Monthly Archives: August 2011

Madagascar Peach Butter

Two weekends ago I picked up a bushel of Loring peaches.  This particular free-stone is my absolute favorite variety when it comes to canning and jam making.  Just ask Beth at Rohrer’s Orchard, I start calling mid-August every year inquiring about their ripening date. 🙂

For me, peach butter is the perfect partner for pancakes.  No need for butter, or maple syrup, or honey: just velvety smooth peach butter will do just fine!  This year I decided to switch things up a bit by adding a vanilla bean into the mix.  I’m so glad I did because it takes this fruit spread to an entirely new level!

Madagascar Peach Butter

8 cups chopped peaches, skins removed

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

1  Madagascar vanilla bean

Place chopped peaches in a crock pot and mash with a potato masher to release juice.  Set heat to high and cook for an hour with the lid vented; resting the lid on a long wooden spoon works well.  Add sugar, stir, and set heat to low.  Continue cooking an additional 6 hours (with the lid propped open allowing steam to escape).  Once your fruit has cooked down, add lemon juice and the seeds from the vanilla bean.  Using an immersion blender, puree mixture into a creamy consistency.  Ladle into hot, clean, 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.

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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Fruit Butter, Vegan, Vegetarian

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Batch cooking is something I tend to do a lot of, especially when I know I am going to be short on time.  Harvest season is definitely a race against time and these burgers are a quick fix when you need to silence those pesky hunger pangs!  Just pull your anticipated meals from the freezer and place in the fridge.  Then, when you are ready to eat, just re-heat in a skillet or in the microwave!

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers (this recipe makes a lot!)

2 cups rehydrated & cooked black beans (one 15oz can, drained, will work as well)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup veg stock or water

5 med carrots, shredded (I used my food processor)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup wheat gluten

**The following measurements are only approximates of what I used.  When cooking, I tend to take the tasting approach; I add spices, taste, add more spices, then taste again, etc.  Feel free to adjust for your own personal tastes!  Cooking is all about experimenting with flavors!

2 Tbsp cumin

2 Tbsp paprika (smoked paprika is a nice addition too)

2 Tbsp onion powder

2 Tsp cayenne powder

2 Tsp salt (if using canned beans I would omit the salt since they already contain sodium)

1 Tbsp pepper

olive oil

Cook beans using your preferred method: overnight soak, quick-soak, or pressure cooked.  If using canned beans, heat on the stove over med-high ’til hot throughout, drain, then set aside.  Place quinoa in a small sauce pan with veg stock; bring to a boil, then simmer ’til liquid is absorbed, approximately 15 minutes.  Stir often to keep the bottom from sticking and burning.  Remove from heat.  While quinoa is cooking, shred carrots and mince garlic.  Place black beans in a large shallow bowl and mash with a potato masher or place in a food processor (several scoops at a time) and give them a quick pulse to break them up a bit.  In a large bowl combine mashed beans, quinoa, garlic, shredded carrots, and spices; mix well.  Stir in wheat gluten.

Pour a touch of olive oil into your skillet and turn the burner to med-low heat.  Shape burger mixture into patties and cook each side ’til browned and crisp, approximately 5 minutes per side.  Sandwich burgers between fresh-from-the-oven buttermilk biscuits, toasted whole grain bread, or place on a bed of crisp lettuce.  Top it off with a few sun-dried tomatoes, a bit of onion, and some cheese.

One word of caution, they may fall apart.  Even with the added wheat gluten, I still have problems when it comes to keeping my bean burgers together!  At least they taste AWESOME!!!

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Hoarders: Produce Edition

I definitely subscribe to the “less is more” theory when it comes to acquired stuff… except for fabric and kitchen appliances that is! 😉  I’ve gotten very good with simplifying, streamlining, and purging useless objects from my life.  That’s not to say I live in a home with naked walls, or have tossed every childhood memento, but I have really lightened my load over the past five years.  You never realize how much stuff you have til you move it… and after all my travels and house hopping in college, I became very tired of moving stuff!

