Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Fall

There are a lot of choices for the "first day of fall."  There's the autumnal equinox, which, of course, is the only right answer; there's the day after labor day, which, in my opinion, is pushing the matter; there's the day when all the TV shows come back on; and then there's today.  What is today you might ask?  Well, it is the full harvest moon (that might have been yesterday...), but more importantly it is the first day that I want to curl up on the couch with a brandied, spiced apple cider.

I love fall.

I'm pretty sure that you can go back over each change of the season and find a post where I said "I love X.  X is my favorite season."  So I won't say that anymore.  All of the seasons are good.  All of the seasons have their good sides.  Even winter in Wisconsin can be glorious.  I love snow.  I enjoy sweaters.  I own about 20 more winter coats than is necessary for any human being, so I must enjoy that...  Even the terrible Wisconsin winter has it's benefits.

I think that one of the things that makes Fall in Wisconsin so special (and spring for the same reason) is that it's so short.  It's pretty hard to get sick of something that's less than a month long.  Summer is awesome and amazing and I love being warm all the time, until the fifth or sixth 90 plus degree night, and then I'm basically done with that shit.

Fall brings into play some of my favorite foods.  Stews, and braises, and pumpkin.  It's a good time.

It's not quite time to take the gardens down yet, but we're almost there.  I've got a nice crop of spinach and kale coming up in the back porch container garden.  I'm hoping that, when it gets even cooler, I can move those containers into the greenhouse I've got going on the back porch.  Maybe with the help of a light bulb I can grow my own spinach through most of the winter.  It's worth a try at least.

I've got four nice sized pumpkins out in the garden, hardening off on the vine, and two that I already picked.  I think I've picked (and pretty much eaten) all of the spaghetti squash.  I've got no way to know how many acorn squash are twisted among the green tomatoes.  I thought I planted butternut squash too, but I'm not finding any so I guess I didn't.  I'll have to pick some up at the farmer's market.

If you were around this time last year, I gave a bit of an ode to pumpkin.  I enjoy squash much more than I ever did as a child.  It's so versatile - there's really nothing you can't do with it.

I don't know if I can explain it, but I feel like there's also something that's just really appealing about squash.  It resonates with my inner food hoarder, I guess.  Here's a food that preserves itself - no canning required.  And then there's the fact that one seed can get you 25 acorn squash that will last all winter.  And on top of that, it tastes good.  But maybe even better, it doesn't taste like much, which means you can do whatever you want with it.  Creamy, mild, butternut squash soup?  Done.  Pie?  Of course.  Fiery hot spice to work out a head cold?  Why not!

This year, the pumpkin festivities started out with a pumpkin chicken curry, which unfortunately I do not have a picture for because I made it for the belly dancers at Tribal Union last weekend.  I'm not great at remembering to photograph when I'm hurrying to serve a large group (and getting changed into costume, stretching, applying large quantities of eyeliner, etc).  Plus, since we were mostly all eating it out of to-go containers, I probably wouldn't have gotten a great shot anyway.

But please don't let the lack of a photograph dissuade you.  This was a lightly curried dish with just a little bit of spice, balanced with the sweet of the pumpkin and the bitter of the kale.  The chicken is totally optional, and actually since you cook it ahead of time, you have the option of keeping it separate and letting people chose if they want to add it in.  I cooked it separately so I could use bone-in chicken breasts and thighs without the risk of bones in my curry.  Using the bone-in chicken as opposed to boneless helps the meat stay moist, and also it costs less which is a good thing when you're shelling out for the high quality meat.

If you want to make this vegetarian, just skip the chicken part, and replace the chicken stock with veggie stock.
My name is Miss Kitty, and I approve of this pumpkin.

Pumpkin Curry with Chicken and Kale
Serves 10-12

For the chicken:
  • 4 bone in chicken thighs
  • 2 bone in chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder 
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 allspice berries
For the curry
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Thai bird chilies, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed if you're a wimp
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite curry powder (I prefer the hot Madras curry powder from the Spice Hut)
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 8-10 cups cubed pumpkin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 6-8 cups kale, stems and veins removed, and torn into large pieces
  • Brown rice for serving (optional)
Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

In a heavy skillet over medium high heat, warm the oil.  Once hot, add the chicken and brown in batches.  Transfer to a slow cooker, add apple cider and spices, and cook on low for about 8 hours or until the chicken is falling off the bone.  Allow the chicken to cool and then shred.  This step can be done up to a few days in advance.

