Saturday, August 28, 2010
If you've missed any of the Loving Local Blogathon days, go here and catch up on all the posts you've missed! And please, help support Massachusetts Farmer's Markets. Keep buying local- especially with all the beautiful fall veggies ripening! (apples, anyone?)
The last day of this blogathon will end on a sweet note, and marks the end of the reign of peaches in my kitchen.
Over the past 2 weeks, about 35lbs of local, fresh peaches have passed through my kitchen- not counting the ones purchased at grocery stores. (I really like peaches, can you tell?) The last 5 lbs were eaten plain, eaten after boiling to remove the skins (when I discovered peaches are good at room temp, but amazing warm- I do miss the skins on the boiled and skinned versions, though), sliced and frozen (for pie, or just eating plain- but since they formed a big frozen block, I'm thinking pie) and made into....
That's right, I made pate de fruit. This is a French jelly candy, made with sugar, fruit puree and pectin, that my dad always has to bring us when he goes to France on business (which used to be regularly- lucky!!). Whenever my mom sees this kind of candy, she has to buy it. Trader Joe's even has a pretty good version, but I try not to indulge too often- they sell it in fairly large containers, and I probably shouldn't have that much pure sugar. I'm also not sure about how much real fruit goes into their candies.
I was really excited when I found this recipe. It has 4 ingredients, and yes, it does require a candy thermometer, but I've found other recipes that don't need a thermometer. This is a really easy way to get your own fancy jelly candy, although sometimes, it might be worth spending the $8 for a package of 18 candies. You can decide.
Peach Pate de Fruit,
recipe from Treats, who found it from Tartelette.
380g peach puree
1T lemon juice
400g sugar, divided (100g and 300g)
1 package liquid pectin (in the baking aisle, kind of by the spices and/or jello, I used Certo's liquid pectin in the blue box)
parchment-lined 8x8 baking dish
a tireless arm, as you will stir this constantly from start to finish
Puree the fruit: I boiled for 5 min then dunked in an ice bath to peel the skins, then weighed out 380g (ok, 384g, close enough) after removing skins and pits and pureed that in the blender.
In the saucepan, combine the fruit puree, lemon juice, and 100g sugar. Stir over medium heat, until it begins to boil. Stir constantly. Slight issue here: both Treat's and Tartelette's recipes said to cook until the mixture reaches 113F, but if you think about it.... 113F is just warm water. Jacques Pepin, whom I trust entirely, just says to boil for 10 minutes. So I kind of did that. It got a bit abvet 200F during this time.
Add the remaining 300g sugar and pectin, and stir to combine. Keep stirring and maintain temp at 200F for 4 minutes, adjusting burner heat as needed.
Then turn burner to high and bring up to 223F and maintain that temp for 4 minutes (it gets really goopy and bubbly at this point). I actually only got to about 220F, I couldn't take it anymore, and the heat was set to highhigh as it was. It was ok. After 4 minutes at 223F, pour the gooey mixture into the prepared parchment-lined pan. Let set overnight (I loosely covered the dish), cut into squares or with a cute little cutter, and roll each cut pate de fruit in sugar- they're quite sticky.
Enjoy! Make these and share them, all your friends will be incredibly impressed at your candy-making skillz.
(I do have to admit, however: they don't taste exactly like the French candies, or even the Trader Joe's candies, the texture is a bit off. That being said, the flavor is far beyond the Trader Joe's version, and nearly as good as the French stuff. I declare this is a fine substitution. And as always, making candy is a lot of fun.)
Friday, August 27, 2010
I know, I know, everyone has extra zucchini. But you know what? This is the first year it's happened to me. I don't have a garden (even now that I have a house, the yard isn't big enough for a garden), and I don't know anyone nearby who has a garden. I like to eat zucchini and summer squash plain, just boiled with salt and pepper, so when i have them, I eat them like that every day.
But now that we have our CSA, and it's squash season, we're getting a lot more than I ever used to. I'm finding some good ways to use them (boiled and tossed in some leftover restaurant thai red curry has been the best so far), including making refrigerator pickles.
