Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sun-dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Bread

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about sun-dried tomatoes.  I mentioned how they can be packed in oil and safely stored in the fridge.  Well, after several weeks of eying them up, ever-so-safely tucked away between the pickles and garden-fresh produce, the time had come for me to start putting those babies to good use!

Sun-dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Bread – makes 2 small loaves or one large loaf. 

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s organic all-purpose)

1 cup sifted whole wheat bread flour (I use Daisy because they are organic and local!)

1 cup sifted oat flour (This one I picked up at my bulk foods store. Although not labeled, most of their flours are organic!)

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp salt

1-2/3 cups warm water

1-1/2 tsp sun-dried tomato oil

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

oat bran for sprinkling

Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl; add water, oil, olives, and tomatoes.  Gently mix ingredients until a sticky dough forms.  Turn dough out on a well-floured surface; knead until smooth and slightly elastic for about 10 minutes.  Wash and oil the bowl you mixed the dough in and return dough to bowl.  Cover and place in a warm, draft-free area, and allow dough to rise until doubled in size, 45-90 minutes.

Gently press your finger tips into the dough to deflate; place dough on a generously floured surface and knead again.  Place dough back in bowl and allow to rise another 30-60 minutes.  Repeat the knead and rise cycle up to four times; by doing so it will improve the texture and flavor.

After the final knead, divide dough into two equal pieces, or keep whole for one large loaf.  Sprinkle oat bran onto your work surface and shape dough into loaves, be sure to coat all sides of the dough.  Allow dough to rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes.  Place a baking stone on the middle oven rack and a large water-filled baking dish on the very bottom rack; heat oven to 500°F.

Place loaves on stone and bake for 10 minutes, then turn heat down to 400°F if the crust looks very pale, 350°F if the crust is browning, or 325°F if the crust is browning too quickly.  Bake until the loaves are crusty and brown and sound hollow when you tap them: in total, about 30-40 minutes.  Allow loaves to cool on a wire rack before slicing.  If you will be serving them with oil for dipping you can tear them when cool to the touch.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Ketchup and fries? Yes, please!

When August gifted me with well over 100 pounds of tomatoes (all at once, mind you), I had to get serious about putting them up, and fast!  I immediately headed to the library and checked out every post millennial book on food preservation not currently housed in my collection.  Because food safety guidelines are constantly changing, anything written before 2000 is now considered out of date.  **See note at the bottom of the post**

While flipping pages contemplating recipes, I came across one for catsup.  I find ketchup (or catsup) to be a take it or leave it condiment.  I’m just not a huge fan.  In college, I dated a guy who put it on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.  Gross.  Honestly, I find it to be too sweet and lacking in, oh, I don’t know, maybe TOMATO flavor!  I thought the time had come for a little ketchup redemption, especially since the first listed ingredient would not be HFC!

Catsup

1 cup white vinegar

1-1/2 inch stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces

1-1/2 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp celery seed

8 pounds of paste-type tomatoes

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sure jell cook-type

In a small saucepan combine vinegar, cinnamon stick, cloves, and celery seed.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat; transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Wash tomatoes.  Remove stem ends and cores; cut the tomatoes into quarters and place into a colander to drain.  You can discard the liquid or keep it for cooking purposes, which is what I did.

Place tomatoes in a large stainless steel pot, add onion and ground red pepper; bring to a boil, cook uncovered, stirring often for 15 minutes.  Press tomato mixture through a food mill or sieve; discard seeds and skins.  Return pureed tomato mixture to pot, stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently, uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.

Strain vinegar mixture into tomato mixture; discard spices.  Add lemon juice and salt.  Simmer uncovered about 30 minutes or ’til desired consistency is achieved.  After I did the final cook-down, my mixture was still too runny for ketchup.  If I continued cooking, I would have ended up with one half-pint, so I added 1/4 cup cook-type sure jell.  Because sure jell tends to clump when added without mixing with sugar, I used my immersion blender to blend everything into a smooth consistency.  I continued cooking on med-low heat ’til the sure jell thickened, about 5 minutes.

Ladle ketchup  into hot, sterile half-pint jars, leaving 1/8 headspace.  Wipe rims; adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight and process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove jars from canner and cool on wire racks, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours.  Yields 4 half-pints.