In a large skillet over low heat, combine olive oil and onion.  Sweat the onion (it shouldn't get brown or sizzle - just release water) until it is softened, about 20 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium high and add the garlic, chilies, mustard, curry, and ginger.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Saute until spices are fragrant - about three minutes.  Add the pumpkin, toss to combine, and transfer the whole mixture to a large slow cooker.  Add chicken stock and apple cider and cook on low for 8 hours, or until pumpkin is soft and the whole dance studio smells like delicious curry.  About 30 minutes before serving, stir in kale.  Serve over brown rice, if desired.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Put Up or Shut Up Episode 6: Tomatoes

Where did the locavore pirate purchase his vegetables?


Straight from the fAARRRRHHmer.

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!

I'm sorry I've been absent for so long.  I didn't even realize that it had been so long.  Canning season is in full swing, and it takes up a lot of my free time.  On top of that, my dance troupe has our "big show" of the year coming up this weekend, so I've been busy crafting things to sell.  (Yes, in addition to being a tremendously talented cook and witty blogger, I'm also quite handy with a crochet hook.  I am a woman of many talents - none of them exceptionally marketable...).  Make sure you come check us out at Tribal Union this Saturday.  It's going to be a sweet show.

Technically Fall starts on Saturday, but the chill of fall has been in the air the past few nights.  I woke up with cold toes this morning.  I like summer, and I like being warm, but fall is by far my favorite season in terms of both clothing (I love me a sweater dress!) and food.  There is nothing like a warm stew that's been in the crock pot or oven all day.  The oven now makes me even happier, since my wonderful mother got me one of these for my birthday:

Everything I make in it is automatically fancy.

And, with the end of summer and the start of fall, sadly and naturally comes the end of tomato season.  It's been a good year for tomatoes for me.  When we reach this point in the year, however, tomatoes start to turn a little ugly.  They get spots, or end up oddly shaped, or just don't taste as great as they did in the middle of the summer.  They tend to get soft spots easier.  They don't seem to last as long on the counter.

While sad, all of these things are good for you - the industrious, over achieving, borderline food hoarding, obsessive compulsive canner.

Oh, wait, that's not you, that's me!

Anyway, you should now be able to find a 10 or 20 lb box of tomatoes at your local farmer's market for far less than the normal price.  Some farmers also offer "seconds," which are those ugly tomatoes that you probably don't want to put on your BLT.  Okay, so you'll need to cut a few bruised spots off.  They're still good!

I do a few things with my tomatoes.  The first and easiest is to freeze them whole.  Just wash them and stick them into the freezer.  Once you've got a stack of them, I'd recommend putting them into freezer bags for long term storage.  Once you're ready to use them, just thaw them enough to cut them (I would cut them before they thaw all the way though, because they'll get mushy) and then use them in any recipe that calls for cooked tomatoes.  You don't want to eat them raw though - again when they thaw all the way they get really mushy and weird.  You can't tell the difference when they're cooked, though.

You can also use these tomatoes anywhere it calls for canned tomatoes.  And the skins remove really easily, too.  Just throw them into a pot of boiling water fully frozen, and the skins pop right off on their own!  This also helps thaw them out enough to cut them too.

I tend to save tomatoes all summer this way.  When I've got a big stack, and one or two looks like it's going to get old before I can eat it, I just throw it in the freezer.  I'm up to about 3 and a half gallon freezer bags.

This year, for the first time, I've also canned whole and diced tomatoes.  I haven't done this in the past because it seemed like a waste of canning time - since the frozen tomatoes can be used in place of both of these items.  But, I found the frozen tomatoes were taking up too much room in my freezer.  And, on top of that, when I'm making something in the crock pot in the morning before work I don't always have time/want to make the time to be dealing with frozen tomatoes.  It'll be nice to just dump a jar of tomatoes into the crock pot and go.

Spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and salsa rounded out my "regular" tomato canning.  One thing I did this year that I didn't do last year was I saved all the skins from all the tomatoes I canned, and threw them into the pot when making my tomato sauce.  I really felt it thickened the sauce up and gave it an extra tomato-y texture.  It also made me feel good to think I was getting as much as possible out of all parts of the tomato.