I don't know why this recipe excited me so much, but it did. The brine looks like my mom's famous bread & butter pickles brine. It uses zucchini and onions, two things we had from the CSA. And I have plenty of jars, and this crazy love of putting food into jars. Did I mention it's easy?
based on Andrea Meyers' recipe
For the veggies:
2lbs squash (I used yellow summer squash, zucchini, and a green striped thing that looked like a ribbed zucchini, all from CSA #8 and 9)
2 small onions, cut in half and sliced (from CSA #9)
1/4 cup pickling salt (...I used kosher, which, as you see here, is a doable substitute for pickling salt)
Slice the squashes and onions (I used my mandoline, it was immensely fun- for the onions, I sliced them in half and then used the mandoline for each half) and toss everything into a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over and toss around to coat (layering some veggie slices with some salt would have probably been better). Cover with a layer of ice cubes and enough water to submerge everything. Leave for 1-2 hours. (This draws the water out of the veggies so that they can take up more pickling brine. Yay hypertonic solutions!)
After 1-2 hours, begin washing the veggies- to get rid of the salt. I did this by taking a small handful of veggies at a time, rinsing it under running water, and transferring to a new bowl, repeating over and over until everything was transferred. Then I repeated this 6 or 7 more times. Starting at repeat 4, I tasted one zucchini slice at the end of each transfer, to see if it still tasted salty. If yes, I washed more, until they didn't taste salty.
This is tedious, but important- you don't want your pickles to taste like a block of salt.
Now, make the brine:
4 cups apple cider vinegar (I had to do 3 cups and 1 cup white vinegar)
2 cups sugar
3t yellow mustard seeds
1/2t ground clove
Combine all the brine ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, and try to avoid getting a vinegar facial, it'll sting your eyes. Take off the burner and let cool til warm to the touch. Then fill the jars.
I took 2 32oz jars (4 16oz jars will work fine), washed them in the dishwasher, and began filling them with the veggies, using a set of tongs. When all the veggies were in, I began to add ladle fulls of the brine into each jar, and then poked around with a butter knife to release any air caught in the veggies. When the jars were full (I had leftover brine, I tossed, but you could certainly cut up more veggies and brine those), I wipe the tops clean of brine/veggies, put the lids and rings on, and popped them in the fridge. The original recipe suggests leaving them one day before eating, I left them for a week (kind of accidentally). They should keep for a long time in the fridge.
(note: in mine, the turmeric didn't stay in solution. In proper cooked pickles, I know turmeric does stay in solution, so I think mine precipitated because of the short cooking time.)
In the background of this last photo, you can see my raspberry jam peeking out from behind the zucchini pickles.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
As you know, it's still MA Farmer's Market week, and the Loving Local Blogathon is still going strong! Go read some other Loving Local bloggers here, and remember to consider a donation to the MA Farmer's Markets!
Clint picked up our CSA share yesterday, so I came home to:
Concord grapes!! That was a surprise. A really fat cucumber, the first of our CSA's tomatoes, more squashes, 2 more garlic heads,
lettuce, parsley, basil, carrots (they're getting huge!), swiss chard and purslane.
Purslane is technically a weed, but all its above-ground bits are edible. I'm going to throw it in a salad for dinner tonight, but I had a bite, and it's kind of interesting, a little sweet, a little herby. Apparently it's also good tossed in at the end of a stir fry. Fortunately, another Loving Local blogger discussed it, that was great timing!
We also got a bag of greens (I think they're salad greens)
and really muddy potatoes (not pictured).
And more flowers! (sorry for the lousy picture)
What have I done with it all? I had some squash for dinner (although honestly, it was last week's squash- there's just so much), and I used an entire head of the garlic to pickle last week's beans (I'll have to share that recipe later, after the beans pickle long enough for me to try them- the bean canning went much better than the tomato sauce). I turned more of the garlic, as well as last week's beets, into a chicken beet curry that turned out better than I expected.
I'm making gazpacho with much of the ingredients (I'm tempted to make basil gazpacho again, just to use the basil- or maybe I should make and freeze some pesto? I need to figure this out), and we'll have plenty of salads and steamed squash. I also hope to turn the squash into some baked goods, either zucchini bread (anyone have a good recipe?) or zucchini brownies.
