Saturday, July 31, 2010

Strawberry and Chocolate Morning

The strawberries in syrup I made a couple of years ago looked not so appetizing as soon as I made them. No wonder they never got eaten. I won't be making them again. But, I still had 1.5 pints left so, today, I boiled them with a little cornstarch and made a syrup. We had whole wheat waffles with strawberries in syrup with chocolate sauce. What a way to start the day!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Something New

Today it was my turn to pick up the farm share. We haven't finished last week's share, mind you, so that means we have EVEN MORE food to work through. I kept the lettuce, arugula, tat soi, carrots, garlic, potatoes, peppers, and onions. My sister-in-law got arugula, tat soi, 3 cherry tomatoes, 3 husk cherries, basil, garlic, carrots, potatoes, peppers and onions. We gave the flowers to my mom and dad. Leftover from last week: hot peppers, arugula, carrots, red potatoes, onions. I am really not sure what to do with all the arugula. I've made salads, tossed it with pasta, what else is there? (Suggestions welcome.)

On a whim, I decided to make potato chips. I found instructions here, and got to work slicing them with my mandolin. (Note to self: the plastic food guard is there for a reason. Use it. Your thumb will thank you.) We added vinegar to the soaking water as we were told that would make them more crispy.My 8 year old wanted to help, so together we dried them:Then I fried them:And look how good they look!
The 5 year old decreed they were yummy and couldn't stop eating them until they were all gone. I consider that a success. Plus this salad with goat cheese on top, and the entire meal was farm-share/home-grown/farmer's-market in origin. That's an achievement for us, certainly!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Going Too Far? Nah!

Gleefully I crowed to my sister about picking 2 quarts of wild blackberries in our brother's backyard yesterday. She said, "You realize you're crazy, right? I've never seen anyone get so excited about foraging."

I just can't help myself! Even if I did have to arm myself with gardening gloves, hiking boots, and long pants just so I wouldn't get so many scratches. I mean, I was IN those bushes. I did, at one point, get stuck under a very large and spiky cane and required my sister-in-law's assistance to get out. At which point, I'm quite sure, SHE decided I was crazy, too.

Today's batch is wild blackberry. I even ran 1 quart of the berries through a sieve to get out some of the seeds. It smells heavenly. I decided not to add the sage; I'd been debating this all week, but finally "simple" won. Using the basic recipe in the Certo package, I ended up with 8.5 cups of jam. I'll keep 4 cups and the other 4.5 will go back to my brother and sister-in-law.

And then we'll keep an eye on those Concord grapes....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lovely Lemon Curd

This is a test. This is a beta-test of the NEW inventory management system, thanks to my wonderful husband.

Now I can:
1. make the item
2. blog about it
3. add it to the inventory app
4. print QR labels
5. affix to the jars
6. manage inventory using the QR reader on my iPhone

Today's demonstration batch is 5 jars of Meyer Lemon Curd. A double batch (2 jars are 4 ounces each, the other 3 are 8 ounces each), made in the largest pot (thanks, note-to-self!).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Divine Figgy Goodness

Once again, I find that Whole Foods is my enabler. Yesterday I discovered Black Mission Figs, on sale(!), and bought 3 8-ounce packages. I still have a little fig jam left but I was thinking about preserves. After my overnight shift, a nap, and some dinner, I found this recipe for preserves, which seemed easiest. It is very easy. I halved the recipe, and I hope I didn't cook them too long, because the preserves are really thick. I did use the kitchen shears at the end to chop up the figs in the preserve as they were too large, in my opinion. But the preserves are so yummy, and thick, and figgy. They taste like candy.

Also at Whole Foods yesterday: Meyer lemons. I bought 6.

While the figs were simmering I made another batch of Dilled Carrots. When my sister-in-law and I went to the farm on Thursday we decided that I should take the whole bowl of carrots this week and make them all into dilled carrots, and then give her half the jars. Works for me! Again, it's such an easy recipe I don't mind. I ran out of the fresh dill so I did use dried dill in one of the jars. I'm not worried, though. It should be fine. I got 4.5 pints out of that batch and will keep just 2 pints.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Heart is No Longer Broken

While our blueberry picking spot is not yet up to previous levels, we were at least able to get enough blueberries overall to make 10 cups of jam and save 3 cups of berries in the freezer for pancakes. In the blazing heat this morning we went out and picked 4 pints of tiny little berries. My watched stopped; it's very disorienting to keep looking at your wrist and see the same time. Oh, well. Today we searched high...
and low. We came face to face with a deer. Who was rather displeased to see us. She snorted at us a couple of times and bounded off. We ate blackberries and even found 4 raspberries. We saw a chipmunk. A bright chartreuse grasshopper. And a big praying mantis.
(No bugs were harmed in the making of this jam.)

Friday, July 9, 2010


Finally! I've been looking forward to this for a month - our highly anticipated sausage lesson! I brought my husband since we were warned ahead of time that this was really a two person job, if at all possible. So now we both know how to make sausages. We had a really fun time, and Michelle, our instructor, is a great hostess and teacher.