I say "regular" tomato canning, because this doesn't include the green tomatoes.  Green tomatoes are, in my opinion, highly undervalued.  Fried green tomatoes are not even close to being the best thing about green tomatoes.  First off, you can pickle them. Pickled green tomatoes are an amazing treat.  I've made a winter caprese salad (that's your tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil salad) using pickled green tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes.  They're also good for just eating.

But maybe you don't like pickled things the way I do.  That's fine (you're wrong, but it's fine).  Here's another suggestion.  This may be hailed as food blasphemy, but you can also can whole green tomatoes and substitute them for canned tomatillos.  They're not going to be exactly the same - they're not as tangy or as acidic.  If you are going to substitute them, I would recommend adding a good amount of lime juice to up the sass, but I can't find local tomatillos for less than $4.99 a pound, and that's far too much when I need a bunch for my famous green pork chili.  So I'm going to substitute green tomatoes, and it's going to be amazing.  If you've got a problem with that, you don't get any chili!

So pick up some tomato seconds at the farmer's market, and get canning!

Canned Whole Tomatoes - Red or Green (or yellow.  Or orange.  Or whatever)
For each Quart of Tomatoes:
  • 3 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice 
 Remove the skins from the tomatoes by boiling briefly and dipping in ice water.  (We've been talking about this for a year now - do I really need to explain it to you?)

Put 2 tablespoons lemon juice into a one quart jar.  Pack the tomatoes into the jar one at a time, pressing firmly enough to compress the hollow core and release enough juice to cover the tomatoes, but not enough to crush the fruit.  Continue to pack the tomatoes in this manner, pressing out any air pockets.  Tomatoes should be covered by 1/2 inch with their liquid.  Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.  Top with a little boiling water, if necessary, to achieve the proper headspace.

Use the boiling water method and process jars for 85 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes.

If you are using green tomatoes to substitute for tomatillos, consider replacing the lemon juice with lime juice.

Canned Diced Tomatoes
Same as above, but dice the tomatoes instead of pushing them into the jars.  Save the any tomato juice to cover the tomatoes in the jar.

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce
Makes about 8 Quarts
  • 20 lbs of tomatoes (preferably plum or Roma)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb onions, diced
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 large carrots, diced
  • 4 large green peppers
  • 1 cup fresh oregano
  • 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice per quart
  • 1 tsp salt per quart
  • 1 bay leaf per quart
 Blanch and shock tomatoes to remove peels.  Dice into about 1 inch cubes, and set aside.

In a large pot, sweat down onions over low heat until soft and translucent - about 15 minutes.  Raise heat to medium, add garlic, carrots, and peppers, and saute until veggies are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and oregano and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a low and simmer for 1 hour.  The sauce should be reduced and slightly thickened.

Ladle into jars (adding lemon juice, salt, and bay leaf), leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process using the boiling water method for 45 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove the lid from the canner, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes.

Tomato Basil Sauce
Makes about 6 pints

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 10 lbs tomatoes, cut into large chunks (don't worry about the skins this time)
  • Any skins you have from other tomatoes you've canned (you can freeze these to use later, too)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
In a large pot, warm the oil over low heat.  Add the onions and sweat until soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium, add the garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes, skins, and wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened - about 1 hour.

Pass the tomato mixture through a mesh sieve set over a clean, large pot.  I like to really work the remaining solids to work out any pulp in order to get a thicker sauce but that is your choice.  Bring the tomato sauce back to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.  Stir in the basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Ladle the sauce into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Process using the boiling water method for 30 minutes. 
Tomato Basil Sauce (front) and Chunky Spaghetti
Sauce (back) in progress.  I need bigger pots...

Heirloom Tomato Salsa
Makes about 7 pints
Using a variety of tomatoes in different colors creates a pretty salsa, but isn't necessary.

  • 1 cup white viegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 lbs heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 pounds onions, diced
  • 1 to 2 hot peppers of your favorite variety, diced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Bring the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large, nonreactive sauce pan.  add the tomatoes, onions, and peppers, and return to a boil for 5 minutes.  Add the cilantro and remove from the heat.

