Blueberries By The Peck

Or, what to do with 16 pints of blueberries.Blueberries

Living within driving distance to a Whole Foods is worth it even if you only visit for the sale items. I’m very fond of the one day sales on whole chickens (not living, of course). Sometimes the sale item is from the seafood department. That’s a great time to try out something you’ve never cooked before.

Anyway, once a year they have a phenomenal sale on organic blueberries. After being disappointed in myself last year by only purchasing 3 pints, I totally made up for it this year.

16 pints of blueberries. That, my friends (according to Wiki) is an entire PECK of blueberries.

I love you. A bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…

So, what does one do with a whole heck of a peck of blueberries? Well…

I made pancakes.Hippie Cakes

The day after the big blueberry purchase, we had pancakes for supper. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Blueberry Granola Pancakes. The Man named them Hippie Cakes, and the recipe is at the bottom of this post. So there you go.

Of course, a little batch of pancakes isn’t going to put a dent in 16 pints of blueberries. So I did some other things, too.

I froze some.

Never wash your blueberries before freezing, as it makes the outside tough when they’re defrosted later. Just freeze them as they are. They don’t even stick together, but you can freeze flat before you toss them into a bag, jar, or tupperware if you’re concerned about that. Be sure to rinse the frozen blueberries in a little strainer before you use them in your recipes.

I made some jam.

Blueberry Jam with Biscuit, and Bacon

Not just any jam. I made my second best jam EVER. Blueberry Apple Jam. I used a recipe from Canning For A New Generation, by Liana Krissoff.
We put the jam on biscuits. I was fairly gentle with the blueberries, so there were still plenty that burst in your mouth. Oh man. That’s a delicious thing, there.

The little biscuits paired nicely with a bit of bacon for a snack that day.

I made another batch of jam.

Because it was that good.

I made some syrup.

I’d never made syrup before. I spent some time picking out a recipe that made a decent amount (even though I doubled it) and didn’t have corn syrup in it (what?!) The resulting syrup will make good teacher gifts this fall, as well as fancify our plain pancakes and possibly some homemade vanilla ice cream this summer. Mmmmmm.

The recipe came from Simple Bites. I’ve found that the discussions in the comments on that blog are as helpful as the posts themselves! Love that.

And last (but definitely not least)…

I made cobbler.Blueberry Cobbler

It was going to be pie, but time was tight. Cobbler is one of my Mama’s specialties, so I usually don’t bother making it at our house. But as far as I know, she’s never made it with blueberries!

I added a pinch of pie spices to jazz it up a little.

It was definitely worth it.

So now back to those pancakes…

My recipe is adapted from an adaptation I made of the recipe my Mama uses. Say that 5 times fast. I think the original came from Southern Living. It’s the same recipe I changed to make My Muffcakes.

The granola I used is my homemade granola. That’s another recipe I changed a little from my Mama’s original. I may share that another day. In the meantime, you can use any basic loose honey/oat granola. Not too crunchy. There’s a brand at Publix I like. Mom’s something or other? It comes in a yellow bag. Back to Nature makes a good plain granola, too.

Anyway…here are my Whole Wheat Buttermilk Blueberry Granola Pancakes. Now affectionately known as Hippie Cakes here at The Homestead.

Hippie Cakes
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Blueberry Granola Pancakes
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Ingredients
  1. 2 eggs
  2. 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  3. 2 T baking powder
  4. 1 t baking soda
  5. 1 t salt
  6. 2 T maple syrup
  7. 2 c buttermilk
  8. 4 T coconut oil, melted and cooled (vegetable oil is fine)
  9. 1/2-1 c fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
  10. 1/4 c honey granola
Instructions
  1. Beat eggs in a small bowl and combine with maple syrup and cooled oil.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  3. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir.
  4. Add buttermilk and beat with a whisk until batter is smooth.
  5. Fold in desired amount of blueberries.
  6. For each pancake, pour desired amount of batter (1/4-1 cup, depending on pancake size) onto a hot, lightly greased griddle. I use an electric griddle set just over 300 degrees.
  7. Sprinkle each pancake with granola.
  8. Turn pancakes when there are bubbles on tops and edges appear cooked. The edges will stick to your spatula if you try to turn them too soon.
  9. Cook second side until golden and springy in the middle.
  10. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.
Notes
  1. This recipe will make 5 plate-sized pancakes (like in a restaurant), or 12-15 saucer-sized pancakes. The big pancakes take a little longer to fully cook.
Queen Of None http://www.queenofnone.com/

Curried Beef Tacos

(and an introduction to our Freezer Full of Meat)

Curried Beef Tacos

 
In our mud room is a totally awesome (yet rather petite) chest freezer. It was my Christmas present two years ago.