Chicken and Beet Curry
from Iron Stef, found through Taste Spotting.
1 dried red chile pepper (I used 1 sanaam chili, from Penzey's)
1 T olive oil
1 onion, choped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz. knob of ginger, peeled and cut into slivers (I, um, had no fresh ginger.... so I soaked 2oz of crystallized ginger in warm water, rinsed several times to remove some of the sugar, and julienned. This is actually a nice substitution)
1t charnushka seeds (my addition, also good would be 1t garam masala. I had the charnushka on hand and had never used it)
1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
7 oz. nonfat plain yogurt
2 raw beets (I used 5 little ones)
1T lemon juice
salt to taste (which... I forgot)
Soak the pepper in warm water (and the crystallized ginger, if you go that route), get that started before everything else so it has time to soak. Then chop the onion. In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onion, cook til translucent. Drain the pepper (and ginger) and chop finely (I didn't remove the seeds of the sanaam. With different peppers, you may want to- I'm not up on all the pepper varieties, though). Add the garlic, ginger and pepper to the pot, cook 2-3 minutes, then add the spices and about 1/4-1/2t salt. Cook about 30seconds and add the chicken. Cook the chicken until it's no longer pink, then add the yogurt. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the beets, and grate/shred them using a large holed grater or a shreddy mandoline. Place them in a medium saucepan with 1.25cups water and 1T lemon juice, bring the water to a boil and boil the beets about 10 minutes, until they're soft. Add the beets and the water to the simmering chicken and cook an additional 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced.I served this over plain jasmine rice, which was really good (side note: I successfully made rice without my husband's help! Yay!). The recipe recommended serving with a dollop of yogurt on top, but I was ok without.
The curry: when I first saw the recipe, I thought it seemed really cool. Also, it was pink, which is just awesome. When I got to making it, though, it seemed a little boring, and I was set for a bland meal. However, just the addition of the coriander and charnushka, even adding no salt at all (oops), made this dish much more flavorful than I expected. The beets make it a little sweet, the ginger adds some good flavor, and I actually cooked the chicken very well, not under- or over-done. I think adding garam masala (instead of charnushka) will make this even more flavorful.
One thing I didn't like is that it was so lemony, which seemed out of place with the beets and spices. I'm not sure if the lemon juice serves any purpose other than flavor, but I'm going to reduce or eliminate it next time.
Since I have so, so many beets, I've found some other good recipes for them, I just don't know when I'll make them. I mentioned the stuffed beets, but I also found a caramelized beets recipe that looks easy and tasty- it's kind of like roasting beets in skillet with a little butter. Yum!
I can't wait to tell you about my other cooking adventures from last night! I mentioned the pickled beans (with CSA garlic, dill and beans), but I also made peach candy! And it worked!!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I'm really interested to see what other MA Loving Local Blogathon bloggers get from their CSAs (see the participants' blog posts here and here!). I've heard all sorts of wonderful stories about PA, MI and NH people and what they from their CSAs (apparently MI starts out with more cherries than a family of 5 can handle... which makes me itch with jealousy). Week #10 for us was very mysterious- Julie from MHOF was away, so warned us that we'd get no "what to expect email" last week, so come Monday night, when we usually receive our weekly emails, I was so eager for Wednesday to come, I felt like I did on Christmas Eve, 1988.
two bunches of lettuce, a big, fragrant bunch of basil, some curly parsley, swiss chard, more carrots (much larger this week), big beets,
pole beans, a white pepper, 2 peaches, 2 cucumbers, a zucchini, another of the stripey green squashes, 4 summer squash (one was already boiling away on the stove by the time I got to photographing everything), potatoes (ignore those tomatoes, those are from Blossoming Acres in Southwick, MA),
and some beautiful flowers (not pictured are the cosmos, larger sunflowers and big pointy purply things that I put in a larger arrangement on the mantle, in the room-of-no-natural-light, aka, the living room.)
What did I do with it all? Sadly, nothing exciting- yet.
I cooked down the beet greens and swiss chard (along with last week's chard) and froze them (wash, rough chop, bring water to a boil and boil the greens for 5 min, then drain and cool and freeze).