Rosemary & Garlic Potato Wedges

4 med potatoes, unpeeled

3 cloves of garlic, minced

large sprig of fresh rosemary, minced

olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.  *KITCHEN SHORTCUT*  Using an apple slicer/corer, cut potatoes into wedges, slice the “potato core” in half, lengthwise.  Place potato wedges, garlic, and rosemary into a medium bowl and drizzle on a bit of olive oil.  Using your hands, lightly toss to coat evenly; sprinkle on salt and pepper and gently toss again.  Lightly grease a 4-sided baking sheet (or baking dish with olive oil), arrange potato wedges in a single-layer, and bake for one hour, turning half way through.

**The USDA/NCHFP’s guidelines are constantly evolving due to repetitive laboratory testing.  What were once acceptable canning practices, like using flour as a thickening agent or adding dairy products to pre-canned recipes, are no longer considered safe.  If you do use an older recipe, make sure all ingredients and directions are compatible with current acceptable canning procedures.  If you are unsure or have a question, be sure to check with your local extension office.  Remember, safety first!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Garden Presents: America’s All Time Favorite Canning & Preserving Recipes.

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Banana Maple Walnut Steel-cut Oats

As hot and humid Summer begins transitioning into cool and crisp Autumn, I’ve once again found myself replacing my usual light and fruity go-to breakfast with a warm bowl of steel-cut oats.  While my recipe is basic, the add-in possibilities are endless: fruit, spices, nuts, jam!  Typically, I prepare a batch at the start of a week, and keep the “naked oats” in the fridge.  Then, each morning I fill my bowl and dress according to that day’s desired flavor!  This way, when I’m heating the last bowl, I’ve yet to grow tired of eating the same thing all week!

Banana Maple Walnut Steel-cut Oats – makes 4 servings

For the oats:

1 cup steel-cut oats

3 cups boiling-water

butter

pinch of salt

1 cup milk

In a skillet, toast oats in a bit of butter over med-high heat for several minutes; stir constantly so oats do not burn.  In a medium pot bring water to a boil and add the oats with a pinch of salt.  Boil for several minutes, reduce to a simmer, and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes.  Do not stir them during this time: as long as you keep the heat on low, they should not burn.  Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the milk, and mix well.  If any oats have stuck to the bottom of the pot, they will begin to lift at this time.  Remove oats from heat and portion into bowls.  It is at this time that I begin adding the “good stuff”!

Add the following ingredients per serving:

1/2 banana, sliced

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

a sprinkling of chopped walnuts

a drizzling of maple syrup

When working with a bowl of refrigerated “naked oats”, adding a splash of milk after heating will bring them back to their initial-cook consistency!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Preserving Corn: Part 2 Corn Cob Jelly

In Thursday’s post I explained how to freeze sweet corn; today, I’m going to share with you how to make corn cob jelly.  Yes, you read that right, you can make jelly from corn cobs!  Believe it or not, it tastes really good, the flavor is somewhat reminiscent of honey.

Corn Cob Jelly – adapted from CITR

1 gallon of water

2 dozen large corn cobs

1/4 cup lemon juice

5 tbsp flex-batch low-sugar pectin

4 cups sugar

Place water and cobs in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  (I had to cut some cobs to make them fit.  I also had to divide the water and cobs into two pots to keep everything from overflowing!)

Boil hard for 30 minutes; the longer you boil it down the more concentrated flavor you will have.  I ended up with 5 cups corn-liquid.  Remove from heat and strain the liquid through a jelly bag or cheese cloth, or leave the corn bits in the liquid, that is what I did.

Return the liquid to a large pot, add lemon juice and pectin, bring to a boil.  Add sugar and stir ’til dissolved; bring back to a rolling-boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and ladle into hot, sterilized jars; wipe rims, adjust 2-piece lids and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Yields 6 half pints

Corn cob jelly on warm cornbread.

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Preserving Corn: Part 1 Freezing

I prefer to can certain vegetables.  Green beans is one of them.   Before I got my pressure canner, I would freeze them, but once defrosted, they always developed this white film from what I’m assuming was the result of blanching.  It kind of grosses me out (a lot, actually).  Corn, on the other hand, is a vegetable that I always freeze.  Canned corn tends to lose some of its flavor.  And since sweet corn is one of my favorite summer veggies, flavor loss is a big no-no!

