Saturday, September 30, 2017

Beet Tart

Tonight we had friends over for dinner and I made use of all the golden beets I'd gotten from our farm share. First I roasted the beets until soft, slipped off the skins, and sliced them. For this I used a little less than a pound of beets. Two onions were sliced and caramelized. Then I made a pie crust with leaf lard and flour.

To assemble, I rolled out the crust and placed it on parchment. Next came the onions, and then the sliced beets. Lastly, I crumbled honeyed goat cheese over the vegetables and seasoned with pepper and tarragon. Then I folded the crust over to make a rustic tart, brushed the crust with milk, and baked at 375˚F for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

It was delicious!


We went up this morning in the rain to spend the day at the fair. In addition to all the canned goods I entered, I decided to make cupcakes to enter in the baking competition. I am on a carrot cake kick so I made carrot cake cupcakes. I had to enter a plate of 6 of them.
When we got to the fair we immediately went to drop them off and check out the canned goods section. I did quite well, with first place for: soup, sauerkraut, and sweet relish. Second place for: the collection of three jellies (the ones with the wine that I banged out in a few hours the night before I had to take everything up), other pickled vegetable, Concord grape jelly and apple jelly. Third place for the strawberry jalapeño jam. Honorable mentions for: wild blueberry jam and ginger peach jam. Only three entries did not place: salsa, mulberry jelly, and apricot ginger jam.

We wandered around the fair for a few hours while we waited for the cupcake judging. We checked out the rabbits, cows, pigs, sheep, and goats. I got nose-booped by a calf named Bella. We watched a little bit of the junior cattle show and visited the beekeepers exhibits. I held a 1-2 day old chick. Ate a bunch of fair food, ran into a few people we knew and shared a table with a few we didn't (but know now!). And we got back in time to watch them judge the cupcakes. We felt it was a very good sign that one of the two judges didn't want to give up the plate with my cupcake on it! And, at then end, I'd won first place!

Now I'm home, working on a beet and goat cheese tart for dinner with friends. And there are more of those prizewinning carrot cake cupcakes for dessert!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Getting Ready for PIES

After putting this particular project off long enough, this morning I made apple pie filling. It's not hard, really, just requires a lot of peeling and slicing of apples. The apples get blanched briefly and then folded into the gelled liquids: apple juice, water, lemon juice, sugar, clear jel and spices. I now have seven pints of apple pie filling.

The other projects for today were a batch of salsa verde and a batch of garden salsa. I didn't have enough tomatillos (one went bad) so I substituted a few husk cherries which didn't really affect the taste at all. I figured they were in the same family and fairly similar; it was a good guess.

The farm ends for the season in three weeks, hard to believe. I still don't know what I'm doing with all the hot peppers in each week's share. I might try to make cherry bomb poppers but I'll have to find an occasion for them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Little Embarrassing

A bright yellow grasshopper
Today I went to pick raspberries. It hasn't been a great season for them and the local organic raspberry farm has only been able to open their fields every other day because they get picked out in one day and need a day of rest. They hadn't been picked for two days and so the were relatively plentiful. They were also infested with ants. That part wasn't as much fun.

What was lovely was that it was foggy when I got there, and not very hot. Gradually over the time I was there the sun burned off the fog and it was just starting to get humid and warm when I left.

At one point, I looked down and there was a very large bee on my pant leg. And even though I know it won't sting me just because, it wasn't a honey bee and it was very, very large. I shrieked. Everyone else in the field stopped to look at me. I managed to explain myself, "There was a bee," and they all made sympathetic noises and went back to their own raspberries. But it was a little embarrassing. After all, I'm a beekeeper. Did I mention it was a very large bee?

After a little over an hour, which was all the time I had, I probably had about 3.5 quarts. Enough to make jam. First I brought everything home and washed all the ants off. I sealed up the bowl they were in so if any ants were still in there, they wouldn't get all over my kitchen.

This afternoon, when I got home from picking up the farm share, I rewashed the berries and got them all crushed. I had hoped to get some of the seeds out, but I was worried I wouldn't have enough berries if I did remove some of the volume in the form of seeds. I shouldn't have worried, as I ended up with 11 cups of jam instead of 9. But it's rather seedy.

My goals for tomorrow include the apple pie filling I've been planning on making and also some salsa verde. Maybe even some regular salsa as well. Neither takes a long time so that will help get through the farm share from the last two weeks.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Guess the Decorator

Autumn baking is in full swing. We did go apple picking the other day and got a peck of Cortlands. I've used six apples so far to make two batches of apple cake and, since I have plenty of applesauce, will likely make apple pie filling in the next day or so. Today, however, was for carrot cake!

After work I got all the ingredients together to make this recipe for carrot cake. Even with splitting my farm share I have an overabundance of carrots and this recipe used about eight of them to make the three cups of shredded carrots. I mixed up the batter without any nuts and dished out three of the small loaves before adding 1/2 cup of chopped black walnuts and dishing out the other three loaves. This also uses up all my black walnuts and I probably missed the season this year to forage more, but that's OK. I'll get more next year for sure! And, for the record, they required 35 minutes at 350˚F.

When it came time to decorate the loaves, the youngerchild and I had some differing visions. First the loaves were frosted with the cream cheese frosting from the recipe for the cake. Then I made a quick buttercream with 1/2 cup shortening, 1+1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a few tablespoons of heavy cream to get the texture right and then tinted the buttercream in orange and green. I decorated the cakes containing the walnuts and the youngerchild worked on the other three.

