Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Puttin' Up- the beginning of it

I've only just begun.  But do I ever have some pickled beets to eat through.  Last fall I kind if went a little wild with William's Island's beets and as I begin to clear my cabinets out I am finding that there are plenty left to go around.  Let me know if you love beets, 'cause I'll love you if you want some.

I took this recipe from Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff- totally worth owing no matter what generation you come from or can for.

This is not jam or jelly and will not gel as such.  But it is very beautiful and delicious spooned on biscuits or pancakes or whatever you most love.  

Strawberry Preserves
  • 3 pounds-about 9 cups- strawberries rinsed and hulled, and any and all bad spots cut completely off
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice (and I used the zest too)
Prepare hot water bath and 5 half-pint jars and lids (the recipe says 4 but I ended up making 5). For more info on that buy a canning book (Canning for a New Generation is perfect but there are other good ones out there as well).  It is best to learn from the books than some crazed local food advocate.  

Toss strawberries in sugar and let sit over night.  The next day simmer the strawberries and their juice for about 5 minutes.  Drain the berries and add the juice back to the pot.  Boil juice, stirring every now and then, for about 15 minutes, until the juice has reduced to about a cup and a half.  Return the strawberries to pan add the lemon juice, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often and skimming off as much foam as you can.  The berries should be glossy but still hold their shape.  The liquid should be thickened but it will not gel.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Screw lids on til just tight and process for 5 minutes in hot water bath.  Let sit 12 hours before moving.  Store any unsealed jars in the fridge.

Please please please learn all the rules when canning.  They are worth knowing.  Sugar is easier to play around with but it is always very important to be super clean and sanitary.  Follow recipes exactly until you have a huge understanding of what you are doing.  There are things to know, but once to you know them there's nothing to be scared of.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back to the Heat (and a little bit of meat)

Well it was nice the first two days.  But now it sure feels like summer.

Although I am practically a vegetarian most of the time (I just don't end up eating that much meat), I have been eating nothing but meat since I've been back.  Sometimes it's the easiest fast food there is.  Especially if you have some Link 41 sausages stowed away in the freezer or maybe a few lamb chops.  I just get tired of lentils when I'm in a hurry.

(On a side note- I DO eat "vegetarian" often at restaurants.  It's a lot easier to explain than I-only-eat-meat-that-I've-met.  Given that a lot of non-vegetarian places in the south tend to have fairly unremarkable vegetarian options we end up eating at strictly vegetarian spots.  But that poses a whole new problem- soy products and "fake meat".  I honestly don't have a problem with a little tempeh and tofu but there ARE other ways to make really great healthy, wholesome food without using meat.  We went to a vegan place in San Fransisco and there was not one single soy product or processed protein item on the menu.  Not even fake cheese (well there was a kind of fake cheese but it was made with cashews).   It just doesn't count if it's some over processed slab of soy, mushrooms, and factory sawdust).

ANYWAY, that being said, it's really nice to come back home and eat some grassfed lamb.  We ate meat out there of course.  There are plenty of grassfed farmers doing the right thing.  But nothing tastes quite as good as an animal raised on home soil.

Katahdin Lamb Chops 
with Asparagus and Soba Noodles

This might sound fancy but it's not really- and it took me about 20 minutes from start to clean up to make.  Even if the lamb is frozen.  I threw it in a bowl of cold water and the chops were thawed by the time the water for the noodles was boiling.  

for two people

the noodles:
  • 2 bundles soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or lemon juice
  • drizzle of sorghum syrup
  • thinly sliced ginger to taste
  • 1/2 bunch chopped herbs (mint, cilantro, basil, oregano, and parsley all work nice.  Use whatever you have growing in your herb garden or get to the farmer's market early and try to snag some nice looking bundles of herbs)
Boil about 5 cups of water.  Throw in the noodles and cook about 10 minutes- til done.  Drain the noodles and wash them with cold water til cool to the touch.  Don't be too vigilant about draining them now; some of the water will be nice to dilute the sauce.  Toss the wet noddles with all the other ingredients and let sit while you prepare the chops.

the chops:

I sort of got this recipe from The River Cottage MEAT Cookbook, a book definitely worth having.  It tells you to brown the chops and cook them with garlic and wine.  The recipe is a wonderful one but this short-cut tastes just as good and is really easy.  I  like it because I can just throw the chops in the oven while I finish other stuff.
  • 4 pastured katahdin lamb chops
  • a touch of oil or pan drippings
  • salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a cast iron skillet with the oil til hot.  Brown the chops on each side for a minute, salting and peppering each side after they are browned.  Put the skillet in the oven and let the chops cook for about 10 minutes, or until desired done-ness.  For a different version, more like the cookbook recipe, here are my lamb chops I made last May.  It is a tiny bit more time consuming, but delicious and also a little more explanatory.

the asparagus:
  • 1 bunch of very fresh asparagus
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a touch of butter (about 1 T or less)
  • salt
Steam the asparagus til just done in a small amount of water (you can save this water and sip on it when you're done).  Dab with butter, drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt- very lightly on all fronts.  Serve warm or at room temp.