Horse Chow

Part of our “going tiny” journey included reading “The Good Life” by Helen (1904-1995) and Scott Nearing (1883-1983) who were the great-grandparents of the simple living movement. They wrote extensively on debt free living and self-reliance. In those days they were considered radicals, and I suppose by modern, consumerist standards – that’s still a fitting word to describe them.

Helen Nearing wrote “Simple Food For the Good Life” in 1980 and it’s a very unusual cookbook. The recipes are in narrative form. For example: “We buy a 50-pound bag of popcorn kernels wholesale, and can use up to two bags a year, as we serve popcorn on any occasion from breakfast to lunch to evening gatherings.” She mentions that she prefers it to cornflakes. Interesting. We also eat a lot of popcorn, but I’ve never popped corn for breakfast, I might have to try that.

I made hot oatmeal for breakfast a few times last winter, on mornings when it was crazy cold. You’ve never seen a grown man get more dramatic than when a steaming bowl of hot “porridge” appeared before my husband for breakfast. Apparently, this is the horror inflicted on the youth of Britain that makes them dream of expanding the Commonwealth – presumably to get better food. Or so I’m told. And by the way, if eating wallpaper paste is frowned upon – why does cooked oatmeal even exist?!

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Tiny House Food Storage

In an effort to stem the flow of gelatinous oats, my Austrian husband began extolling the virtues of Muesli. Nevermind. Another cold snap hit and I cooked up another satisfying hot oatmeal breakfast with plenty of butter and raisins. Yum! He’s not one to disappoint, so he told the stories of his youth in the Tyrolian Alps of Austria… where he was subjected to wearing itchy, hand-knit woolen garments… but he was never tortured like this… and here’s where he held up a spoon of cool oatmeal and allowed it to fall back to the bowl with a rather satisfying “splat!”. He offered a clump of it to the dog, and she sniffed at it… but turned away. Et tu, Bitch?

IMG_8560Imagine my surprise when the next time we visited our favorite bulk food store, he stocked up on rolled oatmeal, raisins, and walnuts. Oh boy, what is he up to?! No worries, I was busy picking out avocados and almonds for breakfast. Yum. I also made sure we had enough oil, butter, and honey and wondered how long it had been since I’d made granola. Do I still have the recipe? Have I downsized all the cookie sheets? “What’s Granola?” he asked. How do you explain Granola?

IMG_8565While Xaver and I were in our oatmeal negotiations… I came across Helen Nearing’s recipe for “Horse Chow”. I read aloud to him from her book: “In the early 1930’s, before health foods and granola became household words, I made up a dish we called ‘Horse Chow’. At that time raw oats were not being eaten by humans.” This is where a rather amusing noise emanated from my Austrian. I looked at him. “What?!” he blurted, trying to look innocent.

Shall I continue?” I asked.

This is the simplest granola of all and perhaps one of the earliest. It was dreamed up in the Austrian Tyrol, where we holed up one winter in a village far from supplies with a very slim larder of hit-or-miss articles, but with great appetites.” “Ha!” he said – in triumph! The debate over oatmeal ended there while we giggled about being holed up for an Austrian winter and somehow “arousing” great appetites. LOL!

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Helen Nearing’s recipe for Horse Chow:

4 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned, not the quick cook kind)

½ cup raisins

Juice of 1 lemon

Dash of sea salt

Olive oil or vegetable oil to moisten

Mix all together. We eat it in wooden bowls with wooden spoons.”

IMG_8568That’s how “Horse Chow” became the breakfast of choice around here. Even on mornings when it’s cold outside!

My Austrian’s version:

2 lbs raw rolled oats

¼ lb walnuts

½ lb raisins

1/3 lb sliced almonds

and toasted coconut

Served with homemade yogurt or milk to moisten.

My version:

Two scoops of his mix

2 T raw pumpkin seeds

2 T raw almonds

1 T ground flax seeds

Served with almond milk to moisten and topped with fresh fruit.

