Eggplant Jerky

I don’t really care for the texture of cooked eggplant so I was looking for a different way to make it when I came across several recipes for “vegan bacon”. As I don’t eat bacon, I can’t tell you if this tastes like it but I can, however, tell you eggplant jerky is quite crispy and delicious! The portions herein are so you you can make as much or little as needed as eggplants come in all sorts of sizes and what’s “medium” to me may not be medium to you.

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts Teriyaki sauce (I highly recommend SoyVey brand teriyaki sauce and is what I used)
  • 1 part Maple syrup (agave or molasses is a good substitute but you’ll need to adjust the portions to your liking)
  • Option: Liquid smoke

Directions:

  1. Slice your eggplant fairly thin (mine was nearly paper thin and worked perfectly)
  2. Mix the ingredients in portions enough to coat your eggplant slices.
  3. Let slices marinate for a minimum of twenty minutes.
  4. Lay down parchment or wax paper on your work area and place your dehydrator tray on top of it (this is to catch any drippings).
  5. Cover the bottom tray of your dehydrator in parchment paper (also to catch any drippings while dehydrating).
  6. Lay out the eggplant on the trays close together but not touching.
  7. Dehydrate at 115°F for 12 to 18 hours or until crispy.
  8. Store strips in an airtight container or plastic bag. Place a paper towel under or around strips to absorb any excess oil.
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Homemade Bread Crumbs: What to do with the ends of the bread!

Ever wonder what to do with the ends of the bread no one seems to want to eat?  How about homemade bread crumbs or croutons?

For bread crumbs in the toaster:

  1. Toast your bread until light golden brown.
  2. Allow to cool completely. (Make sure your bread isn’t soft in the center.)
  3. Once toasted, simply roll over the bread with a rolling pin.
  4. Store them in an airtight container as any moisture can ruin your crumbs.  This can be made from any bread and is especially good with grain breads!
For bread crumbs in the dehydrator:
  1. Allow bread to dry completely (generally only a few hours in the dehydrator).
  2. Follow steps 3 and 4 above.

Yes, it’s really THAT easy!  And there’s no limit to the flavoring of your bread crumbs.  You can add dry spices to accent your dishes or as a quick prep if you use them for the same recipes often.

For croutons:

  1. Set your oven for 300 degrees.
  2. Cut your bread into small squares.
  3. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with oil (olive preferred though sesame adds a wonderful taste too).
  4. Place your bread cubes on the sheet with the lightest side facing up.
  5. Pop them in the oven and bake until slightly toasted/golden brown (about 15 minutes).
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Set the cubes onto paper towels to absorb excess oil.  You many need to change the towels a few times.
  8. Once night and dry, store in an airtight container in a dry place.

Hard Cooked Eggs in the Oven

During our last grocery delivery (yes, I have our groceries delivered, it saves time, money and gas but more on that later), I had a very large batch of eggs delivered.  60 egg count to be exact.  No, we don’t eat THAT many eggs but I discovered that you can freeze eggs!  I’ll create a blog post for that later though.  This one is about the eggs I haven’t frozen.  Instead I want to talk hard boiled…er… baked.  First, let me just say that of all my culinary accomplishments, boiling the perfect egg is not one of them.  I don’t know why I fail at this nearly every time but I do. From undercooked to overcooked to half the white coming off with the shelling, I just don’t seem to have that knack.  Until now.
I’ve seen a few posts come across my feed suggesting baking eggs instead of boiling them and I just had to try it.  It’s ridiculously easy.  Here’s the instructions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place eggs in the pockets of a muffin pan or something similar so they don’t roll around.
  3. Once your oven has finished heating, place eggs in the pan on the middle rack and set your timer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and place eggs in an ice water bath using tongs.
  5. Allow to fully cool (roughly 10 to 15 minutes) and peel.
That’s. It. Right?  Who knew?!  Well now we do!  And I have to say, that peeling them was MUCH easier and the yolks seem less dry or somewhat creamier than boiled.  So it looks like I have a new way to make some tasty hard cooked eggs for deviled eggs, egg salad, with just salt & pepper or in cobb salad!  Oh yeah… we might end up eating eggs a bit more often at this rate.

