Friday, July 27, 2012

Preserved Garlic

It would appear that I have made garlic candy.

I'd found a recipe for preserved garlic on one of the blogs I follow, and had thought it sounded really good so I wanted to try it.  Yesterday at the farm there was "hardneck" garlic, and lots of it.  I grabbed 14 heads as it was part of the mix and match so you could take as much as you wanted as long as it fit in 2 big bowls.  I should have gotten a few more, as I only ended up with 4 cups of cloves, not 5.  Silly me, thinking 14 heads of garlic was sufficient!

After laboriously peeling all the cloves, I sent my husband to 3 different grocery stores to find sherry vinegar while I cooked the cloves in the olive oil and salt and then caramelized them with the sugar.  The addition of the vinegar deglazed the pan and made everything smell so rich and complex.  After I put up 3 half-pints of the garlic I scraped some of the sugary residue off the pan.  Garlic candy indeed!

In addition to this project, I made some tabouli salad and started a basic sauerkraut using a recipe for "Wine Kraut" from The Joy of Pickling.  It's fermenting, I hope.  Tomorrow I add some wine.  And then I wait.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Canning in Brasil

A fraction of Iguacu Falls
We just got back from vacation.  Today.  After 24 hours of travel.  We spent the past 2 weeks in Brasil, partly on our own and partly visiting my friends who go home every summer to be with their family.  It was:  lovely, foreign, chaotic, hot sometimes, cold sometimes, wet sometimes, friendly, loud and wonderful.  We spent 4 nights in Rio de Janeiro, 3 nights at Iguacu Falls, and 7 nights with our friends in small places that aren't even in the travel guides.  In that week we rented a car and drove on some roads that really shouldn't have little tiny VWs on them.  They require trucks with 4 wheel drive.  But, somehow, I managed to stay on those roads, over the rickety bridges of death, to see some beautiful farmland, fauna in the form of livestock, rheas, macaws, vultures, toucans, an owl, and other birds, and meet even more of our friends' extended family.

Cooking with Wilma
While hanging out with our friends, I gave the matriarch some homemade jams and jellies I'd lugged across Brasil which, miraculously, didn't break.  I made sure to bring things they don't have there:  violet jelly, wild blueberry jam, and the apricot-ginger-mulberry jam.  I brought 2 others for my friend's sister, who hosted us for 4 of the 7 nights - black locust flower jelly and strawberry margarita jam.  In return, I acquired a jar of very spicy peppers preserved in oil and a lesson in making doces (sweets) - including papaya-pineapple jam (Mamao-abacaxi, if you speak Portuguese.  I made some improvements in my language skills, but it still comes out more like Spanish).  Overall, the food was very tasty and the coffee was fabulous.

Wilma, one of many cousins I met, taught me to make 2 doces:  the mamao-abacaxi jam and a pineapple-coconut sweet.  The latter involves cooking fresh pineapple cubes with sugar, water, clove, cinnamon and shredded coconut in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes then letting it cool and boiling it some more just on the stove.  The former required 1 pineapple and 1 slightly firm papaya, they were shredded into a pot and 400 g of sugar were added.  This was cooked and cooked and cooked until it cooked down and became jam-like in consistency; clove and cinnamon were added at the last minute.  Then we put them in jars.  In general, they don't really do the whole boiling-water canner thing.  They put their sweets in recycled jars, and just flip them over and let them seal (or hope that they do).  The reason I didn't come home with a jar of the pineapple and coconut sweet was that the jar didn't seal.  Which is a bummer.  That was good.  There's another doce I like, it's pumpkin and coconut and you wouldn't think it would work, would you.  It totally does.  I did not learn how to make it, but I might try to figure it out.

I double-ziplocked the jars I did bring home, which was a good thing, because the peppers did leak a little, but I think they will be ok.  You can smell how hot they are when the closed jar is well over an inch from your nose!  The jars made it without breaking, well padded by clothes and paper towels.

