Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Foraging the neighborhood

I opened the paper today to find an article about a local blogger, Hank Shaw, featuring his new book: "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast". Dig the title :). One of the recipes they shared was for Elderflower Liqueur. It is simple, right up my alley. As it is, I always have an ample amount of Vodka handy :).

I have been thinking about the elderflowers I discovered by chance last week, so I thought the article was a sign that I should go back TODAY. So I snatched up my not so excited kids, and very excited dog, and off we went. Of course, as were are driving, it begins to pour rain. One must understand, when I put my mind on making herbal medicine, there is no stopping me. We found lots of fresh flowers for the pickin', and headed back home, soaked to the bone.

Personally, I like soaking the flowers in the sink a bit, it makes the crawlies come out. I don't mind them so much when I am steeping in vodka, but I do mind them when I make fritters. You will loose some petals, but there will be plenty left.

Recipes follow:

Elderflower Fritters

Fritters, served with Mulberries from our park, and clotted cream made by accident when leaving out raw milk :).

16-20 heads of elder flower
1 3/4 cup of flour
1 egg
enough water to make a thinner batter. Think clotted cream, or thick joghurt consistancy.
1 generous shot of Grappa, or Amaretto :).

Heat up a oil, making sure you have at least 2 inches in the pan to dip. Dip the flower stalk into the batter, drip a bit, then submerge in oil, holding it by the stalk. Fry for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove and drain, you can sprinkle with some fine sugar if you wish. Serve warm.

Elderflower Liqueur (from Hank Shaw)

10 to 20 elderflower heads, cleaned
Vodka or Grappa
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Snip flowers off stalk and put in quart size Mason jar. Cover completely with Vodka. Let stand 1 month. Strain, then add sugar :). Put back in pantry and shake it from time to time until sugar is dissolved. Then it is ready to drink. Simple, eh?

Enjoy foraging in your 'hood'!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Explosive kitchen returns....

Tonight the kitchen was rockin'!

My house can be in chaos, but my kitchen has to work :). Tonight it was bustling with kids, herbs, & lots of SUGAR. Thus, the kids....

When my son asked me to take him to his daddy who was fishing this afternoon, I had no idea that I would come upon a treasure trove of elder flowers :). Unfortunately, I was not prepared, my dog was not even wearing his pack. So I packed down my daughter as much as I could, carried out as much as I could, and we will go back with a knife and bags when the rain stops.

Why am I telling you this? Because it sparked an evening of brewing.

I was looking for a recipe for elderflower wine. Found lots, yet I am not prepared. So I decided to make elder flower fritters tomorrow (something my Oma made me all the time as a kid :)...), and dry the rest of my bounty for Gypsy Tea. I did find a recipe for elder flower cordial..another yummy summer treat...that I will post below.

Instead of posting long recipes, I will post some of my favorite resources to "learn" from.

Elder flower recipes:

Fermented Beets with Ginger :)...yum!! Ok, I am posting the recipe that prompted this, yet I must admit that spontaneity means that I only had mustard seed & dill, and used whey instead of vegetable starter. Smelled yummy......

Ginger Soda! Ok, we stopped making this a while ago because the bottles kept exploding. First some in my pantry, then the fabulous soda volcano in my kitchen. Now we are back... :). You can find a recipe for ginger soda in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
, or Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Both are excellent books, a Kitchen Witch must have :). I added sarsaparilla to mine...smells like root beer!

Kombucha! Just bottled a batch. I am loving it. I am fortunate to have lots of Kombucha brewing witches in my circle, but this is an excellent resource for beginners too!
You can download a free DIY lesson, just put "Kombucha VIP" as a password.

And last, but not least, I strained the fabulous kefir made with raw milk...heaven!! My dog comes out of deep sleep when I strain, he seems to sense it :). He loves to eat the excess kefir grains, lol! That's why he is so purdy! You can get kefir grains by asking your friends, googling "Kefir exchanges", or by ordering from If you sign up for their newsletter right now you can get a free kefir recipe book!

Have fun! Let me know if you try any of the recipes.
P.S. YES! You CAN have a Kitchen Witch T-shirt!!

:) Strut that stuff, Kitchen Witches!!
Much love,

Friday, May 6, 2011

This pizza will make an Italian cringe...

Tonight, we are having PIZZA!! Making pizza is a cinch. I like to make it myself, not only because I find delivery pizza outrageously expensive, but also because I spend a lot of time searching for/buying sustainably raised food. It would be silly to spend so much time & money finding sustainably raised meat, then ingest meat that is not, since most pizza places are not on my "happy animal" path.

My Italian friends cringe when I tell them about my pizza :). If you have ever eaten a "real" Italian pizza in Italy, you know it looks a lot different than the pizza we see here in the U.S. The one I am making tonight is for my family, covered in meats, cheeses, etc. One day I will make an authentic Quattro Stagioni and post.

Basic dough recipe:

5 cups flour
1.5 cups warm water (knead with 1 cup and add more as you need it. Dough should be pliable, but not sticky.)
1 tblsp yeast
2 tblsp olive oil

Mix, knead until the dough is soft and pliable. Roll into a ball, set on a floured surface, cover with a towel. let rise for an hour or until doubled in size. This will be enough for 1 cookie sheet thick dough, or two 12 inch thinner crust pizzas.

Stretch dough over oiled pan. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500F.

Spread with your favorite toppings! Tonight we used cheddar cheese, pizza sauce, salami, ham, oregano & thyme, olives, pineapple. I also like using garlic sauce, spinach, red papppers & feta cheese :). Personally, I often cheat and use a nice organic pizza sauce out of the glass, but I grate my own cheese, and use organic & natural ingredients.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Voila! Dig in!