Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Canning Round-up: Tomato Sauce, Zucchini Relish and Bread & Butter Pickles

Nine weeks out from my knee surgery, I am up and about almost back to normal in time for autumn canning season.  Tomatoes, basil, squash, apples, ground cherries, quince, persimmons - I just need to lay my hands on some lemons!

STOCK:  I made my best batch of stock yet, using the bag of veggie scraps I store in the freezer, along with the beet green stems from 3 bunches of white beets, stems from a bunch of radishes, and the seeds & skins of the tomato sauce making.  I even threw in the seeds & stems from a couple jalapenos used in salsa - giving the 2 gallons of stock a bit of zing but it's so rich and flavorful that I am going to use it to make some udon noodles this week. 

My newest favorite trick for making stock:  throw in a 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushrooms.

Tomatoes have suffered the worst of this chilly growing season -- as a result, nobody has tremendous backyard tomato production.  Even local farmers are finding the fruits are coming late and small.  I had been banking on picking 200# of tomatoes at Mariquita's "U-Pick" weekends this fall - the 150# I picked last fall didn't get me through the spring.  However, Julia said that they might not have a U-Pick event this fall (my fingers are still crossed, okay?). 

I bit the bullet and bought two 12# box of Early Girl tomatoes for $29 each.  I made up a big batch of marinara.  My friend Serafine helped me process the first batch of cooked tomatoes - we used the food mill attachment for the Kitchen Aid.  I think she was impressed by how easy it was to make sauce - she had seen cooking shows where they pour hot water on tomatoes to skin them and then cut out the seeds.  That's a PITA, IMO. 

Two weeks later, I bought two more 12# boxes of tomatoes last Thursday.  I spent all day cooking down the sauce - even pulled out 4 quarts of sauce from the first batch out of the freezer.  I ended up with a mere 9 quart jars of sauce, plus about 2 quarts that went into dinner each weekend - that's just under $10/jar to make my own sauce.  I guess I could go to Berkeley Bowl and buy sauce cheaper - but it doesn't taste at all the same.  After spending $120 on tomatoes (which is more than I spent last year for 150# at 50 cents/pound) - I think I am going to hold out and wait for tomato season to perk up so I can do the U-Pick event.

I didn't use all of the tomatoes for sauce - I also used some in a black quinoa tabouli, and made a quart of killer salsa (which goes great with carrot-flax crackers).  I still have a few in the fridge because those Early Girls are good eating!

14 qts tomato sauce
1 qt salsa

Last Thursday I also got 20# of Pippin apples ($11 for 10#) from Mariquita - which I made into applesauce & dried apple rings.   The apples were mostly fairly large, a bright green and super crisp and delicious.  I saved about 8 of them for eating, put about 7# into the dehydrator and turned the rest into applesauce.

12 16 oz jars of applesauce
4 8 oz jars of applesauce

Despite the problems my tomato plants are having in the garden - my squash are doing great.  The cocozelle is still going nuts with three vines that are about a total of 22' in length.  The yellow sunburst squash is more compact and still producing several a week.  The Rond de Nice - which I transplanted to a mini raised bed - has just showed signs that it is going to take off and be the rockstar of autumn.  The fourth zucchini plant that I bought - perished after it was sat upon at my "bon voyage" party on 7/9 - it limped along but transplanting it to another pot just resulted in speeding up the death.

I've been collecting squash all week - the small squash went into zucchini bread & butter pickles, the large squash went into the cuisinart to be shredded for zucchini relish.  I also saved the carrot pulp from the juicer to put into the relish - it made it a really pretty color.

12 8oz jars of zucchini relish
3  4 oz jars of zucchini relish
4 16 oz jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles
2 12 oz jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles
2 8 oz jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles

I'm collecting lots of ground cherries - mostly they are ripe but some are not.  I am experimenting with ways to ripen the green cherries - and have put them cleaned on a tray in the kitchen in the sun.  They might go into a bag soon.

Coming up - a trip to Larissa's house to check on the quince & persimmon trees!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vegan Pizzelle Cookies!

I loved making pizzelle cookies as a kid with my sister & brother - we always had fun mixing up the batter with different extracts like anise, almond, orange or lemon - and dusting the hell out of the cookies with powdered sugar.  We always broke off the edges of the overly large cookies and ate all our mistakes.

As a vegan, it's often challenging to modify some recipes - most pizzelle cookie recipes use equal amounts of fat and sugar, and an amount of flour that is equal to both.  However - no liquid - so it's the melted butter and egg that provide the moisture, making for a very sticky, thick batter.

The other trick is in getting to know your waffle iron - you know the kind with waffle grids on one side and pizzelle cookie grids on the other.  These pieces of equipment can be tricky as the temperature settings are far from precise - mine has "dark" and "light" with a small arrow in the middle and turns almost all the way pas the word on each side!  Always start on the "light" side - and increase the heat if your cookies aren't coming out crispy enough (don't forget - they get crispy after they cool and you can put them back in the hot iron to cook a bit longer so they are crispier).

The right amount of batter & pressure are also important - if you use too much batter, your cookie will separate in the middle when you try to open the cooker.  If you use too little - it'll be very thin and crispy, and perhaps not full size.

  • pizzelle iron
  • silicone brush 
  • wood or bamboo tongs 
  • a disposable bamboo chopstick 
  • 1.5 c flour
  • .5 c canola oil or melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 c smooth, unsweetened applesauce
  • 3.5 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • (optional) 1 tsp anise extract or 1 tsp almond extract
  • (optional) dried Meyer lemon zest, crushed
  • Spectrum vegetable shortening (for the pizzelle iron)
  1. Mix the sugar & fat til blended. 
  2. Add the applesauce and other liquid ingredients.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients.
  4. Preheat your pizzelle iron!  Once it is hot, make ONE pizzelle - if you find the iron is too hot and make a mess - you'll have less to clean up!
  5. Using a silicone spatula - put a tiny (like 1/8 to 1/4) dab of shortening on the plates - use the silicone brush to move it around as it melts.
  6. Measure your batter - use a 1/4 measure or a spoon so you can determine the right quantity and make it consistent.
  7. Press down lightly - don't overdo it - and let the pizzelle cook.  After a minute or two, gently pry up the cooker to check - if the pizzelle is starting to pull away from the cooker, it's ok to use the chopstick to pry it down a bit. 
  8. When the cookie is lightly browned, remove it to a cooking rack with wooden tongs. The pizzelles will be soft when you take them out and crisp up as they cool!  
  9. Lay flat for cookies, or roll them into tubes for cannoli or cones for ice cream before they cool too much.
For cannoli - check out the Millennium Cookbook - there's an insanely caloric recipe in there for filling.

One last tip - don't overclean your cooker!  It needs to be wiped to remove any excess oil, and use the bamboo chopstick to loosen charred bits.  Scrubbing the plates in soapy water  will just make your cookies stick more next time.