Category Archives: Cooking

Making Herb Vinegars

Left to right: Dill weed and seeds, Empress of India nasturtium flowers and leaves, basil-oregano-garlic, tarragon, purple basil-oregano-garlic, Alaska nasturtium flowers and leaves, and Black Velvet nasturtium flowers and leaves. All were made using white wine vinegar except for basil-oregano-garlic, which is in cider vinegar.

Making Herb Vinegars

by Mike McGeary

In the late 1950s my family moved from a farm in Portland, Oregon, to the semi-arid, high-desert town of Bend, where my mother started to grow flower and herb plants for sale. She also made and sold vinegars infused with a variety of herbs, flowers, and seeds. One of my fondest memories of returning home was seeing the picture window in the kitchen filled with different colored herb vinegars on glass shelves. I inherited her herb vinegar recipes and notes, and her go-to book, The Art of Cooking with Herbs and Spices, by Milo Miloradovich (Doubleday, 1950), with additional recipes she wrote down inside the book’s front and back covers.

My wife and I have been making our own herb vinegars since the mid-1970s. It’s fun and easy, and the flavored vinegars make wonderful salad dressings and marinades. Adding just a dash will perk up many dishes, such as coleslaw, sautéed beet greens, or steamed vegetables.

The Basic Process
The process for infusing vinegar is straightforward. The following is a brief overview of that process. The rest of this article provides additional information and more detailed instructions.

Use a clean wide-mouth glass jar, or other nonreactive container, into which you put your fresh herbs or flowers or seeds of choice. Then fill the jar with the vinegar you have selected. Let the infusion sit, tightly capped, in a warm place. Shake it daily. After 10 days to 2 weeks, sample for flavor. If you want a stronger flavor, let it infuse a little longer, or replace the herbs with fresh herbs. When you are happy with the taste, strain the vinegar into a narrow-neck bottle and cap or cork it tightly. The herb vinegar is ready to use, but it will last at least 3–6 months.

Choosing Your Ingredients
We use store-bought vinegars, primarily cider and white wine vinegar, but you can also use red wine, champagne, sherry, and rice wine vinegar. Most recipes specify a type of vinegar, but you can be creative and substitute another vinegar for a different taste. Distilled white vinegar is basically the same quality regardless of the brand, but the other vinegars are generally better the higher the quality of wine or cider used to make it, which is reflected in the price.

Ingredients that are commonly used in making flavored vinegar include basil, purple basil, borage, salad burnet, chive blossoms, nasturtium flowers, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, spearmint, orange mint, rosemary, tarragon, scented geranium leaves, thyme, and lemon thyme. They can be used singly or in combination. Our favorite is basil-oregano-garlic.

Purple basil, chive blossoms, and nasturtium flowers each add a beautiful color to their distinctive flavor. The color shows best in white wine or other clear vinegars.

You can also add seeds or other flavorings. The most commonly used are garlic, dill seed, pepper corns, celery seed, coriander seed, caraway seed, lemon zest, onion or shallots, and horseradish. In fact, any one of these ingredients can be used to make an infused vinegar (see, for example, the recipe for celery seed vinegar, below).

Preparing the Herbs
Fresh herbs provide the most flavor. You can grow them in your garden or buy them at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Herbs from your garden should be picked before the plants start to flower, when their flavor is at its peak. It is best to pick them early in the morning.

You don’t have to wash the herbs unless they are dirty. In that case, rinse them in water, and spin dry them or blot them with a towel before putting them in the jar.

Preparing the Infusion
It is important to use only nonreactive (i.e., glass, ceramic, and stainless steel) containers, lids and stoppers, and utensils when working with vinegar. Glass, ceramic, and stainless steel will not react with the vinegar, but clear glass jars are best—all the better to see what is happening inside the jar. It is also a good idea to attach a note to the jar or lid listing the ingredients, type of vinegar, and date of infusion.

We use one-quart canning jars and plastic lids, washed in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher. Loosely pack the jars with the leafy herbs, bruising them a bit, by twisting them to help release the oil. For nasturtium vinegars, we put in a handful of leaves and a half-dozen or so flowers. You can add more flowers to deepen the color. Add any additional ingredients such as seeds or garlic, then fill the jar with vinegar.

Some recipes call for heating the vinegar before adding it, but that is not necessary when using fresh ingredients. Using dried herbs or crushed seeds, however, would be a reason to heat the vinegar (see recipe for celery seed vinegar, below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shake the jar each day to keep the herbs covered and distribute the flavor. (To prevent leakage, you can place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar before putting the lid on, as shown in the photo below. Check for flavor after two weeks. If you want a stronger flavor, you can add fresh herbs or simply let it sit for another week or two. If you think the flavor is too strong, you can dilute it by adding a small amount of water.

