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Earthnotes Cookbook

Brown StockCheese MakingDiastatic MaltMaple SyrupPectinRiceTomato Paste
Brown SugarChicken StockHerb WineMayonnaisePotato StarchSeasoningsVanilla Extract
Butter MakingCulinary SeedsJerus. Art. FlourMilkRennet SyrupsVinegar

Basic Kitchen Products from Scratch
Have you ever looked at a stick of butter and wondered how it was made? Oh yes, you probably knew it involved churning and maybe you got awfully close to the real thing the last time you overdid the whipped cream, but is that it? Is there anything else involved in the process? And what about vinegar? How does vinegar get to be vinegar? And if there was a sudden vinegar shortage tomorrow could you make your own from scratch? This page is devoted to those imponderables in our kitchens and dedicated to other Sagg/Virgoan natured folks like myself who lie awake nights thinking about these things.

menuBrown Stock
Yield: about 2 quarts

Tip: Stock can be frozen in amounts you plan to use for individual recipes.

6 lb shin and marrow bones
4 quarts of cold water
6 black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp parsley
1 large carrot (diced)
3 stalks celery (diced)
1 cup fresh tomatoes
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tsp sugar

  1. Cut bones into pieces and brown them in a preheated 350°F oven.
  2. After bones have browned, place them in a large stockpot; add cold water; bring slowly to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 min; remove scum.
  4. Add peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, carrot, celery, tomatoes, onion and sugar; bring to boiling and then simmer (partly covered) at least 6 hours; strain stock.
  5. Cool uncovered; cover and refrigerate.

menuBrown Sugar
In a pinch you can make your own by combining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp molasses.

menuButter Making
If you have access to a cow, let the milk stand until the cream rises to the top. Skim off the cream. Cream should be about 60 to 65°F. Using a butter churn, egg beater, electric mixer (low speed), agitate the cream until the butter forms and butter and buttermilk separates. Pour off the buttermilk through a strainer and then rinse the butter in cool water until the water runs clear (save the buttermilk for making cheeses). Work the butter in a bowl with a big spoon to press out as much of the remaining liquid as possible. If you want salted butter, then add it during this process at the rate of 1 tsp per pound. Form into blocks or put into butter molds. Wrap in freezer paper. Butter can be frozen. Do NOT overwork the butter or else it gets greasy.

When making your own dairy products, scrupulous cleanliness is important. All your implements should be made of stainless steel, enamel, glass or wood. These are simple recipes, but if cheesemaking catches your fancy, I highly suggest the Reader's Digest book Back to Basics.

If cheesemaking appeals to you, then you can work with milk products from cows easily enough. If you wish to explore making cheese with goat's milk however, you'll really need to invest in an extractor since the cream does not readily separate from the milk. You will need either raw milk or pasteurized but NOT homogenized milk,or you can purchase the cream required.

MILK CHEESE: 4½ cups milk heated to 99°F. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tsp rennet. Leave for 1 to 2 hours until milk has separated. Tip curd into a clean cheesecloth or muslin and let drain overnight.

CREAM CHEESE: Same as milk cheese, but use heavy cream.

COTTAGE CHEESE: Stir 1 tsp of lemon juice into 4½ cups milk and leave in a crock (covered with muslin) until the milk is thick and sour. Add 1 tsp of salt and leave it to drain overnight tied up in muslin.

menuChicken Stock
Nothing is more useful in the kitchen nor easier to make than chicken stock. The next time you roast a chicken, place the picked over carcass into a crockpot. Fill with water until the bones are covered to an inch or two over the bones themselves. If you have a very large crockpot, then the measurement is important. If it's smaller you'll probably end up filling it to the top to cover the bones. Place on high setting and allow to cook for 6 or 7 hours. I don't season it, but you could use a little salt and pepper if desired. I prefer to season my recipes when I'm making them without having to consider any amounts of seasonings already present in the stock. This allows me more control. Allow the crockpot to cool down and then place in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top and congeal, making it a simple matter to skim it off the top and dispose of it. Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and then strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into your container. I save 1 gallon jugs and place the strainer into the funnel and strain through that arrangement.

