in law, attended the reception afterwards.
We chatted about the laws and the agents that have tried to shut him down over the years and we talked about my upcoming farm tour in a few months. It was a night of great people all there for the same cause and also Ana Sofia Jones', Director of "Fresh", birthday. So spirits were joyful, despite the lack of actual Congress members actually in attendance to learn/change our food system.

My husband has patiently listened over the past year and half as I educate myself further and further, morphing just what action I want to take in this movement. It started one day in between diaper changes and spit up that Martha Stewart was on in the background talking about a must see movie, "Food, Inc". I filed it away deep in the back of the brain until a few months later we were in Ocean City and I forgot my beach book. I went in to a little book shop and there was one copy of "Food, Inc". I picked it up along with a much lighter beach read about a man on Nantucket and headed to the beach. I couldn't put "Food, Inc" down. I knew from working in restaurants that use local farms the joys of having local food and meeting the farmers as they bring it in through the kitchen, but never stopped to think just how damaging and gross the alternative was. So with anything I do, I researched, I like to read many opinions in order to form my own. My husband says I can't just do one thing, it has to come in at least fives. Try a new recipe, I make it five different ways, learn a new craft, do it five different ways. So as I researched this Food, Inc thing I kept going in further and further finding myself making different decisions at the grocery store, coming across events such presented by Animal Welfare Approved and screenings of movies like "Fresh" and "King Corn" and reading countless books and talking to countless people, getting to know my local farmers. I have also found myself going back to school for sustainable agriculture. At the very least I want our own hobby farm, at the very most I want to reach as many people as possible to educate them as to what they are putting in their bodies. The very thing that gives us life many of us just want faster, bigger, cheaper. One person at a time. I can say in the last year our family has changed and we are 90% barcode free, using local farms and farmers markets in hopes to using our own backyard even more. So heading out to Polyface Farm was for research to see how it really works.

We went out September 16, 2010. It was a nice warm Virginia day and Joel was just flying in (from saving the world, one charasmatic Joel speech at a time) as we were arriving. Everyone with anticipation "would HE arrive in time for the tour", including the camera crew who was there filming for a documentary to be shown in S. Korea. KOREA! This guy, Joel, has reached that far!

First we headed out to the pastured poultry, riding the hay ride as Michael the Arch Angel (the loyal farm dog) followed behind. Now I am typing this from notes written almost 3 months ago, so they won't nearly have the enthusiasm or the flow that I felt that day, but they will have the facts.

Out there in the pastured poultry area Joel showed us that 1 person can move a shelter in 60 seconds. There are no flies, amnonia smell, mass waste, it was just the chickens chilling eating up the bugs and feed.

Joel presented his operation as a "food system with integretity...everyone can see what goes in the front door and out the back door". They are portable lightweight shelters and it can be done anywhere, in schools, cities, etc. At this point he asked "what do you think of when you hear the word 'farm'?" Instead of thinking of our manmade creations as silos, barns, think instead of soil, earthworms, land, sun. There are those critics that say we have to do it in factory farms, we need more food, we need to feed the world. After attending the AWA panel I wrote this on the Future of Farming and Joel is supplying to consumers, many restaurants in Virginia, Maryland, DC, including Chiptotle (a good read if you have a moment), he's even in talks with Sam's Clubs. Joel runs his farm by "building forgiveness in the land". It can be done right, but people have gotten so greedy for bigger, cheaper, faster that we don't stop to think if it's working or not.

