Tomato Harvest Has Begun

Looks like someone will be up to her ears in salsa this weekend!

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A trip to the garden tonight yielded almost 7lbs of tomatoes, mostly Cherokee Purples. They have lots of bruises which will prevent me from canning them, but I’ve got a bunch of cilantro in the fridge and couple of hot peppers in the fridge and will whip up a nice batch of salsa instead. Some of the tomatillos are ready as well and will get incorporated.  I cannot wait!

Apricot Sorbet

This week marked the last of the apricots at the Farmer’s Market for the season.  So sad!  This was the year that I learned how much I love apricots, as it was the first time I’d ever eaten them in fresh form (Everyone’s had dried apricots, right?).  Given that it was the end of the season, I knew they would most likely be past the height of sweetness and just getting to that overripe flavor.  What to do with delicious fruit like that? Make sorbet of course!

Like many people, my husband and I were gifted a Kitchen Aid mixer when we got married.  I bought the ice cream attachment as a gift for my hubby, some birthday/Christmas/something present ago.  While we use the KA mixer for everything (butter, hello!) the ice cream maker attachment isn’t used nearly enough. We’ve got to remedy that.

Making sorbet is so so easy.  Ingredients needed?

  • 2lbs apricots (10-15)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Full disclosure here, the day before I went to make this, I realized I only had about 1lb of apricots.  So K went to the supermarket and bought me a couple more apricots which I worked in with the farmer’s market ones.  Can you tell the difference?

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Honeycot is a brand of apricot (like Chiquita banana) that is incomparable to a true apricot.  The one from the farmer’s market is markedly smaller, but has a brighter orange color and tastes so much better. SO MUCH BETTER.  The Honeycot was bland, no doubt as a result of being picked unripe half a world a way and shipped to my supermarket.  Blecch!

Luckily, I only needed to use 2, as I decided to cut the recipe in half.

I split the apricots in half as well, taking out the pits, and cutting each half into thirds.  Dropping them into a saucepan, I added the water and left them to cook through on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Once they were cooked through, I turned off the heat, and added the sugar, stirring to dissolve and mix.  I left it to cool to almost room temperature.

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Once it cooled, I pureed the mixture in my blender until completely smooth, then added the vanilla extract and stirred it in.  Here, I made a mistake. I had cut the recipe in half, but put in the vanilla extract meant for the whole recipe! Luckily, it didn’t hurt the taste at all.

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I put the blender, covered, in the fridge overnight to chill.

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The next day, I poured the chilled mixture into the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker, and set it on to stir.

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In about 20 minutes, I had sorbet!

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Sorbet that was melting fast.  I transfered it quickly to an air tight container so we can enjoy it for the rest of the week.

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A small dish to enjoy tonight.

The full amount of this recipe makes a LOT of sorbet!  Even the half-recipe I made gave us almost 4 cups of sorbet.  Make at your own risk, but I’m sure you’ll find the ability to eat it all. 🙂

Garden update and Tally

Pictures from the garden this week!

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Marconi frying pepper

 

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Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness

 

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Baby bi-color eggplant

 

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Celery

 

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Sweet Corn

 

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Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

 

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Isis Candy tomatoes

 

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Unripe Striped German tomatoes

 

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Broccoli

 

Garden Tally 7/12-7/26:

LONG HOT CHILI PEPPER: 3/4oz

FOX CHERRY TOMATOES: 1oz

MATT’S WILD CHERRY TOMATOES: 1/2lb

CARROTS: 7 1/8oz

GARLIC: 12 bulbs

BROCCOLI: 4 1/2oz

AMISH PASTE TOMATOES: 3 5/8oz

GREEN BEANS: 3 1/8oz

ONIONS: 1/2lb

 

 

Farmers’ Market Sunday

As you could see in one of the pictures from yesterday’s post, there was lots to buy at the Farmer’s Market yesterday.  I stocked up with the bounty of the season to eat locally all week and then some!

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  • 2 eggplant, 1 bunch of basil, 2 ears sweet corn, 1 bunch cilantro from Barber Farm
  • 1 half gallon reduced-fat milk, 1 pint chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1 dozen large eggs, 1.35lbs chicken from Coopers Ark
  • 1lb fresh mozzarella from R&G cheese
  • 1 quart Ginger Gold apples and 1 pint apricots from Maynard Farm
  • 1 sticky bun from Our Daily Bread
  • 1 bunch of bunching onions from Migliorelli Farm

Our menu for this week (we try to plan 5 meals as we have leftovers usually):

Monday:

  • Lamb Chops with Mint-Mustard Sauce (Meat from 8 O’Clock Ranch)
  • Brown Rice (non-local rice)
  • Carrots and Beans (from the garden)

Tuesday:

  • Organic pizza with local cheese and garden tomatoes

Wednesday:

  • Barbecued chicken with locally-made BBQ sauce (meat from Coopers Ark)
  • Sweet corn (from Barber)
  • Swiss chard (from the garden)

Thursday:

  • Eggplant parmigiana (all ingredients from farmer’s market and garden)

Friday:

  • Whole wheat pasta (non-local)
  • Homemade pesto sauce

 

And tonight I’m whipping up some apricot sorbet to have for dessert all week! Pictures and recipe to come later.

