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Green Vegetables :Juice Preservation

This year we have abundant green vegetables in our garden. We planted three types of Kale, lettuce, and Swiss Chard.  We eat a lot of salad, we mix it in stir-fry, we steam-cook, and we did some juicing, too. We got too much that we have to save them for later use. I froze some greens (after blanching it),  and saved some green juice as well. Nothing special, but I am sharing this DIY  food preservation with you.  Frozen Kale greens (juice) come handy whenever you want it in your smoothie or fresh juice.

 

KALE GREEN JUICE :FROZEN

Classification: Vegan

Good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, alkaline

INGREDIENTS:

Kale greens or mixed green vegetables (fresh)

WHAT YOU NEED:

Juicer set

Wraps, small containers, or ice cube tray for freezing.

Note: The ice candy/popsicle plastic wraps I used you can buy online or at an Asian market.

PREPARATION:

1. Wash Kale greens throughly. Check for bugs and bad spots.

2. Process in a juicer; stems and leaves. (Follow juicer instructions carefuly.)

3. Put the processed juice in a wrap or mold. Secure lids or packs.

4. Place packed Kale juice in a freezer.

Frozen Kale juice should be ready after 8 hours in the freezer. Mix it in fresh juice, smoothie. Keeps your drinks cool, too! Enjoy, and stay healthy!

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Pak Choi Kimchi :Korean Side Dish

Kimchi also spelled kimchee or gimchi, is a traditional fermented Korean Side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. In traditional preparation, kimchi was stored underground in jars to keep cool during the summer months and unfrozen during the winter months. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made from napa cabbage, scallion, radish, or cucumber as a main ingredient. -Excerpt from Wikipedia.

In this recipe I used Pak Choi (or Bok Choi) vegetables. Pak Choi is a type of Chinese cabbage with a smooth, dark green leaf blades. Is it popular in Southern China and Southeast Asia. This savory vegetable is typically used in salad, soup, or stir-fry. I must not forget to mention that the Pak Choi’s I used in making this kimchi are from our garden! 🙂 I consider this recipe as a basic Kimchi recipe.

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Pak Choi Kimchi :Korean Side Dish
Classification: Vegetarian

Good source of: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, and probiotics

Ingredients:

pak choi – 4 cups (stalks) quarter length cut, 4 cups (leaves) strips cut
garlic cloves – 5 pieces, minced
ginger root – 3 inch size, (about 2 tablespoon when minced)
chili flakes – 1 to 2 teaspoons (you can also use chili pepper powder, or hot pepper paste)
green onions or scallion, – 3 stalks (green onions) or 1 big piece (scallion), quarter length cut
soy sauce – 2 tablespoons
rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons
salt – 2 teaspoons
sugar – 1 tablespoon
sesame seeds, roasted – 2 tablespoons (optional, you can also use ground almond nuts)
honey – 1 tablespoon

Preparation:

1. In a big stainless or glass bowl place cut pak choi. Sprinkle 2 teaspoon salt and mix together. Let it sit for about 30 minutes until leaves are wilted.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients using hands or with mixing spoons. Note: Spicy-ness varies depending on the amount of  chili pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, or hot pepper powder you put. Adjust it according to your level of (heat) tolerance. 🙂

3. Put kimchi mixture in a glass jar (canning jar). Make sure leaves and stalks are packed tightly before pouring the remaining sauce into the jar. Let it sit at room temperature overnight for initial fermentation, then keep refrigerated afterwards.

Enjoy Pak Choi Kimchi as an appetizer, or as a side dish. 🙂

 

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Pak Choi vegetables

 

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pak choi kimchi

 

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Pak Choi Kimchi

 

 

 

Grow Your Own Edible Microplants :Lentil Sprouts

LENTILS SPROUTS

Classification: Vegan
Good Source of: phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, bioflavanoids, proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, enzymes, coenzymes, and fiber

We all know that green and leafy vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals essential for our overall health. Sprouts (also classified as micro-plants) are related to leafy vegetables, they provide a much higher level of nutrients than other foods. Each sprout consist of rich and healthy enzymes essential for the little plant’s (and human) growth. According to experts there are about 100 times enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables. Enzymes are special types of proteins that act as catalysts for all our body’s functions.

Microplants come in different forms and colors, harvested from both land and sea, and nutritionally they are excellent source of two important phytochemicals, the chlorophyll and lycopene. These super powerful nutrients support our body’s ability to detoxify heavy metals and other toxins, and they are loaded with nutrients to boost our natural immunity to disease.

