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Picture Perfect

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That was dinner tonight.

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A trio of food. One from my garden. One from my CSA. And one from Friends and Farms.

My pineapple tomatoes are finally kicking in there and producing. The heirloom carrots from last week’s CSA were oven roasted. The arctic char from this week’s Friends and Farms basket was quick baked at 400 degrees with some honey mustard and lemon pepper on top.

Here’s the rest of the Friends and Farms basket. I need to get creative with some of the items.

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Cilantro. Lettuce. Eggplant. Blueberries. Nectarines. An onion. Elephant garlic. Poblanos. Jalapenos. Red Beans.

As for protein.

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One dozen eggs. Ground beef. That lovely Arctic char.

And, a loaf of bread. Not pictured.

Thoughts for dinner. Tacos. This basket screams TACOS.

Well, after tomorrow’s Food Preserving program, there will be lots of goodies to eat, or freeze. And, I am seriously considering a major pickled pepper frenzy. Plus, a couple of hot pepper jellies.

Watermelon Season

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I think it’s time to try watermelon gazpacho. This week, again, but bigger, we got a watermelon in our fruit share.

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I could take upstairs and get on a scale with and without it to see what it weighs, but it’s quite the behemoth. And, it wasn’t one of the large ones on the pallet.

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There are 28 watermelons in the box. This week there was very little maneuvering room in the pick up site. You see up there we also got peaches, again. The weird weather last winter seems to have affected the stone fruit trees, as by this time, we are sometimes seeing other fruit. Getting a little tired of peaches.

As for this week’s veggies.

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Cylindra beets, and peppers, and red potatoes, and eggplant. Oh yeah, and …

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… tomatoes. Two kinds. At least the half shares didn’t get zucchini. Today people were putting tomatoes back into the swap box early when I was there.

Today was a cheese delivery day, too.

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Cheddar aged six years. A very interesting mozzarella, which I will review in depth when I try it. And a “Lanchego”, a Lancaster County Manchego style cheese.

I am really enjoying the variety of these cheeses. Last month’s Millich Kivvel was awesome.

No pics of the chicken. Breasts and wings this week.

Good delivery this week from Lancaster Farm Fresh.

Next post will be about my other food source but I think it’s time to relax and have a glass of wine.

Home Grown and Home Made

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With the upcoming Putting Food Away program on the 23rd at the Conservancy Mt Pleasant site, where I am showcasing some of my recipes, my techniques, my lessons learned, and even giving a few things away (I promise, no zucchini), I have been a cooking, cleaning, freezing, drying and pickling fool.

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Did you know you could pickle chard stems? They are pretty interesting. Would make great swizzle sticks for Bloody Marys. I also just pickled zucchini chips. Who needs to spend the $8 or $9 a pound for that Mediterranean bar at the store when you can put out a good antipasto platter right from your fridge.

My other big accomplishment today, besides the zucchini fritters to freeze, was using my first eggplants I ever grew, and two of my red peppers and some of my garlic to make my own flatbread spread.

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They may not be the cutest eggplants out there, but I grew them. I took the eggplants and the peppers and roasted them. Mixed them with some vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and three cloves of roasted garlic. To be served on flatbread for dinner tomorrow. No pictures, as they kind of remind you of baby food, but really taste wonderful.

I also roasted three large CSA eggplants today. Scraped them out. Added two cans of chickpeas. Four cloves of garlic. Lemon juice. Olive oil. Garam masala. Salt. Pepper. Amazing hummus. And, yes, you can freeze hummus. Not that this batch will last that long. It will be going to a picnic with us this weekend.

Come check out these and other recipes at my program. And, next week, there will be recipes and pictures up on my Food Preservation page. Can’t put everything there in advance, or no one will come see my program.

The Value of a Garden

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Sometimes when it is hot and humid, and it seems the weeds are winning, I question my sanity in expanding my garden. But then, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor and it makes it all worthwhile.

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Like when the heirloom tomato plants start producing. And when I get my first white eggplants.

This week I met a major milestone. Four ounces shy of 100 pounds of tomatoes harvested.

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Yellow plums are one of the latest mass producers. But, I have harvested 36 pounds of heirloom tomatoes. All told, if I were buying tomatoes at markets and organic food stores, I would have spent way more than the investment in this garden plot.

Yes, my labor counts for something. But I rationalize it as a substitute for paying for a gym membership. Weeding, watering, weeding, harvesting, weeding (did I mention weeding?), all contribute to feeling like I just came home from a workout. Particularly after crawling around on the ground wrestling with crab grass.

Today I put up another four pints of sauce for the freezer. Tomorrow roasting the 90 yellow plums still on the counter.

Add to that, the work I am doing to get ready for my Conservancy event next Saturday. Things like making herb butters. And, preserving mint.

