Update

Hello all and Happy Monday! Just wanted to give a quick update on how the business transitioning to Oregon is progressing. I should be set up in a local community kitchen by the end of June! Just a couple more steps until I will be making delicious small batches of jams, jellies, and other preserved goods that will be available for you! The wonderful thing about working out of a commercial community kitchen is that I will be able to sell online (so keep an eye out for that Etsy store) and I can even wholesale if the opportunity arises. I may not be able to get into any Farmer’s Markets this summer, so I am setting my sights on Holiday fairs this Fall and Winter.

Thank you for all of your support! Have an amazing day!

Quick Pickles – Ginger and Carrots Oh My!

The month of April has been great so far and that includes the latest Food In Jars Challenge – Quick Pickles. This was a fun one for me since I really had to pause and think about how I would proceed with this challenge. For the last two years my canning has predominantly been focused on making sure items were shelf stable (so nothing was quick, they all needed to be canned in a water bath) in order to be able to transport and sell them. I got very excited because I really do love all sorts of pickles and all of a sudden the idea of being able to enjoy them within days of making them (instead of weeks) was making me a tad giddy!

I then found a container of organic fresh ginger at Costco and it hit me – Quick Pickled Ginger! And then, at the local Farmer’s Market one of the farm vendors was selling fresh carrots that he had had in the root cellar since November. They were quite large so I was hesitant to eat them fresh, but they would be perfect for Quick Pickled Asian Carrots! And since I was able to find a lot that were straight they would be an ideal way to test out my (somewhat) new Spiralizer. Let the creating begin!

What should I eat these with you ask? Sushi, of course or served alongside pan seared fish or teriyaki chicken. The carrots are fantastic tucked into sandwiches or put onto salads. I also love the ginger on a bowl of rice with a sprinkle of furikake. My favorite application is to use a bit of both on top of poke rice bowls. It adds a nice vinegar punch and a bit of very flavorful heat.

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Some tips for Pickled Ginger:

  1. Ideally, use fresh, young ginger. It is easier to peel and not fibrous like mature ginger. However, young ginger is not as readily available so when using fresh, mature ginger (which I did for this recipe) make sure to cut it super thin against the grain (into coins, essentially) to avoid it getting tough and fibrous.
  2. The pink color of commercial ginger is mostly dyed. Ginger does contain pigments that will cause it to obtain a pink hue over time, just not as intense. Young ginger will turn more pink than mature.
  3. Peeling and slicing ginger, especially mature ginger, is quite time consuming. So stick to small batches – I know I will!

 


PICKLED GINGER – America’s Test Kitchen, Foolproof Preserving

Yield: (2) 1-cup jars

  • 14 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 6 T. cane sugar
  • 1 T. pickling salt, 1.5 T. Morton’s Kosher Salt, or 2 T. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

Wash (2) 1-cup jars and keep warm by placing in a bowl of hot water.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add sliced ginger to the pot and boil until slightly darkened and softened, about 40 seconds. Drain ginger in colander, then spread out over paper towels.

Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil (empty the water from the pot in the previous step and use it for this step). Stir occasionally to dissolve sugar.

Shake jars dry and pack ginger tightly into warm jars. Pour hot brine over the ginger to cover, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Let jars cool to room temperature, then wipe rims and cover with lids.

Refrigerate for at least 4 days. Ginger can be refrigerated for at least 6 months and the ginger flavor/heat will mellow over time.

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Some tips for Pickled Asian Carrots:

  1. Cut the carrots into julienne strips, use a spiralizer (like I did) or just peel strips with your vegetable peeler. You want thin pieces like this in order for the quick pickling process to work effectively. These options are also the best sizes for serving the carrots on salads or poke bowls or tucking into sandwiches.
  2. This recipe is equally delicious using beet stems or swiss chard stems!

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PICKLED ASIAN CARROTS – Foodie with Family

Yield: (3) 1-pint jars

  • 1.5# carrots, julienned or spiraled
  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 T. red pepper flakes
  • 3 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Wash (3) 1-pint jars, keep warm in a bowl of hot water.

Bring all ingredients (except carrots) to a boil, stirring often until sugar dissolves. After the brine boils, remove star anise and set aside.

