Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Curds and Whey FAIL

Usually, when my cooking hits a snag, it's at least recoverable in a way that is edible, even if it is not pretty. But not today.

I swung by the raw milk dairy again and picked up a couple of gallons. The cheese making went smoothly, even if I did forget to add salt. That's OK, the final product just won't have salt. It's still cheese. But I had hoped to take the leftover whey and make ricotta. It is, after all, a whey cheese, and it's supposed to be easy.

The amount of whey left over from a gallon of milk was probably 3 quarts. According to the recipe in Home Cheese Making, I was to just heat the whey until foam formed, let it set for 5 minutes, skim off the foam and then strain in butter muslin. I even invested in butter muslin in order to have a better chance of making this work. I followed the directions. I poured. No ricotta.

I heated up the whey again, got more foam, went through the whole process again. The amount of ricotta on the muslin was barely a quarter of a teaspoon, not the promised quarter of a pound. I'm not even really sure what I did wrong. All I know is that I now have just over 2 quarts of whey left and no clear plan for what to do with it. I have heard that some people drink it, and others use it in soups to add nutrition. I'm storing it in the fridge until I figure it out. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Gift Delivery

It is time! I've been stocking up my gift stash over the last 4 months, getting ready for the holidays. There are a gazillion people on my Christmas list, I think. All my neighbors, people I work with, the mailman, the kids' teachers, the trash collectors, and so on.

Today I went to the cookie store in town (an amazing place, and one of a kind) and bought 5 dozen cookies for the folks at work, to augment the canned goods. Some of the cookies go to the ancillary departments around the ER but with about 2 dozen I made a basket for the nurses, techs, secretaries, and other staff in the ER. The cookies got individually bagged and placed among the jars of jam, pickles, relish, and some crackers (for the relish). I think it looks great - it's the first time I've ever really assembled my own basket...
What do you think?

Friday, December 10, 2010


I've said this before: everything is better when baked into a pie.

Today I trotted out the apple pie filling so I could make a pie for a family gathering. I made my own crust. It's so much better when I do. I even thought ahead and cleared enough space on the counter to roll it out. Which I did in saran wrap so the crust wouldn't stick to anything. Worked GREAT! I am returning my mother's pie plate to her today, so what better way than with a pie in it?

The pie used 2 pints of the pie filling. I suppose I could have shoved a third pint in there, but then it might have overflowed. So, while the top crust isn't as high as it would be if there had been 9 cups of fresh apples, it's pretty. I dolled it up with the hearts, as you can see. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Remember back in August when I picked all the blackberries I could find in my brother's backyard? And how I froze a quart of them, waiting for the opportunity to make barbecue sauce? Well, I just couldn't seem to find the right recipe for what I had in mind. So I waited. And I bought mangoes. And I waited. And, wait... mangoes?


In the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a recipe for Zesty Peach BBQ Sauce. I've made it before. It was divine. I don't know why I didn't think of this before but, mango-blackberry BBQ sauce it is!

After thawing the blackberries just a little, I ran them through the blender and ended up with almost 3 cups of coarse puree. To this I added enough chopped mango to make a total of 6 cups of fruit. The rest of the recipe is the same (page 263). It's merrily bubbling away on the stove, thickening up until it's the right consistency and then I will process it. Last year's batch made only 5 jars, so I suspect I won't get much more than that this time. Preliminary taste tests indicate a success!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mango + Quince = Mmmmm!

On my failed attempt to get to the mall the other day, I found myself near a relatively new and much lauded Korean grocery store and in completely stalled traffic. I turned into their parking lot, figuring I'd just check it out and see what all the fuss was about.


I've never seen anything like it, even in Korea! At least, for the most part, I could recognize the food, even if I couldn't read the characters on the packages. It is more of an all-Asian grocery superstore. The produce section was huge. With amazing prices. There was an entire wall of kimchi and a whole area to buy meat and sides for Korean BBQ. Oh, and the fish... fresh and frozen and sushi grade and, and, and.... It was all I could do to restrain myself, but I managed to get out of there with only a few things. 2 of those things were a case of mangoes and 3 quinces.

Quinces are hard to come by and, when they are around, they tend to be expensive. Here they were 99 cents each. I had been meaning to make another batch of Mangorine jam, but there were no nectarines, and there were quinces, and I thought, why not?

This morning I made 2 batches of Mango-Quince jam. Here's the recipe for 1 batch:

3 c. mangoes, chopped
2 c. quince, chopped
2 T. lemon juice
6 c. sugar
1 pouch of Certo

cooked up in the standard way. I ended up with 9 half-pints and 10 half-cup jars, and I think my gift stash is complete!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Solo Cheese Making

Did I mention I was going to cook a lot this weekend?

Although, I'm not sure making cheese is properly classified as "cooking." We took a trip out to Eastleigh Farm today to get more milk as I wanted to make more cheese. This weekend Mrs. Claus was visiting the farm, and they were giving hay rides and tours of the milking barn. The owner very kindly showed us how they milk the cows, pointed out the differences between their set up and other dairy farms we have seen, and even took us to the cooling tanks so we could see where the milk ends up before it gets bottled. So, after a lunch of ice cream, we had our tour and hayride, then returned to chat with Mrs. Claus and pick up the milk. We even got a free T-shirt!

Almost as soon as I got home I started on the cheese. This time I decided to make 2 cheeses, one with olives and one plain, so I heated up both gallons of milk in 2 pots. I added 4/5 of a capful of the enzyme to each gallon and let them sit for almost a hour, just like before. I had 2 strainers with cheesecloth set up and, once the cheese was mostly drained, I mixed a small can of chopped olives into one of them. I am hoping that by adding less curd to the same sized mold the cheese might be a little softer. They are now in the fridge setting up. I will have to check on them more frequently to drain the whey off the plate, since I didn't press as much out as last time.

Solo Sausage Making

This weekend is going to be a cooking weekend for me!

