My Yummy Local Life

{August 30, 2012}   Yummy Basics: Perfect White Rice

Starting a new section called Basics. My plan is to put some of the simple recipes that are those things “everyone can do” because I figure that everyone maybe doesn’t know how to do these things. The first one is rice because I am always reading Stewardship‘s blog about her beautiful homemade food with not homemade rice. So I figured I’d put my step by step out there so hopefully some people will give it a try.


1) Measure out the amount of rice you want to cook, in this case I used a 3/4 measuring cup (the quantity will approximately double when cooked). Pour the rice into a medium sauce pan.

ONE unit of rice.

2) Using the same measuring cup, add 2 “units” of water (in this case 1 1/2 cups) but just make sure you use the same exact cup to measure. It can be a coffee mug or a small tupperware, as long as you are consistent.

TWO units of water.

3) Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or two of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to the pot. Swirl the pot a little just to make sure the rice is all wet and everything is happy together in the pot.

Pinch of salt.
EVOO (I go around the pan twice)

4) Cover the pot and put it on HIGH heat to bring to a boil.

Put on HIGH heat.

5) When it comes to a boil and starts to “foam up”, turn the heat to low/simmer.

Reduce heat to low

6) Simmer, covered on low for 20 minutes. It might look like all the water is gone before that, no worries, just let it go the whole 20 minutes.

20 Minutes!

7) After 20 minutes, turn off and remove from heat. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes (still covered).

Cooked Rice!

8) Remove the lid and use a fork to “fluff” the rice, sometimes a small amount will stick to the bottom of the pan, but mostly it will be fluffy, tasty rice!

Fluff rice with a fork.


Now that you can make beautiful rice, you are ready to serve it with stir fry, or curry, or meatballs or anything else that suits your taste buds, just make sure to keep it yummy!


This post is linked up on frugally sustainable’s blog hop.


{August 28, 2012}   Canning 2012- Jalapeno Jelly

Half pound of jalapenos ($2)

If you have been following this blog at all, you know that I just put up things that I don’t want to buy in a jar in the middle of winter.  If you have even had pepper jelly and brie, you know what I mean when I say pepper jelly is a MUST! But you can’t really use that much at once, and it’s more of a special occasion food than an every day food.  So why recipes usually make it on such large scale, I have NO idea.  I used 4 oz jelly jars to make them even smaller scale. The following is how to make a small scale patch of jalapeno jelly (or other hot peppers if you feel so inclined).  I used a mixture of red and green jalapenos.

Other things you’ll need: Apple cider vinegar, apple juice, no-sugar needed pectin

So here goes how to make the jelly:

1) Start with 1/2 lb of jalapeno peppers, I got mine for $4/lb so they were about $2.

2) *Wear gloves so you don’t get hot pepper under your nails* Cut jalapenos in half to expose the seeds and membranes.

Halve jalapenos

3) Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes (these are the super HOT part and are not good for jelly).

Scrape out seeds and membranes

4) Rinse the peppers to remove any stubborn seeds!

Clean jalapenos

5) Place jalapenos into your food processor with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.

Food processor w/ jalapenos and vinegar


If you don’t have apple cider vinegar (used $0.50 worth) you can substitute with lemon juice!

6) Blend the jalapenos until the are minced.

Pureed jalapenos

7) Dump this jalapeno mixture and another 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar into a medium pot.

8) Measure out about 1 and 1/2 cups of natural apple juice. I used this one- the whole container was about $3 at Kroger, I used about $1 worth:

Natural sugar from the apple juice (no extra sugar needed!)

9) In a small bowl, set aside about 1/2 c of this juice and mix in about 1 packet (or 3 Tbsp) worth of no sugar needed pectin.  Set this aside.  Also set aside a bowl of ice water with a metal spoon in it for testing the jelly-ness).

Cold spoon/ pectin in apple juice (remove as many lumps as possible)

10) Pour the rest of the apple juice into the pepper/vinegar pot.  Bring this to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.

Boil the jelly

11) After boiling for 10 minutes, add the pectin/juice mixture and boil hard for 1 minute (stirring constantly).

12) Use the cold spoon to “test for gel”- when the jelly goes from hot to cold quickly it should gel up.  Mine didn’t, so I added another 1 Tbsp of the no sugar pectin and then boiled hard for another minute.  (Equal to 1/3 packet of pectin).  When I tested it again it was ready.

13) Fill the jars (normally you would sterilize them first, but these were brand new unopened 4oz jars so I just opened them right before filling). Use your canning funnel for filling.  I filled all 6 quarter pint jars and then topped them off with the small amount I had extra.

