Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's in the Canner Today?

4 pints of chicken broth and, later, there will be chicken and root vegetable soup.

Today's recipe for chicken soup was an effort to work through some of the farm share produce:

1/3 of a rotisserie chicken
8 pints of water
salt, peppercorns, thyme, and 2 bay leaves

Once the broth was made, I strained it, and skimmed off 4 pints to can (regular mouth jars, 10 lbs of pressure, 20 minutes). I removed the bones and set the meat aside.

2 leeks, sliced
5 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 turnips, diced
1 rutabaga, diced
2 celeriac bulbs, diced
2 large potatoes, diced

The leeks and garlic were browned in olive oil, then the rest of the vegetables except the potatoes were added and browned a little as well. I put the rest of the broth back, added 3 pints of water, the potatoes, and the chicken (with the peppercorns, thyme and bay). This is now simmering for lunch and later canning. If there's any left to can - I'm thinking there won't be a lot of leftovers!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Farewell to the Farm

Today was the last farm share pick up. As with last week, I got the full share because my sister-in-law is overwhelmed. The leaves have been falling and the entire walk to the shelter where the produce gets picked up was all crunchy and red, with no dirt path left, just leaves everywhere. It was so beautiful!

This is what is left in my house, not counting 1 peck of apples:
Beets, turnips, rutabagas, celeriac, carrots, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, 5 squash (all different), onions, garlic, leeks, brussel sprouts, kale, pumpkin, lettuce, arugula, tat soi, and the last of the escarole.

We're going to miss the farm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lots and Lots of Apples

It's been an entire week since I have had time to do any canning, and the apples have been piling up! We still had half of what we picked during our apple picking outing, and then 3 half-peck bags from the farm share. Since my sister-in-law decided they were basically done with the share, I figured I would take their share of the apples and make applesauce for them, so it's all ready for them whenever they want it. That's today's task.

First I used up the apple picking apples making chunky applesauce. If you boil apples with just a little water, they break down. But, if you add the sugar when they're boiling, they stay chunky. 17 apples were peeled, chopped, and boiled with 2 c. of water and 1.5 c. of white sugar. After it was the right consistency, I added 2 t. of cinnamon and ended up with 3 quarts of not-too-sweet chunky applesauce.

The next batch was going to be another pink-smooth batch, so out came the food mill. I chopped up the apples and have boiled them with a little water, 9 apples at a time, for 3 batches, which get run through the food mill and then put into one large pot. I added just about 3 c. of sugar, and ended up with 5.5 quarts. I'll have to process in two batches since the canner can only hold 7 quarts!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I just tried those green tomato pickles from last week. Let's just say they are an acquired taste.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Going a Little Crazy with Soups

For some reason, I got it in my head that I should make borscht as a way to use up some of the cabbage in my fridge. I've never had borscht. I don't even know what it is supposed to taste like. But, as often happens, once these ideas get in my head, the only thing to do is to follow them through. So I perused 1001 Delicious Soups and Stews and found not 1, but 4 recipes for borscht. I had no idea.

This recipe, for Russian Borscht (as opposed to Ukranian or Eastern European) used up only 1/2 head of cabbage, leaving me with 1 1/2 heads of red cabbage left to consume somehow... It did call for turnip, beets, carrots, and onion, all shredded, which was a joy of a task. However, it was all worth it. At least the grown ups liked it. The 4 year old tried a teeny little taste and then spent 5 minutes licking a cloth to get rid of the taste.

Regardless, the leftovers ended up in 1 quart and 3 pints and were processed in the pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure. They lost all that lovely red color. Maybe they are not supposed to be canned this way? Anyone out there know?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Apple Pie in a Jar

Somehow I managed to set aside some time today to make the Apple Pie in a Jar which I plan to give as gifts this holiday season. (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.) I like this recipe - not just because it tastes just like apple pie, but also because I get to use a lot of my kitchen gizmos which normally just sit in the cupboard. Things like - my hand held juicer:
and my little chopper:
I also decided to use the fancy little jars I'd purchased from Kitchen Arts after the canning demo - they are darling and will make very cute gifts. The one-piece lids are a little strange to me. The instructions state to keep the jars in the water after processing and let it cool, then remove the jars. 9 of the 11 jars sealed properly, but 2 did not. Referring again to the instructions, they were reprocessed and are currently cooling. Hopefully they worked. I suppose if I can't get it to work properly, I can always use paraffin and then just put the lids on without processing. But, aren't they cute?
The farm share is almost done; just 2 more weeks. We loved it so much we've already sent in our money for next year. I'll leave you today with a photo of most of this weeks's share (minus the apples, escarole, and onions):

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Garden Clean Out

I've been stalling for days, but it was time to dismantle the vegetable garden (such as it was). Since I have it on a roof deck, getting the soil, compost, and plants up there is a chore, but getting them down is easy! I dumped all the pots over the side (very satisfying) and got all the hoses coiled up, tomato cages tied down, and pots stacked for winter, then I went back down and got all the plants out of the soil and put them in the yard waste. The rest of the soil was raked into the side yard, which could probably use it.