Decanting the Infused Vinegar
When the vinegar suits your taste, you are ready to decant it into clean, dry glass bottles. First, line a funnel with a double layer of cheese cloth, or other filter (we find that coffee filters result in a clearer vinegar). Pour the infused vinegar through the funnel until the bottle is full, and then cap it with a cork. Discard the solids.

Dressing It Up
We are always looking for interesting bottles—at yard sales and thrift stores—that are embossed with pretty designs, or have a distinctive shape, although any clear glass bottle works just fine.

When selling her vinegars, my mother put the appropriate fresh herb sprig, or blossom or flower, in each bottle. That adds a lovely touch and helps identify the contents, but unless you use the vinegar fairly quickly, they will fade. Usually, we don’t bother, but this time, because I am now trying to “sell” you on making your own herb vinegars, we placed some sprigs in a few of the bottles.

Finally, you can be creative with labels. We hang the label from a string around the neck of the bottle, so we don’t have to soak it off to refill the bottle the next year.

Some Recipes
Basil-Oregano-Garlic Vinegar

  • Fill 1-quart jar with roughly equal amounts of oregano and basil leaves and tender stems
  • Add 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Fill jar with apple cider vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Tarragon Vinegar

  • Fill 1-quart jar with tarragon leaves and tender stems
  • Fill jar with white wine (or champagne) vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Basil or Purple Basil Vinegar

  • Fill 1-quart jar with basil leaves and tender stems

[Even a small amount of opal basil will produce a beautiful pinkish-red color]

  • Fill jar with white wine (or champagne or rice wine) vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Nasturtium and Garlic Vinegar

  • In 1-quart jar, put at least 6 or 7 nasturtium flowers and handful of nasturtium leaves

[The more flowers used, the deeper the color; the more leaves used, the stronger the flavor]

  • Add 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Fill jar with white wine (or champagne or rice wine) vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Celery Seed Vinegar

  • In 1-quart jar, put 2 ounces celery seed (or other aromatic seed, e.g., dill or caraway), crushed in a mortar with pestle, to release essential oil
  • Heat white wine or (distilled white)vinegar to almost boiling and fill the jar with the vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

ENJOY!

From Top to Root (and Everything in Between): Eating the Whole Plant


From Top to Root (and Everything in Between):

Eating the Whole Plant

by Mike McGeary

When I was a child in Portland, Oregon, in the 1950s, my parents decided to grow as much of our food as possible. They bought what had been a dairy farm, which came with fruit trees and berries, and planted all sorts of vegetables, which we ate fresh, cooked, frozen, and canned. But despite this effort to get closer to nature, we still peeled our carrots and potatoes and discarded the turnip and radish tops. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that vegetable peels, skins, stems, and leaves were not only nutritious, but tasty. And there is less food waste.

It’s easy to document the added nutrition. According to the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association, beet greens contain more iron than spinach; are high in vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and antioxidants; and have more nutritional value than the beet root. The same is true for turnips. One cup of turnip greens provides 115% Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin K, 37% DV of Vitamin C, 35% DV of Vitamin A, 27% DV of folate (Vitamin B9), and more.

Some of you may already cook the tops of root vegetable and eat carrots and potatoes with the skin on. But if not, read on.

To Peel or Not to Peel
Let’s start with the easiest way to add nutritional value, save time, and eliminate waste. You generally don’t have to peel carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, or other root vegetables or tubers even if you mash them. Just scrub them well with a vegetable brush to remove any dirt. You can also eat beets with the skin on, although the skins of large beets that have been in the ground for a long time may be too tough to eat.

Then there’s winter squash. Some winter squashes have skins thin enough to leave on when you cook and eat them. They include delicata, Rred kuri, small dumpling, and even butternut and kabocha when they are still petite.

Stem the Tide of Waste
Many recipes that include greens, such as chard, kale, and collards, direct you to remove the stems and discard them, but you do not need to, particularly if the greens are young and fresh. I generally eat chard and kale stems but find that collard stems are a bit too tough. I cut or strip the chard and kale stems out and either eat them raw or, if they are thick, cut them into 1-inch lengths and cook them with the leafy parts. Deborah Madison, in In My Kitchen, has a recipe for chard stems with lemon, which uses the chard and cilantro stems left over from her recipe for silky braised chard and cilantro.

Great Taste and No Waste!
Herbs like cilantro and parsley are used mainly for their leaves, but if the herbs are fresh and tender, you can chop up their stems with the leaves and add them to your dish. Less work for you, and the stems are as flavorful as the leaves.

