Medicinal Herb Help Needed

Last Fall I bought some seeds from Amazon and I was planning on growing them this season. I don’t know as much about them as I want to. I got the seeds to grow plants for medicine. I do not know anyone that has grown these plants so I am hoping to reach out to any herbalists that could read this blog. I have done a bit of online research but I would like to hear some first hand opinions of the plants. One is more common and the other two are not.

Mad-Dog Skullcap: Scutellaria Lateriflora

Lion’s Tail: Leonitus Leonurus

Wild Dagga: Leonurus Cardiaca Sibericus

I’m sure I will grow the skullcap, I just don’t know how to use it. The other two I am not sure about. If you have any experience with any of these plants -growing or using- that could be useful to me, please e-mail me or post a message.

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Doughnuts and Life

Life… Life has been challenging and busy.

I went back to school this past semester and my teacher is totally kicking my butt. I’m taking a business course and I have a lot of homework. I’m doing a research project on a international corporation. We got to choose what company we wanted to research; Guess who I picked?! Yeah, that’s right: MONSANTO! I will have to report back on my findings.

This is a total rebel post. I really should be studying for a test but I have been struggling to post things once every two weeks and I wanted to post something. I have several ideas for posts and hope to get a couple done in the near future. I will have to work this post in with homework.

I feel guilty for not keeping up with Dark Days posts. Last week I was tempted to take a picture of a fried egg and post that. No words, just a picture of a very well done fried egg… This post is not a Dark Days post and I will need to take a couple weeks off. I will resume Dark Days stuff in March to finish up that challenge. I am eager to make that lasagna.

There is an update and here are my doughnuts:

I have a pretty clear memory from my childhood. I must have been in third grade. My dad and I where at the SA -Super America- on 7th and Main in Anoka early in the morning. I was sitting in the cab of our Ford F-250 and it was winter. Before my dad ran inside to pay for the gas that he just pumped, he asked if I would like a Super Mom’s doughnut. I told him that I didn’t want an old fashion one so he got me a ‘new style’ one.

What is the difference between the two? I’m not real sure. The old fashion one is a cake doughnut and the new one has yeast and is fried?

I have made doughnuts before and it sort-of sucks. Working with flour and dough just sucks ’cause it’s messy and it takes time. The flour covers your kitchen, you need to let the dough rise twice… They tasted like doughnuts but they weren’t awesome.

Last night when I got home from work I found sugar cookies sitting on the counter. My daughter helped make them and they tasted pretty good. That inspired me to give doughnuts another try.

Last time I used Alton Brown’s recipe. This time I found myself at The Pioneer Woman. Who the heck is this lady?! I have never heard of this blog before a couple months ago and I have used three of her recipes on this blog and I wasn’t seeking out her blog to use a recipe. Her blog looks awesome and she has good looking recipes.  She’s gotta be a mega blogging star and I just don’t know it.

I can’t follow her recipe dead on, right? That’s what adapting is, isn’t it? Instead of whole milk, I used just over a cup of local half and half that was left over from my ice cream. I mixed in 1/3 cup of co-op turbinado sugar. I put that on the stove over a very low heat just to dissolve the sugar and bring the mixture up to room temp. Then I added a yeast packet. I mixed 2 eggs in a large bowl and added 11 tbsp of butter (I’m going all Paula Deen.) After mixing the eggs and the butter real well I added the milk mixture and mixed that real well.

I took 1.5 cups of unbleached white flour and 2.5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (it’s what I had) and slowly added it to the liquid. When all the flour was mixed in I used my hand mixture on it for 5 minutes. I then let it sit on a cool counter for several hours.

I rolled out the dough to 1/4-3/8″ and used whatever circular cutters I could find. I found a bowl and a sippy cup. I cut out doughnuts and set them on trays.  I left a few doughnut holes and a couple doughnut without the centers cut out. I let these sit for a while until I was ready to fry them.

I fried them in 375 degree oil. I used a small amount of oil for the first 6 doughnuts I cooked and it was really hard to keep the oil at 375. I would spike up to 400 and go down to 250. I then got a bigger pot of oil and the temperature was slightly easier to control. I fried the doughnuts for 30-60 seconds per side, they cooked pretty fast. Afterward I put them on a paper towel covered plate. I then tossed them with a sugar and cinnamon mixture.

They tasted pretty good. I liked these better than AB’s. I will have to experiment with toppings next time… and maybe even fillings! They were easier to make this time too. I guess when you have some practice it doesn’t seem like climbing a mountain.

So you know that whole life crap I was talking about?! The computer has a virus and we can’t get photos on the computer. Enjoy the delicious photo below. 🙂

My Baby’s Chunky Monkey

Here is my Valentines Day post for the Dark Days Challenge.