Off to the hayshed, the famous hayshed where Michael Pollan has his epiphany for "Omnivore's Dilemma".
And Michael takes a nap

Cows drops 50lbs of manuere a day. A DAY! Mix that with old hay, peanut shells, wood chips, sawdust and it all gets sopped up. This thing is so steamy that is 50 degrees in the middle of winter, but has 0 smell. They build the bedding pack, add corn to ferment, then come spring the pig"erators" come in seeking the fermented corn and airate the bedding pack. It's the animals on the land working for you as you work for them. Everyone has a job on the farm. When you take away and only focus on one crop is when there is a breakdown and disease and illness step in. Joel says "don't be afraid to make mistakes, but be afraid not to fix them" and "balance the How with the Why".
As we headed out to the cows my 3 year old dropped my pen straight down into a cow patty so my notes are limited from here, but pictures should get the point that it can be done right, and it can be done clean, and it can be done for "the masses", and it can be cost effective. Polyface Farm has NEVER bought fertilizer or chemicals, they plant grain thru perennials to build the soil. No structure is a permanent structure. And every animal on the farm has a job.
Joel picking up 14 different grasses that the cows eat.

 Our day ended in rain so we didn't get out to see the feather pen where the layers are, but my husband did get interviewed for the documentary so I can't wait to hear his voice dubbed over in Korean. And of course we took home some Polyface Farms' meat.

"What we need is a mob-stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon- sequestration fertilization program"- Joel Salatin, "Fresh"

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Craving Meatloaf

Arubula’s Favorite Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

and Smashed Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

I make this "loaf" in a mini muffin pan, as my husband doesn't like meatloaf. For him I get a good crusty sub roll and put the "loaf" muffins as meatballs and cover with melted cheese (yes, he'll eat it that way). The muffin size is also really easy for freezing and having a serving size portion later and great size for kids. I also will add any shredded/chopped veggies that need to get out of my fridge into the meatloaf, this recipe will accept pretty much anything you throw in it. Also feel free to interchange the ground meats. This is a great recipe that makes a dinner tonight and makes plenty of leftovers for dinners in weeks to come

***Update! I added BaconMarmalade's spicy flavor into the meatloaf this last time I made it, OH MY GOSH was it the ingredient I never knew was missing!****

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

1 large yellow onion
2 peeled carrots
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 cups chopped spinach (1 thawed and drained pkg of frozen)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices whole wheat bread, cubed, crusts removed
1/2 cup milk (soy, hemp, or almond milk work great also)
1 pound ground sirloin
3/4 pound ground pork
2 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
8- 10 slices bacon
2 teaspoons tomato paste
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Shred 1 large yellow onion, 2 peeled and chopped carrots, 2 cloves peeled and garlic, and 2 cups chopped spinach in a food processor or grate by hand. (anything else you want to add in do so now i.e. sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc)

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the carrots, onion, garlic, and spinach and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside until slightly cool.

In a small bowl, soak 3 slices cubed whole wheat bread, crusts removed, in 1/2 cup milk for 5 minutes. Add the bread and milk mixture to the cooled vegetable mixture, add 1 pound ground sirloin, 3/4 pound ground pork, 2 lightly beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Using your hands, gently combine, breaking up the bread chunks and distributing the seasonings evenly.

Put the mixture in a large ungreased baking dish or roasting pan (or mini muffin pan, if doing meatloaf-balls). Shape into a 5x12 inch loaf. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons tomato paste, 3/4 packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons ground yellow mustard, and a few tablespoons of warm water. Brush the meatloaf all over with half the glaze.

Overlap bacon slices (cut bacon slices to 2 inch strips if doing mini muffins) across the top, covering the meat, and brush with the glaze.

Bake the meatloaf, brushing half way through cooking time with any remaining glaze, until the juices run clear when the loaf is pierced and the bacon is crisp, about 50 minutes (check mini muffins at 30 minutes, also put a baking sheet under pan to catch grease from mini muffin pan). A meat thermometer inserted in the middle should read 155 degrees. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Cut into portion size pieces if you made a loaf and wrap tightly individually in plastic wrap once cooled (muffin size don't need to be individually wrapped) and put extra in freezer safe container and put in freezer.

To reheat put in microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until meatloaf is cooked through. Let rest 1 minute before serving.