menuDiastatic Malt
Sprout wheat berries until the sprouts are as long as the wheat seeds. Dry the sprouts in a dehydrator. When dry and crunchy, grind them in a blender or coffee mill (get them as powdery as possible). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use about 1 tsp per 4 loaves of bread (more if desired). Use this in place of sugar or honey to provide a natural, wholesome sweetness.

menuJerusalem Artichoke Flour
This a pricey little item in health food and gourmet shops, but the plant grows like a weed and the tubers it produces make excellent food. The flowers are lovely minature versions of sunflowers, so make a great addition to the landscape. I suggest growing this crop off in its own bed. Harvest the tubers in late summer or early fall and wash well. Then slice thinly and dry on dehydrator trays. Grind, using a blender or coffee mill, to a fine flour-like powder. Sieve to remove any large particles, bag in plastic freezer bags and store in the freezer to retain freshness.

You will need a blender or a mini food processor with an accessory that allows you to drizzle oil slowly into the container. You can also use a beverage attachment such as the one supplied with the Black & Decker HandyMixer™ and simply drizzle the oil by hand.
1 egg
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp honey
1 cup safflower oil (divide into two portions of 1/2 cup each)
1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Break the egg into the blender
  2. Add the next 6 ingredients
  3. Process the mixture until smooth
  4. With blender on lowest setting, slowly add ½ cup of oil
  5. Gradually add the lemon juice and the remaining ½ cup of oil while the blender is still running
  6. Continue to mix, scraping the sides of the blender occasionally until the oil is well distributed and the mayonnaise has a creamy texture; store in refrigerator or make fresh each time.



1 cup fresh coconut (coarsely chopped)
1 cup hot water
  1. Place coconut and water in blender; blend at "high" for one minute; scrape sides of container and blend again until reduced to a thick, fibrous liquid.
  2. Line a sieve with two thicknesses of cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl; pour and squeeze the coconut liquid through cheese cloth; discard pulmp when all liquid has been taken out. Yield about 1 cup.

Wash 1½ cups of soybeans and soak for 8 hours. Remove the hulls by squeezing the beans between your fingers. Floag off the hulls by washing the beans. The kernals should be as clean as possible. Place the drained beans in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of cold water and blend for 15 seconds. Add a second cup of water and blend for 15 more seconds. Add a third cup of water and blend for 30 seconds. (Total amount of blending time should not exceed 1 minute or a bit more than that) Pour the puree into a cooking pot and then rinse the blender with 1 cup of water and add to the pot (1 quart total water). Bring the bean pulp to a boil and be careful to watch that the puree does not stick ot the bottom and scorch. Stir continually and keep the puree off the bottom of th e pot. When it comes to a boil, the contents will foam and try to boil over the edges of the pot, but continue to stir until it has cooked for 8 to 10 seconds.
Remove the puree from the heat and instantly stir in 1 pint of cold water and then ladle the cooked mixture into a jar which has a piece of muslin held in place with a rubber band over the mouth of the container (this is your strainer). Work the mixture so the liquid falls through the cloth into the container. Rinse the cooking pot with 1 pint of water and add to uncooked milk. You should have approximately 5 pints of uncooked soymilk at this point.
Wash your pot and then add the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and when it reaches a boil, lower the heat and cook for 7 minutes. Stir to make sure all of the milk gets cooked. At the end of that time, you have finished soymilk. Pour into quart jars and seal. Refrigerate. Will keep 1 week.

(Use as a substitute for the one purchased in a can)
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup warm water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp of powdered skim milk

Combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling. Cook until thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Equals one can.

