Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Magic Spices

These potatoes are crazy awesome.  They're just basic roasted potatoes with way too many spices rubbed all over them, but spices are magic like that.  They can transform roasted potatoes into something really unique.

Today's roasted potatoes feature a generous amount of olive oil (with a little harissa-infused olive oil from The Olive Grove), chili powder, salt and what seemed like wayyyyy too much smoked paprika.  If your potatoes aren't stained red, you haven't used enough spices.  That's my new motto.

Then I roasted them at about 450F, for 30-40 minutes.  But you could have probably guessed that part.  
If you're in the market for a good canning class this season, check out my pickling class scheduled for October 8th at Kitchen in the Market.  I think this will be my last one of the season and in this class you get to  get your handy dirty, pick up the ol' jar lifters and go home with three types of pickles!  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weeknight Apple Pie

It's nearly 9pm and I'm still waiting for this pie to cool enough so we can eat it! Tonight Mike and the kids decided to harvest the apple tree. So while they picked 3 grocery bags full of apples, I started making a crust.

My Meemaw taught me how to make a pie crust and I broke all the rules tonight, with my room temperature ingredients and lack of shortening in the house. Despite the less than perfect pie procedures, it was fun to teach my stepkids a bit about baking (they did some rolling and nearly all the crust pinching). We might just have to eat pie for breakfast if it doesn't cool down quickly.

Next goal is to make a really good gluten free pie. Anyone have a favorite GF pie crust recipe?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's Tomato Day!

I don't do all my tomato canning in one day, but I do reserve one day a year for buying a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes and making sauce.  Given that every single other Saturday this month is filled with canning classes and demos*, this was the chosen day.  Here's a couple logistical tips for canning a lot of tomatoes by yourself:

1.  Bring a little cart on wheels for hefting those tomatoes through the farmer's market.  I use a luggage dolly thingie with a cardboard box strapped to it.  It looks ridiculous when it's empty, but it's no fun carrying 24 lbs. of tomatoes through the whole market. You'll be lifting plenty of jars and heavy pots later.

2.  Use your sink.  I don't know about you, but I don't have bowl big enough to hold this amount of tomatoes.  So make use of your (sparkling clean) sink!  Another option: turn your cake-holder tupperware thing upside down and use it as a bowl.

3.  Make sure you weigh or measure your tomatoes carefully.  Don't count on that 1/2 bushel to be exactly 24 lbs.- Following safe, tested recipes and the proportions they call for is really important in avoiding killing anyone with your canned goods.  On that same note: Please don't skip the lemon juice (or citric acid)  in your canned tomatoes.

4.  Make sure you have a pot that's big enough.  This one barely cuts it and it holds 8 quarts.  I often end up splitting my tomato sauce into two pans the same size and putting a half recipe in each.  Once the sauce has reduced, I can combine them so that all the jars taste consistent.

5.  If you must blanch tomatoes for your recipe, for goodness sake, don't use up all the ice in your freezer cooling the tomatoes down.  You're going to need that ice for your drinks while you can!  Use the sink again- Fill it with cold water and add a couple ice packs (the kind you use in coolers) to keep the water chilled even when you're adding boiling hot blanched tomatoes to the sink.

6.  If you can avoid it, skip blanching and peeling tomatoes.  I'm a little bit in love with my food mill for making sauce and juice. You just have to heat up your tomatoes quickly and completely, letting them all soften.  Then crank the food mill around a few million times and you have a lovely, smooth tomato sauce (or thick juice, depending on the size insert in your food mill).  Don't think you can skip a step and just smash raw tomatoes through this baby.  You'll end up with what's called a "cold break" in your tomato juice.  That's where the juice and the solids separate and there's no way you're going to win at the state fair with a jar like that.

*I have some fun canning events coming up!  
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 I'll be at Warners' Stellian in St. Paul teaching folks to can pickled green beans.  Just click the link to get registration info.  I'm really excited about teaching canning at a home appliance store, especially since this store is like a second home to me after my year of broken appliances.  Warners' Stellian saved me every time (and they're not paying me to say this).

I'll also be at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on October 1, demonstrating how to make pickled Indian-spiced carrots.  These carrots are sweet, spicy, tangy and crazy addictive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Too Many Cukes

I hate to say it, but I'm tired of cucumbers and green beans.  I'm not quite sick of tomatoes, but it's getting close.

The garden is overflowing and I can't keep up.  Even with salads and pickle-making, the amount of cucumbers coming in is ridiculous.

I'm getting a lot of tomatoes right now, but my plants aren't doing so hot- I'm guessing they'll be done by the end of the week, especially with frost headed our way.  So I'm still enjoying having lots of tomatoes.  I need to make tomato sauce this weekend, and  I'm excited to use my food mill this year and bypass all that tomato peeling!

I was happy to skip over the cucumbers, green beans and tomatoes tonight in favor of beets!  I'm so excited to have plenty of beets from the garden.  I'm the only beet fan in the house, but everyone ate them for dinner tonight and (I think) liked them pretty well.  I used a recipe from The Vegan Gourmet (by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Mindy Toomay) that is totally magical.  For some reason it sticks in my mind, and I often think of how crazy good this recipe was when my bud Morgen and I first made it.  It sounds almost too simple, but it's so satisfying.

It's simply brown rice, steamed beets, sauteed beet greens and a dressing of tahini, lemon juice, miso, garlic and cayenne.  I also threw some marinated tempeh on the grill that I had tucked in the freezer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tomato Madness!

Just canned bloody mary mix, tomato jelly and crushed tomatoes with some awesome folks at Kitchen in the Market!