“Nothing that’s been given to us should ever be allowed to go to waste.” This has been a strong emphasis in the sisterhood from its earliest days. “No apple drop that has any edible part should be tossed. It should be turned into applesauce or butter.”
One convent sister in particular has a strong passion for turning all of our imperfect fruits into creative preserves. All summer long we have enjoyed a variety of jams and spreads on our breakfast toast, and occasional desserts. Plums, nectarines, peaches, apples have each in their season made their appearance in different forms.
But perhaps the choicest of all was the rich creation that appeared this week and disappeared within days. Made with the last of our pears and laced with rich bourbon this superb pear chutney elevated an already elegant pork loin roast into a spectacular sensation. Yesterday’s lunch cook served it alongside of ham and swiss pinwheels—always a favorite just as they are on their own…over the top with this enhancement!
It suddenly occurs to me that little jars of this would make choice Christmas gifts. Give it a try and see what you think.
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot. A Dutch oven or a cast iron pot works well.
- Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring often.
- Reduce heat and let simmer for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
- Serve as a condiment on the side, warm on pork or chicken, or dress up a deli ham sandwich. Enjoy!
If you should be up and around at 5:30 every a.m. you are apt to see two young sisters making their way down the road to the barn to milk our 3 cows. These gorgeous brown guernseys keep us well supplied with quality fresh milk every day. This makes it possible for us to produce our own yogurt and soft cheeses which we have doing for some time. Only recently however, have we begun to use the Crockpot method which results in a wonderfully thick satisfying yogurt with little to no effort. Combine this with our homemade granola and some fresh fruit and you have a beautiful, bright, healthy breakfast that is a favorite at the convent.
We decided to offer it for our last oblate retreat and it was met with such overwhelmingly positive response from so many we have decided to serve it again in the near future. Perhaps you would like to give it try even if you don’t have any cows of your own. Healthy Summer Breakfast!
Homemade Granola with Yogurt
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cool Time: overnight
Ready In: Next day
Crockpot Yogurt -
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes approximately
Cool Time: 3.5-4 hours
Cure Time: 10-12 hours
Drain Time: 2 -4 hours (if thicker yogurt is desired)
Ready In: Next day
What You will Need:
Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
A Wisk or Fork
Muslin, Plyban Cheescloth or some woven type of woven cloth
Bath towel or woolen scarf
Oven or Other draft free warm location
- Heat the first four ingredients (through the vanilla) in a skillet,
then add the next 2 items (oats and cinnamon) and mix well
- Spread evenly on paper lined sheet pans. Bake 1 hr 15 min on 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Leave granola in oven overnight and package the following day --
mixing in the raising first and breaking up chunks
- Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk
slowly until the milk is between 180 Fahrenheit - 190 Fahrenheit it is vital to heat
the milk to at least 180 Fahrenheit.
- Allow the milk to cool to 110 Fahrenheit (takes 3.5 - 4 hours). Milk should not be
a higher or lower temperature. There may be a skin formed on the milk
(if you are using non homogenized or raw milk). If so, carefully remove it.
- Place 1 cup of the warm milk in a separate small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of
starter yogurt to the cup of milk. (no more than 2 Tablespoons - that is all you
- With a fork or whisk, gently stir the starter yogurt into the milk.
- Next, pour the milk back into the crock pot and stir gently from side
to side. Do not stir in circles, use a careful and slow up and down
lifting motion across the length of the crock.
- Lift it out of the electric base and place it in a cool oven. Lay a
bath towel or shawl around the crock and leave it undisturbed
overnight or for 10 - 12 hours. You want the milk to stay nice and
warm. An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works
great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. After
10 -12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the
top. If you like thicker yogurt, you'll need to drain or carefully
pour off the whey by pouring it into a colander lined with cheesecloth
that has been set on top of a large pot.
- It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and
about 3 or 4 hours to make a Greek style yogurt. Next, yogurt can be
stored in a refrigerator or cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some
people prefer a tart yogurt and leave it out at room temperature for
over 24 hours. The longer it stays at room temperature, the tarter it
will become. Save a little back for the next batch!
*(any kind of yogurt, but must have both the active
and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus
thermophilus. Read the label to be sure that you have the right
Yogurt can be sweetened with jam, sugar, honey, or whatever you like.
At the convent, we received a wonderful donation recently of Agave
nectar. This natural sweetener has made some lovely batches of yogurt
for our guests!
I am a cold weather girl. Yesterday was one of those crisp fall days, and I was actually cold! It’s a promise of things to come — apples being picked and pumpkins rolling in — so I do look forward to it. I love autumn! This year we have a bumper crop of pears. Last year was plum year — we had hundreds of pounds of the purple beauties. I don’t think we have as many pears, but it is a respectable harvest, enough that one starts wondering how many pears a person can eat? I love pears off of the tree, and I love to make upside cakes, poached pears, and pear muffins…. I also love chutney, so I decided to make up a few jars of a fiery pear one. Perfect for pork, or ham, turkey or chicken. Great in a ham and cheese sandwich on the griddle, or in the oven. But be warned — this one has a kick!
- Cook the pears in enough water to cover until they are medium soft.
- Drain, saving the water, then make a syrup of the water in which the pears were cooked and the brown sugar by boiling in a large nonreactive pot until thick, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the syrup is boiling, add the remaining ingredients to the pears, then mix everything together and cook for about 30 minutes or until the raisins are softened, the onions are transparent, and the chutney has a good thick consistency.
- Transfer to sterilized jars and seal, process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, or store in refrigerator.
- (Quatre – Epices: equal amounts of white pepper, nutmeg, ground cloves and ground ginger. Cinnamon can also be added, but for this recipe I left it out.
As I write this, it is raining. I think not too long ago I was writing about all of the rain and cold we were having. (I will never complain about that again!) It’s finally been so dry that the garden could be tilled, and the tomatoes are being planted. I feel like having a party! Its the time of year that I try and think of what I can cook with the least amount of stove or oven usage.
I was recently cooking for a group, and not in the kitchen I am used to, which did not have a fully stocked pantry. I wanted to make a broccoli salad, so found a couple of recipes that looked promising, but of course did not have exactly what was called for, especially in the vinegar department. So, of course I would have to improvise. It was a no cook broccoli salad with a mayonnaise, vinegar sugar dressing. I remembered that there was a bottle of white balsamic vinegar in the cupboard – ah sweet! I also wanted to cut down on the amount of mayonnaise, and use it more like the oil in the dressing, and I must say that balsamic can cover a multitude of sins. So, here is my version of fresh broccoli salad, improv style.
Improvised Broccoli Salad
Improvised Broccoli Salad
- Trim off the large leaves from the broccoli stem.
- Remove the tough stalk at the end and wash broccoli head well.
- Cut the head into bite-size flowerets and the stem into bite size pieces.
- Place in a large bowl.
- Add the bacon, onion, raisins, and carrot.
- In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, stirring well.
- Add to broccoli mixture and toss gently.
- Last of all add in the tomatoes and toss again gently.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.