You will need 10 lbs of tart apples. Wash, remove stems and cut into quarters (you do not remove the cores). Place the fruit in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over a medium heat and continue to simmer until the fruit is soft. This takes about 30 minutes. Drain the fruit through a jelly bag overnight. There should be about 3 quarts of liquid. Boil the liquid down until there is 1½ to 2 cups of pectin. To use your homemade pectin in a recipe, cook your fruit until it is soft, then add the sugar called for and bring both to a boil. Continue to boil the fruit and sugar for 1 minute. Add your pectin and remove from heat. No more cooking is required.

menuMaple Syrup
Have you ever wondered why maple syrup was always done either outside or in a sugaring shack? Two major reasons: maple syrup can ignite in a flash fire if done improperly and moisture from the steam will deposit a nasty, sticky film over all surfaces it contacts. Maple syruping is done over a very closely watched fire. The sap is boiled down until it reaches 219°F on a cooking thermometer, at which point it is syrup.

menuPotato Starch
Peel and chop a raw potato. Soak in cold water overnight. Squeeze all the water from the soaked pieces into a container. When separation occurs, the white sediment on the bottom is starch. Allow this sediment to dry.

If you ever actually need this one, then the world is in tough shape indeed. However, it's always nice to know how great, great grandmother survived. As soon as a calf has been killed, clean the stomach. Scour it inside and out with salt. When it is totally clean, tack it up on a frame to dry in the sun for a couple of days. When dry, cut it into squares and pack in salt or brandy or wine. When you want rennet, soak a square for half an hour in cold water, washing it well, then put it in the milk. Tie a string to it so you can withdraw it without breaking the cheese curd.

You may never have a need for this in your lifetime...then again...who knows?
TO HULL: Soak your dried harvest for 8 to 10 hours. Add one inch or so of water into a large vat and then add your rinsed and drained rice to the brim. Cover with several layers of cheesecloth and cook over medium heat until steam freely escapes. Sample the rice to see if the hulls have split. Remove from heat and dry in the shade.

menuSeeds, Culinary
Seeds such as sesame, fennel, etc. will taste their best if they are first toasted lightly in a dry fry pan to release their flavor. This is also true of spice mixtures. To draw out their full flavor, mix the ingredients in a dry fry pan and gently heat for a few minutes while stirring. Then grind and store.

Combine 3 tbsp onion powder; 2 tbsp each of parsley and basil; 1½ tbsp coriander; 1 tbsp each of rosemary, marjoram, oregano, sweet pepper, tomato, carrot, celery flakes, garlic powder, and orange peel; ½ tbsp each of black pepper, white pepper, lemon peel, celery seed, savory, thyme, mustard and ginger; ½ tsp cayenne. Use a coffee mill to grind to a powder. You will need to do this in several small batches. Place in a glass jar and put into a cupboard. Allow to sit for at least a month before using. This allows the various flavors to meld together.

4 tbsp each of onion powder and oregano; 4 tsp each of marjoram, basil and savory; 2 tsp each of thyme and rosemary; 1 tsp sage; 1½ tsp black pepper; 2 tbsp parsley; 3 tbsp garlic powder. Combine ingredients and then in several small batches grind to a powder in a coffee mill. Store in glass jar and allow to sit for at least one month before using.

CAROB: Mix 1 cup carob powder with 1 cup of water and cook until it thickens slightly. Use in cooking or as a topping. Useful in a diabetic diet.

FRUIT: Cook your fruit (plums, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, etc) in a small amount of water until the juices begin to flow. Press with a wooden spoon or a potato masher to extract the juices. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag (or you can line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth) and let drain into a bowl overnight. Measure your results and for each 2½ cups of juice, add 1½ cups sugar. Bring almost to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.

SIMPLE SUGAR 35 oz of refined sugar and 20 fl oz of distilled water
Dissolve the sugar in the water over heat. Raise the temp to the boiling point and strain the solution while hot. Then add enough extra distilled water through the strainer to make the syrup measure 2 pints and 12 oz.

menuTomato Paste
If you're used to tomato paste in a can, this method is a bit different. You will need Italian plum tomatoes as these will work best. Place the tomatoes in the bottom of a large pot. Crush them with a potato masher to release the juices, then simmer then for about an hour or until they are very soft. Transfer to a food processor and puree them. Place the puree back into the pot and simmer (stir often) for about 3 hours (more or less) or until the puree is reduced by half. If you live in a warm sunny and dry climate you can roll the puree about ½ inch thick on cookie sheets and place outside to dry. Otherwise, you can place a thick layer on fruit sheets that come with your dehydrator and dry that way. Either method requires about 2 days or until the paste loses its stickiness. Then roll up the paste into 1-inch balls and store in an airtight container. Use the balls to thicken sauces, soups, gravies, etc.

