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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Shrub

One of the things I like about making a shrub is that it is so versatile that it can be made from almost any fruit. It's also a great way to use up that blemished fruit that is maybe on its way out. When traveling, be sure to stop by local produce stands and see what you can procure to create your own flavors. I made this one with fresh Oregon strawberries because they are so sweet and the their color is brilliant. It is a way to preserve and save the best of summer, to enjoy during those long grey winter months. It makes a beautiful and delicious gift as well!

Fresh Strawberry Shrub

Prep time: 10 minutes plus a day to rest   
Cooking Time: none

4 cups washed, hulled, sliced strawberries (overripe or blemished fruit is okay)
4 cups sugar
1 bottle of Seltzer water or create bubbly water with an eco-friendly Soda Stream

Place berries in a non-reactive bowl or dish and toss with sugar. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours and up to 48 hours. Using a fine mesh strainer or a cheese cloth lined colander, strain the sugar-juice off of the berries into a clean bowl. Press the berries to extract as much as possible. There may be some undissolved sugar in the berries. Add all of this to the sugar-juice as it will eventually dissolve. Discard the berries. (Or save and use as garnishes in the drinks you create.) Add 3 cups of vinegar to the sugar-juice and stir well. You now have shrub! Taste for tartness. It should be both sweet and tart. You can make a test drink with 2 Tbls. of shrub and 8 ounces of seltzer water. Stir and see if you like the taste. If you would like a bit more sourness, add additional vinegar. Store shrub in a sterilized glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator. You can use it to make a refreshing non-alcoholic drink by combining it with bubbly water. Add it to your favorite cocktail, or use it to create your own delicious signature cocktail recipe. It is also delicious drizzled on fruit salads or as an ice cream topping.

Encores: Shrub can also be made with other berries or peeled and sliced stone fruit. It is a great way to preserve the taste of summer and a perfect way to use overripe and blemished fruit.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chicken and Feta Salad

Starting with what I like to call "chicken on the run", this rotisserie or roasted chicken salad is very versatile. For lighter fare you may wish to add tender mixed greens or for a more robust meal add cooked quinoa or couscous. We did both and it was delicious!

Chicken and Feta Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes 
Cooking Time: none
Serves 4-6

4 cups of chopped, cooked chicken from a Rotisserie chicken
4 to 6 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
12 mint leaves, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups of grapes, washed and sliced in half (preferably organic)

4 Tbls. lemon juice
1 Tbls. honey
freshly ground pepper

Sliced radishes
Chopped cucumbers
Chopped toasted nuts
Salad greens
Cooked rice
Pita bread

In a small lidded jar or bowl, combine lemon juice, honey and salt. Shake or whisk well. Add olive oil and shake to emulsify. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Set aside. In a medium bowl (or use your multi-task  Progressive Salad Spinner bowl) combine chicken, feta, mint, green onions and grapes. Mix gently and start by adding half of the dressing. Mix to incorporate dressing and add more as needed. You may add radishes, cucumbers or celery to the salad. A handful of toasted almonds, pecans or pistachios would also be delicious! 

With Quinoa

You can serve this salad on a bed of mixed greens, in a leaf of romaine or on a bed of cooked quinoa or rice. It also makes a great sandwich in a pita pocket with a few leaves of lettuce and additional dressing or mayonnaise.

Chicken On The Run

Rotisserie or roasted chicken is usually available in most grocery stores and is a very versatile item that can easily be turned into a variety of meals. When you are done with the chicken meat, you can use the carcass to make a simple stock. Place all bones in a medium stock pot, cover with water and add ½  an onion, a few stalks of celery, a carrot chopped up and some fresh herbs if you have them. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer an hour or so. Cool and strain liquid from bones. Discard bones and vegetables. Use stock as a base for soups or sauces. Vegetables (especially broccoli) tastes delicious when simmered in stock. 

Rotisserie chickens are also very economical, both on the wallet and on your energy use. I always like to have one or two on hand when traveling or camping.

From one rotisserie chicken I've created several different recipes that feed six very hungry people.
Boston Market


Blue Moon, The Perfect Glamping Cocktail

Note: This is part of the Glamping episode where we featured a cocktail menu. I separated the recipes out individually to provide you with a better search option.

I like to use Bendistillery spirits whenever I can. They're made in small batches with a handcraft feel with an attention to clarity and the juniper berries are hanpicked for the their Crater Lake Gin.

Please do use a real glass, it's glamping after all!

Blue Moon Cocktail

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 0 minutes

Perfect Glamping Menu!

Glamping is the time to really show off your small space cooking skills. A small group of fellow TrailerChix and little chicklets camped along a riverside on a warm June day. I was tasked with the opening day cocktail party. Our little 22' Argosy was amazing, we had all the room and tools I needed to create a very memorable week-end and can't wait to do it again!

Here is my National Glamping Weekend Menu:

Goat Cheese and Grilled Asparagus
Goat Cheese and Pickled Peppers 
Smoked Trout Spread