You see, I’ve been hanging out with another blog whilst in Dublin for a five week study abroad program. I’m now four weeks in, and if I’m being honest here, I don’t have really have time for this. I just really needed a study break.
But I feel it’s important to communicate something: even though I’m up to my ass in school work, I’ve been trying to do a good amount of “experiencin,'” too, and I have to say, Dublin is kind of amazing. It’s got all the beauty and charm of other European cities I’ve visited, with the added bonuses of a language I can understand and really unpretentious citizens. In fact, I can easily say that Dublin is one of the most pleasant cities I’ve visited, at least, once I got my bearings. Continue reading Then there was that time I lived in Dublin for 5 weeks…
She might be able to can can too, but trust me, Ann can definitely can.
When I picked up my 40 pounds of tomatoes from Midnight Sun last Sunday for her Labor Day canning party (thinking, “wow, this is a s*#$ ton of tomatoes“), Ann said, “I think we may have different expectations about canning day.”
When two crafty ladies get together with cocktails and 100 pounds of tomatoes, it’s kind of amazing. Aside from the 19 jars of marinara sauce now sit in my pantry ready for the pizza I might make next February, here are some photographic highlights of the day:
Just as I’m preparing to go back to school for another semester we are reaching a critical point in the season in which Lauren buys a ridiculous amount of produce in an effort to overstock her pantry with Ball jars full of food for the winter.
It’s about to get crazy in that little kitchen in the city.
On a whim, I bought six quarts of tomatillos at the Andersonville Farmers Market from my friends at Midnight Sun and decided it would be a good idea to have enough salsa verde around to withstand the apocalypse…. this is how I did it:
(recipe courtesy of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
5-1/2 cups chopped, cored, husked tomatillos
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped seeded green peppers (your choice of heat… I used a bunch of banana peppers and one jalapeno with a few of the seeds for the whole batch, because I’m not a “burn your face off salsa” kind of girl.
1/2 cup white vinegar
4 tsp lime juice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 TB finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
Prepare your canner, jars and lids.*
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until semi-smooth.
Ladle or pour hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace in the jars. Gently remove air bubbles by poking into the jar with a knife and adding salsa as needed. Wipe rim, center seal on jar, and screw band down until fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 min, then remove jars, cool, and store.
*You’ll need a big soup pot that’s deep enough to submerge your jars in water. Place empty jars in pot and fill with water until jars are covered. Heat over med-high heat while you prepare salsa. This will sterilize the jars and heat them (hot salsa into hot jars to process). Bands and seals should be gently heated in a small saucepan until ready to use.
Makes about two pint jars. I, of course, quadrupled the recipe to get the haul you see here…
I pseudo inherited my crock pot from my mother while foraging her basement on a Sunday trip to the suburbs. This 1975 Sears “Crock Watcher” is older than me, but undoubtedly in better condition.
If the 70’s got anything right, it’s the slow cooker. The idea that I can stick something in there at 6am before I leave for work, cover it with liquid, and come home to a good smelling house AND dinner still boggles my mind, and I do it about every other week…. sometimes more, sometimes less.
Lately Old Faithful has been working overtime cranking out tomato sauce to stock up for the winter. I bought 30 pounds of tomatoes from Midnight Sun Farm over the course of three weeks and have made tomato processing an obsession.
After an epic fail on the stove of sauce that was way more juicy than saucy, I revamped my approach. Ok, it wasn’t entirely a fail, just a misunderstanding between me and the tomatoes, really. After consulting mom (my go-to for kitchen mishaps) and my friend and fellow canning-enthusiast Toni Camphouse, I opted to try the slow cooker approach, and I’m never turning back.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Canning jars and lids
Core and quarter tomatoes and fill your slow cooker. Prop the lid open with a spoon and cook all day on low.
Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Pre-fill canning jars with salt and lemon juice. For quart jars, use 2TB lemon juice and 1 tsp. salt*. Half those if using pint jars. Add sauce to jars and fill to 1/2″ from the top. Cover with lid and band, twisting until hand tight.
Add jars to water bath (making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch). Once water is boiling, reduce heat to a rolling boil and set time for 30-40 minutes (30 for pint jars, 40 for quart). Remove from water bath and set on a level surface to cool (don’t shake the jars). Store for as long as you like, or about a year, whichever comes first.
