Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Everyday with Rachael Ray Recipe Widget

Couldn't get it to fit in my sidebar for some reason, so thought I'd post it...

Enchilada Bake

Last night we had an enchilada bake for dinner. Kevin's sister, Julie, made this for us as a freezer meal after Carson was born. It was very good and I got the recipe from her. This was the first time I've made it myself and it was super easy to do. Kevin and I both love mexican food, but its not the most healthy of cuisines so I try to limit the frequency that we have it. I tried to use lighter or somewhat healthier versions of the ingredients called for in this recipe, but I know its still not the most healthy of recipes. Its a nice treat every so often, though. I made a little extra filling so that I could make an extra 8x8 dish for the freezer to have one night in a few months.

Enchilada Bake

1lb. ground beef (I used half extra lean ground turkey and half lean grass-fed hormone-free ground beef)
1 onion (I used a small one)
2 cups of salsa
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (I used a jar of organic black beans) (I also added a can of organic fat free refried black beans for a little extra protein and fiber)
¼ cup Kraft zesty Italian dressing (I used fat free)
1 packet taco seasoning (I use the 40% less sodium stuff)
6 8-inch flour tortillas (I used whole wheat)
1 cup of sour cream (I used light)
shredded cheddar cheese (I used about 1/2 cup of a 2% blend)

Line a 9x13 pan with foil. Brown meat with seasoning and onion. Add salsa, beans, dressing, and mix. Arrange single layer of tortillas on bottom of dish, cover with half of the meat mixture, then half of the sour cream. Repeat layers. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake additional 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crockpot Cheeseburger Soup

Today I made some crockpot cheeseburger soup from A Year of Crockpotting. I had some Velveeta cheese that I needed to use up, so I decided to try this out. I added a lot more veggies - carrots, celery, broccoli and green beans - in addition to the potatoes, onions, and bell pepper that the recipe calls for. It was an ok soup. I expected it to be better. Maybe I shouldn't have used the lighter version of the cheese - it didn't melt very well at all. But it still wasn't the best soup. Don't think I'll make it again.

Crockpot Cheeseburger Soup

4 cups chicken broth (I used organic free-range broth that I had in my pantry)
1 T dried onion (I used one small white onion, chopped)
1/2 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained on the stove top (I used about 3/4 pound of meat made up of half extra lean ground turkey and half extra lean ground beef)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used green)
1 cup milk
12 oz Velveeta, cubed (I used the ligher version made with 2% milk)
2 potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes (I used four small white potatoes)
2 small garlic cloves, minced
Tabasco sauce, optional (I left this out)
crumbled bacon, optional (I left this out)

Brown the meat on the stove top, and drain fat. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a 4 quart or larger crockpot (I used my 6-quart), add the chicken broth and milk. Stir in the onion flakes and minced garlic. Cut up the bell pepper and potatoes, and add. Add any additional veggies. Cut up the Velveeta and add. Stir in the browned meat.

Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, or until everything is good and melty.

Garnish with Tabasco sauce and crumbled bacon if desired.

Market Recap & Meal Plans

Kevin, Carson and I made a trip to the Swartz Creek farmer's market this afternoon. I picked up two quarts white potatoes, one bunch carrots, one bunch celery, a half-peck of green beans, four ears corn, and one large burgundy hardy mum plant (to plant in one of the flower beds). Only two more weeks left of the Creek market. I'm going to miss it! I never did get any okra last week, so I'll need to get some later on this week. I think I might also pick up a bushel of tomatoes to do up more sauce and chopped tomatoes. We use tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes so much throughout the year, so I feel like I almost can't have too much of that stuff.

As you can see in the posts below, I canned some chicken stock and applesauce this weekend. I did up a second small batch of applesauce this afternoon. I made this batch very fine/smooth, so Carson will be able to eat it now. I also blanched and froze some sweet potatoes into pre-cut fries and some fresh Michigan broccoli that I picked up at Horrocks last Thursday. I didn't get the tomato sauce canned this weekend. I think I'll put the frozen tomatoes in the fridge tonight so they're somewhat thawed by the time I get home tomorrow night. I'm hoping to prep the sauce tomorrow night and then can it on Tuesday evening. That will free up a ton of space in my freezers! We'll see what the remainder of the week brings with any preservation activities.

