Saturday, October 30, 2010

Watermelon Brain!

The house is decorated. The candy bowl by the door is full (and so is my belly). Only one thing left to do - carve the watermelon!

That's right. No pumpkin carving this year. I decided to be different - as usual.

My carving attempt last year was not such a success, but it's still funny - still! This year carving a watermelon into a brain was a bit simpler, and I think it came out pretty well. It may not be atomically correct, but it gets the point across.

This is a great, cheap decoration to have on the candy or buffet table during your party. I found that snacking while carving helped keep me going and finish quickly (all that sugar!). Just remember to carve wide so the pink shows through.

Happy Halloween!

Watermelon Brain
Printable Recipe

1 small, seedless watermelon

Find a smooth spot on the watermelon and mark it as the bottom. This section will not be peeled.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove one layer of the watermelon rind.

Use a sharp paring knife to carve an open line down the top of the watermelon to create the two hemispheres, then begin carving semi-circles and wrinkles to mimic a brain. Once all grooves are cut, carefully shave down more of the rind to smooth the cuts and reveal more of the pink inside.

~ Yields 1 brain to throw off the zombies. Run away!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Leaf Annual Farm Tour - Day One

Once a year, the local co-op in Tallahassee, FL, organizes an Annual Farm Tour for consumers to acquire first hand experience getting to know local farmers and understanding how organic farming works. This year 36 farms in North Florida and South Georgia participated. The tour includes working goat and cow dairy farms, ranches, orchards, CSA gardens, and more.

New Leaf Market

New Leaf Market is a co-op that has been serving the community since 1974. A co-op is a cooperative in which the business is owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. The co-op recently expanded in 2008 and offers a little bit of everything to consumers ranging from produce, grass-fed meats, Florida seafood, beer and wine, health products, and to a deli chock full of delicious foods. New Lead has seven Cooperative Principles, which include items like Democratic Owner Control and the Concern for Community. When I made the choice to become informed about my food and switch to organic eating, New Leaf made my education and new food options a seamless transition. I am aware just how lucky I am to have such a fully stocked organic grocery from local farms and suppliers store so close to home.

Although I would love to visit each farm, it was simply not feasible in two days. I made a personal farm tour over the weekend which would feature Georgia farms on Saturday and Florida farms on Sunday. This post will feature the farms I visited in Georgia, which contributed to my picnic for my Project Food Blog Round 6 entry.

Sweet Grass Dairy

A beautiful sunrise at Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, GA.

All bright eyed and bushy tailed, I woke up early on Saturday morning (which shows my dedication to supporting local organic farms since family and friends all have horror stories over my unwillingness to wake up early) and headed north to Thomasville, GA. The first farm on my tour was Sweet Grass Dairy - a 140 acre goat farm and home to a world class cheesemaking facility. 

Happy goats waiting in the milking area, otherwise they roam free behind fences on the farm.
Miss K was the spokesperson for the tour and began straight away at 9am with explaining how their dairy functions on a daily basis. The farm currently has 200 female goats and 3 male goats (and a few grass-fed only cows in the back) that range in age from 8 months to 10 years old. The goats are milked daily, twice in the summer when they are producing more milk, and are not milked for two months in the winter, November and December, to mimic the natural cycle of goat reproduction. The goats are bred to have kids in the winter, between January and March, since summer babies do not do as well due to the heat. The goats are bottle fed for the first four months of their lives to help them become accustomed to humans, so they are all quite docile and sweet. The goats are sold annually, the males mainly, to prevent inbreeding and keep the herd healthy. They are moved around the farm to eat fresh grass, since the tips of the grass blades are the most nutritious. Goats are actually not good at knowing what they need to eat to remain healthy and can be rather picky, so the rumor that they can eat anything and be fine is a myth. Goats also have natural mineral deficiencies, so the farmers provide some grain mixed with molasses and minerals to keep the goats healthy, which is only 1/4 - 1/2 of their diet.

