Category Archives: Food and such

A day to myself

I’ve got two days off after a seven-day stretch, and the husband’s at work. What to do with myself? Make a list of all the plant and food projects I want to do this summer, of course!

I have this irrational need to make taffy during the summer, which is silly because it never works out (but it tastes so good). I think I’ll settle for making candied ginger today, and doing something with the chocolate I keep hoarding – chocolate-pretzel bites? Violet-infused chocolate truffles? Ooh, chocolate-dipped mint leaves!

The herb garden is going strong again, so I’ve got a bag of dried violets to find a use for and a much larger bag of dried marjorum that I need to process. Chive blossom vinegar is going strong, need to switch out the blossoms for some fresh ones. Think the basil needs a little TLC, and the rosemary bush is getting out of control.

Found soap bases at the craft store, maybe the violets can go into that – I know some of the old-fashioned roses growing in the yard are definitely going into a soap, they’re so incredibly fragrant! Soaps may be the Christmas gift of the year, this time around – fresh fruits and juices, dried herbs and flowers, tons of possibilities. Pretty sure I can make a chai tea based soap, which would be heaven.

Cooking stuff: sometime this summer, I’m hoping we’ll be able to do a big crab/crawdad boil here at the house, maybe get some of mine and the hubby’s friends over to supplement the family members we usually do these things with.

In June, I’m planning on ordering a pack or two of pickling cucumbers and getting the supplies together for a massive How To: Pickles and Preserves. Definitely want to do dill pickles (Small Family style, of course!), maybe daikon pickle and one other, then strawberry jam or jelly and maybe a fruit butter.

The father-in-law found a good source for bulk mustard seed online, so some experimenting in mustard-making will happen this summer, as well! I’ll be sure to track the results and send out samples for “taste-testing” once I’ve got it down.

I’m going to need a bigger kitchen.

~Mountain Girl



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“Failed Fondue” Mac & Cheese: a Post-Wedding Meal!

When Jared and I got back from our honeymoon, we discovered that the house was still full of leftovers from the wedding! There were 15 open bottles of wine in the garage, about 15 different cheeses, and we’re still finding things!

So in an attempt to use up both the cheese and the wine, we tried our hand at fondue one night. “Tried” is the operative word, here. There were so many cheese varieties that went into it – Monterey Jack, cheddar, Brie, some random Greek cheese we had, plus another half dozen that we couldn’t identify – that we weren’t sure how it would actually turn out.

It was delicious. We ate as much as we could stand, dripping cheesy goodness off of sourdough bread cubes. But the texture was wrong, and there was way more of it than four people could inhale in one sitting. The fondue ended up very grainy, and I’m pretty sure it was one of the hard cheese we had in the mix. But it still tasted amazing, so we poured the leftovers into a container, and came up with a way to use it the next day.


“Failed Fondue” Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You’ll need:
Pasta, 2 cups – use whatever you’ve got. We used whole wheat penne. Enough to balance out the fondue you’ve got.
Leftover fondue, at least 3 cups (4 is better)
Milk or Half and Half
Breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup
Seasonings – Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, chili powder or smoked paprika, whatever you’re in the mood for (or have too much of)
Grated cheese

Grease a deep 1-1/2 quart baking dish (or whatever casserole dish you’ve got) and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Bring water to boil and cook pasta according to its directions. While it’s making its merry way toward done, heat up your leftover fondue.

Run a butter knife through it top-to-bottom then side-to-side in a grid, loosening the cheesy cubes as you go. If it’s in a microwavable container, nuke it on 70% power for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat until the cheese is partially melted. Add in a tablespoon of butter (or more, whatever feels right) and a couple tablespoons of milk/half & half, stir into the cheese, and microwave again in 30 second bursts until everything is melted and more or less smooth. Add more milk as needed to get the right consistency. For the stovetop, melt the fondue in a saucepan over medium heat, adding the butter and milk when it’s mostly melted. Stir often, you don’t want it to scorch. You just want to make your fondue more saucy. Add a little flour to the mix if it seems too thin. Once it’s all incorporated, turn the heat off and add any seasonings you like.

When the pasta’s done to your liking, drain it and add it back to its pot, and stir the fondue-turned-cheese sauce into it. Pour half the pasta and sauce into the baking dish, sprinkle with grated cheese, and top with the remaining pasta. Add more cheese, and sprinkle (be liberal) half a cup of breadcrumbs or so over the top.

Bake until the breadcrumbs are toasted, and the cheese is melted and just golden around the edges of the dish, about 30 minutes (NOTE: If you use a shallower, larger casserole dish, cut the time to 15-20 minutes). Let the whole thing stand for five minutes before dishing it up.

Serve with steaks and butternut squash slices hot off the grill. Don’t forget the vino.


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