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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Peachy Keener… or just keen on peaches?

My favourite fruit is peaches.  But not just fresh peaches that come at the height (or like this year, at the end) of summer….and I love those same peaches canned. I grew up with perfectly canned peaches.  My Mom loved to make the jars as beautiful to look at as they were to eat.  Mine are just good to eat… I don’t have the patience, nor the time, for perfectly halved, canned peaches.  Mine are sliced… and every which way too as you will see later on.

Even just driving home with a box in your car is an experience… that sweet, fresh, scent of peaches.  We are lucky because the Okanagan area of BC is not far, only a 4 hr drive away, so to get boxes of fresh peaches is easy and cheap.

Today I got a box at Thumper Patch for $14.99 and all were ripe except for a few.  Today dawned overcast and by 8:30 the rain was pouring.  Can’t ask for better circumstances for a canning day.  If I had been REALLY motivated I would have planned on more, but as you know, I like small batches…Seriously, it took barely an hour to get them all in the canner.

I use a website http://www.pickyourown.org/peachescanning.htm as my go-to place to double check my quantities etc.  This site is full of all sorts of processing information… AND you really should check it out, just to see the lady who is sharing all this knowledge…  She is so cute!  and seems to know everything about processing the bounty from the garden to the orchard.

I use an immersion canner.  The lady on the website, uses a steamer canner, though the powers that be in the US food administration have not ‘approved’ steamer canning, this lady seems to still be alive after years of using one.   I also inherited a pressure canner… but so far have no built up enough confidence to attempt to use the thing.

Canning peaches is easy,  not as easy as apricots, but a close second.  Out of 20 lbs of peaches, about 17.5 lbs will give you 7 quarts… unless you eat too many as you are peeling.  Here is how I do it:

Turn on the ice machine,  or just use your ice cubes from the freezer.  You kind of have to plan a bit so that you have ice made.

Wash and rinse 7 quart jars, 7 rings, 7 lids

Put the jars in a pan in the oven set to 200 F

Put lids and rings in a pot of water and heat to hot, not boiling,  to sterilize.  Remember everything needs to be sterilized, sterilized, sterilized…

Get a BIG pot of water boiling,  I use my All-clad 8 qt. Put it on the front burner, the lids and rings on the back burner behind it.

Get your sugar-water ready.  I make light syrup and could put it on the back element behind the canner, but I have a nifty portable GE hot plate and put it on high on it so that you have a bit more room on the stove top… so I use it.

Light syrup – 2 cups sugar, 6 cups water.  I did it double but could have just made 1.5 times,  get it to boil, then let cool down a bit.

Fill canner up, cover, and turn to high.

Fill your sink up with cold water and add ice… put an empty, large container beside the sink, have fruit fresh on hand.

Drop 10 peaches or so into the boiling water, boil a minute maybe… not too long, remove from boiling water and drop in ice water.  Now the peels come off very easily, peel, cut and pit and put slices in the empty, large container.  With every layer, sprinkle some fruit fresh to prevent browning. After your 10 peaches are cut, drop 10 more into the water that has come back up to boil.  I just eyeball it and leave about 8 or 9 peaches over from a 20 lb box and trust I have enough for the canner full.

Jars come out of the oven, line them up on the counter with the pot of lids and rings, the pot of syrup, and start filling the jars.  When 7 are filled, pour the syrup over the peaches up to 1/2 inch below lip, shove a knife down the side of the jar to remove air bubbles, fill with more syrup if needed,  WIPE the rims really well, place lids, then rings on the jars, put jars in canner, starting with the centre spot.  Lower the jars on the rack into the canner, bring the canner up to boil and set timer for 25 minutes.

When 25 minutes are up, I raise up the rack, get out the jar grabber and put all the jars on a rack to cool. Some of them seal immediately, some take a bit longer. By the time I was finished with this post, all of the jars were sealed. When they have cooled, wipe them down because the syrup squeezes out and over the sides and will attract… ahem…. mice… Label and put them away… and wait for winter so that you can eat them!