I was left with 1 cup of green cherry and grape tomatoes, and a hankering not to waste them. Enter The Joy of Pickling! I made a half-batch of Pickled Green Cherry Tomatoes (page 145), which are refrigerator pickles. As I didn't have dill sprigs I used dried dill, and I didn't have horseradish root so I made do with a small spoonful of prepared horseradish. So the liquid is cloudy because of the horseradish, but hopefully the taste will be the same. I put a little label on it: Eat After 10/21/09. Supposedly it lasts 2 months in the fridge. We'll see.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apple Picking

Today started out overcast and rainy but quickly cleared to one of the nicest fall days we've had so far. We had planned to go apple picking, isn't it nice when Mother Nature goes along with the plan? Fortunately we went early, so by the time we had all our apples, ran in the hay bale maze, fed the goats and bunnies, and ate cider doughnuts and drank cider, the place was mobbed and we were happy to leave. We picked 1/2 bushel of apples: Honey Crisp, Empire, Cortland, Jonagold, Fortune, and a couple of Macintosh and Red Delicious. We've been home 2 hours and so far we've made caramel apples (with one caramel pear for the family member who cannot eat raw apples) and I baked an apple pie.

I have not made a pie crust since college. I tried, and my crusts were always too dry and fell apart, or they would stick to the rolling pin. No matter how much flour I used, I could not get them to work properly. So I gave up long ago, until a nurse at work suggested saran wrap. He said it worked better than waxed paper (which I had also tried). Hooray! It worked! And it was so easy! (Can you tell I'm excited?)

When I was a kid, my mother made apple pies. AWESOME apple pies. And she would always take the leftover crust dough and make a little tart for us to eat for a snack - just some strawberry jam in the middle. It always made me feel special.

Thanks, Mom.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Farm Share Apples

Each week for 8 weeks we get our "fruit share," in addition to the regular farm share. I have been tossing 1/2 peck of apples in the fridge every week, figuring that if we don't eat them, I can make applesauce. Well, today since I was staying around the house waiting for the annual boiler maintenance to happen, I finally got to them. I washed and cut up the apples, leaving the skins and cores, and boiled them with a little water, then ran them through the food mill. This batch is "pink-smooth-white sugar" and yielded 5 quarts, but it's not too sweet since I only added 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the potful of sauce. (I'm having an easier time washing the food mill, by the way - lots of practice lately!) And I got to eat the leftovers for lunch. Mmmmm.

(Regarding the photo, really, it's pink. I know it's hard to tell...)

Hopefully we'll be going apple picking this weekend, so I'll have even MORE apples. Maybe there will be "Apple Pie in a Jar" in our future!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Soup Experiment

There were 3 bulbs of celeriac in my fridge just waiting to be turned into soup. What better time to do that than when sleep deprived and hungry?

The problem was, I've never used celeriac before (hooray for the farm share, lots of new foods this year!) and I couldn't find a recipe which matched my ingredient list exactly. But I read a bunch of recipes and got the basic gist of what I was supposed to do here, so I improvised:

3 bulbs celeriac, trimmed, peeled, and chopped
handful of celeriac stems and leaves, chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
1 pint chicken stock
1 pint water
salt and pepper

I sauteed the leeks and garlic in the olive oil, then added the rest of the vegetables and sauteed them for a few minutes. Then I added the liquids, salt and pepper, and got it boiling. This simmered for about 40 minutes until everything was soft. Then I took the hand-held blender and pureed everything. We had some for dinner - it's flavorful and very filling - and I canned the leftovers into 2 pint jars (10 lbs of pressure, 75 minutes) plus a little extra for the fridge. I think it worked out OK for a first attempt, anyway!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Soup Season Has Started

This morning we overslept. It's raining, and dark, so that is no surprise. The weather just cried out for a soup. So I pulled out the frozen leftover prime rib roast bones and bone-in steaks we just couldn't finish one night, and put them in the big pot with 7 pints of water. All the vegetables are from the farm share (yay!). Here's the full recipe:

5 beef bones with meat left on
7 pints water
kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 T. soy sauce
1 package of frozen bok choi/joy choy
1 pound of small potatoes, cubed
1 onion, diced

This simmered on the stove for several hours and when the beef was no longer frozen I took it out, cubed it and put it back in the pot with the bones. I only took the bones out when I was ready to can the rest of the soup. My parents joined us for lunch. I made heart-shaped Bisquick biscuits and, in my opinion, the soup was yummy! (Those of you who were at lunch may comment if you wish...) The leftover soup fit into 3 quart jars and 1 pint and are in the pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure. I still have a to do list for canning, as I have 3 bags of apples in the fridge and also 3 celeriac roots, 2 turnips, and a bunch of carrots which I was hoping to turn into another soup. Anyone out there have an idea for how I can take those 3 ingredients and make something soup-ish?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Video is UP!

Please go to the Kitchen Arts webpage to see a short video synopsis of my canning demo. What fun, and thanks to Owen Mack for hosting and for his excellent editing skills! The video can also be found here! (The video will play if you get this post on its own screen by clicking on the title of the post.)