Add carrots to the brine, bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

Shake the jars dry, add one star anise to each jar. Pack the carrots into each jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle in brine to cover carrots. Use a chopstick to release bubbles, add more brine if needed.

Let jars come to room temperature. Wipe rims and cover with lids. Refrigerate for at least 4 days. Carrots will last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.

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ENJOY!!

Jelly Challenge – Pomegranate

Okay, that title may be a bit misleading. Jelly making is typically not a challenge for me. After years of making it and getting great insights and tips, I feel like I have it pretty dialed in. For this month’s #fijchallenge what I did not have dialed in was navigating canning projects in a new house! Well, no time like the present to jump in and search for everything. The ingredients were easy, I only needed three. It was tracking down all of the equipment that resulted in 3 separate trips to the pantry (which is downstairs…) In the end, this helped me figure out the best places for everything to ultimately get stored. In searching for canning items I even found my missing mixer parts! Yay! The beginning of the project was a bit confusing, yet it all worked out in the end. And now there is some lovely pomegranate jelly gracing my pantry shelves!

There is not much in the way of fresh local fruit available right now and, besides, I was not in the mood to pull out the juicer, so I went the easy route and used a jar of 100% juice. I would recommend using juice that is not from concentrate for a brighter fruit flavor, but I used what I had, which did have some water added. It still worked out beautifully! Just remember to not use a juice with any added sugar.IMG_3359

A big bonus of small batch canning is not having to use the massive canning pot and rack to sanitize, keep hot, and process the jars. I can use 4 or 8 ounce Kerr/Ball jars with my tall stockpot and have enough room to cover the jars with water when processing. I also use a blossom trivet so the jars don’t touch the bottom. This recipe ended up making 5 1/2 cups of jelly, so I now have (3) 1/2 pints and (5) 4 oz. to enjoy and share!

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Pomegranate Jelly


4 Cups 100% Pomegranate Juice

4 Cups Organic Cane Sugar

2 Boxes (or 3.5 ounces by weight) regular, powdered pectin

1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and your jars, whatever combination you will want for 5 1/2 cups of jelly.

2. In LARGE pot (larger than you think you need, this jelly foams a lot at a rolling boil!) bring the juice to a boil.

3. Once boiling, sprinkle in the pectin with one hand and use a whisk to quickly mix it into the juice with your other hand. Do not dump all the pectin in at once, it will clump. By sprinkling and whisking at the same time it gets thoroughly mixed in. Bring the mixture back to a boil.

4. Once the juice/pectin mixture boils again, slowly whisk or stir in the sugar. Do not add the sugar all at once, if you do the temperature will drop too quickly and you run the risk of  the sugar not thoroughly dissolving, resulting in a grainy finished product.

5. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down) and let it boil for 1 minute. This is where the large pot is a requirement! The photo on the left is the mixture just starting to boil, the one on the right is at a full rolling boil – almost to the top of the pot!

6. After 1 minute, turn off the heat, let the jelly settle, and test for jell. I prefer the chilled plate method. I keep 3-4 small plates in my freezer at all times so when I make jam and jelly I can just pull one out, spoon a small amount of my mixture on it, and quickly know if the set is where I want it.

7. Skim off any foam. Remove hot jars from canning pot and fill with jelly, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

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8. Wipe rims with damp paper towel. Place lids on jars and tighten rings finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

9. When 10 minutes are up, remove the jars from the water bath canner and set them on a folded dish cloth or a wooden cutting board and let them cool. Check the seals and store accordingly. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. If any jars did not seal, pop them into the refrigerator for immediate enjoyment!

NOTES:

*By adding the pectin before the sugar and re-boiling, you allow the pectin to absorb the liquid and fully dissolve.

*With jelly recipes I prefer to use a whisk to insure full incorporation of all ingredients.

*A personal note on pectin – I often see jelly recipes calling for liquid pectin, which I do not care for. I have consistently had issues with my set when using liquid pectin and I feel it leaves a funny taste. I get very consistent, high quality results using powdered pectin so you will not see liquid pectin called for in any of my recipes. The is just how I feel and what I have experienced, but if you like using liquid pectin, by all means, do what you are comfortable with and enjoy! If a recipe calls for liquid pectin and you would like to use powdered pectin, substitute 2T. powdered pectin for 1 pouch liquid pectin. It will give you a nice loose set perfect for all kinds of toasted goodies, or spooning into yogurt or over ice cream!

