Friday, August 22, 2014

Freezing Corn

Our corn is ripening faster than we can eat it.  I surfed around the Net to see what to do with it. I thought about canning it and then decided to freeze it. 


It is recommended that you cook it before you remove it from the cob, so I started some pots of water and went picking.


RJ helped.


I then set up a husking station to keep most of the corn silks outside.


Almost all of the corn has a bug or worm at the tip.  The older the cob the more that was eaten.  Just a tad gross. 


I broke off the cobs with major damage and brushed off any small critters into the trash.  I wanted to keep those out of the house, too!


First I cut off the tips where the depredation had occurred.  Then I washed and removed the majority of the silk and popped the corn into the boiling water.  OK.  I didn't POP the corn.  You know what I meant.


While one batch was cooking I worked on the remaining corn.  I boiled for 7 minutes.

Then I removed the corn and rinsed them under cold water to stop the cooking and drained them.  You don't want watery corn.


I had already removed the tips, so I set the corn tip down on the cutting board and cut down through the kernels.  Cut about 3/4 of the way through to avoid the tough bits where the corn comes out of the cob.


Keep a trash bag handy for the cut off bits.  Then you just tie it closed and toss.


I placed the cut kernels in a single layer on cookie sheets.  They sometimes come off rows, still stuck together.  You can separate these rows to get the trapped bits of silk that wouldn't come off earlier.

Freeze for an hour or two.

When the cookie sheet came out of the freezer, the corn was stuck to the sheet.  I waited a few minutes and they had melted just enough to scoop them up with a spatula and dump into a Ziploc vacuum bag.


After I sucked all the air out , I had a nice full bag to freeze for winter soups or southwestern dishes.

Here's the thing.  First I prepared the ground, digging out the weeds, and double digging to work in the soil amendments.  Then I planted the corn in three rows of about 8 feet long.  I did three sets of rows, planting them in two week intervals so they wouldn't all come ripe at the same time.  I had to water when there had been no rain for a few days.  I weeded between the rows until the corn grew about 4 feet high.

The picking, cleaning, cooking, cutting and freezing took about 2 hours.  I have one full bag of corn to show for it.  Granted I still have corn that isn't ripe, yet. 

I will not be freezing any more corn.  I will probably not grow any more corn, although it is quite tasty.  I can buy three ears of corn at the grocery store for $.99 all summer long.  They do not have bugs in them.  Farmers in Iowa (Is this Heaven?) or other corny places grow lots of corn and I like to support farmers.  If I buy it at the store when I feel like corn, I only have to eat THAT corn.  I don't have to eat corn at times when I don't feel like corn for dinner, merely because it is ripe. 

Canned corn is even cheaper.  It has no silk in it that has to be picked out.  It sits on my shelf, patiently waiting for me to desire corn.

When I eat my frozen corn, if I figure minimum wage for all the work I did to get it, each kernel will have cost about 75 cents.  I liked doing it.  I will like eating it.   I will not do it again.


At least I won't do it until the zombie apocalypse.  Then I will have to raise my own food and fight off hoards of zombies and others trying to eat me or my food.  But I can wait until then.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cheesy Chicken and Rice

I started thinking about a dish I used to make when the kids were little.  If you have kids, you know that a lot of meals are geared towards getting them to eat and not complain.  I used to make what I called Turkey, Gravy and Rice.  Basically I made rice, cut up some leftover turkey and covered it with a white sauce.

I wanted to make it a bit healthier, so I added some zucchini and I had corn in the garden, so I put in some of that.  But then I decided to make a cheese sauce rather than just a white sauce.  Well, there goes the whole "make it a bit healthier" part!  But cheese has protein, right?  That HAS to be better than just a white sauce.  Besides, this is comfort food.  And I used brown rice.  So there.


Cheesy Chicken and Rice

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to the directions
1 very large chicken breast, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced zucchini
corn kernels from one ear, about 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Cheese sauce

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Start the rice.  Brown rice takes almost an hour to cook.


Go out to the garden and pick an ear of corn.  What?  You don't have corn growing in your garden?  Well, then use one of those little cans of corn.  Do I have to spell out everything? 


Shuck the corn and cut off the kernels.  Set aside


Dice up the chicken breast and heat some olive oil.  The diced chicken will cook quickly.  When it is no longer pink inside the biggest piece, remove it to a bowl and add a bit more olive oil to the pan.  Place the zucchini, corn and onions in the pan over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes.  The onions should be translucent and the corn and the zucchini may start to get brown.  Add the garlic and cook for just a minute or two.

Garlic can get bitter if you cook it too long, that's why you add it last.

Place all the cooked veggies on top of the chicken in the dish.

Start the cheese sauce.


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the flour, salt and mustard. cook for a few minutes so the flour gets a bit toasty.  Add the milk and continue cooking and stirring.  It may be lumpy, so use a whisk to make the sauce smooth.  In a few minutes it will thicken.  Then add the shredded cheese.  Stir until all the cheese is melted and remove from the heat.


By this time the rice should be done.  Put the rice on top of the chicken and veggies and stir to combine. 


Pour the cheese sauce over the top and give it another stir.  Don't spill on the lottery ticket.  That could be your ticket to retirement in the country.  Wait.  We are retired in the country.


Are you tired of cooking?  Me, too.  So serve with a wedge of watermelon or something else easy.

If you are serving small children, leave out all the healthy bits.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peaches and Cream Cheese Muffins

So I've been in a muffin sort of mood, lately.  Also, I have been trying to use the local peaches that are so good right now.  And healthy.  Yes, I'm trying to make them healthy.  Sort of.  Mostly.  Hey, look!  Oatmeal and peaches.  A healthy break right there!