This is what I'm thinking for meals this week:

Sunday ~ crockpot cheeseburger soup and crusty bread
Monday ~ enchilada bake
Tuesday ~ some sort of pasta dish with chicken and veggies
Wednesday ~ crockpot coq au vin
Thursday ~ probably eating at my parents' since my Mom is watching Carson
Friday ~ TBD... depends on whether I'm in West Michigan or not
Saturday ~ TBD... possibly going to the Flushing Harvest Festival

Saturday, September 27, 2008


This afternoon, I canned a small batch of applesauce. I only used up about half of the apples I bought at Spicer's last weekend, so I think I'll probably do another batch of applesauce tomorrow. I couldn't believe how easy this was! It didn't even take an hour from start to finish - so nice! I'm excited to try this. I think we'll keep the half-pint out for us to try sometime this week so that I can make any modifications when I get more apples and do more sauce. For this recipe, I did smooth applesauce using the largest blade on my food mill. Tomorrow's batch I'll also do smooth, but I'm going to use the finest cut blade on the food mill, which I figure will end up pretty much like baby food so that Carson can eat my homemade applesauce.

(Page 182 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

12 pounds apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and treated to prevent browning
3 cups granulated sugar, optional (I left this out)
4 Tablespoons lemon juice

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine the apples and just enough water to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender (mine took about 10 minutes, but my apple peeler slices the apples pretty thin). Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Run the apples through a food mill or food processor.

Return to the saucepan. Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Maintain a gentle boil while filling the jars.

Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, place lid and ring, and tighten to fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (for both pints and quarts). Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, and store.

Yields about eight pints or four quarts (though if you omit the sugar, your yield will be reduced)

Chicken Stock

On Thursday this week, I made a roasted chicken in the crockpot for dinner. After we'd eaten, I removed all the meat from the bones, pulled the foil from the crockpot, leaving the juices in the bottom. Then I threw in all the bones, the wings since we never eat them, and the innards (all but the liver) that I'd removed before cooking and put in the refrigerator. I then chopped up about four stalks of celery, three medium sized carrots, and two small onions to throw into the mix. Also a bay leaf. Then I just filled the crock up with water to about an inch from the top and put it in the fridge overnight. (By the way, I used a six-quart oval crock) On Friday morning, I put the crock in the pot on low and let it simmer all day. When I got home from work Friday night, I had a great stock in the crockpot. I then strained it to remove all the chicken, bones and veggies and put it in the fridge again overnight. This way I could skim the fat this morning very easily. Then I dumped it in a sauce pot on the stove and brought it up to a slow boil while I prepared my canning supplies. I pressure canned it at 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes (for pints - it'd be 25 minutes for quarts).

I almost always make stock after doing the crockpot chicken, but have always frozen it. Considering my freezers are stuffed, I figured I'd can it since I have the ability to do so now. I love having my own stock on hand for cooking. And having it canned saves the time of thawing the stock, which will be nice.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Farm to School

I've been following the recent farm-to-school bills that have been circulating in the State legislature. Since having Carson, I've become more aware of the food being served in our schools. It is enraging and disgusting to read about... to think about the garbage our schools are feeding our kids (not that Carson is in school yet, but he will be all too soon!). Anyway, the farm-to-school bills passed the House, now they'll move to the Senate. Being that the House and Senate rarely seem to agree on the same things (a democrat-controlled House and a republican-controlled Senate), we'll see where they go from here. I hope the Senate approves them and have emailed my Senator expressing my support and urging their support and fast action on the matter. If you'd like to do the same, or read a little more info, check out this blog from the Michigan Land Use Institute.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Preservation, Market Recap and Meal Plans

Considering how busy we were this weekend, it was a rather productive weekend for me in the kitchen. On Saturday, we took a trip to an orchard south of Fenton for a few hours with some of Kevin's family. I picked up some apples - a peck of Jonagolds and a half-peck of Galas. I'm going to make some applesauce from them and maybe some apple pie filling later this week. I was able to can the peaches I bought last week and can a batch of raspberry jam. I froze some more tomatoes from the garden (didn't have one ingredient for sauce, so had to put it off again). As well as blanched and froze a huge batch of green beans. I also made up a batch of parsley-pistachio pesto and froze it in cubes. I also picked up two quarts of strawberries from the Swartz Creek farmer's market this afternoon which I'll be hulling and freezing, I think... or maybe make a half-batch of strawberry jam, we'll see how I feel this week.

