Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feeling Blue

Not "sad" blue, but blueberry blue!

A week ago we checked out our favorite blueberry spot and it was evident they would be ripe soon.  Well, with several days of 100 degree weather between then and now, we thought we'd try again today.  We spent 3 hours picking, and picking, and picking, all the while being thankful it was only 85 degrees today.  We brought home 2 quarts which have been washed, sorted, and frozen into 1-cup baggies for baking.  There are still plenty more and we might go again.  I still have so much jam from last year that I'm not planning on making a batch this year.

I also finished the half-bushel of cucumbers today.  I made 6 quarts of dill sandwich slices, using the "Best Ever Dill Pickle" recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens Canning book I bought a little while ago.  I also made 7 pints of bread and butter pickles using the recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and then added sliced habanero to the rest and put up 4 pints of spicy bread and butters.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Well, I wasn't planning to do this today, but I found we had some time on our hands so we drove to the farmstand where they sell the B-grade cucumbers and peaches.  I bought a half-bushel of odd-sized pickling cucumbers (the freestone peaches will be ready next month, they say) and got home and started to work.

I usually make Kosher-style dill spears, from the recipe in The American Family Cookbook.  This time I made the same recipe but in slices.  I still have 8 quarts of spears from last year, after all.  The recipe calls for cider vinegar, water, salt, garlic, dill seed, and peppercorns.  It's quite easy.  The garlic was from the farm share so was fresh and pungent.  Mmm!  I ended up with 5 quarts of the Kosher slices and one quart has already gone to my parents.

In addition I tackled the green and wax beans from the farm share, with 4 peppers from my garden, one farm share onion and one regular, store-bought, one, some celery and some edamame.  I couldn't find fresh lima or fava beans so I thought I'd try the edamame instead.  The 3-bean salad isn't that colorful because the peppers were green, not red, but it's a great recipe (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving) and I don't really care what it looks like!  This is also the first time in a while that I didn't add beets.  Haven't gotten any from the share yet.  I made 7 pints and for that I had to add an extra half-recipe of the liquid to fill all the jars.

Now I can get to work on dinner!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yet Another Trip to the Farm

Yesterday, in 100 degree weather, I picked up the share.  I was smart, and brought a jug of water to put the flowers in.  This week it was 65 stems of flowers, zucchini, eggplant, cabbage, chard, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots, more green and wax beans, cherry tomatoes, basil, and cilantro.  We split everything except Stephanie got the chard, tomatoes and the basil and I got the cabbage, beans and the cilantro.

When I got home, since it was too hot to cook, I made ceviche and a raw corn salad.  I bought tilapia fillets, key lime juice and habanero peppers.  Here's the corn salad:

2 cobs corn, kernels cut off
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cucumber (my garden), chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. key lime juice
1/4 c. olive oil
chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper

This was mixed and chilled while I made the ceviche:

3/4 pound tilapia, chopped in 1/2 inch dice
1.5 onions, sliced thinly
2 habaneros, minced
1/2 c. key lime juice
1/4 c. lemon juice
chopped fresh cilantro

The tilapia was soaked briefly in 3 c. ice water and drained.  The onions were soaked in another 2 c. ice water and drained.  These 2 ingredients were mixed with the habaneros, lemon and lime juices and salt.  After about 15 minutes it was ready to serve.  The ceviche went really well with the corn salad, and I didn't have to turn the stove on at all!

The current tally for my rooftop garden is: 9 cucumbers and 1 bell pepper.  There are about 10 more peppers about to be ready, and maybe 3-4 more cucumbers right now, and a whole lot of tomatoes trying to ripen.  Which should happen quickly as long as it stays so hot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Turnips, Raw and Cooked

One thing our farm share has provided, in abundance, is turnips.  Hakurei turnips, to be specific.  We had a LOT.  Eating them all in salads wasn't an option.  I have used them all up and want to share the recipes here.

First, I made a Shirazi salad.  I chopped 4 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1/3 of a red onion, and a few turnips (equivalent in volume to the cucumbers) in a very very fine dice.  To this I added 1/2 c. lemon juice, 1/2 c. olive oil, salt, pepper, and a handful of fresh mint leaves.  Ta da!  It was wonderful, and the mint didn't taste minty at all after mixing with the rest of the dressing.  Even better, the mint and the cucumbers came from my garden.

Then I used up the rest with some potatoes in a curry (the potatoes were also from the farm).  I quartered the potatoes (1/4 pound) and turnips (4 or 5, they're small) and cooked them in oil with some chopped onion.  To this I added 1 T. curry powder and a handful of pine nuts.  After cooking for a little while the turnips tasted sweet, almost caramelized.  This was really tasty and easy!