I've been looking forward to making sausages ever since our lesson over the summer, but then got delayed by my finger. That darn pinky sure caused a lot of problems! Anyway, I bought casings on line from the Sausage Source and, while I was at it, got another cookbook. You can never have enough cookbooks. Yesterday I made Maple "Breakfast" sausages. I put "breakfast" in quotes because, well, since I didn't have sheep casings they were not going to be breakfast-sausage-size. I don't think it will be a problem to have them for dinner tonight. Or to have larger sausages at breakfast.

First, the mise en place: the meat (a pork shoulder) was cut up and frozen for 30 minutes to make it easier to grind. The spices and liquids were measured out. I had the right amount of chopped onion. The grinder was set up and ready to go.
I started the grind. Even with the cold meat, the grinder did get clogged and I had to disassemble, clean and reassemble before I could complete the process. Once the meat was ground, I added the chopped onion and ground it again. Then I mixed in the spices and the maple syrup and milk. Everything went into the fridge at this point because I had it in my head that I had to go to the mall.

I never did make it to the mall. The traffic was amazingly bad.

After I got home, I prepared the casings and started stuffing. I had been planning on waiting for my husband, since it is easier with 4 hands, but couldn't wait and did it myself. Instead of twisting each link as it was filled, I filled the whole casing and then twisted them when they were done. That was a lot easier, as long as the casing wasn't overstuffed. 15 links total.

They've sat overnight in the fridge and I just froze 2 bags of 5 links each. The other 5 links are for dinner tonight! Isn't anticipation great?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Soup

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? We did. Turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprouts with pancetta, cranberry sauce (plain or with habaneros); squash soup, fig-pancetta rolls, and shrimp cocktail for appetizers; pumpkin and pear-plum pies for dessert! We hosted this year so had lots of leftovers to eat. I love turkey sandwiches with stuffing! We are almost done with them all, except for the mashed potatoes - we always make lots more than we need...

Anyway, I've been trying to get the time to make turkey soup and stock. This morning I had a few hours so got to it - the turkey bones with some meat, and 12 pints of water, with salt, pepper, thyme and a bay leaf. Usually I skim off the stock before I make the soup, but I wasn't sure I was going to can any stock so I made the soup first, and then when it became clear I had too much liquid, I skimmed off 2 pints of stock while I was canning the soup. Here's the soup recipe:

Bones of a 15 pound turkey, with some meat
2 medium onions, diced
1 c. diced carrots
2 small sweet potatoes, diced
3 potatoes, diced
6 celery ribs, chopped
12 pints water
kosher salt and pepper
1 bay leaf

I ended up with 3 quarts of soup and 2 pints of stock in the pressure canner. Clearly, 12 pints of water was too much to add! I suppose I could have added more vegetables.... The amount I canned was actually limited by the number of empty jars I had at the moment. Had I simply looked on the drying rack, I would have found 2 more. Oh, well.

I put all 5 jars in the pressure canner and processed for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. I had to leave at a very specific time, and managed to get the canner going with exactly the right amount of time. Which meant I turned it off and walked out the door. 4.5 hours later, I returned and opened the canner and everything was just fine. That was reassuring! One of the first times I used the canner I left it to cool overnight and had to use a screwdriver to pry the lid off because I waited too long.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Prep

The turkey is thawing. Side dishes have been assigned to family members. Dinner is Friday this year. I have the ingredients for pumpkin pie and stuffing. In the freezer I have shrimp for appetizers. I need to get potatoes, a few wedges of cheese, and crackers. I also need to make...cranberry sauce!

We have always just used the recipe on the package: 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to 1 bag of cranberries. I'm using 4 bags of cranberries so I can put up a few jars and still have enough to serve.

And in between all this cooking, I have to work an overnight shift!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheese and...

...guava paste. Cheese and sweet papaya rolls. Cheese and plum jelly. Cheese and toast.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Queijo Fresco

I am lucky enough to be friends with a lovely family from Brasil. Through them I have learned about Brasilian cuisine, including jaboticaba, and all manner of yummy sweets. Brasilian sweets are awesome! But I digress....

Today, one of my dear friends taught me how to make cheese. We've been planning this for months. For my birthday she had one of her aunts bring cheese molds and enzymes back from Brasil and we've been waiting for my finger to heal so I could make the cheese. It's a hands-on project, to say the least! We are starting with queijo fresco (fresh cheese) but, from what I understand, from this we could make all manner of hard or cured cheeses. My friend's grandmother puts things in the queijo fresco, such as chopped up olives or herbs or peppers or whatever else strikes her fancy. The possibilities are endless, I'm told.

In order to make the cheese we needed 5 liters of raw milk. The closest place to purchase raw milk is a 40 minute drive away and I had to sign a waiver before I could buy it. It's the cutest little dairy, and I also got some local honey and a scoop of ice cream while I was at it. (Peppermint, my favorite!) Plus I was greeted by a friendly bulldog and learned a thing or two about raw milk from another customer. I spent a while there, eating my ice cream and chatting with the staff person and customer. Nice place. I'll be going back there, I'm sure.

The first step is heating the milk to "the temperature when it came out of the cow," as my friend put it. So we heated 5 liters of milk in 2 pots and it very quickly got to 97 degrees. We then combined it into 1 pot and added kosher salt. Then we stirred in 1 capful of the enzyme. I think it's a form of chymosin, but I can't read Portuguese to save my life. I'm grateful my friend translated for me. We then let the pot sit while the milk coagulated.

After about 45-50 minutes, it was ready! We cut up the curd with a knife and then let it sit for a few more minutes to let the whey separate a little. Then we strained out the whey using a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Then it was time to put the cheese in the mold.

We both expected that we would fill both the molds and were really surprised when it all fit into one. It is a process that involves a lot of kneading and squeezing the whey out of the cheese. We stuck my cutting board over the sink so the whey could just run off; the mold has holes on the side to let out the whey. They're a little small; either the mold needs more holes or just larger ones. You squeeze and press the cheese into the mold, then pinch the top to break it up and then add more in. Repeat until the cheese feels pretty firm, and then when you think it's ready, flip it. Flipping is probably the hardest part of the process. Pinch up the surface again and add more cheese to the top, and keep pressing...

and pressing...and pressing until it's all in there, smooth and firm, and less of the whey is coming out. Then put it on a plate and put it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a night. Voila!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken Soup is Good For You

When you're sick, there's nothing like a bowl of hot, comforting chicken soup. When you're a mommy and you're sick, while everyone is at work and school is the time to make soup, I guess! We had a rotisserie chicken the other night so I used the rest for stock and soup. First I made 6 pints of stock and then I took the last pint of stock and the meat and made soup.

