My Yummy Local Life

{July 31, 2012}   Homemade Ginger Beer

Making my second batch of homemade ginger beer soda.  This process takes a total of about 3 weeks for the final product to be ready to drink. Luckily the large majority of this process is very passive.  I used the recipe from Wild Fermentation. For the full recipe check out this book!  So far I have never been steered wrong (or gotten sick) from any of the fermented recipes I have made.


The first step is to make a “ginger bug” which involves ginger (obviously), sugar and water.  You keep adding ginger and sugar every day until it starts to have bubbles. Both times I have done this it has only take 2 days to see bubbles (which means you have yeast)

Ginger Bug

Once the ginger bug is ready, it’s time to make the ginger syrup.  It’s about 2 inches of grated ginger, 1.5 cups of sugar and a quart of water.

Ginger syrup

The syrup needs to boil for about 15 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

Boil the ginger syrup

Once everything has cooled, strain the ginger syrup into a large bowl.

Strain ginger syrup

You’ll also need to strain the ginger bug.  You can save a couple table spoons to start the next batch, but it’s so quick and easy that I don’t.

Strain ginger bug


To the large bowl add the “juice of two lemons” or in my case i just added a couple tablespoons of lemon juice.  and the ginger  bug, and enough water to bring it up to a gallon in volume.  Since the bug is about 1 cup of liquid I added another 7 cups of water.

Make sure the bottle you are using are sterilized.  We put ours through the dishwasher and then I also poured some boiling water into them right before filling to be sure.

Use a funnel to fill the bottles.

Filling the bottles

Once the bottles are filled, seal them and then label them with the date two weeks from that day.  They need to “age” on the conter for at least 2 weeks before the yeast have gotten to do their thing.

4 bottles of ginger beer getting their age on.

Once they have aged, refrigerate and then enjoy (and open them over the sink!)


{July 29, 2012}   This weeks Menu

Moules Frites with Arizona Stronghold Wine and homemade soft bread. Favorite meal of the week.


This week is going to be simple and yummy.  Gonna (HOPEFULLY) get to some of the things we’ve been hanging on to for a couple weeks- namely the napa cabbage salad.  I’m still not sure why this hasn’t happened yet, but hopefully this week it will!

Never got around to stuffing the peppers again last week either, so those are back on tap.

As always, we have at least one salad day planned- since this is always quick and easy! Great for when one or both of us get home late.

Other than that we’re having:

Leek papperdelle– A Jamie Oliver recipe that is probably my favorite way to have leeks (and thank goodness to whoever is growing later season leeks- it’s nice to get a break from all the squash!)

Pizza- homemade dough, with fairy tale eggplants and other mixed veggies. My half at least will probably have one of the new goat cheeses on it…

Roasted Pepper Pasta from pinterest via Lauren’s Latest

Moroccan Quinoa Salad and Quinoa Falafels- both from this blog we found on pinterest- unfortunately it doesn’t seem that you can click on individual posts 😦

Lucky for me- it looks like my hubby is giving us a break from cilantro this week- I survived the meals that had it in there the last couple of weeks, but I’m pretty sure it will never be my favorite- super food or not I still think it smells and tastes like soap!

{July 28, 2012}   Chapel Hill Market 7/28

Went to the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market today.  This market is smaller and I don’t know everyone as much, but there is cheese I can afford- made out of goat’s milk. I’ve had some kind of allergy stuff going on this week, so trying to go cow’s milk free for a little while and see if that was the culprit.  I got 3 types of goat’s milk cheeses: a cherve, a gouda w/ caraway seeds, and one called “sweet ash” which is kind of like a brie.  I am hoping that life will not have to be completely without cheese for me because that would be really sad.


So anyways, here’s what I got:

Chapel Hill Market has cheese!


3 types of goat’s milk cheese: $15

Mixed cherry tomatoes and “fairy tale” eggplants: $6

Best looking peaches of the season: $4

Leeks and onion: $4.85
Grand Total: $29.85


Freebies this week (from the lovely Susie Murdoch) 2 cantaloupes, 1 honeydew (which I salvaged and froze for smoothies), some figs (that I dried in the dehydrator) and some oat groats/steel cut oats (gonna see if they will sprout…).  I would have taken their picture, but out electric was out for about 10 hours the day I brought them home and then they had to be dealt with straight away.


