How To Grow Eggplant

Eggplant Fruit
Eggplant Fruit

Eggplant (solanum melongena) of the potato family, and native to India.  This plant  usually produces dark purple fruit, however, some other colors are available.

Eggplants are an excellent addition to any garden. The variety of colors and shapes make them a fun choice for the backyard gardening venture. Growing eggplant isn’t difficult. However, Eggplants have specific requirements and need a long, warm, growing season. New eggplant seed varieties are being developed that allow for a shorter season and colder climates, so if this is a concern, seek out those varieties.

Growing Eggplant from Seed

To start, if you are planting from seed, the soil temperature needs to be between 80 F-90 F. In most locations, this requires you start the seeds indoors for the eggplant to have enough time to reach maturity. A heating mat or grow light may be necessary to keep the soil temperature up. The seedlings can be planted outside when the daytime temperature is consistently between 70F-80F. Start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the ideal outside temperature is anticipated.

How To transplant Eggplant Seedlings

Plant seeds in the grow pots 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep. They will need 12-14 hours of light. This is another reason a grow light may be necessary. Keep the soil moist but not water-logged.

Transplanting Eggplant Seedlings

After there is no possibility of frost and the seedling have 3-4 leaves, they can be transplanted to the garden. Planting eggplant in the garden is simple. Place the seedlings 18-24 inches apart in rows 2-3 feet apart.

How to Irrigate Eggplant

Eggplant plants demand regular and deep watering. Inadequate watering can lead to fruit drop. The plants may need to be staked, depending on what variety is planted. Tie the plants up to the stake as they grow.

When To Harvest Eggplant

Eggplants can be harvested when they reach a third of their anticipated size for the variety. This is when eggplants taste the best. The fruit should be smooth, shiny, and firm to the touch. A good ripeness test is to lightly press a thumb into the fruit and see if it bounces back. The fruit is past prime if the indentation stays. Overripe eggplant is bitter, and its seeds are large and the fruit is woody. Keep a close eye on the plants as they reach maturity so the fruit can be picked at its height.

How to Harvest Eggplants

A knife or pruning shears will be needed to cut the thick stem of the fruit. Continuously harvesting the ripe eggplant will encourage the plant to produce more.

Storing Eggplants

Eggplant should be used soon after it is harvested. Eggplant does not keep well; if necessary, store it at room temperature for 1-2 days before cooking.

How To Make Riced Cauliflower Rice

Seasoned Garlic Riced Cauliflower
Seasoned Garlic Riced Cauliflower

Riced cauliflower is simple to prepare and with a little creativity a versatile supplement to your meal making. Riced cauliflower may be substituted for rice and such things as soups or used to stretch foods, especially, almost homemade dishes. For example, if your family likes rice or mashed potatoes which you want to stretch or would like to reduce the calories of each serving adding riced cauliflower in moderation, of course, will do this very nicely.

How to make cauliflower rice

Two Prepare Your Cauliflower For The Food Processor

This is a quick and easy task, basically, stripping it down and cutting into the usable pieces for easy chopping by the food processor, which consists of:

  • washer cauliflower with warmish water
  • on a cutting board with a large sturdy knife, chop off the leaves and the hard center stalk
  • cut the cauliflower into 1-2 inch florets.

How to Make Cauliflower Rice

To convert your florets to riced cauliflower you can use a food processor. I find food processors fast and easy and here are the essential steps:

  • Put the florets into a food processor.
  • For smaller food processors, you may need to do this into multiple small batches.
  • Don’t overfill your food processor. For best results feel your food processor to about the center of the slicing blade. Otherwise, you may end up with large pieces which need to be cleaned out and reprocessed.
  • Pulse your food processor several times until it arrives at the size and consistency you desire, usually, about the size of sushi rice grains. At least, that’s the size I use since I don’t really cook with long grain rice.

Cooking Note

alternatively, you can use a hand grater or high-speed blender to riced cauliflower as well, but usually, the results are not quite the same.

