Carne Asada

Carne Asada

Delicious carne asada

Carne asada is not only a delightful, grilled beef but also describes a social barbecue. So, the next time you’re wanting to get friends together, grab yourself some Negro Modelo beer and try out this type of flank or skirt steak and you’ll be surprised how people rave about it.  I like the simplicity of the flavors, the ease of preparation, and the big results you get.  You can grill it over flame (or with a smoke box for extra flavor) but a high-heat gas grill works well too.  With a small bit of planning this can make for an easy weeknight meal too.

Carne Asada:

  • About 2 pound flank or skirt steak
  • 4 bunches green onions (or cambray if you can find them)
  • 3 bell peppers, any color, cored and sliced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

For the Marinade:

  • Juice of two limes
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup extra light tasting olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Negro Modelo (you get to drink the remaining bottles at dinner!)

Place all marinade ingredients in a dish large enough to accommodate the marinade and your steak.  Marinate the steak in the refrigerator for as little as 2 hours or as long as 24 hours, turning as often as you remember (I won’t lie, I’ve marinated it for as long as 4 days and it turned out fine).  Remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before grilling.

When the meat has reached room temperature, blot dry with paper towels and lightly coat with oil.  I’ve noticed this prevents the surface of the meat from steaming and promotes more surface char, especially when using a gas grill.

Place on a HOT grill.  My husband, we’ll call him Grumpy Kevin (kudos to my friend’s daughter for nicknaming him that!), fires up the infrared gas grill to 650 degrees since we like a charred outside and a medium to medium rare interior.  To get that medium to medium rare interior, cook the steak on one side for 4 minutes, flip and cook for 4 more on the other side.  Some say carne asada should be cooked though, but I think it’s tougher that way (then again, I don’t really eat any beef cooked through).

Carne Asada

My, my…look at that purdy steak!

While beef is resting, toss sliced peppers and green onions in just enough oil to gently coat (should be no more than 2 TBSP). Grill, until just softening, a couple of minutes each side. The onion is particularly good with a bit of char around the edges.

Grilled Green Onions

Grill the onions and peppers while the meat rests.

When at desired doneness, remove from grill and tent and rest in foil on a cutting board for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slice across the grain and at 45 degrees.

Carne Asada

Grumpy Kevin thinly slicing the carne asada across the grain and at a 45 or so degree angle.

Serve with grilled green onions, fresh guacamole, and grilled peppers for a gluten-free, paleo friendly meal.  Or team up with homemade corn tortillas for carne asada tacos. Very, very addictive!

Carne Asada

Serve with grilled onions, fresh guacamole, and grilled peppers for a gluten-free/paleo meal or team up with homemade corn tortillas for carne asada tacos.

Easy Fermented Pickles

fermented pickles

Super crunchy, zesty fermented pickles.

After experimenting with fermenting cabbage and producing a delicious sauerkraut, I turned my sights to fermented pickles.  I can remember my Dad fermenting pickles from the garden in a huge Blue Crown crock.  The fermented pickles always tasted so much better than heat-processed, canned pickles.  The flavor of the spices stood out, the sourness was superior to that produced by vinegar alone, and they stayed crunchy.  I read post after post and tried recipe after recipe and settled on something that combined the best of all of them.  They really did turn out superbly–a little spicy, a little garlicky, and a whole lotta crunchy.  No limp, squeaky, bland pickles here!  Best news, unlike other ferments that take a month or two, this one took only 9 days to produce a fantastic pickle!

fermented pickles

Spicy, garlicky, and crunchy!

Fermented Pickles

  • 5 wide-mouthed quart jars, sterilized
  • 5 smaller jars (I use 4 ounce) jars, sterilized
  • Sterilized tongs
  • 5 rounds of parchment paper, cut to fit just inside of quart jars
  • 5 sections of cheesecloth and 5 lengths of twine to cover jars
  • 12 cups of filtered water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 5 red chili peppers, diced
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 teaspoons dried dill
  • 5, 1/2 tsp loose green tea leaves (oolong is a good choice too)
  • 5, 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns (more or less to taste)
  • 20 pickling cucumbers, washed (free of bruises and soft spots)

Bring 6 cups water and all of the salt to a boil over high heat. Off heat add 6 cups water and the vinegar.  Let cool to room temperature.

