Meandering down a path of Creativity

Posts tagged ‘food’

Muscles & Meat Sauce, Oh My! (Gluten-free)

As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I need to increase my protein intake. Normally, my preference on from-scratch red sauce for pasta is a chunky garden-style sauce, with lots of fresh veggies and tomatoes I put up from the previous year’s garden… and absolutely NO added sugar (a high quality sweet balsamic vinegar does the job quite nicely).  The ingredients and amounts always vary and I never really measure anything. Well, tonight I’m adding some meat to the mix *and* I carefully measured everything, except the herbs. Hopefully this beautiful gravy will have my muscles nice and happy and ready to take on the chicken kicks tomorrow at MMA!


meat sauce cooking

Yummy gravy in the making…



Stretching the Food Budget- Waste Not, Want Not…

My seedlings are in that stage where I’m just waiting for them to get big enough to begin hardening off. The only news on that front is that about half of my mouse melons, aka Mexican Sour Gherkins, sprouted yesterday- this is my first year growing them, and I am very excited about that! I was surprised that it only took about 4 days for them to begin poking up through the soil! My seedlings are all in that stage that requires an abundance of patience, as I watch and wait for them to get big enough to begin hardening off. I have a circulating fan that will be set up to blow on them later today, and I’ll probably begin re-potting and thinning the tomatoes tomorrow. So anyway, that’s the ‘State of the Garden’ report.

Since I don’t have any garden tips today, I figured that this would be a good time to share one method of stretching the food budget. There is a lot of food waste in this country, and I often shake my head at the price of convenience. I try very hard to use up everything I can, and waste as little as possible. As well as being earth-friendly, it’s usually good for the body and less expensive than making ‘convenience’ purchases, too. I’m not going to go all preachy about that stuff, though. I’ll simply say that there was a time when boxed or canned broths were not available, and people needed to make them from scratch. With all of the food allergies and sensitivities people are beginning to recognize, it’s become a necessity for some of us, but it’s surprisingly easy to do, and is a great way to give your recipes an extra punch of both flavor and nutrition, and bonus- it’s pretty much free!


Quick n Easy Pasta Topper… GF

This is just a quick post to give you a quick n easy ‘recipe’ if you’re in the mood for something new to put on your pasta. It’s very flexible on the ingredients, too. As a bonus, the version I made tonight used up some leftover hot Italian sausage- and I love being able to give the leftovers new life!

What you’ll need: (more…)

Recipe: Baked Zucchini ‘Fries’- Vegan, Gluten Free

Do you have a garden? Are you growing any summer squash- yellow crook neck, yellow straight neck, zucchini, patty pans? Are any of your neighbors or local friends growing summer squash? If so, then odds are good that you, like me, have begun looking for new and interesting ways to use it up!

Aside from the standard steamed squash, I’ve got a few other ‘go to’ recipes for the annual summer squash glut. They include stuffing & baking, making squash soup, grilling, and fritters. That list of go-to recipes now also includes this one…

Oven-Baked Squash ‘Fries’ (more…)

Recipe: Roast Beef Perfection- Sharing the Family Secrets!

Happy July!

So it seems that I have, once again, slacked off in my attempt at regular posting. Life happens sometimes, though, and blogging seems to be the easiest thing to let slide when there just aren’t enough hours in a day. It looks like everything is settling back into some semblance of normalcy, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it with gusto!

The following is a super easy recipe for perfect roast beef, no matter how big or small a roast you have. It comes out perfectly every time! (Seriously, I’ve used it on a piece of meat as small as 2 1/2 lbs, and as large as 14 lbs. and it has never failed!) Oh, and it also yields a lovely au jus!

DISCLAIMER: This method does **NOT** follow proper food safety rules. If you decide to try it, you do so at your own risk. I do not do it with meat bought from a grocery store or an unknown source. I ONLY use this method when I am using beef that has been naturally raised and is from a well-trusted source. This method pre-dates World War II, and food was a lot more trustworthy back then. So please, please, please be careful and use your best judgement!


Falling down on the job!

So I don’t have my own recipe to share with you this week. I had grand plans, but life happened. So, instead of giving you one of my own recipes, I am going to direct you to a recipe on a friend’s blog:

Nicole’s Visions- Tomato Ketchup

(You might recognize her name from that gorgeous nature photo I posted a couple of months back, with the lake and the stone bench.)

She tried the recipe for ketchup and gave it a good review, and I am planning on making it in the coming weeks, using some of the tomato paste I canned during last summer’s tomato glut. I’ll be turning the paste into ketchup, and then turning the ketchup into homemade BBQ sauce!

And if y’all are reeeeal nice, I might just share my Sweet n Sassy BBQ Sauce recipe with you at some point in the future! Hope you’re having a great week!

**edited to make the link actually show up!

Garden Project: Seed Paper (aka Seed Tape)

So the weather has broken and the ground has begun to thaw, and my thoughts are on the garden! The tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds have been started in the little trays, and now it’s time to get the parsnips and carrots in the ground!