I’m trying to make more of an effort to post our weekly menus, especially in the middle of the summer when there’s lots to choose from.  I still struggle with coming up with a mostly local menu each week though.  I found myself actually searching the Internet before the market this week to get some inspiration – especially vegetarian local recipes.  K doesn’t like stir fry, which I would make a staple in my household if it were up to me.

 

 

Goings On at the Little House

 

Lots going on at the Little House this weekend!  It’s so busy, I don’t really have time to write a full post.  To keep you going, here’s a pictorial post to show what’s happening.

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Jam being processed

 

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Enjoying the “fruits” of Cynthia’s canning lesson

 

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My first quilt is finished!

 

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Hot kitty on the deck

 

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Apricots and gooseberries

 

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Apricot-gooseberry and blueberry jams

 

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Full shopping bags after the Farmers’ Market

 

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Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness

 

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Blueberries drying in the dehydrator

 

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Some of the produce brought home from the garden: tomatoes and green beans

 

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4 cups packed basil, ready to make pesto.

 

 

Whew! As you can see, there’s never a dull moment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canned Peaches

Continuing the theme this week of peaches, last night K and I toiled over a hot stove making canned peaches.  The idea is that we “put up” enough now (along with other fruits) to enjoy our labors all winter long.  We probably won’t have enough to get through the whole year (day jobs make it tough to find the time to do this) but every little bit helps.

To make canned peaches, we started off the same way as with the chutney, washing, draining, and peeling the peaches.  Peeling peaches are so much easier than peeling tomatoes! Just boil some water, throw in the peaches for 30-60 seconds, and dunk in a bowl of ice water to stop the “cooking.”  The peel starts coming off by itself and you can easily pull off the rest.

Once that’s done,  cut the peaches in half and pit.  To prevent darkening, you can follow these instructions:

Several treatments may be used to prevent or retard darkening. One is to coat the fruit as it is cut with a solution of 1 teaspoon (3 g) crystalline ascorbic acid, Fruit Fresh,  or 3,000 mg crushed vitamin C tablets per cup of water. Another is to drop the cut pieces in a solution of water and ascorbic acid, citric acid or lemon juice. Use 1 teaspoon (3,000 mg) ascorbic acid, 1 teaspoon citric acid or 3/4 cup lemon juice to 1 gallon water.An ascorbic acid (commercially sold as “Fruit Fresh”) and watersolution serves as a desirable anti-darkening treatment, adds nutritive value in the form of vitamin C, and does not change the flavor of the fruit as lemon juice may do. Ascorbic acid is available in crystalline or tablet form in drug stores and supermarkets. Ascorbic acid mixtures, such as ascorbic acid combined with sugar or with citric acid and sugar, also are available. For these, follow the manufacturer’s directions. In such mixtures, ascorbic acid usually is the important active ingredient. Because of its dilution with other materials, these forms may be more expensive than pure ascorbic acid.

If ascorbic acid products are not used in the pretreatment of cut fruit, they may be added to the canning juices or liquids before processing. This will help keep the fruit from darkening during storage. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid or 750 to 1,500 mg crushed vitamin C tablets per quart of fruit. Commercial ascorbic and citric acid mixtures such as “Fruit Fresh” or “ACM” also may be used according to manufacturer’s directions.

We sprinkled some lemon juice over the peaches, but didn’t make any sort of those mixtures above. We did something similar with the apples we canned last year and they still look good.

There are two ways to can fruit, via raw pack and hot pack.  With raw packing, you put uncooked fruits into the jar, then a light syrup the rest of the way.  It’s a lot quicker than the hot pack, but your fruits don’t last as long because there’s more air in the jars.  We decided to hot pack our peaches instead, which required heating them through in a medium syrup before placing them in the jars.

To make the medium syrup, dissolve 3 1/4 cups of sugar in 5 cups of water. This should provide 7 cups of syrup.

Cook the peaches one layer at a time in the syrup until hot and then pack the hot peaches, cavity side down into your jars. This is harder than it looks! They kept flipping the wrong way for us, but the idea is to keep as much air out as possible. Once the jars are full, ladle the syrup over the peaches, leaving a 1/2 inch of headspace.  Put on the 2 piece caps and process 20 min. for pints, 25 min. for peaches.

We canned the remainder of the peaches from the peck we bought this past weekend, ending up with 4 quarts (and a little left over for K to bring to work with him tomorrow).

