Monday, November 21, 2011

Givin' Ya'll the Bird

Yes, friends and neighbors, it is the Oven-Door-Blowing Turkey Recipe, or as we say in our house ...Thanksgiving Dinner!  Various members of my family, and even a vegetarian friend, have made this recipe for the last 20-odd years and no one's died yet.

Buy A Big Bird (seriously here, the biggest bird you can find) and a huge bottle of red wine.
Stuff It (the bird, people, the bird!)
Rub It Down - (again, I am referring to the bird, but what you do in your own household is your own dang business) It's gonna be eaten, for the love of God.  Let it go out in style!

The Rub
melted butter
shots of A1
a little red wine

Roast It
525F uncovered 30 minutes
sip a glass or 3 of the remaining red wine.

Haul that turkey out of the oven and douse it well with red wine. Soak a linen towel with red wine and lay it over the bird.  Douse it with more red wine...this bird feels no pain!  Cover it with most of a normal sized roll of tin foil.  Think "air-tight,"  sealed for the apocalypse, metallic fortress.

Shove Big Bird back into a 450F oven for 90 minutes.  Offer whoever is sitting with you some wine and wait for the oven door to blow open and flames to shoot out.  Look smug as your guest spills wine all over her shirt.  After 90 minutes, turn off the oven.  Do not open the door.  Not even for a peek. Kick the bottle, making threats of bodily injury to anyone who may open either the oven or bedroom door while you sleep.

The next morning, drink a large glass of ice water.  Look suspiciously at the dog to ensure she has not developed opposable thumbs and opened the oven door in the night.  Choke down aspirin and don sunglasses.  Take Big Bird out of the oven and pry off the darkened tin foil.  Strip off the towel.  Baste the birdie and re-cover with the tin foil.  He goes back into a 400F oven for 1 hr.

Eat, drink and be merry!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snow Day for Moms!

Rumor has it you can make jellies from peach peelings and pits, so I had to try it out.
Happiness is a day of picturesque snowfall that covers the grass but leaves the roads clear so the kids go to school!  I did some deep cleaning in the kitchen and finally got to those peeled peaches, peels, and pits that had been residing in my refrigerator since Sunday.  Thank goodness for Fruit Fresh and lemon juice!

After boiling for 30-45 minutes until the skins are somewhat translucent, I strained the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and several layers of cheesecloth.

I boiled and strained on Tuesday night while making dinner, putting the whole mess in the refrigerator overnight so it could continue dripping.  What you see here is about one cup of juice.  There was not enough peach on the peels to rate any kind of food mill action so they were tossed out.

Wednesday, I looked at several jelly recipes and decided that one cup of juice plus 2 tablespoons of pectin and one scant cup of sugar would work.  I hate cleaning candied fruit juice off my glass top stove (hate my glass top stove, too, but that's another story!), so I used a pot far larger than would first come to mind.  Thank goodness for that, because memory served me right and it did boil up pretty spectacularly.  I brought the juice and pectin to a boil, then added the sugar and brought it back to a boil for one minute before pulling it off the stove to a hot pad on the counter.  Last time I left jam sitting on the burner, it burned - have I mentioned I hate glass top stoves?

Excuse the blur, I just had to show the color!

The end result was three 4 oz jars of a mild-tasting peach pit jelly, exactly half the amount of peach jam created from the same batch.

3 cups of chopped peaches, scant 3 cups of sugar, two tablespoons of lemon juice, boil 'til it looks right
I've made the pectin-less peach jam before, in a more peach preserves form than jam. Same skillet technique, only this time, knowing I was not going to try to reach an impossible gel point!  I could just eat it with a spoon right out of the jar!

One peach pit jelly already in sample mode

After a successful jam session, I shared my thrifty preservation with a friend who asked innocently, "Aren't peach pits poisonous?"  This sent me racing to both my garbage can and Google where I found that, Yes, Virginia, peach pits do indeed contain a form of cyanide.  Sigh.  Fortunately, a careful investigation revealed no cracks or loose pits were involved in this canning experiment.  For the record, I would have automatically tossed them had they been cracked or broken, but it never hurts to be sure!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sticks on a Plane!

I enjoy knitting, the act of taking sticks and string and turning them into something beautiful.  There are so many beautiful yarns and needles that look like pieces of art.  So many patterns.  So many combinations of yarn, needles, and much of my knit time looks like this.