Pickling Spices

I finally settled on just a few spices but the options are nearly endless.

Tea for pickling

Tannins keep fermented pickles crisp. Not having access to a steady source of grape or oak leaves, I turned to tea leaves. I tried several varieties and settled on green (oolong is a good option too).

Place 2 garlic cloves, 1 diced chili pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 tsp loose green tea leaves, and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns in the bottom of each quart jar.

pickle spices

Load your choice of pickling spices in the bottom of the sterilized quart jars.

fermented cucumbers

Try out a variety of spices–here was a trial run with added mustard seeds.

Pack with cucumbers (usually about 4 or so fit).  Cover cucumbers by about an inch and a half with brine.  Save the remaining brine and place in the fridge in case jars need to be topped off during the fermentation period.

fermented pickles

Cucumbers packed into their jars and covered with brine. Here you can see different spice experiments caused different colorations in brine.

Place a parchment round on top of the cucumbers, submerged in the brine. Place a smaller jar on top of the round and cucumbers to hold the cucumbers down.

feremented pickles

A small jar weighs down cucumbers to keep them below the brine’s surface.

fermented pickles

A 4 oz canning jar fits just inside a wide-mouthed, quart canning jar to keep cucumbers below the pickling brine’s surface. It’s a great option if you don’t need a large pickling crock’s worth of pickles

Place a square of cheesecloth over each jar and secure with kitchen twine to keep dust out. Keep your jars at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.  Check daily to make sure cucumbers are covered in brine, top off if necessary, and skim any scum that might form.  If the cheesecloth gets damp, replace it.  The brine will get cloudy and bubbles will form, and the cucumbers will turn from the bright green of a cucumber to the darker, olive-green color of a pickle. Mine were perfect at 9 days, but taste as you go and move them to the fridge when you achieve the flavor you want (sources say the cucumbers can sit for up to 21 days at room temperature).  Voila! Easy fermented pickles!

fermented pickles

Perfect fermented pickles!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil


I don’t remember where I first came across roasted cauliflower soup.  What I do remember is that I fell in love immediately.  I was never a big fan of cauliflower as it was most often either tasteless, waterlogged, or overly sulfurous.  Roasted cauliflower, however, is divine. It’s addictive.  Once I roasted a head of florets and served them with browned butter–nary a crumb left within minutes.  Roasted cauliflower soup is more substantial than a boiled and pureed cauliflower soup, it feels richer, has more depth, and has a little nutty hint.  A few drops of white truffle oil make it transcendent.  And the beauty is it really is quite simple to make.  You can opt to add cream or leave it out if you’re dairy-free, lactose-intolerant, or non-dairy paleo.  I do love the cream, and it’s just a wee bit per bowl, but the soup tastes good without it, too.  Plus, cauliflower is a powerhouse nutritionally and touts detoxification, cardiovascular, digestive, and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Win! Win!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil (makes about 6 cups)

For the Roasted Cauliflower:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed, air-dried and broken into florets
  • 1 TBSP Light Tasting Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the soup:

  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 sweet potato (not yam), peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp organic paste chicken bouillon (alternatively, use 3 cups water and 3 cups stock instead of 6 cups of filtered water)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • White truffle oil
  • parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place florets on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, salt, and pepper.  Toss gently to cover.  Place baking sheet on the middle rack and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn cauliflower with tongs or spatula and roast 20 minutes longer or until cauliflower becomes golden brown on edges and becomes slightly more translucent but stalks remain slightly firm.

Roasted Cauliflower

Lovely roasted cauliflower.

Place florets in stock pot over medium-high and cover with water (about 6 cups).  Add sweet potato, paste bouillon, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until cauliflower is thoroughly cooked and tender, about 20 minutes.  Once tender, puree small batches of the cauliflower soup in a blender until silky smooth (about 2 minutes per batch).  Return to stock pot over low heat. Whisk in heavy cream. Ladle into bowls and garnish with drops of white truffle oil (a tiny amount goes a LONG way!) and parsley.