I ate a cucumber in my salad. I ate the lettuce in salad. I ate 2 of the carrots in... you guessed it, salad.
I've sliced and boiled the squashes, and sprinkled with either S&P, or salt and Penzey's Sunny Spain (yum).
I plan to pickle the beans, but if I don't get to do that, I'll freeze them for some fall/winter fun (speaking of which, does anyone know: should I cook the beans and then freeze, or just freeze raw?).
Beets: I'm accumulating SO many beets, I really need to do something with them! I found this intriguing recipe, which my husband thinks is revolting (my husband, who dislikes both beets and eggs, so I can't really blame him- anything stuffed with mashed potato would be equally foul for me). Stuffed beets. I'm totally trying it, I just don't know when. Fortunately, my beets have lasted very well, because unless I send some down to my mom in CT, I'm the only one eating them. If you have a good beet recipe, please send it my way!
And I have both this week's and last week's peppers hangin' out, waiting.... I don't know how to deal with them. I'm allergic to green bell pepper, but it's a weird allergy- it burns like a ring of fire with raw, and has a very unpleasant tingle with cooked. I can't eat things that touch raw green pepper, but I can eat things that touch cooked green pepper (yay I can have fajita veggies!). I happily eat hot peppers (in small bites), and cooked red bell peppers. But these peppers... I don't know what they are. Are they safe? I have no idea. Maybe my husband can do something with them, and tell us how it went.
So what's next in the MA Farmer's Market Blogathon week? How I really used that squash. And for the first time ever, I'll tell you about our CSA within 24 hours of receiving it!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Not that I have anything against cabbage, exactly, I'm just not such a fan. It's ok, I don't dislike it, but...
So when we started getting cabbage in our CSA, we didn't really know what to do. I made aleecha with our first head of cabbage, which was a fine way to cook the cabbage, but the dish itself wasn't very exciting.
The next week, we gave the cabbage to my mom, who loves cabbage (boiled, plan. Boring, and kind of stinky).
The third week of cabbage, we had to use it. Bird recommended grilling it, so I found this recipe, and guess what! We like cabbage!
one head of cabbage (ours was medium-sized)
1T olive oil
2T lemon juice
salt and pepper
Cut the cabbage into quarters, leaving the core intact. Place on a plate cut side up. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, and pour over the cabbage quarters, letting it soak into the leaf layers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill over indirect heat for 45 minutes.
The cabbage stays mostly firm, but the outer leaves get pretty crispy, and with our charcoal grill, got a really great charcoal flavor/aroma. This was an incredibly easy way to use up a whole head of cabbage.
Monday, August 23, 2010
I've been saying it all month: I love canning. Today I would like to amend that to, I love canning jam. Canning tomato sauce was kind of horrifying.
Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased with the end result (even if it is a little bland, it still has that super-fresh tomato taste). It's just that the process was so long and involved and just plain messy.
Tomato sauce in a nutshell: on Monday night, after a good 40 minute work out and dinner (leftovers), I started the dishwasher with all the jars, and started chopping tomatoes (with Clint's help). I got everything going, it seemed ok. Then I realized...
1. I didn't have enough big pots to process the filled/sealed jars of tomato sauce (important for avoiding botulism. I don't want botulism).
2. Step #5 didn't say "Bring to a boil,", it said "Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until volume is reduced by half, stirring to prevent sticking." Um. I started out with about 32 cups of sauce, do you know how long that will take to reduce by half?!?
So I called my mom for advice. We decided to just turn the burner off and put the lid on, and leave the sauce til the next night. It was going to boil a while anyway (2.5hrs, to be exact), so I shouldn't have to worry about anything weird going on in that pot. I also emailed my cousin (former housemate, who has just about every kitchen gadget/implement known to man) to borrow a giant pot.
And Tuesday night, I started phase 2.
All in all, I think tomato sauce took me about 6-7 hours, and ended with kind of a nerve-wracking giant pot of boiling water and sealed glass jars. I was scared. The worst thing that happened in the whole process was that boiling tomato sauced (from the uncovered pot) splattered all over one of the kitchen rugs, but we'd already decided that rug wouldn't last much longer, anyway. But tomato sauce just took forever. So I really don't blame you if you read this post and decide never to make tomato sauce. I will probably do it again, but then, I'm a little crazy and over-ambitious in the kitchen.
