Monday, June 27, 2011

Harvesting and Salvaging

We are picking green beans every other day, cooking them the third day.  All from the 2/3 of our 4 x 4 plot.  The beans have been marvelous; tender and bursting with green beaniness.  Several of the onions have been sacrificed to the alter of the beans and all to the good.

But the onion flowers have been an amazing surprise in the garden this year.  Perfect, round and white.  With the most incredibly fleshy stem rising up to support them.  Combined with the trellis we added for the cucumber it has made a  very picturesque scene.

My current obsession is the tomatoes.  Green tomatoes.  Fried green tomatoes.  I bought a bag of Hodgson Mill organic Cornmeal just for these tomatoes.  And it makes really good corn tortillas.  And Cornbread.  And Johnnycakes.  It does not make the best polenta because it is so finely ground.  But it's not bad with enough Parmesan and butter.  Wow - I am thinking johnnycakes with maple syrup for breakfast tomorrow!

Big Flashing Red Alert!!  My raspberries are disappearing!!  I had three (3) ripe raspberries this morning and tonight there are none!!!  I think it is the birds......thinking about a cat.

This recipe came from Yankee Cooking and is my favorite.

Serving Size  : 8  

1 cup  Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  sugar
boiling water

Combine first three ingredients. Pour boiling water over mixture very slowly, adding just enough to swell the meal. Let it sit several minutes, then add enough milk so mixture will drop from a spoon. Heat greased pancake griddle or iron skillet and spoon batter onto hot surface. Turn to brown other side. Serve with maple syrup and butter.

NOTES : Some New England cooks make johnnycakes from white or yellow cornmeal, but many prefer a special johnnycake meal that is milled in Rhode Island. In 1906 Charles Kenyon purchased a mill built in 1886 and expanded what had been a local miller's trade into a commercial business. Today the mill still supplies many New England kitchens with johnnycake meal, plus an assortment of other stone-ground flours.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberry, Raspberry, Strawberry or Blackberry

Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast should never be Fiber One.  One day of the weekend should have a proper indulgence and I think I found it.

I found a recipe similar to this in a blog on my Kindle last night.  When I copied it out ( you cannot clip in the blogs) I discovered some areas that could be improved.  I acted on it this morning and this is the improved version. 

The sweet, buttery aroma blended with the freshly ground coffee brewing created one of those moments of comfort that a cold bowl of cereal can't touch.

The wonderful thing about this is that it is all assembled in the food processor.  The only other utensils are the baking pan, a measuring cup, a measuring spoon and a knife.  The buttery sweet dough flavor is optional - there is, after all, 1 1/2 sticks of butter in the cake.  And if your butter is salted then I'd omit the salt.

                           Blueberry Crumb Cake

  2 1/4           cups  flour
  1 1/4           cups  sugar
     3/4           cup  butter -- 1 1/2 sticks
     1/2      teaspoon  salt
  1                cup  sour cream -- or yogurt (I had about 1/4 c of sour cream and filled in the rest with whole milk yogurt)
  1           teaspoon  baking soda
  2                     eggs
  1           teaspoon  baking powder
     1/2      teaspoon  buttery sweet dough flavoring --( King Arthur catalogue, which I love)
  1 1/2           cups  blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9" square pan with cooking spray - flouring lightly.

Process the flour, sugar, butter and salt for 8-12 pulses to create crumbs.  Remove 1 cup of the crumbs and set aside.

Stir the baking soda into the sour cream or yogurt.

Add the eggs, baking powder, buttery flavoring and sour cream or yogurt (with the baking soda) to the processor.  Process 6-8 seconds. No More!

Carefully fold in the berries - there is a blade still in there.  Then turn out into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top.

Bake 45-50 minutes - a knife inserted in the center should come out dry.
  "this cake is assembled in the food processor in a matter of minutes"
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NOTES : Intensely buttery coffeecake with a lovely crumb topping.  This would adapt well to various berries.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Meat and Three Veg

First a plug for Farmers' Markets.

We have a very small farmers' market in the church parking lot at the corner of Oaklandon Road and Fox Road.  It opens early in the spring with bedding plants, meat, cheese and honey.  The people are lovely and their offerings are even more-so.

So a special thanks to:
Brendle Honey
Engleking's Country Beef Shop (and eggs) (and the fabulous bacon pork burgers)
Blue River Natural Foods for cheeses, organic cheeses and eggs
Tuttle Orchard for fruit, vegetables and flowers
Millers Produce for plants, herbs and vegetables

Now back to our regularly scheduled entertainment.

We harvested our first green beans last night.  About 30 pods, each perfection in their beanness.  I would have taken a picture but we ate them.  (With a side of grilled pork chop and butterbeans cooked with bacon and a freshly harvested onion.)

By tomorrow we will have quite a few more but the first ones are always the rarest treat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy Easy Easy fruit jam

I am so late to this game.  Everyone but me knew about this.  For years I struggled to boil, toil and trouble my jam into existence.

Now I know about "Freezer Jam"!!

With my food processor, some sweetening agent, a bottle of easy lemon, fruit of choice and the Miracle of Pectin I have fresh tasting fruit purees thick enough to stay on my english muffin.

It started with a special on a crate of peaches - After sitting on the table for two days I knew something had to be done.  They were a little to firm to eat out of hand and grilling is not a popular option here. 

I was going to make regular peach jam but came across the magic pectin while cruising the grocery on a sugar quest.
strawberry (from my garden)

both jams with the magic ingredient.  These containers
started out full.

the first few peaches I peeled.  But boiling the fruit did not make the peel any easier to remove.  So after that I dipped the fruit in hot water to scald then just chopped it up into the food processor.  This worked out well, the skins adding extra color.

For every 2 cups of fruit I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of pectin. Stir to combine and thicken slightly - kind of like instant pudding - then into containers for the freezer. (I understand that sweetener such as Equal are also effective.)

I have plastic containers from hot and sour soup that I reused for this.  The freezer jars for jam are just too small for this stuff.  This isn't as sweet as cooked jam and retains the taste of fresh fruit.  I made some poundcake, which I covered with fruit.  Bought some plain yogurt, which got layered with fruit.  Ice cream - fruit.  Toast - fruit.  Cereal - fruit.

Sometimes I'm slow but do catch on eventually.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June garden update

Wow - the rain, the heat and the humidity have combined to make the garden grow like it was on steroids.  We have picked 4 quarts of strawberries and it looks like that we may be over the peak.  Lettuce has been plentiful, as have the snap peas.  But the peas are done now.

New to the garden this year was chinese celery (also known as chinese cabbage or chinese broccoli).  We did not like it very much.  But it did very well, grew quickly and produced. 
the center is the missing chinese celery

tomatoes grown from seed with raspberries in the background
But the taste was very bitter, and a little stringy.

The tomatoes from the farmer's market have set fruit, but the seed grown haven't.  The seed grown plants are twice as sturdy and should bear well.

the raspberries ( all 36 of them) are filling out.  I have no idea when they will ripen.

commercially grown tomatoes in the bag of compost