Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Peach Preserve

Summer is the time of abundance. Abundance of fruits, of sunshine and of course the freezing and preserving. Remember the time I found some amazing tasty peaches in the farms nearby and decided to freeze them? During one of those visits when I greedily bought more peaches than I could handle and with all of ripening at the same time it was decided to make some preserves.

DDs and DH all eat toast with preserves or spread of some kind for breakfast every other day or so. So this one would be well utilized I knew. Very simple to make but wit the delicate taste of peaches. I used raw sugar so the end product is darker than the normal pale orange color of a peach preserve.

While you can get several different jams, jellies and preserves from the store, the biggest benefit of making them at home is to avoid adding a bunch of preservatives and also control the amount of sugar that goes into it.

Add sugar to the chopped peaches. Toss to mix.
Put the mixture on the stove on medium heat.
Cook till the preserve reaches the desired consistency.

Peach Preserve
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
  1. 5 cups of pitted and chopped peaches
  2. 2 1/2 cups of raw sugar (1/2 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit)
  3. 1/2 a lemon

  1. Toss together the peaches and the sugar.
  2. Put the mixture on the stove in medium heat and stir often to avoid being burnt.
  3. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
  4. Continue cooking till the fruit disintegrates. If needed use a potato masher to mash the fruit a little bit or leave it slightly chunky.
  5. Continue simmering till a tsp of preserve poured into a cup of water holds and does not dissolve.
  6. Cool completely and store in sterilized glass jars.

How to sterilize jars - my way
  1. Wash and thoroughly dry the glass jar.
  2. Heat the glass jar in a microwave for 1-2 minutes. Be careful when you remove them form the microwave - very hot.
  3. Hold the metal lids over a flame for a few minutes.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Chicken Story

Chickens in a farm! If you drive near or around rural areas you always see chickens
clucking and scratching in the dirt. Just watching makes you feel that everything is well with the world. During early spring if you stop by stores like Tractor Supply - yeah they do sell a lot more than tractor supplies, or Southern States you would see baby chicks in bins ready for purchase.

Shipped Chicks

But if the chicken growing bug bites you you could buy chicks anytime of the year online. Ours came to us in June via online purchase from McMurray. They came in the mail (US Postal service) just hatched. Cute little things chirping softly with instructions to be fed sugar water and the young chick feed.

Chicks in the coop

The chickens are the cutest when they are just a few days old. They grow up pretty quickly and are fully grown in about 5-6 months. The breed that we purchased were the Australorps with a beautiful black plumage and generally well behaved.


Before deciding to purchase chicks you need to have a coop and a covered run. You need wire netting or some protection to prevent predators like raccoons, foxes, snakes etc., from entering the coop and eating the chickens.

The chickens stayed in the coop till they were about 2 months old, only then did they start going into the run for short periods of time. At night someone had to go close the coop so animals won't get them during the night.

The coop and the small run.

They outgrew the small run that came with the coop, so DH and DD2 started building a new run. Between both their schedules it took about 3 months to build even though the actual time to build it was less than 5-6 hours in total. They were starting to outgrow the bigger run too. But by then the cold temperatures were starting to kill off the plants. The chickens could be now let out to explore.

The bigger run.

When they about 6 months they started being generous and giving us eggs. What started as pee wee tiny eggs has now almost reached full size.

The laying area.


When anyone opens the gates to the fenced in area they run towards us and some of these chickens even allow us to pet them.

The Flock!

It is amazing to see how the rooster protects its flocks. When a hawk swoops down they run around and collect the flock and make them run to the safety of the coop.

Oh! Yeah!

The run is places against the opening so they cannot go out. Now that they are bigger they are out in the open most of the time and sleep in the coop during the night.

Our way out and in. We like it here :)

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Varagu Arisi Inippu Pongal - Millet Sweet Pongal

My favorite festival even more so than Deepavali is Pongal, the harvest festival. It is perhaps true for most farming families. Here in the US, the harvest is long been over and we are in the throes of winter so making Suriya pongal is out of the question but we have the trusty pressure cooker to help us out.

Sarakarai(sugar) Pongal is a popular breakfast item in our house. The kids love it and I cook it every now and then. So of course I made it on Pongal day. But this time instead of rice wanted to use millet and ended using varagu arisi or kodo millet for making the pongal.

Pongal has to be kind of mushy and moist not dry. This also means the grains should not be separate and hanging out on their own. Yes! very different from what we would want for biryani or pulav. Millet takes slightly longer to cook than rice. So for the texture you would like for Pongal add 4 1/2 cups of water to one cup of millet. No additional water is needed for the lentils that are to be added.