1 leek, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 celeriac bulbs, diced
1 purple top turnip, diced
1 cabbage, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
chicken meat (I used half a chicken)
1 pt chicken stock
kosher salt
7 pt water
bay leaf

First I sauteed the leek and garlic in olive oil, and added the celeriac, turnip and carrots and sauteed them as well. To this I added the meat and liquids, and spices. After simmering for about an hour, I added the cabbage and simmered for another 30-45 minutes or so.

I put up 6 pints of stock and 5 quarts of soup. Then I ate the rest, and I feel better now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Things That are Good to Know

There is a limit to how long you can microwave popcorn-on-the-cob before it chars and smokes you out of your kitchen.

For us, it seems to be 3.5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Eggs are Local Eggs...

...and local eggs are fresh!

If you grew up in Rhode Island, as I did, you likely remember that jingle. Except it was brown eggs. From Rhode Island Red hens. To this day, when I buy eggs I hear the jingle in my head and I always buy brown eggs. Even when there is a choice. I'm pretty sure my sister is in the same boat.

One of the nurses at work got chickens. Not just a few. She got a whole flock. They started producing eggs a few months ago and now she gets 10-15 eggs a day. The other day, she brought in a dozen as a thank you for another nurse who did her a favor. This got me thinking, so I arranged a barter. One jar of jam (strawberry rhubarb) for a dozen eggs. Cool deal!

This morning we had our first locally produced eggs for breakfast. The shells were thicker and harder. They smelled more...eggy. They tasted great! We are converted. I'm thinking there will be more bartering in our future!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"B" Soup

Beef. Beans. Barley. Beer.

It's an experiment, as are most of my soups. I have been holding on to a pound of Calypso beans I bought last year at a Farmer's Market in Cleveland. They are from Alta Mae Farm, in Middlefield, Ohio. They are such pretty beans, I could not resist. I love the patterns. I think they look like little orcas:
Anyway, I have been waiting for the right time to make something with them. As this is my last free weekend for a while, and it got cold again, it seemed like a good day to make soup. I had leftover pot roast in the fridge, with its tomato based sauce, and it was about a pound and a quarter of meat with about 2 pints of sauce. I rinsed the beans and boiled them for 2 minutes then let them sit, covered, for an hour. They aren't as starkly black and white but they are still pretty!Here's the recipe, all measurements are estimates...

1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
1 bunch celeriac stems, chopped
6 pints water
1 pound Calypso beans, quick-soaked
leftover pot roast plus sauce
2 bay leaves
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle Killian's Irish Red
1.5 cups pearled barley
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a boil, then simmer for a few hours until the barley and the beans are tender. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to can this one or just let us eat it over the next few days!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jalapeno Goo

I am attempting to make jalapeno jelly with the last of the jalapenos. I had 6 ounces, enough for half of the recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I chopped. I pureed. I boiled for 10 minutes. I added the pectin and boiled for 1 minute. I ended up with the thickest, gooiest, most un-jelly-like substance imaginable. It tastes fine. But it's not going to spread well.


Really. I think I am done with apples for a while. Today I made one last batch of applesauce: 2 quarts of chunky with cinnamon and white sugar. It's a little watery, but I suspect it's because of the apples I used. This was a combination of Golden Delicious, Cameo and Empire apples. I like Empire apples. Not just because of the taste...

but because the 5-year-old calls them "Vampire Apples."

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pie at the Ready

So, yeah, my package arrived yesterday with the jelly bag and the Clearjel. After spending some time outdoors this afternoon in the unseasonably warm weather (80 degrees? In Massachusetts? In late October?) I got cracking on that pie filling.

This time I actually spent a few minutes making a lemon juice and water bath for the slices so they wouldn't brown. Then the recipe (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Apple Pie Filling) calls for the apple slices to be blanched. I dug an item out of my cupboard I've had for well over 15 years but never knew what it was for. Just recently I discovered it was for blanching foods. Huh! I used to use it to hang fruit to keep it off the countertop. Live and learn. Anyway, I blanched the apples and then got to work on the Clearjel stuff.

Working with Clearjel is like working with powdered chalk. It's impossible to measure. (Maybe that is because I don't use a spoon to put things in the measuring cups, but I digress.) After I got everything measured I started cooking the starch, sugar and liquid.

Sometimes in the past, when a jam has come precariously close to the edge of the pot and threatened to burn me, we joke about it being like napalm. Never again. Clearjel-enhanced pie filling is the real deal. If this were to spatter onto your flesh while boiling, and you were to rush to the sink to wash it off, nothing would happen. You would have to scrape it off your body with a spatula. And even then you might have trouble with it. Fortunately, this did not happen to me. But I worried about it. A lot.

In the end, I made 7 pints of apple pie filling. It is refreshing when the recipe makes the amount the authors think it should make. And it's tasty!

The other news is that the pins in my finger came out yesterday. While I'm a little sad that I will be going back to working full time, I am looking forward to seeing patients next week and getting the mobility back in my finger. It's really stiff. But it's already improved since yesterday and I can type with all 10 fingers again. I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Concord Grape Juice

This was a farm share project but not a canning project. In the final farm share we received Concord Grapes. We all love the taste, but no one really wants to fuss with the seeds. So I thought about making juice.

When I ordered the Clearjel online I thought that maybe I should order a few other things since I had to pay for shipping anyway. So I chose a jelly bag, which arrived today, and I got to testing it out. Suffice to say, it's messy. I need something with higher sides to catch the juice. I ended up clipping waxed paper to the ring at the top to serve as a splash guard.