Peach Chutney

This weekend, hubby and I threw caution to the wind (ok, really just a very hot day weeding in the garden) and went picking blueberries and peaches instead.  What, you don’t think that sounds better?  I guess I can officially say being a migrant worker is better than weeding.

Actually, we didn’t pick the peaches.  Instead, we went looking for “seconds” at the farm stands down in Columbia County, inspired by the picture in this local blog post.  We found them at Golden Harvest Farm in Valatie, NY. For $9, we got a full peck of “utility” peaches! Utility peaches aren’t perfect but they are completely edible.  Some are just overripe, some are underripe and in some the skins aren’t perfect, but for our purposes, they were just what we needed. Considering that the “good” peaches were $17 a peck, we felt great about our purchase!

Especially for our purposes.  With that peck of peaches, we decided to make lots of peach chutney for this winter to eat with the samosas and Indian food we like on cold days with the overripe peaches.  With the rest, K wanted to can peach halves to have “fresh fruit” this winter to bring to work.

To make 7 pints peach chutney, you need:

  • 4 quarts finely chopped, peeled, pitted peaches
  • 2 – 3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup mustard seed
  • 2 tbsp ginger (I used ground ginger)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 5 cups vinegar

To make a smaller amount, you can cut the recipe accordingly.  We sorted through the peaches and picked out the most overripe peaches we had, cutting out any rotten parts.  This came out to about 2 quarts, so I cut the recipe in half.

To make the chutney, combine all the ingredients in a large pot and simmer until thick.  Such a simple recipe!  Stir frequently to prevent sticking, but after it’s thickened to the consistency you like, ladle the hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust the 2-piece caps, and process for 10 min. in a boiling-water canner.

Voila, chutney!

Camping Time!

I’m so far behind on my blog posts, I don’t think I’ll ever catch up! It’s a lot like how I feel both about our garden and the “putting up” we’re constantly behind on – the garden always needs weeding (and we’re so far behind) and the things we bring home need to be preserved before they go bad.  It’s the busiest time of the year and something I look so forward to during the winter time, and not so much right now.

Currently, we’re brining pickles in the basement, have some peach chutney bubbling on the stove, waiting to be canned, and then we’ll be canning regular peach slices, and blueberries.  So much to do! I love it, but unfortunately my day job looms tomorrow – pushing this to the background once again.

In the meantime though, we were able to get away for the July 4th holiday, going camping for our second time at Forked Lake, this time with friends.  This is truly our favorite place to go camping, and is getting more and more well known as it was so much busier this holiday than in 2008.

The weather was fantastic – in the 90s, but with a strong, strong breeze on the lake that tried to blow things away at our campsite. This was one time we really did need to stake down the tents.

I spent all of my younger years camping for eight weeks each summer, and you’d think that after all of that, I’d be able to settle down into the outdoors really easily.  But without fail, after going from the crazy, air-conditioned business world, it always takes me a full night to settle in before I feel comfortable. That first night, I’m scared of everything, from bears to other campers nearby, killing me in my sleep. I know – don’t laugh! 🙂 But after that first night, I’m always completely fine for the rest of the time.

Of course, the first night camping this time was made 100 times worse by the fact that we were in front of our campfire, backs to the forest behind us.  I didn’t hear a thing when all of a sudden, a man comes up behind us, SCARING THE CRAP out of me.  I didn’t hear him walking at all. He must have seen our fire from the trail, but the trail was so so far behind us I had no idea how he found his way in the dark.  He asked us what campsite we were at, as he was looking for his.  After that, it took me a long time to feel safe enough to sleep.

But the next morning, I woke up refreshed, though sore (man, it really does get harder to sleep on the ground as you get older. It never used to bother me when I was young).  I listened carefully, hearing nothing but the birds in the trees, the lap of the lake against our canoe.  That’s it.  K and I got out of the tent and built up the fire, preparing for breakfast, when we saw a loon coming rather close to our site.  He stayed far enough away, making it difficult to get a good picture, but close enough that with the naked eye, it was the closest to a loon I’d ever gotten.

He stayed with us for nearly half an hour, paddling around us, and then all of a sudden, the call of the loon rang forth from his throat as clear and mournful as any Taps I’ve ever heard.  It was haunting.  Again and again he called, over and over, and I stood, stock still, listening to the cry that was coming from right next to me.  Beautiful, but so so sad.

And apparently a mating call, as after 10-15 minutes, Ms. Loon surfaced from nowhere and took her place near him as they paddled away. What do I know about the haunting calls of loons?

On the Fourth of July our friends spent the day hiking Blue Lake Mountain (which we’d done a few years before).  Jeff came back with a few choice words for us having sent him on such a ridiculous climb, LOL.  We spent the day relaxing at the campsite and swimming the lake.  It was cold!!  In the evening we hiked out from the campsite (as the previous night’s paddling in the dark didn’t work out so well for us) to go out to dinner at the Adirondack Hotel on Long Lake and watch fireworks.  Dinner was all right, not as good as the previous time we were there, and then we drove over to the recreation field where most of the locals go to watch the fireworks, instead of hanging out with the crowds on the bridge.

