Category Archives: Vegan

Chocolate Chia Pudding

 

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to jump on the chia pudding band wagon! I’d read about so many uses for chia seeds, and how they are an amazing vegan source of omega-3s and fiber along with a host of other micronutrients, added chia to salads, smoothies, crackers, and bread recipes, and have made chia fresca and enjoyed it. But it took forever to try this!

Don’t make my mistakes people. Make this tonight!

Chocolate chia pudding ingredients

Chia seeds may seem expensive, but a little goes a LONG way! They absorb water and can swell up many times their size, creating a gel-like coating around the seed. It is a strange texture at first, but give it a try. The health benefits are worth it!

Chocolate chia pudding ingredients in bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Chocolate chia pudding mixing

Step 1: Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk, or you can put it in a mason jar with a lid and shake it like you mean it!

Chocolate chia pudding ready to eat

Step 2: Refrigerate one hour or overnight. It will thicken as it sits. If you want it thicker, add more chia, if you want it thinner add more milk. It makes about 4 1/2 cup servings and should last a week in the refrigerator.

Chocolate chia pudding with strawberries

Top with granola and fresh berries for an amazing breakfast or anytime snack! The thick gel consistency of the seeds makes it almost exactly like pudding. And if you really love chocolate, use chocolate almond milk, or double the cocoa powder. It’s the healthiest treat that tastes like dessert I’ve ever had!

 

How to: Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker

 

One of my all-time-favorite money-saving appliances is the handy dandy slow cooker. It is amazing at taking tough (cheap) cuts of meats and slow cooking them to tasty perfection. It is great for making wicked frugal soups and stews. It makes dinner a breeze on crazy weeknights, keeping me from just ordering a pizza or take out. And it allows me to make staple items, like beans, for literally pennies per serving.

Beans aren’t usually listed on “top 10s” of superfoods, but I think they should be. There are so many kinds, black, pinto, navy, chickpea, green… And they are a fantastic source of protein for a very pocketbook-friendly price, I can usually find them about $1 per pound. And since beans plump when you cook them, you get much more than one pound out of that bag. If you find a good sale or buy in bulk, that price drops even lower. You can’t beat that in a can!

However, you also can’t beat the convenience of canned beans. Just sitting on a shelf, ready and waiting for a taco Tuesday or a last-minute decision to make minestrone. All you need is a can opener and you’re in business.

But you’re paying a premium for that convenience.

Someone else took the time to soak and cook dried beans ahead of time, and stick them in that can. They also may have chemicals or preservatives or flavorings or way too much sodium in the can. When you cook your own, you are in control of all these things.

So here’s the big secret: You can cook your own dried beans at home, with just a few minutes of effort, and have delicious beans ready to toss into whatever any time! For, like, a dollar!

Enter the slow cooker.

crock pot black beans with nori

Almost every Saturday, I toss a half pound or a pound of either black, navy, chickpeas, or pintos into a slow cooker with water to cover them, and let them soak overnight. Then on Sunday, I change the water and add some spices and let it simmer all day. The finished product gets canned, separated by cup into individual bags and frozen, or put in the refrigerator for use that week.

That way I have a stock of frozen beans ready at a moment’s notice, and fresh beans for recipes whenever I want! Hello, black bean and egg burritos, white chicken chili, tortilla soup, or red beans and rice anytime.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beans
  • Water to cover
  • ~2tbsp vinegar (any kind)
  • Spices recommended: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fennel seed, onion, chili powder, or oregano. Choose 1-2 you like and see what happens
  • Optional: 1 strip of seaweed

Step 1: Cover your beans with water, and let soak 6 hours or overnight. Drain, and cover again. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10.

Slow cooker pinto beans canned

Step 2: You can keep the cooking liquid, or discard, up to you. I usually keep it, especially when canning or freezing the beans, and then drain just before using in recipes.

The beautiful thing is that now you have this super-cheap base to use to make your own refried beans, hummus, (did you know you can make hummus with black beans too!), vegetarian burger patties, or you can can them for later. (By the way, do use a pressure canner, or keep them in the refrigerator. We don’t want botulism now do we?)

