Cooking

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307 articles in category Cooking / Subscribe

Deep in summer I find myself struggling to make it out of bed before the sun. The days are long and full and since, as they say, you must make hay while the sun shines, we cram those days desperately full.

Not so in these, the shortest days of the year. Coffee and wood stoves and milking before the sun. Everyone into bed before you might even put the chickens up in early July. And, of course, Mabel’s milk and the butter and cottage cheese we make from it.

This raw, cultured cottage cheese is pretty much a daily staple in our diet now because it is just so easy to make. I make it so often we put it in our forthcoming homesteading book.

We are, however, finding Mabel a bit sensitive. Never a full case of mastitis but many cases of a hardened quarter at milking time or milk that doesn’t strain quite right. It seems to coincide with the slightest change in her routine – a slight budge in her feed, a bout of cold weather, or the bull that has recently come to join her for freshening.

Any other milkers experience this?

And into the root cellar we go for pumpkins at least once a week. Pies are, of course, a regular but the children seem to really like a pumpkin stir-fry with a bit of canned longhorn. Pumpkin soup is, apparently, only delicious to Stewart and myself but I am hoping to wear them down yet.

Also down in the cellar are bags of sweet potatoes we found on sale at Aldi and packed away for weekly meals. Perhaps next year we will grow our own?

Speaking of Aldi, the garden is mostly done for this year save these lovely microgreens in mini greenhouses and the patch of Chinese cabbage I am hoping makes it through the upcoming freezes with a bit of covering. So cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are now on the grocery list and, roasted, pair nicely with the garden greens and orange vegetables from the cellar. (Can someone tell me how to grow Brussels sprouts in Central Texas? I might be able to live off of those little green delights and my other favorite, fresh from the garden beets. But truly I would like to grow our own.)

And of course I have several seed catalogs all marked up and am planning away for starting seeds in just a month or so now. You can leave any suggestions here for productive and tough vegetable varieties you recommend trying. Such inspiration I often glean from you all!

How is your kitchen (and homestead) in these darkest days of the year?

The more gluten-free baking I do, the more I try to get away from the common flours and binders used in gluten-free baking. A little less rice flour, a taking away of xanthan gum, a whole lot of experimenting (and often failing) with simple gluten-free whole grain flours.

All of these experiments can get a little gummy, tough, crunchy, crumbly, and dry at times. But then you find the right combination and end up with something that feels a lot like real pie dough and works with a simple combination of flours plus it’s really easy to make.

And that is why this pie crust is our current favorite. You can roll it out just like regular pie crust – and it works well for topping apple pies – but in a pumpkin or other bottom crust-only pie, I like to just pat it into the pan.

Using some Mabel cream and butter gives it a rich flavor but whole milk also makes for a delicious crust.

The only problem I’ve had is getting a photo before nearly all of the pie is gone. This crust filled with Homestead Honey-Molasses Pumpkin Pie is on rotation with pumpkins from our garden, eggs from our hens, and Mabel’s contributions.

Maybe you can make one too and catch a photo before it’s too late?

Gluten-Free Pie Crust (gum-free, starch-free)

Makes two generous bottom crusts or a top and bottom crust for a fruit pie

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups sweet rice flour (I used this one)
  • 1.25 cups freshly ground buckwheat flour (see note)
  • 1.25 cups GF oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium ground
  • 1 cup cream or whole milk
  • approximately 1/2 cup water
  • ½ cup solid coconut oil, lard, or cold butter

Directions

Combine the flours, salt, and psyllium in a medium bowl. Add fat and cut it into the flour until it becomes approximately the size of peas. Add the cream or milk and slowly add the water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the dough just comes together.

Knead the dough briefly just until a cohesive, lightly tacky dough forms. Let rest at least five minutes at room temperature. When ready to use, divide the dough into two and roll or pat into two 9-10″ pie pans or line a pie pan and reserve the other half for a top crust.

Bake as per pie-baking instructions for your specific pie application.

Note: We have been using freshly ground buckwheat flour made from buckwheat groats. These are untoasted, hulled buckwheat groats that produce a greenish-gray flour. If you purchase buckwheat flour, look for the one that does not contain the black flecks which is made from unhulled buckwheat. These two flours bake up entirely differently.