Cauliflower Soup

Roasted cauliflower soup with white truffle oil and parsley. Too tasty!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

An alternative garnish–browned butter, roasted florets, and bits of smokey bacon. This is a great winter addition that packs some real satisfaction!

Roasted Cauliflower


Cauliflower.  I know what you’re thinking. Water-logged, bland, mushy.  No, thanks. But you’d be remiss if you didn’t reconsider this powerhouse of a vegetable.  Long relegated to the crudités tray, cauliflower could very well make a comeback with this one.  Roasting the cauliflower caramelizes the edges, reduces the sulfurous taste, and improves the texture.  I’ve found roasting cauliflower also reduces the stomach upset often associated with eating it raw.  Instead of raw cauliflower and ranch, why not roasted cauliflower and browned butter, tahini, hummus, or white bean dip?  Then again, this cauliflower is so good it doesn’t even need a dip and it functions beautifully as a side dish or on top of a salad.  I really do have a hard time eating cauliflower any other way now that I’ve tried this style.

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, washed, dried, and cut into florets
  • 1 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil (or melted coconut, or clarified butter)
  • 1 clove mashed and minced garlic (if you love garlic, up it to two)
  • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place florets on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, salt, and pepper.  Toss gently to cover.


Make sure florets are fairly uniform in size so they roast evenly.

Place baking sheet on the middle rack and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn cauliflower with tongs or spatula and roast 20 minutes longer or until cauliflower becomes golden brown on edges and becomes slightly more translucent but stalks remain slightly firm.  Let cool slightly before serving or cook ahead of time and gently reheat. Leftovers (if you ever have any!) can be turned into a fantastic roasted cauliflower soup.

Roasted Cauliflower

Slight translucence, caramelized edges, and slightly firm stalks mean it’s done. Great news…this can be cooked ahead and reheated gently or leftovers make a great roasted cauliflower soup!

The Best Beet and Chevre Salad

Beet Salad

The Queen Beet

Ahhh, the beet.  My first memories of the beet are not those fond memories my husband has of jars of super delicious, unforgettable pickled beets.  My first memory of the beet, in any significant way, is chopping what seemed like a ridiculous quantity of industrial canned beets (ACME brand??) into a near-paste to put on the daily lunch salad of an elderly woman I took care of after high school.  Ummm, no thanks.  Fast-forward to 1998 when I met my husband, the beet-eater.  Slowly but surely he, and beets, won me over.

So, now that a decade has passed and farm-to-table is popular again, it would seem as though the Queen Beet has been overdone when it comes to pairing with chèvre.  Some form of this salad can be found just about everywhere. You’d think this would be a bad thing, but I’ve come to dearly love my little beet brethren and they’re super healthy to boot.  I’m guilty of trying just about every iteration of this salad everywhere I eat.  I’ve had a LOT of beets people.  And this particular beet salad reigns as my fave.  You’ve got caramelized beets, creamy chèvre, roasted pecans, lightly sweet vinaigrette, and diced salty hog jowl bacon that fries up like little meat croutons.  Need I say more?

Beets and Goat cheese

caramelized beets, creamy chèvre, roasted pecans, tangy vinaigrette, and crispy little hog jowl bacon croutons.

Best Beet and Chèvre Salad (serves 2-4)

For the Beets:

  • 3 medium, or six small, washed (read: scrubbed), peeled, and wedged beets. Use the greens, if they’re still attached, to determine freshness. If they look like they’ve been sitting in a dumpster for 3 days, move on and find a more fresh source.
  • 1 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil for coating beets
  • 1 TBSP raw, local honey
  • 2 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
  • 3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste (after beets cool)

For the rest of the salad:

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces good chèvre (or make your own–a post coming soon about that!)
  • about 6 handfuls of torn lettuce of your choosing (yes, that’s how I measure it–but it probably equals around 6 -8 loose cups!).  I like oak lettuce for its mild flavor and tango lettuce for its texture (slightly curled leaves) and hint of spiciness–Boston, butter, and/or arugula would work too.
  • 2 TBSP finely diced sweet or vidalia onion
  • 1 cup diced hog jowl bacon (make sure you remove any tough skin–it doesn’t crisp well and ruins the texture as it’s a bit leathery).

