As part of my ever increasing domestic aspirations, I did some more canning. Last week, I canned tomatoes. I didn’t have enough from my plants to can and since they’ve been tasting bad, I went to my favorite Berry Patch Farms and got a box of organic tomatoes. Peeling, coring, and seeding the tomatoes was a lot of work, but hopefully they’ll be great this winter. Here are two of the pints:
Last week, my friend Laurel invited me over for a grape jelly party. Her neighbor (also a church friend) has a huge grape vine, and another lady from our church was coming over to teach the art of making grape jelly. We picked tons of grapes (I should have taken a picture!) and made loads of freezer jelly. We had heard of a method of canning grapes with water and sugar to make a not too concentrated grape juice concentrate, and I wanted to try it. So yesterday, I picked more grapes and made the juice! We’ll see how it tastes, but it was at least a fun experiment.
A while back, we had a groupon (50% off deal) for Door to Door Organics. They make weekly deliveries of organic produce to subscribers. The produce is of course not local at all during much of the year, so I waited to redeem mine until a good bit was local. My delivery came yesterday, and I’m excited to use everything! It’s turned out not to be a great cooking week for me, but I’ll see what I can do.
If you’re interested in garden updates from other people, check out the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.
This one shall contain a non-gardening update.
Here are last night’s tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes, although out of focus, are doing great obviously. However, if I could figure out what to do about the crazy splits in my big tomatoes, I would be so happy! We had the same problem last year. I’ve read it’s due to uneven watering, but we have a soaker hose on a timer, so I don’t know how you could possibly water more evenly. Our neighbor said hers are doing the same thing.
Our neighbor dropped off a big green cucumber last week, so I sliced it and one of our big white ones and made refrigerator pickles. It is SO easy! All you do is put the slices in a jar, heat up your solution (mine was sugar, AC vinegar, salt, and celery seed), and pour it in the jar. 24 hours later, you have pickles! (the left jar was with AC vinegar, the right with white)
I believe the first Christmas we were married, my brother gave us a kitchen torch. He and his friends had been using one in the dorm to make smores! We did that a few times, but we haven’t used it too much. I had been wanting to try creme brulee and put the torch to the test, so I finally got around to it. It was a success. A very rich success.
What a victory it is. The first zucchini of the year was wonderful. We’ve now also had the second, and there should be many more to come. You just can’t beat eating the zucchini about 10 minutes after you picked it!
Week. Your birthday week, that is.
I love birthday clubs. Maybe you should too. Here are some of the free things I’ve gotten in the last couple of weeks:
-Free ice cream w/ mix-in at Coldstone Creamery
-Free scoop at Ben & Jerry’s
-Free scoop at Baskin Robbins
-$10 gift coupon to World Market
-Free entree at Kona Grill
-Free bowl at Genghis Grill (closest one to Denver is 4 hours away!)
-20% off coupon at Ten Thousand Villages
-Free chocolate fondue at the Melting Pot
-Free drink at Starbucks
-$10 off of $50 at Godiva.com
I won’t be using the Melting Pot or Godiva ones (or of course Genghis Grill), but hopefully I’ll use the rest of them that I haven’t already. Happy birthday to me! (almost)
I just read this article, and I thought I’d make a post about meat: http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2010/01/going-meatless-whats-your-reason.html
We eat meat. That said, we somewhat “carefully” eat meat. I do often wonder whether I should be allowed to eat meat at all, as I am not currently willing to slaughter it myself…and I don’t even want to cut up a chicken at this point. It seems reasonable that I should be willing to fully prepare most things I want to eat.
Anyway, my family gave up red meat maybe 10 years ago for health reasons, but I’ve generally eaten a lot of chicken and fish (fish production is a whole different issue!). We’ve reduced our chicken/fish consumption over the past couple of years as we’ve realized how good some other things are. Gardening helps us too. Everyone knows that meat not produced on a factory farm is more expensive, but we decided that such meat was the way to go (healthier, no antibiotics that might make me resistant to them, not killing the environment, etc.). So, to offset the increased cost of buying sustainably produced meat, we just eat less. It works well for us, and we stretch the meat further when possible.
I’ve been hearing more and more about “Meatless Mondays” and the massive impact it would make if everyone did it. It seems like a great idea!
Things have been very crazy around our house lately. We are going on a big trip Saturday, so we’ve been trying to plan as much as we can. (more on that later)
As if we had lots of extra time, we decided to make a real garden this year. We would love to increase the amount of local and organically grown food we eat to decrease the amount of miles food is transported to us (read: emissions and resource consumption). Plus, who knows how old it is once it gets to the grocery?
We had just tomatoes two years ago, then tomatoes, a few pepper plants, and several herbs last year, but we’ve added more now! We bought a 4′x8′ raised bed kit at Gardens of Babylon at the Farmers Market. What we bought are two levels of non-chemically treated, locally cut cedar planks and a 1/2 ton of horse compost. Putting the bed together wasn’t too hard, but trying to get it level was very difficult in our sideways sloping yard. One of the levels was bowed, so we had an adventure trying to straighten it.
Once we finally got it together, we had to wait quite a while until it wasn’t so rainy before we could finally plant. But now, ta-da!
We semi-used a method called Square Foot Gardening to encourage ourselves to plant as many things as we could. There are a few empty squares, but they are near plants that might need more than 1 square foot. We planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, yellow squash, butternut squash, zucchini, jalapeño peppers, and lettuce. We’re a little late on the lettuce, but we’ll see how it goes. Here’s a picture of our little herb area. We had to put one tomato plant in there because they get so big. Peta satelit dunia . We’ve set up a water timer and soaker hoses to water while we’re gone, so hopefully all will go well. We’re excited to have some veggies, but it will be a while before they’re ready.
Last Saturday night, we made a paella. We love paella! If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a rice dish from the Valencia region of Spain. I’m not sure how we initially became interested, but I got a paella pan one year for Christmas so we could try. We’ve only done it a few times, as it’s fairly time and labor intensive and can also be expensive, depending on what ingredients you use.
Traditionally, paella is cooked on an outdoor flame. The other times we’ve made it, we did it on the stove, continually rotating it because the burners aren’t big enough for the pan. This time we tried it on our grill, and it was easier and turned out better. The other change this time was that we had real “bomba” short grain rice, which is hard to find here.
The first picture is the one we made this time, Golden Rice with Shrimp and Fresh Tuna. The second picture is another one we made, Scallop, Shrimp, and Seaweed Paella.
Back in the fall, I started wanting to make truffles. I’m not sure why I wanted to, but I never got around to it. Peta satelit dunia A couple of weeks ago, I went to check out a little chocolate shop (shocking, I know) called the Cocoa Tree in Germantown. Before I left, I was thumbing through a book they had for sale. A girl sitting at the only table excitedly said, “That’s my book!” I couldn’t help but buy it after that, thinking it might motivate me to take on my truffle project. It turns out that the girl at the table, Bethany, is the owner of the Cocoa Tree, and she makes fabulous (but pricey) truffles.
Last week, I finally did it. Believe it or not, I had enough quality chocolate sitting around at home to make them, so all I needed was cream. Here are the centers (ganache), waiting to be covered in tempered chocolate.
You’re supposed to make the centers perfectly round spheres, but I made very little effort to do so. I was just concerned with making them “work.” Well, work they did! They may not be the prettiest, but they taste good…very dark and good.