Jammin’

Hi there!

(I actually started writing this awhile ago, never quite finished the post, but I DID finish the jam.  I am embarking on the Apple-Canning-Adventure soon…)

We are jammin’!  Making some blueberry jam, that is.  Since we have a (recently diagnosed) diabetic in the family, I am trying a new way of making jam.  That is to say, a sugar-free recipe….

I’ve tried a new type of pectin.

It comes with two packets – One is the actual pectin and the other is Monocalcium Phosphate(calcium to help activate the pectin).  First thing I did was to mix the calcium with 1/2 cup water to make the “Calcium Water.”  That has to be kept refrigerated if you don’t use it all up.  There is a recipe sheet inside box which is very helpful.  I have used so much sugar in the past, and I don’t know how one would can rhubarb without it, but we are doing blueberries now, so….

While the jars, seals and lids were sterilizing, I started the recipe that came with the pectin.  I used:

3 cups Mashed Blueberries, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons calcium water, 1 C apple juice concentrate.

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It is a little tricky because you need to use 2 pans and time everything just so.  The end result doesn’t taste like jam you would buy, because it is not as sweet.  It tastes more like spreadable fresh blueberries, kind of like squishing them up in your hand.  That suits us just fine, because we love eating them fresh…..now a distant memory until next summer!

(I also froze quite a few so we can still enjoy blueberry pancakes and muffins this winter!)

Have a lovely day!

Wendy

Great Pumpkin

I am still without my camera, and the small, computer-like device on which photos are taken in other circumstances keeps ending up elsewhere.  (Hopefully not hidden by ferrets)

I have projects on the horizon to share!  Since the temperature keeps dropping, I will be moving onto indoor projects soon!  As an update, though, I picked a total of 8 pumpkins and removed the vines(scraped up my arms in the process).  The apples were not quite ready, but maybe within a week or so.  I only picked a few of those (had one in my oatmeal this morning).  There are still tomatoes, which are partially shielded from the elements with plastic.  I managed to pick most of the remaining vegetables, but the Brussels sprouts and Swiss Chard are not ready  yet.

I managed to find a few photos I took with my phone……

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Here is one of the sunflowers:

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I read somewhere that the Native Americans planted pumpkins alongside corn and sunflowers, so that the vines could climb up the stalks.  I still needed to use trellis-like contraptions, but it’s the thought that counts!

A very happy birthday to my beloved husband!

Wendy

Mantis

This is a quick post before I harvest pumpkins and apples over the weekend.  Check out this Mantis:

Mantis

 

This guy actually turned and looked into the camera as if to smile and say, “Cheese!”  I’ve never seen one with the beautiful browns atop the green colors before.  I’ve only seen the all-green ones in the past, and not too often.   They are beneficial, the “Good Guys,” if you will, and should be treated with great respect…..kind of like Knights-In-Shining-Armor in the garden!

Whenever I see something like this – a true, glorious, wonder of nature, I am reminded to take a moment and be grateful.

With loving gratitude to you, my readers,

Wendy

Baba Ghanoush

I just love the sound of that – “Baba Ganoush” – It is very cool.

It’s all about the eggplant.  Ours are “Hansel” and “Ichiban.”  They are narrow and long instead of bulb-like.  We find them to be excellent-tasting.

After miles of Eggplant Parmesan, I tried my hand at Baba Ganoush.   I checked a few recipes, but tried to keep my final variation as simple as possible:

Wenz Baba Ganoush

Ingredients

  • 10-12 small eggplants
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 giant cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°. Prick the eggplants several times.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, maybe even more.  You will have to check periodically.  Some recipes say to brush the eggplants with olive oil before baking.  Cool before proceeding to the next step.

Peel the eggplants and remove the stems. Puree the eggplants until smooth. Add in garlic, tahini, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Puree until combined. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and puree one more time.  It is really nice on crackers or bread – your favorite.

It will taste amazingly good, and visually, it should resemble the contents of a newborn baby’s diaper…..

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Ok, so that baby is a little older than a newborn, but not by much.  Can you guess who that is?

Enjoy the day!

;D

Wendy

STELLA!!!

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WHOOPS!!!  I meant BLANCHE!

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I really mean, “blanch.”  I know, I have a silly sense of humor.  But it’s good to have fun and laugh a little, yes?

So…….onto the blanching process……

Wash and trim and possibly cut your beans if you like them cut.  Some folks like them whole, so do it the way you like, of course.  At least cut the stem-end off…..I plunge them into boiling, salted water until they are bright green.(very short amount of time – keep your eye on them)  After that, I drain them and allow to cool enough to handle.  This can be achieved by plunging into ice water for a few seconds.  Then put in freezer-appropriate containers labeled with date.