On any Saturday night my baby and I will be sitting around. We will have sent the monsters to bed and have broke out the wine. About this time we start thinking of junk food. We play rock, paper, scissors to see who has to leave the comfort of the house and travel to Cub Foods to pick some up. On top of that list is some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. My wife is Chunky Monkey and I am Phish Food.

Chunky Monkey is not exactly local (Banana ice cream, walnuts and chocolate chunks) so I will be making strawberry along with the chunky monkey.The Chunky Monkey ingredients will be legit: Sustainable and organic.

I like to be a little bit ghetto, I like a challenge, I want to be resourceful, I want to break some cooking rules so I am making ice cream without an ice cream maker. Mainly because I don’t have one… and ’cause I’m cool like that!

The basic recipe:

3 Cups Half and Half

1 Cup Heavy Cream

8 Large Egg Yolks

1 cup of Sweetener

Here’s how I started out both of the ice creams: I took 1 cup of heavy cream and 3 cups of half and half and slowly heated it to just a simmer.

Now things get tricky because I want to make a half batch for both ice creams (1.5 quarts total-.75 quarts per) and I need to use all local ingredients for the strawberry and non local for the chunky monkey.

For the chunky monkey I took 4 egg yolks and blended them real well. I then added 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar- good co-op stuff.

For the strawberry I took 4 egg yolks and blended them real well. I then added 1/2 cup of strawberry preserve that was made with honey. It’s a straight local ice cream including the sweetener!

I then took half of the heavy cream and half and half mixture and slowly mixed it into the egg and preserve mixture for the strawberry. I put that in a saucepan and added more preserves. I brought that up to 160 degrees and poured that into a quart mason jar- we use those for everything.

Same for the chunky monkey. I took the second half of the heavy cream and half and half mixture and slowly added that to the egg and sugar mixture. I put that in the sauce pan and I figure this is where I make the banana ice cream. I’m not sure if I used the right technique or the right amount. I cut up two medium sized bananas and put them into the sauce pan with the mixture and mixed it up real well. It came up to 160 degrees and it thickened up. I continued to mix it and put it in a quart jar.

I let the jars come down to room temp and put them in the fridge for 4 hours. I then transferred the jars to the freezer. I let them sit in there for an hour or so. I took them out to ‘turn’ the ice cream. I took one of the beaters from my hand mixer and attached it to my cordless power drill. Yes, I could have used the hand mixer but I felt the drill was more manly. I mixed up the freezing ice cream once every 45 minutes a total of three times. The second time I mixed up the chunky monkey I added the walnuts and the dark chocolate.

Strawberry on left- Chunky Monkey on right

The cost of both ice creams together was around $15. The strawberry really tasted like honey. It wasn’t over powering but I would have to call it strawberry/honey flavored ice cream. The chunky monkey was definitely thicker than the strawberry. I think next time I will saute the bananas with sugar before adding them to the ice cream. I wasn’t going for it but: The chunky monkey did not taste like Ben and Jerry’s AT ALL. The texture of both of them wasn’t as good as I wanted. I will need that KitchenAid stand mixer to correct that.

I love my baby! Each day we are together is a wonderful treat. We have been together for over 11 years and my love for her continues to deepen. I am enjoying and I am looking forward to going through life with her. I often picture us being old cootes sitting around a nursing home laughing and enjoy each others company. Here’s to another 67 years of your love! I love you baby! Happy Valentines Day!

Me and my baby

Chicken Alfredo

Dark Days

This is my third attempt at making homemade pasta. I am getting closer each time. I will do a quick run through on how I made the pasta. It’s very similar to the way I did it a couple weeks ago.

I used 1 pint of spelt flour and 4 eggs. I dumped out the flour on the counter and made a well in the center of it and put 2 eggs in. I combined the eggs and the flour with a fork. Seeing that I needed more liquid I added 2 more eggs. I combined the mixture and started to form a ball. At this point I looked at what I was doing: I had a pint of flour and 4 eggs on my counter, it looked pretty messy and I was wondering if it would turn out. The ball formed and I rolled that out as best I could on a very floured surface. When it got to be about 3ft long I cut it in thirds. For each of those thirds I rolled them out to about 2-2.5 feet. I then folded them in half three times and cut them as thin as I could. I fluffed the noodles up, unfolding them, and put them in a bowl. I set the bowl aside and started on the rest of the dish.

I browned the chicken breasts in a frying pan. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and rosemary. I took them out of the pan and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then I cut them in bite size pieces and put them back in the frying pan for another minute on medium heat.