Tomato sauce with basil and garlic
(the two-day version)
notes: Do this on a day when you don't have any other plans. Start it early, not at 9pm. Also, this makes a mess. Wear either old clothes, or red clothes, and I really recommend lining the floor around your stove with newspaper- or else plan to throw out the rug you keep in front of your stove after this is over, which is what I did.
Ball has a really helpful canning tutorial here, I referred to it over and over throughout this process.
20lbs of local tomatoes (I used 18lbs)
2 medium local onions, chopped
8 cloves of local garlic, minced
1T olive oil
1/4cup local basil, chopped
8-10T bottled lemon juice, 1T per jar
8-10 pint jars
1. wash all the tomatoes, cut the blossom end out, and quarter. Set aside (note: 20lbs of tomatoes need about 4 bowls for setting aside).
2. In a huge pot, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil. (When I added the tomatoes, I discovered my giant stock pot was not so giant... I had to split the tomato/onion/garlic mixture into two pots)
Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. After 20 min turn off the burners and let the tomatoes cool a bit, for a few minutes. Puree in batches (7 batches for me) in a blender (or food processor, but I find a blender easier for something so liquidy). Strain to remove skins and seeds (my strainers were either too fine, or way not too fine- I choose the larger one, and ended up with a lot of seeds. Oh well.) Return to your giant pot.
4. here's where I misread: Bring to a boil, and reduce by half. I reduced for 1/2hr the first night, and 2.5-3hrs the second night, although it took a good 30 minutes to start boiling that second night. I still may not have reduced it enough (but come on, it was 11:00, I was sick of the reducing and splattering and fogging up my glasses every time I stirred the pot). So, reduce (over medium-high heat, I did change it a lot if it started boiling a little too vigorously, or wasn't boiling enough) and stir every so often.
After an hour:At the end of reducing:Also, note my set up: beside the tomato sauce reducing pot, we have a giant pot for the jars, a smaller pot for the extra jars, and in the back corner, the small saucepan with the lids.
About 60-90 minutes into the reducing by half step, start prepping your jars. They should have already been cleaned (by hand or dishwasher, in hot soapy water). For this you need an enormous pot (I had to borrow one, thank you Rich!).
I don't have a proper canning pot, the kind that has a nice little rack that lifts all your jars out at once. Fortunately, I do have some jar tongs, from this set (the upper right hand tool). This allows you to lift the jar out of boiling water, either straight up, or while it's on its side. It also includes a wide mouth funnel (very useful!), two other sets of tongs (haven't used them much) and the magnet stick for the lids.
My make-shift canning pot had a perforated tinfoil pie dish, upside down on the bottom (I wasn't sure about placing the jars directly on the bottom, with that hot, hot burner on the other side of the stainless steel pot bottom). I stood all the jars on top of that, filled with enough hot tap water to have a few inches above the jar tops, and turned the burner on. I brought it to a boil, boiled it for a few minutes, then turned the heat to a simmer until I needed the jars. Once I took the jars out, I left the pot as it was, with all the water and the burner still on. I needed it later for processing.
As for the lids: the rings were just washed and set aside, on a clean towel. The lids were placed in a small saucepan and covered with hot water, and simmered on low for about 20 minutes. The lids should not be boiled, because it will damage the gummy part around the edge that's required for a proper seal.
5. Once it's reduced by about half (judging by the sauce being about halfway down the pot from the starting level), do a happy dance, turn off the burner, and commence filling the jars. Start by pouring about 1T lemon juice into each jar, and then pouring in the tomato sauce.
To fill the jars, I lined up all the hot, hot jars on a thick dishtowel on the counter (don't use your pretty new dishtowel, use the old ratty ones) and added the lemon juice. I'd tossed the wide mouth funnel in with the jars while they simmered, and placed that in the first jar. I had a clean bowl (fresh from the dishwasher) with a handle and a pour spout/lip that I dipped into the pot of tomato sauce, and then used to fill each jar, through the funnel. The jars should only be filled to a 1/2 inch below the top, this is necessary for the processing that will come later (I don't know why...). I quickly placed a lid on (using the handy magnet stick in the kit pictured above, so I didn't have to stick my hands in the hot lid-simmering-pot water), and placed the ring on, finger tight. I ended up with 8 full pint jars. However, you should always prepare extra- I prepared 12.