In countries where there are four seasons, it is a challenge to have fresh green leafy vegetables year-round because especially in winter time. Special planting techniques such as using low and high tunnel greenhouses must be used to ensure that vegetables thrive during freezing temperature.  But what if you don’t have a space to make a garden and put a greenhouse? Indoor seeds sprouting is one of the best ways you can do. Why not give this easy and simple method a try? It is cheap too. 🙂 Check also DIY: Alfalfa Sprouts.

What you’ll need:

1 cup of lentils seeds (you can use alfalfa seeds, mungbeans, or any bean seeds)
water
big bowl or any wide container
hand towel

Preparation:

1. Wash lentils seeds thoroughly. Toss out  bad and discolored seeds.
2. After washing, drain seeds, and soak in 5 cups of  water for 4-5 hours.
3. Rinse twice and drain.
4. Put soaked seeds in a container and cover with a wet hand towel. Make sure that the seeds are completely covered.
5. Place the covered seeds on the kitchen counter or near a kitchen window.
6. Check and rinse lintels seeds every day or every other day to prevent mold growth. Dampen the towel to keep moisture in.  In 5 days you can enjoy your fresh sprouts.

Lentils sprout is perfect for juicing, vegetables salad mix, sandwiches, and soup (do not overcook). You can eat it plain, too. Enjoy!

Note: Don’t wait too long or the stems get tough. The shorter the sprouts the better. You may use a pair of scissors to cut the stems closer to the seeds (if you want to eat it without seeds).  You can cut the micro-plants up to three times as the seeds grow some more sprouts.

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Christmas Tree Bread

Here is something unique to add to your menu this Christmas… An idea  I got from a few recipes I’ve seen online. This is my version — vegan, but not gluten free. If you want to make it using none wheat-based flour, you may use rice flour, buckwheat flour, spelt, garbanzo flour, amaranth flour, barley flour, chia flour,  corn flour, oat flour, to name some of the alternatives. You can add ground flax as a natural binder to  your dough. Or if you don’t want to make the dough, you can buy crescent dough sheet that’s ready to use. Anyway, the process of making it takes time and a bit tricky, but I assure you you’ll have fun! Be creative and enjoy your edible Christmas tree bread. 🙂

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CHRISTMAS TREE BREAD

Category: Vegan, non-gluten free

Good source of fiber, protein,

 

Ingredients: Dough

flour – 3 cups all purpose flour (I used 2 C all purpose, 1 C wheat combined)

dry yeast – 3 teaspoon

sugar – 3 teaspoon

salt – 1 teaspoon

warm water – 1 cup

dairy free butter – 1 tablespoon

Preparation: (dough)

You can skip this part if using a store-bought crescent dough sheet.

  1. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Pour in a cup of warm water. Mix it well. Add butter into the mixture. If using a bread maker mix it for about 2 minutes or until dough is at right consistency. If kneading by hand, make sure you knead it well enough. Too sticky dough: add a little bit of flour.
  3. When done mixing, rest dough for 10-15 minutes. Wait for it to rise and double its size.While dough is resting, you may start making your stuffing.

 

Ingredients: Stuffing

Spinach (or any greens you like) – 5 cups (chopped) or 1 1/2 pound frozen

onion (diced) – 1/2 cup

non-dairy mozzarella cheese – 1 cup (shredded)
(option) cottage cheese -3/4 cup and  feta cheese 1/3 cup (or a combination)

dried parsley – 1 tablespoon

dried dill leaves – 1/2 teaspoon

black pepper corn – 1/4 teaspoon (optional)

sea salt – to taste

sesame oil (or any cooking oil)- 1 1/2 tablespoon (if only using fresh spinach)

pimiento olives – 1/2 cup thinly sliced for decoration or to mix with stuffing

Note: If other seasoning’s not available, use other other options or just omit it.
Preparation: (stuffing)

1. If using fresh spinach (greens): Sautee onions with sesame oil and spinach in a pan. Use low heat only just to shrink spinach leaves down.

 If using frozen spinach: Thaw out frozen spinach completely. Squeeze and drain excess liquid. No need to sautee. Combine all  ingredients and your stuffing is ready to use.

2. Add cheese and the rest of the ingredients (a little bit of olives, save some for toppings). Mix thoroughly but gently.  Do not cook the mixture. Mixture should be ready in 2 minutes.

 

To form the Christmas tree bread:

1. On a flat, floured surface flatten the bread dough (It is best if you do it on a parchment paper, so it’s easier to transfer the formed dough into the baking pan). Use a rolling pin to make a thin, big, round shape.

2. Using a pizza/rolling cutter (or a table knife), make a light marking  and make a tree-shape like (triangle) in the middle of the dough. Make strips cut on the sides.