Smashed Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

4 peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes Idaho potatoes
1 head broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets (also really great with cauliflower)
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Place 4 peeled and cut in 2 inch cubes Idaho potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, salt the water, reduce the heat a bit, and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Halfway trough add 1 head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets. Drain broccoli and potatoes and return to the hot pot to dry them out. Mash the broccoli and potatoes together adding chicken stock until achieving desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Portion out, using an ice cream scoop is easiest and freeze extra as balls, once cooled, or freeze entire 4 servings as one bulk. Microwaving times will differ on how you freeze.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Farmer’s Market

If you follow me on twitter (@arubulaskitchen) you know I am at the farmers’ market at least 3 times a week, not to mention our local farms. I am proud to say that since last January our house has taken the barcodes out of our home and are running at approximately 85% local farm. The other 15% being spices, some flours, oils. We have already placed our order for meat to carry us through the winter and started canning and freezing the produce we purchase throughout the week. I feel like little squirrels. And I like it.
Fall is my very favorite eating season. After summer of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables and being too hot to actually do much indoor cooking I get very excited to crank up my oven and start baking muffins, cookies, and breads, cooking stews and roasting slow meats. I enjoy rich foods (and salt!) that are going to put some meat on the bones for those upcoming winter chills. Pumpkin ales and coffees and the sweet smell of warm spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg make me have a constant smile from the comfort as these comforting flavors wrap around me. I love the markets are full of color from the oranges and yellows of squashes and pumpkins, to purples of eggplant and beets, to the reds of apples, to the hearty, leafy greens and the beans, the cauliflower and celery root, and figs and mushrooms. It’s a beautiful rainbow of delicious foods! I am getting so excited just thinking about it.

The recipe I am sharing today allows any ingredient to be swapped in/out, it’s super easy and even the kids eat it.
Fried Eggplant with Cucumber, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta
2 Eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (keep stale bread in the freezer, use your cheese grater and grate the bread whenever you need bread crumbs)
1 cup flour (for extra health benefits mix 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Red Onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
4-5 Basil leaves, chopped
Feta cheese, enough to sprinkle on plate
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
(All of these ingredients, except the balsamic can be found at my Farmer’s Market- YAY! Local food!)

Get out 4 plates. On the first plate put the flour (add salt and pepper to taste), on the second plate put the eggs, on the third put the bread crumbs, and on the forth line with paper towels. Put oil in frying pan and begin to warm over medium high heat.
Take a slice of eggplant and put in the flour, coating on both sides, then dip in the egg mixture, getting coated really well, then to the bread crumbs, then into the heated oil in the pan. (TIP! Using only one hand and only using the the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers allows you to have a clean hand at all times and makes life easier- also really fun to have kids join you in this process, make sure you add it to the pan) Cook on each side 2-3 minutes, until breadcrumbs are a deep golden brown, then place on paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all eggplant slices are cooked.
In a bowl mix the onion, pepper, cucumber and quick sprinkle of salt to taste. Place 2-3 eggplant slices on plate, drizzle 1/2 tablespoon over eggplant, take a small handful of veggie mixture over the eggplant, add some cheese, drop a little chopped basil. And your done! Enjoy!
If you have a kid that doesn’t like their food touching this is how I prepare this dish for my kid- no different amount of work, same food, but kid friendly (he has a dairy allergy so he doesn’t get the feta)
Adult Plate (bottom):Kid Plate (top)

Here’s a fancier version (my husband took this shot because he loves this dish), this one is mozzarella, heirloom tomato, and a bed of cucumber ribbons

Very easy to make with whatever is hanging around in your fridge! Happy Fall!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let me say Hello with Bacon Bread

