Monday, October 3, 2022

Fair in the Rain

We went up to the Fair two days ago, the weather was rainy but not super windy. It was the little bit of Hurricane Ian that reached New England, I guess. Generally, I prefer to be at the Fair in the rain because fewer people go so it doesn't feel as crowded. 

From the canning perspective, I won first place for sauerkraut and for tomato (pizza) sauce, and second place for the mulberry jelly, raspberry jam, and salsa verde. I didn't bake anything for the baking competition, but I did spend Friday baking a cake for the elderchild's birthday. More on that later.

One of the most fun parts for us is seeing the rabbits, and this year we spent some time watching the judging of some larger rabbits. There are these little stalls with wire doors that flip up so the rabbits are put in one side and the judge takes them out the other side and examines them. The rest of the rabbits, though, are all trying to get out of the stalls, and so every so often a rabbit's head pokes up above the stalls and a person has to hurry and push it back down before it jumps out. It's like whack-a-mole, but gently and with rabbits. It was so funny to watch!

After about four hours, we headed home, and I spent the rest of the afternoon frosting the cake I'd made and making chile rellenos for dinner.

Ah, the cake. The elderchild requested a red velvet cake like the one on this season's Great British Bake Off (the technical challenge). I looked up their recipe and, after making a run up to Saugus to get 6" cake pans which I discovered I needed right when I was about to start preparing the ingredients, followed the recipe to the letter. It SANK. I'm not sure why. So I cleaned up, went back out to the store to get more red food coloring and cocoa, and used a different recipe, which worked. And tasted really good, I might add. I did use the frosting from the GBBO recipe, which tasted great, but it was so runny. I had to put a skewer in the cake to keep it upright while I tried to frost it. There was a lot of cursing. 

Ultimately, the cake tasted fantastic, even if it was not as smoothly frosted as the ones on TV. 

Happy Birthday!


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Still Tomato Season

This week I was able to bring home another bag of plum tomatoes from the farm. It must have been about 12 pounds! Today I ran them through the food mill, yielding 16 cups of purée. Once it cooked down, I was able to can six pints of tomato sauce. Three pints have Persian spices and three pints are plain. It's a lot of work to get the purée and makes a big mess but it is worth it to have homemade tomato sauce. 

I miss the Jolly tomatoes the farm used to plant - these were nice to can whole since they were incredibly uniform in size. The closest I've seen lately were the weird hybrids mixed in with the Sungolds. When I went back this past week, they'd all split due to the recent rain and there weren't any good ones left. I wonder how many more weeks we'll get decent tomatoes before the weather catches up with us?

Friday, September 16, 2022

Spicy Gifts

For the past two weeks at the farm, the hot peppers have been in full swing. Since I could get 20 each time, I ended up with 40 Hungarian Hot Wax peppers to make hot sauce with. This is the recipe from my brother-in-law, which uses mustard, vinegar, sugar and hot peppers to make a spread. It's thickened with a flour and water mixture which, while not the preferred thickener for canning, works well as long as it's used quickly.

This batch made about 19 cups of the sauce, and I put 10 cups into 20 half-cup jars to add to my gift stash. I don't really know how many jars I need for the stash this year, but this gives the stash a significant boost. 

Sometime over the weekend, I'll take the next round of plum tomatoes and make more tomato sauce. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Tomato Sauce

Last week the farm share was still flush with tomatoes. I grabbed as many plum tomatoes as I could carry and let them ripen for a few days on the counter. Tonight I processed them through the food mill, getting 13 cups of purée which I then cooked down to 6 cups of sauce. Each pint has a sprig of basil, some lemon juice and salt. Maybe there will still be more this week? It's been warm enough and there were still plenty of green ones on the vines. Having a lot of tomato sauce around has been really handy. 

In the row of sungold cherry tomatoes, which I love, I found a single plant that appears to have been some sort of cross between a larger red tomato and sungolds. Or something. It might have been a random heirloom seedling that got mixed in. Anyway, these tomatoes were about 1.5 inches across, deep greenish-red, and flavorful. I made a tomato tart out of most of the ones I picked. Yum.

Thanks to the elderchild, I've been introduced to a YouTube series called Pasta Grannies. They're incredibly inspiring. I may have to start making more pasta by hand!

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Unlimited Tomatoes

This past week at the farm, we were instructed we could pick unlimited tomatoes. Turns out, the limiting factor was how much I could carry. Between the plum tomatoes I've frozen from prior weeks and the tomatoes I lugged across the field, I had enough purée to make a full batch of pizza sauce. 13 cups of purée, 1/2 cup lemon juice, spices (I used Ferla Spice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder) and time. I ended up with four 12-ounce jars and four 8-ounce jars. I followed the recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

After checking with the woman who runs the canning competition at the fair, I will enter this in the "Tomato Sauce" category, rather than the "Spaghetti Sauce" category. 

As of today, I have five things to enter. Last year I had four. The maximum a person can enter is ten classes (it used to be fifteen, I am not sure when that changed). I think I'm done, and can spend the next few days getting everything labeled correctly. They need to be dropped off on Saturday. 

If there are more tomatoes next week at the farm, I will try to get some to make a batch of regular tomato sauce, as I've been out of that for a while as well. 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Disappointing

We've been picking raspberries at the local farm for years. In the past few years, they have taken out most of the raspberry bushes in favor of expanding to a more broad selection of crops and a farm stand. Which is fine, but that means fewer raspberries. Recently they've taken to limiting the amount of raspberries a group can pick. This morning three of us went, and we were only able to pick three pints.

What that means is I was unable to make raspberry jam without pectin and had just enough berries to make a batch of jam with pectin. There were no berries left over for snacking. I guess it'll have to do. 

Friday, September 2, 2022

End of Summer

School has started for the kids, and the farm share has gone into high production mode. Considering how dry it has been lately, it's surprising how much I brought home yesterday. Time to get canning!

Today I made five half-pint jars of salsa verde, with the intention of entering it in the fair. I think my proportions might have been a little off because it was fairly watery, so I strained out some of the liquid before canning it. Likely the tomatillos had more water in them than I was expecting.

I have many pounds of plum tomatoes to run through the food mill tomorrow, so I can make a large batch of pizza sauce. I am not sure I will enter pizza sauce in the fair partly because I don't know if it falls into the "tomato sauce" or "spaghetti sauce" categories, and partly because I'm not sure if I even want to sacrifice a jar because this is one of the things that gets used up quickly.