Sunday, October 18, 2009

Making Salsa to can

My home canned salsa is something that my family looks forward to.

Making salsa is a lot of work but oh so worth it.

Step One: Prepare the tomatoes. I cut mine up and run them through a food mill to remove the peels and seeds. If you don't have a food mill, you will need to peel and seed them. You want to cook them down to the consistency of tomato sauce or your finished salsa will be runny. I start with about 8 quarts of tomato puree - for smaller batches, you can cut the recipe down.

The type of tomato that you use will make a big difference. I use roma times that have more meat and less juice.

After I have started the tomatoe puree cooking down, I chop up the rest of the vegetables.

Step Two: Cut up 8 cups of peppers. I make a mild salsa that my child can eat so it is about 3 cups of hot peppers and 5 cups of bell. The hotter you want it, increase the amount of hot peppers while reducing the amount of bell. Also take into account the heat of the peppers you are using - some peppers are hotter than others. Always better if you aren't sure to go milder.

Add the peppers to the tomato puree as it continues to simmer and cook down.

Step Three: Next chop and add 5 cups of onions. I use a mixture of red and white onions, but any will do.

Step Four: Next I mince 6 cloves of garlic. Use less if you aren't a garlic fan. I am of the school that you can never have too much garlic in anything. It is so healthy and good for you and I just like the taste.

Step Five: Add 1 1/2 cups of vinegar. This is a necessary step to raise the acidity of the salsa so you can safely can it in a boiling water bath.

Step Six: Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Always use canning/pickling salt - never use table salt - it will discolor.
Step Seven: Optional - add minced fresh cilantro. I add it if I have it but don't worry about it if I don't.
Step Eight: Let the salsa cook down until it is a good consistency. To test I take some and put it in a small dish and put it in the refrigerator to cool. Then test it on a chip and see if it is too runny. This is also a good time to see if the flavor needs adjusting before canning.

The salsa has cooked down to the right consistency. I have about 6 quarts in my 8 quart stock pot. The tomatoes have reduced themselves by about half - it was down to 6 quarts when I added the other vegetables and that brought it back up to full, now it has cooked down again to the 6 quart mark.

The salsa in a small dish for sampling.

Nice and thick on the chip.
Step Nine: Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Making sure you sterilize the jars and lids right before using.

The finished salsa. This recipe makes 6 quarts.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Today's Harvest

I haven't been online much because I have been spending much of my time in the kitchen processing harvests like this one.

Today's harvest includes:
3 5-quart pails of tomatoes
1 pint of raspberries (both yellow and red)
1 huge bucket (maybe 2 gallon?) of Swanson Red Grapes (seeded but sweet)
4 cucumbers
2 quarts of green beans (both green and purple)
1 quart of broccoli

I really should pick some apples too but I want to process all of this first.

I grumble and complain about all of the work this time of year but those who know me best know that I really love it and would rather be busy than complaining that nothing grew. And in the deep of winter it will be so nice to be able to enjoy all of this bounty!

I hope all of you are having great harvests this fall as well!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Andy harvests his first cantaloupe!

Isn't it a beauty?
I was so proud of Andy that he made such healthful choices when planning his garden. He was diasppointed in his watermelon but he has been watching his muskmelons with great anticipation (he has a lot of them).
The first two were finally ready this weekend. We ate one and gave one to a neighbor.
It was the juiciest cantaloupe I have ever eaten. I must admit that I am not a big muskmelon fan - Dan and Andy love them much more than I do - but I ate my share of this one!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Plum Harvest

I picked the last of the plums yesterday. This is the first real year we have had plums.
These are from the tree that Dan planted for my birthday 3 years ago (in hot August!). We had a couple plums on it last year. This year we had a decent harvest - although the tree still wasn't loaded.
The plums are very juicy and tasty - and considering that I did not spray it at all - even with organic sprays - very few of them had worms in them. Overall they are great looking plums.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Colorful "green" beans!

Yup - those are both purple and green beans!

It struck me today just how appropriate it is for our household to be growing those two colors of beans. You see I live in Vikings territory and I married a Viking fan but I am a cheesehead from Wisconsin.