Piles of yarns and patterns, rummaged through randomly until I settle on something
I scroll through Ravelry, I sift over mountains of magazines and pattern books from my home and the library, I...procrastinate.  Until finally, I pick up sticks and work on something!

I have given up finding a new pattern and instead gone for the instant gratification - such that it is with sock knitting - of using a known pattern that will yield wearable socks!
I am fascinated by the mechanics of making a sock and have successfully completed 2 pairs.  Of course, the first pair had to be given away to a friend with slightly larger feet because I cannot measure properly.  And the second were resumed after a 6 mos break, which meant that I managed to make one sock a different size than the other, but they both still fit!  This time, I am fool proof.  I am making a different version of the second sock pattern - Ann Budd's His and Her socks - in the size that fits me best - child's size for my tiny feet.  I plan on wearing them before Thanksgiving!

sticks on a plane!
Thank goodness TSA does not view knitting needles as deadly weapons!  Despite space limitations flying coach, I did manage to knit up a respectable length of sock while airborne.  The flight attendant behind me was also knitting during her spare time on one leg of the flight.  I was even afforded some extra minutes of non-flying knit time while we were trapped in the plane on the tarmac for 15 or 20 minutes.  They were looking for an FAA-approved nut for the left wing.  We were in shouldn't have taken that long to find!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pre-vacation preservation

The rescued harvest from yesterday's early snow

A counter full of produce and we leave in 36 hours
But already, I have made my first Sweet Green Tomato Pickles!  I've enjoyed fried green tomatoes before but pickling them is something completely new and different.  I used Lianna Krissoff's recipe in Canning for a New Generation, with one significant modification - I traded out an overnight soak in pickling lime for Ball's Pickle Crisp.  Honestly, I'd have happily used the lime but I can't find it anywhere.
sliced heirloom tomatoes from my garden
Like many of the canning and preserving recipes I have followed, I was amazed at how simple it actually was when you got right down to it.  I sliced tomatoes and removed woody cores - hence the PacMan look of a few of them - while watching the morning news, mixed up the witches' brew these Sisters of Elphaba were headed into, and prepped my canning supplies.
don't laugh, organization is good!

The slices bubbled away for 15 minutes while my sinuses cleared every time I stirred the pot.  Six pints and 25 minutes later (10 for processing plus altitude adjustment)...
I sampled a few extra bits from the pot - delicious!
I think lack of time dictates the red peppers will be diced or sliced and frozen in one cup packages.  How handy is it that they don't need to be blanched first, yes?!  The herbs will be a bit trickier as I don't seem to have ice cube trays to freeze their pureed goodness into.  That's the bad part about moving so much - sometimes useful items get donated away because they are not useful right now.

Sour pickle and Sauerkraut update - the kraut has been in the refrigerator for a week or so and tastes perfectly sauerkraut-y.  The pickles make the stairs headed to the basement, their fermenting hideout, smell divine and they do seem to be successfully souring, as occasional slices confirm.  Two pickles have bit the dust because they had moldy white stuff ON them and  I just could not get a clear read on what that meant.  I know the yummy ones from the big barrels of cloudy brine I ate in my childhood did not have moldy white stuff on them, though, so off they went. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

rounding out September

Cumin and Paprika Pickled Turnips, Chinese Plum Sauce, and Ajvar
So back a week or so ago, I pickled some turnips with paprika and cumin.  I ended up using ground cumin seed instead of the required cumin seed, so cross your fingers!  I halved the recipe from Canning For a New Generation and that all seemed to work out.  My husband had the day off and was a bit put off by the overwhelming vinegar and  cumin smell!

Next up, I finally was able to make that Chinese Plum Sauce I have been wanting to try, having acquired some star anise from Savory Spice Shop earlier in the week.  I copied this recipe down from Put 'Em Up and did note that while I was to "discard the star anise," nothing was said about fishing out the skins.  The immersion blender did not fully puree the skins and the whole affair was somewhat thicker than I'd have thought but it tastes marvelous so there you have it!

Pureed eggplant, peppers and onions for Ajvar

after adding the apple cider vinegar - no, I did not fully peel the peppers, the bitter doesn't bother me and I was in a bit of a hurry :)

Finally, I made some Ajvar from Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington.  I need to get this book for its varied recipes and unique ideas.  Ajvar is a tasty Serbian relish made up of roasted eggplant, roasted peppers, and onions and works well as a dip, a sandwich spread, a pasta sauce, or something to slide in next to your eggs if you roll that way.  I used one single hot pepper which added a fair amount of heat, so the next batch I make up will have only sweet peppers.  It was very simple and something I foresee endless variations on.  Pennington's version is definitely a short cut to what I later looked up online.