As far as meals this week, this is what I'm thinking...

Sunday ~ homemade vegetable soup
Monday ~ grilled chicken with steamed veggies (and creamed corn for Kevin) leftover homemade vegetable soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
Tuesday ~ crockpot roasted chicken with steamed veggies grilled burgers from the freezer with steamed broccoli
Wednesday ~ will likely eat at my parents' house
Thursday ~ enchilada bake crockpot roasted chicken with steamed veggies
Friday ~ homemade chili from the freezer TBD... will save the chili for when its cooler outside
Saturday ~ TBD... maybe homemade pizza or maybe tacos

Its going to be a busy week, so I probably won't get too much done in terms of preservation. I definitely will be freezing the strawberries (or making jam), blanching and freezing okra (which I'll pick up on my way home on Wednesday at the farm stand down the road), and chopping and freezing bell peppers and jalapenos from our garden. Maybe do another batch of parsley-pistachio pesto to freeze. The only canning I'll probably do is the applesauce and maybe another batch of pasta sauce unless I decide to do a small batch of strawberry jam, too.

Raspberry Jam

This morning I got up early and canned a batch of raspberry jam. I picked up a few quarts of fall red raspberries at the Davison farmer's market a few weeks back and had crushed them and froze them. This morning I thawed them out, added some sugar, brought to a boil and canned them into jam. So easy and about an hour from start to finish... not bad at all. I'm so excited to have this jam on hand. I love raspberry jam. I'm not sure if raspberry or strawberry would be my favorite, they're probably tied. I'm sure I'll be making these jams year after year since they're just so easy and they'll be a big money saver, not having to buy commercial jams/preserves anymore. I ended up with one pint and seven half-pints of this jam, so combined with my strawberry jam, I think we're set for the year. (Although I actually wouldn't mind making up another batch of strawberry jam sometime.)

Raspberry Jam With No Added Pectin
(Page 23 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

9 cups crushed berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, dewberries, gooseberries, loganberries, youngberries, or a combination of these)
6 cups granulated sugar

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine the berries and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and test gel. If gel stage has been reached, skim off foam. (You can test the gel stage with a spoon, but the easiest way is to just boil the berries to reach 220 degrees, which ensures a gel stage once it cools - and it worked, too)

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace. Wipe rim, center lid, screw band on to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Canned Peaches

This past Thursday there was a big one-day-only farmer's market at the State Capitol. All Michigan vendors, all Michigan-grown produce, and all growers (no dealers!!). It was a great market. I actually was able to still find peaches there! I was so excited. They're Harmony peaches and they were huge! I bought one and a half pecks and canned most of them this evening. There were five of them that were still not quite ripe enough yet that I'm hoping to use to do up some baby food for Carson. Reading the instructions on canning peaches didn't seem like so much work, but it took much longer than I expected it to. And the peeling process was driving me nuts... for some reason, I was having a difficult time getting the peaches to peel after dipping them in boiling water. So I resorted to the old-fashioned method of cutting the peels off. Then I hot-packed the peaches, but they still floated up and have left a lot of room in the bottoms of the jars after processing. That bothers me, but there's nothing I can do about it now. Anyway, I think I decided that I probably won't do any canning with peaches for a long time... probably not until I have my own peach tree(s), thus making it more economical. With the price of peaches plus all the labor and frustration, it just wasn't worth it to me. I sure hope they taste good now! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Very Good Taste

Just for fun and b/c I have a little time to kill right now...

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. (Google all the items you’ve never heard of)
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (only if hooves count (in gelatin))
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crockpot Sausage & Veggie Medley

Tonight I made a crockpot recipe. I haven't used the crockpot much lately and I've missed it! The crockpot makes having a good dinner so easy, especially during the week. But I have to try out the crockpot recipes that aren't supposed to cook for extended periods of time (like 12 hours) on the weekends. So tonight I decided to try this one and use up a bunch of stuff I had in the freezer. I got this recipe from A Year of Crockpotting. Its a pretty easy recipe, just throw together whatever veggies you have on hand with some sausage and let it cook. I used all frozen veggies, but I bet it'd be better with fresh veggies. And I used Jennie-O Italian Turkey Sausages - I think it'd probably be better with more of a turkey polish sausage or something along those lines. I'm not too crazy about sausage, but Kevin likes it. I liked the veggies, Kevin liked the sausage. I'll make it again, but will use a different type of sausage to see if I like it better.