Miss K showed us some photos of the milking process and then walked us a few yards away to demonstrate the process firsthand. 

The goats go into the milker twelve at a time. The milking process takes 9 minutes and works like clockwork. The first goat enters the stall and knows to walk to the end feeding tray - this is because when they reach into the tray, it lifts a door to their left in a domino effect to allow the other goats to eat from their tray and be milked.

The farmers spray the two goat teats with soap and water to clean them before hooking up the milking vacuum. The vacuum ensures all the milk is pumped to prevent any infection. After they goats are milked, an organic solution is sprayed on the teats to help them close to also prevent anything from infecting the goat before being released back into the pasture.

Miss K allowed us to see inside the sterile cheesemaking room, since the tubes in the milking area carries the goat milk into a holding tank. The farmers make cheese every day of the week, as the fresh milk is used within 48 hours. They make goat cheeses such as chevre and edan. They also make a wider variety of cheeses from the raw cow milk, such as Thomasville Tomme, gouda, and their Asher Blue placed 3rd in the World Cheese Awards in October 2009.

She explained that goat milk does not separate as easily as cow milk, since the molecules are smaller and naturally homogenized; the fat and liquid molecules remain suspended together and do not create a cream layer as seen in raw cow milk. The digestion of goat milk is also easier than cow milk, so some people that are intolerant of cow milk are able to enjoy goat milk. This is due to the presence of short- and medium-chain fatty acids which are easier to digest compared to long-chain fatty acids in cow milk.

The cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy are artisan, meaning they are all made by hand. The milk is mixed slowly to allow separation to occur naturally, and the smaller the curds are cut, the drier the cheese. An interesting fact shared with us was how the extra beta carotene found in Georgia grass causes the cow milk to be extra yellow, whereas goat milk is always white no matter their diet. Miss K then let us know they also have some pigs on the farm which are fed the whey left over from the cheesemaking process. This helps the pigs have excellent marbling without being fatty. Lucky pigs.

We had a chance to taste the goat cheese, Chevre, and raw cow's cheese, Thomasville Tomme, at the end of the tour. The Tomme was a strong, firmer raw cow's milk with a buttery undertone that can be used in multiple applications. The Chevre was a soft, sweet goat's cheese that had a slight tangy bite and presence of the countryside from their natural diet. It was my favorite of the two.

One thing to note about Sweet Grass Dairy is they're not certified organic, although they use all organic practices. This is due to the use of antibiotics when an animal becomes ill. Thankfully, due to the clean, organic practices of the farm, this happens rarely. When an animal does become ill, the animal is separated from the herd and cared for, which may include the use of antibiotics to become well again. If the animal is given a clean bill of health, their milk is tested, called a SNAP Test, to ensure it does not contain any traces of antibiotics before being returned to the herd for regular milking procedures. On an organically certified farm, if an animal becomes ill, nature takes its course; therefore, the animal either gets well on its own or it passes away. Sweet Grass Dairy made the decision to forgo certification to tend to the animals if they become ill. I respect this decision because they are not only taking responsibility for the animal's well being, but that of their customers as well to ensure no one consumes any antibiotics in their products.

The serene farmland was a peaceful and happy place to experience, and a perfect start to my tour. Sweet Grass Dairy is actually celebrating their 10 year anniversary in a few weeks, so I plan on returning to enjoy the farm and the animals again.

Calathora Farms

The second stop was at Calathora Farms in Moultrie, GA. They specialize in growing organic beef, eggs, vegetables, and fruits for their CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, which is a weekly bag full of goodies from the farm. The farm includes three generations of the Morton family who all work hard together working the land.

