Category Archives: General

Roast Pumpkin Seeds

A lil' bowl of roasted pumpkin seedsRoast pumpkinseeds are a very rustic North American snack.  While pumpkin seeds are relished in several far flung parts of the world, including central America (pepitas) and Austria (kurbiskern), I think ours is the only civilization that eats pumpkinseeds in their shell.  Pumpkinseed shells are woody.  Frankly they are just barely edible, and certainly not digestible.

But I do like them.  Lengthy chewing promotes contemplation.  Rumination, even.

And though you can eat pumpkins throughout the fall and winter and into early spring, growing up I only ever ate roast pumpkin seeds at Hallowe’en.

A nifty trick for separating the seeds from the stringy pumpkin guts: throw the whole mess in a large pot of water.  If … Continue reading.

Vermicomposting

This is a guest post by the Button Soup Sr. Backyard Correspondent Lisa A. Zieminek.

 

My name is Lisa.  You might remember me from such posts as “Candied Lilac” and “What to do when your boyfriend hides food experiments all over the basement” (link not available).  Today I’m here to talk to you about worms – not the kind that you get from eating street food in Thailand; the kind you use for composting. That’s right, we’re going to talk about vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting is a fancy name for putting worms in a bin and letting them eat your food scraps.  It’s a great option for people who live in apartments or don’t have space for an outdoor … Continue reading.

Herb Vinegar

Resinous herbs can easily handle lights frosts, so this time of year we still have a good deal of thyme, rosemary, and other robust herbs in the garden.  Thankfully there is an entire repertoire of methods to preserve them before the snow falls.  You can collect them in large bouquets and hang them in your kitchen to dry, for instance.  Or make salted herbs.  Or pack them into a jar and pour vinegar over them.  This past week I racked a couple gallons of cider vinegar from a healthy vinegar crock, so herb vinegar seemed the best way to save our thyme.

The aromatic components of herbs are called essential oils.  They more closely resemble fats, ethanol, and … Continue reading.

Quick Breads

Quick breads are breads made with chemical leaveners, instead of yeast.  They’re quick in that they don’t have to ferment.

Chemical leaveners are interesting concoctions.  They were originally byproducts of salt-making.  Most salt is made by boiling or slowly evaporating a brine.  This brine could be seawater, or it could be water that was flushed through an underground deposit to dissolve the salt and ease its extraction.  Either way, once the brine is reduced to a certain concentration, sodium chloride, table salt, precipitates and is easily harvested.  The remaining liquid, called bittern, is still rich in all kinds of other compounds: Epsom salt, for instance, and magnesium. In 1792 sodium carbonate, or soda, was extracted from bittern for the first … Continue reading.