Friday, July 20, 2012

Plum Jelly Round-Up

Earlier this year, tired of squirrel bandits on my bird feeders - I discovered that I could trap them in my Hav-A-Hart trap -- and relocated 3 of 5 squirrels to a park two miles away.  The unexpected upside of this is that my neighbors finally got tree-ripened loquats and I had a LOT more plums on the tree in my backyard this year -- I harvested about 125 lbs in the two days before July 4th!

I barely had room in my freezer and fridge to put all the juice and puree -- and this week I am making up jelly -- a lot of it!

Plum-Habanero
16 c plum juice + 1 c lemon juice + 4 c sugar + 5Tb & 1tsp pectin + 5Tb & 1tsp calcium water + 3.75 oz habaneros (seeds cut out) =
  • 21- half pints plum habanero jelly

Plum-Habanero-Lemongrass
  • 18 - half pints 
  • 15 - quarter pints
 Plum
20 cups of plum juice + 5 c sugar + pectin/calcium water + 1 c lemon juice =
  • 11 - 20 oz jars 
  • 13 - half pints

Plum-Lemongrass
24 cups of plum juice + 6 c sugar + pectin/calcium water + 1 1/4 c lemon juice + lemongrass =
  • 33 - half pints

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zucchini & Tomato Soup

What else do you do with a giant zucchini - or two - but make a pot of soup (if you aren't making my Zucchin-Carrot Relish!) -- here are a couple recipes I have made recently, and since I put the information in on a web app - actually have the caloric data for it!

I threw in 3-4 frozen cubes of home made basil-garlic-raw almond pesto - so made the almonds an optional ingredient here, as well as the olive oil.  I also have a lot of roasted red padron puree in the freezer from last fall - one ice cube is roughly 1/4 c, I think, and I added that in - you could substitute Harissa paste (if you want heat), or chopped fresh red or green bell peppers.  Or throw in any spicy chopped peppers!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 c zucchini, skin on, cut into large chunks (remove pithy parts and large seeds) (168 calories)
  • 4 c crushed canned tomatoes (312 calories)
  • 2 oz dried shitake mushrooms (200 calories) - or - 16 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 Carrots (150 calories)
  • 1-2 c broccolini greens & florets (45 calories)
  • 8 Garlic, Cloves, Fresh (35 calories)
  • 1/2 c chopped basil leaves (4 calories)
  • 2 c sweet/Vidalia onion, chopped or sliced to preference (128 calories)
  • 2 T dried Thyme (or double fresh) (16 calories)
  • 3 c cabbage, chopped (66 calories)
  • 1/2 c green onion, chopped (9 calories)
  • 8 c vegetable stock (160 calories)
  • 2 packages Westsoy Chicken Style Seitan (770 calories)    
  • 1 bunch of chopped parsley (16 calories)
Optional:
  • 1.5 T Red miso (the refrigerated kind) (45 calories)
  • 3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (120 calories)
  • 3 Tb raw almonds, finely ground (102 calories)
  • 1/4 roasted red padron puree (9 calories)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Break up the dried mushrooms into quarters or smaller and place into a heat proof dish or pan; pour boiling water over the mushrooms and allow to steep while you assemble the rest of the soup.
  2. Pour the stock into the pan - note - I used tomato juice from canning tomatoes last year -- which is just the water that was around the seeds.  As I seed the tomatoes before putting them in the pot, I put all the seeds into a metal mesh strainer and then stir them around to get all that water out separately and save it for soups.  In this case, about 5 cups of my vegetable stock was tomato water (not sauce!).  If you like more tomatoey flavor, throw in another can or pint jar of crushed tomatoes -- they'll break down and give you plenty of flavor.
  3. Add the Westsoy Chicken-Style Seitan - be sure to keep the broth in the container, it's tasty stuff - and tear up any extra large pieces of seitan with your fingers.
  4. Add the carrots first - I slice them on the diagonal for nice big chunks, and put them into the stock first while it's heating up.  Add in the rest of the veggies items as ready -- and add additional water to cover if needed.
  5. Reserve for last (as in - just a few minutes before serving) any fresh herbs and the red miso paste (which you can dissolve with a small whisk separately before adding in).
  6. Salt & pepper to taste --  and yes, this a HUGE pot of soup but you can eat as much as you want because the entire thing is a whopping 2300 calories -- 12 large servings at 191 calories each!