Morton, Sr. escorted us around his vast farm explaining how they organize their many plots, how the animals are cared for, and their future expansion plans. It was nice to hear him say they modeled their farming techniques from Joel Salatin's practices, such as buying a 4-wheel drive front end loader. Morton, Sr. shared many of his farming tips with us, such as:

  • the importance of keeping a garden map & timeline to organize your crops;
  • some plants grow well together, like tomatoes and carrots;
  • the same family of vegetables draw the same nutrients, so plant them together;
  • green potatoes are good for planting, but not for eating;
  • & build bluebird houses at waist-level around the farm so they will stay and eat caterpillars.

They have a good size chicken coop, or Egg Mobile, made from an old tobacco wagon. The wagon is moved often to ensure the chickens have fresh grass to graze on. The family not only gets to enjoy fresh eggs every day, but their CSA customers can request them weekly as well. They purchased two geese to keep the chickens safe from predators since they are loud and feisty. My grandfather used to do the same thing, which I found interesting.

Some of the Morton family had been working all morning on making Brunswick Stew for the guests on the farm tour, and one of the sons had a pleasant serenade floating through the quiet farm air.

The Brunswick stew was made with fresh ingredients right off the farm. It also had a little kick to it, but was full of delicious chicken and vegetables - the perfect lunch to keep me full and alert for a long day of travel and walking.

I was a bit melancholy to leave the farm after just an hour or so. I enjoyed a nice chat with Marth, one of the daughters, and the whole family was so polite and a pleasure to be around. I hope to visit their farm again to learn more about their produce and farming tips.

Thompson Farms Smokehouse

The third of four farms on Saturday was the Thompson Farms Smokehouse in Dixie, GA. This farm was in the smallest city, so I happened to be the only patron at the time. I hope more people took the opportunity to visit this amazing smokehouse and farm, but it was nice to have a personalize tour. This farm provided the andouille sausage I used in my jambalaya for the Foodbuzz 24x24 Gulf Seafood Beachside event in July 2010.

The tour started with viewing several different cooling lockers and smokehouses throughout the processing facility. These are the largest pork sausages I have ever seen! They will be cut down before packaging and shipping, though.

And the pork belly! Thompson Farms certainly knows how to make a delicious cut of pork.

After sneaking a peek at the refrigerators which you can purchase different cuts from, we did a walking tour of the farm. The night before, a few sows had given birth to piglets. They were rightly protective, so we stayed back and just watched them all caring for their young.

One items all the farms had mentioned was the lack of rain. It hasn't rained in the South for almost a month, which is causing a hardship on the farmers. The pigs have been moved to this area to enjoy fresh water, but the movement back and forth across the farm has caused them to be leaner than normal since they sprint instead of leisurely walk. The pigs are certainly well cared for and Thompson Farms takes pride in their products. Their prices are competitive for the high quality of their pork, and I would certainly shop at the farm more if I lived closer. They are a supplier to Whole Foods, so this is one farm you might be able to enjoy in your area if you're outside the Tallahassee, FL, area. They also graciously donated the bacon for my Project Food Blog challenge and even added some pork burgers that I'll be using soon in a new recipe. Thank you!

Dreaming Cow Creamery

The last farm on my tour was the Dreaming Cow Creamery in Pavo, GA. I enjoyed this tour just as much as Sweet Grass Dairy - turns out it's owned by the same family! Kyle & Janelle Wehner operate this farm and produce the most delicious yogurt I have ever tasted. They take pride in their Jersey-crossed herds on lush grassland to keep the cows enjoying a low stress lifestyle to produce top quality milk. The average age of their herd is 8 years old. Kyle explained that feeding cows grain causes the natural pH of the cow to be disrupted, causing the good bacteria to die, thus making the cow sick and prone to die young.

He explained that conventional farms are forced to buy an entire new herd every year from the herd being sick and weak due to their extremely poor living conditions. Farms like Sweet Grass Dairy and Dreaming Cow, however, are sustainable for years because their cows live naturally and can produce a healthy calf every year and supply milk as well. A farm is able to hold approximately 550-600 cows without strain, but the cows continue to increase in number, at which time the extra cows are either sold for profit or a new farm has to be created. Dreaming Cow currently has about 400 cows.

