Homemade Greek Yogurt

While this is not something we grow and sell on our farm, we include Greek-style yogurt in so many of our recipes that we felt the need to share the simple yogurt-making process on our website. This is a great replacement for sour cream or mayo.

In our variation of this recipe, we like to use whole milk but it works with any percent. We used to warm the milk to 180º and then cool it to 115º to add the starter culture, but if your milk is already pasteurized this is not necessary. We also tried a few different brands of powdered milk the past couple years. Our favorite is a granular type. It seems to make the thickest final product while the fine powder presented a somewhat stringy, runny final product for us. Each of you will have to come up with your own technique that works best for you, but don’t give up if your batch doesn’t turn out. It’s worth it to try again and get it right. I’ve often cut the batch in half when trying something new so as not to waste a whole gallon of milk if something goes wrong.

After you make your first batch, you can use your own yogurt as the starter for the next batch. Also, vanilla flavored starter will work if you can not find plain, but you will have a hint of vanilla flavor. Don’t add any fruit or sugar until you are ready to serve.

We let our yogurt “grow” in quart glass jars that have been washed in HOT water. Your containers should be free of bacteria and mold spores. Plastic will work as well. We reuse canning lids and rings each batch. The glass jars do a good job of holding heat for the growing process. They also self seal and keep out mold while storing them in the fridge for up to a month. If you decide to freeze it, do not use glass jars!

In this recipe, you will use the heat from your oven light to keep the jars warm for a long period of time. We like to keep our cast iron skillets in the oven, so we warm the oven for about five minutes with all the cast iron to the lowest setting on my oven, 170 degrees, before starting the milk warming process. Just what I like to do to help keep a constant temperature.

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 3 cups dry milk
  • 4-6 oz plain greek yogurt (for starter)

Directions

Prepare sterile containers for yogurt. You will need four quarts plus about one pint.

Pour milk into large pot on stovetop at med-high heat. Whisk dry milk into wet milk while still cold. Heat milk to 115 to 120 degrees. Stir often so milk doesn’t scald to bottom of pot. The milk can’t be too hot or it will kill the active cultures in the yogurt. Too cold and the cultures won’t multiply.

In a separate bowl, mix your starter yogurt into about 1 cup of the warmed milk mixture. Then pour into the large pot and combine fully.

Pour your mixture into containers. Place containers into your oven with the heat off but the oven light on. The light provides just enough heat for the cultures to multiply. Allow cultures to grow in the oven for about 8-10 hours. Longer time will create a more sour flavor. Find what you like best by experimenting with different time lengths.

Roasted Napa Cabbage

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons grape seed oil or your favorite cooking oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed or 2 scapes finely chopped
  • 6 cups napa cabbage, roughly shredded
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet on low; add the garlic and cook very gently for 15 minutes. Discard the garlic and toss the raw cabbage with the garlic-infused oil, salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 450°.

Place the cabbage on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops of the cabbage pieces are browned.

Serve hot.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (can substitute walnuts, toasting optional)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes
  • 2 tablespoons coursely chopped fresh sweet basil
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (can substitute 2 Tbs lemon juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few generous grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (recommend trying lemon infused olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano  cheese

Directions

In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Combine the scapes, basil, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese. If you plan to freeze the pesto, wait to add the cheese until after you’ve defrosted it.

Serve over fresh cooked pasta, your favorite meats, or use for dipping chunks of fresh baked bread. Don’t be afraid to experiment with herbs such as dill or chervil.

Spring Garlic and Shrimp with White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 spring garlic, cleaned, trimmed and finely chopped, include some of the green leaves
  • Butter
  • White table wine of choice (not recommended to use cooking wine)
  • Approx 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • Fresh parsley chopped (optional)

Directions

In a sauce pan, melt two tablespoons of butter.  Add chopped spring garlic and cook on low heat until softened.  Stir in one cup of white wine and simmer to reduce to thin sauce. Add shrimp and cook until pink, don’t overcook.

Serve right immediately by itself or over angel hair pasta.  Top with sprinkle of parsley.

Spring Garlic and Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb or roughly 8 – 10 new potatoes, Red, Yukon, Blue, or Fingerlings or quarter cut potatoes you already have
  • 3 spring garlic cloves, trimmed and cleaned, coarsely chop cloves and green leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste

Directions

Rinse potatoes under cold, running water.  Place them I the top of a steamer over simmering water.  Cover and steam until potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

While potatoes are steaming, sauté garlic in olive oil until just tender but not browned, about 1 minute.  Remove garlic from the heat but leave in the pan with the oil to keep warm.  When potatoes are tender remove them to a serving platter and using a fork, break each potato into 3 or 4 pieces.  Sprinkle potatoes salt and cracked black pepper to taste, then top with sauté garlic and oil.