Did not get to get any canning tomatoes at the little markets this week- so I’m gonna head out to Raleigh early tonight in hopes of getting some to do tomorrow and Monday on my days off.

{July 24, 2012}   Canning 2012- Salsa!

25 lb box of tomatoes, $15 form Lyon Farm, Creedmoor, NC

It’s canning season! Well, that is, if you want to save the summer and have it year round.  Our first batch of canning this summer was to make these 25 lbs of tomatoes into as much salsa as possible.  Last year we made about half as much salsa.  It made it until about March.

I make “cheater” salsa because we use a just add tomatoes mix, but we do this not only because it is easy but because it is so yummy!

So here’s how it goes.

1.  Gather supplies:

4 packs Mrs. Wages medium salsa mix ($3 each= $12), white vinegar (2 cups= $0.50), Canning supplies.

Each packet calls for 6 lbs of tomatoes, so we figured we’re close enough with the 25 lb box once bad spots are removed. The packets contain dried onions, green bell peppers, jalapenos, chili peppers, garlic and salt and spices.

Large pot for boiling tomatoes.

Water bath Canner (Left), Biggest Pot Ever (Right)

I bought the canner and supplies as a kit a few years back, they are a little pricey but you only have to buy it once.  The biggest pot ever is also something we have had since the first year canning.  It is 22 quart capacity.  If you don’t have such a large pot you can just make salsa (or other sauces) in batches.

2. Prepare your canning jars.  I am reusing jars from years past so for me this year they were free. I have found that the cheapest price anywhere to get these is from Walmart.  They were about triple in price at Target last time I checked.  Canning stuff accounts for about 99% of my Walmart purchases. I run my jars, lids and rims all through the dishwasher to sterilize them.  If you don’t have a dishwasher you can put them into boiling water in the canner for 10 minutes.

Sterilize jars, lids and rims by running them through the dishwasher.

3. If it’s less than 90 outside, turn off your AC and put a fan in the window.  Otherwise your AC is going to run for about the next 6 hours…

Perfect canning weather!

Fan to keep the kitchen semi-cool

4. Core and score (X) each tomato, and remove any large blemishes and bad spots.

Core & remove blemishes.

5. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove to ice water. When they are cool enough to touch, remove skins (and seeds if you want to- we do!)

Boil tomatoes 2-3 minutes.

Chill tomatoes in ice water, then remove skin and seeds.

6. Crush (or chop if you must) tomatoes into the pot that you plan to cook the salsa in.  Once they are all in there, add the seasoning packets and vinegar.

Crush tomatoes into pot

Almost ready to cook- Add seasoning and vinegar now!

7. If you want the salsa to be all one texture, use an immersion blender to get the tomatoes nice and smooth.

Immersion blender to make smooth salsa.

8. Bring the salsa to a boil (this might take a while), stirring occasionally, then let it simmer for 10 minutes.

9. Bring the water in the canner to a boil.  This will also take a while.  Learn from my past mistakes: put the lid on the canner!

10. Fill the sterilized jars.  We leave them in the closed dishwasher until the last minute. Use a canning funnel to avoid dripping.  Immediately place on lids and rings.

Fill the jars using the canning funnel

11. Process the jars in the water canner.  Each batch is supposed to boil for 40 minutes.  Let the waiting begin.

Process jars for 40 minutes.

12. Let jars cool overnight to make sure they all seal.  If any do not seal- refrigerate and use immediately! Label with what they are and the date.  They will keep for 1 year (if we ever make enough to last that long…)

17 pints and 1 half pint of salsa!

This salsa comes out to about $1.57 per pint (not counting canning start up supplies).

Bonus: If you want to be extra not wasteful, strain out the skins and seeds and collect the juice to use in soup/sauce bases later. We ended up with 3 qts of juice to put in the freezer.

Strain the skins and seeds out- save this juice

Are you canning anything to save the summer?

{July 22, 2012}   This weeks yummy fare!

So we had a couple of nights where other things happened at dinner time and we have some rollover from last week.  So on Saturday we made the grilled eggplant that was on the books for last week. Yay grill marks! Isn’t it so pretty:


Grilled Eggplant Parmesan with Garlic Herb Toast

Moules Frites: (something close to this recipe) Got some mussels that we are going to be cooking up tonight, with some purple potato fries. I found this fry recipe on Pinterest, while trying to find not so disgusting ways to eat cilantro, which I do not like, but evidently it’s a superfood so I’m trying….Here are some other cilantro things I might try. We have to use the mussels asap because you wouldn’t want something LIVING in your refrigerator much longer than overnight.