Quickly fill jars using canning funnel.

14) Use a moist paper towel to clean any drips from the edges of the jars and then place the lids.

ready for lids

15)Process in a water canner for 10 minutes to seal the jars.  Then label with their contents and the date (they should be good for up to a year- if they last that long)

6 quarter pints of jalapeno pepper jelly

NOTE: if you want GREEN pepper jelly use all green jalapenos (and I read some people add a drop or two of green food dye).  I didn’t care about their color, just their yumminess.

6 quarter pints of jalapeno jelly came out to around $0.58 per jar!

What is your favorite type of jelly?

{August 26, 2012}   Menu for the week of 8/26

Last night we went to a wedding! Congrats to Ben and Lauren! And yay for not having to cook dinner!


Delicious dinner with Amanda this week: tilapia, zucchini, curry okra, rice and homemade bread

So for the rest of the week here is the plan:

Bulgolgi (made with lamb meat) and with steamed edamame on the side with the sticky rice.

Eggplant Parmesan open faced sandwiches– still on the grill, but mixing it up a little from our standard…

Tofu and veggie stir fry- with whatever veggies look appealing that day, served over rice.

Ramen Shrimp Pouches– using Alton Browns recipe as a guideline, but definitely using the fresh mushrooms I got at the market.(Hubby hates shrimp so these are on my make it while he’s working out of town list)

Okra and Tomatoes (with some of the extra shrimp)- see above… making this without the hubby since he is not too fond of okra either…

Greek quinoa and avocado salad0– thanks once again pinterest…


For granola version 3.0 we’re going to try these granola bars…winemakers and cellar rats live off this stuff evidently…

So it seems that fall is making an early appearance here in Carrboro. It was chilly this morning when I headed out to the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market.  First thing I saw were some pumpkins of various sizes! That is a sure sign that Fall is fast approaching! Hooray- Fall is my favorite season. Not only because of pumpkin everything, but also because not being hot the minute you walk out the door makes me much more likely to spend more time outside and moving and less time on the computer or watching movies.

Anyways, here is what I obtained on this early fall morning (which was not really so early since I went to Chapel Hill and didn’t have to be there at 7 AM to get delicious options).

Early Fall Finds

Shishito peppers and juliette tomatoes: $6

Peppers and okra: $6

Garlic and shiitake mushrooms: $4.90

Fig Honey Chevre, Spicy Pimento Goat Cheese and Mozzarella: $13 (Got a dollar off for getting 2 spreadable cheeses-oh darn!)

Gala apples and muscadine grapes: $3

Edamame: $2


Grand Total: $34.90


Seeing the pumpkins made me decide to go check on the ones we had growing at the Love Chapel Hill Garden at Merritt’s Grill.  It’s kind of more like a jungle than a garden and I’ve been slacking on checking on it since we’ve gotten so much rain.  But anyways, I should not slack so much cuz here is what I found:

LCH Gardens Bounty

3 pumpkins (the plants were dead but these 3 pumpkins look pretty happy), 1 mini orange watermelon and 5 big cucumbers! That’s probably at least $15 worth of produce!

I know, tinniest watermelon EVER and ORANGE… don’t believe me? Check it out:

tiny orange watermelon


I have said before, we try to can the things that we would normally purchase in a can or jar from the grocery store, in order to have local produce year round and also save some money.  This year we’ve been into having banana peppers on our pizzas so we figured we’d make up a batch of pickled peppers.  We used some half pint jars (8 oz) and some quarter pint jars (4 oz). These baby jars are very adorable and the perfect size for just one or two pizzas worth of toppings.

I bought 2.6 lbs of mixed long peppers, including all of the banana peppers I could easily pick out of the box.  They were $4/ lb so that totaled out to about $10.40.  I used this recipe on pick your own as a guide, but I did not peel the peppers and even though I bough 1/3 the amount of peppers, I ended up needing nearly the same amount of liquids as were suggested for 8 lbs of peppers.  The other ingredients were as follows:

White vinegar- $1.25 (total of about 5 cups)

Water- FREE (1 cup)

Pickling salt- FREE (4 tsp)

Sugar- $0.25 (2 Tbsp)

Garlic- FREE (3 cloves)

Here’s what I did:

1) Wash the peppers off with cool water.

Rinse peppers with cool water

2) Gather up the rest of the supplies you will need. **Use gloves when slicing peppers** Wash the jars to sterilize.

Gather Canning Supplies!