She even had the cooking show flair going - she had precut a bowl of meat and spiced it and put it in the fridge, so that when were done cutting up the meat and spicing it, we wouldn't have to wait. She put one bowl in the fridge and, voila, produced a well chilled bowl of seasoned pork ready to be ground.

It's a fairly simple process as long as you have the space, the grinder, and the casings. We learned how to prepare the casings (not as bad as I had anticipated), grind up the meat:
bind the meat with the spices and cream (we made bratwurst, which calls for egg and cream):and then stuff the casing. There were more technical difficulties at this step; we had casings split on us (not the end of the world) and there is a distinct lack of uniformity to the length of the links. Not bad for a first try, though!
We made a total of 42 sausages, with an additional 3 small patties since we ran out of casings. They were chilled for a day then I froze them in units of 4 to 9 sausages each, depending on their sizes. Tonight we had our very own grilled sausages, with homemade pickles, homemade ketchup, and marinated farm share fava beans. How satisfying is that?

Dilled Carrots

Last year I made a batch of dilled carrots on a whim, not really knowing what they tasted like or anything. We loved them. They were spicy and crisp. Yesterday's farm share included a bowl of carrots (everything is measured in mixing bowls...a bowl of greens, say, or 2 bowls of mix and match veggies, so you can pick what you want) and half a bowl is a lot of little carrots. It was a good time to make the dilled carrots again.

This year the farm doesn't seem to have fresh dill, at least not yet, so I bought some sprigs since I don't have the flower heads called for in the recipe (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving). I did use the fresh garlic from the farm rather than the onions I had last year. This week's crop of carrots was enough to make 2 pints. That's good to start; they really don't take long so if I get an abundance of carrots again later I'll make more. I would have made them yesterday, but last night was the sausage making lesson. After we have some sausages for dinner I'll report in about that. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wild Blueberries are Coming

Well, sort of. Remember last year? My best guess as to what happened is that the power company put herbicide under the high tension wires. Which makes no sense to me because there were absolutely no access issues with regards to getting to the lines. Yesterday, I got off work and went straight there with the intention of just seeing if everything was coming back or not. Some of the bushes are starting to grow back, but it'll be years before it's like it was. That is, if they don't get killed off again. So I wandered around for 2.5 hours, finding areas where there were some bushes that hadn't died off. I managed to find a pint of basically ripe berries in that time. It's early in the season, so we'll head back there again (hopefully after the heat wave is over) and see if we can't get at least 3 more pints so I can make a batch of jam. I don't think I'll be able to get extra to freeze. We used to get 8 pints in 4 hours with 2 adults and 2 kids picking. They're just not that plentiful there anymore.

Just as an aside, I don't usually comment on things outside my own hobby here, but this is the strangest thing I've ever seen: Occult Jam. I don't even really know what to say about it other than that it's strange. And doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July Plum Sauce

I've been waiting for a day when I had time to work on this plum sauce idea and, even though I have to work tonight, I have plenty of time during the day. So, after hanging up the flag outside, I got cooking!

I used the plum sauce recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving but, since I was just using plum juice, I had to make a few changes to the recipe:

4 c. plum juice
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. cider vinegar
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic (farm share!) minced
1 T. ginger, minced
1 t. dried red pepper
2 T. mustard seed
1 T. kosher salt
1/4 c. powdered low-sugar pectin

The pectin was an afterthought. After reducing the sauce for an hour, and running the immersion blender through it, it still wasn't thickening up. So I thought about it and decided to try some of the low-sugar recipe pectin I had. One half of the package is about 1/4 cup. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the other half-package. (Note to self: use powdered mustard instead of the seeds, they don't blend well.)

I'm putting this into 4 ounce jars since I think that small amounts of plum sauce are more likely to get opened and used. Hopefully I'll take some to work tonight with chicken nuggets for people to share. We usually try to have a little pot luck on holiday shifts.

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Farm Share Dinner Tonight!

Today's farm share, the first one my sister-in-law and I have needed to split, consisted of: 2 heads of lettuce, 1 large bowl of tat soi, 1 head of garlic, 4 basil plants, 12 carrots, 6 really small zucchini/summer squash, 2 cucumbers, 30 fava bean pods, 1 pint each of snow peas and shell peas, 5 stems of cosmos, and herbs. I didn't pick up the herbs. So here's what I'm doing with my half:

I marinated the fava beans using this recipe and will likely eat them tomorrow. Except that instead of shallots and chives, I used garlic scapes.

Tonight's dinner is chicken nuggets, biscuits, and salad (red lettuce, cuke, shell peas, radishes from my garden, maybe some goat cheese) with an "only Mom will eat" stir fry of the squashes with garlic scapes, some carrots, and the tat soi. Right now the kids are munching on carrots and cucumber slices.

I combined the snow peas with the leftover half-pint from 2 weeks ago and will find something to do with them in the next few days.

While I was dropping of the share at my brother's house, we went outside to check out their wild blackberry and concord grape vines. The blackberries are just forming, nowhere near ripe yet, but there have to be about a thousand on the big bush. I have never seen so many in one place! And the grapes should be enough to make them some grape jelly (we haven't even made a dent in last year's batch, so I won't make more for us). This is so exciting! More gleaning! More canning!