But, delicious.  No point in making something healthy and gross.


Peaches and Cream Cheese Muffins

1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup peeled and chopped peaches
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Optional cream cheese filling

Philadelphia Honey Pecan Cream Cheese , set out to soften.


Heat the oven to 400°.  Spray a muffin pan with Pam and set it aside.  This recipe made 10 muffins.


Place the egg in a large bowl and whisk it up.  Add the sour cream and oil and whisk some more. You can place all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix them and add, but I didn't do that. 

Mix in the sugar.  Then sprinkle the baking powder, cinnamon and salt on top of the egg mixture.  Whisk it in. Replace the whisk with a spoon and mix in the flour and oatmeal.  Set aside


I like to let the oatmeal sit with the moist ingredients.  That way it disappears into the muffins.  Now peel and chop the peaches.  It took me about two medium sized peaches to make a cup.  Stir the lemon juice into the bowl of peaches to keep them from turning brown. 


Fold the peaches into the batter.


Fill the muffin indentations about 1/3 full.  Place a teaspoon of the flavored cream cheese filling in the center of the batter.  Then cover it with a similar amount of batter.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Insert a toothpick at the edge of a muffin to check to see if it is done.  You want a clean toothpick, but you might not get one if you dip it in the cream cheese filling.

Cool for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  These are best served warm.  And a tad of butter never hurt any muffin. 


They were also good the second day.  And the third.  Hey, there are only two of us.  We kept them in the refrigerator, because of the cream cheese filling, and then warmed them in the toaster oven.  But they were the best on the first day.

We really liked these with the flavored cream cheese filling and it was so easy to do.  You may make them without the filling, though and they will still be delicious.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Zucchini Carrot Muffins

I was looking for a healthy type of muffin.  I decided to make some using zucchini and carrots.  Sort of like zucchini bread, I guess.  I thought it would be tasty with a cream cheese filling.  Most of the filling seemed to disappear in the muffin, although you could see it and taste it a bit.  I guess I will leave it up to you to decide of you want to add the filling or not.  Either way, they were really good.

Besides the goodness of the zucchini and the carrots, I added 1/2 cup of shredded apples and reduced the oil.  You could use apple sauce, but I didn't have apple sauce and I did have an apple, so there ya go.


Zucchini Carrot Muffins

1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup peeled, cored and shredded apple or use 1/2 cup apple sauce
1 lemon, zest only
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil, I used canola
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese filling, optional

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the oven to 350°.  Place muffin cups in a muffin pan.  This recipe made about 18 with using the cream cheese filling.


If you are going to make the cream cheese filling, beat the softened cream cheese in a stand mixer.  Then add the sugar and continue to mix.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Set aside.  If you set it in the refrigerator it might make scooping it into the muffin cups easier.


Don't peel the zucchini before shredding, but I did peel the carrots. 


It took about 2 zucchini and 3 carrots to make one cup each. 


I used most of an apple to make 1/2 cup.

In a large bowl mix the eggs, oil and vanilla.  When combined, add the brown sugar and granulated sugar.


I sprinkled the spices, baking soda and baking powder on top and mixed some more. 


Add the shredded veggies and fruit to the bowl and mix again.


Add the flour one cup at a time and mix just until moist.  Fold in the chopped nuts.


I have three different cookie scoops.  If you are not making the filling, use the large, ice cream size scoop and one scoop will fill a muffin cup just right. I used the medium size scoop. 


Place one medium scoop in a muffin cup and then use the smallest scoop to place the filling on top.  Then cover the filing with one more medium scoop.  It was hard to cover the cream cheese.  It was very runny and so I made a little depression in the first scoop of muffin batter and placed the filling there.  Did you place the filling in the refrigerator?  I didn't think of it until AFTER, but I bet it would make things easier.


Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Check with a toothpick in a spot that doesn't have cream cheese.


These were really delicious.  Next time I may try to replace some of the flour with almond flour.

I also put 6 unbaked muffins in the freezer.  This recipe made 18 muffins and I didn't need 18 muffins.  Even though we had them for several meals and gave some away.  They were great warmed up the next day.  After the muffins were frozen, I put them in a Ziploc Vacuum bag and will bake them when I don't feel like cooking.  I'm hoping they will be as good as fresh made and then baked.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Corn Crop

We have a small fenced garden area.  It was put here by the previous owners.  Every year since we moved here I have planted tomatoes and zucchini.  I also like to plant herbs like basil, rosemary and lavender.


Every year after the first, my zucchini was invaded by a squash borer.  So, I would get a few zucchinis and then the plants would start to die.  For a while I sprayed the zucchini every few weeks with an insecticide.  But I really didn't want to spray poison on my food.  And if I didn't spray often enough I would still get the borers.

This year I gave up.  I'm going for crop rotations.  It's what real farmers do to keep pests away.  We planted corn.  A lot of corn.

Corn has to be planted in close rows so they rub together and pollinate each other.  We planted every two weeks for three different sections.  The theory behind this is so that you don't have the whole crop getting ripe at the same time.


When the tassels turn black, the corn is ripe.  Look!  Black tassels!


My father grew up in Iowa.  He had a method for cooking corn.  First you get a pot of water boiling.


Then you go out and pick the corn, shuck it, and pop it in the boiling water.  Boil for a few minutes and slather with butter.


Fresh corn!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Used To Be Flexible

I used to be flexible.  I went through my yoga phase.  I did exercises using my toddlers as weights.

I could ride horses for hours and work hard all day.  Outside.   In the sun.

Now I have problems sitting at the computer long enough to do my email and keep up with this blog.

And run a Bed and Breakfast.


I used to be flexible.