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Ice cube trays. One of my favorite techniques to put away the right sized portions to use in future recipes.

The garden was definitely worth the time and effort. Now, I would just like it to slow down a bit.

On A Perfect Day

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What is it with the weather around here? Every day just warm enough, with no humidity. It makes it hard to get anything accomplished. But, it does make it easier to work in the kitchen.

Usually in the summer, my food processing days are spent fighting the heat and humidity. Not today.

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I even made soup. Potato leek soup in the crockpot. This picture is before the blending. I used about a dozen small leeks from my garden. A half dozen potatoes. Three small shallots. A pint of homemade chicken stock. Salt and white pepper. After about six hours in the pot, I pureed it all in the blender. It’s in a jar in the refrigerator, cooling down. I may freeze it, or I may have it for dinner next week.

I also made tomato sauce again. Since the onslaught of tomatoes never ends.

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I used the roma tomatoes from the CSA. Take my advice. DON’T do it this way. I sweated the tomatoes in the same pan as I made the sauce. Splitting them open and letting them get warm enough for me to slip off the skins. This is a chunky vegetable rich sauce. I like these for short pastas. I had green pepper, shallots, leeks, garlic, carrots, zucchini and eggplant in this sauce. Yes, an eggplant, from here.

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I roasted everything on this pan this morning. Then smashed up the eggplant and added it to my sauce. As a thickener. You know, you can use all sorts of things in sauces. No one will be the wiser. I ended up with two full pint jars for the freezer, and about 12 ounces in the fridge to be used for a pasta for dinner tomorrow night.

The tomatoes and peppers on that tray? Went into a pint jar and are in the freezer as well. They will make one awesome sauce sometime in the dead of winter.

Last but not least.

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It’s sauerkraut time. I pulled out the crock and am making kraut. Cabbage and salt. That’s all it takes. And a cool dark corner.

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Since I can’t find my cork top for the small crock, I ended up covering this with a clean dish towel. I put the saucer on top the cabbage. Weight it down with a jar. I moved it off to the far side of the kitchen where it stays out of the sunlight. I will have sauerkraut next week. But, let it ferment longer for better flavor.

I certainly did quite a bit today. How was your Friday?

In The Box

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The view from above.

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This is what you see when you open a half share Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA box in the middle of August.

The new one in the box is the bunch of Malabar spinach. I do grow this in my garden, but mine is nowhere near as large as these are. There are nine ears of corn in there. Because I swapped three zucchini for the corn. There is a bag of green beans. A bag of rainbow carrots. An eggplant. And, hidden below those two heirloom tomatoes.

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A bag of roma tomatoes, suitable for making sauce. As for the fruit share.

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It must be a banner year for peaches, as we have another six in the fruit box. Last and certainly the largest. The watermelon, a red seedless variety.

No pictures of the frozen chicken in my chicken share. There were two large boneless skinless chicken breasts. And, two whole legs of chicken.

Moving over to the Friends and Farms bags. Just a small amount, except for that cantaloupe.

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An individual share. Two tomatoes. Two peaches (I have no idea where they are, they aren’t in the picture). One zucchini, I am happy to report. Two ears of corn. Three humongous leeks. Hydroponic lettuce. And that okra. I need to go look for something new to do with okra.

Protein.

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Fresh kielbasa. Bacon. Eggs. A new supplier of chicken. Breasts this week. They were already the main item at dinner tonight. Baked in olive oil with a coating of mixed herbs.

Plans for tomorrow. Make tomato sauce. Find a recipe for a curry using the Malabar spinach. Make peach jam. It’s summer craziness when everything starts ripening at once.

That New Page in My Book

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My Preservation Page.

The work in progress as I get ready for my August 23rd event at the Howard County Conservancy.

It makes me pay attention to how haphazard my blog posts are. How I can’t just focus on one item or one recipe. Trying to show people what I have done to preserve foods. While feeling like I am herding cats.

Yes, I mostly freeze foods. But, I also dry them. And roast them. And slow cook them. And occasionally when I am feeling feisty, I actually can things. Like that awesome jelly.

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Pineapple habanero, as a matter of fact. This year, the habaneros aren’t producing so there will be some jalapeno pineapple jelly made later this week.

In the mean time, I am doing nothing but processing tomatoes and peppers. Since I really am drowning in them.

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Yes, I believe most horizontal surfaces in this kitchen are covered in some sort of tomato. Tomorrow, there will be oven roasted yellow plums. And sauce from Early Girl and Big Boy. And, tabouleh from the thousands (has to be that many) of the Supersweet 100s and the Sun Gold tomatoes in the big bowl on the counter.

The processing frenzy continues. I will be happy in February. Now, I am just frazzled.

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