Good thing I picked all my green tomatoes last night - this is my back yard this morning!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

why does September always kick my butt?

In my mind, September has always been the "start" of the new year.  This is surely a function not only of the change in weather, but the agriculturally-based beginning of a new school year.  Where we live right now, my September starts mid-August, as the boys head back to school on 15 August.

I have still been canning, just too tired to tell anyone about it LOL.  Here, let me show you!
Ginger Carrot-Radish Slaw
This is amazingly delicious.  I found a very simplified version of the recipe in Put 'em Up!:  A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton.  The "slaw" is essentially a refrigerator pickle, using a vinegar/sugar solution and three days time in the icebox to turn into the amazing snack I put brightly on my place next to a few slices of lift.  I have found, in making this several times now, that ginger is a PITA to grate.  I can see why the traditional sharkskin ginger graters would be useful due to the incredibly fibrous nature of the plant.  Has anyone ever made paper out of this stuff?

Apple Pear Preserves

I kind of winged this recipe, using Ellie Topp's Small-Batch Preserving as a guide.  It smells like September to me and tastes divine on dark, dense, whole grain toast.   I remained confounded as to why my jams were becoming thicker than it seemed they should be.  I had never had problems with jams getting, well, jammy before.   Days later, my questions would be answered!

true small-batch preserves - cherries and peaches

I had some fruit beginning to over-ripen on my counter and, inspired by a post by Food In Jars' Marisa and kitchengadgetgirl's Let's Get Sticky post, I took the plunge, chopping up counter fruit and measuring it out.  I had two cups of peaches and one cup of chopped and pitted cherries.  After staring them down for a moment, I decided to not be brave and mix the fruits, although I am fully aware I could have done so and had a great jam.  Instead, I processed them separately, boiling them in a non-stick skillet with an approximately 2:1 fruit:sugar ratio. Two jars of peach and one of cherries later - it worked!  Which is amazing, and I think, in part because I gave up trying to reach the gel point of 220F.  Just as well, because I made my greatest discovery in the world of canning at 7000 ft...the gel point happens at a lower temperature as you go higher in altitude.  Can you picture me banging my head into the desk (figuratively, of course!) repeatedly?  I have known for years, after living in Wyoming and Colorado, that the boil point was lower.  It simply never occurred to me to adjust for gel point.  No wonder my non-pectin jams were too thick!  So thank you, kitchengadgetgirl, for that link at the end of your post.  My jams will be much better for it while I reside in the Rockies!

I have to tell you, a few days later, I met up with some non-cooking-geek friends and mentioned this (to me) monumental discovery...only to have 6 sets of confused and mildly concerned eyes turn to me in unison over their salt-rimmed margarita glasses.  ::Ahem::

Most recently, I have decided it is time to try the sauerkraut again.  I read Wild Fermentation for some inspiration and went to work on a head of cabbage.  This time, I sliced it thinner, added apple to the mix, reduced the salt slightly, and stuck it on the stairs to the basement where it will be cooler than my kitchen and dark.  I also used a sandwich bag filled with water to ensure everything stayed under brine.  All is quiet so far, but it has only been two days.
sauerkraut - round two
While reading Wild Fermentation, I developed a craving for the sour pickles of my youth.  You know the kind - deep in a barrel, make your tongue curl, crispy sour whole pickles?
sour pickles with dill and garlic
These brine-covered babies joined the 'kraut on the stairs, using the same water-in-a-sandwich bag sink method.  I had to divide it into two half-gallon jars as I lack, for the moment, a gallon-sized container.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pickled Peppers and Plums (say that ten times fast!)

I finally found someone else who likes my pickled turnips!  We had a friend over for dinner this week and he trustingly tried spoonfuls of unidentified items from jars in my refrigerator, declaring the Lift "delicious" and even having some as a side with dinner!