Gravlax, Continued…

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath for the conclusion of the Gravlax project. Yes, all three of you who read my blog – I do so appreciate it!

To continue…Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I basted the salmon fillet with the juices that exuded from it, making sure all of the dill got moistened each time. These juices were nice and syrupy – a combination of the brandy, the melted brown sugar and salt, and some moisture from the fillet itself. Sunday at noon I pulled the finished product from the refrigerator. The salmon fillet had significantly firmed up, which was a very good sign.  I scraped the dill off, using a butterknife in order to not cut into the fillet using anything sharp. No rinsing was necessary, although you will see recipes that do call for it. And then it was on to thinly slicing the fillet. And tasting of course!

It tasted fantastic! It was definitely not the lox I am used to being served. Where lox is typically just salt cured, gravlax has the added benefit of spices. The brown sugar gave this gravlax a deeper flavor, as opposed to just a sweetness. You could taste the brandy, the dill, and the salt. I loved the texture as well. Firmer than lox with a nice chew, but not chew-y. It all just melded so well. Once we did it up in our traditional brunch manner it got even better!

An onion bagel, cream cheese, capers, red onion and a squeeze of lemon to accompany fresh, homemade gravlax. What a way to feast for Sunday brunch! One tip – place your capers on top of the cream cheese and squish them down slightly. No more escaping capers! Want a more traditional way to serve? Place slices on a dark, firm pumpernickel bread, top with a mustard dill sauce and a sprig of fresh dill.

If lox, salmon, smoked salmon, or gravlax is something you enjoy I challenge you to try this. It is easier (and tastier!) than I ever would have thought.

Cheers!

 

Salt Preserving Challenge

Where has the time gone?! I cannot (okay, yes I can) believe how long it has been since I have put any words down here. The last 6 months have been a crazy whirlwind. We moved from Hawaii to Oregon, I put my business on hiatus, we dealt with some terrible winter weather (for Portland anyway…), and the last three weeks have been filled with unpacking boxes, trying to find a place for everything, and a lot of “where did I put (insert item here)?”  Things are starting to come together and I have been missing my quiet, organized kitchen time. This year Food In Jars came up with the the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge, a challenge where those participating would “focus on a different pickling or preserving skill, with the intention that we end this calendar year with a greater level of expertise and comfort with a wide range of food preservation techniques than when we started.” As comfortable as I am with canning and experimenting in that department, I felt I could definitely use the push of a monthly challenge, both to inspire me to try new techniques and to challenge me in areas I am already familiar with. January’s challenge was marmalade – a challenge I could not participate in due to the move and having no kitchen. But one I would have thoroughly enjoyed because I have quite an extensive marmalade repertoire due to tips and tricks from Food in Jars and all of the amazing citrus available to me when I was in Hawaii! So, moving on to February and a challenge of Salt Preserving. I was determined to make something this month, but it had to meet some criteria:

  • It had to be something to ease me into the new working environment of a new house.
  • It had to be something simple and useable, not something I would have to search out an elaborate recipe to use it in.
  • It had to be small batch.
  • It had to be something to expand my skills.

That narrowed it down to citrus/herb salt, vegetable soup base, or Gravlax. I opted for Gravlax because it fit all of the above – something quick, I had very few ingredients to buy, we would consume it in a short time, and it was something I had never made.

My main go-to when I am approaching something new is America’s Test Kitchen. I love how they research and test everything and explain why they take the approach that they do. A few years ago I saw their DIY Cookbook on a friend’s coffee table and I knew I had to have it. And today I used it to craft my first ever Gravlax.

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Five simple ingredients

As you can see, five ingredients are all it takes. Drizzle the brandy all over the salmon fillet. Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl and then pack it onto the top and sides of the salmon.