6. The scary part. All the filled and sealed jars now go into the huge pot that the jars were simmered in, standing straight up. This is the processing step. The water must be 1-2 inches above the tops of the jars (since before they were empty jars, I ended up with too much water, just dip a bowl in and take enough water out). Get all the sealed jars in, adjust the water level, put the lid on, and bring to a boil. Boil for 35 minutes, then turn off the burner and let the pot cool. I let it cool for the length of a DVD episode of House (42 min- the one with the mob guy from season 1), and then I took all the jars out with the big jar tongs, and placed them on a thick towel. Don't place them directly on the counter, they need some sort of temperature-absorbing cushion so they don't crack from a temperature difference. Leave them alone for a day (12 hours for me).
7. After 24 hrs, all the lids should be popped down. If any are still up, these haven't sealed properly and should be processed (35 min in boiling water) again (or eaten immediately).
8. Sit down and have a glass of wine- you deserve it after all this work! I don't recommend drinking until after the sauce is done, you need your wits about you for this.
I didn't season this with salt and pepper, because the recipe didn't say to. I don't know if it's better for preserving not to do this, but I plan to season heavily with something when we actually use this sauce. It's good- nice and fresh-tasting, but really boring, despite all that basil. I'd like to make this pizza sauce recipe with my tomato sauce.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
This Loving Local Blogathon week for Farmer's Market week is pretty exciting. I'm a total localvore (although I've been known to buy Chilean grapes sometimes when I really, really, really want some grapes). I started trying to buy mostly local food when I became acquainted with local farmers, and I wanted to support people in my area- mostly for the same reason I'd go to a mom & pop store instead of Walmart. It makes sense to get food from your own area, grown in the same soil you walk on, with the same air you breathe, and the same water that soaks you when you forget your umbrella. Plus, isn't it nice to have a tomato that didn't have to travel for 2 days by truck, and a melon that doesn't have its own carbon footprint? And raspberries that don't go moldy after one day in your fridge?
For all newcomers, my husband and I have lived in MA for a little over a year, and before that we lived on the border of NH and VT, in a rural area full of localvores and local farms. Almost all the produce at our grocery store was local, and they provided info on the farms everything came from. We got pretty spoiled.
Now that we're in Worcester, local food is harder to come by, and the farmer's markets near us are very small (compared to the massive event-of-the-week market we used to visit every Saturday) and held at less convenient times, but we participate in the Many Hands Organic Farm CSA. This is our first time with a CSA, and it's great fun. I'm the main cook in our household, and while I'll eat almost anything (except potatoes and green bell pepper), I've found there are many veggies I've never really thought about. I've had to quickly learn about new veggies, to eat them up before they go bad!
Today I'm excited to tell you about our morning of peach and raspberry picking at Tougas Family Farm, in Northboro. I'd seen the signs on the highway, but I'd never been there. 2 weeks ago, I decided I needed to pick some fresh fruit (at the beginning of my jam-making frenzy), and Tougas Farm came up in a google search.
Tougas is really nice and has a picking conditions page, so if you're obsessed (like me), you can monitor the fruit picking conditions daily until the day you go. I originally planned to pick peaches, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, but we ended up only picking peaches and raspberries (this is good- I could barely handle this load as it was!).
We started with the peaches. It's $28 for up to 5 people to pick a 1/2 bushel of peaches. ($18 for up to 3 people to pick a peck). This works out to about $1.17/lb, compared to the New Jersey peaches that were on special at Shaw's for 79 cents/lb that week, but let me tell you, I would have paid $3/lb for the Tougas peaches. They were The Best peaches I'd ever had. Whether they were fresh from the tree, or stored in my fridge, they were incredibly sweet and flavorful, super juicy, and just smelled like a real peach. I did buy the cheap Shaw's peaches, and I ended up making them into chili-peach jam- they weren't worth eating on their own, and definitely needed extra flavors added into their jam.