Ladle into clean hot pint or half pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove the canner lid, and let rest in the water for 5 minutes.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 6 pints (use pints or half pints)

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 24 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried oregeno
  • 1 small yellow onion cut into thin slices
  • 12 small hot peppers (optional)
  • 6 cups green tomatoes, cut into large chunks or slices (or use whole cherry tomatoes)
In a large pot, combine the vinegar and salt.  Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt.

Meanwhile, divide bay leaves, garlic, spices, and onion amongst jars.  Pack tomatoes tightly into the jars, within one inch of the rims.  Ladle the boiling brine into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Wipe the rims and seal tightly.  Because of the high level of acidity, these pickles do not require a boiling water bath - but make sure the brine is boiling when you ladle it in so they seal properly.

Let the jars sit for at least two weeks for flavors to develop.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Eat Local Milwaukee, Week 2

How did week one of the Eat Local Milwaukee Challenge go?  Did you find some new local food that you like?  Did you work one more local salad into your dinners?  Did you pick up some local tomatoes and realize they taste SO MUCH BETTER than those fake tomatoes you get at the grocery store?

Or did you visit a locally sourced restaurant and use the opportunity to let them do the cooking? Did you grab a local beverage?

I hope you were able to find something new.  I was excited to check out Lagniappe Brasserie and La Merenda, and enjoy some local food that I didn't have to cook.  As per usual, the food was far too good for me to have pictures.  I would, in fact, be the worst food writer ever, because the food is gone and then I'm like, "oh, crap, I should have taken a picture of that.  Boy it was good.  Wish I could show my readers how pretty it was..."

Are you ready for week two?

It's still summer, and it's still warm, but the air has that fall feel about it.  Today I even put on a sweatshirt because I was chilly.  Riding my scooter home from work on Thursday, I was even cold.

I love fall.  Fall, to me, is the food season.  Spring is great, because there's finally something fresh to eat, but your choices are limited.  Summer is full of food, but there's not that much to write about - throw some meat on the grill, slice up some raw veggies and you've got yourself a meal.  Winter... well winter is just about not starving to death.

But fall...

Fall has got plenty of food - It's harvest season after all - but it also allows real cooking.  Not that the grill isn't real, but it's not the same as a braise.  It's not the same as baking.  Fall is the season of tomatoes, and squash, and heavy greens like kale, and soup.  It's the time for meals that take hours of cooking, because you want your oven on for hours, and because you're not too warn down from the cold and dark of winter to even want to cook.

So, to usher in the unofficial first week of fall (I totally support the equinox here, it's extremely important to me.  Labor day does not = fall!), and the fact that I got to wear leg warmers yesterday, the second week of the Eat Local Milwaukee Challenge features some more fall-ish treats.

This week, my CSA box included:

  • The most beautiful head of lettuce I've ever seen
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Beets and their greens
  • Leeks
  • Eggs
  • Peppers (hot and bell)
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Parsley

Don't forget, we already figured out that this box cost me about $13.

I cooked up and froze the beets, beet greens, and their kale.  The carrots will be canned tomorrow, and I made a HUGE salad to go with my fritatta tonight.

The menu for the second week of the Eat Local Challenge, if you're playing along:

