How To Freeze Broccoli

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I mentioned before that this year was joined a local CSA, It is called Riverbound Farms. We have enjoyed the yummy, fresh vegetables we can choose each week.  Because we also have a large garden, sometimes I choose several of one item, so I can store it away for later use.  This time it was broccoli.  Look at those heads.  We plant broccoli, but ours never are even close to this size.  Neither are the ones we have purchased in the past in the grocery store.  These are only 3 of the 5 heads I froze.

1.  Wash the broccoli and cut it up.

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2.  Soak your cut up broccoli in a brine of a gallon of water to 4 teaspoons of salt for 30 minutes.  I need to pause and let you know that I found these instructions online. When I saw this step I thought…my broccoli is so clean, I washed it well, I can skip this step.  Well, when I boiled the broccoli there were worms that came out.  So please don’t skip this step.  I had to spend more time cooling it and slowly picking each piece out of the water to make sure there were no worms.  I learned on my second batch.

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3.  Boil water, when it comes to a hard boil, add the cut up broccoli.  Cover and boil for 3 minutes.  Don’t forget to set your timer.

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4.  Then cool off broccoli in an ice bath to stop cooking. Another side note….I have been meaning to clean out my refrigerator’s ice machine.  I used all my ice for this process of three batches, so it was easy to clean.  Another “to do” off my list.

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5.  Spin off excess water in salad spinner.  This was my idea.  Extra water can cause food to freezer burn quicker, so I used my salad spinner to get rid of that excess water.  In case you are wondering, I purchased this salad spinner early this spring and have used it so many times.  My greens stay a few days longer when I use it.  It is a Large Zyliss Salad Spinner. After not having one for so many years, I really do wonder how I got by without it.

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5 Use a vacuum sealer if you have one.  I don’t, so I just used ziplock bags. I filled the amount I wanted and closed.  I left a small hole in the end.  Inserted a straw and sucked the remaining air out, pulling the straw out and sealing it to keep air out. Not sure if you can tell in the above photo but the one on the left is the one I sucked all the air out.  I think it will help it last longer.

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6.  Step back enjoy the completed project and put into freezer.  Big M loves steamed frozen broccoli so it will be nice to have organic, not overly processed broccoli when we want it.

Have you ever tried freezing broccoli?  Any tips to share?

Italian Style Grilled Eggplant

Italian Style Grilled Eggplant

Another week, another new vegetable to try.  Our CSA pickup included eggplant this week.  I have always wanted to try eggplant but just never did.  When the vegetable is sitting on your kitchen counter, you finally decide that you have to find a recipe for it.

We were having grilled hamburgers, so I made Italian style grilled eggplant.  I found the start of the recipe here.  I used coconut oil instead of olive oil.  I did not grill the tomatoes.

They weren’t bad.  Too me they didn’t have much of a taste. I enjoyed them, but not where I had to have more.  I have another eggplant, so I need to find another recipe to try. It was a success in that I am no longer afraid to eat eggplant.

Do you have a recipe for eggplant?

A Morning in the Kitchen

Chopped Zucchini

It’s July, so that means the garden is producing.  I spent the morning in the kitchen.  The first thing I did was made 2 batches of zucchini bread.  In the past I used my food processor to chop up the zucchini. It was time-consuming, and I usually ended up with small chunks.  It worked, but once in a while you would find a piece of zucchini in the bread.  I decided to grind it in my Vitamix.  Yes…smooth, creamy zucchini. Perfect for the bread.  It turned out delicious.

For those of you that know that I have reduced my sugar intake, the zucchini bread was my normal zucchini bread recipe with 1 3/4 cups sugar.  I will probably eat a small piece, but it is more for my boys.  They are 18 and 15.  They aren’t on the no sugar bandwagon, so I still make them their yummy treats.  They are making some changes in the diet, but not as much and Big M and I are doing.

Coconut Butter

I had heard about coconut butter, so I decide to make my own.  I used about 2 1/3 cups shredded coconut that was not defatted.  I ground it in my Vitamix.  The butter turned out yummy.

Cashew Butter

Since that was a success I put two cups of cashews in my Vitamix and made cashew butter.  Ok, this was even more of a success. Everyone loved it.

Coconut Cream

I then went back to coconut.  I had just purchased a container of coconut cream.  We are moving away from dairy.  We found a big chunk of coconut at the bottom.  So I decide to try my Vitamix.  Failure.  It ground it up but it made it a very weird texture almost curdled looking.  Won’t be doing that again.  I need to find out why the chunk was at the bottom and what to do about it.  Anyone else use coconut cream?

