Monday, August 13, 2012

Junque Yard: What's happening at the Micro-Mini Ranch

It was such a pretty morning the other day that I had to snap a shot. 

My tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. My beans, pumpkins, melons, and zucchinis finally have blossoms.

Harvest is going to be late this summer, but I will have something to show for our efforts.

I think the excessive heat this year caused the cycle to slow down. I have lots of green leaves everywhere, and I made a point to water more than I normally do, which was good because we've had a drier than normal summer.  But everything is growing, and for that, I'm thankful.

Now, I'm trying to figure out what fall crops I want. Definitely spinach, carrots, and I'm thinking broccoli, maybe cauliflower. 

I hope those things take well to growing in containers, because the pumpkins, zukes, and melons are taking up all the space in what we refer to as the "back 40." 

That's inches folks, I don't call it the micro-mini ranch for nuthin'.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Junque Food: Attempting Sweet Potato Chips

photo from
This was originally posted in my other blog: Paleo Lifestyle in the Real World

 I'm always up for trying a Paleo version of junk food.  When I saw this recipe for homemade salsa with sweet potato chips, I knew I'd have to try the chips. I've made my own salsa before, and it's fine, but until my own tomatoes are ready for "salsifying," I can wait patiently.

But I couldn't wait to try to make chips. Crispy, crunchy, salty chips. Mmmm....

Sorry, I got lost for a second there.

I apologize, but I didn't take pictures of the process, but if you click the link above, the Amazing!Paleo chick does a great job of showing the process.

Thankfully, we'd recently purchased a mandolin to make even slicing of the sweet potatoes easy. I am not a precision slicer.

I followed Amazing!Paleo's directions to the letter, and was mostly happy with the results, except my chips did not all get crunchy. I waited for them to cool down, like the directions said, but several stayed limp, especially on the middle of the bigger chips.

So tip #1: I learned is that the skinnier the potato, the better off you are going to be for the crispiness factor. The wider the potato, the longer it's going to be to make them crunchy. Or you're just going to have to deal with limp chips. No Bueno.

Tip #2: The recipe on the blog says 10 minutes, give or take, on 375F.  The next time I try these, I'll do it longer at 325F. Lower and slower would DEFINITELY the way to go. I was in danger of incinerating my chips if I left them in longer than 12 minutes.

But I have to say, that despite the edges of a lot of the chips being burned, and the middles not being crunchy, the sweet potato chips tasted AWESOME. Seriously.

I will be making more of these. They will be a welcome addition of a treat to our Paleo Lifestyle.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Junque Food - Almond Milk & Flour, part 2

It doesn't look pretty, does it?

It's the paste left over from blending soaked almonds with water, this is what is strained out of the almond milk.

I had heard that this paste could be dried and made into almond flour, or as a protein powder for smoothies, etc.

Of course, when I went looking for a recipe to do that, all I could find was people using slivered almonds, or taking the skins off the soaked almonds in order to make it more "flour" looking.

I didn't do either. I should be hanged as a bad example.

I took the leftover almond paste and spread it thin-ish onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and let it dry. This took about 3 days. Then I pulsed it in the food processor until fine. And it looks like this:

So it's not all white and pretty like everyone else. I bet it can still be used just like other almond flour.  And I will use it, and let you all know if the skin makes it bitter or whatever.

I wonder what I should make?

I could use it to coat fish, or make cookies (eventually, I don't think I have enough to make a batch yet. this is about a cup and half that you see in this picture.

Or muffins. The list is pretty endless.

And I need to make more almond milk.  That's right I didn't tell you about the Almond milk itself.

It's fabulous.  I didn't sweeten it, because I wanted to try using it in scrambled eggs. The store bought almond milk is all sweetened with "cane juice," which is code for sugar. Sugar comes from canes, people. Don't let those labels fool you!

But I digress.

Store bought almond milk is too sweet to make scrambled eggs. So I figured I'd test it out with homemade unsweetened almond milk, and it worked just peachy! I can have creamy eggs again! Woo Hoo!

Now, the Paleo blogs I've been reading have made good use of  blending dates into a paste and using that to sweeten things. I even saw a recipe for making coffee creamer using either almond milk or coconut milk, and sweetening it with date paste.

I am going to try this as another way to get off the commercial creamer that I am addicted to. If I can, that will be the last bit of corn syrup that is OUT of my diet.

And then I will do the chubby girl dance, for sticking it to the man for their totally yummy, but ultimately horrendous for me commercial foods.


I know this blog is not very coherent, but I'm not quite awake yet this morning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Junque Food: Salmon Filets with Broccoli Slaw

(this was originally posted on my other blog. You can see it at: )

Tonight I was home late because I'd gone grocery shopping after work. My lunch and p.m. snack were but a faint memory. I was tired, foot sore, and cranky.

And hungry.

But I did not want to make dinner.

People tell me that part of the problem with sticking to a Paleo-esque diet is all the prepping and cooking, and planning, and shopping...

Honey, I did South Beach when it first came out, and followed the memu in the first edition of the book for the first month before I felt confident enough to mix it up on my own. And I was cooking for 2 other people in the house who were also doing the diet - so I know from prep time. And cooking, and shopping, etc. ad Nauseum.

