Back It Up: Part 1 – Construction

I wanted to share with you my 2013 gardening adventures.  Originally I had planned to do this during the month of December, kind of as a year-end wrap up, but that never happened.  Oh well, what better time than the present, right?

So much has happened over the past… year?  I’m not even sure where to begin.  I thought about making one giant post; however, that felt very overwhelming.  Just thinking about trying to squeeze an entire year into one entry makes me want to run away screaming.  Then, I thought about breaking it up into several small posts, but that seems like it will take forever, especially since I barely find the time to write regular seasonal posts.  So, I’m just gonna go with the flow and see how it develops!

The first thing I’m excited to share with you is my garden!  After my last move, I left behind a glorious 80×30 growing space.  Knowing that my boyfriend is VERY fond of his monoculture of grass I was going to have to take what I could get, if that was going to be anything at all!  After weeks of debating size and location, and even tossing around the idea of a community plot at Horn Farm Center, conveniently located right down the road, I finally had a 16×16 plot for my veggies to call their very own!

garden-staked out wmb

The construction of my garden became more than I had imagined.  Goodbye variegated rabbit fencing that barely protected my tender plants from oh-so-hungry critters, say hello to shiny new picket fencing!  My garden project is about 85% done, the gate still needs built and the chicken wire needs attached to the fencing.  This and another coat of stain will all be done this Spring.  We (and by we I mean he) simply ran out of time last summer.  I was in charge of the staining, the boy and his buddies did the excavation and building.  To be quite honest, I was just happy to be able to dig in the dirt, despite having to replant beans 3 times with no success!  This is where the chicken wire will become a lifesaver; several times last season I saw baby bunnies squeeze their cute little bodies through the fence when I approached the garden.

garden-sod removal wmb

Originally, Jase was going to apply grass/weed killer, but knowing how anti-chemical I am, he appeased me and removed the sod.  :)  Since our backyard is on a slope the guys had to level out the garden so that all the fencing went in straight.  This meant lots of back-breaking work due to one end of the garden is sitting on top a bed of rock.  However, having crappy soil did land me the best gift ever…

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Three giant scoops of the best mushroom/screened topsoil this side of the river!  Best. Present. Ever.

Images and content copyright © 2014 Danielle R Limoge.

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Jerking Around

Once upon a time I stumbled across a little something called eggplant bacon.  Immediately I was all like “WHOA, WHAT?!?!”  Did I just discover the blissful marriage between one of my all-time favorite vegetables and the most delicious edible ever?  Because lets be honest folks, bacon is magic.  Pure magic.  Period.  During my vegetarian years, the one thing I missed the most was bacon.  Imitated, yes.  Duplicated, never.

Several years ago I tried out various forms of this said “facon bacon” delight, and you know what?  It tastes NOTHING LIKE BACON.  After revamping and melding a few recipes, I came up with a damn good substitute for jerky and that made me a very happy girl!  I’m not a big fan of jerky, it gets stuck in my teeth, makes my stomach uneasy, and leaves a weird aftertaste in my mouth.  It is a big fat trifecta of no-thank-you-ness!  But still, there is just something about jerky that makes me think I want to eat it… and then I’m immediately reminded as to why I don’t!  Eggplant jerky satisfies my cravings without all the regret!

eggplant jerky Eggplant Jerky

2-3 medium-sized eggplant, I like to use globe-shaped varieties.

1/4 cup neutral oil, such as sunflower, grapeseed, or safflower.

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup white rice vinegar

3 tbsp Worcestershire

1 tbsp water

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp liquid smoke

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to incorporate, set aside.  Wash and dry eggplant, cut off stem and blossom ends, and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces.  Slice in half again and marinate in spice mixture for 15 minutes, toss occasionally so that all pieces are well coated.  Place on dehydrator trays in a single layer and turn up the heat to the veggie setting.  Remove from trays once the eggplant is dry but pliable.  Usually I let mine run overnight.  Place in an airtight container for long-term storage.

eggplant jerky jar

 

PDFBadge

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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Herbed Green Beans

It has been three years since my last canning of green beans; this is not because I haven’t wanted to, but because nature has not allowed me to!  In both 2011 and 2012 I battled bugs, lots and lots of bugs.  And I’m not talking about a bite here or a nibble there.  Those tiny mouths of destruction waged an all-out war on my garden and made Swiss cheese of my bean patch!  This year I had the bunnies to thank for completely devouring my plants before they ever had a chance to produce beans… that the bugs could then eat.  The bunny mishap could have been prevented (and will be for next year’s growing season); however, due to the time constraints of my “workforce” the garden gate has yet to be constructed.  This translated into a big flashing sign that read EAT HERE!!!  Sigh.