3) Slice into rings and remove large pieces of membrane (but I didn’t worry about the seeds since these peppers are not too hot).

Sliced peppers

4) Pack the pepper rings into the jars as tightly as possible.

Pack jars tightly.

5) Combine the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and garlic in a small pan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. (NOTE- I tried making a smaller recipe and did not have enough liquid, so go ahead and make the full batch all at once- it’ll save you 20 minutes or so!)

6) Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the peppers in order to just cover.

7) Process in water canner for 10 minutes.

8) Label with the date. Peppers should keep for about 1 year from this date (if they last that long)

Processed jars of pickled pizza peppers!

** NOTE: Peppers that are NOT pickled are not acidic enough to be canned without a pressure canner! **

Total made: 5 half pints and 10 quarter pints. That comes out to $1.19 per half pint and about $0.60 per quarter pint jar.

{August 19, 2012}   Yummy menu for this week

This week I will be on my own for a few days again while the hubby works.  But since we knew ahead of time, planning the menu is better.  Last night I worked, so he had dinner with our lovely friend Amanda and her roommate (they just moved into our neighborhood).  They had lamb burgers with goat cheese and shishito peppers.  I’m a little jealous of that…

A yummy snack: toast with cheese (blue or cherve would be my suggestion), halved figs, walnuts (press one onto each fig); toast; drizzle with honey to finish. Enjoy the yumminess!

Tonight we’re going to make up the rest of the shishito peppers and a salad of some sort. (If you’ve never watched an episode of The Sam Livecast check out the link for the peppers…)

Other things on the menu are:

Ratatoullie– a hodge-podge of roasted veggies (italian type seasonings)

Stir Fry- mixed veggies and rice (asian sauce/seasoning)

Pizza- homemade dough with eggplant and cherry tomatoes

Yogurt Curry Okra (love this simple recipe from Indian in 6)


I’m also having dinner with my friend Stephanie on Wednesday night so YAY! one night I don’t have to cook!


Also I made some bagels (so that I have something to use the delicious honey fig cherve on).  The recipe asked for them to be “retarded” in the refrigerator overnight.  So I did half that way and half I boiled yesterday right after they rose.  They look a litte different (the retarded ones are smoother) but they both taste delicious.

Bagels boiled right away.


Bagels boiled after being retarded in the refrigerator over night.











It’s going to be another yummy week!

PS: Found out that my ducks are 4 male and 4 female.  That means 4 layers, 3 meat ducks and 1 very luck male duck!


{August 18, 2012}   Tasty Week at the Market 8/18

Chapel Hill Market Finds

It’s another yummy week.  Awesome find of the week was shishito peppers! I learned about these this week on The Sam Livecast, but had never seen them, then lo and behold, there they were in droves at the Chapel Hill Market for only $3/pint!  I went to the Chapel Hill market today for two reasons:

1- I wanted to get a brie like cheese form the Hillsborough Cheese Company guy…which he had!

2- I twisted my ankle two days ago and it’s still a bit sore/hard to walk and the Chapel Hill Market is smaller than the Carrboro Market.

So here’s all that I got:

Camembert (Brie-like cows milk cheese), Feta, honey fig cherve and figs- $18 (figs and cheese are truly a match made in heaven!)

Peru fair trade organic locally roasted coffee beans from Carrboro Coffee Roasters- $8

Shitaki mushrooms and bell peppers- $5

Fairy Tale Eggplants, Shishito peppers, mixed cherry tomatoes- $9 (can you say pizza night?!)

Okra- $1

Grand total- $41.00 including coffee and cheese!

I am looking forward to the yumminess that this week is going to bring!

I know- I already made 25 lbs of tomatoes into salsa.  But then I was at Kroger and discovered 1) that they sell the same packets I use for salsa mix and I thought I could only get at Walmart and 2) that there is a HOT version of the salsa mix.  So we had to try it.

Gather Supplies: Tomatoes, HOT salsa mix, vinegar (and also canning supplies)

We followed the same method as we did with the original salsa, so if you want to see how it’s done go here.

Boil salsa, simmer for 10 minutes (then puree if desired-we do!)

I just got one packet to try, so that only required 6 lbs of tomatoes.  I got these from the Market for $1.50/lb so that is $9 of tomatoes.  The salsa packet was $2.50 and I used about $0.25 worth of vinegar (maybe less but I want easy numbers here).  We ended up with 2 pints and 2 quarter pints of salsa.  That makes the price per $3.36 per pint and about $0.84 for the tiny quarter pint jars.

Processed for 40 minutes! Don’t forget to label them with the date and that they are HOT salsa.