Sweet-N-Spicy Pork and Napa Cabbage with Noodles

Ingredients  (serves 6)

  • 12 oz dry Chinese noodles (can substitute angel hair pasta)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lb pork loin, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 onions, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 head (approx. 3 cups) chopped napa cabbage
  • 3/4 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 4 oz fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Directions

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the Chinese noodles, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.

Whisk together the 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3/4 cup sweet chili sauce, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, the ground ginger, and the sesame oil in a large bowl; add the drained Chinese noodles and toss to coat; set aside.

Whisk together the 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a large bowl; add the pork and stir to coat. Allow to marinate 5 minutes.

Heat the cooking oil in a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork, onions, and red pepper flakes to the oil; cook until the pork is browned completely. Stir in 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, the napa cabbage, celery, carrots, and bell peppers; cook and stir until vegetables are completely heated, about 5 minutes. Add fresh bean sprouts. Whisk together the cornstarch and water and add to the stir fry, stirring until the mixture thickens. Serve the stir-fry over the noodles.

Rhubarb Sour Cream Cake

This recipe is adapted from one of the best Martha Stewart recipes I’ve ever come across. I’ve got a few variations, but you can find a link to the original recipe at the end of this post.

Ingredients

For the Topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1 stick goes into batter, 1/2 stick goes under rhubarb in pan)
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (3/4 cup over rhubarb and 1 cup in cake batter)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly. I like to throw this into my mini chopper if using cold butter.

Step 2

Make the cake: Grease a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Place 4 tablespoons butter cut into pieces into the bottom of the pan. Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar and spread in bottom of pan over butter.

Step 3

Mix your cake batter: Whisk together dry ingredients which are flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. In stand mixer, beat one stick butter and one cup sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. (I rarely have oranges in the house, so I add one tablespoon of lemon juice instead.) Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb. Crumble topping evenly over batter.

Step 4

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the batter in the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour to 1 hour and fifteen minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a large plate. It will be very juicy unless you have a leaky spring form pan like I do! Let cool completely if you like to serve with whipped cream.

Note: I have been making this recipe in a spring form pan the past few years to make it easier to get out. Sometimes I flip it over, but not all the time. We have made this over the campfire in the dutch oven many times. A show stopper for sure!

Link to original recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/344240/rhubarb-upside-down-cake

Rhubarb Orange Zest Jam

Rhubarb Orange Zest MarmaladeIngredients

  • 2 pounds of rhubarb
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 package liquid pectin

Weigh, wash and dice your rhubarb in small pieces. They will retain size in final product, so I like mine very small so the jam is less chunky. Do what you prefer.

Zest one orange. You want to end up with about 2 tablespoons of zest. You could also use a fine cheese grater if you don’t have a zester.

After zesting, squeeze the juice from both oranges. You should end up with close to 1 cup of juice.

Combine orange juice, diced rhubarb and zest in a large stock pot and simmer covered for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave this steam for another few minutes or until rhubarb is tender and becoming soft.

Add sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring.

When mixture is fully boiling add 1 package liquid pectin. Return to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.

Skim foam if necessary.

Fill hot jars with hot jam leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Pack and process according to water bath canning instructions.

Processing time

1/2 pints or pints:

  • Process for 10 minutes if you are below 6000 ft elevation.
  • Process for 15 minutes if you are above 6000 ft elevation.

In the photo, my batch looks a very beautiful orange color. I chose the reddest stems and used the very bottom of each stem where it goes into the soil – this pinkest part. This is what made it more orange and less green. Color isn’t a deal breaker for me, but be aware that green rhubarb, while tasting delightful, will make a different colored finished jam.

Farmhouse Ham and Vegetable Chowder

We Grow Recipe - Farmhouse Ham Soup

Dried thyme and freezer corn drive the flavor in this chowder.

On the coldest days of winter, we turn to our hearty soup and stew recipes here at We Grow. In our attempt to expand our use of home grown ingredients, we’ve fallen across a really tasty cream based soup we would like to share with you. We dried a lot of thyme this summer, raised our own hogs, and packed away enough veggies for an apocalypse. Short of having a cow for cream, we can take credit for every ingredient here on our farm. We may be cheating a bit by not mentioning the ingredients within our freezer corn recipe, but I’ll let you check it out and decide if I am in violation of our local food obligation.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced cooked ham
  • 1 small onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups freezer corn
  • 1 large or 2 medium potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup ham soup stock (original recipe suggest using a can of cream of celery soup)
  • 1 1/2 cups cream or milk

Combine all the ingredients, except broccoli and milk. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are nearly done. Add broccoli and cream for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking time. Chowder is ready when veggies are all tender, so plan cook times based on your varieties.