Freezing corn is a super simple and relatively quick process; however, that can rapidly change depending on how much you are putting back!  The first thing you want to do is shuck the ears and remove as much of the corn silk as possible: a soft bristle brush can help with that task.  Once your ears are clean, you are going to blanch them in a large stock-pot of boiling-water for 3 minutes, then transfer to an ice-bath to stop any further cooking.  Once the corn is cool-to-the-touch, use a large sharp knife to cut off the kernels while being mindful to not remove the cob in the process.

I have found that holding the ears vertically and sliding the blade down the side works very well.  I tend to do this over a cookie sheet; that way, I can just scoop the corn into bags, label, and freeze.

AND don’t toss those cobs out just yet!  Up next is an old-fashioned “Waste-Not-Want-Not” post for putting those leftover cobs to good use!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Cajun Stuffed Summer Squash

This year I grew zucchini patisson strie, which are beautifully striped scalloped squash.  When fully grown their skins are quite tough, so it is recommended that you eat them when they are small; however, their bold colors do not develop ’til just before maturity.  Do you see where I am going with this?  Having grown them specifically for their aesthetic qualities, I needed to find a way to enjoy them when fully grown.

I’ve seen several recipes for stuffed winter squash, so I thought I would put my spin on it with this tough-skinned cousin!

Cajun Stuffed Summer Squash

4 med scalloped summer squash

1/2 cup dried black beans

1/2 cup dried kidney beans

1/2 cups dried northern beans

4-1/2 cups water

2 tbsp olive oil

1 med onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 purple beauty pepper, chopped (any bell pepper variety will do)

For the Cajun seasoning I used equal parts salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper (hot), garlic powder, and chili powder to one part smoked paprika.

Place squash in a very large pot with about an inch of water, cover and bring to a boil.  I had to use foil to cover mine.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until squash skins can be pierced with a fork.  Remove from pot and allow to cool so that you may touch them.

While squash is cooling rinse beans and place in a pressure cooker with water and olive oil.  Cook for 25 minutes at 15 pounds of pressure.  Quick-cool beans by running pressure cooker under cold water, drain, rinse, and set aside.  If you do not have a pressure cooker (get one) soak beans overnight, then bring to a boil; boil hard for an hour (adding water as needed), check for doneness.  If beans are still hard, continue boiling ’til soft.  Like I said, get a pressure cooker, life with dried beans is so much easier! 😉

Once squash has cooled to the touch, slice off the top and scoop out seeds.  With an ice cream scoop carefully remove cooked squash leaving approximately 1/4-inch flesh on the inside.  Chop the cooked squash into chunks and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large pot sauté onion, celery, and pepper over med-high heat for about 5 minutes; add garlic, squash, and seasonings, stir well to incorporate and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add beans, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Place the squash shells into a large baking dish and stuff them with bean mixture.  Don’t be afraid to pack them full!  If any stuffing is left over it can be piled into the baking dish between the shells.  Bake stuffed squash for 20 minutes, or until the tops start to brown.

Since I have so many of these squash, I’m going to make more of the stuffing and use it as a burrito filling.  I’ll just add a bit of cheese to each tortilla, roll them up, and wrap each one individually and then freeze them.  This way when I am short on time I can just defrost and reheat!

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Unwelcomed weather and a little about my Harvest.

The harvest, which for the past six weeks has been a raging flood, has once again returned to a steady (and manageable) stream.  Summer crops are giving one last push, while my recently sown fall seeds have begun growing with vigor.  Or at least they were.  Last week, tropical storm Lee graced us with his presence.  It has been two days since the rains have subsided, and my garden is still under water in some areas.  The ground is beyond saturated, my only hope is that the predicted thunderstorms hold off, and we have several days of sun.

When I returned from my vacation, not only did I bring home a bushel of apples, a half bushel of pears, and a peck of peaches, I also managed to acquire (and for the record, she found me) a feral kitten.  Meet Harvest.

It’s hard to tell from the picture but she is pretty pathetic.  She weighs about 2 lbs, all skin and bones; the fur hides a lot!  From the large scar on her back, she had been in a fight with either a raccoon, or a piece of farm equipment.  Regardless, scars build character and she is an absolute sweetheart!

I have an overwhelming desire to care for the needy, fix the broken, and love the lame.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for all things sad and pathetic.

After a solid seven days of loving care and a full belly, she is one well-adjusted, playful, happy kitten.  I’ve even managed to stick to my guns and NOT allow her on my bed!  Go me!!