   
   




Sunday, July 01, 2012

Zucchini Vegetable Farro Soup (no onions/no garlic)

I made this giant pot of soup and shared it with my family - the corn kernels mix in with the similarly sized farro and provide a nice counterpoint of flavor and texture.  Tarragon & thyme provide the flavor - no onions or garlic in this soup, resulted in a soup that was sweet from the corn and carrots only.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 10 c zucchini, skin on, cut into large chunks (remove pithy parts and large seeds if using monster zukes) (210 calories)
  • 6 carrots (150 calories)
  • 4 c crushed canned tomatoes (312 calories)
  • 2 c farro (400 calories)
  • 4 c broccoli or other sturdy greens like collards (140 calories)   
  • 1 oz dried shitake mushrooms (100 calories) - or - 8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 16 c vegetable stock (400 calories)
  • 2 packages Westsoy Chicken Style Seitan (770 calories)   
  • 2 ears of corn, cut off the cob (147 calories)
  • 3 Tb "Mellow" white miso (90 calories)
  • 4 tsp red miso (45 calories)
  • Dried herbs to taste - I used lots of tarragon & thyme
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Break up the dried mushrooms into quarters or smaller, place in a heat proof dish or pan and cover with boiling water to steep while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  When they are soft, add the pieces and the water to the pot.
  2. Pour the stock into a very large pot -- if you cut down the stock by half and use water instead, the soup will probably taste just as good!  Use what you have on hand!
  3. Add the carrots first - I cut them up into big chunks, and put them in the pot so that they cook up faster.
  4. Be sure to add the stock from the seitan package - it's yummy!  If you don't have this brand available where you live - substitute your favorite seitan or even some nice smoked tofu (yum!).
  5. Add the miso paste last -- you will want to take some stock or hot water and dissolve it so that it mixes into the soup better.
  6. Don't cut yourself cutting the fresh corn off the cob - after cutting off the niblets, be sure to scrape the cob with the back of your knife over the pot to get all the juice and flavor out of the corn cob (yum!).

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Summer Strawberry Jicama Slaw

Summer Strawberry Jicama Slaw

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped small (not fine)
  • 1 cup jicama, julienned
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1/4 c finely minced mint leaves
  • salt, tiny pinch
  • champagne vinegar, 1 tsp
  • (optional) 1 small jalapeno pepper, finely minced
  • (optional) 3 Tb toasted pumpkin seeds
DIRECTIONS:
Toss ingredients and serve at room temperature - the crispy sweet jicama makes a delicious counterpoint to the sweeter and more tender berries, with a little acid from lime/vinegar to punch it up, and complemented by the mint & spicy jalapeno pepper.

BONUS: Turn this slaw into a salsa by chopping up the strawberries & jicama into smaller bits and adding half a chopped red onion and two pressed garlic cloves.

SUBSTITUTIONS: if you can't find jicama, substitute cabbage for a slaw, or cucumber (no seeds, please!) for the salsa or a chunky salad.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Pears, Persimmons & Sourdough

Well, it's been a while! What can I say except that things got away from me. I visited family in November, my mother visited for 3 weeks in December, plus I had to deal with the 8 weeks long chest cold from hell. 

My chief culinary accomplishments of late fall and early winter include:

PEARS: My friend George forwarded me a note from a community list along with a photo of a gorgeously laden and tempting looking pear tree.  I harvested about 30+ lbs of small pears which seemed quite hard, along with my friend Veronika.  The location was near Oakland's Chinatown, so while we were back there, some neighbors came by and also harvested some pears.  V and I thought they were kind of firm but one lady bit into it and said they were good.

The pears were small, a bit mealy and very hard.  They had a yellow-green skin under a brown layer that scraped off with light application of fingernail or nylon scrubby pad.  I washed all the pears and laid them out to ripen on trays.  And waited.  And waited.  After 2 weeks, some of them just went mushy, so I did some research.

What I discovered is that there are some old varieties of pears that are only for cooking - I think these pears were Kiefer pears.  So, I poached some pears and they came out so amazingly delicious!  I canned the rest of the pears in several batches - some with light syrup and some with light syrup and spices (clove, cinnamon, star anise). I'll be set for a while for canned pears, I promise some lovely pear photos.

PEAR VINEGAR: As Marilee from Urban Legend Cellars said, "folks don't know how EASY it is to make vinegar!"  I put a big pile of pear peelings and cores into a gallon glass jar with distilled water - and I keep adding water and aerating it.  It's now growing a mother on top - just like kombucha or Bragg's apple cider vinegar!  Soon I will get up the nerve to taste my pear vinegar.  Expanded post with pictures coming soon.

GROUND CHERRY JELLY: the ground cherries kept going long after everything else quit.  The one Giant Ground Cherry plant I got from Annie's is still going out there - and I hope to promote those for the next season over the smaller kind.  I made up 12 half pints of jelly but it didn't set as firmly as I want, so the jars are still on the kitchen windowsill waiting to be remade (or poured over pound cake and ice cream, tough call).


PERSIMMONS: In early November, I made my annual harvest of persimmons from Larissa & Geoff's 3 story high Hachiya persimmon tree. After I picked about 200 persimmons in early November, left them to ripen while I was gone for a week - and ripen they did!  Then I and dried them all - with some pulp in the freezer as usual.  I made two giant trays of persimmon bread pudding for Holly & Marina's wedding reception - it was very well received and there were no leftovers!

SOURDOUGH: I took a Sour Flour class just a few days into the onset of the Horrible Chest Cold from Hell - and had mixed results with the starter (it eventually died).  I plan to get some starter from a neighbor named Ana.