We hadn’t needed any bug spray the entire weekend, but here, in the tall grass, we really did. Too bad it was back at the campsite.  But the fireworks made up for it.

After they were over, we trudged back to our campsite in the dark.  At least this year we had a lantern! Made things a lot easier. 🙂

Back at the campsite, we tried to capture the night sky.  So many stars are visible away from the lights of towns and cities!

On Monday, there was nothing to do but pack up and head back towards civilization.  Boo.

Our campsite perversely empty, we turned toward the shore, but not first without a backward glance down the lake.

We weren’t the only ones leaving! The far shore was littered with boats and canoes and kayaks.

One last look…

July Mode

Just like the farmer’s market, our garden is in full July mode – almost but not quite bursting at the seams.  This means it requires a lot of time weeding and mulching, but the hot, HOT sun makes one want to stay out of it much of the day! As a result, we’re still behind in weeding (a never-ending task, I’m afraid) and mulching.

With the close to 100F temps last week, our peas are just about done.  Turning brown and drying on vine, I picked the lot of them this weekend.  I put them in the dehydrator to dry and and then shelled them so we can make split pea soup later on this fall.  There’s still many more to dry but so far, it’s looking pretty good.

Most everything else seems to be humming along just fine.  STILL no ripe tomatoes with the exception of the tiny currant ones, but all in due time, I guess.

But it looks like we will have a bumper tomato crop this year.  Even green, there are so many growing!

Here are some almost ripe amish paste tomatoes.  If you look carefully, they are flat on the bottom (the oblong shape is how they naturally look, not round like other tomatoes).  They’ve got blossom end rot, which is caused by a calcium deficiency. Despite the llama beans and lots of organic matter we’ve added to the garden this year and last, our soil is still really not all that great.  We’ll be heading to our local nursery this weekend to find some organic product to treat this issue.

All of the other tomatoes look to be perfectly fine though.

These are the Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

Here are the Fox Cherry tomatoes.  Although they’re cherries, they’re actually more the size of plum tomatoes.  This picture makes them look as big as the Cherokee Purples, but they’re really only about half as big.

The Striped Germans in the garden are the big boys this year! We won’t get as many in numbers as the other tomatoes, but I’m not concerned – we’ll make it up in poundage!

On the opposite end of the scale are the Matt’s Wild Cherries that have been ripening for the last couple of weeks.  They’re also considered a cherry tomato, but unlike the Fox Cherry, they run small – like a grape tomato.

Somewhere in the midst of all my tomato plants, there’s an Isis Cherry (just one) but I haven’t found out which one yet.

Turning to the other plants in the garden….my corn!

So far, it’s looking good – and we have many more stalks than last year (around 9).  Still, our corn last year was looking pretty well until a squirrel got it late in the season, so we’ll see!

First baby green bean!

Here’s the beginning of our first tomatillos.  I’m so proud of these plants, which already have quite a few tomatillos on them.  It’s my first year growing them AND I did it from seed.  I can’t wait to make some salsa with these this year!

You probably saw the lovely rainbow chard we picked last week in my Garden Tally post yesterday, but there’s still lots more in the garden.  It’s not as big as the chard you get from the market, but it looks HEAPS better than the chard we TRIED to grow last year!

Cucumbers!  Last year we bought pickling cukes right from the market, but this year I’m growing them myself! We’ve got about 5lbs of cukes so far, and they’re brining right now downstairs for a few weeks before we make pickles.  We picked all the cucumbers that had grown thus far last week, since the plants seem to be shriveling a bit (whether it’s from disease or the heat, it remains to be seen).  Either we’ll get another batch of cukes in a few weeks or we’ll have saved our current batch by picking them.

Look! The beginning of a head of broccoli! It’s literally no more than an inch wide right now, but I can’t wait to eat my own broccoli.

Just biding my time until I get to eat most of this!

Garden Tally

Loads of stuff in from the garden this past week!

LETTUCE: 2lbs, 4 3/4 oz.

SUGARSNAP PEAS: 1.5lbs

PURPLE PODDED PEAS: 1lb, 13 1/4oz.

CUCUMBERS: 3lbs, 1/8oz

MATT’S WILD CHERRY TOMATOES: 4oz.

AMISH PASTE TOMATOES: 3 1/8 oz.

RAINBOW SWISS CHARD

GARLIC: 1 bulb (5/8oz)

Plus lots of herbs! Especially the lime basil which we used to make a homemade limeade from organic limes we bought from the co-op!

Summertime eating is so good.

Rainbow swiss chard - look how colorful!