Elaine in the Kitchen has Lots of News!

Sometimes you have to celebrate your own accomplishments, so I’m proud to announce that my book,Pantry Magic – Making and Using Fruit and Vegetable Powders is now available in paperback on Amazon and I hope to have the Kindle edition up soon. (See the Amazon Icon on the sidebar).I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope that all of you will check it out and, of course, buy a copy. (How’s that for blatant self promotion)!  Seriously, I’d love to get your feedback.

But there’s more. Last summer I opened an online store at Etsy.com, and I’m happy to say that I’m getting lots of interest in my Fruit and Vegetable Powders. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ElaineintheKitchen?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Sales have been particularly good since the Holidays and I’m looking forward to adding some new items: Meyer Lemon Zest, Roasted Red Bell Pepper, and Sweet Orange Zest.

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I’ve been doing some rehab work on Elaine in the Kitchen’s Facebook page as well as the website.  I’ve also got some great recipe ideas for future posts and I should have a new one starting next week.  Thanks to all of you who have been checking in on Elaine in the Kitchen in the meantime.

Whew!  I think I’ll have some tea and lemon cookies.

Winter Salads

Shortly after Thanksgiving I stop buying fresh salad greens.  Yes, we really do have greenhouses in the northern tier, but eating seasonally means using what is available (for a reasonable price), buying locally or using whatever you put by from the garden.  However, this doesn’t mean giving up salads.  Crunchy goodness isn’t synonymous with romaine lettuce.  Salad like soup can be made from almost any vegetable (because that’s what I mostly eat).   One of the things that is readily available in the markets here is butternut squash.  Now, there are endless ways to prepare squash, but almost all of them involve cooking in one form or another and I had never heard of eating butternut squash raw.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a recipe by Mark Bittman (The Minimalist) of the New York Times using raw butternut squash.  This is my adaptation of his recipe using ingredients from my kitchen.

Raw Butternut Squash with Dried Fruit and Walnuts


Raw Butternut Squash Salad 003








  •  1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used a combination of dried cherries and golden raisins but you could use cranberries or almost any dried fruit – go ahead, live dangerously)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped pickled ginger (the original recipe calls for fresh, but I made pickled ginger this year so I used that and it was GOOOD)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar.  (I substituted half balsamic vinegar and half tawny port)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Cut off the ball part of the squash and save it for another recipe.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 007








Peel and slice the neck portion and grate.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 010








In a bowl, combine the grated butternut squash, the dried fruit, walnuts, salt and pepper.  In a small jar, combine the olive oil and the vinegar/port mixture.  Shake well and toss with the squash mixture.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 017

 Serve immediately, or put in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Mixed Pickle Relish

It’s time to start using up those little treats from the garden.  Remember the pickles I made last fall: green beans, carrots, cucumbers?  No, well here they are, and this is going to be one of the easiest side dishes ever.  Serve it like a salad with some rich like curry, or serve it like relish.  It’s even good on sandwiches.

Pickled Carrots, beans and Cucumbers

Pickled Carrots, beans and Cucumbers








1/2 cup pickled carrots (cubed)

1/2 cup pickled green beans (chopped)

1/2 cup pickled cucumbers (bread and butter variety)

1/2 cup pickled red onions (chopped)

Mixed Pickle Salad

Mixed Pickle Salad








Combine in a pretty bowl.  That’s it.  Summer crunchy in the middle of winter.



Fermented Vegetables: Delicious and Nutritious

We closed up the garden a couple of weeks ago and did a final harvest. Now the decision is what to do with end of the season vegetables.  I’ve been reading a lot lately about the probiotic nutrition in fermented vegetables and thought this would be a great opportunity to try my hand at a new way of preserving foods as well as saving money.  (Have you seen the price for probiotic supplements?)   Fortunately this isn’t a complicated process.

I started with the most essential vegetable for fermenting:  cabbage (set aside a couple of the large outside leaves to cover the vegetables during the fermentation process, cabbage


followed by the last of the collards. Collards



To this base I added an assortment of vegetables that were languishing in the refrigerator and pantry: cucumbers, carrots, tiny squash, red bell pepper, some garlic and a few slices of pickled ginger.  There’s no real rule here, just use what you like and what you have.  It all goes into the food processor for a medium fine chop.


Fermented Foods 003Sprinkle with some kosher or canning salt (any kind without iodine) and let the chopped vegetables drain.  I didn’t really measure this, but one source said that 3 tablespoons salt to 5 lbs of vegetables should be about right.  After about half an hour, squeeze out as much water as possible and pack tightly into a glass or ceramic container with a tight fitting lid.

