Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Wednesday September 15, 2010

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Gordon Hyatt

Truly there isn’t a better description of Gordon Hyatt than the one he handed to me yesterday “....a globe trotter in search of a good story, a teller of tales on film...aspiring Renaissance man....a bit of a dandy and a magnificent cook.” For the purposes of Heirloom Meals, Gordon weaves his culinary tale with host, Carole Murko, in a humble yet erudite manner; the story told in true producer fashion from a seasoned story-teller. Of Polish,Irish and English descent, Gordon shares recipes from his family and those that he developed through his very own love of food, cooking and orchestrating a meal as though it were a symphony. Utterly Delightful!!

Tuesday September 14, 2010

Tabletop Tuesdays:
Helga Kaiser’s Austrian Linens

Today we are adding a different theme for Tuesday and moving our Hoofs, Paws and Claws to Sunday.
Because Heirloom Meals is about the stories and tips surrounding the family meal and treasured family recipes I wanted to dedicate some thoughts and reflections on heirloom tabletop items and treasures, and highlight the ritual of serving the meal, hints and tips for setting the table and discover and showcase unique implements and tabletop heirlooms.

I can't think of a better first post than to feature my friend and one of my culinary inspirations, Helga Kaiser's tabletop traditions.  She is Viennese and entertains with simple elegance.  Not only does she whip up her heritage fare, she serves it on her beautiful cross-stitched Austrian linens.  So while sampling her delectable delights one can be transported to another time and place - when women cross-stitched their linens with great pride to provide the backdrop to a wonderful meal shared with family and friends.

Monday September 13, 2010

Ms Murky Mondays:
Treasure Hunting at Brimfield

Brimfield makes me happy!!
I had the best day on Saturday.  I went to Brimfield and I arrived home with the back of my pick-up full of unexpected treasures!! The best was - 6 dining room chairs for $200.  Mind you they need work BUT I have been coveting this style chair for my dining room for years and never pulled the trigger because I was looking at forking over at least $1200/chair with my designer discounts! Not in my budget, now or ever.  So when you come across the deal - you have to scoop it even when you had no intention.  That's the beauty of Brimfield - you just never know what you are going to come across.

I will post the "after" photos when they are reupholstered.

Great finds aside, I also come across all sorts of heirloom kitchen tools, gadgets etc. So FUN - even if you don't buy - it's a veritable museum of other people's discards from estates, attics, garages, or basements.

Here are a few of my scores:

Nesting Hens for my ever-growing collection, a sewing basket and
Fire King custard cups with rack for water bath - so cool!!

Oh, and I forgot - my 1930 cast cement flamingos - my whimsy purchase - my garden will never be the same!

Friday September 10, 2010

Carole’s Concoctions:
Yes We CAN!

It's that time - Preserving the Bounty month.  And boy do we have some fun canning ahead of us.  I have already canned salsa and tomato sauce.  Next up ketchup. Don't you just love that all-American condiment? Horrified that high fructose corn syrup is in the list of ingredients of most store-bought brands? Well, here's your opportunity to make your own ketchup from locally grown fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes.  And if you live in the Berkshires - come to my canning workshop - Thursday, September 16th @ 7pm - it will be all about KETCHUP!!!

The recipe:

For the spice pack:
4 tbsp celery seeds
5 tsp whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole allspice
3 cups cider vinegar

30 lbs Tomatoes, cored and quartered
4 cup chopped onions
11/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup pickling salt

From start to finish it can take up to 12 hours to make 7 pints of the BEST KETCHUP you've ever tasted!!  So be prepared and plan your time accordingly - start in the morning and you'll be canning in the evening.

Make your spice pack by tying your celery seeds, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in cheescloth.  In stainless steel saucepan combine the vinegar and spice pack, boil over high heat, remove from heat and let steep for 1/2 hour. Remove the spice mixture.
Wash and cut up tomatoes, place in stainless steel saucepan with chopped onions and cayenne and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Using a slotted spoon crush tomatoes to release juices. Boil until tomatoes are soft and then add the vinegar. Continue to boil until mixture begins to thicken. 