Anyway, here's the original recipe with my comments in parentheses.

Crockpot Sausage and Veggie Medley

5-6 chicken or turkey sausage links
1/2 package of mushrooms
potatoes 1-2 medium brown ones or equivalent (I didn't have any potatoes, so I left these out)
few stalks of celery
some baby carrots (left these out since I didn't have any)
some brocolli
some cauliflower (left this out)
the amount of veggies really doesn't matter - it's completely up to you. If you have onion and bell pepper, use them. Sweet potato, eggplant, zuchinni, whatever; it's all good
2 cups chicken broth
handful of spinach (I used frozen and it was fine)
(I ended up with a combo of broccoli, onions, celery, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach)

Cut all veggies into 2-inch chunks (mine were smaller than this b/c I used what I'd frozen from the garden or farmer's markets). Layer into crockpot, most to least dense. Add sliced sausage. Add broth and wine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Right before serving, add a handful of fresh spinach and cover for 10 minutes to wilt leaves (I just added frozen when I was throwing everything together).

Recap and Menu Plans

Well I didn't end up doing any preservation this weekend. Things came up with the family yesterday (when I was going to make a batch of pasta sauce) so I didn't get anything done in the kitchen that I'd planned to. I'm going to have to try to find room in one of our freezers to put the tomatoes that were ripe when I got home last week so that they don't go bad. Then maybe on Friday while I'm home or on Saturday when Kevin is back I can do a batch of sauce.

I went to the Davison farmer's market on Friday on my lunch hour (I was working in Davison that day). Peaches are pretty much done. No one had them by the bushel anymore. Still two vendors that had them by the quart, but that just gets too expensive to buy them that way and its not cost effective considering the price you can get a can of peaches for on sale at Meijer. I'm going to stop at the farm stand down the street by my parents' house on my way home this week to see if they still have them, but I doubt it. I'll have to wait till next year, I think. Oh well.

Kevin is going to be in Tennessee and Virginia this week for work. I think we have to drop him at the airport in the morning at like 5:00am and he doesn't come home till around 7:00pm on Friday night. So I probably won't attempt to do any canning during the week at all. Friday I'm home, so we'll see what I get done then, plus the weekend... though we are already having it fill up with things to do.

I'll be on my own all week for meals, so I'll just be piecing things together most likely. Today we're having a sausage and veggie mixture in the crockpot (I'll post the recipe and pic later when its done). I'll probably take leftovers for my lunch a couple of days this week and maybe eat it for dinner a couple of times, too. Wednesday my mom is watching Carson, so I'll eat over there. And next weekend we'll have something that creates lots of leftovers for lunches during the week again... not sure what yet.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekend Recap, Preservation and Menu Plans

This past weekend was a busy, yet productive one. We did drive by the Swartz Creek farmers market to see if the garlic lady was there, but she wasn't, so we didn't even get out. I think I'm going to have to call her to get some more garlic. Since I'll be in Texas till midnight on Wednesday night, I didn't want things going bad on me while I'm gone.

In addition to all the normal weekend cleaning and packing for my trip, I had a productive weekend of preserving summer's bounty. I canned a batch of pizza sauce, a batch of chopped tomatoes, made three huge batches of pesto and froze in cubes (two basil plants down finally, one to go!), blanched and froze a batch of green beans from our garden, and grated/sliced and froze four huge zucchinis and two medium-sized zucchinis (and I gave away two huge ones to my aunt and my mom). I'm beginning to understand why people allegedly leave zucchinis on neighbor's doorsteps, knock and run. I feel like they're never-ending right now. I have another eight zucchinis growing on my plants right now, and there are another four female flowers that will grow zucchinis. I guess this is what you call a bumper crop. I'm debating on whether I should try a zucchini relish, but I have no idea what to expect it to taste like.

In terms of meals this week, Kevin will be on his own, eating leftover grilled chicken and steamed veggies, pesto pasta, and food from the freezer. On Thursday, we'll probably just have something really easy, like grilled cheese sandwiches or something. Friday my Mom is watching Carson, so we'll have dinner with them. Saturday and Sunday are undecided still, as usual I'll make something that creates a lot of leftovers for lunches during the week.