Ultimately, I extracted 1.5 cups of juice from approximately 1 pound of grapes. To this I added about a half cup of sugar and it's in the fridge, waiting for breakfast.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Red Root Relish

Last year, we were getting beets all summer from the farm share and I was storing them up until they reached appropriate amounts and would pickle them. My mother-in-law really likes them, so I made sure to give her a few quarts. This year, I got beets exactly once. And only on the very last day. So I had 8 beets and a head of red cabbage from a previous week. To this I added some red peppers foraged from an abandoned vegetable garden at my husband's place of employment (the chef left but did not take his plants, and the new chef wasn't interested in gardening, I guess) and made Red Root Relish.

The recipe came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and was easy. The recipe says it makes 4 pints; I got 3.5. It's very dark red and pretty and it smells great!

We also tried the radish relish on some crackers. I like it. My husband, who likes neither radish nor fennel, declared it, "Not as bad as I anticipated."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Canning a Lot Lately

I have at least 3 projects in the queue right now, but the only one I tackled today was another double batch of Boston Baked Beans. I've done this before and I don't know why but, at the time, I couldn't find a definitive answer for how long to process them. Well, the answer was right under my nose, in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Go figure. A double batch was enough to put up 5 pints and feed 4 people at dinnertime. (80 minutes for pints.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


What else would you name a radish relish?

One night, over a year ago, I was websurfing and came across this recipe for Pickled Radish Relish. I printed out the recipe and tucked it into my cookbook just in case I ever had 3 cups worth of radish. Well, the farm share has had Daikon radishes and I discovered that trying to eat them grated into salad was just too much for our mouths to handle. By chance I rediscovered the printout of this recipe and thought maybe it was worth trying.

Absolutely, yes!

For this batch I used Daikon radish, which is fairly sweet once pickled. Instead of celery I used celeriac stems, which added almost a fennel-like flavor. I used white vinegar. It's festive looking: white radish, purple onion and green celeriac. The recipe makes 2 pints, which is good to know because it doesn't specify on their web page.

That website had a few other interesting recipes but this is the first I've tried. Perhaps I'll have to go try some more!

Apples, Apples, and More Apples

Thanks to help from my visiting sister-in-law, who is here all week, we were able to peel enough apples to make a batch of chunky sauce. We filled up a pot with just over a half-peck of peeled apple chunks, 2 cups of sugar and roughly a cup of water. This boiled a bit, then I added some cinnamon and simmered it some more. When it was the right consistency I filled up 2 quarts and 1 pint and they're processing now.

I have about a peck of apples left and I'm getting another peck of apples this week as today is the last farm share distribution. My local sister-in-law (Steph) is away and she told me to keep everything. I suspect I'll be doing a lot more canning in the next week, then. Anyway, I ordered Clearjel online and that should arrive in a few days. This is necessary to make canned pie filling, which I thought was another good way to preserve the apples, since there is only so much applesauce we can eat. Anyone have any experience with making pie filling?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pickled Goodies

Tonight was a very simple dinner: hamburgers. But it was made all the better because we opened up several jars of pickles and the piccalilli. My husband and I like the Spicy Bread and Butter pickles and the dills. My sister-in-law and the 9 year old like the regular Bread and Butter pickles. All 4 of us loved the piccalilli. It was awesome on the burgers.

The 5 year old abstained from the canned goods...but ate half a burger. Progress!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sticky Mystery

Today I finally tackled the pickled apple slices: Honey-ginger Pickled Apples. The only alterations to the recipe were that I used cider vinegar instead of sherry vinegar and I processed them for 20 minutes in the boiling water canner. I would also like to thank my other sister-in-law, who is visiting this week, for helping out. It is always nice to have company.

After I pulled them out of the canner I left them unattended for about 20 minutes. When I returned there was water, or something, all over the floor and the towel upon which they were sitting was soaked. All 4 jars were sticky. I can only assume that some of the liquid siphoned out before they sealed. They did seal. Which just adds to the strangeness. I have been trying to figure out why this happened:

1. I overfilled them? Unlikely. They had more than 1/2 inch of headspace each.
2. They weren't meant to can? Possibly, but really, it was basically syrup and a little vinegar, so I doubt that was the problem.
3. I took them out of the canner too soon? This is probably the likeliest scenario. Perhaps I should have let them sit in the hot water for about 5 minutes before taking them out.

So, note to self, let things rest and don't be in such a hurry.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Curried Squash Soup

It is the time of the year when the root vegetables arrive from the farm! In the house today I had 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, 4 squashes (2 butternut, 1 buttercup, and 1 delicata), and 2 bulbs of celeriac. I found an awesome recipe for soup which incorporated all 3 items. I was able to use up the celeriac, one of the butternuts, and 2 pounds of the sweet potatoes, plus an apple, some farm share garlic, and onion. Amazingly enough, I had all the ingredients on hand. Even the coconut milk! I did use chicken stock instead of vegetable, but otherwise I stayed true to the recipe. It made 6.5 pints so 6 pints are in the pressure canner (10 lbs pressure, 75 minutes).

It's creamy, sweet, curried, and just plain delicious. Here's the recipe:
  • 2 1/2 pounds kabocha, butternut, red kuri, or other deep orange winter squash
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (orange or yellow-fleshed)
  • 1 1/4 pounds celeriac
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 cup apples - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk (regular, not light)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place squash, sweet potatoes, and celeriac on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 55-75 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a skewer or sharp knife. (Baking time will vary depending on the size of the vegetables. Smaller sweet potatoes and squash will be tender earlier, whereas larger ones and also the celeriac will take longer time to soften. Remove those that are tender earlier while the others continue to cook) Once tender, let cool enough to handle. While vegetables are cooking/cooling, prepare other ingredients.
  3. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, apple, garlic, curry powder, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened.
  4. Once roasted vegetables are cool enough to handle, slice squash and discard seeds. Scoop the flesh away from the peel and add to your soup pot. Cut peel away from sweet potatoes and celeriac (celeriac peel is thicker, so trim away a little of the thick, coarse peel. If the celeriac still seems a touch firm, cut it in smaller chunks so it can simmer and more quickly soften in the soup pot.) Add fresh ginger (start with 1 tbsp), stock, and water, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer covered for about 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are quite tender.
  5. After this time, use an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice and taste test. If you'd like additional ginger, stir in the remaining ½ tablespoon.
  6. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and serve.
  7. Note: You can change the proportions of squash, sweet potatoes, and celeriac as you choose. Simply keep a total weight of about 6-7 lbs, which will give you roughly 10 - 11 cups of roasted vegetable flesh (after removing skins and seeds). Note that some squash will have more flesh and less seeds (ex: butternut) than other squash that will have a larger seed cavity and less flesh (ex: red kuri squash), so measuring out the cups of roasted flesh is helpful to determine how much you are actually using.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pepper Crazy

Today is the penultimate farm share pick-up for the year. (You know, it's not often I find a use for the word "penultimate" in my day-to-day life...) Usually there is some stuff to pick in the fields but today there was just a little sign that said to take as many hot peppers as you wanted. So instead of the weekly ration of 12 peppers, I picked 48!!!