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I happened to have a local Apple Brandy on hand
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Packed with salt and sugar

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Pie plate, canned beans for weight

 

 

 

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Organic fresh dill, one of my faves

 

Top the fillet off with a thick layer of roughly chopped fresh dill. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, top with smaller baking dish and weights (canned goods work well), and place in the refrigerator.

Now I will baste it once daily with the exuded juices and swimming dill for the next three days, keep my fingers crossed, and look forward to enjoying this for brunch on Sunday!  I will post an update once it is finished.

Cheers to happy kitchen time!


GRAVLAX – DIY Cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 (1 pound) skin on salmon fillet
  • 3 T. brandy
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill (do not use dried)

Step 1: Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Place salmon, skin side down, in 13×9 glass baking dish. Drizzle with brandy, making sure to cover entire surface. Rub salmon evenly with sugar mixture, pressing firmly on mixture to adhere. Cover with dill, pressing firmly to adhere.

Step 2: Cover salmon loosely with plastic wrap, top with square baking dish or pie plate, and weight with several large heavy cans. Refrigerate until salmon feels firm, about 3 days, basting salmon with liquid released into baking dish once a day.

Step 3: Scrape dill off salmon. Remove fillet from dish and pat dry with paper towels before slicing. Gravlax can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to one week; it should be left whole and sliced just before serving.

Off on an Adventure!

The production end of Mauka Girl Creations will be on hiatus until July while my best friend and I go do some traveling!  I am planning to blog here as often as possible to talk of our adventures and (if you know us at all!) the food and drinks we will be discovering.  We are currently in the Honolulu Airport awaiting our flight to Los Angeles where we will embark on a 10 hour flight to Paris, before hopping over to Edinburgh for a 10 day adventure. Then we go to Provence, and end our travels in Paris.  So stay tuned – it could be fun!

Fools and Fanatics and Wiser People

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
Bertrand Russell

I came across this quote today after having a pretty rough day yesterday.  This applies to so much in our current lives – politics and dietary choices seem to be the most prevalent at the moment.  Be forewarned, this is not a food post today, more of a journaling one.  I learn a lot by my time spent in the kitchen creating.  I truly believe in the restorative powers of slowing down, making food, creating, and knowing where your ingredients come from.  Listening to America’s Test Kitchen podcasts and watching Michael Pollan’s Cooking series on Netflix are two activities I highly recommend while in your kitchen!

The wiser people are ignored since they typically think and take their time – cooking, reading, or deciding, by researching,  what non-elixir options are right for them.  Eat whatever you want.  If you believe a certain food has adverse effects on your system, don’t eat that food. But do not turn to me like a turn of the century snake oil salesman and tell me that it is bad for everyone and your way will cure all ills.  Did you ever think that maybe your constant stressing over what and what not to eat, constantly modifying your order when you go out, and worrying about why everyone around you is not following your lead could be having just as many adverse effects on your system?

Focus instead on the Super 6- six factors that can most likely add years to our lives, and life to our years. Feet, forks, fingers, sleep, stress, and love.  Engage in physical activity, eat a balanced diet, do not use your fingers for smoking, get good quality sleep, mitigate stress in your life, and have a good social circle of family and friends.  This came to me via David Katz, MD through this article – http://css-wellness.blogspot.com/2014/09/feet-forks-fingers-sleep-stress-and-love.html.

I try my hardest every day to be active and eat well.  And I do not give myself enough credit and love.  As wise as I feel I am, I still get sucked into thinking I need to be at a certain weight or size, although logically I know that my body makeup is very different from the person next to me and it is impossible for me to ever look that way!  But I am trying. I do not smoke, that one is easy!  I feel I get good quality sleep (I also firmly believe in the restorative power of naps!).  The last two are the toughest.  I want to surround myself with good people where I currently live so I put myself out there, and in return I get…nothing.  Which is where the breakdown of yesterday came from.  Things are better today.  I know I will be okay and when push comes to shove there is that love all around me.  But possibly some changes need to be made.


We are all going to make mistakes and feel embarrassed about that time we did fall for the “cure all”.  As long as we accept and learn from those mistakes and embarrassments, all will be well with our worlds.  And in the meantime, just remember that “you don’t need a phony elixir to lead a healthy long life.” – Christopher Kimball