Wednesday, October 3, 2012

so i did this foodie pen pal thing

a friend told me about this cool foodie pen pal program so i signed up. receiving a box of goodies in the mail sure sounded fun so i decided to give it a whirl.

you sign up and then the lovely lindsay of the lean green bean matches you up with someone. i got matched up with a very sweet gal from PA named theresa.

the limit is $15 and you need to have your box in the mail by the 15th of the month. homemade items are encouraged but not required and it's suggested that participants send items local to their state or town or just simply some of their own favorite treats.

here is what i sent to the keystone state.

1. some amish granola from one of my favorite little markets
2. cajun peanuts from akron's oldest and finest - the peanut shoppe!
3. spicy mixed nuts (homemade - i got a 1/4 lb. of unsalted all tree nuts from the peanut shoppe, roasted them at home, and then tossed them with olive oil, salt, brown sugar, cayenne, and fresh rosemary. mmm!)
4. honey from my favorite blueberry pickin' patch
5. homemade ginger simple syrup that i scored from my pal ginnie at the food swap i recently hosted
6. a 4oz jar of my homemade plum ginger jam
7. and 3 buckeyes (we are buckeye state after all) for the three kiddos theresa mentioned in her email

i heard back from her and her email sure sounded like she liked it. i hope so!

The Lean Green Bean

and lucky for me a very sweet gal named rachel got my name and sent a delightful box of her favorite healthy snacks. check it out!

how - HOW - did she know that i LOVE dates? and even better - how did she know that i had just scored a tub of riccota from my favorite cheese man at my local farmers market and would be able to stuff said dates, roll in salt, and bake till warm soft and delightful? she's telepathic! and a genius!

the goodie box also included some sun butter, cinnamon sugar popcorn, sweet potato chips, dried strawberries, oatmeal, assorted teas, and dark chocolate covered almonds (those almonds are killer!).

my friend ginnie also participated and sent one helluva goodie box (that included my homemade peach honey spread).

here is what gin received.

apple butter, mustard pretzels, store-bought dip mix, and some fall themed sprinkles. hmmm.....

she wasn't too excited but i tried to encourage her not to give up! the next time might be incredible! she agreed to give it one more shot.

me? i will definitely be participating again. what fun! and delicious to boot!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

food swap!

a couple of weekends ago i hosted a backyard food swap - the first of what i hope will be many, many, many more swaps.

it was awesome! here is the evidence!

i offered up pickled peppers, two kinds of jam, canned salsa verde, canned tomato soup, and a dozen backyard eggs. i swapped those items for some handmade notecards, homemade candles, bacon wrapped jalapenos, chocolate jam candies, caramel corn, goat cheese, and a really cool pumpkin centerpiece.

there was so much great stuff! besides the things i swapped for there was also wine, homemade root beer, breads, ginger simple syrup, essential oils, fresh herbs and produce, heirloom plants, sweet potato waffles, granola, sauerkraut, goat cheese - even dog treats! verdict - food swaps are freakin' sweet!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

photographic evidence of how i spent my summer

it all started with strawberries and for some reason late may/early june seems like a really long time ago.

these strawbs became a strawberry balsamic jam. YUM! i have several quarts of berries in the freezer still so i'll be doing that flavor again once the garden slows down.

our tomatillo plants are killin' it in the garden. easy peasy tomatillo preservation - roast 'em with some poblanos or jalapenos, a little onion, and some olive oil. then pulse the roasted veggies along with some fresh cilantro in your food processer and freeze in 2-4 cup increments. this will be a great base for winter salsas, chili verdes, and other tasty meals.

this summer i am really into small batch jams.
my usual ratio is about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs. fruit to 1 lb. sugar.

my cheapo big lots paula deen scale needs to go. i mention that i need a fancy new digital kitchen scale at least once a week. i hope bartman is picking up on this. i also drop hints about this too but i think my chances are better with the kitchen scale.

my mother-in-law and i have a booth again this year at our local farmers' market and i love it. love, love, love going every saturday and chatting with customers and fellow vendors and of course spending the majority of our profits. my jams have been selling really well despite the fact that i raised my prices a bit (more fruit and less sugar equals more costs on my end but a superior product is worth it!). i was "crunching some numbers" the other night and i have made well over 300 jars of jam since june. holy cow!