Thursday I had to get to the pet/feed store to put the brakes on some tapeworms.  After forty-five minutes of detours and turn-arounds I finally reached my destination, a mere 5 miles away.  As to be expected, I had my camera; here is just a bit of what I saw and the chaos that was experienced.

The road (and farm) are completely under water.

Stone bridge built in 1883, completely destroyed.

The water was really moving!

The Susquehanna river crested yesterday, several roads in Lancaster and Harrisburg are still underwater.  Thankfully, mine is not one of them!  My neighbor had over two feet of water in her house; I managed to stay dry even though my house sits below street level.  Fire trucks lined both sides of the road assisting homeowners with water removal.

If the sun comes out, and it looks like it may, I will venture into the garden to survey the damage, pull what’s dead, and reseed that which has been washed away.  Here’s to hoping for the best!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Cast Iron Cornbread

Last week/end I managed to escape the harvest and sneak in a much-needed vacation!  While on my travels I picked up a few treasures, one being a 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.  What makes this vintage book a real gem are all the hand-written notes tucked within the pages!  The previous owner had the most beautiful penmanship!

The first recipe I tried was for cornbread.  While this is not my favorite cornbread, it was still quite good, and with all the jams I’ve been making, it’s nice to switch up my spreading surface!

Cast Iron Cornbread from The Good housekeeping Cook Book

1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour  **A listed alternative to the a.p. was to use 2 cups minus 2 tbsp sifted cake flour, which is what I did.

3/4 cup yellow corn meal

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg, well-beaten

1 cup milk  **I used 1/3 cup dry milk reconstituted with 1 cup water.

1/4 cup shortening

Sift together flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Combine milk, egg, and shortening.  Turn liquid ingredients into dry ingredients all at once, stirring quickly and vigorously until mixture has a lumpy appearance, but no longer.  Pour into a well-seasoned 10″ cast iron skillet and bake at 425°F in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.  Serve warm.

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Sun-dried Tomatoes

Well, technically they are dehydrator-dried tomatoes, but I won’t tell if you won’t! 😉

Dehydrated Tomatoes

Slice tomatoes into 1/2 – 3/4″ rounds and place in a single-layer on dehydrator trays.  I always give my trays a quick spray with olive oil to keep the dried tomatoes from sticking.  Set the temperature to 135°F, or the recommended setting for your dehydrator, and dry for 6-8 hours, or until they become leathery.  Store in an airtight container.

Dried Tomatoes in Oil

Dried tomatoes in oil are one of my favorite ways to add a little something extra to a recipe.  Whether I’m adding them to a curry dish, topping off a quinoa black bean burger, baking them in bread, or pairing them with basil pesto and a crusty baguette, those little tomato rounds really seem to add the flavor punch I’m looking for!

Place dried tomatoes in an airtight jar and cover with olive oil.  Tomatoes in oil MUST BE REFRIGERATED.  Canning tomatoes in oil is not recommended since botulism spores can (and will) thrive in an anaerobic low-acid environment, oil provides just that!

Sometimes I like to kick things up a notch by adding fresh herbs (basil and rosemary make a nice addition), dried pepper flakes, and sliced garlic.  When using fresh herbs and garlic, the jar should be consumed within 2-3 weeks, since those components can become rancid.  Should your oil solidify, remove from fridge and allow jar to come to room-temperature.  If the oil is clear the tomatoes are still okay to eat.

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Peach Salsa

With my ever-growing collection of food preservation books, I have a slew of new-to-me recipes at the ready!  Pages upon pages of tasty goodness just begging to be put into jars and savored at season’s end.  Peach salsa was a first for me this year and I can’t understand why it took me so long to make this sweet and spicy salsa!

Peach Salsafrom Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving

1/2 cup white vinegar

6 cups chopped pitted peeled peaches

1-1/4 cups chopped red onion

4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used my Chinese 5 Color peppers)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I used a Purple Beauty pepper)

1/2 cup loosely packed, finely chopped cilantro

2 tbsp liquid honey

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar and peaches; add onion, peppers, cilantro, honey, garlic, cumin, and cayenne.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Ladle hot salsa into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, and place two-piece lids on jars, adjusting ’til fingertip-tight.

Submerge pint jars in a boiling-water bath and process for 15 minutesRemove canner lid; wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.  Allow jars to cool on a wire rack or kitchen towel, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours so seals can properly set.

Recipe yields 6 pints.

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