Posts tagged ‘Frozen veggies’

August 25, 2011

Departure of the Closet Dweller (and canning tomatoes)

At last the sad day has come (and gone by now) and our dear closet dweller has moved out of her garret.  Not only that, but she has left the state entirely and moved on to more populace places.  We miss her every night.

And we manically fill the time with projects.  In the past seven days since her leaving, we have re-organized the kitchen, re-arranged the living room, re-categorized our books, moved various pieces of furniture, conquered the long-standing Box Mountain from when we moved here a year ago, and most importantly, canned lots of tomatoes.  I think it’s fair to say that the canning has been a welcome distraction from the odd quietness at the edges of our little apartment.  When three people share a three-room apartment for this long, it takes some adjusting to get used to the space being used by only two.  In addition we’ve been working on our winter’s frozen food supply over the last week:  we now have cilantro, peppers, and parsley put away for the winter as well as the tomato extravaganza, which is mostly what I’m here to talk about.  Well that and a goodbye to the Closet Dweller.

What you need:

Lots of clean bowls and counter-tops
White vinegar
Lots and lots of tomato seconds, or nice tomatoes if you want to spring for them
Clean mason jars
New lids with bands.  Canning lids can seal only once, so make sure they are new.
1 pair of canning tongs
1 wide-mouth funnel.  It really is worth it.
A pot large enough to cover your jars in at least 1-2 inches of water without spilling over and putting out your pilot light. (In fact, a water bath canner is really probably worth it.  It costs about $25 and comes with a rack to hold the jars).

It’s important to stay really clean about everything.  Work with a clean kitchen, wash everything very well before using it, and wash your hands often.

The whole processes goes like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Bring home a huge box of tomato seconds from the farm.

2. Spend a day or two cleaning and chopping and sorting.  Cut off any parts that seem even slightly suspect.

3. Cook the tomatoes for 1-5 hours depending on how many pieces of furniture you are moving at the same time.  You want the volume to reduce somewhat, or a lot.  Cooking the tomatoes for about 3 hours, you get a ration sort of like this: for every two cups of fresh tomatoes, about 1 1/2 cups canned.

4. Wash mason jars, lids, and  bands in hot soapy water.  Set aside for sterilizing.  Also wash your wide mouth funnel and tongs and any other tools you might find yourself using.  If you have hotdog tongs (which we don’t) they are very helpful, wash them too.

5. Fill the canning pot with water and put on high heat to boil.  Once the water is boiling, lower the clean and empty jars, lids, and bands into the water, cover, and boil for 10 minutes.  This is the sterilize them.  You can also boil your funnel, canning tongs, and hotdog tongs.

6. Meanwhile, turn the heat up on your tomatoes so they are close to a boil.

7. After the jars have been sterilized, lift one of them out of the water, pouring out the water from the inside.

8. Use the wide mouth funnel to fill the jar, leaving 1 inch of headroom.  Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar per pint jar to raise the acidity and help preserve it..

9.  Carefully wipe the rim and threads of the jar so there is no tomato outside the jar at all.  Now go back to you pot of boiling water with jars, lids, and bands.  Lift out a lid and carefully place it on top of the jar.  Get a band and screw it on, again, carefully.  You don’t need to tighten too much, but you don’t want it to be loose.

10. Repeat this process until you have as many jars full of tomato as you can fit in your canner at a time.  Using the tongs, lower the jars back into the boiling water, again, making sure that the water covers them by 1-2 inches.

11. Bring the pot back to a boil with all the jars in it.  Boil the jars for 10 minutes, starting after the pot has reached a full boil.

12.  When the ten minutes of boiling are up, lift the jars one by one from the canner, being sure not to tilt them to on their sides.  Set them down and listen carefully for the pops of the lids sealing.  A jar is only safe if the lid pops.

Keep the jars out of light.  Store in the dark emptiness of where your Closet Dweller used to live (or in a cabinet).

Advertisements
August 2, 2011

Turning the Corner

So here we are, the first week of August, and finally, finally, the summer bounty is in.  In the last week or so we finally turned the corner from green garlic back to cured garlic; we picked parsley from our own potted plant; we ate fresh tomatoes from the farm where we have a CSA.  There is fresh, not frozen, corn in our fridge.