 

Slow cooker dried beans

Slow cooker dried beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beans
  • Water to cover
  • ~2tbsp vinegar (any kind)
  • Spices recommended: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fennel seed, onion, chili powder, or oregano. Choose 1-2 you like and see what happens
  • Optional: 1 strip of seaweed

Instructions

  1. Cover your beans with water, and let soak 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain, and cover again.
  3. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10.
  4. You can keep the cooking liquid, or discard, up to you. I usually keep it, especially when canning or freezing the beans, and then drain just before using in recipes.
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Balsamic Berry Sauce

 

Fresh berries are nature’s candies. Bright and juicy, they are one of the most healthful natural foods. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, whatever the color they are super! If you want to use them for something other than snacking and parfaits, here is a great dessert sauce recipe!

This sauce is a perfect accompaniment to ice cream, or poured over angel food cake, or even by itself with some fresh cream. It would make a great sauce for chicken, duck, or pork as well. You may like it so much you just eat it from the pan with a spoon! Not that I would or did do that…

Frozen berries would work just as well, you would just have to cook it a little longer to evaporate the extra water. The longer you simmer, the thicker and more syrup-like this will become. You could even use it on top of pancakes! I used half blackberries and half raspberries, you could mix however you like.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

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Step 1: In a frying pan, mix berries with sugar, lemon juice and balsamic. Bring to barely a simmer, and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, until berries have liquefied and the mixture has become thick and syrupy.

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Step 2: Pour over some high quality vanilla or flavored ice cream, and enjoy warm!

This is delicious warm, and has a nice little tang from the vinegar. The lemon juice brightens it, but it is not absolutely required. You could try cherries too, I bet that would be the bomb diggity.

 

Spicy Green Beans

 

Ever try to get a child, or significant other, or friend, or yourself, to eat a new vegetable?  Sometimes, it is just fine. But most of the time, it does not go over well. You’re greeted with scrunched up noses, tongues sticking out, and a chorus of “ewwww!”.

Well, I have good news for you. I know of several tricks to get new vegetables to at the least be considered, if not openly adored. One involves trying it in a new texture. I’ve found that pan-frying or baking until crispy can render some normally off-putting veg nearly irresistible.

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The second trick is spice. Usually the hot kind, but also all kinds of spices. Familiarize yourself with different spices, fresh and dried, ground and whole. Peppers are a whole world of their own, from as innocuous as bells and jalapenos up through cherry peppers, poblanos, and serranos.

While they are in season, pick them up cheap at the store or farmer’s market (or better yet, grow your own, peppers are very forgiving and easy growing!) and they freeze or dehydrate beautifully for salsas and recipes all year long.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh green beans (or any pole bean)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground or fresh diced hot pepper
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh diced garlic
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil

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Step 1: Put the olive oil and green beans in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until beans start to brown.

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Step 2: Add the garlic, tomatoes, soy sauce, and hot pepper. You can use any kind of tomatoes, or forget about them and just cook the beans too. I happened to have a yellow pear tomato plant that just exploded with fruit so I used those. It adds a nice juicy, fresh taste.

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Cook until tomatoes burst, and most of the liquid is evaporated. Serve hot!

These come out crunchy yet easy to chew, with a very fun texture. If you let them cool slightly, they can be great finger foods. Obviously you can adjust the level of heat to the comfort level of whoever is eating them. Add extra hot peppers to convince a doubtful male to try it (Seriously, spice works to conceal a lot of “vegetal” tastes most dudes don’t love), or dial it back for those who are new to spices.

You can even omit the hot pepper at all for children, or people who are allergic or just don’t like hot pepper. But I’d suggest giving it a try, you’ll never go back to canned beans once you’ve tried this delish dish!

 

Freezer Smoothie Packs

 

We all know mom always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But we all know that sometimes it is the hardest meal of the day. It’s too early, we don’t have time, we can’t think of anything that sounds good, you don’t want to cook… the list of excuses goes on and on.

It’s hard to come up with something that is tasty, healthy, and also can be made in the 5 minutes you have before you rush out the door for the day.

Don’t worry dear reader, I’ve got your back.

Smoothie packs ready for the freezer

Enter: the freezer smoothie pack.

Just a few minutes of prep ahead of time on a weekend and you can have a whole week’s worth of healthy, on-the-go breakfasts ready and waiting in your freezer. These little bags are such a simple yet brilliant answer to the morning breakfast rush. And boy, are they customizable! All you really need is a good handful of greens, a fruit or two or three, and some baggies.