 

Horse Chow, our version

We eat it in china bowls with silver spoons.

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Yum.

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Tiny House Yogurt

We don’t live in our Skoolie yet, but I do have the Skoolie oven already… the Breville Smart Oven Air.  I’m exploring what it will do and my favorite thing so far has been using the dehydrate function to make yogurt.

real yogurt

 Yogurt that you can make and enjoy in your tiny house!

Yogurt is great for gut health, however… grocery store brands load yogurt up with sugar, fruit, and preservatives.  Some kinds of gut problems result from a yeast that feeds on sugar (fruit is a natural sugar), and preservatives are a culprit for other gut health issues – Yikes!  So grocery store yogurt can actually feed the problem instead of helping you heal!  Sucks, right?  Take it from someone who has had a real challenge with gut health – real yogurt – the homemade stuff – is part of the solution, not the problem!  And making your own is rewarding, delicious, good for the environment, and good for the gut health of you and your family!  Did I mention it is delicious?  Good!

When we had our restaurant, we used an Excalibur dehydrator to make yogurt for the fresh yogurt smoothies we had on our menu.  (You know how the VitaMix is the best blender?  Well, Excalibur is the best dehydrator!) We also had green smoothies and fresh juices in the restaurant.  I missed having a dehydrator around for yogurt, kale chips, and beautiful pineapple flowers.  It was one of the sacrifices we made in going tiny, no dehydrator.  No room.

The Breville Smart Oven Air

But when I found the Breville oven with the dehydrate function – SQUEE – I was delighted!  I can have an oven that will bake a pie AND a dehydrator – in one smart package!  We tiny house foodies do enjoy our multi-purpose kitchen tools!!  Plus, this one is $399 which seems like a lot for a toaster oven (it’s not a toaster oven) but when you consider how much less that is than a range it was a no-brainer for us.  (Not for everyone – no worries.)  Since our Skoolie is 128 square feet, we didn’t have room for a full size range, or even a fun-sized one.  I’ve already written about this oven, so check that out if you’re deciding which oven/range/cooktop is best for your tiny haven-home – plus there is a money saving tip at that link as well.

 

Would you like the yogurt recipe I use?

1 gallon whole fat milk.  (I use whole milk because it makes better yogurt and because I’ve read that whole fat is better for you than low fat or non-fat and I’m a purist anyway.  I like things that haven’t been tinkered with too much.)

When I’m ready to make yogurt, I buy some unsweetened whole milk yogurt at the grocery and use that as starter.  Then as long as I don’t eat ALL the yogurt and save some for a starter for the next batch – then there is no need to buy more.  Look on the label for active cultures.

Yep – that’s it.  Milk and yogurt cultures.  Pretty simple, huh?  (And yummy)

I put the milk in my 4.5 quart dutch oven (it just fits) and heat it to 180 degrees.  Since the dutch oven is cast iron, it may continue to rise in temperature a bit once the burner is off but that’s fine.  This step is to kill any bacteria that could be in the milk so that you can add the yogurt bacteria. Getting the milk anywhere between 180 and 195 degrees will do nicely.  Take care to warm the milk gently so that you don’t scald it.  If you think you may walk away and forget about it, set a timer to remind you.  I’ve boiled the milk all over my range before – BIG MESS – that’s why I mention it.  Once the milk hits the right temperature, turn off the heat and let it rest.

Test the temperature periodically until it has cooled to 100-120 degrees.  In my experience this will take about a half hour.  Whisk in the yogurt and transfer the mixture into glass jars.  I like to use the Pint jar with a wide mouth lid, because that way the rings and lids are the same as my food storage quart jars and that way I don’t have to keep two sets of rings and lids around.  Use the 8 ounce size if you want a single serve portion that is perfect to grab and go for a packed lunch.  This is a great way to kick plastic out of your life!  And if you can find milk locally in glass – this is a great zero-waste alternative to all those plastic yogurt containers.  Win!