Ground Dill

Our dill was looking beautiful, so I had pick dill and dried it for a little over 2 hours.  Normally I scrunch it up with my hands and spend time picking out the larger pieces.  It can be time-consuming.  Out came the Vitamix again. I ground it briefly, and it looked like a course powder…no large pieces of stem left. Quick and easy.  Now I have dill for the remainder of the year.

Rainbow Chard

I was done around noon.  I was hungry.  Since I had my Vitamix out I decided to make a  green smoothie.  I had just picked up some rainbow chard from our CSA.  It looked yummy.  Never have eaten rainbow chard before.  I added a couple of leaves without the stocks into my smoothie.

Rainbow Chard Smoothie

 

It turned out delicious.  It was slightly more bitter than kale when I took the first couple of sips. However, I got used to it and enjoyed my healthy, green smoothie.

It was a productive morning in my kitchen. It is official. I am hooked on my Vitamix. It can do anything I seem to need in the kitchen, except the dishes.

Fresh Vegetable Borscht Soup

Borscht Soup bOh how I love this time of year when I can walk into my back yard, pick some yummy fresh vegetables, and make dinner.

Yesterday we snitched fresh red potatoes (I didn’t even peel them, just scrubbed them with a brush and the skins came right off.), beets and beet leaves, zucchini, and dill to make a borscht soup.  I also had some bok choy we added from our CSA that we joined this year.

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Oh my it looked good getting ready to boil it in my dutch oven.

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It smelled so good that we ate before I remembered to take a photo of the finished soup.  It was simply delicious.  Are you eating fresh vegetables right now?

 

Peach Mango Coconut Smoothie

Peach Smoothie

I still am loving healthy smoothies.  I use my Vitamix at least once a day.  That thing gets a work out.

Most of my smoothies are green. I add spinach, kale or lettuce to my smoothies.  However today I decided to leave out the green and try my own concoction.  It was delicious.

Peach Mango Coconut Smoothie

1 cup coconut milk
2 ripe peaches, with or without skin
1 frozen mango
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 to 2 Tbsp of shredded coconut
1 Tbsp hemp hearts
2 scoops of Protein Powder
5-6 ice cubes.

Put everything in the Vitamix and enjoy the smooth, creaminess of a summertime smoothie. It made about 32 ounces of pure yum.  Enjoy.

 

Good Books Read – May 2014

We are into our 5th month of 2014 already. The good news is I have made great progress on my reading goals for the year. I have spent a lot of time in the vehicle waiting for my son during his activities which allowed for more reading. I also continue to read before bedtime.  I have read several great books this year.  Here are some of them.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  Here is my review that I left on Goodreads.  I didn’t realize that this was a British Chick Lit book when I pick it up from the library. All I knew was that my sister gave it a 5 star, so I wanted to read it. Normally I don’t like books set in Great Britain. Normally I don’t like self-centered, non-motivated characters, but Jojo Moyes did a great job writing this book and pulling me into the story. I began to love both Lou and Will by the middle of the book. I wanted to know what happened, so I could put it down. Even though I liked this book from the beginning I continued to like it more and more as I read and decided it was a “great book” when I had tears streaming down my face.
However I liked this book because it made me think of my values and morals. What I believe…and why I believe it. It made me so grateful for my faith and belief in all life is valuable and precious in God’s eyes. So yes, whether I agreed with the ending or not, (I don’t) it deserves 5 stars because of how it made me think and re-evaluate what I believe and know.

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Snapshot by LIs Wiehl.  I have read several of Ms. Wiehl’s book and have enjoyed each one.  This one was great as well.  This is a mystery of a murder in 1965.  It is well written, and it had elements of history woven into the story.  It was fast paced which I really like in a mystery.

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The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor is my favorite health book that I have read lately.  What he states makes complete sense to me about a calorie is not a calorie and that food quality matters.  I have been trying to cook more according to his recommendations and have noticed small differences.  I really do look at foods and think about how SANE it is.  You will have to read the book to know what that means.

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I am continuing to read the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson.  The Truth Seeker was a great one.  All of the books have been good.

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Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is a young adult fantasy that my son, Z, recommended to me.  It was a good versus evil story that was fun and light-hearted. I can’t wait for the next book in the Reckoners series.

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I have read many more good books, so you can go to my Goodreads page to find them, but the final book I will mention here is Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Robert H. Lustig, M.D. I only gave it a four stars because it wasn’t as organized as I would have liked but the information in the book is well researched and interesting.  Mr. Lustig is well-known for being an expert on sugar in a diet.  He knows his stuff.  This book just reconfirmed my goal of reducing, in hopes to some day eliminating, added sugar as well as processed foods in my diet.  If you are interested in health, I would recommend reading this book, or you may want to listen to his presentation, Sugar, The Bitter Truth on UCTV.

Are you finding time to read?  Any recommendations of an awesome books is always appreciated.