  • Saturday: Steak Salad
    • Pick up whatever stuff you want for a salad, and as fancy or cheap of a steak as you're feeling.  NY Strip is great on a salad.  So is a skirt steak.  Spend your money on what you think is important!  I personally will be using my #1 favorite steak: flat iron.
  • Sunday: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
    • No, you didn't miss it.  There's no spaghetti squash in my CSA box this week.  But there is quite a good deal of it ready to be picked in my garden.  Along with about 6 giant blue pumpkins!
    • Split the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds (you can absolutely wash and bake up the seeds just like pumpkin seeds.  Anyone who has carved pumpkins with me knows that I'm only in it for the seeds, so this is an exciting proposition for me.)  Drizzle generously in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until it is soft but still a little crunchy (don't let it get soggy).  Once it is done, run a fork gently through the spaghetti squash to pull it into the strings from whence it gets it's name (whence!). 
    • While the squash is cooking, cook about 1/2 lb of bacon over medium heat until it becomes a light brown but is not yet crispy. Pour off most of the fat and then add about 1 tbsp minced shallots and 2 tsp minced garlic. Saute for 1 minute until the garlic and shallots are fragrant. Add the 1/4 cup white wine and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated.
    •  In a medium bowl, whisk together two egg yolks and one whole egg, eggs together with 1 cup Parmesan cheese and two tablespoons chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the eggs with the bacon mixture, warming the eggs in the pan. (Do not let the eggs cook through.) Add the spaghetti squash and toss to thoroughly combine and until squash is heated through. Adjust seasoning, if necessary and serve immediately.
  • Monday:  Date night!  Head out for some local food!
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooked Rotisserie Chicken
    • Season it as you want, and have it waiting for you when you get home from work!  I do recommend the brine, because without it the chicken gets a little dry.  Throw some potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker and have a full blown meal waiting for you.
  • Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers
    • Save a chicken breast from Tuesday.  Combine with some cooked local Orzo pasta (pick it up at Outpost), whatever veggies you've got in your fridge, and some local feta cheese from the Clock Shadow Creamery.  Mix together, and stuff into some bell peppers.  Throw the whole thing on the grill for about 10 minutes on each side, or until the inside is hot and the outside is nicely charred.  If you've got especially big peppers, you might want to heat up the stuffing before putting it in the peppers.
  • Thursday: Turkey Soup
    • I've got some frozen turkey in my freezer that I think is actually from way back last Christmas.  Time to get that used up already!  So I'm going to make a turkey noodle soup with that, the Orzo I bought for Wednesday, and some yellow squash that's already in my fridge.  But, since I can't count on your having stockpiled almost year old turkey in your freezer, why not try the Turkey Cherry Chili that didn't make it into the cherry contest!  Make it a little end-of-summerier and add some corn.
  • Friday: Fish Boil
    • What is more local, Wisconsin, Fall food than a good old traditional Door County Fish Boil.  You can make it in your kitchen no problem - just don't use the gasoline/boil over trick!  When you're at Outpost on Wednesday, pick up some Rushing Waters Rainbow Trout, and why not try the fish boil seasonings available at The Spice House.

As always, let me know if there's anything I can do!  Enjoy your local eating!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Put Up or Shut Up Episode 5: Peaches

First off, is your name in this pitcher?

It should be!  If not, you've got three ways to enter, and the chance to be in the pitcher three times to win a bottle of Vodka or Whiskey:

1. Follow the blog here through Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs
2. Like Home Grown, Homemade on Facebook
3. Follow Home Grown, Homemade on Twitter.

If you're keeping track, you'll know that I'm also giving out more entries on my whim.  Here's another:

What would you like to see as a Put Up or Shut Up episode?  Tomatoes are coming up next, but is there anything else?  Post it on Facebook or Twitter, and get a free entry.  Also, if I use your suggestion, I'll also send you a can!

Don't suggest peaches, though, because that's the topic of today's post and I'm not sharing!

Peach season is, sadly, pretty much over in Wisconsin.  It was a bad year for fruit.  An early spring followed by a late frost is bad for fruit trees.  They bloom, then the frost kills what's there and - guess what - they don't bloom again.  And they don't get any fruit.  And then you don't get any fruit.  And if you don't get any fruit for eating, you certainly don't get any fruit for canning.

That's true.  I can't lie, it's probably true.  Okay, I can lie, and generally pretty well, but that's not really the point here.  The point is you might not be able to get your hands on any peaches.

25 lbs of peaches in my sink.  That's how you know it's
going to be a good weekend!
But, on the other hand, you might.  You see, what that frost didn't kill has a tendency to be ugly.  And we're at the end of the season, so things are even uglier.  You go to your local farmer's market (not South Shore; the peach people there aren't coming back - I bought them out!), you find the peach stand, and you wait.  You go to them at the close of the market and you bargain.  They didn't sell those peaches.  They're not going to sell those peaches.  Those peaches will be bad by next week.  Those peaches are kinda bad already.  So, what do they want for them?  Don't be a jerk.  I got my canning peaches for $1.50 per pound, and that's only after making friends with the peach people all summer.  Did you notice that my main farmer's market dish featured peaches?  Yes, it was because I like peaches.  And, yes, it was because I like a peach salad.  But really, it was because I WANTED PEACHES!  I'm not above pandering to get produce!  (I'm not above pandering to get kitchen supplies either.  Williams-Sonoma?  Sur La Table?  Start a bidding war.  Start sending me stuff.  I will endorse the crap out of whoever woos me best!  I am easily bought with any of those pretty things pictured in the kitchen porn you send me every week!  I especially enjoy the really fancy, really expensive canning jars...) 

