Punk Domestics's blog

11 Delicious DIY Dips

Friends don't let friends serve store-bought dips. Here's a handful of DIY dips for that will keep the chips and crudite diving in.

Chip Dip
Chip Dip
Fresh, creamy dips are the perfect complement to salty, crunchy chips or crisp crudite. Step away from the store-bought stuff in plastic tubs and make your own. (Image via Eating Rules)
Salsa
Salsa
America's favorite condiment comes in a dizzying array of colors and flavors, as diverse as the country it hails from. Whether you go for straight-up tomato, zesty green salsa verde, or salsas made with corn or fruit, your tortilla chips will thank you (and so will your guests). (Image via Cooking Channel)
Guacamole
Guacamole
Cool, creamy guacamole leverages the avocado's naturally rich texture. Kick it up as spicy as you like, or leave it mild as a delicious dip. (Image via Alyssa and Carla)

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Salsas and Moles: Review and Giveaway

Salsas and Moles by Deborah Schneider: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

I make no secret of my love for Mexican food. Epicures may fawn over French fare, or extol the virtues of imperial Chinese, I think Mexican food is arguably the most underrated of cuisines, with an endlessly creative approach to combining flavors. 

The heart of Mexican food is in its salsas. Domestically we tend to think of salsa as just something that sits on a chip, but in fact they are, as the word translates, sauces that are designed to complement everything from snacks to mains to even desserts. 

Deborah Schneider of SOL Cocina in Newport Beach and Scottsdale, and Solita taco bars in Ventura and Huntington Beach, distills her extensive knowledge of the condiment in Salsas and MolesShe begins with some salsa basics: Principles of balance in flavor and texture, and a useful primer on types of chiles (and how to handle them.) And then she dives deep, clustering recipes into groups of table salsas, hot salsas, moles and enchilada sauces, sauces specifically for tacos, and chunky salsas and botanas. 

Think tomato salsa is a one-note symphony? The book features tomatoes in dozens of salsas. Fresh or simmered, mild or spiked with chile heat, as the star or backup singer; each is utterly distinct. You'll find familiar items like pico de gallo and guacamole, but also salsas that highlight the use of specific chiles, like habanero, manzana and güero. Got a bulletproof palate? Try the Evil Green Hot Sauce or Volcano Salsa. 

The book crescendos with those most sophisticated of sauces, moles. Schneider not only provides a thorough recipe for the classic mole poblano, queen of Mexican sauces, but a quick version as well. Moreover, she reveals the rainbow of other moles: Red chile, negro, verde, and the nutty, herby pipiàn. (Ready to try your hand at classic mole poblano? Get the recipe here.)

The book is accessible and tempting. It will inspire you to try your hand at homemade salsas, and incorporating them into your everyday cooking. 

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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¡Salsa!

Cinco de mayo has nothing to do with Mexican independence, but you can liberate yourself from store-bought salsa. Whatever kind you like, whip up a batch today for chip-dipping good times.

Tomato Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Tomato Salsa
It's the classic, and America's favorite condiment. Delicious on chips of course, but also a versatile side to fish and chicken. And if you use the right recipe, it can even be canned.
Fermented Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Fermented Salsa
Lacto-fermented salsa is one of the simplest ways for beginners to play with cultured and fermented foods. Ferment tomatoes, chilies and more to tickle your belly and tongue in a good way!
Salsa verde, found on PunkDomestics.com
Salsa Verde
Whir up some tomatillos, chilies and herbs for a tangy salsa with a slightly fruity flavor.
Corn Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Corn Salsa
Chunky, sweet and spicy, corn salsa is a summertime crowd-pleaser. Try it on dogs for your next barbecue!
Fruit Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Fruit Salsa
Think beyond the love apple to create complex, flavorful salsas using all manner of fruit, like mangoes, peaches, pineapples.

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On a Rampage with Ramps

If you walk alongside waterways in the American East, you may see bright green blades protruding up from the leaf cover this time of year. Ramps, or wild leeks, are one of the earliest wild foods to forage, and a great delicacy they are. They're the surest sign that spring is really ramping up.

Foraging Ramps
Foraging Ramps
Ramps are one of the easiest and most rewarding wild foods to forage, but their popularity has put them at risk. Learn how to identify them, and what measures to take to prevent overharvesting. (Image via Garden of Eating)

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Ravishing Radishes!

Radishes are ravishing! These peppery spring roots are delicious out of hand as a snack or sliced in salads, but there's more to them yet.

Pickled Radishes
Pickled Radishes
Radishes: You can pickle that! Whether pickled in vinegar brine or lactofermented, pickled radishes are a tangy, crisp treat. (Image via Well Preserved)
Kkakdugi
Kkakdugi
There's more to kimchi than cabbage. Use the same spices to make radish kimchi, or kkakdugi.
Radish Relish
Radish Relish
Grate up the radishes to turn them into a relish that's simply great. (Image via Solid Gold Eats)
Radish Greens
Don't toss those greens! Whir them up into a peppery pesto, or ferment them for a probiotic snack. (Image via From Scratch Club)

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Steeped: Review and Giveaway

Steeped by Annelies Zijderveld: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

Though I start most days with coffee, I am absolutely a tea drinker as well. Nepal black, jasmine green, matcha, genmai cha, lapsang souchong — you steep it, I'll drink it. 