(it was a short but heavy Christmas list)

In that chest freezer is half of a grass fed cow from South Carolina.

It’s our second side of beef.

Obviously, we eat a fair amount of beef, but not near as often as we did the first year.

Grass fed beef is…

leaner, cleaner, healthier, and tastier than it’s feed-lot cousin. And buying in bulk from a farm away from a major city will cost less than half of what you’ll pay for the same quality at a grocery store. I’m sure you’ve heard all about that from other sources. What you may not know is that it takes a little getting used to. If you are new to it, or debating your first purchase of that fancy and pricey ground beef, you should know a couple of things first:

  • Grass fed beef has flavor that feedlot beef doesn’t. It’s okay, that’s what beef is supposed to taste like. It’s pleasant. Almost gamey. And the raw meat has a smell. The first time we unwrapped a pound of ground beef, we thought it smelled like “dessert”. It may seem odd at first, but once you are used to it, all other beef tastes and smells inferior
  • The flavor of grass fed beef is improved (not masked) by spices. When you add fantastic herbs and spices to other beef, you taste herbs and spices. If you do the same to the grass fed beef, you taste great beef with more flavors to dance across your tongue. This is one of those things that turns a home cook into a home chef.

veg and curry hooray

Our favorite recipe for our grass fed ground beef is Jamie Oliver’s meatloaf. I don’t think I’ve made our family recipe meatloaf since I tried this one. That’s saying a lot. I’m not going to try and feed it to my dad, though. There’s no ketchup on top. He would be suspicious. 

-The recipe for Jamie Oliver’s Pot Roast Meatloaf is no longer on the website.
You can write and ask him to repost if you like. Be sure and mention that I think it’s the best ground beef recipe EVER.-

Once I tried a few awesome recipes I got a little more adventurous with our ground beef. The following recipe is a current favorite. Once a week, even. I made it today for lunch (and took pictures) and ended up eating my share at the counter since The Man was on a phone call. It was good to be close to the paper towels. It can get messy. Finger licking messy.

I only got to this point by discovering the curry powder and then adding more and more and then wondering why it wasn’t enough. The curry paste was the kick I needed. It’s like the powder but with more… ka-pow.

I hope this will encourage you (my reader, most likely directed here from Pinterest. Hi there!) to get creative with your cooking. After we got our Freezer Full of Meat, I moved all of our spices into see-through magnetized containers that stuck to the fridge. Now that they are in view, I use them all the time! 

Coriander! Cumin! Turmeric! What?!

Give these Curried Beef Tacos a try and then let your spice flag fly!

 

Curried Beef Tacos
Ground beef with curry and coconut milk. Great on tacos, over rice, stuffed in bell peppers, and more!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound grass fed ground beef (or regular lean ground beef)
  2. 1 sweet onion
  3. 2 small carrots (or 1 bigger one)
  4. 2-5 T coconut oil
  5. 1/2 can coconut milk
  6. 1 T Massaman curry paste
  7. 1 t curry powder
  8. honey to taste
  9. other spices to your taste: pepper, thyme, turmeric, cinnamon...
Instructions
  1. Half your onion and slice thinly. Cut those slices in half. Place in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of coconut oil.
  2. Cook over medium, stirring fairly often, heat until onions are soft and stick together when you stir them. Cook at least 10 minutes and up to 30, but don't let them scorch. It's worth the wait!
  3. Scrub (or peel) and slice your carrots. Toss them in the pan with the onions.
  4. Add some more coconut oil if things look dry.
  5. Add your curry paste and curry powder. Stir and mush until paste melts and mingles with the vegetables. This will take a few minutes.
  6. Increase heat to medium and add the ground beef.
  7. Cook until meat is browned, stirring and cutting with a spatula to desired consistency.
  8. Drain off excess grease, if desired. (necessary with regular chuck grade beef)
  9. Stir in coconut milk, starting with half the can and increasing to desired soupy-ness.
  10. Add honey and other spices to taste. Trust your taste buds. It's never the same twice. Let simmer a few minutes to get all those flavors happy with each other.
  11. Keep in skillet over low heat or in a warm oven until the rest of your meal is ready.
For tacos, we serve with
  1. -whole wheat tortillas
  2. -plain greek yogurt or sour cream
  3. -freshly shredded cheese
Optional
  1. -cooked brown rice or quinoa
  2. -pinto beans
More Options
  1. The Curried Beef is excellent mixed with quinoa and stuffed in a cored bell pepper. Just bake in a 350 degree oven until the pepper is at the done-ness that you prefer. The top gets a little crispy (which I like) or you could top with cheese for a nice "lid".
  2. It's also great over rice!
Queen Of None http://www.queenofnone.com/

 

3 Satisfying Soups for the Star Child

“She’s a soup eater.”