* You can add seasoning to your sauce before you jar it, but I prefer to do it once I open the jar so the herbs and spices are fresher.
We’re on the heels of my favorite season. The mornings now have a bite in the air, fashion scarves and sweaters are becoming imperative, and everything around me is turning into orange-y and amber hues. Though I’m a California girl at heart, I’ve lived in the Midwest for almost 25 years. The one thing about living here that has kept me from continually accosting my parents for moving us across the country is the leaves. Well, they have leaves in California, but they don’t turn orange and gold and burgundy.
Some people live life with rose-colored glasses; my glasses are burgundy.
Plus, the idea of not sweating profusely every time I go somewhere is highly appealing to me.
The farmer’s market is becoming particularly bountiful, and though it’s sad to see summer squash and tomatoes go out of my life, the beginning of fall means it’s “squirrel time”. What I mean is, I’m trying to make time to take everything that still just barely at it’s peak of freshness and dry it, freeze it or can it for the winter.
I’ve always wanted to make an attempt to preserve enough produce to make it through the winter without buying a shriveled up zucchini that was grown in the middle of Mexico and shipped to my local store on a refrigerator truck.
I know that this isn’t the year for me to make this happen full stop, but nonetheless I’ve managed to buy and can or freeze 25 pounds of tomatoes, pickle a bunch of beets, blanch and freeze broccoli, eggplant, and green beans, and there is a batch of crispy squash chips in the oven as I type. I got a really big squash in my CSA box last week, was told it would be the last one, and, having eaten one squash too many, this is what I chose to do with it:
Zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced and dried on a paper towel
Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (spraying it with cooking spray works fine too). Arrange the squash slices in a single layer and coat with olive oil using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with a modest amount of salt and bake at 275-F for a LONG time (several hours). When they are firm and crispy, they’re done.
A great substitute for potato chips, use these chips up in about three days, stored in a plastic bag or wrapped in a tea towel
I spent a lot of my Labor Day in the kitchen with lots and lots of tomatoes. I bought 10 pound from my local farmers market and though my intended sauce turned out like juice (this is the topic of another post, perhaps), I thought that it would be fun to start a tiny little how-to video series!
I have tons of recipe books, but sometimes instead of browsing through index after index I find it’s just easier to google stuff that I want to know instantly.
So here I am on the YouTube, in my teensy apartment kitchen (hey, a lot of awesome stuff comes out of that little room…), giving a quick lesson on how to core tomatoes. The video is tiny, like my kitchen, because it was taken by iphone… but you’ll get the idea.
So, what do we think? Yay? Nay? Want more of these? Let me know!
Tomatoes are so delicious. I can eat them whole. Like apples. For about two days.
When the tomatoes started arriving in my CSA box, I jumped for joy and literally squealed. It’s a BIG deal for seasonal eaters when the tomatoes are ready. I think I ate one with every meal for the first couple days, and then as swiftly as my excitement rose it passed.
A couple days ago, I just stopped being in the mood for tomatoes. Without enough supply to justify a full-on canning session, I looked back to my box and thought, wow, this could be an opportunity to use up the onions, garlic, and jalapenos too! So I threw together this beautiful and really, really spicy salsa. My hope is that with a few days in the fridge will take the edge off, but if you like hot, THIS is the salsa for you:
Spicy Garden Salsa
About five big tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 C. onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 jalapenos, seeded, de-veined, and chopped (or, keep a few seeds in if you dare) *
Splash of vinegar
1 TB sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin
Mix up in a bowl and eat it. Or, store in a mason jar in the fridge and eat it later.
If you’re smart, unlike me, you’ll wear gloves when dealing with hot peppers. I didn’t and then scratched my forehead and it was still burning 30 minutes later…
There are plenty of great recipes for canning salsas to increase their shelf life. I just chose to do a quick fridge-worthy salsa because I was short on time, it’s really hot in the kitchen, and I figure this will be in my stomach before long.
Salsa is not just for chips! Use this to add flavor to your tacos, eggs, or make a sassy and refreshing salad by adding it to cubed fresh watermelon