Unfortunately, if you were to step inside my home right now, you would think I was well on my way to being on an episode of Hoarders followed by a veggie themed Intervention!  Thankfully, the crate climbing and fermentation side-stepping only lasts a few short weeks!

I’ve reached the point in this bountiful season where I’m canning on a daily basis; the star of the jar is usually tomatoes.  This past weekend, Canning Palooza took place in my kitchen!  For two days I did nothing but blanch, boil, slice, chop, and simmer the essence of Summer; filling  jars that will be savored when the trees are barren and the garden is dormant has consumed my every spare moment.

I started out with approximately 100 lbs of tomatoes; I am proud to say I am now 60 lbs lighter!  Unfortunately, that will all change once I step back in the garden.  We’ve had rain for the past several days, so I know there will be a cornucopia of ripe vegetables ready for the picking!

Here are several images of my produce packed kitchen.  I apologize for the sub-par photography, most of the pictures were taken in the middle of the night, so I was forced to use the dreaded flash.

 L-R Top crate is full of Green Zebra and Amish Paste tomatoes.  The bin underneath is packed with Pattypan squash.  The bottom front tub has Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, and Hillbilly tomatoes; next are boxes, bowls, and trays of Cream Sausage tomatoes.  Another tray of Amish Paste and Hillbilly tomatoes.  Two gallons of lacto-fermentation pickles and several jars of tomato butter setting their seals.  Then it’s a bin of Cherokee Purple and Hillbilly tomatoes and finally a wash basket of Hillbilly tomatoes.

The counter holds a plethora of Summer squash in the form of Pattypan and Patisson Strie.  I also have some just-cut celery hanging out next to the canner.

And on top the freezer is a huge bowl of Purple Tomatillos, Chinese 5 Color peppers, and several jars of dehydrated tomatoes!

And now I present you with the first images of Canning Palooza 2011:

As you can see, my piano has become the canning catch-all.  It is packed full of various tomato sauces, stewed tomatoes, carrots, beets, tomato butter, and jams of raspberry, cherry-vanilla, apricot, and tomato.  The ledge above the piano holds another gallon of fermenting pickles (these are dill) and a quart of pickles with Chinese 5 color peppers!

On the bench I have several bags of dehydrated tomatoes.  The piano is the last step in my canning work-flow.  Everything has been wiped and labeled, it just needs put into one of two canning closets.

AND I’m happy to report that the piano is empty once again… at least until I wipe and label last night’s canned salsas! 😉

So please forgive me and my scattered postings.  Between getting the Fall gardens in, and keeping up with preserving Summer’s harvest, I’m one busy, sleep deprived, little bee!  I have so many tasty things to share, but the time to do it is scarce!  So until next time, Happy Harvesting and Canning!!

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Stewed tomatoes and bringing you up to speed.

I apologize for the lack of recent activity in the blog, but peak harvest season is in FULL SWING!  If you were to step inside my home you would be climbing over crates of freshly picked tomatoes, side-stepping gallon jars of fermenting pickles, and listening to the dehydrator and canner compete for your audio attention.

I had quite a few “filler food posts” lined up, but when my 16 month-old laptop bit the dust last month (and that is just the tip of the shit-storm), I lost over 1500 pictures!  Everything from December 2010 through mid July, gone.  Like unrecoverable gone.  Bummer, huh?  Oh well, that will teach me for: (1) not backing up my computer onto my external hard drive, and (2) not transferring my images onto said external hard drive.

Since I lost all my photos, I now have a large que of blog posts waiting for accompanying images.  Although I live in my kitchen during this time of the year, most of my activities revolve around preserving the harvest, so there is not much “real” cooking and recipe experimentation going on.  Most of my daily meals consist of snacking on raw produce and grilled veggie sandwiches, which I have already posted about.  I’m hoping to sneak in more food time, but with 60 lbs of tomatoes staring me down on a daily basis, it does not look too hopeful!

Because my tomatoes are in their “full throttle” production stage, I am constantly searching for new ways to put them up.  Don’t get me wrong, I like canned tomatoes, especially in soups and curry dishes, but I still have quite a bit left over from last year’s harvest.  While flipping through my ever-growing library of canning books, I found instructions for stewed tomatoes.  Seeing as how I grew celery this year, I knew I had to give this recipe a whirl!