Salad night: Salad mix with homemade dressing, homemade croutons and whatever veggies are lying around that get chopped up to contribute.

Fajitas: Made with one of our lamb steaks instead of beef, peppers, onions, spices on wraps

Mushroom stroganoff: Made exactly like beef stroganoff except with more mushrooms and no beef…

Chili Relleno Omelet Thing: So I can’t find a recipe for how we do this, but basically those big long peppers get stuffed with a veggies and potato mixture, and then wrapped inside an omelet, topped with salsa and sour cream and devoured before you can even think about taking a picture of how yummy they look.

Spaghetti Squash with Red sauce: Roast up one of the spaghetti squash and make a quick sauce with some fresh tomatoes for a gluten free “pasta” dish.

Napa Cabbage Salad: This one is also overflowing from last week, it might end up just being a snack

I’ve said this before, but at the Carrboro farmer’s market the early bird really does get the cream of the crop. In this case, I got some lovely oyster mushrooms today.  I think in order to get mushrooms you have to be truly among the first wave of people, which today I was, because I have to work at noon today instead of my usual 5pm shift on Saturdays and I wanted to make sure I would have time to go to the market, eat, write this and get ready for work all before 11am.

Here’s what I got:

This weeks veggies! Mushrooms as the highlight!

Mushrooms and long peppers: $5.00 (the mushrooms were 4 so those peppers were like $0.25 a piece!)

Three big tomatoes (all different types): $4.55

1/2 lb of table grapes: $1.50 (A couple of these will hopefully provide the yeast starter for my next batch of ginger ale)

Goat Cheese: $4.49

1 red and 1 white onion: $1.75

Salad mix: $4.00 (Not from my regular salad mix guy who I couldn’t find today-sad)

Peaches: $5.00

Total Spent: $26.29

Spaghetti Squash and Mangos!

Also got some spaghetti squashes and mangos (3, hubby already ate one) from a co-worker who had too many: FREE! (Because she knows I love to be cheap). These aren’t at the market right now, so not sure what their value might be, but free is a good price if you ask me!

Earlier this week I called to pretty much every blueberry picking farm in the area and got the same story: “We have some blueberries still ripening, we might be open for picking on Saturday, but if we are it will be the last day.” Lovely since Thursday is the day I had open and wanted to go picking…

So yesterday I called farms further west in the state (typically they have stuff for a week or two longer than us), thinking I could go next Wednesday on my day off, but NO… same. exact. story.  So sad for me. Evidently due to the extreme heat everyone’s blueberries are done early.  Happily they were still at the market, but I had to pay a stupid tax for not finding time to go sooner.  I got this bucket of blueberries for freezing:

Stupid Tax blueberries!

Instead of costing about $12-15 like they would have had I picked them myself (assuming between $2-3/lb), these lovely berries cost $25 for the 5 lb bucket.  Now they are getting frozen so that I can have blueberry muffins in the winter! Selfish. I know.

In all fairness, there was ONE farm that was still open for picking… since they are “certified organic” instead of just “natural growing practices” they charge $6.95/lb to have the privilege of picking some of their berries yourself.  That would have made my 5 lbs cost about $35, which is how I have talked myself into the fact that these berries were actually a deal!

{July 17, 2012}   Fatayer- Our own version

As I mentioned 2 sunday’s ago, we were going to try to re-create this thing called fatayer we had at a local restaurant: Mediterranean Deli.  The Hubby did a pretty awesome job so I wanted to share it:

Homemade Fatayer

I made this lavash cracker dough so that he could roll it out pretty thin (dough recipe adapted from Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

1 1/2 c white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp yeast

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/3 to 1/2 cup room temperature water

Stir everything together- add just enough water to bring it all together and then knead for about 10 minutes.  Let rise for around 90 minutes and then roll out to form the base for the boat.