Conclusion- yes the hot salsa is tasty, NO it is not more economical to get tomatoes just per pound instead of by the 25-30 lb box. Of course if you grow your own tomatoes successfully and then can them, a small batch would be very well worth the price of just the salsa mix.

My co-worker and friend Bridget wanted to take a stab at canning.  So we decided to split a box of peaches ($20) from Better Be Ellerbe at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market.  We made one small batch (ended up being 4 jars) of no-sugar peach jam and 36 half-pint jars of sliced peaches. There was also a small pile of about 10 peaches left over that we did not have enough jars/lids for so I sliced them and froze them (ended up being about a gallon-YAY for smoothies!)

1/2 bushel box of peaches (approx. 25 lbs)

There is no reason why you MUST use sugar when canning fruit, so unless you really like the way overly sugary taste of commercial jams and jellies, I suggest using as little as possible or (like we did) NONE at all.

For jam, use the “no sugar needed” version of pectin ($3) that you can buy in the canning aisle.  We followed the “splenda” recipe, but did not add ANY sweetener. I have sometimes added up to 1/4 cup of sugar if the fruit it very tart, but taste it first and only add it if you think it needs it. This produced 4 half pint jars of peach jam.

Filling jars of peach jam

So here is how we canned peach slices with NO sugar:

1. Sanitize jars in the dishwasher.

2. Set up a boiling station (just like for tomatoes) Cut an X in each peach and cut off any obvious bad spots.  Boil each peach for 2-3 minutes and then place into cold water.

Peaches “X-ed” and waiting to boil.

3. Peel the skin off of the peaches. Cut them in half and remove pits (do not eat the pits they contain cyanide!) If desired (what we did), slice the peaches.

4. Let the peaches hang out in some water with a splash of lemon juice (used about $0.50 worth) in it so that they don’t change color.

5. Also add a small amount of bottled lemon juice to each jar.  For half pints 1/4 tsp is MORE than enough, if you are using pints use 1/2 tsp and use a whole tsp for quarts.

6. Pack as many peaches as you can fit into the mason jars leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch of head space.  It helps to stand them up like little soldiers in the jar.

Packed jars of sliced peaches

7. Use the juices that the peaches have been sitting it to fill the jars to 1/2 in from the top of the jar.

Peaches topped off with their own juices/lemon water

8. Use a moist paper towel to wipe the rims and then add lids and rings.

Bridget in the steam of the canner getting lids onto the jars

9. Using a water canner, boil each jar for 20 minutes and then remove and let cool.  Make sure that each seal “pops”.  If any do not pop, refrigerate and use immediately.

10. Label each jar with what it is and the date.  Peaches will be good for 1 year (if they last that long!)

40 half pints jars of processed peaches (plus the ones that didn’t fit and I froze!)

Price per jar of sliced peaches= LESS than $0.50 per half pint jar

Price per jar of no sugar added jam= ~$1.25 per half pint jar


{August 12, 2012}   Birthday Week Menu

This is going to be a yummy week. Hubby started his new job last week- it’s 2+ hours away, but he’s working more or less in his field and he brought home 3 bottles of wine after his 2.5 day stint. I’m going to have to start cooking a lot more for myself, instead of just brainstorming and writing about it. I’ve been spoiled by him having dinner ready when I get home from work every day. Also school starts back this week, so I’m going to be back to “real job” hours instead of “summer” hours.

So here’s what we’re having:

(Yesterday) My birthday dinner was rack of lamb and cracked baby potatoes.

Birthday Dinner

For the rest of the week:

Antipasto- marinated tomatoes, mozzarella, and salami (in a roasted garlic dressing); also fig honey blue cheese walnut toasts

Grilled eggplant parmesan (quickly becoming a summer go-to recipe!)

Goat cheese and veggie pasta (also becoming one of our go-tos…I’m supposed to get a lesson on how to make this myself…)

Egg Stuffed mushrooms (might add quinoa and maybe some other veggies to this)

Catfish with cilantro lime slaw (once again trying not to hate cilantro- lime does indeed seem to help with it’s soapy flavor profile)

Chana Masala (love how this blog prices everything out & yay Indian food!)

Also I am going to be making a double batch of granola (gotta make sure the hubby has something healthy to eat while he’s out of town).

And I’ll be baking a batch of bread to go with the antipasto, and baking up this coconut zucchini bread (which sounds like the best idea ever)

It’s going to be a yummy week (even if I have to cook for myself a few times…)

Tomato herb pie from last week.

Einstein tasting the rack of lamb


et cetera