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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

can it

Canning!  There is something magical about opening up the cabinet and finding last spring's strawberries in a jar, waiting to join up with a bit of peanut butter on fresh bread.  It brings back not only the season, but in my case, my childhood.  My family has always preserved the harvest and I have fond memories of my grandmother's garden with the strangely colored and shaped tomatoes.  Of course, I have less fond memories from my teenage years of standing in a warm kitchen, working the food moule to get the seeds out of stewed tomatoes prior to freezing, but I blame that on being a teenager more than the activity itself.

Harvest has begun here in Colorado and I have made several fun trips to the farmer's markets, making friends with the various vendors.  I am furiously scouring canning cookbooks from my collection and from the stack of library books I have acquired over the last week.

First up, unexpectedly, were figs.  Decidedly not a farmers market, or even a purveyor of local foods, Costco had a flat of the loveliest looking fresh figs.  In my quest to educate the palates of my sons (8 and 10), I snagged them without hesitation.  Tasty, exotic, and good for you, I could overlook their far flung origin.  The boys liked them, but not enough to consume the lot before they deteriorated!

Fig Preserves in under 3 hours
Alas, I was so disorganized with my canning supplies - we've moved since I last canned (20+lbs of sour cherries, much more than that of peaches) - that I could not find lids so the fig preserves had to go to the refrigerator.  They are delicious and pathetically easy.  Of course, I cannot find the exact recipe online but I have it jotted down, er, somewhere.  Until then, know that it involved cutting the washed figs in half, tossing with some sugar (ok, a lot of sugar) in a stockpot, and cooking down for a couple hours.  In the last 30 minutes, you add sliced lemons that, believe me, you do not want to pull out later.  The candied tart taste of the thin lemon slices adds additional class to an already decadent breakfast treat.

Then came the farmer's market with the boys, they had yummy tamales and tasted local honey, where I picked up some beets on a whim.  Things One and Two do love beets, I'm not so fond of giving them to Thing Two because, let's face it, he is Pig-Pen when he eats and I have yet to find a laundry solution to beet juice.  To prolong the inevitable...

And finally, I have tried my hand at pickles.  I've made many a jam, but clearly, pickles are going to require a packing talent I do not have as yet!  Look at that space at the bottom!  *hangs head*

As I survey my counter full of veg and my very messy house, I wonder what my house guest tonight would prefer...a clean bathroom or some Red Onion Jam?