Tag Archives: DIY

Zucchini Relish

At 2 a.m. I was still in the kitchen. Peach jam in the canner, tomato jam out of the canner, three trays of fruit leather in the oven, tomatoes and peaches in the dehydrator, prepping zucchini relish.  This is what I always forget in those dreamy, carefree spring months when I plant my garden or sign up for a CSA (or, this year, do both): The harvest season is also a season of all-out frenzy.

This recipe is here to help.  You will find both emotional and practical relief as you reduce two truly gargantuan zucchini to five tidy pints of the hot dog relish you remember from childhood.

Pile it onto a field roast sausage with that better-than-ketchup (and I don’t say that lightly) tomato jam and a beery mustard, and you’ll almost forget about the boxes of ripe pears in the basement still awaiting your attention.

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Any ideas for those pears? Continue reading

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Sweets for the Sweet: Homemade Hearts

If your house is anything like mine, your floor is littered with hearts and stickers, confetti and sparkles, the uncontainable detritus of the month-long operation that consumes our home at this time every year: making Valentines.  The glue!  The glitter!  The little girls cutting hearts and hearts and hearts and hearts, and the thousands of tiny scraps of paper that float to every corner of the floor!  The never-ending sweeping….

I mostly try to just smile and nod, enjoying the spectacle and vaguely hoping that we’ll manage to reclaim the table in time for dinner each night.  As you probably know, I prefer to make my own messes in the kitchen.

With Valentines Day coming up this week, if you’re like me, you might like to know that you don’t have to settle for crumbly, flavorless conversation hearts with pre-printed messages.  Since I’m rarely organized to make holiday treats before the day itself, I’ll refer you back to a post from last year: Make your own easy DIY conversation hearts and express your true feelings instead!emmycooks Conversation HeartsIf that’s too extreme for you, though, you should probably at least make your Valentine a plate of cookies.Plate of Sugar CookiesHope your homes are full of sweetness this week!

How to Make Applesauce

I have a book in which I record, from time to time, the big and small adventures in our family’s life.  I mean to write in it every day, just a sentence or two.  More often, weeks or even months go by between entries.  I try to catch the important stuff, though, when I do sit down to write–milestones and anecdotes from our daughters’ lives, travels we want to remember, loving moments with our extended family.  And, of course, what’s happening in the kitchen.Our family’s book begins with applesauce.  It was an October when I started the family journal (abandoning, in the process, my girls’ individual baby books) and we had just turned our three trees worth of apples into a year’s worth of applesauce.  So in a way, I think of making applesauce as the beginning of each new year.  At this time of year I often flip back through the years contained in my book and marvel at how fast life changes.  And how each chapter is even better than the last.

Applesauce, though, is a constant in our lives.  Every year we lighten the groaning branches of the apple trees in the fall, piling box after box of apples into the house.  We sort the apples, setting aside the unblemished best for eating and sharing.  We eat and bake and dry as many apples as we can.  And the rest become applesauce for the year ahead. Continue reading

Spicy Pickled Peppers

While we’re enjoying September’s fine harvest of assorted spicy peppers, why not preserve a few to enjoy when the season is over?

Honestly, my standard method for preserving peppers (of any kind) is to slice or chop them, pile them into a freezer bag, and put them in the freezer.  But you don’t need a recipe for that, do you?

You don’t need much of a recipe for this, either, but I always like to pickle a jar or two of mildly spicy peppers to enjoy in the fall.  This a a quick refrigerator pickle, which takes little time beyond slicing the peppers and simmering a simple brine for five minutes.  The investment will pay off many times over, since it only takes a few of these pickled pepper rings to spice up any meal. Continue reading

Blue Cheese and Crackers with Candied Cherry Preserves

This is the story of two recipes that didn’t turn out at all the way I planned.

I was going to make you pink strawberry waffles today.  My baby–my first baby–turned six and, not to be outdone by her sister’s chocolate waffle birthday coup, requested strawberry waffles for breakfast.  Pink, please.They were delicious.  I used my regular yeast-raised batter (which works beautifully for both waffles and pancakes), adding a few generous spoonfuls of strawberry preserves in place of the sugar.  And then, in a stroke of genius suggested by a reader-friend, I tinted the batter as pink as can be with a sprinkle of that beet powder I thought I’d never use again.  Of course, the baked waffles were mostly waffle-colored, which was a bit of a disappointment to us all (mostly me).  Continue reading

Homemade Maple-Roasted Almond Butter

A new cookbook is such a good treat.  Whether it’s on loan from the library or all mine from my great local bookstore, I always love to curl up on the couch or in bed with a new cookbook.  And I just got a good one.

I’m telling you about it because you might think that the Food in Jars cookbook, by Marisa McClellan of the delightful Food in Jars blog, is only for us fringe types who are into canning.  Not so!  First of all, this is truly small-batch stuff, with most of the recipes yielding a manageable 2 or 3 pints of jam or pickles.  No need to can those–give one to the neighbors and put the other(s) in your fridge; they’ll be gone in no time.  Second, there are also plenty of recipes that have nothing to do with canning: think of them instead as recipes for foods that you could put in jars, if the urge struck, but it would be mostly for decorative purposes.  Granolas.  Nut butters.  Pancake mixes.  Infused salts.  This recipe falls into that latter category.