When cooking with mushrooms, some people remove and discard the stems, but they can be trimmed and cooked with the caps. The stems can also be saved and added to other vegetable scraps to make stock (we keep all our scraps in a resealable bag in the freezer).

Start at the Top
In addition to the traditional greens, you can also eat the leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes. A tip: You will find the freshest tops at a farmers’ market; by the time they get to a supermarket, they are often over the hill or may have been removed. Another tip: Andrea Bemis, of Tumbleweed Farm in Oregon, recommends in her cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt that you separate the tops from the roots when you get home and store them separately or the greens will leach the moisture from the roots and make them go soft too soon.

There are numerous ways to cook the tops of root vegetables. On our farm in Oregon, my mother steamed the beet tops and served them as a side dish with a dash of red wine vinegar on top. Deborah Madison has a recipe for braised turnip greens in The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute (SFFMI) has a recipe for creamed turnips and greens on its website: https://farmersmarketinstitute.org/tag/market-fresh-cooking/. The tops of the small white Asian turnips sold at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market are especially easy to cook and good to eat.

Radish greens, if they are fresh, are delicious raw in a salad, but some people might not like the fuzzy surface. When you cook them, however, the fuzziness disappears but the peppery taste remains. A recipe for braising radishes with their leaves is on the SFFMI website.

Carrot tops—yes, carrot tops—are also edible. The SFFMI website has a recipe for sautéed carrots served with carrot top pesto. At our house, we like carrot top salsa verde with pickle juice, from Mads Refslund’s cookbook, Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Waste Food into Plenty. We put it on chicken, pork, fish, and vegetables.

Though not root vegetables, celery and fennel also have several useful parts. Generally, we freeze the celery leaves with other scraps saved for making vegetable stock, but they can also be added to a green salad. The fennel bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant, but the fronds can be chopped and sprinkled on the cooked fennel bulbs or sprinkled on a salad. Scraps, Wilt + Weeds has a recipe for fennel pesto using fennel stalks—the part between the bulb and the fronds.

Additional Reading and Related Topics
For further reading, I would recommend Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, which includes a section for most vegetables on “Using the Whole Plant.” Mads Refslund’s book, Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty focuses on waste prevention—using not only all the edible parts of plants, but also wilted, dried out, and otherwise over-the-hill vegetables and fruits. His recipe for vegetable scrap and peel stock lists additional plant parts that can be used, such as onion peels, cauliflower and cabbage cores, and stems of herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, and thyme. He also has chapters on making the most of meat, seafood, and dairy products.

Finally, as a last resort, you can compost vegetable and fruit scraps that you don’t want to eat or save for stock. Our worm bed produces wonderful compost that we use to help grow the next generation of vegetables in our garden.

And finally, finally, if you enjoy using all parts of your vegetables, you might look into related activities, such as foraging for wild plants, edible flowers (such as nasturtium flowers and chive blossoms), and herb vinegars, which are topics to explore another time.

Sourdough Starter Crackers

 

I’ve been making sourdough for over 10 years and I wish I’d had tried these crackers sooner! They are very easy to make and are a veritable umami bomb of flavor. The tangy quality of the lactic acids in the starter produces a tastes reminiscent of Parmesan cheese. This is an excellent use for excess sourdough starter that we are generating during the Covid baking epidemic.

My starter is 25% wholegrain organic rye, 25% organic wholewheat and 50% organic all purpose white flour. It is 100% hydration meaning that it is half flour and half water by weight. It is a thick pancake batter consistency. Any sourdough starter will work and flavors will vary depending on your starter. If your starter is thicker just add water.

The crackers are 100% highly fermented flours which improves digestibility and nutrient availability.

Butter will result in a more tender, flakier texture while olive oil tends to produce a slightly sturdier cracker.

Any type of toppings can be added for flavor and texture. Some favorites are flake salt (black), sesame or caraway seeds, herbs de Provence and edible flower petals which are more decorative than flavorful.

To get started you will need:

¾ C inactive (unfed and straight out of the refrigerator) starter

2 T unsalted butter or olive oil

½ t salt

Flake salt for the top plus any additional toppings

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F

Whisk together: starter, oil or melted butter, salt.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat

 

 

 

Spread the batter evenly on the pan. Don’t worry about getting it all the way to the corners. It also does not need to be crazy thin. This amount will mostly fill up a standard household baking sheet. A rubber bowl scraper or an off set spatula works well for spreading the batter.

 

 

Bake for 10 minutes and then score with pizza cutter or a knife

Bake another 40-50 minutes until they are golden and firm.

Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

 

 

Feel to share your results with us on Instagram by tagging @homegrownnewmexico

 

 

 

 

Fall Harvest Potluck-2017

Last year we had a fabulous fall potluck where everyone shared a dish made from their garden and listened to Deborah Madison talk about her garden. Of course maybe you didn’t have a garden this year, so this would be the time to come and find out what Home Grown NM is about and learn from other gardeners. So please show up-we would love to see you all!

potluck-01

Sunday, October 1st—4 pm to 6 pm
Fall Harvest Potluck
Come to our Fall Harvest Potluck. Share some food from your gardens with like-minded gardeners and listen to The Tomato Lady’s inspirational talk about her veggie gardening in Santa Fe and what worked and didn’t work. Also come see Paul Drumright’s fabulous gardens! Paul was the host last year as well.

Location: Paul Drumright’s house
6 Cuesta Road • Santa Fe (Eldorado), NM
Fee: FREE for everyone!
Guest Speaker: Jannine Cabossel, The Tomato Lady
BRING A DISH!

 

2017 Farms, Films, Food: A Santa Fe Celebration

Below is an event many of you might be interested in. Check it out!

Photo courtesy of Edible

DETAILS
What: Farms, Films, Food: A Santa Fe Celebration
Where: Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe
When: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The second 2017 Farms, Films, Food: A Santa Fe Celebration (co-presented by Center for Contemporary Arts, the Street Food Institute, and the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute) will be on Wednesday, August 2.  This free event celebrates Santa Fe’s unrivaled love of great food, local agriculture, and world-class cinema.

Farms, Films, Food: A Santa Fe Celebration offers free food samples from a cooking demonstration by local chefs or farmers, tours of Muñoz Waxman Gallery, presentations from community partners, affordable meals from the Street Food Institute and Kebab Caravan (including specials using locally-sourced produce), and two free screenings designed for food lovers and families.

The food trucks will offer Farmers’ Market specials, featuring local ingredients largely sourced from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.

The featured speaker, Don Bustos, and food demo chef, Chef Michelle Chavez, will both be addressing the importance of heirloom and land race varieties as we work to maintain a vast diversity of varieties.

SCHEDULE:
5-6:45pm
-Food trucks (Street Food Institute, Kebab Caravan, and Freezie Fresh)
-Axle Contemporary
-Muñoz Waxman Gallery tours
-Ask A Farmer: Victoria Montoya, Montoya Orchards & Wicked Kreations (fruit wines)
Smoothie Bike

5:20-6pm
-Cooking Demonstration with Chef Michelle Chavez (Coriander Catering)

6:10-6:30pm
-Featured Speaker: Don Bustos, Santa Cruz Farms

6:45pm
-Screening of My Neighbor Totoro

7pm
-Screening of Food Evolution

2 GREAT EVENTS/CLASSES THIS WEEKEND!!

2 GREAT EVENTS/CLASSES
THIS WEEKEND!!

Come to our Annual Seed Exchange this Friday, March 3rd and on Sunday, March 5th we have our 1st class-Making Sourdough Bread! Don’t miss them!!

EVENT #1

seeds

Friday, March 3rd—5 pm to 7 pm FREE!
Home Grown New Mexico Seed Exchange
If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden, come to the Santa Fe Seed Exchange-new location!
Location: Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Pavillion Bldg 1607 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM (park behind SITE Santa Fe)
Fee: FREE for everyone! No need to sign up-just show up!

_____________________________________________

EVENT #2

img_20161111_090755-1Sunday, March 5th—12 noon to 2 pm
Sourdough Bread Making
Learn how to make sourdough bread! Learn the timeless craft of how to use flour, water, salt and sourdough culture to flavor and leaven bread. It’s as simple and nourishing as it gets. Don’t be intimidated by bread making any longer.
Instructor: Mike Warren
Location: 2520-B Camino Entrada (Santa Fe Area HomeBuilders Association-next to Habitat ReStore on south side • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: FREE for members/$5 suggested donation for non-member

Please sign up through Eventbrite:

Eventbrite - Sourdough Bread Making

 

Come hear Deborah Madison at our potluck!

Grilled veggies small

POTLUCK, POTLUCK, READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Hey everybody we are having a potluck! We’re excited and want you all to show up! People interested in gardening in Santa Fe, Home Grown New Mexico, fellow gardeners, and sustainable types-this is the potluck for you. We’ve all been busy in our gardens this season and what a fabulous season it’s been with all this rain but now it’s time to take a break, get social and share your garden booty. It should be great fun, inspirational and tasty too.