For dessert we dug into the one with the largest glob of orange frosting, the one in the top middle of the picture. And it truly is a moist, delicious cake!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Free Apples

When I got home from work today, my neighbors across the street stopped by with an offer of apples. These are the Granny Smith apples I mentioned before, and their tree had produced over 40 pounds! They gave me 14 pounds of apples and those that hadn't spoiled (I only lost about 2 pounds) got cooked down into five quarts of applesauce. Since they didn't have a lot of inherent water content, I added about a pint of apple juice along with both brown and white sugar and some cinnamon. I just kept adding sugar and cinnamon until it tasted right. I'll be giving a quart back to them, and then I think I might have enough applesauce for the season. Which is too bad, because we're going apple picking on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Half Awake

Last night I worked an overnight shift and I haven't really slept yet. Instead, I'm cleaning up some of my farm share veggies by making salsa again. I had almost a pound of tomatillos which were converted, along with five serrano peppers, into a pint of salsa verde. I also had eight large plum tomatoes and those, plus a red bell pepper, some onion, and more jalapeños and serranos, became almost three pints of regular salsa. I also discovered that the overabundance of hot peppers from the farm share is a problem - they're starting to go bad faster than I can use them! I'll be giving away the habaneros tomorrow to someone who plans to make habanero infused maple syrup with them. I haven't been keeping the hot wax peppers because I have so much hot pepper sauce from last year, but I do have a lot of cherry bombs. I'd been planning on making toorshi with them but that never materialized and I don't really know what else to make. I could just pickle them, I suppose.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Last Minute Fix

Yesterday I was getting my entries ready for the fair, printing out the recipes and entry forms, and then I realized I'd made a mistake. You see, I entered a class that consists of three different kinds of jelly entered together. My mistake was, I had jams picked out, not jellies. I had two options: not enter the class (fine, but where's the fun in that?) or quickly make a few more batches of jelly. Today. When I have to enter everything tomorrow.

Yeah, you guessed it. I made jelly.

Lavender White Wine Jelly

3 ¼ cups white wine
2 T. dried lavender buds
¼ cup lemon juice
1 package Sure-Jell Pectin
4 ½ cups sugar


Rosemary Red Wine Jelly

3 ¼ cups red wine
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, about ¼ cup
½ cup lemon juice
1 package Sure-Jell Pectin
4 ½ cups sugar

Each of these were made with the same method: simmer the herbs in the wine for about 20 minutes then strain out the herbs. Boil the wine, pectin and lemon juice and then add the sugar. Boil hard for 2 minutes and then process in the boiling water canner for 10 minutes. They only make about 4-5 cups of jelly but that was enough to get some things for the fair and add to the gift stash. 

The third entry for this category will be elderberry jelly, which I made last month. Good thing I caught my error before tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sweet and Sauer

This morning it was finally time to can the sauerkraut I'd been fermenting. Every once in a while I still heard a "bloop" when air escaped from the crock (there's a water seal) but it'd been a few weeks and I needed to get it into jars so I could enter it in the fair. The sauerkraut was packed into three pint and two half-pint jars and processed for 20 minutes, once I brought the water to a boil. Because you pack the sauerkraut cold, it's important to not heat it too quickly or the jars will break. When I first opened the canner I was afraid a jar had broken but I guess I got lucky.

The next thing I did was make cookies. I'd been wanting to make some for the kids and the original plan was stymied by the lack of powdered sugar and my disinterest in going back outside. So I took the recipe I have for lemon sablées and altered it.

Pistachio-Lemon Cookies

12 ounces butter at room temperature
10-1/4 ounces sugar
2 eggs
3-1/2 ounces milk
1 tsp lemon extract
1-3/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 ounces finely ground pistachios (be careful not to turn them into paste)
19-3/4 ounces flour

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add milk and extract and beat until smooth again. Add the dry ingredients and mix until dough is combined. Pipe onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in rosettes, and top each cookie with a pistachio and a piece of candied lemon peel. Bake at 350˚F for 12-13 minutes, turning the baking sheet once during baking. 

I tried playing around with the shape when I piped the dough - I was trying to make seashells but ended up with what looked like winking hedgehogs (1 pistachio, 1 piece of lemon peel). And who has ever heard of a lemony winking hedgehog?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Did I Mention?

It's been a week and I never got to post about my fabulous birthday cake. My husband made it, with guidance from me. Here it is:

He took the sour cream chocolate cake that we all like so much and baked it in a bundt pan with a cream cheese and condensed milk filling. As the cake baked, the filling sunk in and the cake enveloped it. It was frosted with fudge frosting. And it was awesome.

We had a few friends join us for dinner and we had chicken kebabs, veggie kebabs, and also for dessert, fruit kebabs which the youngerchild made. Many things on skewers. For the chicken, I'd used the yogurt and honey marinade I like so much but added cardi and ground lime to make it even more Persian. It was a good addition.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Grape Goodness

Today I finally had time to make grape jelly from all that grape juice I extracted the other day. First I made two back-to-back batches of grape jelly (per batch: 5 cups juice, 7 cups sugar, 1 box Sure-Jell) which came to 18 cups or 11 jars. I used some half-pint jars and some pint jars and will enter two of the half-pints in the fair.

I had just over three quarts of juice left so I added four cups of sugar and heated the juice. I'm currently canning three quart jars of juice in the canner and saved the rest for the youngerchild to drink with dinner.

It's my weekend (and holiday) to work, so that may be all I have time for until Tuesday!