Domesticity is back. People are returning to a simpler life of cooking, gardening, and even raising chickens! According to LOHAS – Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability – seed sales are up 30 to 50 percent and canning sales saw a whopping 45 percent increase.Yesterday I linked to Well Preserved's post on making tzatziki and thickening their homemade yogurt (Tzatziki, Thickening Yogurt and Other Favourites…). I forgot to mention ... save the leftover whey. It is protein-rich and full of probiotic bacteria. I drink it straight, mix it into smoothies, use it as a substitute for buttermilk (think low fat ranch-style dressing - or in baked goods), or in anything that calls for water and you want to add flavor and tartness. It freezes well if you can't use it all at once. Finally, it is useful for lacto-fermentations.
Produce sharing with community-supported agricultural farms and produce exchanges are springing up throughout urban and suburban and rural communities. The take-home message is: urban farming is cool; urban wastelands are not. [emphasis added]
Department of "Hey, that was my idea":
Serious Eats is all excited about a food truck in D.C. selling oatmeal with a brûléed top (Oatmeal Brûlée from the Sweetgreen Truck in Washington, D.C.). Darn. I did that years ago.
I'm a huge fan of porridges (basically any grain or legume boiled and served as a mush). Porridges are one of the earliest cooked foods and a staple item for most of human history. Not only are there many different styles of oats, but so many different grains to make porridge from. Try some groats or quinoa for something different.
So what is the food preservation angle? How about another idea that some hip new food truck can steal? Jam or canned pie filling can be put on top of the oatmeal, but rather than simply stir it in, top that with a crumble topping (including more oats), place in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy and ... oatmeal fruit crumble.
The Burlington Free Press has some suggestions on using chutneys (Tips for Using What You Have on Hand: Chutney). Once you find some that you like, you'll be coming up with all sorts of things they can be used for. Hmmmm ... maybe with some drained yogurt for a spread or a dip?
All Types of Cooking, And a Whole Lot of Canning Here! enthusiastically recommends pressure canning home made stock (Canning Chicken Stock). I couldn't agree more. Never let bones go to waste. Freeze them, if necessary, until you have enough for a batch of stock. I always buy pork shoulder bone-in, so I can save the bones - and, it is usually less expensive that way. My shrimp are always purchased uncooked, shell-on so that I can freeze the shells for stock later (used my entire stock of shrimp shells to make a lobster bisque a few weeks ago). You get the picture.
Apparently, yesterday was National Margarita Day. Now there is nothing like freshly made sour mix. However, when you want to mix a drink, a fresh sour mix isn't always conveniently available. And forget that store bought stuff. Seriously. That stuff is horrible. I'd rather go parched then drink something with that stuff in it. However, making your own canned sour mix is a possibility. It won't be as good as the fresh stuff, but it is better than the store-bought junk. Equal parts (by volume) water, fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice and sugar. Some of the zest from the fruit is also nice. Bring all ingredients to a boil, let infuse for 10 minutes and strain out zest. Can as you would a syrup.
I've been remiss in linking to several good posts from jelly fan What Julia Ate. Most recently she discovered a chutney she really liked (The Heavy Heavy Carrot Apple Chutney Sound).
I am on the chutney train, people. I really didn't think this was going to be good while I was cooking it. I thought, damn, I put too much in. Made it too complicated. But lordy, is this good. I don't often eat chutney out of the jar but I am now a convertFor the February Can Jam she made the popular (with a few small twists) Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle.
Jelly doesn't always get the respect it should, I think, but Julia aims to change that. Just one example, using jelly in cocktails (Jelly Toddy). Yes! Heck yes. Now I have to go make some coffee liqueur.
Jellies and marmalades are also great in tea, or just hot water, of course. Koreans make something very similar to a citron or yuzu marmalade, stir it into hot water and call it citron or yuzu tea or yujacha. It is considered a winter sore throat/cold remedy. A little brandy added is a bonus.