3. Put spinach stuffing  on the tree shape dough (but not on strips part).

4. Pull/stretch and gently twist opposite sections of strips to make a band across the tree dough. Make sure both ends are sticking together well.

5. Arrange pimiento olives “decoration” then brush the dough with coconut oil, olive or sesame oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F (175 *C) for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top and… Enjoy your Christmas Tree Bread!

 

 

 

 

Homemade Green Bean Pickles (Dilly Bean) :Canned

I missed to post this recipe when it was still Summertime in the US. Well, regardless of the time of the year I decided to share it with those who might be interested in making Green Beans Pickles.  My life has been pretty busy since baby number 2 came along. Thankfully I was able to manage the garden (with my husband’s help mostly on the weekends), do some canning and food preservation, on top of my daily routine as a homemaker and mom to my boys. Life is good when you embrace it in a most optimistic way! 🙂

Okay, let’s talk about the recipe. It is easier when you have done canning before. But don’t be afraid to experiment carefully. In most of my pickle recipes I use similar brine recipe — Check out my Okra and Cucumber Pickles Recipe, with only a little twerk on spices and amounts. Just like any other pickles, Pickled Green Beans (also known as Dilly Beans) has an option to use sugar as part of the ingredient. In this recipe I did not put any sugar, however, if you are the type of person that likes sweet and sour food you may want to experiment by adding some sweetener. Just make sure that the sweet, salt and sour taste is balanced.

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PICKLED GREEN BEANS (Using water-bath process with refrigerated pickle green beans option.)

Classification: Vegetarian
Good source of fiber, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, folate, B-vitamins, chromium, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, omega-3, and many more…

Things you need:

water-bath canner (or a big pot), cooking stove, 3 quart canning jars with rings and lids, jar lifter,

INGREDIENTS:

green beans –  3-4 lbs {about 1 and half kg.])

water – 4 cups

apple cider vinegar (or fresh lemon juice, or white vinegar) – 3 cups (I don’t use equal ratio of water and vinegar, as I like my pickle to be more pleasant to my taste bud 🙂 )

salt (prefer canning/pickling salt) – 5 tablespoon (about 1/3  cup)

garlic – 1 clove (at least 6 pieces, 2 pieces each jar)

onion – medium size, strips

dill seeds – 1-2 tablespoons (1/2 teaspoon per jar)

mustard seeds (optional) – 1-2 tablespoon (1/2 teaspoon per jar)

chili powder  (optional,if you want a little spicy taste) – 1/4 teaspoon or a whole piece/diced of fresh hot pepper

PREPARATION:  Water-bath canning

Note: Don’t be confused as to why Pickled Green Beans is processed by water bath. Most homemade canned pickles are done by water boiling process, even though Green beans is a type of vegetable. The sour (acidic) brine is what makes it capable to process in water bath (boiling process). Unlike canning plain vegetables (except for tomatoes, and most fruits, because it is naturally acidic) they must be pressure-canned to cook the vegetable thoroughly, and to prevent bad bacterial growth that could cause botulism.

  1. Prepare the canning materials: Wash jars in hot soapy water (or in a dishwasher), rinse and set aside. Read here for more information and instructions on canning.
  2. Prepare Ingredients: Select fresh and tender green beans. Trim the ends. Wash and drain properly.
  3. In a big pot put 4 cups of water, apple cider vinegar, and salt (and sugar if necessary). Bring it to a boil for about 3 minutes. Set aside until jars are filled and ready. In another small pot, boil some water with the canning rings and lids in it. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  4. At the bottom of the jars place 2 pieces of garlic (or 1 at bottom, the last piece on top of green beans), half a teaspoon dill seeds, onion strips (about 10 thin slices), and half a teaspoon mustard seeds. Arrange green beans tightly but gently. If there is enough space above, you can add a few more onion slices. Make sure you leave about an inch head space from the jar rim. Note: Increase the amount of cider vinegar or lemon if you want stronger (higher acidity) brine. Increase also the amount of salt. You can add more spices of your choices. More garlic or onions if you want. 
  5. Once the jars are filled, pour the brine into the jars (using a canning funnel). Leave an inch space from the rim. Wipe the rims with a damp washcloth. Put lids and rings on, tightening evenly.
  1. Place filled jars into the canning pot, with water about an inch above the jars. Bring water to a boil for about 15 minutes — depending on how fast the water heats up. Some preparations only require to keep the pickles-filled-jars in an almost boiling water to prevent the vegetable from getting too soft —not leaving the pickles boiling for too long in the water.7. After the process, remove jars using a jar lifter. Set on a towel and let it cool. Avoid extreme temperature change. Cover the top with another towel if necessary.8. After jars have cooled off; check for seal, lids have to be sucked down, not bulged out. Pickles in unsealed jars can be consumed first or be put in the refrigerator. Label jars or lids: name of the finished product, date or year. (Ex. Pickled Green Beans (A.Cider), 2015). Store in dark, cool temperature.Suggested Measurement for smaller batches: (If for some reason your brine preparation was not enough)

    3 cups water
    1 and 1/2 cups – cider vinegar/freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 and 1/2 – 3 tablespoon salt (preferably canning salt because it is pure, no anti-caking agent

To make Refrigerated Green Bean Pickles using the same recipe.

