Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lord Grey's Peaches

Three quarts of peaches in an earl grey syrup. Sooooo amazing. From a new blog I found that might make all my canning books obsolete. It's called Saving the Season. Love his flavor combinations and clear instructions.

(And you thought I only did jam.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SAFE Salsa Recipe

Okay folks. I led you astray with my salsa recipe. Apparently, there is not enough acid in my recipe to prevent botulism. Thanks to reader joe-il for alerting me to my mistake. Read his comment under my original post.

Note: The original post has already been modified somewhat, altering readers to its unsuitability for canning.

I checked with the Extension folks, and they sent over a new recipe (below). Also, I've been informed that salsa should only be canned in pint jars.

Tomato/Tomato Paste Salsa l

3 quarts sliced tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups onions, chopped (3 medium whole)
6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 long green chilies, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 12-ounce cans tomato paste
2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
2 tablespoons oregano leaves (optional)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Yield: 7 to 9 pints

Jalapeno peppers do not need to be peeled. Peel and prepare chili peppers.* To peel tomatoes, dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split, then dip in cold water to remove skins. Core and chop tomatoes. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims and cap with properly pre-treated lids. Process in a boiling water bath canner. Process time in a boiling water bath canner for hot pack pint jars at the following elevations:

0-1,000 feet 15 minutes

1,001 – 6,000 feet 20 minutes

My sincere apologies. (Sigh.) Not a fun post to write.

On a lighter note, the red pepper above weighs a whopping 14oz.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Salad III

Really more of a mid summer salad than late, as I imagine most people's cucumbers are done for the year. This one came delivered from a very kind neighbor.

Not my personal favorite, but it is another fresh, simple dish. The recipe comes from my husband's family and, inexplicably, the recipe card says 'NOT' to change ingredients. Huh. Well you can guess how I feel about that. The original only called for cucumbers, but it works just fine with tomatoes too.

1 cup mayo (or a lot less!)
1 tbl. vinegar
2 tbl. milk
1 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper

I'm thinking a nice dose of dill would be good in here too. What else?

Local Compost Seminar

SEEDs for De Pere, a part of Main Street De Pere, Inc., a program of the De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce, will host a composting workshop at 10 a.m. on Sat., Sept. 26. Participants should meet at Vanevenhoven De Pere Hardware, 1045 N. Broadway, De Pere.

The workshop will be led by Dave Haupt, a well known area home gardener, and will include a visit to an area composting site. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Rosalie Shier, 336-5870, email

Above is a photo of my own compost bins. I picked up the black bin on the left off a neighbor's curb. Best garbage score ever! This is a stacking style bin with hinged lid that sold for ~$75 when it was on the market. I love it. My husband made me the bins on the right, and after more than 10 years of use (and one move across town), it is starting to fall apart.

Plus, here's my own personal compost problem. Maybe someone can help me solve it:

I left the bottoms open on my homemade compost bin and I think roots from the nearby trees crept their way up into my bins. All I know is that I have two compartments so choked solid that I have to fight like mad to get my shovel in and get anything out. I laid weed barrier under my third bin (the new black one). Meanwhile I'm trying to put off the day when I have to tip the other over, fight it all down, and start over. Think it's really roots? Or maybe seed matter in my compost material?

And by the way, we are a composting neighborhood. Here's a shot of the bin next door:

Someday I'll post of picture of my parents' bins. Now THOSE are something to see. Compost maniacs, I'm telling ya. Whenever Mom and I do the area garden walks together, she wants to know where their 'messy area' is hiding. In other words, where are the compost bins? Unimaginable that any gardener could be without.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

'Cause People Like to Say 'Salsa'

Salsa: 19 pints, 1 quart, plus more in the fridge.
Times I've left the house since making these: About 3.
Times I've remembered to pick up tortilla chips: 0.

With the exception of the bell peppers and some of the onions, all of these ingredients were purchased at the farmer's market. Got a large flat of tomatoes on Wednesday night for just $8. Score. Made all of this and still have some left over. (Tomatoes in the high tunnel are starting to ripen, but not enough for mass salsa production.)

NOTE ADDED SEPT. 24: This recipe is not deemed safe for canning. And salsa should only be canned in pints. Please see this safe salsa recipe. Use this recipe for fresh salsa only.

This is my brother's fresh salsa recipe:

4 tomatoes
5 jalepenos
2 medium onions
1 sweet bell
1 small can tomato sauce
1 tsp garlic
1 tbl. salt
1.5 tbl. white wine vinegar
2 tbl. fresh cilantro

(And that's a Seinfeld reference in the title, for those of you scratchin' your heads.)

Simple Salad II

Another simple, late summer salad. Tomatoes, a little basil chiffonade, and fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with a coarse salt and balsamic vinegar.

And do splurge on the good mozzarella--the kind that comes in the round balls.

(That's another thing I need to learn to make: fresh cheese!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Salad

Meet one of my all time favorite veggie concoctions: avocado, red pepper and tomato.

Chop it all up, sprinkle with coarse salt, and splash on some lime juice. Key lime, if you're feeling foxy.

(Also good with chopped cucumbers.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fruit Fly Season

It's fruit fly season!

That's the time of year when, no matter how hard you try, you can't keep up with all the produce on your kitchen counter.

Despite two batches of jam, I couldn't get through all the pears generously donated by an aunt and uncle. So after watching swarms of little winged buggers hovering over this bowl, I decided to move it outside.

