Sunday, August 31, 2014

Camping is Best in Berry Season

While it's a little late in the season for some most berries, once we arrived at our campsite 2 days ago and set up the tents, we walked around to do some foraging.  Well, I walked.  The kids biked.  We went to the various sites I remembered that had berries with some luck.  I found one blueberry, very few partridge berries, lots of bunchberries, no wintergreen, but mostly blackberries.  We picked what looked good, got back to the campsite and had a little afternoon snack of foraged berries with sugar and cream. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Peaches, Hot and Cold

Hot pack and cold pack, that is.

After running a few errands this morning, one of which was to buy more lids, I made a second batch of peach jam.  I then set to work on putting up the rest of the peaches in syrup.  First I made 4 quarts of cold pack peaches.  Then I made a second batch of syrup and started working on the rest of the half-bushel while those processed in the canner.  Because I was done long before the canner was, I put all the peach slices in the hot syrup so, when it came time to put them in jars, they were a little smaller and fit into 3 quarts.  So, that's it for the half-bushel.  14 cups of jam and 7 quarts of sliced peaches in syrup.

I owe my kids a pie.  I'll buy more peaches next week (not by the half-bushel, though), and make one.

Early Morning Peach Jam

As in, I made it in the early morning....

I have a half-bushel of peaches to deal with and 36 hours to do it in, including time for sleeping and working.  So since I was getting up early anyway, I got up an hour earlier and made a batch of jam.  These peaches are huge, and it took less than 3 of them to get 4 cups of diced peaches.  I now have 7 jars of peach jam, 2 of which are for the fair.  I'll make another batch before I start putting up peaches in syrup, because peach jam goes quickly.

[For the fair:  4 cups peaches, 2 T. lemon juice, pectin, 5.5 cups sugar, maraschino cherries and almonds.]

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Now We're Cooking With Gas

Well, we've always been cooking with gas in this house.  However, today we had to get our gas service turned off while workers switched the lines to our house to modern, plastic ones.  They promised us it would only take a few hours and then the gas company would be "right out" to turn it all back on again.

The workers showed up at 7 am.  At around 11:30 they shut off the gas, finished their part, and moved on.  They said the guy would be there shortly.  Well, he showed up around 6:30 pm.  So, for that time, we were without a stove, a dryer, and hot water.  Couldn't have been a more awkward time as I had started a batch of pickle relish in the morning and went and bought a half bushel of peaches for canning.  

All I managed to do tonight was to finish the pickle relish:  Grandmother's Golden Relish in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  Instead of red and green peppers I used green peppers and red and yellow onions.  It's very sweet!  I got 8 and a half cups of relish.  Tomorrow I'll do what I can with the peaches.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

When it's your birthday, you want to do the things you enjoy, right?

The only thing I wanted to do was pick raspberries.  I checked out the raspberry farm website, learned they were opening for the season on the 23rd, and figured today would be a great day to pick.  Particularly as they are closed on Mondays.  I made a date with my family, including my visiting in-laws, and we planned to be there right when they open at 9.

They were closed.

Apparently it had cooled down enough that the raspberry ripening schedule was off so, after a disappointing first day, they decided to close for another week.  I hadn't rechecked their website so I didn't know this and it seems my email address never made it to their distribution list.  Well, I must have had quite the look of chagrin on my face that they let us go in and pick anyway.  5 pairs of hands picked over 9 pounds of raspberries in about an hour.  And the fields are just getting started!

Once we got home, I shooed everyone out of the kitchen and got to work with the food mill.  I pureed enough to get the 5 cups required for a batch of seedless jam.  I do expect to enter this one in the Fair, and, since I won that category last year, the pressure is on!  (Or not.  I plan to not stress too much.)  So, for future reference, 7 cups sugar and a package of powdered pectin.  After that I pureed another 6 cups and made 6 pints of raspberry syrup.  We haven't had that in ages. After all that we still had 2 quarts of berries left over!

Oh, did I mention that the day started with the doorbell ringing and there was our mason with more veggies, about to do a last little bit of work on our retaining wall?  He'd brought celery, eggplant, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Always welcome!

And, since I'm working Thursday, I picked up the farm share today.  And it was a LOT.  I came home with 1 quart sungold tomatoes, 1 quart plum tomatoes, 1 quart green beans, 8 banana peppers, dill, cilantro, 20 leaves of kale, 1 cabbage, 1 head of lettuce, 1 bunch of scallions, 2 head of garlic, 8 red onions, 12 other tomatoes, 2 pounds of cucumbers and 1 pound of patty pan squashes, 2 spaghetti squashes, 2 eggplant and 8 bell peppers, and I didn't even bother with the blackberries, husk cherries, flowers, parsley, or basil.