The problem with parsnip seeds is that they are tiny, flat and lightweight; they’re very aerodynamic! Trying to place them, with accurate spacing, directly into the ground is not as easy as one might expect, especially as breezy as it tends to be around here at this time of year! And carrot seeds, though they’re not flat & prone to flying off like the parsnip seeds do, are just tiny and a bit awkward.

One solution to make life easier is to go buy seed tape. This is a strip of paper-type stuff that has the seeds embedded in it. You bury the strip at the proper depth, and only have to worry about the row spacing because the seeds are already spaced in the ‘tape’. The ‘tape’ dissolves once it’s been planted. It’s a great concept, but it can be expensive, and you’re stuck with whatever varieties of seeds the companies offer.

I’m a bit of a cheapskate, and a foodie, to boot. The commercially available seed tape just doesn’t do it for me. I decided to make my own. It’s easy, and can be done with stuff pretty much anyone has around the house. It also makes the garden set up a lot easier on your back!

What you’ll need:

seeds of your choosing


flour paste (instructions given below)

Tools: scissors; some way of getting a drop of glue onto the paper (I use an eyedropper, but if you don’t have one, you can use a stick, a cheap, fine paint brush, or even a toothpick); some way of measuring; a clean workspace; a cloth or paper towels for wiping up stray glue drips. If you are really particular about exact placement, toothpicks are useful for moving the seeds & glue.

You also need to know the size of the space you’ll be putting the seed paper into, so you know how much paper you need to make.

Here’s a photo of everything I used for the carrot seed paper I made yesterday:

Everything you need to make seed paper...

As you can see, I use cheap, single-ply, septic-safe bathroom tissue (referred to as “TP” from here on out) as the paper. It dissolves readily when saturated, which is a good thing, once it’s been planted! I use my fabric cutting mat as my workspace. I like to do it this way because it’s easily cleaned in case of spills, and the measured markings are visible through the thin TP, which makes spacing the seeds a lot easier. You can use pretty much any lightweight paper, though. Paper towels, old newspapers, etc. If you’re not using TP, you’ll just need to cut your paper into strips of anywhere from 1 to  4 inches wide (much wider than 4 inches becomes difficult to work with when planting).

The little bowl that’s to the right of the mat with a fork resting on top of it? That’s my flour paste. I used rice flour, because we don’t actually have wheat flour in the house due to gluten sensitivity, but you could use wheat flour, cornstarch, potato starch… pretty much any really fine powdered starch or flour would work here. To make it, you just put some flour in a bowl, dish, paper cup or whatever, then add some water to make a paste. I would start with 3 parts flour to 1 part water and stir- I started with around 1/4 cup of flour. The amount of water you need will vary a bit, depending on what kind of flour/starch you’re using.  If it’s smooth and combined, and somewhere between the consistency of thick gravy and white glue, you’re good!

If it’s too thick (most likely it will be), add more water, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, and stir, until you’re at the desired consistency. WARNING: There’s a very fine line between too little water and too much. If you make it too thin, just add another spoonful or so of flour and mix well. Oh, and be sure to not let this stuff dry on anything that you can’t let soak in hot water! It can be a real nightmare to get off!

Okay, so now you have all of your materials and supplies ready, let’s get on to the making!

Take a strip of your paper and lay it out at an angle that’s comfortable for you. I used a 4-sheet long strip of TP, because that’s an easy length for me to work with. Check your seed packet to check the recommended spacing for your seeds, and put your seeds on the paper at the recommended intervals:

Now that the seeds are laid out where you want them, give your paste a stir (it usually starts to separate if it’s left to sit for more than a minute or so), and put a drop of paste onto each seed:

Don’t worry if the glue drop isn’t centered just right on each seed; the glue just needs to be touching the seed to hold it in place. If you’re a very detail-oriented person, you can use a toothpick to manipulate the glue and seeds into exactly the right spot, but honestly, it is not necessary.

The next step is to put another strip of paper on top of the one that you just seeded & glued, and gently but firmly pat it down. The glue is going to hold the top piece and bottom piece together, with the seed in between:

Don’t worry if some of the seeds are not laying flat in the glue or if a seed or 2 seems to be poking out of the paper. As long as it’s in the glue, it’ll stay put.

If you are doing a single row of seeds at a time, you can use a single piece of paper. Just place the seeds along one side of the paper, and after applying the glue, fold the other side of the paper over. Personally, I find it’s easier to use 2 sheets, and I use the width of the paper as a way of measuring the row spacing, so I don’t do it that way. You can if you want, though.

Now all that’s left is to let them dry and then get them in the ground!

Once the seed paper has been assembled, I carefully lift them and turn them over, and lay them out flat to dry for a while. In my very, very dry house, with the super lightweight TP, it takes about an hour or 2 for them to dry enough to be gently stacked and put away. I’d advise putting anything on top of them, as the paste most likely won’t dry all the way through for a day or so, and even when it has dried all of the way through, you don’t want to risk crushing the seeds!

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

I hope you’ve found this to be interesting, informative, and helpful! This is my first foray into adding my own photos to the blog, so I hope they were helpful, too. Many thanks go to my mom for jumping in to take some photos of the gluing and patting process!

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