Janelle took us into their processing facility after a tour of the herd. She showed us the vats they use to turn the milk into yogurt and how it is pumped into a packaging tank. Since the environment was not sterile from us onlookers, they filled the tank with water so we could still see how simple the packaging process was.

Then we were offering samples of all their yogurt flavors, which includes: Plain; Vanilla Agave; Honey Pear; Strawberry Pomegranate; and Maple Ginger. They are in the process of switching to new packaging and expanding their products to include these new flavors. My favorite though is the classic Tupelo Honey yogurt - the best yogurt I have ever enjoyed. I made sure to speak up on the hopes it sticks around, although all of their yogurts are delicious.

Their yogurt is non-homogenized, which leaves the cream layer on top of their yogurt (which you can hopefully see flecks of in the photo above). The yogurts also do not have any stabilizers, and the title of the yogurt is the only flavor to be enjoyed, since no coloring or additives are used. Their yogurt has a clean, natural taste which I love.

I think Kyle was mocking me from all the photos I was taking, but his sense of humor was pretty funny.

Lastly, Janelle shared with us how to make yogurt at home. Their yogurts are cultured, so you're able to make a batch of yogurt and add one container of their yogurt to create a large amount of cultured yogurt. She shared a great tip about using a gas stove and a double boiler to prevent the yogurt from burning. I give them much credit for supporting the local community and their customers by encouraging them to try yogurt making themselves.

Their yogurt is currently sold in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and New York, with specific locations and stores labeled on their website, so please try their products if you get a chance. I bought a whole bag of yogurt flavors and have been eating them like candy!

I was quite busy on Saturday traveling on this half of the farm tour, and I hope the farms I featured and the knowledge I gained is helpful in understanding how organic farming works. I benefited from gaining a deeper appreciation for the source of the foods I cook with and enjoy daily are created. If you're able to participate in any type of farm tour in your area, I encourage you to get out there and meet your farmers, ask them questions, and learn something about sustainable farming practices. It's easier and more important than many people believe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Project Food Blog #6 - Fresh From the Farm Picnic

Sweet, sweet Georgia.

This challenge came at the perfect time. I'm actually away this weekend on my town's annual organic farm tour. The 34 farms that supply my co-op, New Leaf in Tallahassee, FL, are open to allow customers to tour their farms and understand the source of the delicious variety offered in town. It brings in people from all over North Florida and South Georgia with tours all day on Saturday and Sunday, since these farms not only provide product to New Leaf, but to local farmer's market, CSAs, and even Whole Foods.

Cows that supply the raw milk we enjoy.

On Saturday, I spent the whole day touring the farms in Georgia, and I'm actually posting this from the road while in the middle of my Florida farm tour on Sunday.

Getting the arugula for the BLTs.

Being out in the wilderness, breathing fresh air, and literally seeing the source of my foods provides inspiration for a cook like no other. The inspiration for this road trip meal was local, sustainable, organic Georgia produce, supplied directly from the source. I have included the recipes now, and will be speaking in depth about each farm that contributed to this meal over the coming days.

Where our bacon for the BLT comes from.

Today, my friend Sara is with me and was able to share this picnic of Georgia Roasted Peanuts, Fried Green Tomato BLTs with Orange Blossom Honey, Pickled Okra Popsicles, and Georgia Peach Trifles. We stopped to enjoy our picnic at Florida's only organic winery in Monticello. The meal was just as perfect as today. Although the meal is simple, the taste is quite lavish for outdoors. The smoked bacon and Tupelo honey stood out the most in the BLT, while the pickled okra disappeared quickly - it reminds me of my favorite dill pickles. Plus the trifle was divine, with a kick of bourbon at the very end.