 

Oh, are you wondering “how much yogurt?” to add to the warm milk?  Yeah, gotcha.  It will work with as little as three tablespoons of yogurt.  I make sure to save one of my jars of yogurt to use as culture – and so I just dump it all in.  Careful not to overflow!

IMG_4116Fill each jar and then carefully clean the jars with a cloth if there is any milk on the outside of the glass, then carefully set them into the Breville oven.  Space them evenly for air flow.  Use the “Select” knob to turn to the dehydrate function, then turn the temperature to 115 degrees.  I set the timer to 15 hours.  You’ll get thin yogurt at 8 hours (overnight works quite well for us) and the longer you go – the more tart and thick the yogurt will become.  Don’t mess with it while it’s in the oven – you won’t be able to tell the consistency while it’s warm anyway.  Just leave it alone in there overnight.  When you get up in the morning, carefully take the jars out to cool on the counter, then transfer them to the fridge.  I’ll put it in there after dinner and let it run all night and I suppose it’s usually in there about 10 hours – give or take.  It turns out delicious!!I suspect this is a project for an overnight where you are plugged in to shore power because it will take some power.  I would not do this while the bus/home is moving.  That could be a rather epic mess.

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My version of “Horse Chow” – our favorite breakfast

I’d love to know it if you make yogurt in your tiny home and what you think of it!

Be well,

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Traveling Foodie

We are having a fantastic time in California and are looking forward to the event on the RMS Queen Mary where my recipe will be demonstrated before a crowd by the Chef of the Queen Mary, along from a recipe from her sailing days.  This is part of a book event featuring my dear friend, Patricia V. Davis.The fun is the 6th but we are already here soaking in sunshine, delicious California produce, and unwinding a bit.

We are enjoying the hospitality of a lovely AirBNB host.  We walked to the market this morning for a few groceries and walked back.  We asked our host if it would be ok to cook in her kitchen and she readily agreed.  My Austrian cracked open a beautiful fresh coconut and we drank the refreshing juice and munched on coconut as I whipped up some yummy omlettes.  We have plenty for a few meals even though we will eat out and enjoy the local cuisine.  We had a delicious Mexican meal yesterday along with some seafood, and we haven’t been hungry enough today to budge from our comfy spot here on the porch.


We are having a lovely time!  Yum!!  Enjoy the journey!  -Carmen

The Hungry Healthy Hippie Scramble

This is how we cook on any given night, we simply make it up as we go along.  You’ll see me try something, then change my mind and change direction.  That’s part of the fun, you really can cook in the same way jazz musicians make music – an improvisation on a theme.  In this case, the theme was farm fresh local eggs, and they were delicious!  This meal works very nicely for dinner or a hearty breakfast.

I’m enjoying the idea of this Copper Chef Induction Cooktop because it means you can have a burner anywhere you have power.  Even in the smallest of the small kitchens.  Pair this with a toaster oven and you’ve got a world of possibilities at your fingertips.  In addition, it can all be stowed away out of sight when you wish.

The table where I cooked this meal was 6 square feet, proving the point that you can comfortably cook a delicious meal in a very small space!  In fact, the smaller a kitchen, the more efficiency is built in.  No need to walk miles in an expansive kitchen when you can stay put and cook something lovely in a small space.

Is there something specific you’ve like to cook in your tiny kitchen but can’t figure out how?  Do leave a comment with your comments and questions.  LOTS more delicious food coming your way!

Stay Tuned,

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Sunflower Cake (Apricot Almond Cake)

Welcome back, I am so pleased to bring you my new favorite Paleo treat: “Sunflower Cake” or “Apricot Almond Cake” if you prefer, or even “Cake with Two Names” (or even three)!  No matter what you call it, it is inspired by Mary Berry’s Wobbly Apricot Tart, but it’s CAKE!  PLUS, it’s Paleo, which means no dairy, no gluten, no grains, and no problem.


