Wednesday, September 30, 2020

T Minus Something

The contracts are signed. The appliances are on order. The cabinets are under construction. We have a plan. 

Starting next week, maybe Monday, maybe later, depending on the permitting process, we demolish the kitchen and two of our three bathrooms. The contractor is taking pity on us and not destroying the only bathroom with a shower until he can get the third bathroom, the original one with a tub and soldered brass pipes, replumbed. Since we're finally going to be able to reach the pipes. Once that is done, we can have a makeshift shower in there until everything else is finished. 

What I'm discovering is that packing up a kitchen while I'm still trying to use it is stressful and hard. I'm trying to empty the fridge and that's not easy either. I also don't have enough boxes. 

Today I used up the eggplant and tomatoes from the farm share to make another batch of caponata. The color is off because I used an heirloom variety that is more yellow than red. But it's still caponata and it still tastes good. It'll make a nice sauce for pasta in a pinch. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Spaghetti Sauce

Last week's farm share tomato haul was about 11 pounds of plum tomatoes which ripened by the window over the weekend. Today I puréed them in the food mill and then cooked them down with some garlic, onion, celery, oregano, salt, pepper and brown sugar. This was the recipe I was following. From 11 pounds of tomatoes I got 16 cups of purée which then cooked down to 8 cups of sauce. That's now canned into two quart jars and I have more things to store in my soon-to-be-nonexistent pantry. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Since in a relatively short time my kitchen will be in shambles and my fridge needs to be emptied, I'm starting the process of clearing out the freezer. What I need to do is convert things that are currently frozen into shelf-stable items like soup or stews that are canned. Today I made stock with the chicken and duck bones stashed there, along with some onion peels I also kept in the freezer. I then took all the stock I made and converted it to soup by adding onion, carrots, wild rice and Swiss chard (the chard came from the farm share). After dinner there was enough soup left over to can in 3 quart jars. These can be opened and microwaved for a quick meal while we are kitchenless. 

I did find some bags of vegetable scraps so might make vegetable stock soon. Or not, if I run out of time. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

A Flurry of Cooking

At yesterday's farm share there were more tomatillos than usual so I got enough to make another half-batch of tomatillo salsa which I made this morning before I have to go to work. Nothing too exciting there, I suppose. What was more exciting is that last night I made karaage which is Japanese fried chicken. The recipe came from when the elderchild and I took a cooking class over the summer. Basically, you cut up chicken thighs into pieces, marinate them in soy, garlic and ginger, and then dredge them in cornstarch and flour and deep fry them. It was terrific, even if I didn't have the "right" mayonnaise for a dipping sauce. 

To go with the chicken, I made dango, which are balls of rice flour that are boiled, put onto little skewers, and then seared and topped with a sweet sauce. We'd had these at a yakitori place in Tokyo and remember them fondly. They're sort of like dinner mochi, I guess. I even let the youngerchild manage the blowtorch to sear them before serving. 

Lastly, we had chilled blanched green beans with a sesame dressing. There were no leftovers. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Pizza Sauce

Last week at the farm share there were plum tomatoes in addition to the heirloom and other tomatoes. We could pick 15 of the plum tomatoes so I kept them, letting my friend have all the heirlooms in return. They were pretty green when I picked them; they ripened all weekend in a bowl near the window and today I made them into pizza sauce. 

I did add a couple of plum tomatoes from my own plants, but that hardly made an impact. 

Once everything was run through the food mill I had 10 cups of purée which was cooked down with lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and turned into 6.5 cups of pizza sauce. That should last us for the better part of a year, I hope! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sure Sign of Autumn

It's September, the kids are in school (sort of), the nights are cooler, and raspberries are in season.

This year for raspberry picking we were asked to sign up in advance and each group of up to 6 people would be assigned their own row for an hour. I'd already been rained out of one time slot last week and I was glad for the good weather today. My husband was free this morning and needed a break from work so he joined me and we enjoyed a quiet morning at the raspberry farm.