I was in the garden picking beans while listening to the neighbors on their patio discussing the upcoming Viking Packer game and the fact that Brett Farve will be playing for the Vikes when it struck me that even my beans show the rivalry that goes on in our livingroom!

Anyway, even the beans know that the Packers are the better team since the purple beans turn green when they are cooked!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Colorful Carrots!

Check out the colorful carrots Andy is holding - orange, red and purple. Growing a rainbow of colors of everything is so much fun. I also planted yellow ones.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Making Fruit Leathers (Fruit Roll Ups)

I made fruit leathers this past weekend. The first batch I am sure of many this year. They are really quite simple to make.

You just take fruit puree - sweeten it to your taste - add optional spices - and dry in a dehydrator or on plastic wrap lined cookie sheets in a very low oven (150 degrees at the most) until done.

I used plums as the main ingredient in these. I added a handful of raspberries, a handful of currants and 1/2 of an apple as well as some raw sugar and cinnamon.

Here they are almost dry in my dehydrator.

They are ready when you can easily pull them up from the plastic like this.

I cut them into wedges.

I stacked the wedges with wax paper between - who needs evil red 40 - these are a nice bright red without anything artificial added!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicken and Bean Soup

I made this for dinner tonight and there were no left overs. This is a very healthy soup - and great tasting too.

Chicken and Bean Soup

½ cup dry garbanzo beans
½ cup dry black beans
1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite size pieces
1 ½ cups fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into ¼ inch slices
2 ½ cups sliced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped or shredded

1. Rinse the beans; place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the beans by about two inches. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for one hour. Drain and rinse beans.
2. Put all ingredients except fresh herbs and spinach in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
3. Add fresh herbs and spinach. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
4 servings

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My tangled up raspberries

A reader requested to see my raspberries - so here they are.

They are just a tangled up mess - I have no supports in there - I had some supports but they weren't working very well so I took them out this spring.

I have red and yellow berries. Summer and Fall (everbearing) berries.

I don't do a lot to them - just throw some compost on the ground between them once in awhile - maybe once a season - and cut out dead canes.

They are along one side of my house so they do not get full sun. I water them daily if it doesn't rain.

I would guess the secret to such abundance and the huge size of the berries is the compost. The berries spread and I dig up the errant canes and give them to my neighbors - none of theirs produce like mine do - so I think it has to be the compost.

I also have some black raspberries, but I moved them last year so they are not producing right now. The reason I moved them was that their canes grow really long and are more prickly - the red and yellow canes seem to be more stout and upright (sort of) and don't prick as much - the black raspberries were really tangling the other up even more and making it really hard to get in there and pick.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making Raspberry Sorbet - Step by Step

How to make Raspberry Sorbet in eight easy steps.

Step One: Measure 1 cup of water

Step Two: Measure 1 cup of raw sugar (I suppose you could use white sugar, but why? - if you are going to eat sugar it shouldn't have the trace nutrients taken out.)

Step Three: Mix in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Step Four: Measure 1 quart of raspberries (about 1 lb)

Step Five: Put through a sieve or strainer to remove the seeds (I use my kitchen aid attachment).

I got about 1 1/2 cups of puree from the 1 quart of berries.

The syrup is now cool and a medium brown color. If you use white sugar it will be clear.

Step Six: Add the berries to the syrup and add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. The xanthan gum is optional but it is a stabilizer that will keep the sorbet from turning into one big ice crystal if you don't eat it all right away.

Step Seven: Put berry mixture into your ice cream maker and process until done - the time will vary on how cold the syrup is - if it is still a little warm, then it will take longer to freeze.

Step Eight - enjoy!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fresh Raspberry Pie

Kathi’s Fresh Raspberry Pie
4 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
4 tablespoons water
2 - 9” pie crusts of your choice (I use the perfect pie crust mix from the gluten free pantry)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Line pie plate with one pie crust
3. Mix all ingredients together and spoon into bottom pie crust
4. Place other pie crust on top, flute and seal edges.
5. Make slits in the top so that steam can escape.
6. Bake for 10 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for 45 minutes
8 servings

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009

Currant Sorbet

What a wonderful treat on a hot summer day.