For the rosé vinaigrette:

  • 2 TBSP finely minced sweet or vidalia onions (use shallots or red onion for a bit more bite)
  • 3 TBSP rosé wine vinegar (you know a post about making your own is coming!)
  • 4 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil or try substituting 3 TBSP with roasted pecan oil. For a much nuttier flavor you can add a couple of drops (seriously, it can over power easily) pumpkin seed oil.
  • 2 TBSP rendered hog jowl bacon fat from frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly toss beet wedges in oil and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes, flip with spatula, and roast 20 minutes more or so until a fork pierces with gentle pressure. Remove from oven and place in any pot or pan that will fit them, with enough room to stir gently, and place over medium heat.  Add the 1 TBSP honey, 2 TBSP extra light tasting oil, 3 TBSP Balsamic, and thyme.  Stir to coat.  Give them a swirl every few minutes until the liquid is absorbed almost entirely and the beets are very dark purple.

As beets are on stove top, place diced bacon in a stainless or cast iron skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shifting frequently, until crispy on all sides (it will release its own fat for frying, plus some). Don’t forget to stir the beets! While those little meat croutons are cooking, gently roast pecan pieces in a dry pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until beginning to brown slightly. Arrrghhh–stir the beets! Remove salty, smoky little meat bits from pan with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Try not to eat too many.  Remove nuts and set aside.

For the vinaigrette, place the vinegar, oil, jowl fat from frying, and onion in a flat-bottomed container that will accommodate the head of an immersion blender (a pint-sized Mason jar works well). After the ingredients settle, pulse blender about 6 or so times. Then, while intermittently pulsing, move the blender head upward, slowly incorporating more oil to the emulsion. And voila! you have a sweet-tangy rosé vinaigrette. Simple and tasty.

Arrange a couple of handfuls of lettuce on each plate. You’re making 4 salads, so each plate gets a fourth of all the items.  Spoon the beets over the salad and sprinkle with diced onion and pecan pieces.  Dot with pieces of goat cheese. Resist licking your fingers and eating more meat croutons.  Toss some of the fried hog jowl bacon on top.  Finish with a drizzle of the vinaigrette.

If you like beets you’ll love this–lightly sweet, tangy, smoky, salty, and earthy.  If you don’t like beets, it just might convert you!

Creamy Turnip Soup


So, I found myself with an ungodly number of turnips. Now usually I would get a vat of greens going, with a little smoked oddity thrown in, and then add handfuls of wedged turnips somewhere near the end for a delightful addition to just about any meal. But alas, there I was, full of turnips and no greens in sight. What’s a girl to do?  Turnip soup of course! I thought for a millisecond about roasting them, but they were a little larger than I like and those tend to be a little bitter I’ve found. Unfortunately, roasting sometimes brings out that bitterness in my experience (did you know your genes determine whether you find turnips to be intolerably bitter?  Seriously!). So, soup it was. And boy, did it turn out good!


About the top limit on size…the smaller, the less bitter.

The recipe makes about 8 full cups and makes use of about 1/2 of a large potato and a blender to produce creaminess without tons of heavy cream or making a roux.  A swirl of roasted walnut oil and some chives as a garnish make for a good presentation and seem to simultaneously liven it up and soften it.  A drizzle of browned butter and tiny croutons works too. If your turnips are more bitter than you care for, try a pinch of salt if you’re salt is not optimized or try a tiny pinch of sugar, although salt is purported to be better at decreasing bitterness:  The smaller the turnip , the less bitter it will be.  That being said, I’ve made this soup with large turnips before and only ended up with the slightest pungent note at the tail end, somewhat like cabbage, and it was a great contrast to the potato-like start.  But hey, maybe my genetic blessings let me love the ‘lowly’ turnip!