In batches, press tomatoes through a fine sieve (what my grandmother used) or a food mill (what I use) which removes the seeds and skin. Return the skinless, seedless tomatoes with the sugar and canning salt to the saucepan over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced to desired ketchup consistency.  I'd like to tell you this is a short amount of time - but it isn't - it's taken 12 hours for one of my batches to come to desired consistency.  But believe me you - IT IS WORTH every second!!
Meanwhile, you can be getting your cans ready - place cans on rack of boiling water canner, add water until the pint jars are about 2/3rds full. Cover and bring to a simmer. This process kills any bacteria. In a small saucepan, place the lids - the flat, round piece, cover and bring to a simmer. The screw bands do not need to sterilized.
Now you are ready to start canning your ketchup. One jar at a time, remove from canner, pouring hot water back into canner, place jar on flat heat-resistant surface. Ladle sauce into jar leaving about a half inch of headspace, wipe the rim and threads with a paper towel. 
( This is important to make sure vacuum seal can occur). Lift a hot lid with your tongs (or madnet) and place on jar and then screw the lid with your fingertips until tight. Place back in canner with tongs. Repeat until done.
Cover all jars with additional water by an inch or so. Cover canner and bring to a boil. The boiling must be continuous and rapid for 15 minutes. Remove lid, let sit for about 5 minutes or so. Remove jars without tilting, place jars on a towel in a draft-free spot and allow to cool for 24 hours. Store in a cool dark place for up to a year.
I will post the video of the demo for next week's post!!  HAPPY CANNING!

Thursday September 09, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Where is the corn and eggplant?

It's truly harvest time and it seems the abundance and celerity of the harvest has picked up. It's a bountiful and melancholy time.  The morning mist is postcard perfect with a nip in the air while the days are still warming up.  Jacket weather is not far away.

Here's what Elizabeth Keen from Indian Line Farm has to say about the harvest:
Where is the corn and eggplant?  That is certainly the question many have been asking.  The eggplant remains a bit of a mystery to me.  In years past I have noticed that eggplant seemed to enjoy abundant rain and was not deterred by overly cool temperatures as long as the plants got off to a good start.  We always plant the eggplant the 3rd week of May and then keep the plants covered with floating row cover for at least 2 weeks.  This keeps the plants as warm as possible during what can be still a chilly time of year.  Late May this year was blistering hot and I saw no need to cover them and, in fact, thought I might lose plants because the cover in combination with the biodegradable black plastic can really be overly hot.  However, it turned cold again in early June and the plants were getting eaten by flea beetles so I covered them for two weeks.  When we took the cover off, the plants were noticeably bigger and by all accounts healthy.  We waited and continued to keep the plants as moist as we could through our drip irrigation system.  And we have continued to wait.  After a small flush in July the eggplants have all but petered out.  The plants seem fine, but there has been very little flower production.   I have asked around and it seems more than just I have the same problem.  My conclusion is that eggplant won't flower much above 90 degrees and they really like water.  We can hope for better next year.

Wednesday September 08, 2010

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Happy Rosh Hashana with Lisa Dachinger

For all my Jewish friends - Happy new Year!!! L'Shanah Tovah!!! And in honor of the Jewish New Year, Lisa Dachinger joined Heirloom Meals host, Carole Murko for a delightful hour of reflections and recipe sharing. The sentiment of the holiday is reflected in the food. Apples are dipped in honey, and sweet foods are cooked up in anticipation of the sweetness of the new year. Lisa shares some ideas for her grass-fed lamb as an alternative to brisket. But lest you worry, Lisa also shared her Mom’s tried and true brisket recipe as well as her Mom’s very interesting marinade for the lamb. Lisa boasts that her Mom’s matza balls are floaters and that her ruggelach are prize-winning. Unfortunately that recipe will remain only in the hands of the Dachinger’s, with the promise that it is written down and passed down through the generations!! To the sweetness of the new year!!

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