Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ahead of the Curve

It seems I have started a trend.

Over the past few years I have felt very strange standing on the corner of the off-ramp, picking mulberries from the tree. There have been curious looks and even the occasional unsettling yell from a passing car. Which I have tried to ignore.

This year, I have noticed I'm not the only one going to this tree. I've seen an older man, just standing there eating berries. He looked happy. That's nice. Today I drove past the tree and saw a young woman picking berries as well. I'm glad - there are enough for all of us.

Yesterday I took the kids and we picked white mulberries from the trees at the conservation land. We even saw a painted turtle on the sidewalk and debated what to do about it for a while before a man joined the conversation. He picked it up and put it back in the woods. (It scurried away. Scurried. I had no idea turtles could move that fast on land!) Then we picked more black mulberries. I combined them and made a crisp. Actually, I made 4 little individual crisps in ramekins and the rest in a little dish. Here's the topping (it's only half of the recipe - if you use the full recipe it's enough for a large corning ware dish):

1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. rolled oats
3/8 c. flour
3/8 c. packed brown sugar

This was cut together with a pastry cutter and sprinkled over the mulberries which had been mixed with a little sugar. Baked at 375 for about 30 minutes and then kept warm in the oven until we were ready to eat. Topped them with a little bit of heavy cream and they were gone in seconds!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Early Summer Bounty

Last Thursday I picked up the farm share: 1 head of lettuce, 8 scallions, 8 turnips, 12 garlic scapes, 1/2 a pound of spinach, and then 2 quarts each of snow, snap and shell peas, plus 2 quarts of strawberries. In the rain. The peas and berries were pick-your-own. Brr!

All that's left at this point are the snow peas, the turnips and the garlic scapes, but we're working through them. We had a terrific, completely-farm-share salad:
sauteed snap peas with garlic scapes and mint (the latter from my own garden):
sauteed spinach with the scapes, I also used the scapes instead of shallots for a tequila shrimp recipe we had for dinner the other night, and I brought the shelled peas to my parents' and we added them at the last minute to some cooked baby carrots so they would be heated up but not really cooked. They were excellent. Fresh peas are so tasty!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Triple Berry

This morning I picked a pint of mulberries. They aren't at the peak of ripeness yet, but I figured it would be OK for jam. I crushed these with about a half a cup of blueberries, added 2 T. lemon juice, 3/4 c. sugar, and half a package of powdered low-sugar pectin. Then I added the contents of those last 2 pints of strawberry jam and boiled it all together. 2 pints and one 4-ounce jar are currently processing. I'd made this triple berry combo before and it is yummy, so definitely worth making again. And this concoction seems to have gelled. That's good, too!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Second Attempt

Last year I made 2 consecutive batches of strawberry jam and we noticed that some set and some didn't. I wondered if the distinction was the batch - slightly smaller pot, utensils maybe not dry, or something - but couldn't tell. So I paid attention the other day and noted that the second batch, in the slightly smaller pot, didn't set up. But then I noticed that 2 of the other 4 pints didn't set up either. So I have no idea what's going on. But there is a way to make them gel.

Tonight I boiled 4 pints of jam with another package of Certo, 1 and a half cups of sugar, and 4 T. lemon juice. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will work. If it does, tomorrow I'll take the other 2 pints and mix them with some mulberries and blueberries (if they don't get eaten by then) and make a new batch of triple berry jam. We do, after all, have a lot of strawberry jam variations so can handle losing a couple of pints...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Record Time


Tonight I made a double batch of Strawberry Rhubarb jam and finished off all those strawberries. I now have 6 pints of this plus all the other things I made since yesterday. For the record, 17 pounds of strawberries makes:

8 pints of strawberry jam, 6 pints of strawberry rhubarb jam, 4 pints of strawberry margarita jam, 5 quarts of strawberry lemonade concentrate, one strawberry rhubarb pie, with about 2 quarts of berries for eating.

Next up, mulberries! The tree around the corner is almost ready....

The Farm is Back!