If you’re going full-tilt paleo, try using Japanese Sweet Potato, White Yams, or Classic Sweet Potatoes–NOT the orangey ‘yams/sweet potatoes’.  I have access to Japanese Sweet Potatoes and they work fine for thickening soups without being overtly sweet like they are when roasted and become caramelized.  Even if you use a sweeter potato I don’t think it would hurt here, especially if your turnips are bigger and possibly prone to bitterness (I’ll try it next time and report back).  Skip the cream and butter if you’d like (tell me you wouldn’t??), more of the turnip flavor will shine so be aware.  A great way to change this soup up is to add other veggies such as carrot, celery, celery root, parsnip, or parsley root. I love the taste of turnips, so I like to let them shine on their own. You can also try substituting cannellini beans (nutty, earthy, smooth) or great northern beans (grainier, nutty) or navy beans (mild, smooth) for the potato.


Silky smooth, potato-esque start, slightly pungent finish, nutty warmth from roasted walnut oil and brightness from snipped chives. Tastes like fall!

Creamy Turnip Soup

  • 24 ounces cleaned, peeled, and cubed turnips (about 4-5 medium or 8 small/baby turnips)
  • 6 ounces Russet, or other starchy potato (see note above), cubed (peel if you like or if it’s a sweet potato)
  • 6-8 cups filtered water
  • 2 tsp organic paste chicken bouillon, I use Better than Bouillon unless I have frozen homemade stock available ( Using your own stock assures quality and ingredients but sometimes ya just don’t have any in the freezer!
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP salted butter
  • 6 quart pot
  1. Place peeled and cubed turnips and potato in 6 quart pot. Cover with filtered water until water level is about 1/2 inch above turnips (about 6 cups or so).
  2. Bring to a medium boil over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp paste bouillon (enough to help flavor but not overpower the turnip, adjust as you see fit).
  3. Boil turnips and potato until a fork easily pierces the centers of both and they are mostly translucent.  Do not overcook. They should not fall apart. Do not drain liquid.
  4. Allow to cool enough to handle in a blender.
  5. Working in small batches (so blender does not overflow and a smoother texture is obtained), place turnip-potato mixture and some of its juices in the blender. Leave lid slightly ajar (not too much!) for steam to escape and process until silky smooth (you may need to run each batch for a couple of minutes depending on your blender).
  6. Transfer smooth soup back to pot.
  7. Temper the 1/4 cup heavy cream by slowly adding a small amount of soup to it until it is about the same temperature of the soup in the pot. Then slowly add the tempered cream back to the soup in the pot and whisk in. Add butter and stir to incorporate. By now you should have a subtle, lovely shimmer to your creamy soup.  The cream and butter also seem to mellow the turnip a tad for those with less pungent palates.
  8. Taste and season as necessary with salt and/or sugar (see notes above).
  9. Dress with a swirl of roasted walnut oil (Limerock is nice and snippets of chives, browned butter and teenie croutons, fried or caramelized onions, sautéed turnip greens (for the life of me I can’t cook those!), or plain ol’ cracked black pepper.  Each slightly changes what side of the turnip is presented. So many bowls, so little time!

**I think letting the soup cool a tad mellows the pungency of the turnip (Not exactly room temperature, but you shouldn’t be blowing on it–like Goldilocks…”not too hot, not too cold”).  If you’ve got someone in your house that doesn’t love turnips, this may be an option.**

Easiest Homemade Yogurt


Some may think making your own yogurt is just for the ‘Granola’ folks, but trust me, you will want to try it at least once (and by then you’ll be hooked).  Way back in the late ’70s I can remember my Mom hollering after my brother and I ‘not to bump the yogurt’ as it sat nested in it’s tidy little yogurt maker.  I could never understand why she just didn’t buy it from the store, after all, wouldn’t that be so much easier?  Sure it would be easier, but you’d miss out on all that fun kitchen chemistry (or microbiology) and some seriously good eats.  Although I always liked yogurt in my adulthood, I never loved it until I made it myself.  I’ve tried a gazillion methods of heating and incubating the yogurt and have settled on a low-tech, fairly hands-free method that turns out beautiful yogurt every time.  Follow these easy steps and you too can take yogurt to a whole new level.  Local antibiotic- and hormone-free milk can offer increased flavor (and decreased toxins) but if you don’t have access to it, opt for pasteurized and not ultra-pasteurized and homogenized milk ( the latter won’t firm up). You can also decrease the quantities in this recipe, but I find a gallon at a time keeps me in yogurt without having to make it too frequently.