My daughter. The second one. The Star Child. She loves soup. She once double-spooned a bowl of crab corn chowder at a fancy restaurant and deemed it the best soup she ever had.

I made a big pot of black bean soup the weekend before this school year started. She took it for lunch the first day, and then every day after that for the rest of the week. She would have eaten two thermoses of soup if I would have given her two. I started to worry that, from that point on, my daughter would forever be the kid that brought the strange, black, sludgy-looking soup to school.

She isn’t. The Star Child is far more of a social butterfly than I ever was. The other kids don’t care what she eats. Or, that she likes to wear a school sweater that’s 2 sizes too small. Buttoned up.
 
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That soup is still a staple for us. I make a big pot and then put big ladle-fuls in jars to heat up when I pack the lunches in the mornings.

We’ve had quite a bit of soup, lately. I suppose it’s the never-ending winter of 2013. It makes me want soup. And bread. With butter.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few soups that are favorites around here. 

Black Bean Soup in progress

Black Bean Soup in progress

  • The first is that fantastic black bean soup. It’s from the blog most likely to make me cry. In a good way. Usually.

Black Bean Soup  – from Missy at It’s Almost Naptime. This stuff is not in any way vegetarian, so don’t let the name fool you. I suppose you could make it without the whole package of bacon, but that would just be silly.

Jools's Favorite Beef Stew - our way

Jools’s Favorite Beef Stew – our way

  •  Another recent staple is beef stew. We needed a delicious way to use the stew meat from the side of grass-fed beef stored in the chest freezer (possibly the best decision we ever made concerning our food buying).
Leek and Tattie - pre-tattie

Leek and Tattie – pre-tattie

Jools’s Favorite Beef Stew – I have not made a single Jamie Oliver recipe that we didn’t want to have again. This one doesn’t disappoint. I usually double the beef and add sweet potatoes. I always forget to look for jerusalem artichokes so we’ve never tried them. The resulting sop hollers out for crusty bread with butter, but is plenty filling on its own.

  •  Third is an easy potato soup. You can add all sorts of veggies to this and your pickier diners won’t notice. This recipe also introduced me to leeks. Surprisingly tasty! I’ve substituted onions and cabbage for the leeks if the market doesn’t have them. It’s a creamy soup that doesn’t require you to remember to purchase cream. In fact, there’s no milk in it at all!

 

Leek & Tattie & Whatever You Like-ie Soup
A milk-less but creamy potato soup with lots of possibilities.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 lb potatoes, chopped small (but not tiny)
  2. 3 large leeks, use the white and light green part, chopped
  3. *3 small carrots, chopped
  4. *1 sweet onion, chopped
  5. *1/2 head cabbage, chopped
  6. 8 T real butter (one stick)
  7. 1 c flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
  8. 8 c stock (chicken or veggie)
  9. salt & pepper
  10. *good cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish
  11. *bacon, for garnish
  12. (Ingredients marked with an asterisk are optional)
Instructions
  1. Fry all the chopped vegetables (including the potatoes) in butter in a big pot. I like to do the onions alone for a bit first if I'm using them, since I like them almost caramelized.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the softened veggies and toss with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Blend that stuff with a stick blender (or very carefully batch by batch in a blender), adding more stock or water if it is thicker than you like.
  6. Check seasoning, add garnishes, and serve!
Notes
  1. This makes a LOT of soup. It freezes well, but you may need to add water or stock when re-heating, since it thickens quite a bit. That's OK. It doesn't hurt the taste.
  2. It's great to toss in a crockpot for sharing at soup lunches. I made the original for a Scottish Reformation Celebration at church and have since made it 5 more times.
  3. The good, aged cheddar makes a world of difference. Ordinary cheddars just don't have the tooth to balance with the subtle flavors in the soup.
Adapted from Celtic Cookbook
Adapted from Celtic Cookbook
Queen Of None http://www.queenofnone.com/

Like soup? Share one of your favorite recipes in the comments!

 

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Muffins

Quick to pull together and full of great ingredients to keep the kids’ hunger at bay.

Honey Banana Muffins

A few years ago (in a heavy coo-pon cuttin’ phase) I found this awesome basic muffin recipe from Hillbilly Housewife. It could be made cheaply and quickly, it wasn’t too sweet, and it didn’t come out of a box.