A. Blanch green beans in boiling water for 15 seconds. Wash with icy-cold water right away to prevent further cooking, and preserve natural crispiness.
B. Arrange spices and green beans in jars. Add brine. Cover and refrigerate!
C. Enjoy after 24 hours!

Green Beans Preparation

Green Beans Preparation

Boiling Process

Boiling Process

Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

Homemade Pickled Okra :Canned

I have to post this recipe as I have friends wanting me to share it. We have lots, I mean lots of okra produce from our garden. And the plants are still producing! We sold some, we ate a bunch, and I preserved some, too. Making Okra pickles is not much different than making Cucumber Pickles and Dilly Green Beans Pickles. The brine solution and acidity are about the same unless you want a little twerk: adding more spices, adding sugar, eliminating ingredients you don’t like (in this recipe). I prefer sour pickles over sweet & sour. If You want to add sugar in this recipe just make sure that the salt, sour and sweet flavor is balance. I don’t like super strong, high acidity brine, so I use 2:1 ratio (2 cups water, 3/4 to 1 cup vinegar/fresh lemon juice).

NOTE: You can make Refrigerated Okra Pickles using this recipe. No water bath process needed! Scroll down to read more…
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Classification: Vegetarian
Category: Canning and Food Preservation

INGREDIENTS:

Okra (smaller sizes)- 4 to 5 pounds (2-3 kilos)
water – 6 cups
apple cider vinegar – 3 cups (fresh lemon juice is another good option)
salt (prefer pickling salt) – 1/3 cup (5 tablespoons)
garlic cloves – 2 pcs per jar
red bell pepper – few strips slices per jar
coriander seeds – 1/2 teaspoon per jar
mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon per jar
dill seeds – 1/4 teaspoon per jar (optional)

Simplest Ingredients’ Alternative

Okra, water, vinegar (prefer organic natural), salt, garlic cloves, bell pepper, onion slices, 2 lemon slices to place at the bottom of the jar. You can also put chili pepper or 1/2 teaspoon (or more chili) powder if you like hot and spicy food.

WHAT YOU NEED:

4 quart canning jars with lids and rings
Water bath canner
Jar lifter
Cooking stove

PREPARATION:

1. Select the freshest, young okra. Wash and drain. Cut blossom ends, leave the head but trim to a shorter length.

2. Prepare the canning equipment. Wash and clean canning jars with warm water. You can also wash it in dishwasher. Read here for more information on water bath canning.

3. In a big pot, put water, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Bring it to boil for about 3 minutes.

4. Arrange okra, garlic, peppers, in the canning jars. Pack tightly. Add other seasonings: coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dill seeds. Make sure there is about an inch space left above the okras.

5. Pour the brine up to the neck of the jar, covering the okras. Leave about an inch space below the lids.

6. Wipe the rims of the jars with clean, damp, washcloth to remove debris that could affect the sealing process.

7. In a canning pot, fill some water about half to three-fourth full, and bring it to boil. Let it sit until jars are ready for canning process.

8. Place the filled jars in the canning rack. Add water to the boiling water if necessary to make sure that water covers the jars (about an inch above the lids). You can also place a hand towel at the bottom of the pot (if you have no rack available for use), to avoid breaking the jars.

9. Bring the water to boil and process for 15 minutes.

Note: Don’t be confused as to why pickled okra is processed by water bath. Most homemade canned pickles are done by water boiling process, even though Okra is a type of vegetable. The sour (acidic) brine is what makes it capable to process in water bath (boiling process). Unlike canning plain vegetables (except for tomatoes, because it is naturally acidic) they must be pressure-canned to cook the vegetable thoroughly, and to prevent bad bacterial growth that could cause botulism.

10. Using a jar lifter remove the jars from the pot and set it on a towel. Cover the jars with towels to prevent drastic temperature change.

11. Wait for the lids to seal. If you hear popping sound (the suction pressure), it means the jar has been sealed. When jars have cooled off (after 8 hours), check for unsealed jars. Lids must be sucked down, not bulge out. You can re-process the content of the unsealed jars by transferring it to a new, clean jar. OR you can refrigerate it, and enjoy after 24 hours!