Look at that delicious yogurt! Preserved lemons and local, raw honey make nice additions.

Easiest Homemade Yogurt

  • 1 gallon whole local, antibiotic- and hormone-free milk (feel free to try 2%, skim, or a decadent light cream!)
  • 4 quart-sized, wide-mouthed canning jars and their lids
  • Dairy or kitchen thermometer that clips to the side of a jar/pan
  • Large pot or dutch oven that can accommodate all 4 jars
  • 4 heaping TBSP Yogurt starter (use your favorite store bought plain brand, making sure it says ‘live active cultures’)
  • 1 Dishcloth
  • Sterilize your jars and lids by placing in the dishwasher on the sanitize mode (there is a more stringent process for true canning but this suffices here)
  • Fill each jar with a quart of milk, leaving about 2 inches of space at the top (to add the starter)
  • Place the dish towel in the bottom of the pot, place the filled quart jars on top of the dish towel and fill the pot with water, leaving enough room for boiling the water.
  • Place the pot with the jars inside on the stove top over high heat, affixing the thermometer to the side of one jar with the temperature probe in the center of the milk (not touching the glass, etc.).

Heating the milk in the jar prevents scalding while the dish towel prevents the jar from jostling. Holding the temperature at 150-160 degrees for 20-30 minutes seems to produce a thicker yogurt.

  • Being to a vigorous boil, eventually registering approximately 160 degrees in the milk.  Adjust burner temp as necessary and check each quart a few times to make sure they are heating evenly. There is no need to stir.
  • Hold the milk temperature at 150-160 for approximately 30 minutes. I have found this produces a thicker yogurt.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the jars from the water (HOT! HOT!) and place on a heat resistant surface to cool (an aluminum pan will help heat dissipate faster).  Do not discard the water in the pot. Let the jars cool to about 110 degrees (I almost never wait quite that long, usually adding the starter at 120 degrees because I’m impatient!).  Cooling usually takes about 40 minutes to an hour.
  • When your milk is almost at the right temp, preheat your oven to 110 degrees. Mine only goes as low as 170, so I preheat to a temp of 130 using an oven thermometer (temp falls when I open it to put in the milk).
  • When your milk has reached 110 or so degrees (better slightly over than under I’ve found), mix 1/2 cup or so of the milk from each jar with 1 heaping TBSP yogurt starter (from store) PER QUART and gently fold until smooth.  Mix gently into each quart.  I do this one quart at a time to assure each quart gets the appropriate amount of starter yogurt/culture.
  • Put on your lids and put the quarts back in the pot of water.  Place the pot in the preheated oven and wrap the whole thing in a big towel. Turn off the oven, turn on your oven light, close up the oven, and go to bed or run errands, etc. (after all, the oven is off and it’s not hot enough for the towel to burn). If your oven doesn’t have a light or it’s not functioning, don’t fret–I’ve forgotten to turn it on and it still seems to work out fine.  If your oven heats to 110 degrees, then you can leave it on, however I don’t like the idea of sleeping or leaving the house with the oven on.
  • Try not to bump or disturb the yogurt during the ‘sit time’ as doing so can interfere with it thickening up.  Gently check the yogurt after 6 hours or so. If it has ‘gelled’ to your satisfaction, then remove and cool in the fridge. If not, try a couple more hours.

You can see the yogurt has set up to where it pulls away from the side of the jar. The liquid is whey, which can be saved for other uses, stirred in, or drained off for a Greek-style yogurt.


Again, you can see the yogurt has firmed into a soft curd and some of the whey has separated.

