Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Local Summer Week 15

This week I cooked up a local breakfast hash that was very yummy. I diced up a whole red bell pepper and half of a red onion and sauteed it with a bit of olive oil and a drop of bacon grease. Then I tossed in some diced up leftover home baked 4 potato (red, blue, yellow, white) oven fries coated with salt, pepper and paprika and chopped cooked bacon. The seasoning was just right and the salty bacon gave it a bright crunch. I served it with fried local eggs, sliced local apples and a cup of locally roasted coffee. This would be just as good in a scramble or a breakfast burrito. I think I've stumbled onto a new day-after trend.

Summer Preservation Activities

One of the most rewarding parts of working so hard to pick what the summer has to offer is then getting to preserve it for use later. Nothing can beat the taste of fresh strawberries in January or peach pie in February. I also like the idea of replacing store bought condiments with ones of my own creation. Why buy franken-Heinz katsup when you can make your own so easily. So here is a review of what I've put by so far.

Peach Butter: I have canned peach slices and halves in the past and not only was the skinning part a huge pain but we also didn't eat many of them. I'm not a big fan of the syrup I used and K had trouble eating them when they were so slippery. Maybe now that I am baking more I would have more use for them but I was looking for something else. In an attempt to try to use up as many of those peaches as possible I decided to try butter.

I still had to contend with removing the skins and without a good food mill I resorted to a stick blender, which did the job but took a lot of time and wrist strength. I don't think I got it down to the right consistency for butter, it was still a little runny. Otherwise, it smelled and tasted great and I look forward to the possibilities; jam thumbprint cookies and layered cakes come to mind.

Freezer Cole Slaw: I was searching for a way to use up and preserve cabbage that didn't call for fermentation when I saw a recipe in my Preservation For Busy People book that calls for freezing.

It called for shredding up everything, boiling a brine, pouring it over the vegetables and then freezing. I used cabbage from my share, carrots from the market, peppers from my garden and vinegar and celery seeds from the conventional supermarket.

I'm not sure what to expect when I defrost it but I'm waiting for my folks to come and visit so that I'll have some other opinions of its character and some additional mouths to use it up if it is good.

Condiments: In addition to peach butter, I also experimented with a few other canning recipes from my Ball Complete book of Home Preserving this summer. First was a fruit katsup that was equal parts peach and tomatoes with some apple too. It turned out a little zesty thanks to the addition of cayenne pepper. It was very, very good and felt extremely gourmet with my fancy fries and primo burger. Then there was a peach BBQ sauce. It didn't yield as much as I wanted but I attribute that to having very thick peach skins and no food mill. It was also very good. Then I made both a tomatillo and a fruit based salsa. I haven't tried them yet so I don't know if I will make them again or try something else.

Grape Juice: Finally, I tried making grape juice from the handful of too tart for just eating concord-type grapes that I got from my farm share. I washed and picked each grape and then, using my new mini-masher, crushed the heck out of them. Next I boiled them over med heat and continued to periodically re-mash anything that looked the least bit solid. Once, it was done cooking I strained the resulting mash through a strainer and ended up with about 1 cup of concentrated grape liquid. It was still a little tart, though much better than eating them whole so I stirred in some local honey. I filled the rest of the glass with ice and a dash of water, mixed it up and enjoyed my first glass of real grape juice in almost 20 years.

Harvest Round-up Weeks 10-14

Here is a round-up of what I have been harvesting from my little porch container garden:

Tomatoes are finally showing up in the week 10 harvest. I'm also enjoying a slow trickling of bell peppers and lemon cukes. The green onions are always plentiful.

In week 11 I brought in some chard and harvested more cilantro/coriander seeds.

In week 12, everything continued to produce about the same.

I picked all the remaining tomatoes in week 12 but there the lemon cukes made up for it in week 13.

Week 14 I harvested the bulk of the peppers. The plants are still going strong but it will be a little while before I have any more ripe.