some of the fruits and flavors i've been working on include:

blackberry basil

if you live in northeast ohio you should probably check out vytko farms. great berries. and cheap. and tons of them!

peach and black raspberry.
the peaches in NE ohio are amazing this year. like the best i've ever had. i have probably bought over 50lbs of peaches this summer. jams, cobblers, freezer, snacks. delicious.

peach honey spread. mmm.....

peach jalapeno
notice that little packet? that is a sachet of HEAT! my first round of peach jalapeno wasn't too spicy and some of my customers asked for more heat. for the second round i used 4 jalapenos (2lbs peaches) and i made a little cheesecloth sachet full of jalapeno ribs and seeds. this one is WAY spicier. whew!

pepper jam
our pepper plants are LOADED. i can't even remotely keep up. i've pickled tons. made stuffed peppers. frozen some. jammed some. and we have more. lots, lots more.

raspberries were great this year - especially black raspberries. i picked a ton. i did several different jams and i also froze quite a bit.

roasted tomatoes. or the lazy woman's process for canning tomatoes.

core and cut tomatoes. add them to a roasting pan with some olive oil. if you're feeling like doing additional work add onions, garlic, and fresh herbs. roast it for a couple of hours, put it through the food mill, and voila! roasted tomato base. i've canned several quarts and this winter it will be the base for soups, stews, chilis, sauces, etc., etc.

i've also done a couple batches of tomato jam. i had great success with these little yellow bell cherry tomatoes. i turned them into a tomato & ginger jam which was really tasty.

and here is my spicy red tomato jam.

i ordered 20 lbs of pitted sour cherries.

i've made cobblers and sauces and i froze a bunch. i also made cherry jelly from the juice and my favorite thing - sour cherry and mint preserves. mmm. so good.

i still have loads of berries in the freezer so i'll be making jam well into winter. right now i am pretty consumed with peppers - pickling, freezing, and otherwise preserving what has been a serious bumper crop. i messed around with some pickling brines and think i have just about perfected my sweet/hot pepper brine. we did 7 quarts last night and i'll be heading home to several more quarts worth after work.

I also have the ass end of the tomatoes to deal with and i'm hoping to can some crushed romas this week.

basically my life revolves around food preservation and even though i've slowed down a bit i'm sure i'll be canning 4-5 nights a week for at least the next 3 weeks. i'll admit i'm exhausted but this winter when i make chili from my own tomatoes and peppers or crack open a jar of pickles and a cold beer it will all be worth it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

busy, busy, busy bee

i haven't posted in FOREVER! i think i am probably beyond erratic and can now be classified as mostly negligent.
anyways, pretty much all i do is gather vegetables and fruits and herbs from the garden and the farmers' market and then stand over my dutch oven and canning pot and food saver. seriously.
on a high note - we're totally kicking ass at the farmers' market with our produce, hypertufas, and homemade jams and jellies. and my no pectin, small batch black raspberry won a blue ribbon at the local county fair! bitchin'!

and this picture is pretty so check it out too.

maybe one of these days i'll get around to posting about something worth reading. we'll see.

Friday, April 6, 2012

cascarones! una parte!

when i was a kid my aunt lived in texas and when she came home at easter she brought cascarones with her. i remember our family having so much fun chasing each other around the yard trying to smash confetti eggs on each others' heads. good times.

i decided i wanted to make some this year.

i got my coloring water ready (food coloring + white vinegar + boiling water) and i started cleaning out my eggs.

i did a dozen white eggs from the grocery store and six from our own birds. the size difference was crazy. jumbo white store eggs are indeed jumbo. egads!

i cleaned them out, colored them, and then put them on a rack to dry. it takes at least 24 hours for them to dry out and i'll be stuffing them with confetti on saturday with some friends.

after the shells were ready to go i realized i had a lot of raw egg to deal with so i decided to make a frittata.

i used what i had on hand - leeks and asparagus.

i sauteed the leeks and asparagus in some butter.

while those were cooking i whisked my eggs with a little half and half, some s&p, and a little fresh, grated parmesan cheese. then i poured it into the skillet.

i kept this over medium-low heat until it was juuuuuust starting to set up. then i sprinkled a little more parmesan on top and put it under the broiler until it puffed up and the cheese turned golden. just about 3-4 minutes.