But outside of a few exceptions, like tea smoking or green tea ice cream, I hadn't really given much thought to the use of tea as an ingredient in cooking. So when my friend Annelies announced she was writing a book in it, my interest was piqued.

In Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea, Annelies explores the use of various teas as flavoring agents much as you would go spelunking in your spice drawer. By using different techniques, such as hot versus cold infusion, or grinding dry tea into a spice-like powder, she teases out different aspects of each tea to particular effect. 

An aha moment for me was her recipe for Sweet Tea Jelly, a natural fit for preserving, but one that had never occurred to me. Yet how could it be anything less than perfect on scones? She incorporates tea in more clever ways, like mixing matcha into a pasta dough for Green Tea Noodles in Asparagus Sauce with Goat Cheese Pearls. 

The quietly vegetarian book is structured into teas as meals — morning tea, afternoon tea, high tea, and the like — and you'll find yourself integrating them into your regular rotation for all meals of the day. 

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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Stalking Rhubarb

Rhubarb is the darling of spring. These sour stalks are techincally a vegetable, but their tart taste lends them to applications more common with fruit. What can you do with it? What can't you do? Here's a whole bunch of ideas.

Canned Rhubarb
Canned Rhubarb
Can the stalks in syrup to have on hand for multiple purposes in the future, like pies, ice cream and cocktails. (Image via One Tomato Two Tomato)
Freezing Rhubarb
Freezing Rhubarb
Or, just freeze it off in chunks, and scoop out as much as you need. (Image via Delectable Musings)
Dried Rhubarb
Dried Rhubarb
Rhubarb can also be dehydrated, to make it shelf stable (and take up less space besides.) (Image via Little Miss Cruciferous)

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Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Review and Giveaway

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

First of all, can I just give a big high five to Cathy Barrow for her IACP award for Best Cookbook: Single Subject? Not that I'm surprised; I raved about the book last year

But there's one thing that bugs me. That category: Single subject. An integrative approach to preserving as part of a holistic way of sustaining oneself is not a single subject. It is a rich tapestry. 

But it makes me happy that we are seeing more of this kind of book. Rather than true single-subject books, that are narrowly focused on one technique, we're seeing ways of applying techniques to create a whole lifestyle. Latest on the shelf is Aimée Wimbush-Bourque of Simple Bites with her new release, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

Aimée is a longtime contributor to this site, and we met at BlogHer Food 2011, where she even rocked one of my temporary tattoos on her well-turned ankle. 

In the book, as with her site, Aimée strives to go beyond basic recipes. She presents a whole picture: She and her husband Danny raising three young children in the most sustainable and mindful way possible. This involves more than simply planting a garden, eating seasonally and preserving the bounty. It involves bringing the children into the process.

This is one of the areas the book stands out. More than a cookbook, it's a lifebook. How do you get kids involved in cooking? How do you answer their ethical questions about eating meat? How do you help them to be more self-sufficient? Aimée provides thoughtful approaches. 

There is plenty of preserving, of course; to wit: her recipe for strawberry-honey jam with orange zest. It's a mainstay of their lifestyle, and a large part of sustainable living in chilly Québec. But the book is so much more. 

The Québec-ness of the book is evident, and some bits will be less relevant to some than others. Case in point, her coverate of a day in the sugarbush, tapping maples and making their own maple syrup, bears little applicability on those of us who live in temperate places like California, but it's none the less romantic and sweet. 

The net result is rich and homey, without being twee. It's the nicest parts of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Martha Stewart melded into a cozy package. And who knows? Maybe we'll see this take home the IACP prize next year. 

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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DIY Maple Syrup: We'd Tap That

When the nights are still cold but days begin to warm, sap rises in the maple trees, and it's time to tap into this sweet resource. Even if you live in a fairly urban setting, you may be able to tap your own and boil it off for some DIY syrup. Your pancakes will thank you.

Maple Tapping
Maple Tapping
Drill a hole in the maple trunk, hammer in a tap, hang a bucket, and wait. Each day you'll collect a bucket of maple sap. (Image via Homegrown.org)
Sugaring Off
Sugaring Off
The sap is drinkable (and delicious!) on its own, but if you want to turn it into syrup you'll need to boil it off. It takes a lot -- about 40 parts sap will become 1 part syrup. (Image via Putting Up With the Turnbulls)
DIY Maple Evaporator
You can do the boiling in your own kitchen, but odds are you don't have enough space, and the amount of steam it kicks off can peel wallpaper. Make your own evaporator outside and boil off in big batches. Here's how. (Image via From Scratch Club)

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Nothing but Nettles

One of the earliest foraged foods of spring, stinging nettles are cropping up in forests and alongside streams all over. These prickly plants require a little special handling (they're called stinging nettles for a reason, after all), but once their formic acid-laden hairs have been tamed, nettles are quite delicious, and remarkably nutritious, making them one of the best foraged foods around.

Foraging Nettles
Foraging Nettles
Know how and where to find and identify wild nettles, and how to process them once you harvest them -- and don't forget the gloves! (Image via Make and Rake)

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