menuVanilla Extract
Add 1 vanilla bean to 1 cup of vodka (80 or 100 proof) in a 1 cup container. Allow this to set a minimum of one week. When you've used up the extract, refill with vodka. The bean can be used over and over again. Even when it seems used up you can snip it into 1-inch pieces and continue to use it until it's spent.

NON-ALCOHOL VERSION #1: 2 vanilla beans, 2/3 cup warm water, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp lecithin, 2 tsp oil, 1 tbsp honey.
Cut the beans into small pieces and whiz in your blender with the water and sugar. Bring this mixture to just beginning a boil in a covered pan, but do NOT actually boil. Place in a clean jar and cap tightly. Allow to stand overnight. Strain the liquid into a blender. Mix together the lecithin, oil and honey and slowly add it to the vanilla mix while running machine on low speed. Pour into a 2 oz bottle and cap tightly. Store in refrigerator.

NON-ALCOHOL VERSION #2: 1 vanilla bean, ¼ cup boiling water, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp sunflower or soy oil, 1 tsp liquid lecithin.
Cut vanilla bean into small pieces and place in small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the bean pieces, cover, and allow the mixture to steep overnight. Place the mixture in a blender and process on medium speed until the bean pieces are pulverized. Strain the mixture through muslin, then return the liquid to the blender. Add the honey, oil and lecithin and blend on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Pour the extract into a small bottle, cap tightly and store in refrigerator. Shake well before using. Measure the same amount as for any commercial vanilla extract.

You will need a wide-mouthed jar or crock with a cover (if using a crock you can cover with a piece of muslin held down with an elastic). You will also need the peelings, cores and bruised apples left over from making apple sauce or apple pie. Place the leftover pieces of apple in the container and cover with cold water. Cover your container and place in a warm spot. Occasionally lift the cover and add additional peels, cores and apple pieces you have available. Strain off the froth that forms as you go along. When the vinegar smells and tastes right, strain out the apple and pour the vinegar into sterilized bottles, then cap. Be sure to label and date your product.

Tip: Aeration is the key to souring vinegar. To make the process go faster, you can add a small amount of live yeast wrapped in a brown paper to the mix.

BASIC HERB VINEGAR: General rule of thumb is 1 cup of fresh, firmly packed herbs to 3 or 3½ cups wine vinegar or apple vinegar. Place the washed, dried and roughly cut or torn herbs in a wide-mouth jar with the vinegar and allow to steep in a dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain through coffee filters until it runs clean of plant material. OR, you can gently heat the vinegar in the top of a double boiler and then pour over the herbs and leave for 1 week.

Seeds: 1 to 2 tbsp (anise, caraway, celery, cumin, dill, corander, fennel, mustard...bruise or crush seeds first).
Whole spices: 1 tbsp (allspice, cinnamon, cloves, mace, black or white peppercorns, star anise)
Garlic: 3 to 4 cloves peeled and cut.
Ginger: 3 to 4 slices of fresh ginger.
Chile Peppers: 1 to 2 hot chiles (red, green or yellow and preferrably dried). If using fresh chiles then split them lengthwise.
Citrus: Use the peel of 1 orange, lemon or lime (colored portions of any of these ONLY)
Bay: 3 to 4 fresh or dried leaves.

November 1998: More about vinegar from Dee Stewart, Oregon

Our word vinegar comes from the French "vinaigre". Vin for wine and aigre for sour.

Mother of Vinegar: The mass of sticky scum which forms on top of cider (or other juice, when alcohol turns into vinegar). As the fermentation progresses, the mother will form a gummy, stringy, floating lump caused by the beneficial bacteria creating the vinegar.