Once I got the rest of the share washed and put away (broccoli, sweet potatoes, lettuce, delicata squash, onions, celeriac, popcorn (1 cob), carrots, bok choi, apples) I set to work pickling the jalapenos. This time I decided to add the onion and carrot slices to the jars and made a full batch of the brine (5 cups cider vinegar and 1 cup water, 2 tsp. sugar and 4 tsp. pickling salt). I ended up with 2 pint jars and 5 half-cup jars. Those little guys will be added to my holiday gift stash. I ended up with a few more slices of peppers so I put them in a little container and will try to pickle them in the fridge. Not sure how that will work since they won't be heated by processing. Will have to see in a week or so, I guess.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Going from Green to Pink

Well, the tomatoes are done, for now, so it's time to move back over to the apples! In addition to the weekly farm share apples, which is a half-peck bag of some locally grown variety, we went apple picking over the weekend and have a half-bushel bag of Empires, Golden Delicious, and Cameo apples. (I already used up the Cortlands making a pie.)

This morning was set aside for making more applesauce. I came downstairs early, and faced a sink full of dishes. I needed to empty out the sink. Why was the sink full of dishes? Because the dishwasher was full to the brim with clean dishes. So I needed to empty out the dishwasher first. But before I could do that, I had to empty the drying rack.... and it went on and on. And in between the kids needed to eat, something about breakfast, and school, and so it took a while.

Finally I got the apples all cut and simmering and processed through the food mill. Since this is one of those batches where the skins were left on, the end result is a bright pink. Very pretty! I added 3 cups of white sugar to what was a little more than 4 quarts of applesauce. And no cinnamon, either. I wanted this batch to stay pink. Such a polar opposite to the green tomatoes!

And now I have a question. I am interested in this recipe: Honey-ginger Pickled Apples. (An aside, we used to live across the street from that restaurant, Evoo. Way back in 2001. The restaurant is now gone. The food was always amazing, and I expect this recipe to be. But I knew about this recipe not from the internet, but from an episode of Arthur on PBS in which, during the interstitial, a bunch of kids made this with the chef and proclaimed them to be yummy.) Anyway, my question is, how would one convert this to a canned product? Maybe change the sherry vinegar to cider vinegar? Any other suggestions?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Green Tomato....Jam?

Yes, really.

I found a recipe for green tomato jam with ginger and vanilla, and it sounded really interesting, and I had to try it! I didn't have a vanilla bean, so I just used vanilla extract, and since I only had 2 pounds of tomatoes once they were diced, I used half the amount of ginger and lemon juice. It smells really gingery. And vanilla-y. The tomatoes seem to just be the vehicle to carry the ginger and the vanilla. I ended up with 5 half-cup jars and I'm hoping they all seal.

Now, what to do with a bushel of apples? Does anyone have a recipe for pickled apple slices?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Green Tomatoes

Last week at the farm share they said you could take as many green heirloom tomatoes as you could use, so I threw some in my bag and thought about relishes. I had 7+ pounds and decided to make a chutney and piccalilli. It took a few days for me to get organized and have some time, but today was a good day for this.

First I started on the veggies for the piccalilli. I chopped 2 quarts of green tomatoes, 2 red peppers, 2 green peppers, and 2 large onions and mixed them with 1/4 c. of Kosher salt. This was covered and left on the counter. Then we went apple picking. Today was going to be the absolute last day for our favorite farm, so I figured we'd better go and go early. We arrived just 5 minutes after they opened to a parking lot full of cars. Even with that, the orchards weren't too crowded and we were able to get a half bushel of Empires, Golden Delicious, Cameos and Cortlands pretty quickly.

When we got home from the apple farm, the first project was pickling 2 more half-pints of jalapenos, since I had some more from this week's share. Even though the recipe is on line, I'll reprint it here:
12 jalapenos, sliced
1.25 c. vinegar (today I used cider)
0.25 c. water
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

Boil the brine. Put the sliced peppers in jars and pour the brine over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

While that was processing, I started this Green Tomato Chutney. This was boiled down for an hour and packed into 4 half-pint jars. The recipe claims to make 3 pints, but I only got 2. The chutney was processed for 15 minutes.

Finally, I drained the veggies for the piccalilli and got them boiling in 3 cups of vinegar and water solution (1 to 1), 2 c. of brown sugar, and 1 tsp. each of turmeric, dry mustard powder, and celery seed. This recipe claimed to make 6 pints, I only got 5. This was processed for 5 minutes. I tasted the small amount left in the pot and it is excellent.

I still have almost 2.5 lbs. of green tomatoes left. Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins!

This morning I used one of the pints of spiced pumpkin to make these muffins. Instead of nuts or raisins, though, I added mini chocolate chips. Since there was already nutmeg and cinnamon in the pumpkin I simply left those two ingredients out. The kitchen smells wonderful!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crazy Overdoing it Kind of Day

After getting almost no sleep last night due to a house full of 8 year olds, it made perfect sense to do some canning in the aftermath. Since I'm pretty sure we are not getting significant numbers of tomatoes from the farm anymore, I decided to assemble the food mill, bring out those 5.5 gallons of frozen tomatoes, and make sauce. I still don't have any pint jars, so I planned to make quarts of plain sauce. That way, if I only use half the jar at a time, I won't be bound by whatever the flavor is when I go to cook another tomato based dish the next time.