The recipe in pictures.
Cook the millet and lentils in the required amount of water. Break up the jaggery.
Melt and filter the jaggery and mix it to the rice.
Roast the nuts and raisins, mix in the cardamom powder and roasted nuts to the rice, mix and turn of the heat.

A tasty and delicious dish is ready in no time.

Varagu Arisi Inippu Pongal
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
  1. 1 cup Varagu Arisi - Kodo Millet (1 cup of millet - 4 1/2 cups of water)
  2. 1 cup split yellow moong dal - paasi paruppu
  3. 1/2 cup jaggery
  4. 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  5. 1/4 cup nuts (I used cashews and charoli)
  6. 1/4 cups raisins
  7. 1/2 cup milk
  8. 2 tbsp ghee
  1. Wash the millet and lentils in several changes of water and add the millet along with the water required in a pressure cooker. Cook for 6-8 whistles and wait for the pressure to subside.
  2. Take the jaggery in a sauce pan along with one cup of water, heat till the jaggery dissolves completely. Filter the impurities out.
  3. Heat the ghee in a pan, add the nuts first roast till they start to brown, add the raisin and roast for a minute more. Turn off the heat.
  4. Open the cooker and give a good mix. Add in the jaggery syrup and mix it well. Turn the heat to a low and gently add the milk while mixing.
  5. Now add in the cardamom powder and the fried nuts. Mix and quickly turn off the heat and remove from the stove.
  6. Note:To powder cardamom add with it a tsp of sugar and powder in a spice grinder.
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Coop to Plate - Quiche on a stovetop

The farm welcomed some chicks in the summer and the young chicks have become old enough now to give us fresh eggs everyday. Chickens are a pretty self sufficient bunch. The toughest part about having chickens is to keep them from being eaten by predators. Once they are protected and kept warm they are generous with their eggs. The roosters are interesting and pretty protective of their flock. The flock as it gets comfortable follows people around. DD2 is their most favorite person as she is their caretaker supplying them with water and food daily!

We are eating a lot more eggs and also trying to find new and exciting ways to eat them. DD2 loves taking eggs to school and quiche is one of her favorites but to cook quiche is the morning is a time consuming affair so I had to devise a quick and easy way to cook them. If you have about 20 - 25 minutes to spare in the morning that is. Don't laugh I know 25 minutes in the morning is a stretch but food is more important than anything else right? If you can find the time you would be more than satisfied. This quiche can become a quite filling and scrumptious breakfast or a fantastic lunch with some pita pockets or ciabatta bread or to keep it gluten free just by itself.

Normally I spend about 20-30 minutes getting lunch ready for school for the past 15 years, it used be for both DD and DD2 but now with DD in college it is just for DD2. But the good thing is in the process I get my breakfast ready as well. While a lot of people skip breakfast, it is one my important meals. The days I eat a good breakfast I am not looking for filler foods to get me through to lunch.

Saute the onions and bell peppers.
Saute the mushrooms and add in the pepper and salt. Cool completely.
Break the eggs into a whisking bowl and add more pepper if required.
Add in the cooked vegetables and cheese and mix together.
Spray the oil and add in the egg mixture, cook on side, flip and cook on the other side.

I used bell pepper, mushrooms and onions. You can add spinach zucchini or if you have access to drumstick leaves that would be a fantastic addition. If you have some spicy chicken sausage by all means add that as well ;)

Quiche in a Pan
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  1. 5-6 eggs
  2. 6-8 mushrooms chopped fine (I used white button mushrooms)
  3. 1/2 bell pepper chopped fine
  4. 1/2 cup red onion (or shallots) chopped fine
  5. 1 tbsp shredded Parmigiano - Reggiano cheese (any shredded cheese of your liking)
  6. 2-3 tsp of oil
  7. 1/2 tsp red pepper or black pepper
  8. salt to taste
  1. In a small cast iron or wide mouthed pan add oil and when hot add the onions and saute till the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add the bell pepper and saute till they start to get some color, followed by the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
  4. Break the eggs into a whisking bowl and add in the cheese, more pepper if needed and the cooked vegetables. Whisk it so they are mixed in nicely. No need to over whisk.
  5. Now heat the small size cast iron pan if you want for individual pieces of quiche or a bigger pan one big size quiche.
  6. Spray the pan and when hot add in the egg mixture. Let it cook one side for about 2 minutes or so, I like it to be browned a little bit. If you prefer it lighter flip when the bottom is cooked.
  7. Flip and cook on the other side for a couple minutes more.

Paired with a glass of banana - peach smoothie a happy breakfast is ready where nobody complains.

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