What we do to make this recipe “famous”:

  • I like my onions well cooked, so I fry them in the dutch oven with the ham for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • When it comes time to add the veggies, I throw the carrots in the boil before the potatoes to give them a head start. That way, both root veggies are done at the same time.
  • Our recipe for freezer corn includes butter and sugar and this creates a unique, slightly sweet flavor when combined with the thyme that would not be achieved with a store bought frozen corn.
  • Potatoes are more flavorful with their skins left on, so we scrub ’em down and leave the skins on whenever possible.

Squash Scones

Every fall, I cook down squash that I will keep handy in the freezer specifically for this recipe. All my boys love these squash scones. I’ve even had request to make them for a school snack last winter. Of course, I think they are best served with a hot cup of tea.

Every person’s results will be different as every squash has varying moisture content. If it doesn’t come out right for you the first time, try another variety.

Scone Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup squash puree
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 large egg

Spiced Glaze Ingredients (substitute vanilla in place of these spices for regular glaze)

  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Pinch of ground ginger
    • Pinch of ground cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg. Reserve.
  3. Sift together into a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spices.  Add the cubed butter on top.
  4. Either using a pastry blender or the paddle attachment of your stand mixer on medium speed, mix the butter and dry ingredients until your reach the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Pieces of butter should be no larger than a small pea.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  You may have to use our hands to get that last bit of flour to incorporate into a well formed dough ball. The dough is not very uniform and that is acceptable.  The important thing is to make sure all the dry ingredients have been moistened well or the finished scone will be very crumbly.
  6. On a lightly-floured surface, flatten and form the dough into a 1” thick rectangle. Then using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, divide the rectangle into equal triangular pieces. I like to cut my rectangle in half, then thirds, then X each of the six pieces to make 12 scones. Feel free to make them smaller if you prefer, just shorten cooking time one or two minutes.
  7. Use a spatula to carefully place the triangles of dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light brown. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool before icing.
  8. Make the powdered sugar glaze by blending sugar and spices, then add the milk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the tops of the scones. You could also dip the scones in the glaze if it works for you.

Please be aware that you can use pumpkin puree, but not pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling already has the spices included.

Recipe adapted from shoeboxkitchen.com

What To Do with Winter Squash

I was given two Blue Hubbard seeds by my aunt this spring and both vines grew wonderfully!

I was given two Blue Hubbard seeds by my aunt this spring and both vines grew wonderfully! One fruit was 36 lbs!

Don’t be intimidated by a massive heirloom squash. It is the perfect end of season storage food. Put it in a root cellar and it will last for several months. Or, if you’re like us, wait until the weather cools, when your farm is tucked in for the winter. Now is the time to warm up the house. Cook the squash, save a little for dinner and a pie then put the rest in your freezer for use over the long winter months.

In 2014, I planted two blue hubbard squash seeds – one per hill. Standard blue hubbard squash is a very familiar, very old variety of squash. It has lost a lot of flair in the modern era simply because it is SO massive. Families don’t store food away like they used to when you can shop year round at a local grocery and, in most cases, there aren’t as many mouths to feed. Not to mention, they are difficult to lug around until you get them broken down.

So why did we bother to plant blue hubbards? Because the flavor and texture is one of our favorites! We’ve grown a lot of different varieties of winter squash on our farm and this one ranks pretty high on our list along with Musque du Provence. Our two vines produced a total of six beautiful fruits.

With careful worthiness consideration, I gave each one away to someone I hoped would use it. The last one, the largest one weighing in at 36 lbs, I kept for our family. This would be all the squash our family would need for the whole winter. We aren’t huge squash eaters, but we LOVE to bake with it as an ingredient replacement for pumpkin puree. I’m never ahead of schedule, ever, so having this puree ready to go and not in the form of a uncooked squash in the cellar is a deal maker.

Here’s How We Process Our Massive Blue Hubbard Squash

  • Wash the outside as best you can.
  • Put in the oven at 325º. You can leave it whole or cut it in pieces to speed up cooking time. I sawed mine in half.
  • Fork poke test for doneness. The flesh should be soft and easy to pierce with a fork.
  • Remove and let cool. Scrape flesh from skins and you’re ready to eat some squash.

At this point, you have to decide what works best for you. I like to run the puree through a strainer to create a consistent puree and also to remove some of the stringy texture. Then I divide the puree in half cup portions for baking our favorite scones and some in one or two cup portions for serving with a meal.

In total, our 36 pound squash produce 34 cups of puree in just a couple hours.