Mango Chicken – Joinmefordinner recipe

OK – this picture isn’t the best…but the recipe definately is!

We made this last nite following the recipe on Elaines Blog – joinmefordinner

We tweaked it a little bit by adding some sweetened coconut and enjoyed it on a bed of quinoa.

Today for lunch I made a wrap with the leftovers – the wrap was actually a roti (chapatti), seasoned with extra cilantro.  Should have taken a picture, I know…but I knew it would be so good that I actually ate my lunch at 10.30 this morning!! So, it’s too late for pics ;-(

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Dehydrating – Onions & Bananas

Nope..I didn’t dehydrate the onions and bananas at the same time!  They were done separately and on different days!

I’m the proud owner of a Garden Master Digital Dehydrator by Nesco/Amercian Harvest.  I chose this model because I really liked the following features:

It has a digital thermometer and timer, which means I can set it and walk away because it turns itself off.

The fan is on the top so there is no risk of drips (from food like jerky) getting onto the fan

It can expand up to 20 trays

Because of the rounded shape and the way the air moves through, over and across the trays there is no reason to rotate them.

It came with a free dehydrating cookbook (love that!)

I started with the onions, they were available fairly cheap (89 cents for a 3lb bag) at our local Old Farm Market.   As I am growing onions in our veggie garden this year, it was an experiment to see if I will continue to chop and freeze our harvested onions or whether it would be better to dry them and recover some of my highly coveted freezer space.  As well, these will become a staple in our emergency food supply pantry.

Onions are an essential ingredient in East Indian cooking, so we always have plenty on hand, both frozen and fresh.  It will be interesting to see how well these dehydrated onions work in our regular curry recipes.

WARNING:  You must dehydrate onions outside (covered area) or in the garage – otherwise your house will smell like onions for at least a couple of weeks -so will your coat, couch, curtains and critters!  Drying them outside might make your neighbours salivate for a few hours – but that’s no biggy!  I’m sure mine thought we were cooking curry for the masses!!

Peel and wash the onions, remove any soft or rotten bits.  Soaking the peeled onions in cold water is supposed to reduce the tears when cutting – yah, not so much!!

I used my Bosch Slicer Shredder attachment to make quick work of slicing the onions, this really helped in keeping the slices uniform, which allows all the trays to dry in the same amount of time

I also used the mesh inserts that came with the dehyrator to line each tray.  These are a great way to prevent the onion slices falling through the slats on the trays. (I made a total of 4 trays).

I was able to get them started in the morning and they were completely dry by the time I got home from work.

At this point they can be stored as is (dried slices) or they can be blended or crushed into onion powder.

 I left them as dried slices.

I decided not to grind them into powder (because I have a bag of onion powder in my spice cupboard)

Can you believe that 3lbs of onions now fit into this 500ml mason jar?

Onions hydrate easily so it is important to keep these dry.  So, if you have any of those little packets of dessicant, drop one in the jar along with the onions.

Another important step is washing the mesh liners and trays thoroughly afterwards to prevent any future foods from tasting like onions!

A couple of days later, I dried some banana chips and a couple of kiwis that were getting ripe in the fruit bowl.

These took about 6 hours at 130 degrees and cost about 45 cents in electricity use.

I make the banana chips every couple of weeks and we eat them for snacks, in our packed lunches and picnics.  I also regulary dry pears and apples for the same purpose.

This is the first time I have made kiwi chips, they were pretty sour once bitten into…which my son loved!

This is a great way to store fruit and veg.  Especially when you can get large quantities on sale. The perfect way to stock up on your Emergency Food Supply!

(Extra note, I made up 3 trays of banana chips which used about 11 bananas.  I save the peels, pop them in a bag and keep them in the freezer.  When I am ready to plant my tomato starts in the garden, I dig deep and put one peel under each tomato plant, as they break down they provide nourishment to the growing plant).

Do you have any favourite dehydrated foods or recipes?

Cleaning Day

Sunday is cleaning day at my house.  Working six days a week means that there is no resting on Sunday for me.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on making my own natural cleaning solutions.

First up is Citris Vinegar cleaner.  I got the recipe and instructions from this blog.  It’s pretty basic, but takes a few weeks to set up.  Simply place your orange, lemon or grapefruit peels in a clean mason jar and top with plain old white vinegar.  I used a veggie peeler to remove the zest from my oranges, this minimized the amount of pith in the jar.

Continue to add peels and vinegar until the jar is full.  Then let it soak for 2 – 3 weeks, giving it a good shake once a week.

I had mine sitting on the pantry shelf for about two weeks, then moved it to my sunny kitchen window sill for the final week, shaking it regularly.

Here’s what the finished product looked like:

You can see (sort of) that the orange peel is now discolored as the rich orange color has been absorbed by the vinegar.

The citrus does not eliminate all of the vinegar smell, but it does help.  I have no issues with the smell of vinegar anyway, but if you do…this may not be the cleaner for you.