I thawed the bags in a sink full of hot water and put all of it into my lobster pot to start boiling. It filled the lobster pot. That is a crazy amount of tomatoes for me! Then I set up the food mill and waited. While waiting, I received a text from my sister-in-law (hi, Steph!) about canning the applesauce she just made. I called her and convinced her to come over, with the applesauce, and I'd help her can it. Oh, and bring the grapes, I said.

Before she arrived I started running the tomatoes through the food mill. They were already making an awful mess when disaster struck! Not sure why, but the entire screen and screw set-up fell off the rest of the mill. Which then meant that the motor was now no longer counter balanced and the rest of the mill, with the tomatoes in it, fell off the dining room table and all over the floor. Cursing ensued.

I sent the youngest out to get my husband because, clearly, I needed help. He very kindly reassembled the mill and helped me clean up the mess. Just after the whole thing was cleaned up and I had restarted, the doorbell rang and Steph was there. Not only had she brought the applesauce and grapes, but a bag of pears they'd picked that no one was eating. No problem! We decided we'd do those, too.

I need a larger stove top, don't you think?

We reheated her applesauce, got all the tomatoes through the mill and put the juice back into the lobster pot, the only single pot large enough to handle all the juice - it's still cooking down, 4 hours later! Then I set up the canner and got the grapes simmering on the stove. That's 4 very crowded burners...

The applesauce was put into 2 quart jars and processed for her to take home. That pot was washed. When the grapes were mashed and cooked we set up 2 strainers and started to drain the juice. That juice went back into her applesauce pot so I could make the jelly. We started to do that (after the pears), but realized we wouldn't have enough time for her to do that before she had to leave so set that aside. Then we made a batch of light syrup. Steph peeled the pears and I quartered and cored them and heated them in the syrup. Then we took turns loading all the pears into 4 quart jars. We ended up needing to make more syrup to finish those off and, once I got them into the canner, Steph had to leave. She's letting me have 2 of the quarts of pears. This is good, we like pears.

I turned my attention to the jelly. We had gotten about 2.5 cups of VERY potent concord grape juice. I added enough water to make 4 cups and then followed the recipe from the Certo package. Steph will get 8 half-pint jars of jelly and I am keeping the leftovers in a container in the fridge. It's really grapey. Is that a word?

Lastly, those tomatoes (6 quarts!) are still cooking down on the stove. I suspect they'll be ready in an hour or so for canning. And then I will collapse on the couch.

Monday, September 27, 2010



This year's toorshi batch consists of 1 cauliflower, celery, carrots, green and red peppers, 2.5 heads of garlic (cloves left whole but peeled), fresh dill, 1 cherry red pepper and 8 habaneros. All but the cauliflower and the celery came from the farm share. I ended up with 2 half gallon jars and am just waiting for them to seal. I had a little taste before I packed all the veggies and it's already hot! I can only imagine what it will be like after it's pickled for a few weeks. Wow.

I need more vinegar. For that matter, I need more jars.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Finally, for dinner, I tackled the frozen beef/tomato leftovers from previous "slow cooker osso buco" dinners. I sauteed one leek, 2 onions (one red, one white), 4 carrots and 5 celery ribs with some of the leaves. Then I browned cubes of beef and added the frozen sauce, meat and bones. I added 2 c. red wine, 16 c. water, worcestershire sauce, 2 bay leaves, and some pearled barley. I also threw in some frozen peas. This simmered for about 2 hours and we had some for dinner, mmm!

I put up 7 pints with the pressure canner (75 minutes, 10 lbs of pressure) and still have about 2-3 quarts of soup left. However, I'm out of pint jars again. I am seriously in danger of running out of space in my pantry again. The rest of the soup is in the fridge; likely we'll have some for lunch tomorrow.

I Think We Have Enough Raspberries Now

Yes, I did go and pick more raspberries yesterday - enough to make 5 cups of puree and give the kids a few to eat. The raspberries are winding down, it took a little longer and I gave up before I had a full 4 quarts of berries.

While the syrup recipe calls for 6 cups of puree, it's an easy conversion to whatever amount you have. 5 cups of puree, 8.3 cups of sugar, and 0.2 cups of lemon juice were brought to a boil and then simmered, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. This made 5 pints of syrup. These get processed in the boiling water canner for 10 minutes. I left about a half-inch of headspace in each jar; the recipe didn't specify so I guessed.

This morning I made pancakes with applesauce in the batter. I'd never done that before, now I wonder, why not? They were so yummy! One of my jars from yesterday hadn't sealed so I needed to use it first - I still have 8 jars in my inventory and I'm sure I will be making more.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Apples and Jalapenos

The apples from the farm share have just kept coming, and we haven't even gone apple picking yet! I had 2 pecks in the fridge as of this morning. I grabbed a peck and, in 2 batches, quartered them and boiled them (2 c. water per half-peck bag) then ran them through the food mill. I'd like to make chunky sauce but I think peeling apples is beyond my capabilities at this point. (As it was, I got the bandage wet while I was cleaning up and had to go change it. Oh! Did I tell you I was now in a plastic splint rather than fiberglass? I can now get it a little wet without major complications.) To the applesauce I added about 3 packed cups of brown sugar and some cinnamon. The end result was 4.5 quarts and a big bowl of the rest for lunch.

While I was at it, I pickled 12 jalapenos from yesterday's farm share. I used this recipe but I only made 1/4 of it. I skipped the carrots and onions, too. This yielded 2 half-pint jars. I like how they look, with a few red slices in each jar.

Hopefully this afternoon I will go get more raspberries to make syrup. Depends on how I feel!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Freezer Project Down

Nectarine-White Mulberry Jam:

3 c. chopped nectarines
1 c. ground up white mulberries
1/4 c. lemon juice
7.5 c. sugar
1 pouch Certo

This made 14 4-ounce jars. I had originally planned on peach but I can't peel them right now so nectarines worked better. The mulberries were thawed in the microwave and really shouldn't have been. They just didn't smell the same after that. They did taste fine, however. I used my immersion blender to mash them up. The final product is a nice pinky-red and tastes great! Now I have at least a start on my holiday gifts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Autumn is Almost Here

And the farm share is picking up the pace. This past Thursday I was supposed to meet my sister-in-law at the farm since I didn't know how easy it was going to be with my hand all incapacitated. (The pins are in and I seem to be doing well, yay!) She got stuck in some horrendous traffic so I picked up the whole share:

2 pumpkins, 3 heads of bok choi, 1 head of lettuce, 1 bowl of arugula, 1 large eggplant, 1 bowl of kale, 3 small zucchinis, 2 buttercup squashes, 1 delicata squash, 2 small broccoli crowns, 12 jalapenos, 1 pt. beans (yellow and purple), 3 sunflowers, 14 slicing tomatoes, 2 heirloom tomatoes, 1/2 pt. of cherry tomatoes, and 2 half-peck bags of apples (one for each of us).