(I highly recommend that website link for great frugal-cooking ideas. I learned a lot from it, and it looks like they’ve added a lot more healthy options since I visited last. I got my original biscuit recipe from the same site.)

baked honey banana

 

As time went by, I altered the recipe a bit to our changing diets. I started using coconut oil instead of vegetable, whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and I’m pretty sure I’ve even substituted almond milk for cow’s milk.
 

It’s a recipe that is simple to change around for what you’ve got on hand. It practically begs you to mess around with it.

I changed a few of the main ingredients in that basic recipe to get to these Honey Banana Muffins:

  • Switched out the processed sugar for honey. 
  • Switched out the all-purpose flour for whole-wheat (ground at Whole Foods, since I haven’t yet gotten a flour mill)
  • Switched out the vegetable oil for coconut oil, and then upped the ante again by switching to unsweetened applesauce (I had a precious home-canned jar available)
  • Added two small overripe bananas and some pecans.

The result was a decently dense (not foamy-squishy or cake-y) muffin that isn’t too sweet. The flavors are simple, fresh, and delicious. Great with butter, whether the muffins are warm or cool. I fill a few muffin cups with batter before I fold in the nuts since the youngest doesn’t like them. The kids have eaten these for two mornings in a row with no complaints. Winning!

Here are your ingredients:

photo

Wet ingredients:
  • 2 small (or 1 large) overripe (brown) bananas – these are softer and sweeter and best for breads and muffins and eating (if you’re me)
  • heaping 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (unsweetened, not “no sugar added”)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (or your favorite alternative)
  • 1/3 cup honey (or 1/2 cup if you gotta have more sweet)
  • 1/2 t salt
Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 cup pecans, broken into pieces (or more or none, to your liking)
     
And you’re ready to begin:

muffins to bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mash your bananas with a fork (or a sturdy whisk)
  3. Add the rest of the “wet” ingredients and mix well with a whisk
  4. Add flour and baking soda and stir 20-30 times with a wooden spoon until just blended. Over-mixing is bad for muffins. That’s how hockey pucks are made.
  5. Fold in nuts
  6. Fill greased muffin pan
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes until edges are lightly browned and delicious looking
  8. let cool in the pan for a minute or two before dumping out onto a wire rack
  9. Enjoy warm or cooled, with butter or without.
Honey Banana Nut Muffins
A real-food whole wheat banana muffin. Optional nuttiness with pecans. Sweetened with honey. No oil.
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Wet Ingredients
  1. 2 small overripe bananas (or 1 large one)
  2. heaping 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 cup milk (or your favorite alternative)
  5. 1/3-1/2 cup honey
  6. 1/2 t salt
Dry Ingredients
  1. 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  2. 1 T baking powder
  3. 1/4 cup pecan pieces (or more to your taste)
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. 2. Mash your bananas with a fork (or a sturdy whisk)
  3. 3. Add the rest of the "wet" ingredients and mix well with a whisk
  4. 4. Add flour and baking soda and stir 20-30 times with a wooden spoon until just blended.
  5. 5. Fold in nuts
  6. 6. Fill greased muffin pan
  7. 7. Bake 15-20 minutes until edges are lightly browned and delicious looking
  8. 8. Let cool in the pan for a minute or two before dumping out onto a wire rack
  9. 9. Enjoy warm or cooled, with butter or without.
Queen Of None http://www.queenofnone.com/

No Box Muffcakes

“Nooo Daddy. It’s too early. Even the sun’s asleep.” 

One thing our family needs more of are on-the-go breakfast options. The kids are rushed out the door with a slice of whole wheat butter bread and a piece of fruit. Not bad in terms of nutrition, but getting them to eat the same offering each morning isn’t easy. They like surprises. They like “special”.

So, the Muffcake was born.NoBoxMuffcakes

I’d seen numerous links on the Pinterest for pancake muffins. Trouble is, every recipe seemed to involve pre-packaged, processed pancake mix as the main ingredient. I avoid knowingly eating pancakes that come from a box. I wasn’t using a mix to make miniature pancakes for my kids.

Enter my Mama’s fantastic Buttermilk Pancake recipe.

Her recipe is our go-to. If you remember to purchase the buttermilk, they are delicious. If you forget the buttermilk and use milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice? They are still quite good.

I have adjusted my Mama’s original pancake recipe a bit for the Muffcakes. I switched out sugar for pure maple syrup (upping the ante for more yummy maple flavor while taking away another processed ingredient), and substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil (while reducing the oil by half). The type of flour is really up to you. They are best with whole wheat pastry flour (but our bag got leaked on in the last thunderstorm). This particular batch was made with unbleached all-purpose. Ah well.

You can add extra stuff to your taste. I’ve added bananas, peach, bacon, blueberries, and sausage. Bacon is a family favorite. I want to try granola. Today I went with blueberries.

