Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stop Saucing Me Around!

I have managed to get through the entire harvest season without pulling out my canner -- until now. I decided early on this year that I didn't want to bother with making jam (since I still have a shelf full of jars I don't use), and I spent the hot weeks putting produce and herbs either in the freezer or the dryer.

But it's tomato season, and I definitely need more tomatoes for the winter. So my gracious friend, the Delighted Gardener, set me up with peck baskets of her paste tomatoes (two last week and one this week) as my week's barter so that I could can.


Though each peck basket has looked daunting, working one peck at a time has actually been a good speed for me. I blanched and peeled the tomatoes after lunch, rested a wee, then milled them first in the mini food processor and then the chinois to get a seed-free, relatively smooth sauce.


After another short break, I started simmering the sauce (in two pans -- it made a lot!) and added the pepper, onions, herbs, and other goodies from the recipe, then let the sauce cook down on medium-low heat while I made my afternoon run to the market. A few hours later, I could start up the canner and then get everything into jars and processed before bedtime.

Last week's batch of tomatoes only yielded five pints, but this week's gave me seven, so I think I should be set for winter if I stretch out the pizza sessions.

And now I can put the canner away again until it's time for grape season...

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Independence Days 2011-8: Tomato Time!

If the end of August is approaching, it must be time for the tomato glut to take over my kitchen. This year, I have had the rare delight in having my tomatoes supplied by barter from the Delighted Gardener, who brought me two pecks of assorted paste tomatoes (some yellow!) earlier this week.

Of course, with baking six days a week for Local Roots (both market and cafe), I haven't had time to deal with all the tomatoes, but I've gotten a good start.

What else has been going on?


1.
Plant something: Golden Detroit beets, Scarlet Queen turnips at the Renaissance Man’s

2.
Harvest something: purple beans, broccoli, golden chard, basil, spaghetti squash, nasturtium leaves and blossoms at the Contradance Callers’; calendula blossoms, oregano at the Renaissance Man’s; carrot, green beans, dill seeds, basil at the Southern Belle’s

3.
Preserve something: dried cantaloupe candy, chocolate mint, basil, tomatoes, calendula, lemon verbena; finished drying, cleaned Soldier dried beans and put in jars for pantry; made calendula oil (not for cooking); canned tomato sauce

4.
Reduce waste (Waste not): sorted through two pecks of tomatoes to get the cracked and otherwise fragile ones processed into sauce first before the fruit flies got ‘em; composted the seedlings (rutabaga and broccoli) that didn't survive bug damage

5.
Preparation and storage (Want not): cycled stored water into the canner and replaced it with fresh, just in time for Hurricane Irene! (if it makes it this far); restocked oils for baking

6.
Build local food systems: baking for market and for the Local Roots Café; made bread and pita for a friend’s fundraiser for Hospice; shared dry beans with the Contradance Callers; signed up to teach a couple more classes at Today’s Kitchen Store

7.
Eat the food: leftover lemon basil cake; fresh cantaloupe; chard-nasturtium frittata with chevre; grilled cheese with chard; pizza with fresh tomatoes, basil, broccoli; hash browns with chard; fried okra; spaghetti squash with pesto, fresh cherry tomatoes, local mozzarella; ice cream soda with black raspberry syrup; fresh raspberries on vanilla yogurt; popcorn; leftover vegetable rolls; broccoli-walnut pasta

Fall's coming -- time to get the rest of this year's food preservation in gear!

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Independence Days 2011-7: It's Mid-August Already?

Hmmm. So much for staying on top of things this summer. It's mid-August already, parts of the garden are starting to die down, Local Roots is now open six days a week (which means I am baking six days a week), and life is a blur.

So without further ado (because I'm just too tired to be pert):

1. Plant something: started seeds for Thompson and Romanesco broccoli, Golden Detroit beets, Laurentian rutabaga, Scarlet Queen turnips; Rainbow Lacinato kale at the Contradance Callers’

2. Harvest something: green beans, golden chard, pac choi, carrots, parsley at the Southern Belle’s; green, purple, and wax beans, broccoli, Red Choi pac choi, Jacob’s Cattle beans, Soldier beans, basil, cucumbers, hot peppers, tomatoes, surprise Chioggia beets, zucchini, yellow squash at the Contradance Callers’; peppermint, calendula blossoms, tomatoes at the Renaissance Man’s


3. Preserve something: made dill salt; dried basil, tarragon, rosemary, lemon verbena, peppermint, lemon basil, kale chips; froze celery leaves, minced onion and jalapeno pepper mixes; finished drying, cleaned dried beans and put in jars for pantry; started a quart of lactofermented dilly beans (above)

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): froze celery leaves as I worked through the stalks for eating

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): restocked butter, flour, sugar, cheese for baking and vinegar for pickling (if I do any!); contacted the Delighted Gardener about getting tomatoes in bulk for canning later this month

6. Build local food systems
: baking for market and for the Local Roots Café; gave several cucumbers to the Café for lunches; baked for the Inn; shared dry beans with the Contradance Callers; attended a class on "Preserving Food for Maximum Nutrition" at the market


7. Eat the food: broccoli pasta; leftover veg rolls; cinnamon pecan French toast; lots of cucumber slices for snacks; bean stir-fry; watermelon for dessert; pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil; roasted potatoes and okra (first incarnation pictured above); leftover blueberry lemon verbena pound cake; ALL of the kale chips; hash browns with chard and local cheese and egg

And summer still rolls on...


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