Month: June 2015

“It’s ALIVE!” Part 5: Black Garlic- “To boldy go…”

Black Garlic. It sounds so goth. But it’s supposedly Asian (Korea specifically) in origin and is the next stop on my fermented foods journey. But it’s going to be a long road. According to all the research I’ve done (Thank you Pinterest!) it can take anywhere from 14 to 40 days! And it will possibly stink up my house and need to be moved to the garage or outdoors. But it’s supposed to be healthy and have a rich, layered, smoky umami flavor. How will I know when it’s ready? I have no idea. But here we go!

Mysterious Black Garlic

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • whole heads of garlic (I’m starting with 8 heads)
  • some beer (or wine, or broth, or water even)
  • a rice cooker, food dehydrator, or crockpot that can maintain a steady low temperature
  • some plastic wrap &/or aluminum foil


  1. Do not peel the heads of garlic! In order for the magic to happen, they will need to be intact.
  2. Put the garlic heads in your heating apparatus (I bought myself a teeny, tiny crockpot for this project.)
  3. Drizzle with your liquid of choice. You want to lock in the moisture so your heads don’t dry out and burn. Beer seems the best choice here, for moisture and imparting flavor. I’m using about 1/4 C for my 8 heads of garlic, just enough to moisten the bottom of the vessel.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap or foil or both. I’m putting the cover of the crockpot on there too. I think this is to a) keep the moisture contained and b) to contain the funky smell that’s liable to emanate while the garlic is fermenting.
  5. Keep at a constant temperature of 130F-150F for at least 2 weeks, leaving it in longer will result in a a deeper, smokier flavor.

So it’s working! I will update in 2 weeks, unless something crazy happens before that. In the meantime check out some of the things you can make with Black Garlic on my “IT’S ALIVE!!!” Pinterest board…


So there is a slight funk of garlic currently lingering in the house. It's not BAD, the kids don't even notice it, but if it gets worse I may have to move this operation to the garage.

So there is a slight funk of garlic currently lingering in the house. It’s not BAD, the kids don’t even notice it, but if it gets worse I may have to move this operation to the garage.

“It’s ALIVE!” Part 4 Sourdough Pancakes

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.05.47 AM

Brinner is one of my favorites to eat & to make. Eggs, hash, and PANCAKES! When you have a well-fed starter in your fridge, delicious baked goodness is never too far away. These are much less dense than your average pancakes, almost crepe-like, thanks to the addition of baking soda.

Light-as-a-feather Sourdough Pancakes


  • 2 C sourdough starter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp warm water


  1. Take your starter out of the fridge, stir, and measure out 2C. Let the measured starter reach room temperature before beginning. I usually wait about 10 minutes. 
  2. Preheat your griddle. I usually set mine around 350F. 
  3. In a Large bowl, beat eggs. IMG_0643
  4. In a separate bowl combine sugar, salt, baking soda, and water. Mix until combined.
  5. Add the sugar mixture to the beaten eggs.  IMG_0644
  6. Carefully fold in the starter. At this point the mixture will start to fizz, foam, and bubble. This is what will give the pancakes their light-as-a-feather quality. Do not overmix.


    Look how much it poofed-up!

  7. Drop batter on griddle a 1/4C at a time. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side. When the pancakes start bubbling, it’s time to flip them over.  IMG_0647
  8. Remove from heat and serve. Some great toppings include sliced bananas and honey, butter and syrup, peanut butter or Nutella and fruit.  IMG_0648
  9. When you’re finished don’t forget to feed your starter so it will be ready to use next time. In case you missed it, here’s a little video to show you how…

I have found that in warmer weather I only have to let the starter ferment for about one day at room temperature, two in the fridge.

Interested in fermenty foods? Check out the rest of my “It’s ALIVE!” series:

“It’s ALIVE!” Part 1

“It’s ALIVE!” Part 2

“It’s ALIVE!” Part 3

Viva Los Brownies!

I’ve always had a slight obsession with the combination of spicy and sweet… it had lay dormant for a bit & was reawakened over Cinco de Mayo weekend. I hit my local Scooters coffee drive-thru to find a new concoction: the Fiesta Chai Blender! So it’s a iced & blended chai with a touch of what they call “sweet heat”. Turns out it’s a sweet & spicy (Yes!) syrup made with ghost peppers! My mouth was confused (It’s cold & creamy! No! Wait! It’s hot!!!) but delighted. Scooters, you need to keep that “sweet heat” syrup around at all times because I am enamored!!

In keeping with this theme, my wheels started to turn of what else I could make with this sweet/spicy/chocolatey combo. Thanks to Pinterest (By the way, are you following me on Pinterest yet?) I found a few recipes for Mexican Brownies, including this one by Aaron Sanchez (of Chopped fame). These soft, sweet, chocolatey brownies are enhanced by a bit of cinnamon and a kick of cayenne. I have a slight inkling to increase the cayenne the next time I bake these, just a little, because the spice was just a slight hint at the end.