My non-existent green bean harvest has forced me to continually set aside a canning recipe I’ve been wanting to try out.  Fortunately, Farmer Josh’s second planting of beans was ready for the pickin’, so I was able to secure a half-bushel along with my yearly order of corn.

herbed green beans Herbed Green Beans – yields 6 quarts

24 cups snap or wax beans, washed, ends trimmed, and cut into 1 inch pieces.

3 cups chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp pickling salt – optional

Place beans in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover the beans.  Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Drain beans and return to pot and add onion, garlic, herbs, and if desired salt.  Mix well to distribute herbs.  Fill sterile quart or pint jars leaving 1″ headspace; add boiling water, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids to fingertip-tight.  Process quarts for 25 minutes and pints for 20 minutes in a pressure canner at 10lbs-weighted-gauge or 11lbs for a dial-gauge, at sea-level.

PDFBadgeImages and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from a book I borrowed from the library several years ago and did not write down.  I know, worst credit acknowledgement EVER!

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Filed under Pressure Canning, Vegan, Vegetarian

Stuffed Chard Rolls

My career change (which I’ll elaborate more on in a future post) has afforded me two luxuries: less stress and more time!  Clearly a win-win situation, which makes me a very happy girl!  This new-found freedom if my day-to-day work-life has given me the delight of once again stepping back into the garden, albeit a smaller one, but a glorious garden none the less!

In my garden I have a small row of rainbow chard, 6 plants in all.  Knowing they are abundant producers I contemplated cutting back and only planting half of them; however, being someone who is always up for a challenge, especially one involving the kitchen, I decided to go for it!  So far I’ve received a thumbs up regarding my sautéed chard and I know this cheesy bread is sure to please his picky pallet.  Unfortunately, neither of the former foods happen to be meal worthy.  So, I started spinning my foodie wheels  to come up with something that can stand on its own.  That is when I started playing around with the idea of stuffed chard rolls! stuffed chard rolls Stuffed Chard Rolls - yields approximately 14 rolls

3/4 cup cooked lentils – I used brown

3/4 cup cooked rice – I used black Thai rice

one large bunch of chard leaves, washed with stems cut off at base of the leaf

1 leek, (white part only) chopped

1/3 cup minced garlic scapes

8 oz sour cream

2 tsp pureed salt preserved lemons – zest and juice of 1/2 lemon can be substituted

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

olive oil

Greek yogurt – optional

Cook rice and lentils using a 2/1 ratio of water to rice/lentils.  Depending on what varieties you select this can take anywhere from 20 – 45 minutes.  Once they have finished cooking set aside.  Place a large saute pan over med heat and add a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Cook scapes and leeks until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add rice, lentils, and sour cream; mix well.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic power, add pureed lemon and feta cheese, stir well to combine. Blanch chard leaves 3 or 4 at a time in boiling water for approximately a minute, remove from water and lay flat.  If the center rib is too thick and does not bend without tearing the leaf, then cut it out. chard leaf

chard leaf cut Once the rib has been removed gently overlap the two sides. chard leaf overlap Place several tablespoons of filling at the base of the leaf.  Tightly roll the leaf around the filling while tucking the sides in. chard leaf filling Place rolls into a baking dish seam side down and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. chard leaf rolled  Stuffed chard rolls can be enjoyed hot or cold and are delicious when paired with a side of Greek yogurt.  I can see myself making a version of these with ground beef and a cheesy red sauce; this will definitely make my carnivore a very happy boy! stuffed chard rolls 3 Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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A Case of the Red, White, and BLUES

And by blues, I mean blueberries!  Around this time each year I am reminded just how much I love those tiny indigo berries!  Not only do they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, but they are also anti-inflammatory, which is a key driver of all chronic diseases!

blueberries

Everyone knows that fresh is best and it’s a no-brainer that blueberries consumed raw is when they best deliver their peak power-house performance!  Wanting to save them to be enjoyed throughout the year I started spinning my preservation wheels and came up with two very delicious recipes!  If you’re looking for something quick and dirty, then the compote recipe is the one for you.  If you have the luxury of time and can commit to some babysitting, then this no pectin jam is the way to go!  These recipes are interchangeable, so if you prefer a blueberry lemon jam or a blueberry vanilla compote then just swap out the cooking times!

blueberry compote

Blueberry Lemon Compote - yields 9 half-pints

11 cups of blueberries

Grated zest and juice of one lemon

1/3 cup honey

1 cup sugar

In a large pot combine blueberries, zest, juice, sugar, and honey over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  Ladle compote into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

Blueberry Vanilla Jam - yields 4 half-pints

11 cups of blueberries

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup honey

1 cup sugar

1 Madagascar vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

In a large pot combine blueberries, juice, sugar, honey, vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes; skim off any foam that develops.  Ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

After canning both recipes I still had quite a few blueberries left over.  Seeing as how my freezer is full of strawberries I decided to can the remaining berries in a light simple syrup.