There is no refined sugar in the recipe, but unfortunately, the almond paste comes with lots of sugar in it and my local stores don’t stock a almond paste that isn’t already sugar sweetened.  Marzipan is one of my favorite flavors, and it’s apricot season here, and the fruit has been marvelous this year!  That means it’s time for this delicious Apricot Almond cake.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe: (And you don’t have to have a mixer to make it!)

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I’m using Pink Himalayan Rock Salt)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Stir together and break all clumps.

  • Then add 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil (it’s hot here today, so mine was already liquid, but if yours is pretty solid warm it slightly until it’s soft)
  • 2/3 cup honey (you may sub in maple syrup)
  • 4 large roughly treated fresh eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract (sounds like a lot, I know.  If you vanilla or almond extracts are extra strong, adjust accordingly.)

Stir together, and pour into a 9 inch round cake pan that has been buttered with coconut oil and lined with waxed paper (the waxed paper is an optional step that zero waste folks will be fine to skip).

  • 2 large fresh apricots, peeled, and sliced thin

Place the apricot slices evenly around the edge of the cake for sunflower petals.  I used two large apricots in the video, but I’ve since been back to the market for more and they were quite small the second time, so use what works for your situation.  It’s never wrong to have a  few left lovely fresh apricots left over for snacking.

  • 4 ounces almond paste

Roll paste into snakes, cut into even rounds and roll into little balls to be used for the middle of the sunflower.  Use a little powdered sugar to keep the paste from sticking to everything.  Any extra almond paste may be chopped and stirred into to the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees, conventional oven, for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Let me know what you think of my recipe.  I think it works as a dessert and as a breakfast cake.  And as you can see in the video, it’s easy to make in only 6 square feet plus oven and a sink for doing dishes.

Thanks for visiting my blog and stay tuned for many more great new recipes that you can make, even in a teeny tiny kitchen!  Even if you live in a tiny house like we do, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor!

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Blushing Eggs

I’ve been researching the various ways authors include food in their writing.  Some authors weave the recipes right into the story, others mention the food and then include recipes in the book.  While that seems like it would narrow the options down to just two, each author does this in their own unique way and I’m enjoying this exploration very much.

One example is the memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World that I have written about before.  This book has inspired me a great deal, and I even had lunch and a delightful conversation with the author, Shirley Showalter.  That was FUN!  (Authors are So Cool!)

In her book, Shirley mentions food and she includes special recipes at the end of the book.  There were two recipe that caught my attention, one was for a Beet Pickle and the second was for Pickled Red Beet Eggs that uses the brine left from the pickle a second time, to pickle the eggs.  The more I thought about these pickled eggs, the more I began to crave them.  But without the leftover brine from the pickles… and beets aren’t in season… how?

Then I thought about the pickled eggs we used to serve at our restaurant.  The other day I discovered a whole banker’s box full of recipes left from our restaurant.  I even found the blue book of hand written recipes that was the reference book for my husband’s sandwich shop that he ran alongside his pipe organ business before I was a part of his life.  I was delighted to find this box and as I sorted the recipes I found my long forgotten recipe for pickled eggs that we used in our restaurant.

Two dozen farm fresh eggs (some of which have a turquoise hue) in hand made pottery on a hand woven cloth.

But before I go on about those beautiful eggs, let me share a little morsel from the book:

“In the 1950’s a few hobos still traveled the countryside, although most of them had disappeared after the Depression and World War II. I remember Mother making a delectable meal for one man who knocked on our door.  She cooked up fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, bread and butter, and home-canned peaches, along with chocolate cake for dessert.  I could tell she was also a little afraid.  As she confided afterward, she had heard that sometimes hobos set fire to barns, but she swallowed her fear after looking at the hungry man in front of her.  She wanted to make him a meal he would enjoy, one that would stay with him until he met another generous farm wife down the road.  The man ate the meal on the porch, sitting on a rocking chair.  Henry and I played in the yard, watching him from the corner of our eyes.  When he had eaten every morsel, the man returned the plate to Mother and thanked her.  ‘You’re a good cook, Ma’am, he said.'”