  • After chilling the yogurt, you can drain it for an hour or so through cheese cloth to produce a thicker product similar to Greek yogurt (see caption below). After draining you can also add a tablespoon or two of milk or cream and whisk for extra creaminess. Afterward, place the yogurt back in jars and chill. It will last for 2-3 weeks (although mine never hangs around that long!).

Straining the yogurt after it has chilled gives a creamier texture and milder flavor. Here a chinois cap lined with cheesecloth is used, but a bouillon strainer works wonders too. You could also use a non-reactive colander lined with cheesecloth.


Almonds and local, raw honey on top of your homemade yogurt makes for a great treat!

Homemade Mayo…You’ll Never Eat Storebought Again!


Some may be thinking, “You can MAKE mayo??”.  Why yes, it’s easy, you most likely have all the ingredients, and it takes about 2 minutes. And best of all, it’s like soft, billowy, tart and satisfying, addicting, little cream-colored clouds from Heaven.  Seriously.  I’ve not bought mayo since the first time I made it. Trust me, you won’t either!

Homemade Mayo

  • 2 raw egg yolks (**many sources say children, the elderly, those who are pregnant, and those with compromised immune systems should not consume raw eggs**)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1TBSP vinegar (use the good stuff as there are few ingredients and it will really stand out); for a bit less of a tang, use 2 tsp vinegar or try different vinegars depending on what you’re using it for.
  • 1/8 tsp honey (in other words, a tiny little blob)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups extra light tasting olive oil (or any combination of oils–I’ve even used a few TBSP of bacon fat for BLTs or a little bit of walnut oil to use in almond-tarrragon chicken salad).
  • Cracked pepper to taste (or any other herb you’d like; they’re entirely optional)
  • Wide mouth pint-sized mason jar
  • Immersion blender (I’ve used both the Cuisinart and the Bamix and both work well)

The humble beginnings of glorious homemade mayo

  • Put all the ingredients into the jar, pouring the oil in gently.  Llet the eggs settle to the bottom (important).
  • Immerse the blender with the head all the way to the bottom (important so emulsification occurs).
  • Pulse blender and ‘clouds’ should start to form after 5-7 pulses. After clouds form, and only after, you can begin to move the stick blender upward, still pulsing. The ingredients should be emulsified within about 30-45 seconds (take your time if you need to–better too slow than too fast).  Do not over-process.

Note the blender head is at the very bottom of the jar; Also note the billowing mayo clouds forming

  • Once all the oil is incorporated, you can give a few swirls with the blender to create some thickness, but don’t overdo it. Err on the side of too little so as not to cause separation.

In a couple of minutes you have created Heaven in a jar. Now slap a little on good bread or put a bit on some tomato slices and you’ll never turn back!

  • Put a lid on and store in the refrigerator. I’ve used mine for as much as two weeks but it usually doesn’t stick around that long in my house!

Ferment Nation: It’s Sauerkraut Time!


Summer’s winding down and the first hints of cooler weather are in the air.  That means I’m getting antsy to stew and braise and make big, bubbling pots of goodness that fill the house with their savory aroma all day long. Unfortunately it’s only slightly less hot than the Hinges of Hell here, which is not quite cool enough for standing next to a steamy meat cauldron all day.  What does one do then, to prepare for fall cooking? Ferment. That’s what.

With just a little bit of prep and a whole lot of waiting, barely chewable raw cabbage is turned into that salty, sour delight we call sauerkraut.  Setting out jars on the counter now will allow for braised pork steaks with sauerkraut, apples, and onions in about a month. Or a mound of sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, kielbasa sausage, and a little German mustard.  Or pork belly (or braised ham hock or pork neck) and sauerkraut mashed potatoes.  It also goes well on a sharp cheddar cheese grilled sandwich.  So much sauerkraut, so little time!