What was I talking about?

Right.  Peaches.  Maybe you can get some; maybe you can't.  If you can, here are a few recipes.  If you can't, the technique I've outlined works on other stuff too.  If you get to the market late, you can bargain.  If you are buying bulk, you can bargain.  If you go regularly and make friends, you just might get free stuff.  Make friends.  Talk to the farmers, find the farmers that you like the best, and then keep going back!  Talk to them each week.  Ask them what's good.  Ask them what's new.  Ask them what's weird.  Make sure they notice you are there regularly.  It can't hurt, and it really can help!  I've got some boys from Union Grove that I'm slightly in love with and that I visit every week.  Even if I don't need anything, I spend $3 and get 6 ears of corn.  This week, the conversation went a little like this (very paraphrased):

Me: Hi!
Farmer Boy: Hi!  We have some greens that we don't know what they are!
Me: What?
Farmer Boy? We don't know what they are.  Do you want some?
Me: Uhh.....
Other Farmer Boy: They're not poison.  I totally ate them and I'm not dead!  Here, put them in your bag!

And now I have free greens!

(A side note, because I feel it's important.  I say that I am slightly in love with some farmer boys.  That may be offensive because, after all, I am a married women.  I can't defend my stance, except to say that, when I learned and mocked the fact that they were "Hack Family Farms," the response was "yeah, it's a good thing I didn't grow up to be a writer!"  We then proceeded to have a hour long conversation about Star Trek.  So... yeah.  I am smitten.)

It's a little late for this advice, I know.  It's too late to get to know your farmer this year.  But maybe it's a good kick in the butt.  You didn't get any peaches this year?  Well get to know a peach farmer already!

If you can get your hands on some peaches, here are some recipes to try.  Both are from Put 'em Up!
Blanching and skinning peaches.

I would also recommend freezing some peach slices.  Peel them just like you would a tomato (pop them in some boiling water for 30 seconds, and then straight into ice water).  Frozen peaches are, in my opinion, best for winter peach pies!

Brandied Peaches:
(I am, after all, a good Wisconsin Girl!)

  • 3 grams powdered vitamin C, or vitamin C tablets, crushed
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 4 cups ice
  • 10 lbs peaches
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups brandy
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups honey
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
In your second largest non-reactive pot, or a cooler, combine vitamin C, 3 quarts cold water, and ice.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Blanch the peaches in the boiling water, and transfer to the ice water, just as if you were removing the skin from tomatoes.  Peel off the skin, and return to the acid/ice bath to prevent browning.  Half or quarter the peaches, and pack into clean, hot, pint jars.

Bring the water, brandy, sugar, honey, and spices to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat and pour the syrup over the peaches to cover by 1/2 inch.  Leave 1/2 inch of headspace.

Process using the boiling water method for 30 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes.  Check seals, then store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

Ginger Peach Jam
 (A spicy treat in winter!  You can use less ginger if you're not a fan)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Pomona's Universal Pectin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 4 lbs peaches
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp calcium water (included in the Pomona Box.)
Stir together the sugar and pectin in a small bowl and set aside.  Combine ht water and lemon juice in a large non-reactive pot.  Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl.

Bring a second large pot of water to a boil.  Working in batches, blanch the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skin (just like tomatoes!)

Scoop the peaches out of the water and drop into ice water bath.  Peel, pit, and dice the peaches, adding them to the lemon water as you go.

Bring the peach mixture to a boil.  Add the ginger and simmer for 5 minutes.  Lightly mash about 1/4 of the mixture.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture and return to a boil.  Add the calcium water, stir,  and remove from the heat.

Fill half pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Release any trapped air.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes.  Store in a dark place for up to one year.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Happy Eat Local Challenge everybody!

This is how I plan to spend my day:

There are more tomatoes on the kitchen table that you can't see.