My currant bushes are really loaded - I'm going to have lots of currants to enjoy this year.

I made my sorbet different this time. I juiced the currants by using my food mill that I attach to my kitchen aid mixer.

The juice was really concentrated so I took 1 cup of juice, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of raw sugar and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum.

The xanthan gum is a stabilizer - I use it a lot in gluten free baking so I always have it on hand - it is expensive - like $12 for a bag - but a little goes a long way. It keeps the sorbet nice and creamy - otherwise it is nice when it is fresh, but if you put it in the freezer for later, it will be a hard crystallized block.

I heated the juice mixture until the sugar was dissolved. Then I let it cool to room temperature and then I put it in my electric ice cream maker.

The juice mixture was a pretty dark red when I put it in the ice cream maker but as it froze, it turned a nice fluffy pink color. It is just so light and airy and oh so yummy - not to mention full of all kinds of wonderful phytonutrients.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Look what I had for dinner!

It just doesn't get any fresher than this. I dug them, washed them, cooked them and ate them all in the span of a half hour. There is nothing like tender new potatoes. They sure were good.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quick and Easy Zucchini

The summer squash harvest is beginning. A really quick and easy way to serve zucchini is just to slice and saute. Slice, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour to draw the water out of it. Rinse well and pat dry. Heat a little bit of olive oil and saute until done. Yum!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Raspberry Season has begun!

Look at what I picked today. Yum, yum, yum!

My raspberries are a tangled mess. I have summer raspberries and fall raspberries all planted together. I have red raspberries and yellow raspberries all planted together. I had black raspberries in there also, but moved them last year.

I like my raspberries all mixed up. I get raspberries from June until frost this way. And I like the flavor variety from growing so many different kinds.

My raspberries spread past their boundaries and I dig up the wandering plants and give them to my neighbors - I think they all look at me strange when I tell them I have no idea what I am giving them - except that it is a raspberry plant. They just have to wait until it bears fruit and be pleasantly surprised.

I'm not planning on making as much raspberry jam this year as I have in past years. I am going to save some of the berries for making syrup for my waffles and for making sorbet. I am going to branch out some. I'll be sure and share my recipes and my successes and failures - I always do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Where has June gone?

Seriously, can you believe it is almost July? I cannot believe how time keeps slipping away from me.

It has been a strange year for gardening - but don't we say that every year? It is just that the strangeness is different every year. There is never a "perfect" year for gardening - something is always out of whack - that's the way it is with nature. Every year something does great and something doesn't. I don't think I have ever had a garden where everything grew perfectly.

This year the weather has been so variable. We had below average temperatures for much of the spring and early summer and now it is hot - too hot - the garden didn't have time to adjust. We also had very little rain so I haven't been complaining one bit about the last few rainy days.

So, how has my garden been growing since I haven't been updating? Here are a few pics:

The lettuce has been doing great. It loves the cooler weather we were having. It will probably be done pretty soon now that the weather has turned hot.

The potatoes are also doing great. They have started flowering which means there will be new potatoes to dig very soon.
The peppers have just not done well so far this year. They are small and just not growing much. They are heat lovers, so maybe now that it has turned hot, they will start thriving instead of just surviving.
The cauliflower was looking great but the heads have started looking really funky the last couple of days. I suspect it is the sudden heat.

The brocolli is looking really good. It hasn't seemed to mind the heat.

The brussels sprouts are also doing well.

I lost most of my cabbage this spring to the rabbits. The ones that survived (I put a fence around them a little too late) are doing great.

My tomatoes are struggling. They are starting to bounce back. None of my tomatoes look as good as my neighbor's but I'm not too concerned - at least not yet.

The new peach tree is thriving. My son keeps asking when we will have peaches again. Poor impatient child, he just does not understand that this young tree will not produce fruit for some time.
The currant bushes are loaded with berries that are just starting to ripen.
And lastly, Andy's garden. He planted cucumbers, canteloupe and watermelons. The cucumbers and canteloupes are beginning to look really good. His seedless watermelon never came up and the seeded ones just don't seem to be doing much. They are barely growing - I'm not sure if we will see any fruit from them this year. Andy, being the ever hopeful child still thinks the seedless ones might come up yet.