Monday, July 22, 2013

Mulberry Recipes

Returning back from a wonderful and productive trip to New Ulm, MN has left me re-fueled and ready. Ready you may ask? Yes, ready! Ready to tackle that landscaping project, the expand the pig pasture project, and maybe start the green house project. Mostly I'm ready to have another play date with my darling daughter and the sweetest niece and nephew a girl could ask for. Yes, New Ulm is full of wonderful things like a barber shop owner who gives killer hair cuts at a killer establishment called 'Rogers', mulberry trees that are starting to ripen, local beer and my brother's house full of beautiful children, baby kittens, and warm hospitality. Life is good. And as those mulberries start to ripen, it only gets better. Yeah, I can't stop thinking about those mulberries....

It was the girls who found them. My daughter is such a product of rural living, in a somewhat isolated village, where harvesting from the wild is common practice. I was a bit startled when the girls told me about eating not-so- delicious wild berries they found in the woods, but was relieved to find that they had just consumed unripe berries from an mulberry tree. Whew. What the heck is an mulberry tree is what my brother had to say about the ordeal. I am such a product of rural living as well, and after nerding out on plant and tree identification books, I quickly learned which plants and trees I could eat or eat from. That was really all I cared about- what can I eat out here in the wild? Can I start a fire with two sticks? No. Can I navigate by the stars? No. Can I whip you up something to eat, MacGyver style, in the wild? Probably.

Back to those mulberries. They look somewhat like a blackberry, and have a taste that is subtle and sweet. Mulberries are a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin c, and fiber. One of mulberries greatest health asset is it's high concentration of resveratrol, an antioxidant currently being studied for it's effects on heart health. Rock on mulberries! They are delicious straight up, but I wanted to share a recipe or two, since they will soon be in great abundance for my brother and his beautiful wife. The first is a smoothie that we make a variation of almost every morning at our house, and is enjoyed by everyone. You can substitute any kind of berry for the mulberries, and alter the flavors with various juices.

Mulberry Smoothies
serves two

1 cup mulberries
1 banana
1 cup spinach or kale
1/2 cup juice (blackberry, blueberry, apple, orange...whatever you have usually works well)
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk

Combine above ingredients in a blender and you're good to go. The following is one of my favorite combos. I can never get enough. Simple. Good.

Mulberry & Chevre Salad
serves two

2 big handfuls of greens. I have a mix growing in the garden now. Young kale, spinach, mixed greens of any sort....
fresh goat cheese, crumbled ( as little or as much as you prefer)
fresh mulberries ( as few or as many as you can pack into your salad bowl)
toasted seeds or nuts. Think pistachios and flax, or almonds and poppy seeds.
fresh beet, peeled and grated

Toss the above with a simple dressing made with 2 Tbl maple syrup, 1 Tbl mustard and 2 Tbls olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. I can't get enough. Belly up!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Drinks

The weather is warming up, and I am constantly reaching for something refreshing. As my Grandpa might say, "Something to wet my whistle". I was flipping through cook books and my piles of notes and recipe cards, and I came across a refreshing water I had made for a catering a few years ago. Cucumber-Lime water. It literally is water flavored with cucumber and lime, but it is so amazingly refreshing! Here's the ratio; 1 gallon filtered water, 1 small cucumber sliced, 1 lime sliced. Place the three ingredients in a pitcher, place in the fridge overnight, and the next day you have a cold, refreshing water with hints of cucumber and lime. Serve over ice, preferably on a picnic at the beach. It keeps for days, with the flavors intensifying the longer it sits.

Another drink recipe I have been meaning to share is a strawberry lemonade. Plus, Julie gave me a food challenge on our last radio segment, and this recipe fit the profile. Julie wanted a refreshing beverage with citrus or melon. You can't beat lemonade in the summertime! As always, you can substitute blueberries or blackberries or whatever berry is in season. Play around with the citrus too. Grapefruit or limes would pair well  with the berries, so mix it up!

Strawberry Lemonade

for the simple syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

for the strawberry puree:
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 cup cold water

for the lemonade:
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup cold water

In a saucepan over high heat mix together the water and sugar. Cook until the sugar dissolves and it becomes a clear syrup. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you complete the next steps.

Add the strawberries and the cold water together in a blender. Pulse until the mixture is pureed.

In a half gallon sized pitcher add the zest, lemon juice, cold water and ice. Stir in the simple syrup and the strawberry puree. Add more water if desired. Serve over ice.

I hope you are enjoying the summer!! Belly up!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Newest Members of the Homestead

I thought I'd write a quick note and introduce the newest members of the homestead. I had no idea that these darling pigs would make us the hippest hangout on this side of County Road 14, but it has!! And that is awesome!! My daughter along with her cousin and the neighborhood kids have decided that farming is the greatest thing ever, er...well now that the pigs are still small and adorable. We have been having such a great time learning about the food we eat. Yes, these four guys and gals will be dinner some day, but we have the opportunity to give them a quality life with plenty of room to roam, plenty of good eats, and plenty of backside scratches! The brownish-red piggies are a breed called a 'Red Waddler', named after the 'waddlers' that dangle from their chins. The little pink fella is a Yorkshire/ Red Waddler mix, and is about 3 weeks younger than the three others. They are good looking pigs! I never thought I would ever be in possession of pigs, but my life is ever changing for the better! Here's to growing our own food!! Belly up!!