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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Pass the beans please… the fabulous green beans…

Beans are another fabulous garden treat.  And they are very kind while existing in the garden.  Did you know that when you plant green beans, the plant takes the nitrogen floating around in the air, converts it into something usable and then leaves the nitrogen in the soil?  Its called nitrogen fixation  This also means that if you have a nitrogen loving plant like corn, you could plant them together (think pole beans growing up corn stalks!)  or just rotate them.  This means beans one year, corn the next in the same space.Right now the beans are ripening hard and fast.  We love green beans but then the zucchini is also doing the same thing as is the basil… well you know what I mean,  sometimes we can’t get everything eaten and so then I put it up for the winter… or the fall… or for next week when I can get to it.  I was feeling rather energetic this week so when I got a bucket of beans from the garden, I decided to make Green Bean Soup.

When Don and I moved here, I introduced everyone to Green Bean Soup.  I grew up on the stuff,  Don’s family had never heard of it.  The Mennonites, my heritage, had a way to make something from everything they had too much of.  I guess they didn’t just plant a few beans, they planted lots of beans.  Then when the beans came, they had to come up with something. Seeing as Ham is a Mennonite favourite, it only makes sense they took a ham bone and made a soup out of it. The trusty book I received from my Mom when we got married,  the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes, has the first section as Mennonite Dishes.

Thank you Mrs D. Warkentin from Steinbach… I wonder if you know how often your recipe has been used since this book was published?   The key ingredient in the recipe is the summer savoury.  Its unique taste is integral.  When I make the recipe, I make the ham stock and let it cook quite a long time, then I let it cool to skim the fat off.  I am happier with the end result if the fat is skimmed first… as is my waistline!

One can only make so much soup in the heat of summer,  as lovely as it is, we still had more beans than I had ham hocks… so the next endeavour was the freezing of some french cut beans.  I am the only one that really loves green beans this way, so I make little frozen packages for myself to have when Don is away in winter.

The key here is the firmness of the beans,  if you try to french cut beans when they are limp, it becomes a bit difficult.  I had a bucket of beans and don’t believe in making a HUGE production out of the processing. When you save up so much product to put up, you tend to get a bit overwhelmed.   One bucket of beans is easy to do and very quick.

For Christmas I asked for a countertop ice machine (yes I ignored the “why do we need that” questions).  I love the thing.  For the bean project, I plugged it in when I started and by the time I am done, I had replaced the ice cubes I used for the ice water needed for the rapid cooling of the blanched beans.  It makes 3 sizes of cubes, great for parties as there is already a lot of noise going on, so no one really notices the compressor sound.  I just unplug it in between uses.  AND its fits very conveniently on top of my mini wine fridge!

So I put my large 8 quart all clad stock pot on the stove, got it to boiling, Set the ice water in the sink, took the beans through the french cut gadget thing, blanched for 90 seconds, dumped them in the ice water, dried on a large bath towel, stuffed in ziplocs and in no time I had some bright packages of beans!

And there you have it. My grandma would be proud.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Zucchini… not quinoa super food….but more prolific… absolutely!

After a few REALLY warm days here…which is REALLY sad… because here on the wet-coast… we have had a crap summer so any warm day, we are jumping around rejoicing….. anyways back to the result of the WARM day.  Everything in the garden grew…(how does your garden grow you ask?)  Yesterday afternoon I went and picked the zucchini and contemplated whether they were the ‘perfect’ size…. were they too small?  hmmm…. so I picked 3 of them and added them to the 1 1/2 that I already had in the kitchen… well today, there were 6 more.  Yes 6!  Yesterday they were teeny, today they are regular sized…   so that means that today they grew 4 inches.  Nature never ceases to amaze me.  So I took up the challenge to post out some non-bread zucchini recipes. 

Did I mention that along with the zukes, there were beans, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and peppers.  OK, so right now we need to turn into vegetarians so that we can get through all this bounty.  This is what I did:

Onions, garlic and biased carrots in the fry pan with some olive oil and salt.