The result is a slightly tangy (that’d be the buttermilk!), just sweet enough, portable pancake that is (almost) just like Mama makes.

Go buy some buttermilk. A small one is ok. Our Whole Foods has non-homogenized buttermilk in bottles that hold just under 2 cups. You’ll have enough for this and then some left over to soak a chicken breast in.

Gather your ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination of what you’ve got on hand)
1 T baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 good egg (beat it anyway. with a fork)
4 T pure maple syrup (the real stuff)
1 T coconut oil
1 cup buttermilk

@ 1/2 cup bacon pieces, sausage brumbles, blueberries, banana bits, granola or other fantastic pancake accompaniment
2 mini muffin tins (or one, if you have access to one with 24 cups!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)
  2. Combine the flour, powder, soda, and salt in a bowl. A medium sized bowl is adequate. Whisks work nicely for this.

    2. The dry stuff

    2. The dry stuff

  3. Add the beaten egg to the bowl with the dry stuff and stir it up. It will be lumpy. That’s ok. 
    3. Add egg

    3. Add egg

    3. lumps ok

    3. Lumps ok

  4. Warm the maple syrup and coconut oil in a small saucepan on low heat. (I suppose you could use the microwave. I always forget I put stuff in my microwave.) Remove the pan from the heat. Warming the the syrup with the oil will help keep the coconut oil from solidifying when we add the buttermilk. It took a great deal of trial and error for me to learn that.

    4. Warming the wet stuff

    4. Warming the wet stuff

  5. Slowly pour the buttermilk into your warm syrup mixture while you whisk like mad. This cools the syrup, but your buttermilk won’t get icky.
    5. Pour the buttermilk slowly

    5. Pour the buttermilk slowly

    5. Whisk while you pour

    5. Whisk while you pour

  6. Add your wet stuff to the medium bowl with the dry stuff. Whisk, whisk, whisk until it’s pretty smooth or you get a cramp. The buttermilk makes for a thick batter.
    6. Adding wet to dry

    6. Adding wet to dry

    6. Whisk, whisk, whisk

    6. Whisk, whisk, whisk

  7. Fold in your extra ingredient of choice.

    7. Fold in extras

    7. Fold in extras

  8. Grease your muffin pan and fill the wells. Not over the tops. You’ll have a little batter left over.

    8. Fill her up

    8. Fill her up

  9. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. The edges will brown a little bit and you can touch the top of a muffcake to be sure the centers are cooked. Don’t poke too hard, though. You don’t want to smoosh the delicate little things.

    9. All baked

    9. All baked

  10. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before trying to get them out. Removal may take a little whacking and coaxing with your fingers, but they should come out just fine. Then let the removed Muffcakes cool on the rack. Or eat them. 

    10. Cool and remove

    10. Cool and remove

  11. Enjoy them alone or add butter and syrup to a plate to smear them in. I usually refrigerate or freeze the Muffcakes if they will be with us for more than 24 hours. (I separate in layers with parchment paper) Warm if desired.

    11. Eat or store

    11. Eat or store

 

Muffcakes
Tangy buttermilk pancakes made portable. Lightly sweetened with maple syrup. Great for kids and church brunches. Freezable.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 c whole wheat pastry flour (or whatever you've got)
  2. 1 T baking powder
  3. 1/2 t baking soda
  4. 1/4 t salt
  5. 1 good egg, beaten anyway
  6. 4 T pure maple syrup
  7. 1 T coconut oil
  8. 1 c buttermilk
  9. Extra additions: like bacon or sausage (cooked), blueberries, strawberry pieces, granola, bits of banana, or chopped peach.
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. 2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.
  3. 3. Add egg. The mixture will be lumpy.
  4. 4. Warm maple syrup and coconut oil on low heat. Remove from heat.
  5. 5. Slowly add buttermilk to syrup mixture, whisking as you go.
  6. 6. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture, whisking like mad until it's all pretty smooth.
  7. 7. Fold in extra ingredients.
  8. 8. Fill a mini muffin tin with the batter.
  9. 9. Bake approximately 12 minutes, until edges start to brown and middles look done.
  10. 10. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out on a wire rack.
  11. 11. Enjoy alone or with butter and syrup!
Notes
  1. *The maple syrup and coconut oil are warmed together to keep the coconut oil from solidifying when the cold buttermilk hits it.
  2. *Rinse your blueberries if you don't want purple/blue muffcakes.
Adapted from Mama's Buttermilk Pancakes
Adapted from Mama's Buttermilk Pancakes
Queen Of None http://www.queenofnone.com/