Gotta love spring! Last week the farm opened and Steph got the first share. This week was my turn, and I picked up: 1 large bok choi, 1 bowl of arugula, 6 Hakurei turnips, 4 radishes, 6 garlic scapes, 1 and a half pounds of spinach, 1 quart of strawberries, 1 pint of snow peas, and a bunch of cilantro.

One and a half pounds of spinach is a LOT of spinach.

Tonight we're having a spinach-arugula-strawberry salad, lobster, corn on the cob, and the rest of the strawberry-rhubarb pie. Love, love, LOVE the farm!

Strawberry Beverages!

I impulse-bought a new canning cookbook, one of those little magazine ones at the check out counter. It's from Better Homes and Gardens. Now, my mother has gotten BH&G for as long as I can remember. I love looking through them. Although, I confess, since I've been a home owner the garden and decorating sections always make me feel inadequate. But this canning book! It has great recipes. One of the first ones is Strawberry Margarita Jam. Yes, it has tequila in it! Cooking it made me want a margarita. But it was 8:00 in the morning. So I'll have to make do with the jam. It claimed to make 7 cups but really made 8, so there is some in the fridge because I didn't have enough jars prepped. It's berries, lime juice, tequila, triple sec, sugar, pectin, and grated lime zest. Mmmm.

I then turned my attention to a double batch of Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving). We'd bought a 5 pound bag of sugar last night and I'm already halfway through it and need to go buy more! Anyhow, there are 5 quarts of this in the canner and I can now see the bottom of the box of berries. I think I only have about 3 quarts left. I will likely throw together another batch of jam this afternoon. Maybe Strawberry Rhubarb.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

17 Pounds

That's how many strawberries I picked. In about 45 minutes. With a friend (Hi, Lisa!) for company, but we each picked our own. She was talking about strawberry shortcake. I have other plans....

In the 2 hours since I've been home, I have made a strawberry rhubarb pie:
a raspberry tart:and 8 pints (that's 2 batches) of strawberry jam. And I've only made it a third of the way through the berries:
But I expect to make 2 or 3 batches of strawberry lemonade concentrate, and a batch of strawberry margarita jam. And maybe another pie. And I've already set aside a bunch for just eating:

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Yesterday we were in the toy store looking for a birthday present and I found these.

They're brilliant. I had to buy them. So I did. I found out rather quickly that:
1. I am not a professional cookie decorator.
2. Red frosting should not be used over a carpet.
3. Getting them to look like the ninjas on the box is almost impossible.
4. The kids don't care about them looking like the ninjas on the box. Only I do.
5. I should not worry so much about perfection.
6. Edible markers are your friends.
It's a whole army of ninjabread warriors!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Car's in the Shop

While I'm at home, waiting for new brakes, I have time to work on some rhubarb (yes, I bought more) and apricots. I got to thinking they would go well together, and I think I was right. I took the rhubarb chutney recipe I usually use from The Joy of Pickling and substituted some apricots in for the rhubarb, so it was 1 pound of rhubarb and 12 ounces of apricots. The rest of the recipe was exactly the same - 3 cups onions, 2 T. minced fresh ginger, 2 c. cider vinegar, 1.5 c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, 1 cinnamon stick, zest of one orange, 1 c. golden raisins, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. This all simmered together for 35 minutes and then I canned it, minus the cinnamon stick. I ended up with 7.5 cups of chutney.

At this point, I had run out of lids, so I rode my bike to the hardware store and bought more. I also took a few side trips since I'm working on a scavenger hunt for our neighborhood newsletter. I was getting locations and appropriate questions for kids to go find and answer. We have some pretty cool Revolutionary War history in our town and it's nice to take stock of it once in a while.

Once I got back I made a batch of Apricot-Rhubarb Jam - for this I used the Certo recipe for apricot jam and, instead of 3.5 cups chopped apricots, used 2.5 cups of apricots and 1 cup of rhubarb. I also added maybe a half a cup more sugar, thinking the rhubarb might need it. This made 3 pint jars and a little extra for tasting. I'm not sure why I ended up with less volume (the original recipe makes 7 cups) but maybe the rhubarb cooks down more than the apricots do?