Today we got off the plane, my father picked us up and brought us home, where my mother had very kindly gotten the house in order and made us a lasagna.  What a great re-introduction to reality!  It had been a long, long, series of flights and we were tired.  (Boston to Miami to Rio, then Rio to Foz do Iguacu, then Foz do Iguacu to Sao Paulo to Sao Jose do Rio Preto, then Sao Jose do Rio Preto to Sao Paulo to New York to Boston, with a 5 hour layover in NY.)  Then I dropped everything and went to the farm to pick up the share.  Between that and a few things in my own pots, I had the makings of a very fresh salad:  lettuce, arugula, cucumber, peas (they were from my pots, and a little old, but they were all we were going to get from those plants), bell pepper, strawberries and nasturtium flowers.  There's more to the farm share, but I'm hoping to have some posts on that in the next few days.

Brasil was wonderful, but it's good to be home, too.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blueberry Jam

Everyone has been saying that since the weather has been so weird the blueberries would be ready early.  Today we tested that theory by heading out to our favorite wild blueberry spot to pick a bunch for jam and yes, "everyone" was right.  We got there around 10 am and were done around 12:30 (we could have picked more berries but the heat was doing us in!).  We even ran into the same Ukranian gentleman we ran into last year, at basically the same location.  All told, the 3 of us got just about 2 quarts of berries and even picked a few of what we think are huckleberries (we kept those separate for the purposes of jam-making).  Just enough to make a batch of jam, freeze a cup, and have a few to eat.

I'm not really clear on huckleberries.  What I recall is a pinky red berry that grows in the Pacific Northwest, that is called a huckleberry.  What seems to pass for huckleberries on the east coast are blue, look a bit like blueberries, but are seedier.  And not as sweet.  We're still not convinced.

Regardless, I now have 9 cups of very very tasty wild blueberry jam.  And I think that'll be it for the blueberries for another year.  Well, the at least the wild ones.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Working Through the Greens

This morning for breakfast I made cilantro pesto again (cilantro, lime juice, pecans, parmesan cheese, and olive oil) and had it on a soft boiled egg.  That was pretty yummy!

I then put together another tabouli salad - cucumber, garlic scapes, flat parsley, tomato and bulgur wheat.  This time I have coarse bulgur rather than fine, and it's amazing to me how much it changes the whole salad.  It looks much more like store bought tabouli (although I think it tastes much much better...).

Still have a lot of greens to go...I might end up blanching and freezing them if I don't get to them all in a reasonable amount of time!

Farm Share Stir Fry

It was my turn to go to the farm today to pick up the share and, well, I'm just overwhelmed with greens!

Here's the tally: 1 head of lettuce, 1 bowl spinach, 2 kohlrabi, 1 head bok choi, 4 squashes, 3 cucumbers, 6 beets with their greens, swiss chard, 1 bunch each of parsley and cilantro, 2 quarts of snap peas, 30 pods of fava beans and a quart of snow peas.  I was supposed to get other herbs and 15 flowers but it just seemed like too much.  Oh, and I got almost half a cup of mallow peas.

After extracting the mallow whites from the mallow peas, I made a salad and a stir fry for dinner.  The salad was the lettuce, some of the spinach, peas (the snow peas were older, so I just shucked out the peas as if they were shell peas) and cucumber.  To make the stir fry I marinated sliced beef in soy sauce with cornstarch, ginger and white pepper.  When I was ready, I fried it in the wok until it was just starting to get done and the sauce was thickening.  Then the vegetables were added:  garlic scapes, red pepper, snap peas, the boiled mallow peas and 2 of the squashes.  This was cooked for a few minutes until everything was tender and served over soba noodles.

In addition, I marinated the fava beans with chopped garlic scapes, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  That's for tomorrow.  After dinner, I made another batch of those mallow forgotten cookies, also for tomorrow.

This leaves me with:  bok choi, spinach, chard, beet greens, beets, kohlrabi, more snap peas, a cucumber, parsley, cilantro, and leftover salad.  We have a lot to cook/eat in the next few days!