Proof positive I cannot multi-task when I am tired!  I snagged a few pounds of tomatoes at bargain basement prices at Wednesday's Farmers' Market, cut, cored and olive oiled them, added seasonings and even peeled garlic this time.  Then I slid them into the oven to roast away.  I kind of meant to turn the oven off before I went to the bus stop but even if I didn't, they should have been fine.  Except there was a bolt of lightning.  And the school took all the kids back inside from the buses.  And I did not know about this - they sent an email but I have a dumb phone - so we waited for our children at a bus stop too far from the house to let them walk alone while this happened to my tomatoes.
Two pans looking like this :(

I did salvage some, but they are unusable for my original intent, which was more of that silky-smooth marinara I made in my last tomato adventure.  Ah well, try again next week!
(Please note, the pill bottle off to the left is filled with meds for the dog...not for me when my tomatoes blacken up as one friend suggested!)

On a more positive note, I found a simple recipe for pickled banana peppers and whipped up a jar.

Slice peppers into rings, and place in a bowl with  2 bay leaves and 5 cloves of crushed garlic.  Boil 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 Tbsp of raw sugar, 2 tsp mustard seed and 2 tsp kosher salt.  Pack jar, pour liquid over it, let it cool, cap and refrigerate.  Eat in 3 days.

They are pretty darned tasty on sandwiches, but watch out, they have a healthy vinegar kick that will leave you coughing if it goes down the wrong pipe!

This morning, I gazed at the sad plums that should have been turned into something yummy by yesterday at the latest.  They still showed signs of life, so before the kids even finished breakfast, I had a small batch of Amaretto Plum Jam going in the canner.   Or it may turn out to be Amaretto Plum Dessert Sauce, depending on the vagaries of high altitude canning with non-pectin recipes.  There was only a spoon-licking quantity left over so no previews on my toast.
No coffee made to justify a nip of Amaretto
I am beginning to enjoy Ellie Top's Small Batch Preserving book more and more.  There is a Mango Plum jam on the next page.  There is a mango on my counter.  hmmmmmm

Saturday, August 13, 2011

small batches

I am enjoying the concept of small-batch preserving this year.  In past years, I have gone all wild with 20 lbs of peaches or cases of strawberries, but this year, I want to try things that may or may not work.  So I see it as cutting down on the waste.

I am completely uncomfortable with my first effort at sauerkraut.  Perhaps my kitchen was too warm, maybe I was overtired and added too much salt.  But it is at a loss of only one small cabbage and either 4 tsp or 4 Tbsp of salt, so the experience was worth it to me.  I'll be working up another batch once I find a suitable cabbage.

My small-batch experiments this past week involved Pickled Turnip (Lift) and plum jam.  The Lift (from Canning for a New Generation) is a resounding success, all pretty in pink with tasty tart turnips.  I need to build a sandwich to put it on now!
cooling on the counter
Peel, slice and blanch your turnips.  Layer into a jar with celery leaves and a few slices of pickled beets.  Pour hot vinegar/water/salt mixture over the top.  Add a little extra pickled beet juice because you really like that pink Easter egg color.  Cool on the counter; cap; refrigerate.  They are ready in 3 days, although I snuck one early and it was definitely what I tasted in that sandwich in that Arab joint in Manitou Springs!

3 days later!

I am actually surprised I have not tried plum jam before.  The recipe is very easy, not even involving pitting them.  The pits are skimmed out just prior to canning.  

boil with some water

add sugar and lemon juice, cook until pulpy

jar up and eat the leftovers
As always, altitude is tricky in this one.  We don't boil well at just under 7000 ft above sea level, so I am never sure whether to give something an extra few minutes - brown rice, for example - or to just go with the normal time.  My jam may be a little less jammy than I'd like, but again...4 jars.  I have no doubt it will be eaten, it just won't be given away as a gift LOL.  In my post-jam research, I realized that plums are naturally high in pectin, especially if you are taking advantage of the skins and pits (that sounds so very wrong!).  So although my initial set test - watching slightly cooled jam slide off a wooden spoon and looking for sheeting - indicated I should let 'er boil for a few minutes more, I see this is not actually warranted.

I think I'll be printing off a copy of that natural pectin level chart of fruits so I can be aware during future jam sessions.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

you say "tomato"


Needless to say, I had not tried canning tomatoes before.  I was good, sat down and read what I could find in several of the canning books, located what seemed like a pattern for how to cold pack the goods, and set out to accomplish the canning of about 20lbs of tomatoes.

I decided to go with raw packed whole tomatoes because that would leave me the most options to use them later.  And it looked pathetically simple to make.  Cut the x on the bottom of the tomato and blanch for 1 minute (2 or more at my altitude) before pulling and plunging the tomatoes into an ice water bath.  I quickly had a rhythm of cut, boil, plunge and peel and soon there were enough tomatoes for a jar.  The directions had mentioned pushing the small, whole tomatoes into the jar with your hand but I had located only regular-mouthed jars (the wide-mouthed jars purchased for this specific reason were MIA in the basement) which were too small for my hands, so I pushed them down with a spoon until I had covered them in their own liquid.  (Note possible fail point here.)