Blueberries in Light Syrup

Blueberries

1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of water

Dissolve sugar in water over medium heat.  Fill hot pint jars with blueberries and fill with sugar-water leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Wipe rims and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

These jars of berries will really come in handy when it’s cold outside and I want to heat things up with a bit of pie and cobbler making!

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Jam & Jelly, Spices & Sauces

Strawberry Fields Part 2: Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

When looking at canning recipes gathering ideas for my next adventure, I try to avoid recipes that contain obnoxious amounts of refined sugar. Every once in a while I will make an exception and give in to my sweet tooth; folks, this is definitely one of those times!

Since the finished product will be diluted (by more than half) with water, I’m able to rationalize the needed 6 cups of evil white sugar. After cracking open my first jar and conducting the initial taste-test, I can honestly say this is one recipe I will make again! I can see myself reliving my bartender days and whipping up a few summer cocktails! I love when one little jar holds so many delicious possibilities!

strawberry lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate - yields 7 pints

6 cups hulled strawberries

4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 cups granulated sugar

Using a food processor or blender, purée strawberries until smooth. Transfer to a large stainless steel pot, add lemon juice and sugar, stir to combine. Heat mixture to 190°F over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that has developed.

Ladle concentrate into hot pint jars, wipe rims and add two-piece adjustable lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars, allowing them to cool for 12-24 hours.

To reconstitute, mix one part concentrate with one part water, adjust to your own personal taste. I use a 1:1.5 water ratio. I’m thinking frozen margaritas or vodka and seltzer water would be the perfect ending to a hot summer day!

PDFBadge

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe courtesy of Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.

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Filed under Beverages, Boiling-Water Bath Canning

Because a Promise is a Promise!

Several weeks ago I made an announcement that once my  OneGreenTomato Facebook page reached 300 fans I would hold a giveaway;  307 fans later and I am ready to make good on that promise! I am a girl with many interests, three of them I am very passionate about: growing food (big surprise there), photography, and sewing.  The latter of the three is what I’m offering up as the prize!

In April of 2011, I started making reusable mesh produce bags.  I mean seriously, who doesn’t want to reduce the amount of single-use plastic blowing around and still look good while doing it?  Well, I recently restocked those virtual shop shelves and decided to offer up a medium-sized mesh bag as a giveaway prize!  My produce bags are constructed from a durable light-weight, utility mesh and feature a stylish fabric casing with a hand-crocheted drawstring closure.  They come in small, medium, and large sizes and are available in sets of three!

produce bag banner

One lucky reader/fan will win the bag shown in the picture below!

Red Paisley GA Bag banner

Here are the rules:  This Contest is now Closed

bag winnerCongrats Susan!  Comment #3 is you.  Please email feralfarmgirl at gmail your address and I will place your bag into the mail!  :)

Mandatory Entry, leave a comment on this post letting me know what delicious produce you would fill your bag with should you win!

For additional entries you can do ANY OR ALL of the following:

Friend Pixy Patch on Facebook, and repost this on your Facebook page, then comment letting me know you did so.

Sign up to follow Twisted Threads, then leave a comment stating you did so.  If you are already a subscriber, just comment letting me know.

Sign up to receive email notices when new blog posts on OneGreenTomato are available, then comment letting me know you did so.

Friend OneGreenTomato on Facebook, then comment letting me know you did so.

Retweet this post, leave a comment including your Twitter id.

Reblog this post, leave a comment letting me know you did so.

Okay, that’s a total of 7 chances to win!  Just make sure you leave a separate comment for each of the different entries!  The winner will be chosen, at random, on Tuesday June 25th!

Good Luck and Happy Summer Solstice!