In the morning, just grab one bag, toss it in the blender with enough liquid (milk, almond milk, coconut water, tea, juice, whatever you like), blend and go. And if you have the kind of blender that makes single servings and you drink right out of it, your morning could not BE any simpler!

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For each smoothie pack, you will need:

  • 1 medium zip-top baggie
  • 1/2 – 1 cup greens (spinach, beet greens, kale, collards, etc)
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped other fruits

You can try just about anything in these freezer bags. It makes a great answer to almost-mushy fruits in the fridge, halves of things left over, and whatever fruits are in season and on sale. I used peaches, pears, bananas, local blueberries, and avocado. I also had half a pineapple and some beet greens from my garden, so I tossed those into a few bags as well.

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Step 1: Wash, peel, and cut up your fruits as needed. You can also slice your greens into smaller pieces to make blending easier.

Smoothie pack and blender

Step 2: Toss your baggies into the freezer. That’s it! When you are ready for a super quick healthy breakfast (or lunch, or snack, or dessert…) pour the contents of the bag into a blender, and add your liquid of choice. I like green tea for a gentle caffeine kick, or almond milk for some creamy smoothness.

Enjoy!

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Refrigerator Pickles

 

Just imagine biting into the perfect pickle. It is softened, but still crunchy, with a tangy note accented with just a touch of sweetness and an after-bite of pepper. The delicious, fresh taste of summer, to be had any time you have a hankering! I have some awesome news, friends, you are capable of making your very own pickles! Yes, you!

You don’t have to buy sad, soggy pickles that were jarred in a factory months ago. And it doesn’t have to take hours of boiling water and hard work, expensive or obscure pickling spice mixes, or waiting months for the pickling process to be complete.  You can have the fresh, irresistible crunch of summer time bounty any time you want it, within hours, and using items you likely already have in the house. Well, as long as you stock your refrigerator with these pickles!

Refrigerator pickles in containers

My family always had these in spades during summer and fall, they are the perfect side dish, topping to burgers or hot dogs, or snacks eaten right out of the bowl by the handful. I have also heard them called “Dutch Pickles” by some crazy people.

They are also quite easy to customize. If you don’t like super puckery pickles, go easier on the vinegar and use more water. If you’re the sweet pickle kinda person, I will try not to judge you too much as you add up to a 1/2 cup of sugar. If you gag at the taste of black pepper, leave it out. If black pepper is for wussies, feel free to pop a jalapeno or habanero into the mix! You can also add other herbs and flavors like garlic cloves, fresh dill, sliced peppers, or mustard seed.

Whether you call them Refrigerator Pickles, or Dutch Pickles, or just pickles, you should definitely make this recipe at least once in your life! They are able to be eaten within an hour, best after 6-8 hours, and will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. Though after you get a taste, I doubt they will last that long. 😉

Refrigerator pickles ingredients

Ingredients (1 quart):

  • 1 large cucumber or several smaller (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 – 3/4 cup vinegar (to taste)
  • Black pepper & salt to taste
  • Optional: thinly sliced radishes/ zucchini / carrot/ peppers

Quart of pickles

Step 1: Slice your cucumber and onion as thinly as humanly possible! If you are using other veggies, slice those up thin as well. Be very careful and be aware of knife safety of course, or use a mandoline if you have one. This is important to get all the lovely juices distributed as quickly as possible to pickle your veggies!

Pickles!

Step 2: Heat the water just to boiling, and dissolve the sugar. Press your cucumbers and onion in layers into a quart container, adding black pepper and salt as you go. Add the vinegar to the water and pour it all over the pickles.

Pickles fresh from the refrigerator

Step 3: Wait about 8 hours to overnight or longer. Now you have the perfect summer snack! Eat them straight from the jar, pile them onto sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, tacos, or dice them and add to potato or tuna salads. These delicious pickles are a great way to enjoy summer’s bounty, and will keep long after the cold chill of autumn rolls in.