"Leave a generous 1/2 inch head space."  (Potential fail point two?)

"Water bath processing for 85 minutes" plus my high- altitude requirement of an additional 15 minutes.  I am just going to blame the whole debacle on altitude and call it done.  (Three strikes?)

And, in the small section I failed to see when I was doing my pre-canning prep:  "Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the canner for 5 minutes to prevent siphoning." 

Siphoning - This bit of evil is when liquid boils out of your jars while processing.  Possible causes are fruit packed too tightly, too little head space, and rapid pressure change.  OH yes, that 5 minutes I was supposed to leave the jars in the canner post-boil!  To be honest, I suspect the damage was already done.  The smell of stewed tomatoes was a bit strong when I pulled the lid off the canner.  But when I lifted out a quart jar of tomatoes out, there was an immediate and ominous hissing sound as tomato juice spurted out around the ring and into the hot water.

Poor, sad, liquid-reduced canned tomatoes
Normally, this would be end game for the tomatoes and I'd have had to remove them from the cans, place them in freezer bags and use them before they were irretrievably lost in the depths of my ice box in white fur coats.  The liquid passing from the jar would compromise the integrity of the seal by depositing food between the seal and the jar.  But wouldn't you know it, those little buggers began to ping pop the canning song within minutes and, in the end, all of them sealed.  That's not to say it was a pretty effort - the tomatoes at the top will likely discolor - but at least my learning experience can still be productive!  I'll use the ugly ones first and pretend it never happened.  A few of them even sealed properly!

better packing on this jar?
I still had tomatoes leftover, that's always the way, isn't it?  So I quartered, oiled, salt and peppered, and tucked a handful of basil from my garden under the mix and roasted them until they started to blacken.  Yup, I really want them that way.  It makes them sweeter, caramelizing the natural sugars.  A quick trip through the mouli - I still don't like doing that so it wasn't just my teenage self - and I had an amazing marinara sauce.  Or pizza sauce.  Or something to ladle over baked chicken.  Wow.  This will have to be repeated and frozen!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

with relish!

Hot dogs get a bad rap as being filled with leftovers and rejected parts of a multitude of animals but there are some good ones out there - Nathan's and Hebrew National spring to mind as easily-acquired brand names, and any butcher worth their salt will stock a tasty local-style dog.   But as a friend once said to me, the main function of a hot dog is as a vehicle for condiments.

With that in mind, I made Cucumber Relish.  I have plans for ketchup and mustards at a later date!  Fortunately, I read the entire recipe ahead of time, not always something I do but I am getting better, because not only was there a 3-4 hour soak time but there was also a 12-18 hour overnight soak!  There is also an overwhelming amount of dicing and chopping that I was able to make short work of with my cute little Manual Food Processor.
from this...
to only a matter of strokes!

A bit of mixing to show off the colors of the red and green peppers, red onions, and pickling cucumbers used, and voila...
from the old Ball Blue Book of Canning
Speaking of colors, turmeric stains everything.  Oh my word, does anyone have any useful ways to take it off my rubber spatulas (scrapers for those of you in other parts of the country)?  I had to use stainless cleaner to get it out of my giant stainless steel bowl and eventually, it will stop making me look like I have nicotine-stained fingernails!

Aside from inadvertent dying of everything it came into contact with, the relish canned up easily, no major missteps, which is more than I can say about my first venture with tomatoes.  But that is for another post!

You can vary the taste by changing up the type of vinegar (white or apple cider) and sugar (white granulated or brown) and onions (white, yellow, red...).

From Ball Blue Book

2 quarts chopped cucumbers (about 8 medium)
2 cups chopped sweet green peppers (4 small)
2 cups chopped sweet red peppers (4 small)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 tbsp turmeric
1/2 cup salt
2 quarts cold water
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 quart vinegar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp whole mustard seed
2 tsp whole allspice
2 tsp whole cloves

Combine vegetables in a large bowl; sprinkle with turmeric.  Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water and pour over vegetables; let stand 3 to 4 hours.  Drain; cover vegetables with cold water and let stand 1 hour.  Drain thoroughly.  Combine sugar  and vinegar in a large saucepot.  Tie spices in a spice bag; add to sugar mixture.