Mexican Brownies

(adapted from a recipe by Aaron Sanchez)

Makes 16-18 brownies


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cooking spray, like Pam
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (Use Mexican vanilla if you can find it.)
  • 2/3 C unsweeted cocoa powder
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9X13 pan and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat; do not bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla to the saucepan and whisk until combined.  IMG_0579
  3. Add the dry ingredients (cocoa, flour, cinnamon, chili powder, salt and baking powder) to the saucepan and using a tempered rubber spatula, mix until smooth.  IMG_0580
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy but not wet.  IMG_0581
  5. Cool in the pan on a rack, for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Foodie Field Trip: Shatto Milk Company

Awhile back, completely by accident, I stumbled upon the awesomeness that is fun, flavored milks by Shatto Milk Company. A quick flashback, in case you have forgotten… I could hardly contain myself when I found out the awesomeness was produced in Osborn, MO. A hop, skip, and a jump (OK, a 45 minute drive) from my casa. Trust me when I tell you I am not unfamiliar with Osborn… I let my excitement out all over social media, including this Instagram post (By the way, are you following me on Instagram yet?): IMG_0463 The folks over at Shatto were kind enough to invite me out to check out the farm & meet the cows. Really, they had me at cheese… and flavored milks… and ice cream. As soon as I had a day available, I made the trip.

It was a lovely summer’s day in Missouri (Not really, it was pouring rain.) when I arrived at Shatto. Their gift shop was absolutely FILLED to capacity with people. Young moms and preschoolers, a tour bus full of seniors, joined my teens & I waiting for the tour to start. Because of health codes, everyone was furnished with a paper hat to wear during the tour.  My teens were thrilled (sarcasm), the little kids kept taking theirs off only to have their moms plop them back on their heads, and one older lady put hers on completely upside-down (how?) which greatly amused me.

There were at least 4 tours going on simultaneously, and with great precision, each group set off in a different direction to begin the tour. Our group started with milk-tasting, led by owner Leroy Shatto. As a professional wino, a small part of me was confused by milk-tasting. Where was the dump bucket? Was I supposed to spit? Wait, just drink the milk? I kid, I kid… We tasted 8 different milks (banana, strawberry, chocolate, cotton candy, root beer, cookies & cream, coffee, and the new birthday cake flavor) while Leroy gave us some history of the family and the farm. I think root beer is still my favorite, followed by coffee. The birthday cake was delicious; it tasted just like cake batter. I’m kind of bummed that I missed out on the limited release of apple pie flavor, but maybe I’ll catch it again the next time they do it.

Owner Leroy Shatto telling us about the farm's history in front of the milk-tasting set up.

Owner Leroy Shatto telling us about the farm’s history in front of the milk-tasting set up.

We walked past a cheese-making/processing room where you could look in and see some folks working on the various stages of cheese-making including the production of those famous Shatto cheese curds! Maybe in the future they can offer a “cheese geeks” tour. I know the littler visitors might not be into it, but I nerd out over cheese and would’ve loved to hear more about it.

Then we checked out a vintage (1950s) milk truck that the family found, restored, and decked out to rep the farm in parades and such. A pretty cool feature is that you can stand up and drive it. A guy on my tour made an amusing “milkman’s kid” joke, which I had to explain to my kids later. Thanks dude. 🙂

Checking out the bottling line and the various holding tanks was next. We also learned a little about homogenizing and pasteurizing milk. Here I learned 3 very important things: 1) milk can get from the cow to the store in fewer than 12 hours 2) a milk-bottling line is very similar to a wine-bottling line, and most importantly, 3) Shatto makes pumpkin spice eggnog in the fall!

Here's a shot of some chocolate milk getting bottled.

Here’s a shot of some chocolate milk getting bottled.

Next, they brought us out to meet the calves and if we wanted to, milk a cow. The calves were very cute, but were unfortuntely upstaged by a litter of adorable barn kittens. Amazingly, no kittens found their way into my purse, and my cow-fearing daughter (When she was a toddler she had an unfortunate incident in which she was head-butted by a cow.) actually enjoyed petting one of the calves and letting it lick her.

Katie the calf meets my little bovinophobe.

Kacie the calf meets my little bovinophobe.

A bovine friend waiting for her turn in the milking parlor...

A bovine friend waiting for her turn in the milking parlor…

After visiting with the calves, cows, and barn cats, we headed over to the milking parlor (Sounds so fancy!).  Here, they can milk about a dozen cows at once. According to Shatto, an average cow produces 6-7 gallons of milk per day. The staff discussed sanitizing the cow’s udders and let us all stick our thumbs in the milking apparatus. It felt similar to a blood pressure cuff at the doctor’s office.

Here are the ladies coming into the milking parlor & getting hooked up.

Here are the ladies coming into the milking parlor & getting hooked up.

This guy was pretty amused with everyone sticking their thumbs in the milking apparatus...

This guy was pretty amused with everyone sticking their thumbs in the milking apparatus…

The tour ended (of course) back in the gift shop where we were treated to some tasty flavored butters (honey butter and garlic butter) and cheese curds (the plain ones). The seniors did some shopping and got back on their tour bus, and the little kids begged their parents for cowbells. Thank goodness my kids are big!  I picked up some birthday cake milk for the kids, some “Dill-licious” cheese curds (that barely made it home), and Lily, a hard cheese a bit milder than Parmesan that I have already used in several dishes (Stay tuned!).

I think the sign on these needs to read "MORE COWBELL!"

I think the sign on these needs to read “MORE COWBELL!”

Thanks for a fun summer field trip Shatto, I’m excited to see what outside-the-box stuff you come up with in the future!