 

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Strawberry Fields Part 1: Compote

Two weeks ago I ventured across the river to my friend’s farm.  There, I spent my Sunday morning alone in the quiet fields picking the essence of Summer: sun-ripened, perfectly sweetened strawberries.  Last Sunday I did the exact same thing.  In total my efforts yielded 50 quarts, which translated into hours and hours of washing, hulling, and preserving Summer’s most sought after fruit!

quart containers

In preparation for the harvest I was planning on bringing home, I started formulating my plan of action.  I had already decided that half of my fruitage would end up frozen to be enjoyed in the off-season, and there was definitely going to be a lot of shortcake baking taking place, which eliminated several more quarts.  Now, what to do with the rest?  After flipping through my collection of food preservation books, I finally narrowed it down to three mouth-watering recipes.  First up: strawberry orange compote.  Oh yes!

strawberry compote jar-spoonStrawberry Orange Compote - yields 8 half-pint jars

4 quarts of strawberries, hulled and quartered

grated zest and juice of one lemon

grated zest and juice of one orange

2 cups granulated sugar

In a large pot combine strawberries, sugar, orange and lemon juices and their zest; bring to a simmer over med-high heat, stirring often.  Lower the heat to a minimum and gently simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  You will end up with a slightly reduced, but still runny mixture.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace; remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes, adjust for elevation.

strawberries & sauce

So far my favorite way to enjoy this slightly sweetened sauce is drizzled over a bowl of creamy vanilla bean ice cream.  Absolute heaven if you ask me!

ice cream & sauce

I also canned a batch where I excluded the zest, therefore reducing the pectin content, which resulted in a slightly looser, but equally delicious sauce.

PDFBadge

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from Tart and Sweet - 101 canning and pickling recipes for the modern kitchen by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler.

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German Apple Puff Pancake

Several weeks ago I (re)found a stack of folders containing hundreds of recipes that I had squirreled away.  Initially, these folders were completely forgotten about until last Fall when I had packed them up in preparation for moving.  Finally, I took some time to go through all those folders… thank you productivity stopping headache!

Always on the lookout for something delicious to start my day off with, I found an old print-out for German apple puff pancakes.  What I had envisioned in my head (fluffy pancakes with a layer of apples on the bottom) was completely different from the end result.  Turns out I was very much okay with that!

GAPP top1_wmbOGT

German Apple Puff Pancake

2 medium firm apples, cored, peeled, and sliced 1/4″ thick

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp sugar

1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 425°F.  In a small bowl mix cinnamon and sugar, set aside.  Peel apples and cut into 1/4″ slices.  Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet; add enough apples so that the bottom of the skillet is covered.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly over apples and sauté until they become soft and light brown on both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes.

Gently mix remaining ingredients into a smooth batter and pour over-top apples.  Place skillet into preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  DO NOT open the oven door while your puff pancake is baking, instead, use the oven light to see if it is done.  Once the pancake no longer appears wet it is done.

To serve, invert skillet over a large round plate.  It helps to run a metal spatula along the underside before flipping, this way the apples do not stick to the bottom.

I’m definitely making this again, and most likely it will be tomorrow!  However, this time I think I’m going to slice up some of my canned peaches instead of apples.

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from the magical melting pot blog (no longer available).

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Apple Butter

Many moons ago, I cooked up my first batch of apple butter.  It was surprisingly simple and tasted better than anything I had growing up; and from what I remember, the jars my mom would bring home tasted pretty darn amazing!  This no-fail low-maintenance method is my constant go-to when making apple butter.  It is so easy you’ll wonder why anyone would choose a different route!

If you want to make apple butter, the first thing you need to do is make applesauce: reada perfect recipe for putting up during the off-season!  The directions for unsweetened applesauce are in the beginning of the linked recipe; although, I highly encourage anyone who loves vanilla and maple to make the “awesome sauce”.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed!  When apples come into season this year, I’m making a batch of vanilla-maple apple butter!

apple butter

Apple Butteryields approximately 9 pints

9 qts unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground allspice

4 cups sugar

Place 6 qts of applesauce in your slow-cooker (or however much fills it to within 1-inch of the rim), add the spices and 2 cups of sugar; mix well.  Set heat to high and cook for an hour with the lid vented; resting the lid on a long wooden spoon works well.   Reduce the heat to low and allow to continue cooking for an additional 8-10 hours.

Once the mixture has been reduced by half, add the remaining applesauce and sugar.  Stir and cook several more hours allowing the flavors to mix.  When the apple butter has reached your desired thickness, using an immersion blender, purée mixture into a creamy consistency.  Ladle into hot, sterilized, half-pint jars and remove air bubbles; wipe rims, add two-piece lids and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes, or for as long as your altitude requires.

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe courtesy of PickYourOwn.org.

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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Fruit Butter