 

Freezing Eggs

WHITES Break and separate the eggs, one at a time, making sure that no yolk gets in the whites. Pour them into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of egg whites and the date, and freeze. For faster thawing and easier measuring, first freeze each white in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer container.
YOLKS Egg yolks require special treatment. The gelation property of yolk causes it to thicken or gel when frozen. If frozen as is, egg yolk will eventually become so gelatinous it will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. To help retard this gelation, beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup egg yolks (4 yolks). Label the container with the number of yolks, the date, and whether you’ve added salt (for main dishes) or sweetener (for baking or desserts).
WHOLE EGGS Beat just until blended, pour into freezer containers. seal tightly, label with the number of eggs and the date, and freeze.
HARD-COOKED Hard-cooked yolks can be frozen to use later for toppings or garnishes. Carefully place the yolks in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to come at least I inch above the yolks. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and package for freezing.
Hard-cooked whole eggs and whites become tough and watery when frozen, so don’t freeze them.
To use frozen eggs… Thaw frozen eggs overnight in the refrigerator or under running cold water. Use yolks or whole eggs as soon as they’re thawed. Once thawed, whites will beat to better volume if allowed to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Substitute 2 tablespoons thawed egg white for 1 Large fresh white.
  • Substitute 1 tablespoon thawed egg yolk for 1 Large fresh yolk.
  • Substitute 3 tablespoons thawed whole egg for 1 Large fresh egg.
Tip:  Store eggs in trays designed to freeze baby food.  They resemble ice cube trays with lids and are BPA free.

Honey Connoisseur

Learning to use alternatives to sugar when cooking or baking makes things difficult as most recipes don’t compensate for their use.  As someone who uses only honey as a sweetener, I’m slowly becoming quite the honey connoisseur.  I’ve been teaching Bre my honey loving habits and thought perhaps my readers might be interested in some of it as well.Health benefits of honey:

  • Contains a wide array of vitamins, such as vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
  • Contains minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
  • As well as several different amino acids.
  • Known antioxidant compounds in honey are chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase and pinocembrin.

This would be a very long list as it depends on what flowers are near the hives but below is a list of the most common flavors; each has a distinctive taste and can has various effects in cooking application.

  • Clover
  • Wildflower
  • Orange blossom
  • Buckwheat
  • Sage
  • Cactus
  • Bamboo
  • Goldenrod
  • Lotus
  • Avocado
  • Eucalyptus
  • And many more depending on the region of the country you are in!

 

Does harvesting honey harm bees?
A beekeeper’s top priority is maintaining the life of their bees, so they take great care in the harvesting of honey in order to not harm the bees.  Click here for a PDF on beekeeping and how its done!
Isn’t taking honey depleting the hive’s food?
Again, no.  The average bee hive makes a surplus of 80 pounds of honey annually.  No beekeeper wants to starve their hive and there is no need to suppliment their food with something else if a hive is in full honey production.  The only time beekeepers generally suppliment a hive’s food source is when the hive is just starting and they aren’t producing enough to feed the colony.
How to Bake with Honey:
  • For each cup of honey used, reduce any liquid by 1/4 cup; add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Click here to Help Save the HoneyBee! (Even if you don’t eat honey, bees are essential to farming in the United States!)
Honey History:
The first known usage of honey was in Ancient Egypt around 40 B.C. It was a common food in most households and often was used as a form of payment or tribute.  Ancient Greeks used honey as balm for sores and cuts. They also believed it to be the food of the gods and used it as an offering to the spirits.
Other uses for honey:
  • Honey contains antioxidants, a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
  • Heals wounds, burns, cataracts, skin ulcers, sores and scrapes.
  • Provides a protective barrier for wounds.
  • Kills bacteria and germs.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • It’s amino acids and vitamin C speed the growth of healthy tissue.
  • It’s a natural source of energy. It enlivens the body, makes muscles stronger, refreshes nerves, cheers up, Sharpens the mind, and gives sound sleep.
  • Helps reduce chest disorders, coughs, heavy breathing, and insomnia.
  • Soothes sore throats.

Apple Cream Leather

Ingredients:
  • 6 apples
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1 cup nonfat yogurt (plain)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Directions:
  1. Puree ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Place fruit leather sheets in dehydrator trays.
  3. Spread puree over fruit leather sheets, 1/4″ thick.
  4. Dry until leathery (pliable but not sticky).

Oatmeal Cookies in a Dehydrator

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups oats (groats, whole)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cashews
Directions:
  1. Put oat groats in food processor and grind until fine.
  2. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Put almonds in food processor and pulse a few times to chop them until just coarsely chopped.
  4. Transfer to bowl with the oats.
  5. Add raisins and agave nectar to bowl and mix everything well.
  6. Grind cashews in coffee grinder, and use this to coat your palms as you handle the cookie batter.
  7. Take small chunks of dough and flatten into rounds on the mesh sheet of a dehydrator tray.
  8. Dehydrate for about 12 hours on 110 degrees. Dehydrating time needed will vary according to how thick you’ve made the cookies, and the desired consistency.