I found this one at the thrift store for $3 and replaced the rubber lid casket.  Works great.

Pack the vegetables down tightly (I use a big wooden spoon) a little at a time.

In a 2 cup measure, add 1 3/4 cup filtered or distilled water.  I add whey to speed up the fermentation process (I use the whey drained off the plain Greek yogurt which seems to work well, but you could use a probiotic starter that you can purchase.)   You don’t have to use the whey, some people just use the salt and the natural bacteria from the vegetables for the fermentation process but I like the added tang that the whey adds.

Pour the mixture over the tightly packed vegetables making sure the liquid completely covers the vegetables.  Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside earlier and place on top of the vegetable mixture.  Place a heavy weight (I used a ceramic cereal bowl) on top of the cabbage leaves and place the lid tightly on the jar. Fermented Foods 006Fermented Foods 008 And that’s it.  Set it on the counter inside another dish or pan to catch any residue from the fermentation.  Once a day, lift the lid and replace it.  I like to let my veggies ferment for at least 7 days, but it depends greatly on your personal taste.   When you think they’re ready to eat, spoon the fermented yummies into clean (sanitized in dishwasher) glass jars and put in the refrigerator. Fermented Foods 001 The vegetables will continue to ferment (slowly) in the refrigerator.  In addition to being delicious, fermented foods are a great way to keep your digestive system and your entire body healthier.   Enjoy!        Ε



Vegetable Powders

Magic in the kitchen is really all about enhancing flavor and, whenever possible adding nutrition.  That often means very expensive little jars of flavorings, extracts and packages of fresh herbs.

Recently I discovered a way to make many of those extra special ingredients at home for much less money (thank you, doomsday preppers).   I started with dehydrated tomatoes.  I used both fresh from the garden, and a #10 can of diced organic tomatoes from Costco ($2.79 for the whole thing).  It seems like a lot, but the end product could easily fit into a 1 gallon zip lock or a couple of quart jars.  It took about 24 hours (time can vary) to get the tomatoes to a dehydrated state.  I loaded up the spice grinder, and pulsed until the tomatoes were a fine powder.

Making Tomato Powder

Making Tomato Powder

After grinding, press the powder through a sieve to remove the large pieces.  Save the larger pieces to use in soups or as a sprinkle on garnish.

Tomato Powder

Tomato Powder

Store the powder in the cupboard in a tightly capped glass jar.  Add a spoonful to sauces, soups, homemade pasta dough, almost anywhere you would like to have the tomato flavor with out the need to reduce the water content.  Careful though, it’s pretty intense flavoring.

Another really great flavor enhancer is mushroom powder.  This is very expensive to buy so making it at home is a real money saver, and it’s also a stealthy way to add great mushroom flavor to any dish without upsetting all the anti-mushroom eaters.  I bought the mushrooms on sale.    I cleaned and sliced the mushrooms and put them in the microwave for about 1 minute.  This enhances the flavor.  (Some people even cook them first, or use the mushrooms from their stock, puree and spread them on the fruit leather sheet in their dehydrator, but it’s not a necessary step.)

Quick Steaming Mushrooms

Quick Steaming Mushrooms

After microwave steaming them, I placed the mushrooms in a single layer in the dehydrator.  It took about 12 hours to reach the desired state, but this can vary.

Dried Mushrooms

Dried Mushrooms

Once dried, I put them in the spice grinder and pulsed until I had a fine powder.  A word of caution, don’t open the spice grinder right away or you’ll be inhaling mushroom powder for the next 5 minutes or so.  I like it in my food, just not in my lungs.  Again, pass the powder through a sieve and put into a glass jar.

Drying Mushrooms 009

Last, but certainly not least, there’s kale.  We drink a lot of protein shakes and smoothies, and adding green vegetables is a super way to up the nutrition and to put some extra vegetables in your dishes without attracting any unwanted grousing.  The process is very similar to both tomatoes and mushrooms.  I cut and washed the kale and dried on paper towels.

Fresh Kale

Fresh Kale

Place the kale pieces on a single layer in the dehydrator.  You can crowd them, but don’t stack them up.  It’s easier to handle if you work with smaller, salad size pieces.

After the Drying

After the Drying

Process in the spice grinder until you get a fine powder.



Kale Powder

Kale Powder

Pass it through a sieve and store in a glass jar.

Add a teaspoon to shakes, smoothies, soups or pasta dough.  You can do this in your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator, and they are great additions to your pantry.


Three Seasonings

Three Seasonings

Let me know your ideas for using powders.

E Sign