Canning

I have successfully canned! I feel like a more accomplished individual. I now have, in my pantry, 12 jars of crushed tomatoes and 4 jars of salsa.

Let me tell you, canning was an adventure. I’m far from an expert, so I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of canning in this post. But I will say that if you have any inclination to can, you should give it a whirl.

Here are some resources:

  • I got a lot of good information from You Grow Girl, including her very simple recipe for canning tomatoes and her well written directions for the canning process.
  • pickyourown.org has a lot of great resources, including where to find pick-your-own farms and canning, freezing, and preserving directions, FAQ, and recipes.
  • Ball Canning has great recipes and tips on their website.

If you don’t have your own garden produce to can, check out your local farm market or a farm on pickyourown.org. Ask if they have a discount for canning produce. They might have some that’s not as pretty to sell that they would love to sell you for your chopping and preserving purposes. Ask if they have any tips for how to best preserve the produce that you want to buy.

Good luck!

I wanna know: Do you can or freeze produce when it’s in season so that you can enjoy it throughout the winter?

Pasties: the food

Before any of you get the wrong idea, this pasty is a food. Pronounce it so that it rhymes with “nasty,” not “tasty.” Though, they really are tasty. Not nasty. I promise. Anyway,  they are extremely popular in the upper peninsula of Michigan. As the boyfriend lived in the UP for 5 years, they’re pretty popular in his book as well. So we made pasties for dinner!

Plan on almost 2 hours from the time you start until the time you can eat. Though time consuming, these are great food to make ahead. Store left overs in the fridge or freezer for easy grab and go eats.

Beef Pasties

Adapted from Pasty Recipes. Yield: 10-12 pasties

First, start by making your dough. This is much like pie crust dough, don’t be scared.

  1. Mix 6 cups of flour with 1 Tbs. of salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1 1/2 cups of cold butter.
  3. Add cold water, tablespoon by tablespoon until it just barely combines into a ball. The amount of water that you need will vary, but it will be approximately 12 tablespoons. Try very hard not to get the dough too moist; this will make the end product dense, and you’re going for light and flaky.
  4. If you need to do some light kneading with your hands, feel free, but be aware that too much will melt the butter.
  5. Chill dough in the fridge while you make the filling.

While your dough is chilling, you need to get chopping. I highly recommend enlisting in help!

Chop:

  • 5 carrots
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of rutabaga or turnip

Mix it all together with 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.

Add 2 lbs of ground beef (or other ground meat of choice) and mix it in.

Now the fun part! Fetch your dough from the fridge and form it into a log. Chop it into 10 or 12 disks. Whatever floats your boat.

Using a rolling pin or a wine bottle, roll each disk of dough out. I highly recommend rolling the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper. This keeps it from sticking and tearing when you pull it off the table.

After each disk is rolled, dump some of the filling in the middle. Use enough filling that you can barely close the top of the dough. Bring the sides of the dough together in the center so that it all seals into a lovely pocket of pasty goodness.

Stab holes in the top of each pasty so that the steam can escape.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. After 30 minutes, pull them out at baste the tops with melted butter.

After they come out of the oven, make your gravy. Combine in a saucepan:

  • two beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups water

Heat it until it combines into the consistency you prefer. Serve pasties with gravy on top.

What a perfect way to spend a Friday night! Serve up with a nice glass of red wine or a bottle of your favorite brew.

I wanna know: Do you have a favorite regional food? Have you ever tried to make it?

 

Lemonade by the glass

At the same farmers’ market where I got my sweet corn, I impulsively bought a cup of lemonade. This wasn’t your average lemonade stand. These kids meant business. They handmade each cup of lemonade upon order, squeezing the lemons in front of your very eyes.

I tried to recreate it, and, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty stinking close. Consider yourself warned, this makes one tart lemonade. If you don’t think that you’re going to be a fan and prefer a sweet lemonade, juice only 1 lemon, instead of one and a half.

Lemonade by the glass

In order to make yourself a cold glass of fresh lemonade, you’ll need:

  • two glasses (or, one shaker and one serving glass)
  • a citrus juicer
  • two lemons (1 and a half for juicing, half for a garnish)
  • water
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • Chop your lemons in half, and juice each three of the halves by pushing on the top of the lemon, and twisting. Pour the resulting juice into the glass.
  • Add 1 cup of water and 1 Tbs. of sugar. Stir (or shake, if you went the shaker route)!
  • Pour over ice in the serving glass.
  • Chop the remaining half a lemon into halves, and use as a garnish.
  • Kick your feet up and enjoy!

The great part about lemonade is that you can totally tweak it to suit your preferences. Want it sweeter? Add another teaspoon or 3 of sugar. Like your lemonade really tart? Try juicing the leftover half a lemon and add it to the glass.

I wanna know: How do you like your lemonade? Tart or sweet?

Grilled sweet corn

About 3 months ago, I walked out my front door on an ordinary Friday morning, and was surprised to see a grill sitting on the sidewalk. A grill with a red bow on it. Since then, I’ve been grilling up a storm.

When I was in Iowa last weekend, I picked up some sweet corn. When in Iowa, right? I’ve had boiled sweet corn many times (and love it!), but, because of the new grill, thought I’d give grilled sweet corn a try.

Now, prepare yourself, there are two ways to grill sweet corn: in the husk or already husked. So, like any equal opportunity corn consumer, I tried it both ways. My conclusions:

  • Already husked corn cooks quicker, but is more dry
  • Corn in the husk takes a bit longer, but stays nice and moist and has a lovely smoked taste to it. It wins!

Grilled Sweet Corn

  1. Soak your ears of corn in a bowl of salt water for about an hour. Use 1 Tbs. of salt for every 2 cups of water.
  2. Lay the ears on the grill and rotate them periodically.
  3. They’re done when they have a slightly charred outside layer of husk all the way around the ear. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

Husk, slather with butter, and enjoy, preferably while sitting outside on your back porch and enjoying the summer evening.

I wanna know:  What’s your favorite summer food? There is something about corn on the cob that just screams SUMMER to me!

July–>August!?

It’s August. Seriously? July seemed to drag and fly by all at the same time.

  1. Pick blueberries…I did! And I’ve frozen bunches. Bring on scones and muffins and berry pastries and smoothies long into the winter season-that-shall-not-be-named.
  2. Bake scones…didn’t. But I did make these awesome muffins.
  3. Cook from my 101 list…didn’t. Not even one.
  4. Paddle boarding…I did! It’s quite fun.
  5. Read…I did. I read several books, actually. I have yet to spend any of my birthday gift certificates. I tend to be a hoarder when it comes to that sort of thing.

Onward and upward to August, friends. I’m still a bit in shock that it’s already the 8th month of 2011.

  1. Travel lots! I love vacation time, and mine is coming this month. I’m going to spend a lot of time in the car, but that will result in lots of quality time with people I love.
  2. Relax. That’s what vacation is about, right?
  3. Research canning. Try to find tomatoes at a decent price and give it a shot.
  4. Get in on the LinkedIn scene, as well as update my resume(s). Organize and update all employment stuff.
  5. Get ready for fall semester piano lessons.
  6. See Harry Potter 7.1 and 7.2.