And did I mention this recipe is fat-free, vegan, gluten-free, and barely 100 calories even if you eat the whole quart in one sitting?!? I won’t tell if you don’t…

 

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber or several smaller (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 - 3/4 cup vinegar (to taste)
  • Black pepper & salt to taste
  • Optional: thinly sliced radishes/ zucchini / carrot/ peppers

Instructions

  1. Slice your cucumber and onion as thinly as humanly possible! If you are using other veggies, slice those up thin as well. Be very careful and be aware of knife safety of course, or use a mandoline if you have one. This is important to get all the lovely juices distributed as quickly as possible to pickle your veggies!
  2. Heat the water just to boiling, and dissolve the sugar. Press your cucumbers and onion in layers into a quart container, adding black pepper and salt as you go. Add the vinegar to the water and pour it all over the pickles.
  3. Wait about 8 hours to overnight or longer.
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Smoothie Freezer Bags

 

Happy 500th Post! Time flies when you’re having fun  😉

Let me describe for you a typical American’s morning.  We wake up to the alarm going off, maybe hit “snooze” once or twice or ten times.  Realize what time it is, maybe freak out about everything we need to do today. Finally coerce ourselves out of bed (probably with the promise of coffee soon).

We stumble into the kitchen and autopilot the caffeine of choice (hot tea, cocoa, Moutain Dew, but probably coffee. So much coffee).  Glance at the clock, think “oh crap I’m gonna be late!” run back to our room, look through closets and drawers trying to find something to wear that is appropriate / cute / in season / matches the weather / doesn’t smell like rotten garbage / still fits.

Finally clothed, we rush to the bathroom.  We shave, shower, do our makeup, brush our hair, bonus points for time to blow dry or style it, brush our teeth (hopefully!). Now with negative two minutes to go until we need to leave, we rush out the door, maybe with second coffee in to-go mug in hand, and off to work we go… And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous circus that is a morning when there are children involved!

Where is the breakfast in all this rush?

You know your entire life your mom always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and of course she is right. A healthy breakfast helps you wake up, gets your metabolism revved to create and repair cells, pump blood and oxygen, filter out the bad stuff, and move your muscles all day.

It keeps you from getting hangry right around ten or eleven am and making a trip to the vending machine / coffee shop / donuts in the break room and gets you through until lunchtime. It keeps your neurons firing so you can think and be your best all day.

But you just don’t have the time!

I get it. I’ve been there a million times. Drive through bagels, donuts or muffins from heaven when someone has a birthday or there’s a meeting and its catered, a granola bar hidden in a desk drawer. Some days you gotta do what you gotta do.

But there is a better way.

Enter: The Smoothie Freezer Pack!

Smoothie freezer bags

Oh yes, this thing is a busy persons’ dream. Just pull it out, dump in a blender with some milk or juice, push “go” and walk away for a few minutes. Pour it into a glass or travel mug and you have a real food, super healthy, breakfast of champions with almost no work! It just takes a few moments of prep and a bit of planning ahead.  Don’t get scared now, I believe in you.

On a weekend or whenever you grocery shop, just stock up on 5 bananas, 2-5 other fruits you like, and some sort of green (spinach is a good starter, but you can also use kale, swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, etc). Then grab some plastic zip top baggies and a knife, and here we go!

Smoothie Pack Ingredients

Step 1: Cut up all your fruits. You will notice avocados, and that may worry you. But trust me, if you’ve never tried it, avocado is AMAZING in smoothies! And it is a super way to sneak in some healthy fats and a creamy texture that no one will even know is there! It will be our secret 😉

Freezer Smoothie Bags

Step 2: In each baggie, add 2-3 types of fruits, one whole banana, and a big ol’ handful of greens. I used avocados, pears, peaches, blueberries, pineapple, spinach, and beet greens. Try different combinations until you find what you like the best.

Smoothie Bags

Step 3: Zip up the baggies, and pop them in the freezer. That’s it! Now all you need to do when you want breakfast in a hurry is take out a bag, pour it into a blender. Then add about 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid of choice, I recommend milk, juice, green tea, or kefir, and blend until smooth.

Smoothie to go

These smoothie packs can also be a great after-workout refresher, or a snack / treat anytime you want a blast of healthy fruits and veggies. You can add some protein powder or a tablespoon of peanut butter for an extra protein punch. Now go forth and conquor your day!

 

What is your favorite smoothie mix? Do you have a super quick breakfast you love? Share here!

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Blueberry basil iced tea

 

July means blueberry season here in Connecticut, and boy am I happy about that! I am thrilled to have a farm share this year from Farmer Joe’s Gardens in Wallingford. Someday I’ll write a whole post about CSA’s and why they are amazing fantastic and wonderful. But for now, let me just brag on these blueberries!