  The past few weeks have been something of a blur here with unexpected family commitments taking us out of town three weekends in a row.  It seems like July was  utterly lost to us and before I had realized it, August had come.  And with it, all the summer goodness we waited the winter for.  Today, our veggie list is really something to marvel at:

Eggplant
Tomatoes & cherry tomatoes
Jalapeno peppers
Zucchini
Basil
Red and white onions
Arugula
Amaranth greens
Chard
Beets

It is also nearly a year since we moved to this area: this time last year, living further south, I had already frozen most of the peppers, corn, kale, and zucchini that got us through the winter.  And here we are again, ready to start freezing for next winter.  We’ve already got some pesto and peas.  Next to come is corn, peppers, zucchini, kale, and more.  As always, the year turns around and we face again the seasons and tasks of the year before.  There is something gratifying in turning this corner.  We not only made it through the winter, we’re back to freezing for next year, while enjoying the fruits and veggies of the summer.  We’ve moved from the hopeful looking-forward of green garlic to the real thing, the cured garlic which, when stored well, can last up to eight months.

May 10, 2011

Cilantro Rice Burritos

Starting at the bottom left:

Cilantro rice

  1. Cook 1 cup dried rice in neutral or olive oil until the rice grains start to turn translucent.
  2. Add water and cook rice as you usually would.
  3. When the rice is done, let it sit covered for 20 minutes to steam the rice.
  4. Stir in some salt, the juice of 1 lime, and 1/2 cup well chopped fresh cilantro

Re-fried beans with corn, peppers, & chives

  1. Put about 3/4 cup chopped red and yellow peppers to a frying pan with about 3/4 cup sweet corn.  Since ours is from our frozen veggie stock we cooked these lightly until fully defrosted, then poured the excess liquid off for our homemade veggie stock.
  2. Cook the peppers and corn for about five minutes, than add about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped chives
  3. Turn the heat very low, add the re-fried beans and cook, stirring constantly, until evenly warmed.

Sliced avocado (since we could never have got this kind of thing locally, we’ve made some exceptions)

Cheddar Cheese

Flour tortillas which we did not make ourselves

Salsa

May 10, 2011

Zucchini Bread & Muffins

This is a recipe we’ve had around for years.  Looking back through my cookbook (a book I made  years ago and which charmingly tracks my developing ability to cook from age 15 onward, complete with recipes such as “eggs stuck to toast” and detailed instructions on how to make and use natural indigo dye, which is, of course, not food at all) I’d say I copied this one down in the summer of 2008 when we were working on a farm in Vermont.  I don’t remember what I based the recipe on, but the slightly idiosyncratic increments make me think it has been fiddled with.

The great thing about zucchini bread is this: it is always delicious and you can freeze grated zucchini in the summer when there are those big baseball bat sized zucchinis and then enjoy fresh zucchini bread of muffins all winter long.  Last summer I froze eight packets of grated zucchini, all in 2 cup increments to make the baking easier.  A brief digression about freezing zucchini: it’s really easy, just grate it up into a strainer, save the extra liquid for stock, and pack it into freezer bags.  press out the extra air and lay the bags in the freezer.  If you smooth them out and lay them flat they will become very easy to stack and move around.  However, I did note that two cups of fresh zucchini seem to come down to about 1 cup frozen.  So, if you’re making this recipe with frozen zucchini, make sure you do get two whole cups.

Now, the recipe:

This makes approximately 2 loaves

3 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

2 1/8 cup sugar

3/4 cup melted butter.  Note: if using unsalted butter, also add 1 teaspoon salt.

1/4 cup neutral oil

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

smattering of nutmeg (optional)

1 cup slightly crushed wallnuts (optional of course)

1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Beat the eggs until foamy, then add the sugar, butter, oil, zucchini, and vanilla
  3. Add baking soda, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Again, if using unsalted butter, add a teaspoon of salt here.  Mix well.
  4. Add nuts and chips and again stir until evenly mixed.
  5. Pour the batter into a lightly greased loaf pan or into a lightly greased muffin pan.  Fill to just below the top since they do rise somewhat.
  6. Bake loaves for 40-50 minutes.  Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes, depending on size. 15 on the nose seems to be perfect for mini muffins.
April 5, 2011

Potato Dill Soup: A Photo Memoir

Chop 1 shallot.