I'll step out the door if I want a piece of fruit. (Provided the critters don't find a way onto my patio table, that is.)

What doesn't get eaten will go to the compost bin, and that's okay. The best thing about a compost bin is that I don't have to feel guilty about wasting produce.

'Bye, bye soggy smelly greens. See yah, slimy pepper. Later...whatever you were molding in the back of my fruit drawer. Have fun with the coffee grounds. We'll meet again in year or so.'

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jamming It All In

Does harvest time ever exhaust you? There's just so very much to do! At this point, I've stopped putting the canning equipment away. I have a small mountain of jars, pectin, and recipe books stacked on my kitchen floor, so that I can get some quick prep work done whenever I have both a free moment and the energy together. Even pre-measuring the sugar for a recipe one afternoon helps keep the task from feeling too daunting the next.

This weekend's total output was rather low, but that's only because I switched to some low sugar recipes -- hence all the opaque jars you see above. Only the last was made with regular commercial pectin. See how the light shines through? That jar is alllll sugar.

From left to right:

Crabapple Jelly. Made traditionally, this would have been a beautiful, pink, jewel-toned jar. I had the sugar all measured and ready to tip in the pan, but at the last moment I couldn't do it. Nine cups it wanted, for seven cups juice! So I made this with Pomona's Pectin instead. One cup of sugar to four cups of juice. The flavor is true to the juice, but it's really a bit too mild for my taste. Next time, I'm thinking a little jalepeno cooked in the juice and then sieved out at the last minute would really add some flavor interest.

Ginger Pear. No pectin at all. 3# pears to one cup sugar. Cook the ginger slices in the fruit and then fish out before jarring. I wish the ginger flavor was stronger. I have a different book that calls for preserved ginger that stays in the jam, but I haven't been able to figure out exactly what that is or where I can buy it. I don't believe it is simply candied ginger, but I'm not sure. I cooked this batch down quite far and only got 2.5 jelly jars for my effort.

Blackberry Crabapple Cardamom. LOVE IT!! This was really going to be a 'throwaway' batch of sorts, to use up my leftover blackberry pulp and crabapple juice, but then I saw a recipe that called for the same combination, only it used apples instead of crabapples. So I figured I was good to go.

I think I overdid it on the cardamom -- used one tablespoon of lightly crushed caradmom seeds. But I like the strong flavor. This is another one where the seeds get cooked in the juice (in a tea bag or cheesecloth) and then fished out before jarring.

I got this idea (although not the exact recipe) from one of my least favorite jam books--one in which the author provides all sorts of not-so-helpful directions like "use the seeds from three cardamom pods." Yeah, and if I just have the seeds....????

This was also made with Pomona's Pectin and a 4:1 juice to sugar ratio.

Pear & Frangelico. Recipe from Well Preserved, one of my favorite jam books. The flavors go so well together, and the Frangelico really stands out. Six and 3/4 jars from this, thanks to all the sugar. I have the energy for grapes and elderberries yet? Or perhaps a better question, do I have enough people on my gift list?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall Planting, Part Deux

More seeds in the ground last night. This was our second fall planting (the first was cabbage and winter onions more than a week ago). My instructions from Bill were to plant "twice as many as I wanted" so we had produce to experiment with. One of the big questions, I believe, is how long we can leave the root vegetables in the ground before they go all soft and squidgy.

Remember, we have lots of insulation around the base of the high tunnel. That and the air protection above ground should help us stretch our harvest season quite far. Harvesting in January or February perhaps?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blackberry Cab Jam

Last night, not one, but TWO people brought me fresh, wild blackberries. I felt like Maria from the Sound of Music, surprised to find such karmic goodness in her life....for somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good.

I had way more than enough for a batch of jam. Happily, I found a Blackberry Cabernet Sauvignon jam recipe in that 175 Best Jams book I told you about earlier. Also happily, I only needed a cup for the recipe, so some of my sainted berry-bearers stuck around to help me drink the rest of the bottle.

That's two favors they did for me in one night. How lucky am I?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Okay, so this is another one of those not-so-pretty pics. But I mean, it's green blobs. What could you expect me to do?

What you're looking at is a healthy batch of pesto from my own home garden. I have very little sun space for growing edibles, but I do make sure to have some basil plants every year.

These "blobs" have been frozen and are waiting to be bagged and tossed back in the freezer for some quick grab-n-heat pesto pasta dinners.

What do you like to do with pesto?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

8 3/4 Inch Fingerling

Do you SEE that potato. That, my friends, is a "fingerling." I don't know about you, but my fingers are no where near that long. Heck, my entire hand isn't than big.

We kind of thought we might be in for a big harvest back in late July when I couldn't resist seeing how the potatoes were doing. That's about when we had "fingerlings."

Anyway, we harvested 30 pounds 2 ounces out of the high tunnel last night -- planted in a 9 ft space. That's on top of the 40 pounds harvested out of a 12-ft outdoor bed, and about 8-ish pounds from another outdoor location.

Comparing high tunnel to outside -- you'd have to declare it a tie. I was disappointed (I REALLY wanted to win) 'cause our potato plants were so prodigiously big and gorgeous. I was positive we'd have the higher yield.

Ah well, it's still all and good on the potato front. Bill says we were expected to get 20 lbs of potatoes for every 1 lb of seed potatoes planted. Well....that was 1 lb of seed potatoes total, across three locations, and very nearly an 80 lb yield.

Not bad. Even if I didn't win.