We picked Elberta peaches. As we approached the rows of trees, all you could smell was peach. So exciting!
We picked (I did most of the picking, Clint was in charge of holding the box) and picked and picked...
... and ended up with a very full box of beautiful peaches. I think it took us about 20 minutes to fill this box, even including photography time.
Tougas is very helpful, and likes to tell you how to care for your fruit:
(they also have these great info and recipe booklets to take).
Next, we drove over to the main part of the farm, briefly visited the barnyard animals, had a couple cider donuts ($4.75 for 6, go buy them right now), and walked across the street to the raspberry field.
Raspberries were on special, $3.99/lb for 7 lbs or more. We picked 8.7lbs, a flat-full.
There were bees- this was troublesome for me (not allergic, just terrified), but they were indeed more interested in the fruit than in me.
Raspberry picking was more tedious than peach picking, and I think we were at it for about 1.5 hours. It was hot, and I'd worn jeans to protect my legs from the prickers (my arms were very, very scratched by the end- but it was totally worth it!). We were very smart and brought spf 50, but I should have brought a hat as well. Despite being tedious (hence the lack of photos!), raspberry-picking was pretty exciting- there were big bunches of raspberries hiding under leaves, so it was kind of like a treasure hunt.
When we got home, I divvied up the ripe from less ripe peaches, like the sign recommended. We ended up with 59 peaches (plus the one I bruised when I picked it, and therefore ate immediately).
I made peach gazpacho, and we grilled some peaches with a brown sugar-rum-cinnamon glaze to have with dinner (DELISH. I did a warm-peach-happy dance).
I ate 2-3 peaches a day all week, either whole or cut up with some yogurt. I gave away 18 peaches to my parents, turned another 18 into my Great Grandmother's famous jam (oh, success, I'm so excited about that), and I currently have 9 left that I plan to use for peach pate de fruit. I think I'm brave enough for that.
And we did lose 2 peaches to mold. I checked the box every day for ripeness, but I didn't check one of the corners. Fortunately, it was only two of the peaches, and the remaining 9 are in the fridge and should be used within the next 2-3 days.
What about the raspberries?
I used 3.5lbs to make jam. (raspberries, 2.5cups sugar, splash of lemon juice, a package of low-sugar pectin, all boiled together and then jarred. It's good, but a little seedy, maybe I should have strained it at some point.)
I froze 2.5lbs to use this winter, when grocery store raspberries will cost about as much as gold (and be about as tasty).
I kept 1lb in the fridge, spread out in a single layer on a paper towel-lined dish. (Even 7 days after picking them, they were all still in great condition- this is why you should buy local produce. Grocery store raspberries would have been a huge mess of mold by now)
We ate about a pound that afternoon (I'm not kidding, we ate nearly one whole green container).
And I made raspberry cobbler!
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup AP flour
2t baking powder
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup cream (I meant to use fat free 1/2&1/2, but I accidentally pulled out the light cream container instead)
In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients. Add in the butter and pulse til mixture resembles coarse meal. With the food processor running, pour in the cream in a steady stream, stop when it just comes together.
6 cups raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
Toss together, transfer to 8x8 baking dish.
Form biscuit dough into 9 balls, line up on top of berries. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Gazpacho is a Spanish soup (Andalusian, to be exact), and I was surprised to discover that it was not a tomato soup until recently. It was originally a soup of stale bread, water, garlic, and eventually, vinegar. When tomatoes were brought back from the new world, they were incorporated into this soup. These days, gazpacho usually contains tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, cilantro, as well as the traditional ingredients. Fruit gazpachos are also quite delicious (such as the watermelon gazpacho I made over and over and over during the summer of 2001, much to my mother's delight).
I recently came into possession of 20lbs of tomatoes (thanks to my parents) from Hurricane Flats in South Royalton, VT. This farm always sells ridiculous quantities of tomatoes at the end of summer at the Norwich Farmer's Market, and when my parents were there, they got me a big box. I actually had other plans for these tomatoes that I'll tell you about tomorrow (ah, it was such a long and arduous process, that recipe is not for the faint of heart, but I'll tell you about it anyway), but I decided to turn some of them into gazpacho (a much easier tomato recipe).