Here we go (for 3 16 ounce jars):

  • 3 sterilized, quart-sized, wide mouth canning jars
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 2 medium heads of cabbage
  • quality sea salt
  • Caraway seeds to taste (I used about 1 tsp)
  • Juniper berries to taste (I used about 2 tsp)
  • Coconut oil, about 6 TBSP, gently melted (olive oil may be substituted)
  • Sterilize canning jars by submerging in boiling water for 10 minutes. Or, cheat like I do and put them in the bottom of the dishwasher and run the sanitize cycle.
  • Thoroughly clean cabbage.  Remove about 3-4 outer leaves from each head of cabbage.
  • Fill a pot large enough to fit one outer leaf of cabbage at a time half way with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, blanch each outer cabbage leaf for a minute or two or until soft enough to manipulate without tearing.  These will serve to hold the shredded bits of cabbage under the brine. Set blanched leaves aside. Discard water.
  • Finely shred each head of cabbage using a cabbage shredder, mandolin, food processor, or chef’s knife.  I really do seem to like the rustic feel when done by hand—big pieces, little pieces, and varying textures.

A sharp knife makes easy work of hand-shredding cabbage

  • Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Place a layer of shredded cabbage on top of the salt. Sprinkle that layer with salt, caraway seeds, and juniper berries and add another layer of cabbage. Continue until all of the cabbage is layered with salt, caraway seeds, and juniper berries. Mix thoroughly with very clean hands. Press firmly with the wooden spoon to encourage the cabbage to release more liquid (or squeeze firmly with those very clean hands). Allow to sit for one hour.  The salt will continue to draw liquid out of the cabbage to form a brine. Do not discard this liquid as it will serve to cover the cabbage and create an oxygen-deprived state for the microorganisms to do their job.

You can start to see little beads of water forming on the cabbage: This is your cabbagy brine starting to form.

  • After the cabbage has wilted for an hour, stuff into sterilized quart jars and pack tightly (do so every few handfuls and the task is easier). After all jars are packed, tuck a blanched cabbage leaf or two over the top of the shredded cabbage. Now pour the remaining brine over the cabbage in the jars equally. If there is not enough brine to cover, add more brine made of 1 tsp. sea salt to 1 cup of non-chlorinated water (I use filtered).  Make sure no cabbage is peeking above the brine level. If it is, it will serve to encourage undesirable yeasts and molds.

cabbage packed neatly into the jar and covered in brine (I’ll take care of that little piece trying to escape a bit later)


The blanched whole cabbage leaves work to hold all the bits and shredded cabbage under the brine

  • Cover each jar with two layers of cheesecloth or butter muslin and tie with kitchen twine.
  • Place the jars in a warm spot (I’ve read everything from 68-73 degrees; my house stays an even 72 in summer and fall here in the South) on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel. The mixture may produce more brine over the next day or two and spill over (hence the tray and towel).
  • When the jars stop producing more liquid (1-3 days depending on temperature), I make sure everything is tucked in and cap with coconut oil by gently melting enough coconut oil to form a 1/4 inch layer on top of each jar’s brine. Over several hours the coconut oil will harden and form a close-fitting cap. It is easily removed later and I can easily ‘smell the progress’ through the cap.  I’ve also used a layer of olive oil (it can be mixed in prior to eating).

Note how the color changed from bright green to yellow and slightly translucent–this is normal

  • Sit back and enjoy the show for the next 3-4 weeks (mine usually seems to hit the spot at about 2.5 weeks with the house at 72).
  • Do watch for mold, browned cabbage, pink cabbage, or fuzz. This indicates you need to throw it away. Apparently a bit of white sludge in the bottom or on top is normal. Mine have never produced that, so I can’t say how it affects taste.
  • When it reaches the desired taste and texture (anywhere from 1 week to 6 weeks or longer), make sure all parts are still covered in brine, remove the coconut oil cover, put a lid on the jar, and place it in the fridge. It will keep for months (if you can keep it around that long!).

I don’t know if I’ll ever learn all there is to know about fermentation. It’s part science, part art, part instinct.  If you’re brave, read up on the internet posts and get going–that’s how I started. Looking back, I’d have done a little more reading first. That being said, two great resources I now own and highly recommend are Wild Fermentation:  The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (found here and The Art of Fermentation (found here