Zoogloea: Mother of vinegar that has dropped to the bottom of the container by accident. Absolutely worthless...get it out!

How strong is your homemade vinegar?: Commercial vinegar's acid content is standardized, but homemade vinegars can vary. To determine the percentage of acid in a batch of vinegar you will need ½ cup of water and 2 tsp of baking soda. Mix them together. You will also need to cook a head of red cabbage and save ½ cup of the water it was cooked in.

  1. Place ½ cup of water into each of 2 glasses.
  2. Add 1/8 cup of the cabbage water to each of the glasses.
  3. Use a glass dropper to place 7 drops of commercial vinegar into one of the glasses.
  4. Rinse the dropper so no residue of the commercial vinegar remains.
  5. Put 20 drops of the soda water into the same glass and stir well with a non-metallic spoon; the water will turn blue. Rinse the dropper.
  6. Mix 7 drops of the homemade vinegar into the other glass; rinse the dropper.
  7. Add the baking soda water to the homemade vinegar/water/cabbage water mix in the 2nd glass. Add it 1 drop at a time; stir after each drop; keep count of the drops you add.
  8. When the color of the vinegar turns the same shade of blue as the commercial vinegar water, the acid content of the two glasses will match.
  9. To find the percent of acid in the homemade vinegar, divide the number of drops of soda water you added to it by 4. (Example: if you added 20 drops of soda water to the vinegar, divide by 4 and the acid content will be 5% which is the same percentage as commercial vinegars). The more soda water it takes to reach the same color as the 1st control glass then the stronger your vinegar is.

Apple cider vinegar: Put cut up apples in a stone crock and cover with warm water. Tie cheese cloth over the top and set in a warm place (4 to 6 months). Strain off the vinegar.

Let sweet apple cider stand open in a jug for 4 to 6 weeks and it will become vinegar.

Place apple and peach peelings and a handful of grape skins> in a wide mouth jar and cover with cold water. Set in a warm place and add a couple of fresh apples cores every frew days. when a scum forms on top, stop adding fresh fruit and let it thicken. When the vinegar is good and strong, strain through cheese cloth.

Raspberry vinegar: Pour 2 quarts of water over 1 quart of freshly washed red or black raspberries. Cover light and let stand overnight. Strain off the liquid and discard the berries. Now prepare 1 quart more of fresh raspberries and the the same liquid over them. Let this sit overnight. Do this for a total of 5 times. Then add 1 lb of sugar to the liquid and stir until it dissolves. Set the mixture aside, uncovered for a couple of months. Strain before using.

Raisin vinegar: Put 2 lbs of raisins in a gallon of water and sit it in a warm place. In two months it will become white wine vinegar. Strain the vinegar off and bottle. Make more by adding another ½ lb of raisins to the dregs and going through the process again.

Winter vinegar: Made by letting wine stand open to the air for about a month. Vinegar was such an important staple in colonial homes that they devised many ways to make it.

menuWine, Herb
Essentially you need to begin with a very strong herb tea. That is the basis for the wine. You will do this in a crock or food-grade pail which is called your primary fermenter. To this strong tea you will add sugar and yeast and perhaps a few other ingredients for flavor. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. Using a bit more than 2 lbs of sugar per gallon of liquid will give an alcohol content in the finished wine of about 10 to 11 percent (similar to commercial wines). Using 3 lbs per gallon will give you a sweet wine which will finish out at about 14 percent.
The mixture is left to ferment and this is quite bubbly and vigorous in the beginning and is not particularly pleasant to look at. Fruit and raisins will produce a hat on the top which should be stirred down. Whatever container you're using should be covered to keep insects out and allow the carbon dioxide to escape. You can use a piece of muslin (or several layers of cheesecloth) held in place with a large rubber band. After about a week, the mixture gets strained into a jug which is called the secondary fermenter. It is allowed to ferment for a number of weeks called for in the recipe and then is decanted or siphoned off into bottles and allowed to age. Dried herbs should be used. An exception would be dandelion wine where the fresh flowers are used.

©1998 by Ernestina Parziale