It was abundantly clear when I got home that if I didn't start canning immediately I would not be able to fit everything into my fridges.  So I made a batch of mild garden salsa:
2 quarts tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups green peppers, chopped
2 cups scallions, chopped
2 poblano peppers, chopped
1/4 cup vinegar
1/6 cup sugar
2 T. Kosher salt
1 bunch cilantro
The cilantro was added after everything else was cooked and the immersion blender used to make it a little more thick and less chunky.  It was then canned immediately:  5 pints, 10 minutes in the canner.

Next I took some rainbow carrots which my parents had brought (from a farm near them we all adore) and the green beans and made Rainbow Pickles, which were the rainbow carrots and green beans prepared using the pickled carrots recipe from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving but without the hot peppers and using dill sprigs rather than the heads.

Lastly, I got the broccoli from last week and the potatoes and garlic from this week's share and have everything ready for dinner.  Which I shall not cook, it being my birthday.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Forgot to Mention...

Our super-hoppy beer was ready to drink when we returned, so we chilled a bottle and tried it out.  Half the batch is slated for the Homebrew Festival at my husband's workplace, which is fine with me as it is definitely more hoppy that I'm used to.  However, I have to admit that it's good, and I'd like to think that toasting the hops changed the color and flavor just a little bit.  Now I wish I'd kept some without the extra hops for comparison, but I will just be happy with what we made and save the scientific approach for another batch!

Zucchini Bread, Minus the Chocolate

Which, I'm pleased to report, was still a hit!

I doubled this recipe to make 24 muffins and a little heart-shaped zucchini cake.  The muffins on the edges of the oven got a little over-toasted so we just used forks and scooped out the middles.  This used up all my zucchini, including a little one that was growing on the zucchini plant my 9 year old brought home from a school project.  I'll take half a dozen to work and I don't think it's worth freezing any as they will likely be finished within a day!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Welcome Back, Here are Your Vegetables

While we were away, the farm share got picked up by various neighbors.  I was glad to know that people were enjoying it!  My first pick up since we got back was yesterday and, on top of another delivery of vegetables from the mason's garden, we find the fridge quite full again.

So far I have frozen over 1 gallon of tomatoes for sauce.  We've eaten a bunch of cucumbers, tomatoes, blackberries, and lettuce, and I made a tabouli salad with parsley, more tomatoes, onion and a little cucumber.  I gave away some kale and another cucumber.  Today I tackled the eggplant, celery, more tomatoes, onions and peppers by making a double batch of eggplant caponata.  The yield was 5.5 pints out of this batch.  I still have a ton of peppers, more onions, more lettuce and cherry tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, spaghetti squash, cilantro, dill, broccoli rabe, kale, turnips and hot peppers.  At least the rabbit won't go hungry in the next week if we can't get to it all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Free Pears!

It's always great when Abigail's pear tree does well, because Abigail is kind enough to share the fruit with me when she has a surplus.  Even though the output peaked a week ago she had plenty left today for me.  I brought a jar of strawberry jam and came home with enough pears to make a batch of jam and still get 3 quarts of pears in light syrup.

I decided to combine the pears with raspberries for the jam.  The proportions were approximately equal:  2 cups of pears and 2 cups of crushed raspberries.  To this 4 cups of fruit I added 2 T. lemon juice and 5 cups of sugar plus 1 package of powdered pectin.  This made 6 8-oz jars of jam plus a little more.

Thanks, Abigail!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Easy and Efficient Travel Meals

The market in the rain
You've probably noticed that we like to travel.  We've been away, which explains the posting hiatus.  For half the time, we had apartments with small kitchens that were reasonably stocked with utensils and the like.  So we ate in, a lot, which meant shopping.

The extra stuffing just baked around the chicken
In the center of Zurich there is a farmer's market twice a week.  There are others, in other parts of the city, on different days.  I didn't want to spend every day at the market and I knew about this one so I made sure we got there when it was open.  We walked around, bought some cheese and bread for lunch, and then I found a wonderful stall full of terrific looking veggies.  I bought some green beans, and the proprietor threw in some tarragon.  That's just what they do when you buy green beans, I guess.  I had decided that the easiest thing for me to do was to roast a chicken for dinner that night, so I picked one up at the grocery on the way home.  I made stuffing out of leftover stale bread, some carrots, apples and onion, and the tarragon.  I hoped I was using a baking dish and not an ornamental serving dish to bake it.  All worked out in the end and it turned out beautifully.

After dinner, I took the leftovers, some extra pasta from the previous night's dinner, and more carrot and onion and made soup, which was dinner on another day with more bread.  It was easy enough; I did have to buy salt and pepper.  At least there was that tarragon!