I strained off the vinegar using a cheap nylon sieve that I picked up from the dollar store, but found that it didn’t result in a clear liquid.  I ran it through a couple of layers of cheesecloth and was much happier with the result 🙂

I didn’t take a picture of the cleaner in a spray bottle (duh!), but the contents of this batch topped up with water (50/50 split) filled a dollar store spray bottle.

My intention in making this was to have a natural degreaser that I can use in the kitchen.  Mainly for my stovetop and oven.

So, I went ahead and tried it out.

Here are a couple of before pics from my greasy stovetop (it isn’t always that dirty…honest…well maybe a little bit like that!)

I sprayed the top with my new orange cleaner and let is soak in for about 10 minutes.

After a little scrubbing here is how it looked:

 I am really impressed that I was able to get this result with little scrubbing.

I was even able to get the area under the top clean (clean enough for me anyway!)

The vinegar smell lasted about 10 – 15 minutes then magically disappeared!

I also tried it in the oven….my dirty oven:

I sprayed the walls and the bottom of the oven and let it sit for about 20 minutes.

The orange cleaner did a great job removing the obvious gunk, but I wasn’t impressed with how it worked on the deeper greasy marks.  This was easily remedied by dipping my sponge into baking soda and scrubbing the stains (using a heavy dose of elbow grease!)

I was very satisfied with the results:

There are still some grease marks on the right wall (as you can see), but my knees were screaming by this point, so I decided to tackle it next time.

Now, if I could just be one of those people that gives the oven a quick clean after each use…sigh (maybe one day, when I grow up!)

The other natural cleaner I tried was the miracle cleaner by jillie found on her blog onegoodthingbyjillie.

It’s a simple mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (you know, the stuff in the brown bottle?).

Just place some baking soda in a glass bowl and add hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste.

I used this on the middle of my stovetop burners and the glass inside the oven door – wiping it on and leaving it to sit for 1/2 hour

Here are my before and after pics:

Burners:

Oven Door:

Not bad eh?  Minimal scrubbing required…minimal!  This stuff really works!  On the oven door, it did a great job cleaning the gasket thingy around the edge too!

Do you have any natural cleaning methods that you would like to share?  I would love to hear about them!

Duncan Farmers Market Haul

Today we had the privilage of time on our side and decided to head into Duncan to visit the very popular Duncan Farmers Market.

I wanted to share the great items we picked up

Raw Sugar from Lockwood Farms of Cobble Hill

Dozen brown eggs from Cedar Valley Poultry Farm of Nanaimo

Sambal with coconut (woo spicy!!) and Spicy Humous from Fat Chili Farm of Cobble Hill

Brothers Blend Coffee Beans and Weeks End Blend from Peaks Coffee of Duncan

Apple & Sage Pork Sausages and British Bangers from Ravenstone Farm of Qualicum Beach

I’m sure you notice the chocolate croissant sneaking around behind the sausages right there in the picture.  I’m suprised I didn’t get the name of the stall that sold these, however I’m even more suprised that it stayed intact long enough to make it into this fine line up.

It’s difficult to refrain from stuffing your mouth with all the delicious goodies available for immediate gratification at this market.  So, I didn’t refrain!  Cam, mom and I split an order of three items from The Farms Gate catering wagon.  We chose the chicken kebab, salmon kebab and the chick pea fries.  Mom and I shared the fries (seriously good!) while Cam ate the kebabs (oh, that explains the longer than usual life span of the chocolate croissant!).  If you get a chance the chick pea fries are definately worth a try…what a great idea!  The crusty exterior and the soft insides were perfect.  I have a bin full of dried chick peas in storage, perhaps I shall try to concoct my own tasty fries!

We enjoyed the sausages from Ravenstone Farm for supper tonight (sorry, I didn’t take a picture of them once prepared).  Both sausages were great, but the Bangers were a big hit…probably because we had them with hash browns and baked beans…yum.   Next time I will definately boil them before broiling to soften the casing a little more, but all the same them was some fine sausages!

Tomorrow for lunch we will enjoy the spicy humous with crackers and some of those fresh eggs will be boiled and sliced into a green salad.

The coffee will be enjoyed all week with breakfast, as will the raw sugar and I still have to figure out what I will  be doing with the spicy Sambal with Coconut – chicken dish maybe?  I will keep you posted on that one!

Have you been to the Duncan Farmers Market this year?  If not, it’s a great way to meet your local food producers, supporting these folks is a great way to help ensure our food security and sustainability here in our beautiful Cowichan Valley and they are such nice people that it is a pleasure to purchase their goodies.

If you travel down to the Market on May 19th you will also have a chance to hear Cam’s band Tropic Mayhem play during market hours on the stage in the square…you’ll love the surfing tunes these guys belt out and don’t be suprised if you see the market vendors singing along and shaking their hips to the beat, it’s all part of the great atmosphere!