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.