I'm expecting to return home to lots of ripe tomatoes on my plants, so I'll probably can another batch of pasta sauce over the weekend. If I'm able to find peaches at the Davison farmers market on Friday, then I will also can some peaches. If the cool nights haven't damaged my last basil plant, then I will also make more pesto - though I really don't know if we even need anymore basil-pine nut pesto. I think I may also make some parsley-pistachio pesto, too, I think that would be excellent to use on chicken. We'll see how much time I end up having, though.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Canned Tomatoes

This afternoon I canned a batch of chopped tomatoes. Just simple tomatoes packed in water. I wanted to use up the tomatoes I'd harvested from our garden before leaving for Texas this week and my freezer is filled to the brim, so I couldn't freeze anymore of them. So rather than make another batch of pasta sauce, I decided to just chop them up and can them since it seemed a little less time-consuming. I ended up having enough tomatoes to do six and a half pints.

Tomatoes Packed in water
(page 354 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

Bottled lemon juice or citric acid
salt (optional)

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.

Immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds or until the skin starts to loosen or crack. Immediately plunge into cold water and slip off the skins. Remove cores and any bruised or discolored areas. Leave whole, halve or quarter. (I chopped mine into large chunks)

Place tomatoes in a large stainless steel saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring gently. Reduce heat and boil gently for five minutes.

Before packing tomatoes into hot jars, add lemon juice or citric acid to the hot jar (1 Tablespoon for pints, 2 Tablespoons for quarts).

Pack tomatoes into parepared jars, leaving a generous 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, place lid, and screw band on to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner and process pints for 40 minutes or quarts for 45 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pizza Sauce

This afternoon I canned a batch of pizza sauce using another recipe from my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It was a pretty easy recipe, probably about an hour of prep time and an hour of cooking/canning time and not too labor intensive... the best kind of recipe in my opinion! :) It tastes pretty good from my taste test as I was filling the jars, too. I ended up with six and a half pints out of this, so quite a bit of sauce. We're looking forward to having homemade pizza this winter.

Pizza Sauce
(page 366 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

13 cups fresh tomato puree (see note below)
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Prepare the canner, jars and lids.

Place half of the tomato puree into a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Maintaining a constant boil, add remaining tomato puree, 1 cup at a time. Stir in lemon juice, oregano, pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Boil hard, stirring frequently, until mixture is the consistency of a thin commercial sauce, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary. Wipe rim, center lid, screw band on to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 35 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes and remove jars, cool, and store.

You'll need about 9 lbs of plum tomatoes to make the tomato puree for this recipe.

To make a fresh tomato puree, pass quartered tomatoes through a food mill or Victorio strainer.

If you do not have a food mill, blanch, peel, core, seed and chop tomatoes. Place in a colander and let stand for 15 minutes. Discard liquid and puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade.

Feel free to add more oregano, pepper and garlic powder, but do not change the proportion of tomato puree to lemon juice.

According to the NCHFP/USDA, you can add up to 3 cups of low acid veggies to 22 lbs. of tomatoes and still BWB safely. So - according to the Ball CBoHP, on the chart on page 427, one pound of Roma tomatoes equals 1 1/2 cups of crushed or pureed Romas. This recipe calls for 13 cups of puree - or 8.66 pounds. Based on the NCHFP/USDA guideline, which basically allows 1 cup low acid veggies per 7.3 pounds of tomatoes, you could safely add 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. of diced onion and garlic and still BWB this recipe. Just use a tiny amount of oil to saute' the veggies to keep it safe.

(I ended up with about 14 cups of puree, so I increased the lemon juice by the same percentage. I added 1 cup of finely chopped onion and 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped garlic.)

Recipe says it makes about 4 pints, but I ended up with 6 and a half pints.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Seasoned Tomato Sauce

Tonight I used up some of the organic tomatoes I picked up on Monday to make some tomato sauce. I used a combination of Jubilee tomatoes (they're orange tomatoes) and a firmer red tomato that I can't remember the name of. The Jubilees are very sweet tomatoes, great flavor. I used about half and half - I just didn't know how Kevin would feel about eating an orange sauce on his pasta if I'd used all the Jubilees. So I mixed them. This is a very easy recipe, not very labor-intensive at all, which was nice. Since I'm very limited on time on work nights, I did the prep work last night, then just heated the sauce back to a boil and canned it tonight. The sauce tastes awesome from my sneaking a taste from the bottom of the pan before I washed it out. I'm excited to have this on hand and can't wait to try out a few other sauce recipes I've found.