For a more detailed variation:

http://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/preserving-canning/freeze-green-beans/

We love our string beans!

Wendy

Getting Saucy in the Kitchen

Tomatoes!

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I had to make tomato sauce, and while that was simmering, I made tomato salsa.  While that was refrigerating, I blanched and froze my string beans.  While they were freezing, I saved the rest of the bean seeds to use for next year.  After that, I roasted eggplant to make Baba Ganoush.  While the eggplant were roasting, I grated squash and zucchini to freeze for upcoming breads and cakes.  I then threw a little of the grated squash into the sauce…… Phew!  Getting there – We ought not go hungry, that’s for sure!  Here is the sauce recipe:

Wenz Tomato Sauce

One 6 oz can tomato paste

Fresh tomatoes – I used approximately 12 Plum tomatoes and 5 or so “Early Girls”(once they were blanched and seeded, tomato flesh plus juice equaled about 3 cups)

3 cloves garlic (Lisa gave me a bunch of garlic she grew, in exchange for some eggplant)

1 med-large onion

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Basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper to taste

Optional – ¾ lb ground beef, browned

Optional – some grated zucchini and/or summer squash(adds nutrition)

We have vegetarians in the family, so I make the sauce without the meat. 

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The fresh tomatoes need to be plunged in boiling water, then ice water to slide the skins off.  Then the seeds need to come out.  Squishing them up with your hand is the best way to do it, and that is best done over a strainer.  After that, place the tomatoes, tomato juice, and other ingredients in a saucepan or slow cooker for about 3 hours or so(simmer/low setting).

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How about some Salsa?

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No, that’s neither me nor Joel….Here is our version of Salsa-in-the-works(note the little Red Hot Chili Pepper on the left):

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Wenz Salsa

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

2 large ripe red tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3 cups Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes, halved

One hot chili pepper, chopped(I would have added another, but I only had one Lonely Pepper, Sgt.)

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1 Tablespoon minced cilantro

Juice of one small lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients.  Place in an airtight container in fridge for a couple of hours.  Get out the tortilla chips and Margaritas, and enjoy!

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If anyone has great tomato harvest recipes, I would love to know!  This week, I will feature more of my favorites.

Have a delicious day!

Wendy

Harvest Time

We are back from vacation!  Vacations are never long enough, are they?

It is cooling off here a bit.  Everything is ripening at once and I’ve been making some rather tasty dishes!

Here is the Eggplant Parmesan:

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I used a recipe I found online that was, allegedly, by Martha Stewart, and the instructions said to bake the breaded eggplant first.  I opted to fry it in olive oil seasoned with garlic and a little salt and pepper instead.  I then placed the pieces in the baking dish with sauce, layered with shredded mozzarella, more eggplant, sauce, and then sliced fresh mozzarella and sprinkling of parmesan.  Yum, yum, and more yum!

Here is another of my salads:

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The orange-colored cherry tomatoes are called “Sun Sugar,” which really describes them because they are just about the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.  The red tomatoes are “Early Girls” chopped up.  The cucumbers are supposedly “Burpless.”  I added onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil….. and now for the dessert……

Blueberry-Rhubarb Pie:

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Notice the foil around the outer edge?  It was so drippy and juicy…I used a cup of blueberries and 2 cups of rhubarb(from our abundant bumper-crop!), plus about 1 1/2 cups sugar.  There was not much else to the recipe.  I added a little flour to the filling in hopes of thickening it a bit.  It dripped so much I can’t imagine what it would have been like without the flour!

On to another harvest activity:

Right now I am saving some seeds.  The “Painted Lady” stringbean flowers are so darn pretty….

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I am saving seeds for next year’s plants:

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Even the seeds themselves are pretty!  The darker ones have been drying a bit longer than the rest.  I will not need so many of them, so perhaps some of my gardening friends will be receiving some seeds as gifts for birthdays and/or holidays!

I am not going crazy with the beans, just blanching and freezing them, most likely.  One year a friend pickled her beans.  I think I’m just a little too tired for that.  Any thoughts on easy, fun ways to fix string beans?

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Bye the way, all these photos were taken with my phone.  My camera seems to have disappeared.  One of my children has two pet ferrets, who are responsible for hiding the remote controls for the TV.  I wonder if they had anything to do with it?

Meet Nigel and Pudge.  Nigel is more likely the guilty party, or so I’m told.  He is the one who is in the lower half of the picture:

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Part of a day in Wenz World is always filled with a little adventure!

Have a wonderful adventure of your own today!

Wendy