People who knew me before I had my child knew I loved to eat, but did not cook. It was unknown if I could or not because I just didn’t do it. No kidding. Breakfast, lunch, dinner 364 days a year were spent eating out. I am being very generous giving myself one day a year of cooking for myself. I worked in restaurants and had no desire to figure out if I could do it at home when I had so many amazing talents feeding me. Even my (now) husband did all of the cooking right up until our son was born. Casey had to teach me how to cook bacon. I had no idea how to do it, but I certainly knew how to eat bacon. When our son was born and Casey went back to work I had the option of starve, pack up a newborn to a restaurant 3 meals a day (money that some may say should be used on diapers and laundry), or learn to finally feed myself. I loved food and had seen thousands of dishes created, I understood flavors, how hard could it be? So I began collecting and reading cookbooks. Thankfully I am an avid reader. I tuned into all those who had cooked for me in the past and brought those dishes to life and to my table. I’m going to be honest, I have no knife skills, in the beginning my timing was off, and it would take me a full afternoon to make a dinner that may or may not even resemble the original vision. Then I was presented another curveball, my son had a dairy allergy taking away the easiest food group for kids, but also my favorite food group. In the beginning I cried “what will he eat?!” but now I look at it as my blessing, it taught me to really cook and really get creative and how to get out of the cookbook and into my own kitchen. As my comfort level has grown and I actually create my own recipes with confidence, grow some of my own food- the rest is bought at farms and farmers’ markets, and make most things from scratch my son looks like he will grow out of his allergy. Ah life, it does have a funny sense of humor.
It’s funny people used to ask me where to eat, now they ask what/how to make dinner. That’s how Arubula’s Kitchen was born. Every day around 4 or 5 my phone would start ringing or beeping with phone calls and texts from a friend who had this and that in their pantry “what should they make for dinner” or looking for a different way to prepare a dish. It progressed. I started emailing out a weekly menu to my friends with the grocery list, writing it up while my kid took his daily nap. I’d type up menus for dinner parties, holidays. Finally someone said “you should do this for a living” and I thought to myself “finally a stay at home mom job that I would enjoy!” The rest is history.
Now I am taking on my new endeavor, finishing my BS in Sustainable Agriculture. It means those blissful hours of naptime can no longer be used to create menus for  Arubula’s Kitchen clients, but for hitting the books. I am excited. It was through Arubula’s Kitchen that doors opened and excitement found it’s way into  something that I finally want to finish my degree. I look forward to all this learning and sharing with you as I go along. I also look forward to more food explorations in my own kitchen and out in the food world.
My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary at Top Chef finalist, Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant, Volt in Frederick Maryland. It was my husband’s first tasting menu and what a great one to enjoy! If you have the opportunity I highly recommend taking the detour out of D.C. and enjoying the chef’s tasting room where you can enjoy observing all 7 courses prepared by Chef Voltaggio (yes, he really was there cooking) and his incredible kitchen staff. As we enjoyed this dinner we were given our choice of 5 different breads, one being bacon bread. I decided that I will share my version inspired by Volt’s bacon bread as my first blog post recipe. It seems appropriate as bacon seems to come up in my life during milestone moments.
Welcome to Running Amuck with Arubula! I look forward to our adventures together!

Bacon Bread
*For an extra fun, savory bread I recommend ordering some bacon marmalade Order 2 jars, or 3, it’s totally worth it! It is truly heaven in a jar.
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cup warm water
6 cups of bread flour (to make wheat bacon bread sub 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the bread flour)
4 tablespoons bacon grease*
20 strips of bacon, cooked, finely chopped*
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
*substitute 1 jar of bacon marmalade

Dissolve yeast and 1/4 cup water water with a pinch of sugar for about 5 minutes (while mixing the rest of the ingredients)
In a large mixing bowl combine 3 cups of bread flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt. Mix in yeast. Add bacon grease, water, bacon. Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Gradually add in 1/2 cup at of time the remaining flour. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a oiled mixing bowl, turn over once to coat and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, 1 1/2 hours. Grease to loaf pans or 2 muffin pans and a loaf pan (for rolls and a loaf). Split the dough in two (or two and then taking one half and divide into 12 equal pieces). Punch the dough and place in pans. Let rise for another hour, covered loosely.
Preheat oven to 450. Place dough in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 450, then reduce heat to 350 for about 25 minutes (loaves will sound hollow when tapped when done) for rolls, reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes longer. Remove loaves from pans to a rack and let cool completely. ENJOY!!!