A trick I learned from Martha Stewart's magazine is how to pack a picnic meal well. I tie together the drinks and sandwiches in an oversized tea towel, which I actually cut myself from an old tablecloth. The sandwich is wrapped in plastic, then laid end to end with the drink, rolled up diagonally in the tea towel, and finally a loop is tied together with the ends to serve as a handle to carry with you. Plus Sara had the cute idea to put a stick through the loop that serves as a handle for the drink and sandwich; it definitely makes it look like we've been on the road.

And the picnic basket is stuffed full of the Georgia roasted peanuts to prevent any of the glasses from knocking together - and it serves as the appetizer.

I would love to share my picnic with my readers in person, so maybe I'll see some of you on the tour and share some of the leftovers...if we have any.

Fried Green Tomato BLT with Orange Blossom Mayonnaise
Fried Green Tomatoes

2 cups peanut oil
1 green tomato
1/2 cup raw milk or buttermilk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

In a small, tall pot, add the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Slice the green tomato thinly, about 1/8" thick.

Dip the tomato slices into the milk, then into the flour. Add the tomatoes two at a time to the oil and fry for 2 min until golden brown.

Remove from the oil with tongs and lay on a plate lined with a paper towel to dry until use.

Orange Blossom Mayonnaise

2 eggs yolks
3 tbsp orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup very light extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Tupelo honey

In a large glass bowl, add the egg yolks, orange juice, and salt, stirring well. Using a whisk, add the olive oil very slowly, just a few drops at a time, whisking swiftly and only adding more oil when completely incorporated. Once half the oil has been added, the oil can be added more quickly, but not all at once. Lastly, pour in the honey and whisk together. Taste before using to adjust seasonings to your palate preference.


2 whole wheat rolls
4 tbsp orange blossom mayonnaise
8 pieces of arugula
6 fried green tomato slices
4 pieces bacon

Slice the rolls in half and add 1 tbsp mayonnaise to each side. From the bottom up, add per roll 4 pieces of arugula, 3 fried green tomatoes, and 2 pieces bacon. Serve warm if possible.

~Recipe adapted from Fanny's Garden Café.

Pickled Okra Popsicles
1 lb okra
2 cups filtered water
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 whole garlic cloves
4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
4 tsp whole black peppercorns
8 fresh dill sprigs
4 8oz mason jars

Clean the okra thoroughly and trim most of the stems off. Lay on a towel to dry. 

In a very large, tall pot, boil the four glass mason jars, four silver rings, and the tongs used to move the pieces for 10 min. Use the tongs to move the jars to a towel and add the spices of red peper flakes through black peppercorns. 

Next, bundle together approximately seven pieces of okra and two dill springs per jar. Make sure your hands are clean and press down the okra to ensure a tight fit.

In a small pot over high heat, boil the water, white wine vinegar, and kosher salt. Then pour immediately into each mason jar, leaving at least 1/4" at the top for an air pocket. Use the tongs to dip the mason jar sealing lids into the large pot of boiling water for 30 - 60 seconds, then place on top of each jar, remove a ring from the boiling pot of water and transfer to each jar and screw on tight. Add a towel to the bottom of the boiling water pot, then add the four jars of pickled okra. 

Boil for 5 min, then remove and allow to cool on a towel before transferring to a pantry to cure for at least 2 weeks.

~Adapted from Alton Brown.

Georgia Peach Trifle
Pound Cake

3 large eggs
3 tbsp raw milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Flour cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup finely ground turbinado sugar
13 tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a loaf pan, add a layer of parchment paper at the bottom and butter as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. In a mixing bowl, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and turbinado - all sifted well.

Mix for 30 seconds at low speed, then add half the egg mixture on medium speed for 1 min. Add the rest of the egg mixture in two batches, mixing each for 30 seconds. Spoon the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 55 min. 

Allow it to cool before serving.

~Recipe by Joy of Baking.