But it seriously, doesn't have to be a big-assed deal. Take tonight, for instance, I didn't want to cook, so I made the quickest thing I could thing of.

I made Salmon Filets and Broccoli Slaw.

Isn't this a beautiful dinner?

It really does taste as good as it looks, too. I know, because DaHubster is behind me making yummy sounds as I type this.

The salmon filets were cooked my favorite way - half pan seared, half poached. That sounds complicated, but all you do is get a skillet really hot, with a tiny bit of oil. Then put the filets in the pan flesh side down, cooking for two minutes. Flip the filets over, pour in chicken stock halfway up the side of the filet, cover, turn the heat as low as it will go, and let it finish cooking about 4-5 minutes. I threw some green onions in there before covering, too.

Easy, right? And it took all of 10 minutes.

The slaw took maybe 10 minutes as well, and here it is:
  • Buy per-shredded Broccoli slaw from the store, and if you are so inclined (as I was), an additional bag of shredded carrots. I only used a handful of the carrots, btw.
  • Slice up 1 or 2 green onions
  • Mix in a bowl.
Dressing for slaw:
  • 2 parts Red Wine Vinegar (or lemon juice if you don't use vinegars)
  • 1.5 parts good olive oil
  • about 1 teaspoon brown mustard (for emulsification)
  • about 1/4 teaspoon honey (to cut the acidity)
  • Spices to your liking. I used salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano
Put into a jar with a lid and shake. Then lightly coat your slaw.


Now, as far as vinegar not being Paleo, well...that's your determination to make. I use it, and I don't think there's too much a problem with it. It's technically not "of the time frame" but I haven't heard any overtly negative reactions bodily too it, so I'm not really worried about it.But if you do not want to use vinegar, lemon juice is a very good substitute.

So really, it was 15 to 20 minutes of prepping and cook time. And I have to tell you, I am not feeling so cranky anymore, now that I've eaten that.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Junque Food - Almond Milk & Almond Flour

I should be waiting until I actually *do* the project, but I can't wait! I'll keep it short, though.

I love Almond Milk, and I've been buying the Almond Breeze for my yummy drinking needs (it's a little sweet for cooking with).  However, if you look at the label, you'll see that it's got all kinds of preservatives and cane sugar. So not in tune with my burgeoning Paleo Lifestyle.

Now I read a lot of blogs, particularly of the Paleo and Gluten free lifestyle, and I know that people make almond milk all the time.  But my question to all you lucky people who do is:

How the heck do you afford it?  Almonds are freaking expensive!

And my local grocery stores only have raw almonds sporadically. But at nearly $8.00 a lb, it's not feasible enough to get some for munching on (I'm not a huge breakfast person, so I rely on a handful of almonds to get my protein intake started each day), some for almond butter that DaMan likes to use occasionally in Smoothie recipes.

So I bit the bullet and bought what I thought was a pretty good deal on bulk almonds online. 10lbs for $30.00, with shipping at $11.35.  We'll see what they are like when I get them.

This means I will be able to do what I've wanted to do for a long time. Make my own Almond Milk!!!

But not only that! I'll also get to make almond flour from drying and grinding the left over almond pulp from making the milk.

Do you know what that means???

I can have the occasionally CRUNCHY food again!  Almond flour can be used to coat veggies for baking or roasting, you can also use it in place of all-purpose flour for baking, too.  Heck, a whole new world will open up!

I can't wait for those almonds to get here....and I'll keep you posted on how things go...  :)


Friday, August 3, 2012

Musings from the Junque Pile - Hawks!

I was doing my normal early morning outside with the laptop thing, when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.  I looked over at my back fence, and saw a small-ish hawk sitting there.

Now, every now and then, I hear a hawk's cry, but usually they are tucked up in the trees, and you very rarely get to see them, unless they are flying high in the sky, floating on the air currents.

Never have I seen one perched on my fence, especially so close to me.

But then, another one landed on my backyard neighbor's garage roof. And then a third landed, and they proceeded to bounce around the surrounding neighbor's fences,

I think they were scoping out an oblivious squirrel, but they hung around long enough for me to grab my phone and take a few pictures. Though, I couldn't get close enough to get *really* good pics.

However, I'm pretty chuffed at what I did get:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Musings from the Junque Pile - Lost Post from Last weekend

Note: I wrote this last weekend, and forgot to post it. So here's some late goodness....

My buttockals are whipped.  Yesterday, I did a major weeding of the garden beds, then DaHubster and I drove out to Mukwanago (?), for their once a month flea market dealie during the summer. It's a picturesque 40 minute drive from us.

Then we drove to a state park that's another 30 mins away, but there were no places free to park and get out and take a look around.

We stopped for dinner at an awesome restaurant out that way called "A Fork in the Road," which has really great food. I've been there before, and it never fails, great food, great service, and I love the decor.

Then we drove down to a touristy lake area down by the Wisconsin/Illinois border, which DaMan had never been too, and it's been several years since I'd been there. It was super over-crowded with self-entitled maroons, so I promised him we'd drive back there in the autumn, when they've all gone home and the trees have turned. 

I slept like the dead last night, and woke up at 4:30am sneezing with a head full of snot. No way was I getting back to sleep.

So I'm now outside, enjoying the last of the nice weather before the next heat wave kicks in this afternoon.