Stewed Tomatoes – from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing, and Dehydration

4 Qts chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes (24 large)

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped green pepper (I used Purple Beauty, see note below)

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot.  Cover; cook 10 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  Ladle hot vegetables into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace.  Adjust two-piece lids.  Process pints 15 minutes, quarts  20 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner.  Recipe yields 7 pints or 3 quarts.

I ended up with 5 pints of stewed tomatoes and 1 quart of tomato juice.  Instead of tossing the left over juice, I reserved it to use as cooking liquid for quinoa and rice.

**Never ever EVER change quantities of acid and non acid foods in canning recipes.  Varieties, however, are interchangeable.  If a recipe calls for 1 cup chopped green pepper, you can substitute 1/2 cup green and 1/2 cup jalapeno, etc.  This is ok because you are still meeting the required 1 cup amount.

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Filed under Pressure Canning, Vegan, Vegetarian

Patiently waiting for my food to evolve.

Lacto-fermentation is a method of food preservation where lactic acid is produced by good bacteria.  Not only will lactobacillus keep food perfectly preserved, but this process also increases the vitamin content, while promoting the growth of healthy flora in your intestines, allowing for ease in digestion.

LACTIC ACID

Of all the organic acids, lactic acid is the one that best inhibits the proliferation of bacteria that cause putrefaction, but it does not bring about in the body the over-acidifying action of certain other acids….While other products of the fermentation process, like alcohol and acetic acid, must be decomposed and eliminated, lactic acid can in large part be used by the body…. Organic acids present in fermented milk and vegetable products play an important role in the health of old people as they aid a digestive system
that is growing more and more feeble…. After two or three days of lacto-fermentation, vegetables begin to soften and certain substances
in them begin to decompose. If the vegetables contain nitrates—often the case after a summer with little sun—they are broken down….If all goes well,
the lactic-acid producing bacteria take over and the process of acidification begins. New substances are formed, notably…choline and, above all, lactic
acid. This acidification ensures the conservation of the vegetables…but the fermentation of the aromas doesn’t come about until a later stage, during storage. Lacto-fermentation is not only a means of conserving
foods but also a procedure for ennobling them, as proved by their taste and aroma.— Annelies Schoneck, Des Crudités Toute L’Année

Several well-known lacto-fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.  Canned pickles, however, are not the result of lacto-fermentation since the bacteria is killed during water-bath processing.  Also, the brine resulting from lacto-fermentation will become cloudy, canned pickles maintain a clear brine (unless you have added spices that muddy up the brine).

The following recipe is by far my absolute FAVORITE pickle.  Ever.  Last year’s batch lasted through February; so not long enough!  This year I plan on making several gallons in hopes of stretching out their tasty consumption well into next Spring!

Cajun Pickles – adapted from the Pickle People

8 cups cold water
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons pickling spice
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (I have my own *special* blend)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
50 finger-sized pickling cucumbers (about 4 pounds) or 17 medium cucumbers, disked (I make both) **see bottom for note**
6 cherry peppers, thinly sliced (don’t seed)
6 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced (don’t seed)
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced

Combine water, salt, vinegar, and seasonings; stir until salt is dissolved.  Pack cucumbers, cherry peppers, jalapenos, garlic, and onion into a gallon  jar.  You can also use 4 quart jars,  just divide peppers, onion and garlic evenly among them.  Ladle in spiced brine, covering vegetables.  Place lid(s) on jar(s) and let pickles ferment at cool room temperature for 3 days.  Refrigerate another 5 days; for those who want it and want it now, the pickles are ready to eat.  I always allow mine ferment for at least 1-2 months, so the brine can really develop.

The batch pictured above was made using whole cucumbers and my Chinese 5 color peppers.  This is my first year growing that variety of hot pepper, so I am very anxious to taste them!

**When using whole cucumbers, trim the blossom end by 1/16″, since the blossom may contain an enzyme that encourages excessive softening.

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Wordless Wednesday: Helpful Neighbor FAIL

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