Organic Vanilla Pudding

3 1/2 cups raw milk
1/3 cup + 3 tbsp finely ground turbinado
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter

In a large steel bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup raw milk, 1/3 cup turbinado, cornstarch, salt, and eggs.

In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add 3 cups raw milk and 3 tbsp turbinado, stirring constantly. Stir for 5 min and remove once small bubbles begin to appear. The milk should be thicker. Pour the milk into the steel bowl very slowly while whisking; the mixture can be added more swiftly towards the end. Add the vanilla and butter, stir well. 

Pour the pudding through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap touching the pudding and chill for 2 hrs in the refrigerator before serving.

~Recipe by Joy of Baking.


2 pound cake slices
2 tsp bourbon
4 slices Georgia peaches
1/2 cup organic vanilla pudding
whip cream
2 tsp pecan pieces

In 2 clean mason jars, Add a 1" square piece of pound cake at the bottom of each. Top the cake pieces with 1 tsp bourbon. Next add 2 peach slices per jar, then pour in 1/4 cup organic vanilla pudding in each jar. Then top with another slice of pound cake. Finally, top with whip cream to fill the jar and pecan pieces. Serve slightly chilled.

~Original by Brie.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Project Food Blog #5 - German Pretzel Pizza

Dear Readers, we've made it halfway through Project Food Blog! This round is to put a spin on pizza. If you'd like to vote, I'd love your support - thank you!

My inspiration for this entry was an eight day trip my fiancé and I took to Germany a few years ago. I surprised him on Christmas by giving him an early birthday present - a car themed trip to Germany for his 30th birthday.

He builds cars from the ground up to race, so he does know a good car manufacturer. He has a soft spot for German engineering, so we planned a trip around the entire country to try and squeeze in as many car related items as possible. We went to a total of thirteen cities during the trip. We ended up exhausting ourselves, but it was well worth it.

Our little point and shoot camera we had at the time captured the vacation.

This is the Volkswagen Factory seen from our hotel room in Wolfsburg, Germany - our favorite part of the vacation. This city was the only time we splurged and it was well worth it. The hotel offered the most luxurious experience we've ever had, with its modern decor and 5 star restaurants. The area even had its own car theme park, if you will, although not with rides like the ones here in America. It's mostly to showcase the advanced technological capabilities the German car industry has to offer, and some of the gravity defying car displays were quite impressive - like the car that is on a wall which rotates inside and out one of the buildings.

We took the trains a few times, including an overnight train, and the rides were always amazing - weaving in and out of tunnels and through vineyards in the countryside. It made me wish we had high speed trains in America. We did rent a car twice to enjoy driving without a speed limit on the autobahn, and, as seen by our speedometer, we took full advantage of that (in MPH, it's about 140).

In the southern part of the country, you can see the Alps, which is where the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany can be found. We snuck in this visit in between car museums. The view from the top is breathtaking. It's built around four lakes and a waterfall in the midst of the Alps. We must return one day.

Since we spent so much time in small towns, we actually didn't get to experience a wide variety of German food. It turns out Germany isn't riddled with street signs like we're used to at home, so we didn't realize at the time many restaurants in tiny towns are only open at certain hours and can be found in people's homes really. We made our way through the trip by eating a lot of pretzels, as seen by the giant specimen my lovely fiancé is modeling.

When thumbing through the photos from our trip, this photo speaks the most to me. We had an amazing time together experiencing a new culture and tasting classic foods the Germans have been making for centuries. I wanted to recreate some of the foods we enjoyed together to remind us how lucky we were on that trip.

I decided to personalize the pretzel instead of attempting to mimic the perfect German pretzel. I prefer to soak my flour which makes it more nourishing and greatly reduces antinutrients, like phytic acid, which puts a strain on the digestive system. I also am using a mix of stone ground whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour so the traditional pretzel taste comes through.

For my "pizza" sauce, I chose to make my own version of German sweet mustard. And my toppings would be traditional bratwurst and sauerkraut.