Even through her fear she chose to be generous, and she cooked a real meal for the “hobo” knowing it might be a while until he had another.  Everything about this meal shows a woman walking in Grace and making the road a little gentler for her fellow travelers.  Brava!

About those eggs…

Put two dozen eggs in a roomy pot and cover with water.  Bring to a rolling boil, then remove them from the heat, cover them, and set the timer for 14 minutes.

When the timer rings, drain the hot water and rapidly cool the eggs in cold water.  When the eggs are cool, peel them gently and place each dozen in a quart canning jar.

 
 Juice three large beets…
 
 and one onion.
 To the quart jars with the eggs add two gloves garlic and 1/2 T pickling spice per jar plus a healthy pinch of salt.
Then…
Fill the bottom half of the egg-packed jar with the beet/onion juice and fill the rest with vinegar and cover.
 Allow them to sit in the fridge for a few days until the color and flavor seeps through the egg white.
Ok, I know that’s the advice to give, but mine were in the brine
only a few hours before I could NOT TAKE IT ANY LONGER.
I ate the first egg.
It was yummy!
(If this is wrong I don’t want to be right)
pickled for only a few hours

Helpful tip: I use this brine over and over for lots of eggs.  I boil a new batch of eggs, pack the jar, pour in the brine, and just top it off with vinegar.  The eggs will continue turning out delicious and colorful, and a little lighter in color each time.   And pickled eggs are yummy straight from the jar, and they make a delightful addition to a cob salad!

BTW, I’m posting these Blushing Eggs (see what I did there?  The title of the book is “Blush” and I’m talking about pickled eggs, lol, I amuse myself!) in conjunction with Novel Food by Simona Carini.  Drop by over there to see all the links to delicious food inspired by a published literary work!  I’ve been a part of Simona’s collection in the past and seriously, the Novel inspired food from creative cooks all over has been absolutely spectacular!  Last time there was a guy who wrote about pots de creme from Proust.  The very idea is swoon-worthy!

A shout-out to generous cooks everywhere, especially the kind who feed our modern day ‘hobos’!
These “Blushing Eggs” have been allowed to soak in the brine for about 24 hours.

Stay Tuned

 

Oatmeal for Breakfast

Part way through perfecting a killer coffee cake recipe… I threw myself a curve ball.  Sure, let’s take gluten out of my bag of tricks for a while and see what happens.  Why not?!  What could possibly go wrong?  (Besides the coffee cake he refused to eat?)  Truth be told, if it hadn’t been the only thing in the house, I wouldn’t have eaten it either.  Ok, so perfecting the coffee cake will have to wait for another day.  No problem.

Fine, I’ll go back to enjoying oatmeal for breakfast. My Austrian starts making faces when I pull out what he calls “porridge” for breakfast but I have finally got a recipe he delights in teasing me about… but still eats.  And good news… what we don’t eat, the dog will make short work of (only no raisins for dawgins).

So here’s how I make oatmeal that even an Austrain-whose-mother-loved-porridge will eat.  And this morning I measured what I was using so I could share this recipe with you.

Combine:
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
raisins
pinch sea salt

I bring this to a boil until the raisins have plumped and the coconut oil is melted then I add
1/2 cup gluten free oatmeal – quick oats.

Cook gently, stirring often until it is the consistency you like.  This won’t take long at all if you purchase quick oats, and yes of course you can use butter instead of coconut oil, yum!

This recipe makes more than enough for one person for breakfast, and my dog gets what I don’t want.  But like I said, dogs shouldn’t have raisins, so I make sure I’ve picked them all out before I offer it to her.  If my Austrian is home, I double the recipe and add less raisins.

Jamie Oliver has all kinds of gourmet ideas for dressing up oatmeal such as apple and blackberries, bananas and almonds… and all of that sounds amazing. However, at my house we’re slightly more likely to garnish the oatmeal with the ever-charming gummy bears which is always good for a laugh.

What is your favorite breakfast food on a cold winter morning?  Let me know in the comments.