One Local Summer Week 13

This week was my favorite one local summer meal so far. I used some frozen caremelized onions from a few weeks ago and a dash of worshestershire sauce with local ground beef to make the patty. I made oven fries from the tri-colored potatoes with a dash of salt, pepper and paprika. I sliced a homegrown beefsteak and some peaches from the farm. The dip was the leftover katsup from my canning (more on that in a follow up post). All it was missing was a home baked bun but with all that good food, once it took the first bite the bun was really not needed nor missed.

Week 13 CSA

Our farm share this week included more corn, lettuce, squash, tomatoes, cherry tomatos and of course, more peaches. It also delighted us with a cantaloup and some concord-type grapes. The grapes smelled wonderful I tried eating them but they were a little tart and had lots of seeds. I think that I'll try my hand at juice.
For the u-pick bonus there were even more peaches and some more edamame.

Confression of Produce Overload

It is time for a fridge is suffering from produce overload. I want to show you but first a disclaimer. Please ignore the mess; produce fresh from the ground can be dirty and messy, not to mention the spills that a helpful toddler creates when trying to pour their own juice and mil. With the huge volume that overflows my fridge this time of year, it can be a little tricky to clean up, so I usually just avoid the task until the winter. Also, I am in desperate need of a long weekend where I can chop and slice and cook and can. Until then, I will continue to stuff things anywhere in the fridge or freezer that will allow the doors to close. And now for the proof.

Notice the numerous bowls spilling over with peaches, the tomatoes bursting over their baskets, and the apples lined up in what little space remains. The empty drawer is deceptive for lurking just outside of the picture frame is a unit of green apples waiting to infiltrate the only clean spot left.

And here is another angle where you can see the cheese drawer overflowing with creamery yogurts and cheeses; the door stacked with butters, milks, juices, and condiments.

And lest you think that I should just freeze something to make room, here you can clearly see that freezing is no longer an option. Assorted berries, fruits, herbs and shredded zucchini threaten to spill out of the door. Meats, pre-made dishes, and convenience food block your view of a whole host of other frozen vegetables, soups, ice creams and sorbets. If I could get the time to make chicken broth, I might make enough room to keep frozen zucchini breads and muffins.

I think I need help...or a big chest freezer...or a dehydrator.

Week 12 CSA

This weeks CSA share included some incredibly delicious nectarines, more beautiful corn, some nice fresh lettuce and some big tomatoes.

I mean look at these things. They are definitely destined for some sauce or salsa or something canned.
The u-pick bonus this week included some more peaches and edamame. I don't know what I'm going to do with more peaches but I'll probably take the same path as the tomatoes...canned. I plan to keep the edamame till I get more next week and boil and freeze it for future stir fries.

At the Saturday market this week I was thrilled to pick up some peppers for salsa and the first small batch of what will be my fall fruit staple, apples. I also got some chicken to keep in the freezer for soups or something.

At the Sunday market I got more salsa ingredients, some potatoes and carrots, mushrooms and apples. It was quite a score.

One Local Summer Week 12

My local meal this week was a light crisp salad. The greens came from my CSA share, the onions and bacon came from the farmers market, and the bell pepper and tomatos came from my garden. The onions were so sweet and the bacon and bell peppers so crispy.

Week 15 CSA

This week we got what is probably the last of the corn. Amazingly we are still getting peaches. The chard, tomatoes and squash continue also. We were also lucky to get a bag of potatoes in addition to our u-pick.
Here is our pile of u-pick potatoes plus a small bag of very small potatoes that I purchased in addition. I hope to can up a some small ones as it is hard for me to keep potatoes as long as I'd like to given that I have no truly cool place in the apartment once we start using the heat.

This week at the Saturday farmers market I stocked up on Jonathan apples, the first showing of Asian pears (so good) and onions. I also grabbed some ground beef and butter and treated myself to McCutcheons sparkling cider.

Week 14 CSA

This weeks share featured more tomatoes, a lovely watermelon, two banana peppers hiding under a generous handful of chard and, of course, more peaches.
This weekend was the potatoes and pancakes festival. We started with a pancake breakfast and then headed out to the potato fields where the tractor had already dug up most of the potatoes. All that we did was walk along the rows and pick up what ever size we wanted. I grabbed a mixture of sizes.
At the farmers market we stocked up on bell peppers and apples for snacking and added a few fun tomatoes to brighten up the salsa.