Bring to a boil; pour over vegetables.  Cover; let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place.  Bring vegetables to a boil;  reduce heat and simmer until hot.  Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner

Yield:  about 6 pints

Sunday, July 31, 2011

sauerkraut, 9 days in

see the bubbles?
We are 9 days into the saurkraut experiment and I am intrigued - the smell is contained closely in the area of the jar (as in, you must stick your nose right up to it), there has been no scum to be skimmed, and there are still bubbles.  I think we are looking good.  There was some drama midweek where the cabbage leaf I placed on top to keep the kraut down began to ever-so-slightly mold (shhhhh, it never hit the liquid!) but I quickly replaced that with parchment paper and am hoping for the best.

Friday, July 29, 2011

a pretty pickle

sliced thin, salted and about to be iced
At long last, I brave the true Bread and Butter Pickles (with onions!) from scratch, no cheater packet of spices.  Before breakfast, I sliced all 4lbs of them, with 2 lbs of red onions, and hit 'em up with salt and ice.  And there they sat, shedding excess water so they could make me up a crunchy little pickle.

rinsed and drained
add pickles to stuff I already boiled
It was a sticky but satisfying experience and I am the happy holder of 5 pints and 2 half pints of pickles.  And I still forgot to do the "let the air out" of these days, I'll remember that. At least these pickles are not floating!

Traditional Bread and Butter Pickles
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preservation
The branzini fish from the other night cooked up fabulously on the grill with some red onions and sliced lemon inside, salt and pepper and olive oil on the outside.  Nothing like the afternoon high Colorado winds to act as bellows for your charcoal grill.  The kids were not as impressed but that was ok as the fish itself did not yield as much filet as I'd have initially thought after my trout experiences.  The taste was somewhere between trout and mackerel, both of which are pictured below, losing their skin in my little Aussie grill.  All in all, I'd have it again.  The fact that the internet touts it as a "green fish" is just a bonus.  Thankfully, my fishmonger scales them all for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

with silver bells and cockle shells

Lettuce was harvested for salad to accompany last night's meal.  It was, by far, the best lettuce I've had all year.  Naturally, I had to replace seeds for a future crop, something I have been very neglectful of and will suffer for when I have weeks without after enjoying what looks like a good dozen meals of the fresh stuff.

tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, and one interesting Japanese Eggplant
Moments of my time and with only one glove, 5 more salads were planted
 I subscribe to the square foot gardening method and for someone who prefers to get more bang for her buck, it really pays off.  There is little weeding, no thinning, easy watering and high yield.  Sadly, we did not get everything planted as early as I'd have liked this year, but I still have hopes for some decent produce.

Early in the spring, my husband began shoveling off the massive piles of river rock that qualify as landscaping around here and created a beautiful raised bed oasis next to our patio.
I swear, it cools off the patio just being there
None of this gardening nonsense keeps me from heading off to the farmers' market for this Wednesday's haul!
I see pickles

ok, so the apples came from Whole Paycheck yesterday, but I neeeeeed them for pectin
Off to figure out what to do with this pile o' produce!  Who knows, maybe just grill it all up for dinner.  I have a branzini fish I need to figure out what to do with anyway.  I really like to shop locally, but there is only so much trout a girl can eat!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

time in a bottle

With my friend's plane delayed due to weather everywhere in the country but where she was, I pulled out my newly purchased little cabbage and thin sliced it all to death, tossed it in a bowl with some kosher salt, and began squeezin'.  Before she even texted her plane was on the ground, I had it all souped up and stuck in a quart jar to ferment on my counter.  Behold! The Kraut!
Small-Batch Fresh Sauerkraut
Canning for a New Generation by Lianna Krissoff
The next day, there was much movie watching (Potter!) and frozen yogurt eating (Lulu's!) and such but at the end of the day, there were pretty things in jars once again.
Zesty Red Onion Jelly and Sparkling Hot Pepper Jelly
The leftovers that did not make the jar have not lasted long in the refrigerator either.  The pictures do not do these beautiful preserves justice!

My husband and children love hot pepper jelly on crackers, toast, spoons, making that was a no-brainer.  I snagged the recipe from Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard's Small-Batch Preserving.  There are other recipes I want to try but when you fail to pick up the proper quantity of liquid pectin, you make what you can!  Zesty Red Onion Jelly, in this iteration, came from the trusty and reliable Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.