Today I'm taking as much to them as I can. We've eaten the zucchini, lettuce, some of the arugula, half the broccoli, and 2 tomatoes. I've frozen the rest of the heirloom and regular tomatoes, stockpiling them in the freezer until I can process them more easily (when my hand is better) - so far I have 3 gallon bags of tomatoes; one or 2 more ought to be enough!

This morning, with assistance from my husband, I roasted the pumpkins in the oven for 90 minutes at 400 degrees and then scraped the pumpkin into my brand new Kitchenaid stand mixer. I added cinnamon and nutmeg at the correct proportions to make pumpkin bread with the results and came up with 2 pints of spiced pumpkin plus another cup (not enough to can...of course). What I discovered is that it would be easier and better to use the food mill but, since it's hard for me right now to assemble/disassemble the mill, the mixer will have to do.

The 2 pints of pumpkin are currently being processed in the pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 55 minutes.

My fridge and freezer and backed up with projects - in addition to the tomatoes, I now have a peck of apples, the base for another batch of beef and barley soup, 1 qt. blackberries, 1 pt. each of black and white mulberries, and 2 bananas. Add to that the grapes my sister-in-law froze which she harvested from her back yard and I have a lot to do!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Canning With One Hand Tied Behind My Back

Well, almost.

I haven't blogged in a while, I know. I've been away. Really away. ("what about the hand?" - "that part comes later.") We took the kids and went to Europe for almost 3 weeks. Zurich. Paris. London. Reykjavik. It was a trip to remember! We toured Notre Dame, stood atop the Eiffel Tower in a rainstorm (brrr), walked amongst the stones at Stonehenge. Toured Westminster Abbey and attended Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. Swam in the Zurichsee. Stood on an island in the middle of a waterfall. Found my ancestors' home in Besselsleigh, England, and met about 30 of our cousins in Iceland. Rode Icelandic horses, soaked in the Blue Lagoon, and watched geysers erupt. And so much more! It was an amazing trip.

And then, on the very last night, I fell. Also a trip to remember.

I broke my pinky finger on my right hand. Not in an insignificant way, either. When I sat up, my first thought was, oh, it's just dislocated. I tried to put it back. I succeeded in at least getting it pointing in the correct direction and freaking out my family at the same time. It was at that point that we all decided that I needed to go to the hospital.

Now I am home, sporting a bulky fiberglass splint, and awaiting Tuesday, when it will have to be pinned. I am not sure how the recovery time frame is supposed to go and at which point I will have more use of the rest of my hand. I do know I can't work with patients until the pins come out and that is wreaking all sorts of havoc on the precariously balanced shift schedule.

But I also know that I am not one to just sit around. Therefore, I am canning. I went raspberry picking with the 5-year-old yesterday, which was a riot. Kindergarten starts on Monday, so this was our last midday outing for a while. What was especially amusing was discovering that every raspberry that the 5-y-o picked was gently mouthed to see if it was juicy enough before it went into the bucket. Thankfully there were only 32. A running count was kept. But it was a joy to be outside, in lovely weather, hearing the wee one, no longer so wee, sound so happy.

Today I am slowly making 2 batches of jam: seedless raspberry and peach melba. For the latter, I ran 3 peaches through the food mill with the raspberries since I couldn't cut them easily or peel them. I got about 1.5 cups of peach juice, can't really even call it puree, and I'm combining that with 2.5 c of crushed raspberries, including the seeds. I'm managing OK, with a glove on my right hand that at least keeps the splint dry. But, I think, I may have to keep those other canning projects in the freezer for a while, and maybe I won't be putting up peaches this year. I'll try to be OK with that.

Since this is also a day to be somber and thoughtful, I will be counting my blessings.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rose Hip Jelly

Yesterday morning, I found myself on a lovely beach. I'd just come off of my overnight shift, and I was tired. The weather was perfect. Just warm enough, a light breeze, sunny, not humid at all. I grew up on the water and, when I encounter a day like yesterday, I remember how much I miss it.

But, as usual, I was there with a purpose! The Chair of our department lives a few blocks from that beach and had been keeping an eye on the rose hips for me. Last week he said I'd better get over there to pick them if I was going to. He even let me park in his driveway, lest I get a ticket for being a nonresident. The recipe I was using called for 4 quarts of hips; I packed 2 half-gallon pitchers in a backpack and brought them with me. I had them filled within a half an hour.

Here's the recipe, in case that website ever goes away:
4 quarts rose hips
2 quarts water
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
5 cups sugar

Clean the hips, remove the blossom ends and, if you're really inspired (I wasn't), remove the seeds. Boil them with the water, mashing them when they are softer. Strain the juice, and use 4 cups for the jelly. Add the lemon juice and pectin, bring to a boil. When it is boiling, add the sugar all at once, and return to a hard boil for 1 minute. I ended up with well over 6 cups. It's a reddish orange and tastes citrusy, but not really orangy. I have seen it described as like tangerine or hibiscus. I don't really think it's either of those. It's a taste all it's own. But it's very, very good.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jury's Still Out

We tried the half-sours tonight with our burgers for dinner. I think they're pretty good, but I got a squishy one the first time and then a more crispy one. They have a slightly smoky flavor; maybe that's the grape leaves? My husband is less enamored with them. So, they're edible, but they're not what we're used to. Perhaps we won't make them again, but the experiment was worth it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fermentation Complete

At least, I think so. It's hard to tell. But I checked on the half-sours today, and tossed 2 that were really squishy ("bloaters," I think they're called). They tasted like pickles, a good sign. They are now in the fridge for 3 days and, if we don't get sick in the meantime from the taste testing, we'll be able to eat them after that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Caught a Fish!