I also did not use beer in the pretzel dough, which can be an option, so I found an imported organic German beer to wash it down with instead.

I am so pleased with my "pizza"! The pretzel dough came out with the classic chewy outside and soft inside I love in my soft pretzels. The stone ground whole wheat did have a dominant flavor in the pretzel, but adding equal parts of the all-purpose flour brought the classic pretzel taste through that we experienced in Germany. The toppings were heavenly and so reminiscent of those warm dinners we had to keep us toasty on those cool German nights.

My fiancé is not a...connoisseur of food. He has fine taste (obviously since he's with me), but he eats simply because he has to. So to hear him compliment my pizza creation, especially to recreate some of the tastes we experienced on our Germany trip together, means quite a bit to me.

If you're longing to experience some classic German eats and fill your belly, this would be the "pizza" for you.

German Sweet Mustard
Printable Recipe

1 medium yellow onion, grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup ground mustard powder
1/3 cup brown mustard seeds
1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
5 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dill seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup hot, filtered water
1 cup apple cider vinegar, with The Mother

First, grate the onion.

Then add the grated onion and all ingredients of mustard through nutmeg into a large glass bowl. (The brown sugar and raw honey will seem like a bit much, but believe me, you'll need it.)

Then add the hot water and stir. Try to do this part quickly, without breathing very deeply - the smell is quite strong. Then stir in the apple cider vinegar and finally cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for 24 hours before blending. I stored mine in the oven (turned off!) to keep it safe and to keep the strong smell to a minimum. It will also appear watery, but it will thicken up once blended.

The next day, pour the mustard into a blender and liquefy for 1 min. Store in mason jars in the refrigerator until needed.

~Yields four 8 oz mason jars.

~Adapted from Choosy Beggars.

Pretzel Dough
Printable Recipe

2 1/2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, with The Mother

In a large bowl, add all three ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and store on the counter at room temperature for 12 - 24 hours before baking.

1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp turbinado
1/2 package of yeast

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp olive oil

In a mixing bowl, add the warm water (100 - 110*F) with the sugar and yeast, stirring gently. Allow it to rest for 10 min. It should become foamy which lets you know the yeast is active.

Next, add in the soaked dough and begin to mix on medium speed. Slowly add the 1 cup all-purpose flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Allow the dough to knead for a total of 3 min. You may need to add more flour in half-cup increments since it should only be slightly tacky, which will depend on how warm and humid your kitchen is.

Flour a smooth surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Knead it into a smooth ball. Add the olive oil to a large bowl, add the dough, and turn it around to coat all sides. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour.

It will double in size.

Turn the dough out onto a smooth, floured surface and knead a few times to condense the dough. Cut it into six equal pieces and smooth them into balls. Allow them to rest for 1o min.

8 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tbsp turbinado

1 small egg + 1 tbsp water
2 tbsp coarse seas salt
6 tbsp German Sweet Mustard
2 bratwurst sausages, cooked & thinly sliced
3 tbsp sauerkraut

Preheat the oven to 450*F. In a large pot over high heat, add the water and turbinado and bring to a low boil. Then add the baking soda.

Return to the dough and flatten into 6 inch discs. Add them one at a time to the water for 45 - 60 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon or spider and drain for a moment on a tea towel, then flip onto a large baking sheet topped with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water, then brush onto the tops of the pretzel dough. Add coarse sea salt to the edges.

Bake in the oven for 18 min.

Remove from the oven and top each with 1 tbsp of the German Sweet Mustard and 8 thin slices each of cooked bratwurst. (To cook the bratwurst, heat the oven to 350*F and cook for 30 min, flipping the bratwurst once so it cooks evenly on both sides.) Cook the pretzel pizza for 5 min. Top with approximately 1 tsp each of sauerkraut and serve immediately.

~Yields 6 servings.

~Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Mini Pretzel Recipe.