Thursday, July 17, 2014

Keep An Open Mind

As I mentioned, yesterday I started a batch of curry pickles.  I've never had curry pickles before but I wanted some variety and (basically) had all the ingredients I needed.  So I thought I'd give them a try.  My husband was doubtful, but I think they'll be great.  Especially after the kitchen smelled like curry.  And sugar.  Mmmm.

Oh, yeah, the sugar.  The recipe (from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving) calls for white sugar but I didn't have any so I used brown sugar instead.  I ended up with 5 pints of pickles and for 2 of the jars I had to add a little extra cider vinegar to top them off. 

For dinner we had... more vegetables!  I made a skillet "ratatouille" by sautéing eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and peppers together and adding a can of diced tomatoes.  Now I'm left with a little more squash and peppers and a lot of greens.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the Thick of It

Let's just say that a full farm share is a lot for a family of 4, even when there is canning involved.

Yesterday the share was picked up and our mason dropped off more goodies from his garden.  I came home from work around 9:30 last night to find a crazy amount of zucchini and other squashes, several pounds of cucumbers, a bulb of fennel, a lot of chard, some kale, a head of romaine lettuce, turnips, onions, snow and snap peas, an eggplant, a bunch of peppers, potatoes, and celery.  Obviously it was too late to do much last night so I started in pretty early this morning.

First, I made 4 loaves of chocolate zucchini bread.  I ran out of the sour cream the recipe calls for so I substituted chocolate yogurt.  It probably wasn't acidic enough but the bread still rose and they taste really good.

Next I sliced the cucumbers and onions and mixed them with pickling salt.  Tomorrow, after work, I will make a batch of Curry Pickle Slices - something I haven't tried before.  These are regular cukes, not pickling cukes but, considering they aren't waxed and are still relatively small, I think they will do just fine.

For dinner we ate the potatoes and some of the turnips baked in the oven with olive oil and parmesan cheese.  We also had all the snow and snap peas sautéed in a little oil.  And a big salad which finished off the Hakurei turnips and radishes.

I have a lot of squash left, plus the eggplant, peppers, kale, celery, lettuce, chard, and the fennel.  I don't really know what to do with fennel.  Even the rabbit isn't really a fan.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Squash with Squash Sauce

Ah, summertime.  Squash season.

Last week at the farm I could pick out 3 pounds of summer squash, so I picked patty pans.  They're my favorites, mainly because of their shapes.  It's not like they taste all that different from zucchini or summer squash.  Tonight I was going to go to the store but was just too tired, so I made dinner with what I had in the house:  a box of spaghetti, 3 pounds of patty pan squashes, some butternut squash pasta sauce, and cashews.

First I sautéed some chopped garlic scapes in oil, and then added the patty pans.  After a bit I sprinkled them with maple pepper and then, feeling we needed some protein, added about a cup of cashews.  When ready to serve they were topped with the butternut pasta sauce.  Super easy.  The cashews went really nicely with the sauce.  The next farm pickup is tomorrow and I still have some snow peas, turnips and kale left.  I've mostly made it through everything else.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hoppy Beer, Bottled

Today was a day of siphoning.

Not only did we bottle the beer, but we had to clean out the fishtank.  Which was a job and a half, let me tell you!  There were mineral deposits all over it, and under it, and on the light, and the lid, and in the pump, and on the bureau it sits on.  Fortunately, the minerals didn't damage the bureau.  We'll be more careful next time.

The beer was, surprisingly, less work.  The priming sugar was boiled with a little water and poured into the bottling bucket, then the beer was siphoned in from its carboy.  The hops stayed (mostly) behind.  We bottled 24 regular bottles to share at the Homebrew Showcase coming up at my husband's workplace, and 9 of the 1-liter bottles.  We had just enough for one more 12-ounce bottle; this will be the one we use to test the beer when we think it's ready.  Should be a few weeks.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Epic Stir Fry and Other Things

Yesterday's farm share consisted of 2 heads of lettuce, a bunch of kale, a head of napa cabbage, onions, little red turnips, 3 pounds of squash, 3 pounds of cucumbers, 2 quarts of fava beans, and 1 quart each of snow and snap peas, plus some flowers and herbs.  We didn't pick the herbs this time.  The kids and I brought it all home and I sent them outside to shell the fava beans and the snap peas, which were too big to eat whole.  Once I got everything cleaned, I took a few steps to work through all the veggies that were accumulating in the fridge.  I still had 2 heads of bok choi leftover, plus snow peas, scallions and some lettuce.  I started chopping away, and suddenly I had a huge bowl of stir fry ingredients:  cabbage, bok choy (all of it), snow peas, celery, scallions, and onions.  I made some rice and marinated some beef for the grill, and for dinner I fried all those veggies in the wok.  It cooked down a lot, thankfully, because the pile of veggies was initially bigger than the wok.  I drizzled them with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil at the end, and we ate a fair amount of it over the rice.  Plus we had a salad with some of the lettuce, Hakurei turnips, radishes, the blanched snap peas, a few mulberries, and some homemade croutons.
Fava beans

The fava beans got marinated again; 2 quarts of pods makes about 1 pint of beans and these will last for a while now.

