Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Precursor Post

Last weekend I gave myself the daunting task of cleaning out the fridge.  As some of you probably know, this chore can get pretty hairy, literally!  Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I originally anticipated; turns out I only had one unidentifiable substance lurking in a container hidden in the depths of the fridge!

As I began drafting out that adventure it dawned on me that I had yet to share my tomatillo salsa post, which happens to be the star of my upcoming recipe!

Each year I try to select unique, unusual, or new-to-me vegetables to grow.  The tomatillo just happens to fit all three of these criteria.  Native to Mexico, this nightshade resembles a small, unripe tomato.  Enclosed in their paper-like husk, they develop into a green, yellow, red, or purple fruit.  It is recommended that you grow more than one, since single plants rarely set fruit due to their high rate of self-incompatibility.  I planted three and they ended up producing an obnoxious amount of fruit… all season long!  Note to self: plant only two this year!

Since I ended up with so many tomatillos, I needed to find different ways to preserve them.  One was to make tomatillo salsa!

Tomatillo Salsa

5 1/2 cups chopped, cored, husked tomatillos (Wash them well since underneath the husk lies a sticky film!)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped and seeded green chili peppers  (I used my Chinese 5 color peppers.  You can substitute a sweet pepper should you not want a hot salsa, you just can’t change the amount!)

1/2 cup white vinegar

4 Tbsp bottled lime juice

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

2 Tsp ground cumin

1/2 Tsp salt

1/2 Tsp pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large stainless-steel sauce pot and bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Wipe rims, adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Place jars into a boiling-water bath canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Process both pints and half-pints for 15 minutes.  After the recommended processing time, remove the canner lid, wait an additional 5 minutes.  Remove jars and allow to cool, undisturbed, on a wire rack for 12-24 hours.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe courtesy of Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving

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Wordless Wednesday: Spring Growth Edition

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.

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Weekend Projects

Sun-kissed skin and sore muscles, my definition of the perfect weekend!  The past two days were absolute bliss, especially since I was able to spend most of it outside.  Not only did I organize my garden shed, sow radish seeds, get my indoor seeds started, and weed the flower beds, but I pulled my first harvest of the 2012 growing season!

Some furry little creature made a cozy nest in the shed.  They also ate the sunflower seeds I was saving!

Laundry on the line and seeds in the dirt!

My kale plants are thriving, all 10 of them!  I definitely see some kale chips in the near future!

Overwintered mustard greens.  Had I known they would be surviving the mild winter, I would have put more in the ground!

First harvest of the year: French breakfast radishes, yellow and white carrots, and a black radish!  I put two rows of carrots in the ground late September that received too much shade, so they never got big enough for harvest… ’til now!

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And So It Begins

Yes, I know it’s mid-March and technically still winter, but seriously, how could I resist?  The sun was shining, flowers are blooming, and temps are rising (albeit a bit too fast for my liking).  The past 5 weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, none of which have included food-growing activities.  I’ve yet to order this year’s seeds, my growing shelves remain empty, and the lights are still unplugged.  I’m embracing this life change, but still I find it to be a bit unsettling.  Not quite as much as the absence of winter, but unsettling none the less.

Tonight I was reunited with the feeling of freshly worked earth moving between my fingers.  The sensation was intoxicating.  As I sit here typing I’m drunk off of dirt.  It’s a glorious feeling.

Typically, peas are sown on Paddy’s day, at least where I come from.  This year I jumped the gun.  Planting anything right now is a gamble; in Pennsylvania, it’s not unheard of to experience a severe snow storm late March through mid-April.  Despite this year’s unseasonably warm winter, I’m banking on it being over… said the optimistic food-grower.

So, tonight I threw caution to the wind and planted two rows of peas and half a row of spinach.  Should I lose them it’s okay, kind of.  I will only be set back in time, which is now more precious than currency.  My (most likely cross-pollinated) golden peas were saved from last year’s harvest, and the spinach seeds are from 2010.

This week’s goal is to get my brassicas and leeks under lights and order my remaining seeds.  We’ll see how that goes! 🙂

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.

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The Numbers Are In

294.  That is my “unofficial” jar count for the 2011 growing season.  I say unofficial because sometimes I gift a jar (or two) before I remember to write down how much a recipe yielded; other times, I just forget all together.

This year’s number is slightly less than what I had anticipated, but then I remembered I did not put up beans (thank you cucumber beetles) or whole tomatoes (due to having quite a bit left over from 2010).  Had I not cooked-down most of my tomatoes into sauce, and had not fought the worst bug battle to date, I’m sure my jar count would have surpassed 2010’s unofficial count of 342!

Here is a glimpse into my just-off-the-kitchen, perfectly polished, meticulously arranged, and precisely labeled dry storage/canning pantry.  In my dream home it would be an entire room!!!

What you don’t see is my upstairs closet packed pull of the remaining jars!  I couldn’t get a decent picture, so just imagine 19 dozen more jars neatly packed into ball half boxes, all labeled and dated!  Yeah, you could say I’m a little neurotic.

And encase you were wondering what delectable goodies fill those jars in waiting, I’ve got the rundown of what went into last year’s canner.

SAUCES & CONDIMENTS: vanilla maple & plain applesauce, spicy & plain pasta sauce, ketchup, and bbq sauce.

SOUPS & STOCKS: tomato-garlic, 10 bean, split pea, vegetable stock

JAMS, JELLIES & MARMALADES: strawberry-rhubarb jam, clementine marmalade, grape jelly, quince jam, love apple jelly, tropical peach jam, tomato jam, malibu peach jam, corncob jelly, vanilla-pear jam, raspberry-apricot jam, raspberry jam, cherry-vanilla jam, yellow tomato jam, apricot jam, white grape peach tea jam, and strawberry-blueberry-rhubarb jam.

CHUTNEYS & FRUIT BUTTERS: vanilla bean peach butter, quince-apple chutney, peach-apple butter, rhubarb chutney, and spring conserves.

PICKLED: chard stems, radishes, and dilly scapes.

SALSAS & TOMATOES: tomato salsa, peach salsa, summer salsa, stewed tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, and tomatillo salsa.

FRUITS & VEGETABLES: carrots, roasted eggplant (it’s almost pickled), beets, and peaches.

Yep, I think that covers just about everything!  I may revisit this post (at another time) to link the recipes.

After skimming over all of those tasty titles, you may have noticed that a large number of them have yet to make it onto the blog.  Lets just say I’ve got plenty of future posts at the ready!  Who knows, maybe this will be the year I finally catch up… but I wouldn’t bet the farm! 😛

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.

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