We brought back 3 quarts of berries which I promptly turned into 10+ cups of jam without added pectin. Raspberry seems to be the jam we always run out of, so it's nice to refill the supply. We have another slot in 2 weeks which hopefully will not get canceled and then we can have more berries just for desserts and snacking.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Making Room

Well, it's official. I have signed the contract to build my new cabinets for the kitchen, and am about to sign the contract for the whole reconstruction. After over two years of planning, we're going to tear apart a significant part of the house and hopefully at the end of it I will have the kitchen of my dreams. 

But, until then, I have food to prepare, and things to can, and a kitchen and several bathrooms to pack up. This is the part about which I'm most anxious. What do I pack? What do I leave out? What if I need that thing? 

One thing I do know is that I'll be down to one fridge. I admit, I'm rather spoiled to have two. I use the one in the basement for extra cartons of milk and cream, all my flour, all the meat I keep in the freezer, and extra produce from the farm share that usually can last a long time in the fridge: cabbage, carrots, beets. Well, I started the cabbage fermenting last week, and now it was time to tackle the beets. After all, 10 pounds of beets takes up a lot of space that I could be using for other things. Since it's about to become the primary fridge I need to make room.

So. Now I have five quarts of pickled beets and some prepared golden beets ready to make into cake and for me to eat. No one else in the family eats them, at least, not voluntarily. The kids won't touch them at all, unless they've been made into cake. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Salsa Amarillo

Before I head out to the farm tomorrow for more tomatoes, I needed to finish what I had in the house. That included what was left of the big-as-your-head tomato I used for last night's tomato tart, and also 2 large golden heirloom tomatoes. I thought maybe I could make a salsa that preserved that yellow color. So I roasted the tomatoes with half a large onion and six yellow Hungarian hot wax peppers. I also roasted a jalapeño but I ended up not adding it as I didn't want to affect the color of the salsa and, after tasting it with just the wax peppers, it was hot enough. 

The proportions were: 1 quart tomatoes, 1 cup onion, 6 wax peppers (about a cup? maybe?), 1 T. salt, 4 tsp. sugar, just under 2 T. vinegar. 

The salsa is a beautiful golden color, and tastes amazing, so I consider that a success!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Mystery at the Door

This morning, just before I was heading out to do a few errands, my husband saw someone pull up in front of the house, run up the steps and leave something at the door. He disappeared back into his car before my husband could see him clearly, so instead we went to the door and found a small jar of pesto. Who could have brought me pesto? There were a few options. We decided to put it in the fridge until we figured out the identity of our mysterious benefactor.

A few hours later I got a text from a friend from culinary school, identifying himself as the bringer-of-pesto, made with basil from his garden. I had loaned him my bee suit a few weeks ago and he wanted to thank me. Little did he know, I had been eyeing a recipe that required pesto and had been wondering if I needed to buy some. Now I could make the recipe today!

The recipe was for a tomato tart that was in the New York Times over the weekend. I have been getting heirloom tomatoes from the farm share and there was this one tomato that was likely almost 2 pounds all by itself. It had been ripening on the windowsill and it was time to do something with it. Everything was coming together nicely. I made the crust and par-baked it, spread it with the pesto, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and oregano from my garden, and then arranged the tomato slices and topped it all with an egg custard.

It was so good, even the youngerchild ate a slice. And pretty much every ingredient except the cheese is usually a no-go. 

Before adding the custard
After baking

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Two Quick Updates

Yesterday I started a batch of sauerkraut, using 2 heads of cabbage and a head of fennel. I'm starting to appreciate fennel just a little bit, I've never been much of a fan, despite the fact that I like licorice and anise. But I certainly only like it in small doses and this is a very small part of the batch of sauerkraut, which is currently fermenting in my crock.

This evening, after getting the farm share, I used diced onion, green pepper and carrots to make tofu lettuce wraps. I used the sauce from this recipe, which uses peanut butter, honey, and a variety of sauces mixed together, but I used cubed tofu instead of chicken or pork. It worked well, even if the lettuce did fall apart. Served with some brown rice and chopped peanuts it was a satisfying meal. 

Oh, and elderchild, guess what? We finished the carrots.