Shopping Note

I’ve not had any difficulty finding frozen riced cauliflower in the local grocery stores and it can be a timesaver if you prefer not to do a couple of bulk batches on a weekend or on a given day. Also, if you don’t have the time, tools, or desire to make riced cauliflower yourself the grocery store version can be a real timesaver and still provide a healthy food alternative. When working with frozen riced cauliflower from the grocery store I usually either let it fall in the refrigerator until ready to use it or give it a quick spin in the microwave according to the instructions on the package before including it in my other dishes which I may be preparing.

Uses of riced cauliflower

I find riced cauliflower to be exceptionally useful and I use it in any number of ways so here’s a quick list of some of the ways that I have used it:

  • adding rice cauliflower to my rice cooker on preparing a fresh batch of rice.
  • Adding riced cauliflower to instant mashed potatoes to make almost homemade mashed potatoes and achieving the same effect as I get to my rice.
  • Adding a small helping of rice cauliflower to a soup or stew. I usually do this in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking as riced cauliflower doesn’t take long to cook. I especially like to do this in soups where a small quantity of rice or potatoes is added.
  • Adding riced cauliflower in the grated cheese later of many dishes will nicely incorporate them into your meal. For example, adding riced cauliflower to the different cheese layers of a lasagna may happen to be making.

These uses of riced cauliflower not only stretch the dish, but it also reduces the calories of each serving and improved nutrition.

If you want to use it straight is a seasoned side dish, that works very well too, and we frequently do so.

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Soup Bones at Home

Soup Bones
Soup Bones

What are soup bones?

Soup bones, also known as stock bones, can be found in stores are usually leg/shank bones. They are round and have marrow and normally cut in about 4-inch lengths. If you don’t see any, ask someone in the meat department.  Also, you can save fresh bones and trims at for this purpose, as well.

How to Prepare the Bones For Making Broth

Adding roasting bones before adding them to the slow cooker will give your broth a richer flavor and some nice beef scraps to add back to the broth if desired.

Roasting the Soup Bones

  • Preheat your oven to 400 F
  • Lay the bones, evenly spaced, on a lightly oiled baking sheet
  • Roast 400 F till well browned all over;  approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

How to Make the Broth

  • Put in a large stock pot or Slowcooker with all the scraped browned bits and fat from the baking sheet.
  • 4 quarts filtered water
  • Add an onion, couple carrots, stalk celery, salt, peppercorns and water to cover the bones.
  • Simmer and skim the scum that floats up till no more scum appears.
  • Continue simmering for 2-3 hours adding a little more water, if necessary.
  • Remove bones and strain.
  • Taste for seasoning and simmer longer to reduce for a stronger broth, if desired.

Broth Storage

  • Bone broth can be stored long-term at home by either canning which can be stored for up to three years. you may want to consider your normal meal size and use a variety of jar sizes for different purposes.
  • Bone broth can be stored by freezing if you have space for up to about a year.  To honest, it never lasts that long around our house. it is just too useful for soup, stews, and chills,   Freezing in ice cubes, then placing in a freezer container, makes it easy to use the broth in small quantities.

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How To Roast Tomatoes For Use In Pasta And Side Dishes

How To Roast Tomatoes For Use In Pasta And Side Dishes
Roasted cherry tomatoes

How to roast tomatoes for use in side dishes

This recipe can easily be increased. The critical thing is to utilize a heating dish or container sufficiently huge with the goal that they tomatoes are not very swarmed. You need room between them for the dampness to get away, which thinks the tomato enhance. In the event that you utilize a metal skillet, ensure it’s not aluminium or made of another material that may respond with the acidic natural products. Furthermore, it’s dependent upon you in the event that you need to remove the stems before cooking or not. You can see here I did a few, yet not the others (for reasons unknown was going through my head at the time.) The herbs can differ too; basil, oregano, or marjoram all match pleasantly with tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and meagrely cut
  • 8-10 branches of crisp thyme
  • a couple of spring of crisp rosemary
  • Salt and newly broke pepper
  • 1 pound (450g) tomatoes, (8 little or 4 medium-sized)

Instructions

  • Preheat the stove to 325ºF (165ºC.)
  • Empty the olive oil into a shallow heating dish or skillet and include the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper.
  • Cut the tomatoes down the middle evenly; at that point utilize a sharp blade to evacuate the stems, in the event that you wish. Hurl the tomatoes with the oil and seasonings; at that point lay them chop side down in the dish.
  • Prepare for two hours, or until the point that the tomatoes are totally diminished and withered, and begin to wrinkle. Contingent upon the tomatoes, they may take more time to cook.