This morning I pickled the cucumbers.  I specifically picked the smallest ones I could find so that we would have whole dills rather than slices.  I used a recipe from the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving, "Favorite Dill Pickles."  This made 3 quarts of pickles, but there are really only 4 cukes in each jar.

What's left?  Lots of lettuce, turnips, radishes, garlic scapes, kale, 3 pounds of patty pan squashes, snow peas, and some swiss chard and another zucchini my mason gave me.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Random Berry Find

On Sunday, when I was walking home from the subway, I happened upon a small patch of black raspberry bushes.  These are not things I usually find in my area; blackberries are much more plentiful.  Some were ripe but a lot weren't.  So I waited a few days and yesterday I brought the kids down there and we picked 1.5 cups of tiny little black raspberries.  Last night we ate them for dessert, with a little sugar and cream.  Yum.

I also need to work through all the vegetables I've been getting - my mason dropped off some celery, a large zucchini, and swiss chard.  I took that zucchini and one I had from the farm and made 3 loaves of chocolate zucchini bread.  Tonight I'll get the farm share again and I plan to have a big stir fry with a lot of the veggies I currently have from last week:  snow peas, scallions and bok choy.  And I suspect there will be a salad as well.  Mocha seems to like chard better than bok choy so there's some help there!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hoppy Beer, Now with Extra Hops!

Toasted hops
As I said in the previous post, I was in Ohio over the holiday weekend.  I got back this morning; everyone else is returning this evening but I have to work and I was concerned about airport delays.  Considering the havoc that the recent storms wrought on air travel, my fears are not entirely unfounded, so it was best to give myself the extra time at home.

It was time to do the second rack with the beer and add that foraged hops.  I toasted the hops in a warm oven for about 45 minutes and they lost a bit of their hoppy smell but took on a more toasted smell that could be (hopefully) interesting.  The beer itself had a potential alcohol at this point of 1.5% so something has sure been happening in that fermenter!  The specific gravity today is 1.010, also more like beer.

Cramming the dried hops into the tiny mouth of the carboy was a pain in the neck but I did finally get it all in there and siphoned the beer on top.  Now it's resting under my desk in the kitchen, fermenting some more and, with luck, doing something tasty with those hops.

Charter Fishing

Over the holiday weekend we went to visit my husband's family in Ohio.  I love going out there.  We always have a good time together, with lots of people, lots of food, and often we plan to do things I don't normally have time to do or quite possibly have never done before.  Yesterday we did something that fit both categories.

My brother-in-law chartered a boat to take us fishing on Lake Erie.  Six of us went:  My husband, the 12 year old, my brother-in-law, our niece and nephew, and me.  Between us we caught 31 walleyes (limit was 6 each) and 3 white bass that were just too big to toss back.

Look, see!  Dawn!
We got up before sunrise and made it to the boat dock over an hour away at literally the crack of dawn.  Turns out, I was the only one who was sufficiently caffeinated.  We had thought we'd be going all the way across the lake toward Canada but it turned out the fish were closer in and so, after not a very long ride, we started trolling.  I've only ever fished from a boat a few times, really:  Narragansett Bay, Galveston Bay, maybe one other place I'm forgetting.  This was FUN.  I don't know why I don't do this more often.  Oh, yeah, see paragraph one.

There were a lot of lulls in activity and then there were times when 3 of us were reeling in at the same time.  I am very proud to say that my 12 year old caught the 2 biggest fish of the day, although I didn't weigh them.  They were each over 2 feet long and very heavy.  Each of those fish could easily feed 6 people.  When we did divvy up the fish fillets I made sure I kept those (and marked them specifically) because I want my child to have the pleasure of eating self-caught fish.  The captain of the boat, Captain Popeye (I kid you not), made sure to get a picture with him in it, I'm sure it's good for business to see that a 12 year old caught a fish bigger than one's head.

31 Walleyes
All the fish that we didn't eat last night (probably 5 of the walleyes baked with some bread crumbs sprinkled on top and then in a sandwich bun with tartar sauce, mmmmm) were filleted, put in bags, and frozen.  My brother-in-law and I raced through them as quickly as possible - he'd cut the fillets off the fish and I'd take the skin off and get them bagged, with the help of my brother-in-law's brother.  I have 8 bags of fillets and 1 bag of little bits (cheek meat, pieces that succumbed to my less than perfect filleting, etc.) to make stew with.  The only hitch is that they are still in Ohio; it didn't seem like a good idea to try to take them on the plane so we'll either have them shipped or when someone drives out for a visit they'll bring them.