Seasoned Tomato Sauce
(page 364 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

10 pounds tomatoes, cored
2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (I left this out since I was using the extra sweet Jubilees and neither Kevin or I are crazy about sweet sauce)
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (I left these out since I didn't have any on hand)
Bottled lemon juice or citric acid

Wash and sort the tomatoes, removing any bruised or discolored product. Quarter 6 tomatoes and place in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes and release the juices, stirring constantly. While maintaining a boil, quarter additional tomatoes and add them as you work. Make sure the mixture continues to boil vigorously while you add, stir and crush the tomatoes. When all tomatoes have been added, stir in onions, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, sugar and hot pepper flakes. Return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and boil, stirring frequently, until sauce is reduced by half and thickens slightly (about 2 hours).

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.

Working in batches, press tomato mixture through a fine sieve or food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Discard peel and seeds.

Return mixture to saucepan and bring to full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Before filling each jar with sauce, add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid) to the hot jar. Ladle hot sauce into jar, remove air bubbles, leave 1/2 inch headspace, wipe rim, place lid, and screw band to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner. Bring to a boil and process for 35 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove jars. Cool and store.

Tips: It is very important you reheat the tomato sauce before filling the jars. Processing times are based on hot sauce in a hot jar. If the sauce is tepid, the processing time won't be sufficient to vent the excess headspace gases and destroy spoilage microorganisms.

It is crucial that you do not alter the ingredients or quantities or you may produce a product that isn't safe to eat. You must maintain a safe acidity.

Makes about 4-6 pints.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Market/Weekend Recap and Menu Plan

I didn't make it to my normal farmer's markets this weekend with all that was going on for Jaime's wedding, but Carson and I did take a drive out to the Davison farmer's market on Friday afternoon. It was quite a nice market, bigger than I expected. I picked up some fall red raspberries and crushed them and have them in the freezer for now till I can get them back out to thaw and make raspberry jam. Yesterday, after going over to Jaime's mom's house for a brunch and to watch Jaim and Jeff open their gifts, Kevin, Carson and I went out to Flushing for an organic farm tour at Whetham Organic Farm. I bought 15 pounds of organic tomatoes (for only $10 - couldn't believe the deal she gave me, plus I got three free huge zucchinis!). I'm planing to dice the tomatoes and can them and maybe use some to supplement my romas so I can do a double batch of pasta sauce this week. After the organic farm, we stopped at an organic orchard out in Flushing that was on our way home. We picked up some organic apple cider and some organic hard cider (that was very tasty - way better than Woodchuck or others you can buy). After the orchard, we met my parents up at Home Depot to check out this fancy outdoor swing they had found and wanted to buy us for one of our Christmas presents. They ended up getting it for us and Kevin and I bought a brown polyresin wicker loveseat thing to have outside. So we finally have a bit of outdoor furniture!

Kevin ended up not going to Tennessee this week, he'll be going two weeks from now instead. Next week I'm in Texas, the next week he'll be in Tennessee, and the following week he'll be in Mexico. It'll be nice to have him around this week so I can hopefully actually get my canning done like I'd like to. Plus, he has some things he wants to get done outside this week since you never know how long the weather is going to hold out here in Michigan.

As for meal plans this week, I'm thinking the following:
Tuesday ~ burgers from the freezer, local sweet corn
Wednesday ~ no-noodle lasagna (never made it a couple weeks ago)
Thursday ~ possibly crockpot roasted chicken
Friday ~ Melissa's homemade pizza
Saturday ~ not sure yet, something that creates a lot of leftovers for Kevin to eat while I'm gone next week
Sunday ~ something easy that creates lots of leftovers again for Kevin to have for lunch or dinner while I'm gone

As I mentioned, I'm hoping to get some pizza sauce, pasta sauce, and diced tomatoes canned this week. I'd also really like to get some peaches mid-week so I can get them canned on Saturday - I heard this week will probably be the last week for them here. I'd like to do yet another batch of pesto, too. And I need to get some parsley frozen in cube trays, too. I'm feeling pressured to get everything I can out of the garden especially now since you never really know when we'll get our first frost... though I'm really hoping I've got a month still.