Preserving Spring: Spicy Pickled Asparagus

pickled asparagusWritten by Marisa of Food in Jars.

When I was a brand new canner, pickled asparagus was one of my very first projects. Asparagus has long been one of my favorite vegetables and so, when it went on sale in mid-spring, I bought several bundles, consulted a multitude of cookbooks and set to work.

I quickly learned that pickling asparagus was a task well worth doing (particularly since commercial versions can cost as much as $12 a jar) and added it to my list of mandatory yearly recipes. I have since made at least 100 jars and every year, I still run out well before asparagus season arrives again.

[Read more…]

Eat Well, Spend Less: A personal Q&A with 7 bloggers behind the series

mini tourtiere hand pies

My homesteader upbringing instilled in me a lifelong love of cooking from scratch, and this passion I feel privileged to, in turn, share with you here on Simple Bites.

Making many of my own foods such as preserves, soups, and condiments, instead of relying on the options provided by companies to feed my family, is a conscious choice and one that I feel is the absolute best for my family’s health. It’s not always easy to choose homemade pantry staples over grocery store convenience, but I take small steps and pick up speed as I gain experience.

It’s a journey away from processed foods and back to natural, simple ingredients. I know why I can my own food, I understand the importance of healthy food culture, and I’m happy to roll up my sleeves and put in some hours in the kitchen to benefit my family – and save some coin in the process.

We all know that no two kitchens, budgets, and dietary needs are alike, and so the fabulous food blogging mothers behind our Eat Well, Spend Less series have come together to share a handful of different perspectives on a series of questions related to EWSL.

Naturally, my question was on the subject of scratch cooking, and these girls gave some great answers. Hit the jump to read them all.

[Read more…]

Eat Well, Spend Less: Back to Basics (a round-up)

IMG_6057

In my kitchen, January feels like a natural season to get back to the basics in the kitchen and I know a lot of you feel the same way.

Fortunately I had quite a few recipes for pantry staples planned for the month, and so I hope you have bookmarked my roasted chicken stock, Danny’s waffle mix, and the unbeatable Chocolate-Oat Cereal Bars for school snacks. If so, you’re off to a great start of the year.

The ladies of our Eat Well, Spend Less group have all been talking about back to basics this week. You’re definitely going to want to glean some tips from them…

[Read more…]

How to make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock (and young love in the summer)

dark stock

The first summer we were married, our situation wasn’t exactly ideal for two starry-eyed newlyweds doing life together. I finished late at night at a popular fine dining establishment where I worked the line and Danny rose early to meander through the Plateau to morning class at McGill. One of us was always tired when we greeted each other at the end of a day, and one of us frequently smelled of soup, but I’m not telling who.

Fed up of only seeing my husband from midnight to 6 AM, I petitioned my boss for day position as a prep cook. I may have stammered, blushing, through my reasoning, but he only twinkled his eyes at me and agreed, that just for the summer, I could work days, and he would find someone to cook the fish and the foie in my place at night.

Stepping down the ladder rung of the competitive kitchen hierarchy was not a move that gained me respect among my co-workers, but I always have (and continue to do so) put family first over ambition. There were stares and a few snickers when the new work schedule came out, but I was elated. A ‘normal’ 9-5 job in fine dining is almost unheard of and these new hours suited me to a T.

Eight blocks north of the kitchen, in our tiny apartment on St. Denis street, I went to sleep and woke up in Danny’s arms. We went out for coffee and fresh croissants in the mornings before parting ways, with lingering kisses, at the corner of Duluth and St. Denis.

Making stock was always the first order of the day, for it required long hours of simmering at an unhurried pace. I cranked the ovens to 400 degrees down the entire line and set to roasting bones for duck stock, veal stock, venison stock, and roasted guinea fowl stock, the essence of which I’m sharing today. I attacked a tray of carrots, onions and celery for my mirepoix, those flavoring vegetables essential for every stock, and gathered fresh parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns. By 10 AM, the massive sturdy pots would be set over burners with bones, mirepoix and cold water, and I would assess my prep list, left for me by the cooks the night before, and organize my day. [Read more…]

Quick Skillet Roasted Vegetables on Cheese Toast

Written by Allison of Some the Wiser.

Most of the time I feel good about my eating habits. I like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and we eat a lot of them most days of the week. However, after all of the holiday festivities from the past month, I feel like I need to re-focus my menu and food choices.

Considering all the candy canes and pumpkin pies I have consumed recently, it feels really good to cut out sugar this month and find my way back to the fresh produce aisle. It can be harder this time of year to find fresh vegetables, but although there isn’t as much variety in the winter, there are a lot of delicious ways to prepare root vegetables.

[Read more…]