To top it off , Deborah Madison will be our guest speaker. Her talk, ‘From the Kitchen and Into the Garden (and perhaps staying there!)’ will be about different ways one comes to the garden, how it happened to her, is happening, and what matters (herbs!, curiosity, etc.). Deborah Madison is the author of 10 books and lives here in Galisteo. Her latest books are, ‘The New VEGETARIAN COOKING For Everyone’ and ‘Vegetable Literacy’. If you haven’t heard Deborah speak, she is very engaging and fun to listen to.  We can’t wait to hear what she’s been up to!

Here are the details:
DATE: Sunday September 13, 2015
TIME: 6:30 pm
HOST: Paul & Christine Drumright’s home
ADDRESS: 6 Cuesta Road • Santa Fe (Eldorado), NM
PHONE: 660/6277 or 505/466-9299
GUEST SPEAKER: Deborah Madison

DIRECTIONS: POTLUCK DIRECTIONS

Please sign up for this FREE event below at eventbrite so we know how many people are showing up!

Eventbrite - Potluck with Deborah Madison

Cool Season Crops Outside class a success

illustration MG of middlesex countyWell, it looks like many of you are chomping at the bit like I am to get out and start our gardens! 48 people signed up for the class and 45 showed up! Biggest class ever and what a great day it was to get out in a garden and see how to prep the garden beds, go over what plants do well here in Santa Fe and we actually planted some cool season crops-lettuces, kale and chard in Duskin’s plot at Milagro Community Garden. Thanks to all for supporting the class, it was good to see our friends.

Here are the handouts if you missed the class:
Starting Cool Season Crops Outside
WINTER:EARLY SPRING HARDY VEGETABLES
soil temperatures for veggie seeds
PRESPOUTING SEEDS Starting Cool Season Crops Outside
Mycorrhizal benefits

The next class of ours should be fantastic -Making Chevre and Feta cheese on April 19! Don’t wait too long to sign up as that class is limited to 25 lucky people who will learn how to make both cheeses and get to take home some of the cheese as well.

September Upcoming Events

HOME GROWN’s September Upcoming Events

Wednesday, September 10th
Community Potluck
Time:6-8 pm
Home Grown’s Potluck will be at the Whole Foods Community Room (Cordova and St.Francis location). Come join fellow gardeners to talk about fruit and vegetable gardening in our area and eat good food. What’s going on in your garden? Come listen and share.
_____________________________________________________

sauce

Sunday, September 21
Preserving Your Harvest Class
Learn how to can stewed tomatoes and pasta sauces
Time: 12 noon -2 pm
Instructors: Duskin Jasper/Jannine Cabossel
Location: Milagro Community Garden (Rodeo Road and Legacy behind church-2481 Legacy Court)
RSVP to 505-983-9706 or email: homegrownnewmexico1@gmail.com
(CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED SO YOU MUST RSVP) so we know how many jars to bring to the class.

What to do with all your tomatoes at the end of the season? Come join ‘The Tomato Lady’ from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and Duskin Jasper and learn how to can tomato pasta sauce for your pantry to enjoy in the winter months long after harvesting! This hands on class will cover how to make different pasta sauces. Students will take home a jar of tomato sauce. We will also discuss different canning methods for our high altitude.

 

 

 

Chèvre Cheesemaking Class-Yumm!

chevre cheese

Saturday, August 16
Chèvre Cheesemaking Class
How to make Chèvre goat cheese
Time: 10:00 am-12:00 pm
Instructor: Diane Pratt
Location: Whole Food’s Community Room (St. Francis location)
RSVP to 505-983-9706 or email: homegrownnewmexico1@gmail.com
(CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED SO YOU MUST RSVP)

Learn how to make Chèvre goat cheese
In France and Italy goat cheese goes back hundreds of years and it is no less popular today. In the New World, Laura Chenel introduced her version of fresh goat cheeses to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Chèvre, the French term for goat, has come to mean mild, fresh goat cheese in the United States.

The American palette was quickly awakened to this new version of an ancient cheese and the rest was history. Thus was born a new era in cheese making in America and a very big reason in the rise of American Artisan Cheese Making.

Diane has been milking goats and making her own goat cheese for over 20 years.  She now belongs to a goat tending Co-op and milks her three goats once a week.  She uses the fresh raw goats milk to produce delicious chèvre, ricotta, feta and other artisan cheeses for her family and friends.I LOVE GOAT CHEESE

Participants in this cheesemaking class should bring a clean quart jar to take home their own bit of chèvre.

Suggested $10 donation or become a 2014 Member for $35 with free classes and potlucks.

____________________________________________________