This past weekend was the annual camping trip and, in the last 5 minutes of the trip, I caught a fish! As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about it. I was saying it to myself all the way home: "IcaughtafishIcaughtafishIcaughtafish..." I don't know what kind it is, maybe someone can ID it for me? Oh, and I did put it back. (And, yes, that is a Barbie fishing rod. I didn't feel like getting mine out. Maybe it's good luck?)

From a food perspective, now that I can things eating is a lot of fun. I brought the last 2 jars of peaches in syrup and they ended up being dessert each night. And they went fast! I also brought 2 jars of chicken soup, a jar of baked beans, and 2 jars of pickles. We got through everything but the pickles. And we downed 14 brats. That was Saturday night's dinner.

There were 5 adults and 5 kids on this outing, next year we'll plan it better and all end up next to each other. This was the same campground as last year; it wasn't as quiet and restful as last year but we still had a good time (the guy with the produce seemed to be missing, we don't know why!). We traipsed off to an old cemetery and explored; the oldest stone was from 1791. I took it as a good omen that there were blackberries at our campsite, and found more blackberries and even wild blueberries all over the place. We saw the Milky Way, the kids saw shooting stars, and it was nice to relax for a few days.

And I was able to update my online inventory from the campsite. Thanks!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


If you look down and to the left you will see that the inventory looks a little different today - it was switched over to the new system last night (Thanks!). Now every single jar has a little QR code sticker on it, and the inventory can be updated by just scanning a jar with my phone. It's COOL. (Some people might call it geeky...we don't mind. We know we're geeks.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another Pickling Adventure


A bushel is a LOT of cucumbers. I came home from work today and set upon the last of them, making 8 quarts of the dill pickles we like (the recipe from the American Family Cookbook). However, I only got 7 quarts.... why? Because I made a stupid mistake.

I had too many cukes for a 7 quart batch, and the canner only holds 7 quarts. I made 8 quarts, and figured I'd process 4 quarts at a time. Well, by the time the first batch was done, the second batch had cooled too much, and as the first jar went into the boiling water I heard, "CRACK!"

That's a terrible sound.

Sure enough, the bottom had cracked right off. I had to toss that jar, dump out the water, clean the pot, and refill it with cool water and the last 3 quarts. They eventually were processed for 10 minutes once I finally got the pot boiling again.

While that disaster was occurring, I was multi-tasking. I had been encouraged to make half-sours so I decided to try them. I've been afraid of the fermented-type pickle. It seems like a lot of work and, maybe I'm wrong, there seems to be more ways it could fail. Regardless, I thought the recipe (from The Joy of Pickling) was easy enough and, since they only take a week, I could manage the commitment. So I got 3 half-gallon jars cleaned in the dishwasher, put in 2 grape leaves, 3 cloves garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp each of peppercorns and coriander (crushed together), and 3 T. dill seed and the cucumbers. To this I added the brine, and topped with ziploc bags filled with brine to act as weights. (The grape leaves are supposed to make the pickles crispy.) Supposedly they'll start fermenting in about 3 days.

Yeah, I think I'm done with pickles. For now...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Guess what I did today? If you guessed "made pickles," then yes, you're right. But you could have also guessed "went to work and had a good day," or "went to the spice store," or "played an actual board game with the kids" and all of those would be right, too! Busy day!

I did not make 22 jars of pickles. I did make 8 pints of spicy bread & butter pickles. I used the same recipe as yesterday but used white vinegar instead of cider vinegar, and added 2 long hot yellow peppers from the farm share. Even before boiling them in the vinegar/spice/sugar solution, they had quite a kick! (Probably because I left in all the pepper seeds...)

Tomorrow I'll get to work on another batch of dills. I might even try fermented pickles. If I'm feeling brave!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Think I Went a Little Overboard

This morning we drove 50 miles each way to get to a specific farm I know which generally has pickling cukes and B-grade peaches for canning. In the past few years I've gotten 1/2 bushel crates of peaches, but they've always been the clingstone kind. Well, I called to check on their supply yesterday and the very nice woman told me they will have the freestone kind in September. So I'll wait on the peaches until then. However, they had lots of what she called "funny looking" cukes. That's what I had as a plan for today...pickles!

So I bought 1 full bushel of "2nds" pickling cukes.... for $12. That's really awesome. We also had freshly made doughnuts for breakfast, and picked some blueberries, just for fun. Both children felt the need to ask me if I was going to use the berries for anything. When I said no, they each shouted "hooray!" (Maybe I'm canning too much?)

After an afternoon outing I got to work. The rest of the family washed the car and I started to slice the cucumbers and onions for the bread and butter pickles. "Seconds" are definitely funny looking - some are bigger than usual, some odd shapes, some just right, but they require some creative slicing to get them to be reasonable sizes. After I got the B&B's set up, I moved on to the Kosher style dills everyone likes. I am now officially out of farm share garlic and onions. The Kosher style dills recipe is in the Culinary Arts Institute's American Family Cookbook, which I "borrowed" from my mother several years ago. They have some really old-style recipes in there. And a whole chapter on how to throw a party for 50+ people. (Hah!) So I now have 7 quarts of dills and I want more but have to get more garlic and dill seed first.

I hunted around a bit and found a couple of pickle mixes my mother had bought me last year for my birthday. Considering I was out of onions and garlic at this point, I was at a loss for what else I could do, so I decided to give one of these mixes a try - Mrs. Wages Kosher Dill Pickles. This made 7 quarts of chunks (remember the creative slicing?) that are now cooling.
We're going to take a break for dinner but afterward I'll finish the Bread & Butter pickles. This recipe is from The Joy of Pickling: Old-Fashioned Bread-and-Butters. I'm still trying to recreate the bread & butters of my youth, last year was closer, but not quite right. Let's see how this recipe stacks up to that mythological standard. I should get about 4 quarts from this batch, and might make another. When I get more onions.

I still have 1/2 a bushel left, after all.

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.