Then I polished off that batch of gazpacho and made another.
I was excited about this gazpacho. It's from one of my favorite restaurants, Simon Pearce, although I don't recall ever trying their gazpacho. I expected it to be delicious. One note about gazpacho and its many variations: some soups are full of veggies only, some add the traditional stale bread, and some cheat and use tomato juice. SP cheated. It was a good gazpacho, but the tomato juice adds a texture I'd prefer in dishes that are not gazpacho. But it was still tasty.
Did I mention gazpacho is easy? There's just one step.
Simon Pearce's Gazpacho
acquired from their e-newsletter and modified slightly
1 cups ripe diced peaches (originally 2 cups)
1 cups large vine ripened tomatoes diced (originally 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup diced cucumbers
1/4 cup diced red onions
1/4 cup diced sweet peppers (I omitted)
1 jalapeno pepper diced (I omitted)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 bunch chopped cilantro
1/4 bunch chopped parsley
24oz/3 cups of V-8 juice (originally 48oz)
juice of one large lemon
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, puree. Pour into a bowl, serve.
Gazpacho Recipe #2, "Traditional" Gazpacho
adapted from Martha Stewart (my biggest alteration was to sub peach in for the cucumber- I was out of cucumber)
2 cups stale bread, cubed (I used sourdough and left the crusts on- if your bread isn't stale, just toast it lightly)
2 cloves garlic
2lbs tomatoes, diced
2 medium peaches, peeled and diced
1T red wine vinegar
1T olive oil
small handful of basil (my addition)
1. Soak the bread in the cold water (enough water to cover the bread), set aside for 15 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the bread (without pulverizing the bread, though)
2. In a small saucepan, combine the garlic cloves and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Drain the garlic.
3. Combine bread, garlic and the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Puree briefly- chunks of veggies are nice, you don't necessarily want the gazpacho completely smooth.
4. I garnished with homemade croutons. Yum!
Note: apparently not self-respecting Andalusian housewife would ever, ever add basil to her gazpacho. I'd prefer cilantro, but I like basil, and I have lots of CSA basil right now. So that's why I added it. I think I can live with the shame.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Beets, rainbow chard, radishes, lettuce, cabbage,
4 peaches, assorted squash, a cucumber, a mystery pepper, carrots, potatoes, onions,
basil, and beans.
And flowers (but the tall purplish spike things are actually from CSA #8, they kept very well).
What did I do with it all?
I made grilled cabbage, I pickled half of the squashes and some of the onions, I froze the basil to save for tomato basil garlic sauce, I turned the peaches into peach-chili jam, I put the potatoes in the basement for my potato-eating husband to use, and I turned the cucumber and lettuce into a salad.
What's left has some plans: the beans will be pickled with dill, the carrots will be pickled, the radishes will be grilled, the chard will become swiss chard pesto, and the radish greens and beet greens will be cooked down and frozen for some winter greens fun. I'm considering pickling the beets, but since I don't actually like pickled beets, I'm not sure this is the best use for them. I do, however, know a handful of people who love pickled beets. So. My mom also gave me some beets, so I currently have about 4 bunches of beets. (anyone know how long beets will last? I know the greens won't keep well).
I'm sorry about the lack of recipes/photos of recipes in this post. I hope the direct-to-recipe links are satisfactory. But! I have some blog-affecting news:
I have bought a new computer!
I don't have it yet, it's still on its way. But since the last time I tried to upload photos on my current 5.5 year old laptop, it took 40 minutes to upload just 6 photos, I decided I'm waiting to upload, especially since my new Macbook Pro will have its own SD card slot (you know what that means- I'll never be able to find my USB camera cord again...).
Hopefully I can make a smooth transition from old to new laptop, because I also have 33 lbs of fruit to tell you about. But that brings me to another bit of news:
I'm participating in the MA Blogathon for Farmer's Market Week! This will be next week, and I will have a week of blog posts (my goal is one post every day, August 22-28- maybe I can do it?) featuring local ingredients. This will mostly mean produce from our CSA and from the Tougas Farm, and maybe I'll make it over to a Farmer's Market at some point. You can find more information at In Our Grandmother's Kitchens.