Friday, November 4, 2011

lord, i was born a ramblin' (wo)man....

per usual i am being quite erratic with my postings. c'est la vie.
life is for livin' not bloggin'!

in any case, here are some of the things i've been eating and cooking and doing since we last saw each other.

i made grape jam for the first time a few months ago and boy is it delicious!

first we picked a buncha grapes.

then i slipped 'em outta their skins and pureed the skins with a little sugar. then it all went into a pot with some sugar and it cooked for a long, long time.

then i put the jam through the food mill to get rid of all those pesky seeds.

then into the jars for processing so i can eat it all winter long!

oh, and i made some grape juice too. soooooooooooooooooo good!!

and while the tomatoes were still kickin' i roasted, pureed and froze a bunch. now i can take those little containers outta the freezer, defrost 'em, add some stock and voila! roasted tomato soup and sauces! mmm!

here they are right outta the oven. killer! roasted with a little olive oil and salt in a 400 degree oven for like an hour. these were some san marzanos i snagged at the farmers market. i am going to plant like 70 of these suckers next season!

into the food processor. i just pulsed them a bit. you still want to have some chunks.

off to the freezer with these little gems!

oh! i made some chicken tikka masala the other night.
man oh man was it tasty.

check out this MONSTER chicken breast!

we've had meat birds all summer and we could've butchered them back in august but they like pecking around the yard and hanging with the other birds and i don't really like butchering so we've let them live. until recently that is.

this breast weighed 2lbs! fucking crazy!

i marinated the chicken in a really yummy yogurt marinade for about an hour. then i skewered the chunks and broiled them for about 4-5 minutes per side. mmm!


and even more yum - all finished with a side of naan and coriander chutney.

we picked up a rooster at the county fair and named him sue. and then he had his way with every hen in the coop and we hatched our very first chicks!

let me introduce you (from back to front) to mortimer, billy valentine and randolph. three cheers for anyone who can name our movie inspiration behind those names!

we went to NYC on halloween to see one of the very best bands in the land. we were in the city for 29 hours and managed to stuff our faces with some really good grub.

case in point - park italian gourmet.

that sandwich was hands down the best italian sub this gal has ever consumed. the bread - oh the bread! - it was marvelous. and it was loaded down with prosciutto, capicola and real mozzarella. a little tomato and lettuce and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. i could've eaten ten of those things! we also got a side of calamari salad that was just tops. and they gave us extra bread to dunk in the oily dressing on the salad.

park italian gourmet KICKED TOTAL ASS and if you ever find yourself in midtown you should stop there.

we also snacked on a delicious belgian waffle with nutella and walnuts from a cart in central park and of course we got pizza.

oh NYC pizza you are truly the best in the land. my love for you is a fiery passion and if i was closer to you i would gobble you up every single damn day. i love you NYC pizza. and i would carry your child if you'd let me.

over and out!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

can all you can continues....


(the can of bug spray is a necessity back at the garden. egads!
the mosquitoes are terrible!)

first on the agenda was something new - tomato paste. i've never made it before but i do love it. sometimes when i'm cooking with tomato paste and i only need a blop or two i finish off the rest of the can with a spoon. mmmm!

anyways, tomato paste. it's a lot of work and a lot of time but it's also a lot of delicious!

first up - wash, core and chop the tomatoes.

next up, cook the chopped 'maters in a little olive oil until tender and bubbly.

then put your cooked tomatoes through the finest plate of your food mill and spread it all out on a big baking sheet.

this baked in a 300 degree oven for like 5 hours or something. i'd fold it and spread it around with a rubber spatula every 30 minutes or so. then once all the water had evaporated and it was a deep red color it was ready to go.

look at that paste! beautiful and very, very tasty!

next up - crushed tomatoes. i use tons of crushed tomatoes - soups, sauces, indian dishes. mmm....palak paneer.....

anyways, these tomatoes gave me 6 pints of crushed which will go to good use.

and for fun - some ground cherry chutney. i am thinking this will be delicious with a pork loin. when all was said and done i had 8 or 9 four ounce jelly jars of chutney. mmm!

and one of my very favorite summer staples - pickled peppers! i just hot packed these hot blocks with a vinegar/water/salt brine and some garlic and dill from the garden. mmm!