Storage

  • The tomatoes will keep for around five days in the fridge. They can likewise be solidified for up to six months.

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Pantry – Why buy beans in bulk?

Bulk Pinto Beans
Bulk Pinto Beans

Buy dried beans In bulk 

To save money

  • Compared to meat, beans are an economical source of protein. This is especially true if you compare them our price per pound basis.
  • Also, because of their room temperature storage potential, you can buy more at one time and store them longer without the need for refrigeration or freezing. So, you can take more advantage of sales and seasonal availability.

For Long-term storage

  • dry beans, also known as pulses, can be stored at normal room temperatures for years and still retain their nutritional value.

For Nutritional value

  • beans are a convenient source of protein and can be combined with other vegetables and foods to provide a holistic protein source.
  • Beans have a low cholesterol rating, basically, nonexistent.

Provide food Versatility

  • beans are very versatile, being only really limited by your creativity and your cooking capabilities.
  • Almost all beans, if properly prepared, can be used in soups, stews, and chilis
  • beans can be ground and added to other flours to increase the protein levels of baked goods
  • beans can be a centerpiece of a meal all on their own. For example, cattle beans with cornbread could be the centerpiece of a nice breakfast or lunch. As a matter of fact, I like cattle beans and cornbread for breakfast.

Reduce wastage

  • with a little bit of planning and care, beans can be worked into nearly any meal.
  • Depending on how they were cooked, beans can even be reprocessed and use an entirely different way. For example, cattle beans can be turned into refried beans.  Refried beans can become the filler for bean and cheese burritos and the list goes on.
  • Because beans can be cooked and eaten and as large and small quantities as is necessary, you can control the portion you cook and/or allocate across meals.

Bean Cooking Times

Bean Cooking Times, slow cooker, pressure cooker, dry beans, pulses,
Cooked Beans

Exact times are impossible to give, because of variables such as the bean age, altitude, bean dryness, all impact cooking time.  The table of times below provides approximate cooking times for many of the more common beans.

Exact times are impossible to give because of variables such as the bean age, altitude, bean dryness, all of which impact cooking time.  The time chart below provides approximate cooking times for many of the more common beans.

In the age of slow-cookers, I don’t really recommend pressure cooking, but it does work, if appropriate care is taken.

Please note, that I have provided the soaking time, because most cooks soak their beans.  However, I haven’t soaked my beans in years, except for special circumstances.  Since I, usually, make a variation on kettles overnight on my slow-cooker /crockpot, then work from there.  This approach works well and since I like a bowl of beans for breakfast (especially, with cornbread) it works for me and my daughter eats them like crazy, as well. For bean with shorter cooking duration (e.g. Tepary beans), I usually put them on low or medium overnight or cook them during the day, when I can check on them periodically.

Table of Bean Cooking Times

Dried Beans

(1 cup)

Soaking Time

Stovetop (Simmer) or slow cooker (on High)

Pre-soaked Pressure Cooking Time

AdzukiNone45 – 50 mins5 – 7 mins

Anasazi

6 – 8 hrs1- 1 1/2 hrs4 – 6 mins

Appaloosa

10-12 hrs1-1 1/2 hrs15 – 20 mins

Black (Turtle)

6 – 8 hrs45 – 60 mins10 -12 mins

Broad Bean

8 – 10 hrs45 – 60 minsNot Recommended

Calypso

6-8 hrs45 to 60 mins15 – 20 mins

Cannellini

4 – 6 hrs1-1 1/2 hrs15 – 20 mins

Chick-Pea (Garbanzo)

8 – 10 hrs1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hrs10 – 13 mins

Chili Beans (Pink)

4 – 6 hrs45 to 60 min6 – 8 mins

Colorado

8 – 10 hrs3 hrs15 – 20 mins

Cranberry

10 – 12 hrs1-1 1/2 hrs15 – 20 mins

Fava

8 -10 hrs45 – 60 minsNot Recommended

Great Northern (White)