 

Finely chop 5-6 small carrots. Ours are mostly yellow carrots-hence the color.

Cut one head of garlic into medium chunks.

Cook the shallot, carrots, and garlic in three tablespoons of butter until the shallots start to soften.

Meanwhile, chop 5-6 medium potatoes into small chunks.

Once the shallots are starting to soften, add the potatoes and stir until everything is coated in butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add 6 cups of veggie stock and a healthy smattering of dried parsley and thyme. Cook until the potatoes are soft.

 

Add 1 cup milk

 

and about three tablespoons fresh dill. We froze fresh dill last fall and it has been a life-saver-just wash, dry, and chop it, then pop the dill in a freezer bag and you are good to go.

 

Now you add the dumplings. We'll post this recipe later, but here's what you do now: make the dumpling/biscuits into balls about an inch in diameter and drop them into the soup so that none are touching. Sprinkle a little more dill on top.

 

Cover your soup pot and put the whole thing in the oven. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

 

You have awesome, delicious, potato dill soup with yummy dumplings. Eat with or without cheese.

March 14, 2011

Winter Soup

Here’s a yummy and filling soup.  It’s a good recipe for this time of year: it uses most any veggie you can get locally, and it has plenty of room for variation.  It’s so nice, after all the work of the summer, to have kale in the soup.  It’s a tasty reminder of why freezing food in the summer is worth.  While spring may be only a week away, it could be May or later before we get much more variety in our veggies and the garlic supply is dwindling.

But, all of that said, I feel optimistic for the next few months.  In the last two weeks we’ve really begun to feel a change.  Certainly the days are noticeably longer now than they were a month ago, and the temperatures are rising to the mid-twenties and thirties, even giving us occasional days in the forties and fifties. But most of all there is the feeling of spring returning.  The hillsides are turning red with buds on trees and there are sap lines out for maple syrup.  Everything feels a little lighter, a little easier than it did in the darkest part of the winter.

And our supply of veggies remains good.  Despite growing some legs, the potatoes are holding up well.  We’ve started buying diced tomatoes but we haven’t yet broken down and bought non-local fresh produce.  It feels good to remember what food belongs to which season.  It marks the calendar, fills out the details of these days.  How good that will feel when the garlic finally runs out is up for debate however.  In the meantime, we still have frozen pesto and a few jars of homemade tomato sauce, as well as corn, peppers, kale, broccoli, and parsley in the freezer.

Now, enough rambling.  A recipe for an easy root-veggie soup:

1 sweet potato

3 leeks

1 onion

1 head of garlic, roughly chopped

4 potatoes

six small carrots

1 bunch of kale (we used frozen kale)

mixed veggie stock

dried parsley and basil

  1. Chop all of the veggies and put everything except the garlic and the kale in a pot with a tablespoon of butter.  Cook lightly for ten-fifteen minutes then add six-eight cups of liquid.
  2. Simmer until the potatoes begin to soften, then add the roughly chopped garlic.
  3. Season with dried parsley and basil.
  4. Finally, about ten minute before serving, add the frozen kale and mix it in.
  5. Eat!  Very good with cheddar slivers on top.

February 2, 2011

Garlic and Parsley Soup, French Bread, and Upstate New York Wisdom

Here in the hinterlands, we got another good foot of snow last night, and it’s begun blowing and flurrying again tonight. We’re cozying up and dosing ourselves with a heady combination of hot toddies, garlic and parsley soup with noodles, and a particularly inspired homemade crusty French bread. Followed by a rousing game of scrabble and some cheerful bluegrass—and okay, for one of our roommates (hint: the one who lives in the actual closet) “bluegrass music” also means some freakin’ Dixie Chicks. If this sounds like a recipe for perfect bliss, friend, it is. We’ve been inspired by the towering success of the bread to begin a weekly series of blog posts, each attempting a different bread from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Below you’ll find the recipe for the spicy, light soup, and some helpful hot toddy hints. Take one into the hot shower with you (it is not weird quoth the closet-dweller) after the cold, snowy walk to the liquor store and you’ll feel you’ve died and gone to heaven.