1/2 red onion, sliced

spices: (to taste) cumin, Ras el henout, paprika, coriander, cardamom

2-4 oz feta cheese

1/4 cup (ish) yogurt

3 eggs

Cook onions until soft with spices, salt and pepper

Mix onions with cheese and yogurt

Shaped dough into a round

Spread onion mixture in middle

Fold sides of dough to look like a boat

Crack eggs on top

Cook on pizza stone at 375F for about 20 minutes (or higher heat for less time) until the dough is cooked

Let cool, slice and enjoy the yumminess

Having one bread winner instead of two does NOT mean less yummy food, but it does mean getting creative to keep things well within our budget.  I googled cheap meal ideas and got a bunch of stuff with more meat that we eat in a month in one recipe, so I revised it to cheap vegetarian meals and came up with some tasty looking ideas. So here’s what we’ve got going on this week:

Stuffed Peppers- with what exactly will be determined by the hubby’s mood when he’s making them later this week I guess, but I’m sure there will be cheese involved and I’m sure they will be tasty

Soba Noodles– perhaps with tempeh or some other protein added in

Calzones– we were going for broccoli, but there wasn’t any at the market, so we might get some at the farm store or we might improvise and use something else in them

Tomato- Basil Tart– probably with homemade dough instead of puff pastry

Grilled Eggplant Parm (again) with this Napa Cabbage salad on the side

Salad- with Fresh whatever… as a simple weekend dinner after all of the birthday and work picnic fare that is sure to be very filling

Spicy chocolate coconut ice cream!

New coconut ice cream flavor: Spicy Chocolate with chocolate chips

1 can full fat coconut milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper; blend together and then freeze.

It was tomato day at the farmer’s market today.  They had a display set up with something like 70 different varieties of tomatoes, many of which were available for tasting.  It you don’t like tomatoes, today would have been a lousy day to be at the market because I’m pretty sure everyone except the bread and cheese vendors was selling primarily tomatoes.  I had to hunt and make my way around the market twice in order to get all the other fruits and veggies I ended up with.  I did get at least 5 entries into the tomato day raffle which I think is for free stuff from local businesses.  Even though there was a fine mist coming from the sky, since I didn’t get to the market until 8:30am it was completely packed out and I chose to NOT wait in the massive line to try out the ridiculous amount of tomatoes.  I just bought some instead.

Here’s what I got:

Tomato Day Veggies (Minus the one tomato that Einstein snatched right before I took this picture!)

Salad Mix,Head of lettuce, box of red tomatoes and FREE cucumber: $9.00

Peppers, Eggplant: $3.55

7 types of cherry tomateos: $3.00

Nappa Cabbage: $1.00

Purple Potatoes and Greenish-purple califlower: $5.50

Peaches and blueberries: $9.00

Onions and Tomatillos: $6.00

Grand total: $37.05

Free this week: Eggs, tomatoes from the garden, cucumber, various herbs

Check out what everyone else got from their local food sources this week over at In Her Chucks link party.


Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my favorite set of twins: Sam and Luke LeRoy are ONE today!

{July 11, 2012}   Extra tomatoes? No Problem!

Tomato season in here in NC! One of my favorite times of year because it means that summer is in full swing.  One thing that is sometimes sad is that I don’t make it through all of the tomatoes I got within the week and then I go to the market and buy more and then I’m in major overload.  I guess you could freeze a tomato if you knew you were only going to use it for sauce later, but I think that dehydrating them is a much better idea (for small scale extras- I do buy boxes of tomatoes to can near the end of the summer too)

So here’s what I do:

Start with extra tomatoes (in this example they are sungolds which would be even sadder to have to throw away).

Sungold tomatoes

Cut tomatoes in half and then squeeze out their seeds and squishy guts. Once you do that they will look like little bowls like this:

Sliced and de-seeded tomatoes

Finally, line the dehydrator (or baking tray) with the tomatoes, cut side up.  In the dehydrator mine took about 6 or so hours.  You are going for a raisin to slightly drier texture.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can put them into an oven set on a low temperature (250℉) for a few hours. I would suggest to check them every 30-60 minutes.

For storage, you’ll need a mason jar filled about 1/4 full of vegetable oil, 1/4 full of EVOO.  Toss in the dried tomatoes and save them in the refrigerator until the sad days of winter when all you have is onions and potatoes.

Dried tomatoes stored in oil

We keep adding to the same jar until it is full until we reach the sad time when tomatoes are no longer available fresh, then we start using them.  They are great in pasta with goat cheese for starters 🙂


et cetera