I've worked through more of the farm share but am left with the green and wax beans and a cabbage.  I'm planning on waiting until Thursday to see if I get a lot more beans and then make a bean salad to can, rather than eat them now.  I think it'll be a good amount.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

With a Cherry on Top

Well, I know that some of these cherries will be used to flavor Brandy Manhattans, and others most certainly will garnish ice cream!

This morning I drained the cherries again, reboiled the syrup and added the almond extract.  The stems certainly add volume as instead of just under 4 pints, the same recipe produced 5.5 pints of cherries.  They also increase the difficulty factor because those stems just didn't want to stay out of the way when I was trying to get the lids on.  They were processed for 20 minutes and then I let them rest in the canner for 5 before I pulled them out.  Didn't want a repeat of the siphoning which plagued the spiced apples. 

And now, since it's such a gorgeous day, I'm going for a walk.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Maraschino Cherries, Take Two

Cherries were on sale!  'Nuff said.

No, really.  They were $1.99 a pound.  How could I pass that up?  And we were down to 2 jars of maraschinos from last year.  I asked my husband if he wanted me to make another batch and he said, "Well, then maybe these ones won't be so dear and I'll actually eat them."  How sweet, he was saving them for a special occasion!

Yesterday I pitted them, all 4.5 pounds of them, sideways.  I wanted to leave the stems on this time, and with a little patience it is possible to pit them sideways.  They look somewhat Magritte-like in that you can see right through the hole in their middles.  Some had really crisp edges, too, which also made me think of Magritte.  Surrealist cherries!
Cherries in brine
They finished their brine soak this morning and are currently in the red syrup.  Tomorrow they get strained, the syrup gets boiled and the almond extract (the real stuff this time, purchased at Penzey's) will be added, then they will get put up in jars.  Should get about 4 pints again.  I don't know if I'll save the extra syrup this time; we don't really use the other batch all that much - too sweet for pancakes or waffles.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another Trip to the Farm

Today's share (my half) consisted of: 1 head of lettuce, 4 Hakurei turnips, 1/2 pint snap peas, 12 fava bean pods, a HUGE bunch of parsley, 2 small bok choi heads, 1/4 pound of kale, and one purple kohlrabi.  Stephanie got a head of Napa cabbage instead of the kohlrabi.  Once I got my share home, I got to work!

First I marinated the fava beans - the beans were blanched and peeled, then put in a container with 1 tsp. red vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil, salt and pepper,  and 1 tsp. chopped garlic scape.  This will be ready tomorrow.

After everything was washed I assembled a salad:  red lettuce, snap peas, turnips, cucumber (from my roof garden), blackberries and goat cheese with honey.  Then I made tabouli.  I only recently decided I like tabouli, particularly because my friend Lisa introduced me to pita chips which are excellent with it.  My mother had given me a bag of bulgur wheat so I had it in my head to try to make it.  Therefore, when the sign at the farm today said, "as much parsley as you want," I realized now was a perfect time to make some!

3/4 c. bulgur wheat, soaked in 3 c. cold water for half an hour, then drained
large amount of chopped parsley (for this I used my ulu)
4 scallions, chopped
1 cucumber (from my garden), chopped
1/2 c. lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

I mixed all the ingredients except the oil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes, then added the oil and chilled it until dinnertime.  It was amazingly good - fresh and light.  I know tabouli usually has tomato but I didn't have any and I thought a cucumber might be a good addition (it was).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Home Grown!

We returned from our in-laws to find that my rooftop garden is doing well.  So well, in fact, that there are many cucumbers developing on the cucumber plants, and some tomatoes starting to grow to a decent size.  Even the peppers are looking good!  I present to you now my first harvest of the season....

It's so exciting!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Black Raspberries

Two years ago, while visiting my in-laws, I had a challenging time making black raspberry jam in their kitchen. The problem was a lack of equipment and being unfamiliar with the dynamics of the kitchen (the work triangle, I guess. I learned about that while contemplating redoing my kitchen). Anyhow, I am either brave or foolish: I decided to try again.

But I can be taught. Before I got started, I bought a canning rack, jar grabber, and a funnel! I was prepared! This morning my father-in-law, my husband and I went out to pick black raspberries. We picked about 8 pounds, which is enough for two batches of jam and a bunch for eating. One batch was the standard Certo recipe (8 jars) and the other was the same recipe but with lime juice and lime zest (9 jars). I really like how the lime one turned out. It's a nice combination of flavors.

However: the canning rack fit none of their pots. So I bent it until the wire snapped and I was able to overlap the edges and get it into the pot. There were no major issues with the other equipment but I did still get jam all over the dish towel...

...and we have no plan to get these home. I don't think I can check them and I certainly can't carry them on. I may have to ship them...