And now, for an anecdote as the cherry on this Wednesday sundae: We are three fairly liberal gals living in a very conservative enclave. Today this was all turned on its head with a choice comment made by our salt of the earth neighbor, a dispenser of advice on dog-walking, sprained-ankle-healing, snow-shoveling, and truck-moving who is naturally named Bob. One of our gang happened to be tramping into town past Bob’s house, where he was indeed heartily shoveling snow, with a troupe of snow-day-addled and rosy-cheeked children. Bob took one look at our harried compatriot wrangling a small herd of children through the snowdrifts and cheerfully exclaimed, “You need me to give ya the number for Planned Parenthood?” And thus, an ever-so-slightly scandalous joke about birth control made our night. We’ll take what we can get!

Hot Toddy
The classic recipe is a tipple of whiskey (Irish, American (i.e. bourbon) or Scottish (i.e. scotch) a slice of lemon, and the rest of the glass filled with just boiled water. Variations include throwing some tea into the mix, and milk and sugar if the spirit moves you, though dairy and alcohol might just throw you for a nasty loop in quantity.

Parsley and Garlic Soup


1. Cut at least two heads of large garlic.
2. Cook over very low heat with olive oil and black pepper. Stir frequently
3. Add eight cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil.
4. If using water, add at least two vegetable bouillon cubes.
5. Add a teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt.
6. Once the bouillon has dissolved turn the heat down a bit.
7. If you want, add a few handfuls of uncooked pasta. It will cook in the soup.
8. When the pasta is done, turn off the heat and add at least half a bunch of parsley. We used frozen parsley from this fall, but fresh would work just as well.
Serve with delicious bread and parmesan if you want.

 

January 31, 2011

Blue Potato Soup

It’s getting to that time of year: our garlic is half rotted, the potatoes are growing legs, there’s only one onion left in the fridge (where we have learned onions last the longest). So, as we slog through the last week before our next market, we’re using up the last of January’s vegetables.

Tonight we had a potato soup with ditalini pasta (the very small round tubes), mushrooms, frozen kale and fresh croutons. We used a variety of blue potatoes that turn a range of soft purples after cooked-and held their shape better than white or yellow potatoes like Fingerlings, German Butterballs, or Yukon golds. In the High Mowing seed catalog the blue potato that keeps its color is called “All Blue.”

Here’s the recipe:

Peel and chop five mid-sized blue potatoes.
Chop two shallots, three large cloves of garlic, and two mushrooms.
Lightly sauté the vegetables in a tablespoon of butter at the bottom of the soup pot.
Add eight cups of water and a few pinches of tarragon.
Bring to a boil and then turn down, add one cube of vegetarian bouillon.
Seasons with black pepper, rosemary, tarragon, and salt.

Meanwhile, make up the pasta. When the pasta is ready and the potatoes have become soft, turn off the heat and throw in as much kale (fresh or frozen) as you would like. Stir until soft and then serve with croutons (and parmesan cheese, if that’s something you like).

To make the croutons we chopped up the bits of stale bread. Heat olive oil, black pepper, salt, and a hint of garlic powder, in a shallow pan. When you can just feel the warmth when you hold your hand over the pan, add the bread and stir constantly until crispy.

This soup also underscores the value of preparation before a winter of seasonal eating. The bags of kale in our freezer help us extend the stored veggies we rely on (e.g. potatoes, onions, garlic). If you can afford the expense and the time, buy a bit extra at the farmers’ market next summer and freeze it right away. Fresh herbs like parsley and dill (although not basil, which turns black) are simple – just chop coarsely and put into freezer bags. Peppers are just as easy. Blanch kale for 3 minutes before freezing to keep the color and flavor intact. Sweet corn also keeps its flavor well, although you have to boil it then cut the kernels off the cob before freezing it. These are just a few of our favorites. Putting Food By is an excellent resource if you’d like to learn more about stocking up before next winter.

The soup was certainly no midsummer fresh tomato and eggplant delight. Sure, I would love to eat tomatoes year round, would love it if every week I had two bunches of fresh parsley, but this is about eating what we have this time of year. And at this time of year, people should be eating potatoes. Here’s what I come back to: this soup is good enough. It was filling, yummy, and made with what we have.