I’m not knocking store bought or frozen blueberries, no matter what form they take blueberries are one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants and nutrients.  But you haven’t truly tasted a blueberry until you have an organic, farm fresh, just picked berry. They are so sweet, yet tart, plump and juicy and delicious! I could nom a whole pint in one night if I’m not careful!

Basil and blueberries

Our farm share also gave us a baby basil plant, which is awesome because I love basil in pesto! I already had a big ol’ basil bush of my own too, so this new plant will become my second harvest in a few weeks.  I harvested a ton of basil in anticipation of said pesto, and then wondered what else I could use it for.

Well, with the weather being as hot as it has been, in the 90s on average across the country, nice iced beverages have been what keeps me going each day.  While I am all in favor of massive volumes of water in general, sometimes you want something with a different flavor. You can of course simply crush some berries and add them right to water to add some flavor.

But iced tea is really what I crave on a midsummer day. So I thought, why not use this fresh pungent basil and plump blueberries together to make a refreshing summer beverage? The flavors seems strange, until you try them together. Then you realize the truth, they were made for each other.

Blueberry basil iced tea

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh brewed tea

Step 1: In a cup, crush the blueberries and muddle the basil leaves to release the juices. Add the fresh brewed tea and let it sit and brew for 5-10 minutes.

Blueberry basil iced tea with straw

Step 2: Strain into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!

You can definitely mix this up and use other berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. Try other fresh herbs like mint, sage, or lavender. And if you want, you can make this an adults-only tea and add a shot of rum or iced tea schnapps!

 

Blueberry basil iced tea

Blueberry basil iced tea

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh brewed tea

Instructions

  1. In a cup, crush the blueberries and muddle the basil leaves to release the juices. Add the fresh brewed tea and let it sit and brew for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Strain into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!
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Homemade Pickled Ginger

 

If you’re a sushi fan like me, you are familiar with the paper-thin, spicy yet sweet pickled ginger sushi usually comes with.  If you want an authentic at-home sushi experience (you can even try making your own! It’s probably easier than you think), you could buy it in a jar.  Or, for far less, you can make it yourself!

Ginger is a unique and strong flavor that is unmistakable and irreplaceable.  Ginger is delicious in ale, beer, tea, stir fry… you get the picture.  A few thin slices added to steamed veggies takes dinner from “meh” to “did you get this from a restaurant?”  A few slivers of ginger elevates a cup of plain green tea to something decadent and exotic.  A few pieces or ginger juice in soup adds layers of flavor and depth.  And in good times and bad, ginger ale soothes and refreshes.

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Not only does ginger taste delicious, it is also known to have hosts of health promoting effects on the body.  From head to toe, ginger has seemingly magical properties to aid and ease all kinds of complaints.  From ancient times to modern homeopaths, midwives and housewives, ginger in fresh, powdered, or pill form is useful for many health purposes.  Here are just a few:

The Benefits of Ginger

  1. Anti-Nausea: Ginger is a known remedy for motion sickness, morning sickness, and any other sickness which makes you feel like you need a trash can, stat.
  2. Cold & Flu Prevention: When you or a loved one starts to feel a little under the weather, some nice ginger tea may be just what the doctor ordered. Or at least, just the thing to keep you from needing to go to the doctor. This may also help with allergies!
  3. Reduces Inflammation: Ginger is a known anti-inflammatory, and some studies show it may even be just as effective as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin & ibuprofen.
    Ginger Heart
  4. Strengthens Immunity: Ginger helps to stimulate your body’s immune system, to build up new cells and make you more able to resist microscopic invaders on a day to day basis. It also decreases bacterial infections in the stomach.
  5. Prevents Cancer: Studies have shown that chemicals present in ginger help inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.  It also induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells.  Who knows what else this powerful plant can do!
  6. Stimulates Appetite: If you haven’t been feeling hungry, try a piece of ginger 10-30 minutes before a meal.  Ginger can help stimulate appetite and get your digestive juices flowing.
  7. Assists Digestion/Absorption: Ginger has many healing properties all along the digestive tract, from stimulating digestive juices in the mouth, to the stomach, to the intestines.  Ginger with a meal or in tea helps you get the most out of the nutrients in the foods.

Jar of Fresh Pickled Ginger Slices

The best news of all is that it is super easy to make your own pickled ginger and have it around all the time!  Ginger keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or more, and even longer in the freezer.  But if you pickle the ginger, you can store it for months in the fridge.  All you need is a nice big chunk of ginger root, some vinegar (rice vinegar is best, but honest you can use just about any kind), and sugar.  A tiny dash of salt helps too.  This recipe makes about one pint jar worth, feel free to multiply it for larger batches, or halve it for just a single meal’s worth.