I meant  to put it in a jar, I really did,  but unfortunately I halved the recipe.  Served alongside a plate of apple slices, it was gone before the jar question even came into play.  The full recipe is below, and I don’t recommend halving it. Continue reading Homemade Maple-Roasted Almond Butter (click for recipe)

Granola Cookie Bars

Welcome to Emmy Cooks!  You can see some of my favorite recent recipes by clicking the “My Favorite Recipes” category on the sidebar (here are June, July, and August).  If you like what you see here, you can sign up on the sidebar to receive a daily recipe by email, or follow Emmy Cooks on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

There’s something about environmentally-unfriendly single-serving packaged snacks that children find irresistible.  Maybe it’s the “all mine” factor, or the satisfying crinkle of those little bags, but it’s hard to compete with a store-bought granola bar for my kids’ affection in the snack category.

These bars did the trick partly because they were fun and hands-on to make, and partly because they’re basically cookies.  Mmm, cookies.  This recipe, from Good to the Grain, was a great starting point–chewy, sweet and oaty–but I expect to do a little experimentation in the future to find a granola bar that comes closer to being a healthy kid snack.  On the other hand, these would make a great hiking snack if you actually needed a sugar boost, and I quite enjoyed them as an afternoon sweet alongside a cup of tea.  We’ll just be calling them “cookies” from now on.

Do you have a granola bar recipe you like?  Do tell.

Continue reading Granola Cookie Bars (click for recipe)

The Secret to Better Iced Coffee

Consider this a public service announcement.

Usually I don’t care what you eat.  You only eat foraged foods?  You only eat Cheetos?  You’re on a cabbage-based fad diet?  Ok.  Cool.  I can work with that.

But there is one thing that bothers me.  (You have something that bothers you too, right?  Something?  Feel free to make me feel better by sharing in the comments.) Mine might be the world’s strangest pet peeve, but at this time of year it’s everywhere I look.  It’s this business of the ice in summer’s ubiquitous iced coffee.

Here in Seattle, it does get warm enough to enjoy iced coffee occasionally in the summertime.  I really prefer to make my own, though, because even Seattle’s own coffee shops, which should know better, commit a grave offense in serving their otherwise-delicious cold brew: they put actual ice in it.  Ice as in frozen water.  No!Coffee should be a strong, black brew, tempered only by something creamy or something sweet if your tastes incline that way.  Adding water to my coffee, even in the form of ice cubes, is unforgivable.

The solution, of course, is simple.  Take the time to freeze a tray of coffee ice cubes, and plunk a couple in your cup next time you want your coffee cold.  As they melt, instead of creating a watery, undrinkable mess, they make…more coffee.  You see how this is a winning proposition?

You can hot-brew or cold-brew your coffee, sweeten it or don’t.  I like a spoonful of cinnamon mixed into the coffee grounds, myself.  But I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to make your coffee.  What I will tell you is this: the secret to making better iced coffee is now in your hands. Continue reading The Secret to Better Iced Coffee

Salted Caramel Ice Cream, No Ice Cream Maker Required

The truth about how J and I met is kind of boring, so we usually make something up when people ask us.  For a long time we used to say that we’d met in an internet chat room, back when that sounded scandalous, but now everyone meets online and we have to be more creative.  We met underwater off the Great Barrier Reef?  We were seated side by side for jury duty in small claims court?  We both worked at Baskin Robbins in high school?

That last one is true, actually, although the establishments in question were thousands of miles apart.  But it proves an important point: we have a long history with ice cream around here.

So I am well-qualified to tell you that this one is outstanding.  I already sang its praises here, but I feel wrong depriving you of this recipe for Seattle’s iconic ice cream flavor from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Especially since, get this, you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Some magic having to do with the salt and the cream keeps the texture sublime, even if you make it with a pan and fork instead (directions below).  If you do have an ice cream maker, you can save yourself a few minutes of stirring. Either way, this recipe will make your summer better.  And probably the entire rest of your life. Continue reading Salted Caramel Ice Cream (click for recipe)

Sorta-Caesar Salad

Well, the nice thing about this endless Seattle gloom is that the lettuce isn’t bolting.

When I first moved to Seattle, J and I lived in a tiny house, and one of the first things we did was put in a tiny garden.  We built four raised beds in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street.  Everyone does that now, I know, but this was more than a decade ago and I liked to think of us as pioneering urban farmers back then.  (We got chickens too, of course.)

There was just one problem.  I’m from California.  And when I moved to Seattle, I was cold.  I consulted with my local garden store about what kind of vegetables I could grow in this inhospitable climate and planted things like lettuce, arugula, and broccoli.  And then I bundled them up as warm as I could.  I put hoops over the beds and sheathed them in clear plastic, trapping the heat to create toasty little greenhouses for my tender plants.  They thought it was high summer and went happily straight to seed, of course.  Learning that some plants prefer cooler temperatures was the beginning of my education about the benefits that a cool climate has to offer.  (Others include not needing much of a summer wardrobe, only needing an air conditioner a few days each year, and the blueberries.  Oh, the blueberries!)

In any case, delightful lettuces grow in this part of the world nearly year-round.  They are floppy or pert, frilly or reserved, pastel green, deep maroon, or freckled.  They are the stars of the show at springtime farmers markets, and I find them irresistible.  Here’s a nice thing to do with any sturdy, crunchy lettuce.  (Romaine is the classic, of course, as we’re riffing on the Caesar salad here, but it gets much more exciting than that.) Continue reading Sorta-Ceasar Salad (click for recipe)