GARDEN - Veggies vs Flowers: no, I did not manage to get my winter greens garden in properly this year again.  However, I did manage to keep alive my digitalis purpura and put it in the ground, along with some jasmine and a 2-stick rose plant - so there will be lovely scented flowering things along the fence in my garden.  The brugmansia that I got as a leafless wine barrel size root ball from Freecycle is flourishing in the side yard and sending up leaves and new growth, fingers x'd that I will have some lovely scented angel trumpets in the spring.

The broccoli di cicco has gone feral and seems to be flowering continuously - an attack of little grey aphid-y things on the broccoli, mustard and broccoli rab volunteers makes them inedible but I am leaving the large stand of broccoli di cicco because it seems to be making the honeybees very happy.  Once my other flowering plants start producing flowers, I will tear it out to make space for tomatoes.

What I love about my neighborhood is that you get random curb scores - I got a paper grocery sack half full of rhizomes labeled "FREE!" Purple and light blue irises!" which are going into the ground along the house by my steps this week.


Wow! And here I thought I hadn't done much - it turns out I've just been a lazy blogger! I promise to make it up to you, the one reader who still checks in on my blog occasionally (hi Aunt Sue!) and some backdated posts that I obviously owe are coming this week!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dried Tomato Disappointment

Looking for tea today, I moved my quart jar of dried Principe Borghese tomatoes - 8 lbs fresh.  Full of little worms covered in webbing (not moving around).  *sigh*  It only cost $5.60 for the tomatoes, but it took me a while to pick them and then wash, dry, slice and dehydrate them... I guess it's good I didn't eat them.  Was it one bad tomato?  Were there several? I'll never know.  I wonder if I should have frozen the dried tomatoes after they cooled off (just put the whole jar in the freezer, right?)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

REPOST: Backyard Crop & Preserves Swap

Backyard Crop and Preserved Food Swap
THIS SATURDAY
11-2 pm
@ North Oakland Farmers' Market
5715 Market St, Oakland
co-sponsored by EBCA Swappers and Victory Garden Foundation

This is a special Fall Harvest edition of our monthly Backyard Crop Swaps!

Bring all your excesses from your fall harvest and swap them with your neighbors.
Fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, etc. Anything you grow or raise yourself is fair game & totally swappable.

This time we will also have "put up" items for swap as well. Bring a few jars of that jam you just made. How about pickles or pasta sauce? Turn your mass amounts of one thing in to a bunch of different things.

Don't forget to tell your friends, family, & neighbors!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ground Cherries!

I ended up with about a gallon of ground cherries - cooked them down and finished making the jelly.  I had the same issue as last year - it doesn't seem to want to set very well, but finally set with a very soft jell - just perfect for eating out of the jar!

Ground Cherry Jelly
12 - 8 oz jars

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pears!

In the first week of October, a friend forwarded an e-mail to me with a photo attached of a pear tree about to break under its own weight.  I made arrangements and arrived at the warehouse space near Jack London Square to investigate - the pears were different from other pears I have seen - dark brown on the outside, like a sunburn that scratches off, to a light green underneath.  The pears were hard and either under-ripe or just not dessert pears - but there were a lot of them so I set to work harvesting.


I poached two dozen of them the next day, and set rest out on trays in single layers to ripen - and a week later, still not ripe, I did some research and found an interesting article on Kieffer Pears.


I think that the tree is possibly a Kieffer Pear - not so great for eating raw, but excellent for canning. The pears are usually ripe in October, just as hard as they were back in July, and the trees often grow so tall that most people can't pick all the fruit easily.

However - the pears lack the sort of rusty stipple - but look more like Passe Crassane in the picture here: http://www.frenchgardening.com/tech.html?pid=1139483932219159

An interesting tip I picked up from these articles is that you should not store any of the pears too close to tomatoes or other fruit while you're letting them ripen - the esters will cause the softer fruits to speed up too much and get moldy (I realized this with some tomatoes that were on the table with the pears!).

After about three weeks of ripening indoors - some of the pears turned into little squishy spore bombs, so I decided it was time.  I decided to do a batch of canned pears in light syrup with vanilla and a batch of pickled pears (apple cider vinegar & spices).  I still have 3 trays of pears with blemishes and am going to make some pear chutney - and then maybe I'll try my hand at chow-chow since I have some green tomatoes!

Canned Pears
  • 4 quarts & 1 pint canned pears, plain
  • 8 qts & 3 pints canned pears, with vanilla
  • 1 qt & 9 pints pickled pears

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Goodbye, Garden!

Goodbye, garden!  We just didn't get warm enough and you were not the most disappointing garden - last year was pretty bad.  At least I got a few more tomatoes than last year but I can't believe that even the zucchini weren't even half as productive compared to last year.

Time to dump Kassenhoff and get on the ball with starting my own tomatoes in January since their tomato plants never seem to thrive or produce.

After it's done raining, I'm pulling up the sorrel and useless feral arugula (with teeny leaves) and planting some cauliflower, broccoli, mustard, radishes, daikon and stuff... probably too late to sow seeds directly into the ground with this early rain.