Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heirloom Tomatoes - U-pick - 50 cents/pound!

Tomato Upick 2009: Mariquita has a great event this Saturday - which, alas, I will not be able to enjoy since I will be otherwise engaged. If you want to get down to Hollister, you can pick tomatoes for 50 cents/pound, bring your own boxes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Apricot Infused Vodka & Sorbet

Today I finally decided to decant the 4 half-gallon jars of vodka, apricot halves and apricot pits. I was able to totally fill both of the original 1.75 ml vodka bottles and ended up with 1/2 gallon jar of puree. I pulled out the Kitchen Aid food mill again - after first using the chinois (aka "Foley Mill" - it looks like a cone with holes and sits on a wire stand over a bowl or pot). I also let the pulp sit in the jelly bag all evening to drain out as much clear infused vodka as I could.

When I got tired of the mess in the kitchen, I put it all away, pulled out some frozen chunks of very ripe honeydew and threw it into the Cuisinart with 2-3 cups of apricot infused puree that wouldn't fit in the half-gallon jar for a really delicious smoothie/sorbet which I also shared with my neighbors.

3.5 L apricot infused vodka
1/2 gallon jar of vodka infused apricot puree
1 qt apricot-honeydew sorbet

Fermented Pickles

My Mariquita mystery box had a sack of cute little pickling cucumbers, all about 2-3" long - and my friend Matthew contributed two larger cucumbers from his box (amazing - I know three people who don't like cucumbers!). Instead of heating up vinegar and salt water and putting a big half gallon jar in the hot water bath - I decided to do a fermented pickle.

  1. Thoroughly clean wide mouth half-gallon jar and vegetables.
  2. Pack little cucumbers, thinly sliced ginger, a few of those serrano peppers from the mystery box, some cumin, mustard and dill seed into the jar.
  3. Cover with salt water (1-2 Tb sea salt per cup of water).
  4. Fill half-pint size jar with salt water, close up tightly with a lid, wash thoroughly and place in mouth of jar to keep veggies submerged.
  5. Check veggies every day to ensure they are submerged - if a whitish mold or scum forms, scrape it off. Add more water or salt water (remember - some back up in your half-pint jar!).
  6. After 2-4 days - check a pickle - use a clean pair of tongs or fork to reach into the jar rather than your hands. Stop fermentation by putting jar in the fridge - resume by leaving on counter (add more salt water and veggies).


1 half-gallon jar of cucumber-serrano-ginger fermented pickles


Sunday, August 23, 2009

A sad tale of two tomato gardens...

My tomatoes are not looking nearly as good as last year - next year, I am definitely mixing in several bags of manure and more fresh dirt. I threw in the towel and ordered a 20# box of San Marzano tomatoes from Mariquita and brought them home on the back of my motorcycle on Thursday night. I think that Andy, who writes a great blog Ladybug Letter, hasn't been exposed much to folks who use motorcycle for anything other than joy riding because he remarked, "You'll sure make an interesting figure in traffic with all that stuff on the motorcycle!"

Sunday, I seeded all the tomatoes and heated them up enough to put them through the Kitchen Aid food mill attachment. I quickly discovered that the skins clog up the food mill attachment quite quickly and ended up putting through the solid matter 3-4 times before I got all of the good stuff out of the skins - resulting in about 1# of skins and seeds going to compost out of 20# total. After simmering down the sauce in two pots (I really do need one big stockpot) - I put up my tomato sauce.

9 - 16 oz jars of San Marzano tomato sauce
9 - 8 oz jars of San Marzano tomato sauce

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vegan/Gluten-free & Soy-Free Mexican Chocolate Cake

After reading up on some vegan flourless chocolate cakes and applesauce cakes, I mostly adapted from this recipe on Karina's Kitchen blog, I have to offer you this persimmon chocolate cake which is vegan, gluten-free & soy-free, low fat and made without refined sugar but which tastes so rich and delicious, and is so easy to make that I made three of them.

Ron's Birthday Cake
Put dry ingredients into your mixing bowl or food processor cup:

3/4 c. sorghum flour
1/4 c. amaranth flour
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup organic sucanat
1 Tb dry Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 Tb Xocolatl cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder)

Mix to blend dry ingredients, then addwet ingredients:

1 c persimmon puree
4 oz. melted dark chocolate
2 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening
1/2 c raw agave nectar
2 tsp champagne vinegar
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp coffee extract - or - 1 Tb instant or finely ground coffee
1 tsp almond extract

Blend until smooth, then pour into prepared
springform pan. Bake in pre-heated 350F oven till firm - about 30 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and altitude. Cool on a wire rack. Chill or eat right away with your fingers and call it a "test," before making another one.

I'll be serving this with a persimmon sauce that I made with 1 c. persimmon, 1 c. water, 1 c. sucanat and cooked down to nearly persimmon butter consistency.