12. Put label on each jar: Name, date, ingredients, etc. You may or may not remove the jar rings/bands. If you intend to keep it longer in the pantry, taking the rings off will help prevent rust from forming around the rim.

Your canned pickled okra will be best eaten after 24 hours. Shelf life is 6 months up to 2 years… and longer, whenever you open it! I still have canned pickled okra from three years ago and they are still fine! 🙂

Note:
You can do refrigerated Pickled okra (without doing the water bath canning process) using the same ingredients, except you will need to boil all the ingredients (except onions and peppers) before pouring the brine into the jars. Refrigerated pickled okra will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks. Enjoy the crunch!

Pickling Okra

Boiling Process for Pickling Okra

Boiling Process for Pickling Okra

Homemade Pickled Okra - Canned

Simple Pancit :Filipino Noodle Dish

It is considered as one of the “complete” meals in the Philippines… Because of the combination of noodles (carbohydrates) vegetables and meat (real or fake for protein). Taste and texture can vary depending on how you prepare your Pancit, and the type of noodles you use; fresh or dry. Noodles also come in different shapes, size, length, texture and flavor. Most pancit noodles are made from rice flour, there are other types that are made from bean flour, cornstarch, wheat and buckwheat, to name a few.

The most common type of noodles we use in making the regular pancit is the dry, thin, rice noodles but it is not uncommon to use a combination of different types. While making Pancit dish can be a little tricky, just remember a few simple tips: Do not oversoak the noodles. Cook first the tougher ingredients. Do not overcook vegetables and noodles. Stir gently… And do not be afraid to try again if your first attempt did not turn out the way you wanted it to be! Just have fun and enjoy the Pancit! It’s not that hard to make, not really! 😉

I made this simple Pancit recipe per friend’s request. For related recipe check Pancit using thick noodles.

SIMPLE (Basic) PANCIT RECIPE

Classifacation: Vegetarian, Vegan, with Gluten-free substitute

Good source of carbohydrates, fiber, protein

INGREDIENTS:

rice noodles – one 16 oz (454 g) pack dry noodles
veggie meat – 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups, strips (You may use baked or fried seasoned tofu)
coconut oil – 3 TBspoons
onion – 3/4 cups, diced
garlic – 5 large cloves or 2 TBspoons chopped
cabbage – 1/2 of a medium sized (4 cups, cut in strips)
carrots – 2 cups, strips
green beans – 2 cups
vegetable broth – 4 cup, divided (you can make homemade broth recipe using this seasoning here)
soy sauce – 1/4 cup
country-style seasoning or Chicken-style seasoning – 1 TBspoon
onion powder – 1 teaspoon
garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
mushroom seasoning powder – 1/4 teaspoon (optional)

Note: You can also use frozen mix vegetables for quicker preparation. The fresher the vegetables, the better! You can use other vegetables like snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, sprouts, chayote, and other veggies of your choice.

PREPARATION:

1. Soak noodles in water for about 5 minutes. If you use warm water do not soak for more than 10 minutes as it can cause your Pancit to be mushy if you use the suggested amount of water (4 cups). Drain and cut into 3-inches length using scissors.

Note: Some noodles you can easily break/cut without using kitchen scissors before soaking in water (like the brand of noodles I use in this recipe).

2. In a big pan or wok, sautee garlic, onions and veggie meat on a medium heat setting. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add soy sauce. Stir, and cook for another minute or so.

3. Add 3 cups of vegetable broth or water. Bring to simmer before adding the noodles. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or so. If you use plain water you may need to increase the amount of your seasoning to enhance flavor.

4. Add green beans and carrots and the rest of the seasoning. Add cabbage about 3 minutes or so later so as not to over cook it. Stir thoroughly and cook until noodles are soft, but not over-cooked. Stir occasionally but gently to prevent noodles from sticking. Use your judgment: Add the last cup of water or broth if the mixture is too dry and the noodles are still tough. If the mixture is too wet don’t add anymore liquid. Add salt to taste.

Note:

Tips: The longer you soak your noodles the less you use broth in cooking. It is important to note that noodles absorbs more flavor when it’s not over-soaked in water.
– As an option, cook vegetables and noodles separately, then combine them before serving.
– Sometimes you can add the noodles first with the broth, (and a little longer) instead of vegetables especially when the noodles are thicker and tough even after soaking.
-It is OK to have firmer texture vegetables than mushy noodles.

Pancit is ready when the noodles are soft and not chewy. Garnish with green onions. Squeeze some fresh lemons for a different flavor. Enjoy!

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