4 – 6 hrs45 – 60 mins4 – 9 mins

Jacob’s Cattle

10 – 12 hrs1-1 1/2 hrs15 – 20 mins

Kidney (large)

8 – 10 hrs3 hrs15 – 20 mins

Kidney (small)

4 – 6 hrs1 – 1 1/2 hrs5 – 8 mins

Kidney Bean (White)

4 – 6 hrs45 to 60 min6 – 8 mins

Lima (Large)/ Butterbean

8 – 10 hrs60 – 90 minsNot Recommended

Lima, Baby

4 – 6 hrs45 – 50 minsNot Recommended

Madagascar

8 -10 hrs60 – 90 minsNot Recommended

Marrow Fat (White)

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins4 – 5 mins

Mennonite (pole)

10 – 12 hrs45 to 60 mins15 – 20 mins

Mexican (Black)

6 – 8 hrs45 – 60 mins10 -12 mins

Mexican Red

4 -6 hrs60 – 90 mins5 – 8 mins

Navy (White)

8 -10 hrs45 – 60 mins5 – 8 mins

Yankee Bean

8 -10 hrs45 – 60 mins5 – 8 mins

Pearl Haricot

8 -10 hrs45 – 60 mins5 – 8 mins

Flageolet

8 -10 hrs45 – 60 mins5 – 8 mins

Boston Navy Bean

8 -10 hrs45 – 60 mins5 – 8 mins

Pink Beans

4 – 6 hrs45 to 60 min6 – 8 mins

Pinto

6 – 8 hrs1 1/2 hrs10 – 12 mins

Portuguese (pole)

4 – 6 hrs45 to 60 min6 – 8 mins

Rajma

4 – 6 hrs1 – 1 1/2 hrs5 – 8 mins

Rattlesnake

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins6 – 8 mins

Red Bean

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins5 – 8 mins

Runner Bean (All Types)

4 – 6 hrs1 1/2 hrs9 – 12 mins

Soldier

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins15 – 20 mins

Soybean

8 -10 hrs3 hrs15 mins

Spanish (Black)

6 – 8 hrs45 – 60 mins10 -12 mins

Swedish Brown

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins15 – 20 mins

Tampico

6 – 8 hrs45 – 60 mins10 -12 mins

Tepary Bean

8 -10 hrs2 – 4 hrs30 mins

Tongue of Fire

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins15 – 20 mins

Venezuelan

6 – 8 hrs45 – 60 mins10 -12 mins

Windsor

8 – 10 hrs60 – 90 minsNot Recommended

Yellow Eye

6 – 8 hrs45 to 60 mins15 – 20 mins

Soups, Stews, and Chowders, an overview

Soups, Stews, and Chowders an overview
Closeup of bowls of hot soup

Although soups are not served as frequently as a first course these days, they are often a  part of a light meal or can even be the main course.

Basic soups are like basic (or mother sauces) in that dozens of variations can be made from the fundamental item. A basic brown stock is used in making bouillons, French onion soup, vegetable beef soup, or the popular Slavic soup Borsch Garnishes added to soups also change their character.

Soups are liquids, which can be very thin or quite thick, depending upon what they contain and are classified according to their thickness or to the principal liquid and/or other ingredients they contain. So, here is one system of classification:

Stock or broth

Stocks or broths and their derivations bouillons and consommés. A stock is predominantly made with bones and some trim, where and broth is usually made with pieces of actual meat; except vegetable broth, obviously.  All usually, have some vegetables and herbs added during cooking, before they are then strained

Cream soup

Cream soups are those are prepared by adding cream or milk at the end of the cooking process, but are not considered to be chowders.

Bisque

Bisques are heavy cream soups and typically containing shellfish.

Puree

Purees are thickened with cooked vegetables or fish passed through a sieve or comminuted by some other device such as a blender.

Chowder

Chowders, thick soups or stews usually containing seafood, potatoes and milk (or cream).

Potages or paysanne

Potages or paysanne (country or common folk soups) are heavy with ingredients, such as gumbo, chili, chicken noodle or vegetable.

Stew

Stews are similar to soups, generally, contain a lower ratio of liquid to meat and/or vegetables.

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