To make the sauce I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium sauce pan and added 3 cloves of mined garlic. I let that cook for 3 minutes and added 3/4 of a pint of heavy cream. I seasoned that with dried parsley then added 1/4 pound of cream cheese. I let that melt, just come up to a boil and I shut off the heat.

Before I plated the noodles I pan fried them for a couple minutes to ‘help’ them taste better?! The noodles just didn’t do it for me.

At this point I dished up some noodles, added some chicken, put some sauce on the top and added salt and pepper.

The chicken and the sauce were very good. The chicken was tender and the rosemary was a very nice touch. The sauce was garlic, butter, heavy cream and cream cheese; How couldn’t that be good?

The noodles: I made them myself, they tasted like whole wheat noodles, the texture was different, they were not uniform (I’m not a machine),  I coated them with sunflower oil,  I don’t know! They were noodles but the were just not that good. I think I will have to try a different flour… Maybe something more Italian?

Overall I think that this was a success. It was local (beyond the spices) and homemade. I learned a few tricks on making the pasta. I also learned I can make a good Alfredo sauce. Kristina thought it was very good. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on my noodles.

Notes for next time-

The meal is cooked, the post is made and in the editing process. I Google ‘homemade pasta’ and find out that The Pioneer Women has a recipe. I used this website for my braised short ribs. I looked at the recipe for her pasta and learn I didn’t knead my pasta ball long enough. I will know for next time. Dude, that’s frustrating! The joys of cooking and allowing others to see your mistakes.

French Toast

It was down to two recipes this week for the Dark Days Challenge: French Toast or Chicken Alfredo. I chose the french toast and I’m thinking of doing the chicken alfredo next week. I did make a run to the co-op for bread and bacon. I got the bacon from Pastures A Plenty and the sourdough bread from New French Bakery.

I am a pancake man and I have always been a pancake man… or boy when I was younger. I have made french toast a time or two in my life but I normally stick with pancakes. I might just have to switch over to french toast. It is a lot easier to make and it feeds that same craving. I made the batter for the bread with some half&half and 2 eggs. I cut the bread into 1/4″ slices and dipped it into the batter. It cooked pretty fast. While doing that I baked the bacon at 350. When I cooked all the french toasted I cooked a couple eggs for the fun of it.

I normally don’t eat breakfast and I haven’t had a fried egg in a long time. It was a very nice treat. The sourdough was wonderful! The bacon topped with some local maple syrup…yum. Amara even had a couple slices of the french toast.

Pasta

Growing up I would ask my parents to make lasagna and they always told me no. I asked why and they said it was too difficult to make. As an adult, I have never made lasagna because I thought it would be too difficult to make. You have: meat and sauce and noodles and cheese and more cheese and baking and left overs… Well for one of my Dark Days post I would like to make a lasagna from scratch. Well, as unprocessed as possible; meaning I need to make my own noodles. I guess I won’t try to make the cheese…this time!

I found a couple videos on Youtube to make your own pasta. Man, there are some fancy pasta makers out there! I don’t have a pasta maker, so I am doing it by hand. This year I really would like to get two things for my kitchen. 1. A Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Yes… I know, it is a must have. I need the ice cream maker attachment too… I have some wild ideas! 2. A dutch oven. A Lodge cast iron 7 quart dutch oven to be specific. I do most of my cooking on cast iron.

Back to the pasta. The recipe is like 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 egg and salt. Mix the flour and salt, add a beaten egg and mix up until it makes a ball. Then knead for a couple minutes and roll out to as thin as you want. Finally cut it into noodles. Simple stuff. I made pasta once like this and I can remember not being too impressed.

I think it’s funny that when we think of pasta it’s always the cheap dried crap down the grocery aisle. You can pick up a pound of dried pasta noodles for a buck. There is the whole wheat kind or the fancy imported kind for around two bucks. That’s it. It seams like they all taste the same. I have never known anyone to regularly make their own noodles.

If you can get a recipe that works for you, think of some of the possibilities: Stuffed ravioli- OK, you could do a traditional thing like spinach and olive oil. BUT what if you got crazy and did a wild green and wild mushroom stuffed ravioli. Or another possibility- You are at home you want a spaghetti and you don’t have noodles. You would have the know how to make a quick batch of noodles. (Not to mention Asian stuff or soups!)

My noodles turned out. They were a little too thick. They would have made a good noodle for an Alfredo, but not for spaghetti. I thought I rolled them out pretty thin… I will need to experiment with different flours too. I cooked them for 3 minutes and tossed them with some butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan. It made for a quick meal and a good first attempt on noodle making. I am one step closer to that local lasagna. Maybe I should have my parents over for dinner that night…