Slice of Homemade Pickled Ginger

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fresh gingerroot (about 8 oz)
  • 1 cup vinegar (rice wine or apple cider are best)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 – 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water to fill jar

Sliced Ginger Root Ready to Be Pickled

Step 1: Peel the ginger using a sharp knife, butter knife, or a table spoon.  (Honest, it works!)  Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the ginger as thinly as possible.  My mandoline, even on the thinnest setting, still sliced these super thick, so I won’t be eating these slices alone.  Most likely they will get diced into stir fry or a strip or two tossed into a cup of tea.

Step 2: Pour the vinegar, sugar, salt, and water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Place the slices into a glass container (such as a canning jar, or clean pasta jar) and pour the hot liquid over, using a funnel if needed.  Cap it tight, and let cool overnight.

Big Piece of Pickled Ginger

And that’s all there is to it!  Put the jar in the refrigerator, and let it sit for at least 2 hours, but the longer it sits the more pickled it will become.  It also may turn pink over time, due to the enzymes in the ginger, this is nothing to be concerned about.  Use more or less sugar and salt to your tastes, or experiment with the types of vinegar.

Let me know in what recipes you use your ginger!

Homemade Pickled Ginger

Homemade Pickled Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1 large fresh ginger root (about 8 oz)
  • 1 cup vinegar (rice wine or apple cider are best)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 - 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup water to fill jar

Instructions

  1. Peel the ginger using a sharp knife, butter knife, or a table spoon. (Honest, it works!) Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the ginger as thinly as possible. My mandoline, even on the thinnest setting, still sliced these super thick, so I won't be eating these slices alone. Most likely they will get diced into stir fry or a strip or two tossed into a cup of tea.
  2. Pour the vinegar, sugar, salt, and water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Place the slices into a glass container (such as a canning jar, or clean pasta jar) and pour the hot liquid over, using a funnel if needed. Cap it tight, and let cool overnight.
  3. And that's all there is to it!
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Mixed Winter Vegetables

 

Towards the end of February, it seems like nothing will ever grow again, and a juicy summer tomato is but a dream.  Most Americans just go to the supermarket and buy whatever exotic fruits or produce they are craving with no regards to whence it came, how many miles it has traveled, or how the nutrients have been degraded by early harvest and long travel time between dirt and plate.

I strongly encourage those yearning for the warmer days of spring where every corner bursts with greenery to make use of the oft-neglected seasonal produce.  Try searching Local Harvest for farmers markets near you.  Root crops store so well, while cold-tolerant crops are appearing in local markets.  If you are lucky you may even have farmers with greenhouses or cold hoops that grow tender baby greens and lettuces.

Many people cannot name 5 produce items that are in season any time of the year other than mid-summer, and maybe not even then.  During the coldest, bleakest times of winter it is especially hard to think of produce actually being able to withstand the harsh temperatures.  But in New England, there are tons of vegetables that you can find for mere pennies at the local markets, including: carrots, fingerling potatoes, beets (red and gold), rutabaga, squash, parsnips, turnips, radishes, leeks, onions, Brussels sprouts, baby micro-greens, spinach, kale, collards, and mushrooms.

This recipe makes a large meal for one, or side dish for two.  Feel free to mix up the vegetable content based on what you have available right now and what you like.  But if you are wary of these produce types, just try one and see how you like it.  You never know when you may fall in love with the sweetness of a golden beet, the carrot-like texture of parsnips, or the nuances of various radish strains.

Ingredients:

  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onion
  • 1 small potato
  • 3-4 small beets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

photo 1 (1)

Step 1: Cut the tops and bottoms off of your produce, and dice into chunks or slices.  Add the olive oil & lemon to a frying pan, and add all the vegetables.  Cover tightly, and steam 5-10 minutes.  Stir up the veggies, cover, and steam another 10 minutes or so.  You want the heat low enough that it will slowly caramelize the sugars in the vegetables, not burn them.

photo 2 (1)

Step 2: Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.  Either serve alone or on the side with a meat and salad.  I enjoyed mine with some roasted chicken, baby greens, and homemade sauerkraut on top.  It is so simple, yet so wonderfully tasty!