Next was the zucchini and then the green beans….

Meanwhile I put two chicken legs into the pressure cooker… YES… the pressure cooker.. which is another post altogether.  It’s an electric pressure cooker and was highly recommended from the Chef at the Culinary Institute of America.  Like a good little student, I went and got myself one… I will post about it later cause I LOVE IT.

Anyways… I also cooked up some potatoes cause the shovel had gone thru a few of them and they needed to be cooked. Usually I would have just made the big pan of veg to go with the chicken, but to add just a smidge of mashed potatoes into the mix….. well lets just say … yum.  And fresh parsley too mixed in too!

So the end result is a stir fry of veg.  The zucchini breaks down a fair bit if you leave it and coats the rest of the veg.  I know, a healthier choice….would be firmer, brighter zucchini, but using it as the ‘sauce’ on the rest of the veg works great and is way less calories than a real sauce.

I hope you try it and enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Healthy Chocolate Brownies… I do not lie… is quinoa the new superfood?

With a husband with celiac disease, I am always on the lookout for Gluten free recipes that will appeal to him.  I find a lot of the GF recipes use a high amount of sugar to offset a possible lack of taste or texture.  This recipe was sent to me by my good friend and cousin-in-law, @melaniereuter who in turn received it from a friend of hers.  Finally I got to try them and they are fabulous!  I won’t take credit for putting it together though.  That honour goes to Charlyn who is my right-hand gal here at the house.  She showed up here this morning with them in hand for Don.  I tried a smidgen and OMG, they are really really great.  Here is an excerpt from http://www.livestrong.com/article/267666-quinoa-vegetable-protein/  on the amazing benefits of this amazing grain.

….Quinoa is a considered a complete protein source. This means quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which other whole grains are often missing. Quinoa is higher in iron and potassium than other whole grains and is a good source of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, copper and fiber…

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Quinoa Brownies Gluten Free

2 cups well cooked quinoa
1/3 c. milk
4 lg. eggs
3/4 c. melted butter 
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend together in a blender until smooth.
Whisk dry ingredients together.

1/2 c to 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Add the contents of the blender and mix well.
Bake for 45 min. at 350F
This will freeze nicely for about a month.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Blog update from my phone?! Who knew…

Woke up to a grey, cool day so I decided that today would be a good as day as any to get our planes, trains and automobiles in order for our trip.

Those last details like which bus, train, tube or all of the above to move us from point A to point B. When I get all engrossed in the travel, I start to feel we are already on holidays! Especially if I use Google Streetview, my brain thinks I am standing on the corner I am looking at. Its great.

Maps printed, car rented, tickets in hand…now comes the hard part of packing for the trip. We go through a number of weather zones so its VERY easy to overpack….which is my tendency. Just take laundry soap and all will be well.

Ok…update over. Let’s see if this mobile posting works!
twitter: @conniejcampbell

Sent from my Blackberry

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Sharing

 

Spiced Mung Bean Stew – from the recipe files

1/2 cup (125 ml) dried mung beans
2 cups (500 ml) boiling water
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) cold water
1 medium yam, cubed
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 oz (90 ml) tomato paste
1 tbsp (15 ml) miso paste
2 tbsp (30 ml ) blackstrap molasses
1 tsp (5 ml) palm sugar  or other natural sweetener
juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp (15 ml) each oregano and cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp (2 ml) each dried cumin, coriander, turmeric and ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) pumpkin seeds for garnish
 
Rinse dried mung beans and add to boiling water.  Decrease heat to a light boil and simmer lightly for 1 hour.
Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion carrot and red pepper for about 10 minutes.  Add water, yam and cooked mung beans.  Simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
Meanwhile whisk together remaining ingredients.  Stir mixture into pot; simmer, covered, for an additional 10 minutes or until liquid slightly reduces.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve over brown rice.  Serves 6.
 
 
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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Recipes

 

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