Friday September 10, 2010
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!!!
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
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
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!!
Tuesday September 07, 2010
Burtee and Matt surveying their kingdom!!
I love shots from behind and to me there's nothing better than seeing the bond between a boy and his dog.
Monday September 06, 2010
Labor Day = End of Summer, Reflecting & Beginning Afresh
Many of my friends are melancholy. And yes, so am I. While the 90 degree temps last week seemed to keep summer present for a bit longer, the recent cool off, earlier sun sets and autumnal colors are augurs of the next season. I am not quite ready.
So today, I want to reflect and write about a person who made my summer exceptional. Her name is Erin Russo.
I advertised for a Smith College intern (remember Smith is my alma mater) and received several applications but Erin was a stand out in so many ways!! She was smart enough to read my blog and tailor her letter as a result, she was an anthropology major and understood why I called heirloom meals "salvage anthropology for treasured family recipes," and she had a great attitude and personality.
Erin catapulted Heirloom Meals' progress in three months. We started a facebook fan page, developed an editorial calendar for the blog, booked radio show guests, successfully ran a kickstarter fundraising campaign for a new website, wrote all the content for the soon-to-be-launched website, planned and threw a fundraiser for Berkshire Grown with Sarah Gray Miller from Country Living Magazine etc.
The best part is we had fun while working hard, she was the angel I needed and became a dear friend, sister and daughter in the process.
Here are a few photos of our journey:
Erin at the Taggart House pitching in at the Close Encounters
with Music event that we catered on June 5th.
Allison Hemming and Erin in NYC at the New World Home/
Country Living Green Modular House of the Year Cocktail party on June 7th.
And now Erin's new journey:
Erin in Italy - we are awaiting her Slow Food Saturday Blog posts
when she'll share her food experience!
THANK YOU, Erin for a GREAT SUMMER.
And to all of you out there I want to hire Erin when she returns from Italy so let's help me continue to get fans, and raise money for the show!!
Love you ERIN!!
Friday September 03, 2010
I love it when my food and recipe comfort zone is challenged and blown wide open. This past week had two occurances. The first was over the weekend when our friend David Moore, a race horse owner asked me to cook up a casual dinner for 8 to be shared after the Traver's Cup Race in Saratoga Springs, NY. He said, "In the interest of this being an heirloom meal, my guests who are also my 2 brothers and their spouses, thought you should make corn pudding." I said, no problem. And as I always do when asked to make something I've never made before, I googled corn pudding, printed a couple of recipes and then adapted them into my own.
I thought I was making DESSERT!!
You can only imagine how surprised I was when David put the corn pudding on the table. I proclaimed, "Shouldn't we wait until after the main course?" To which David responded, "It is part of the main course." And I burst out laughing, admitting I thought it was dessert and I even made whipped cream to go on top!!
And boy was it delicious; a perfect side with grilled hangar steak, chicken, fresh green salad and roasted potatoes. Here's my recipe: This is a keeper and I was told it was better than their Dad's!! Oh and did I say SIMPLE!!
4 ears fresh corn, shucked and corn cut off cob
4 farm fresh eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp organic sugar
1/2 stick of butter, softened
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a square 8 x 8 baking dish. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor for about 3-5 minutes until corn is nicely blended while still retaining some texture. Pour into baking pan and bake until golden brown, about 35-45 minutes. Cool and serve warm as a side or as dessert
David Moore and Jim Finnerty ready to place their bets in Saratoga
and I am guessing we need a horse called Corn Pudding - a WINNER!
And Springerle Cookies were introduced to me by one for my radio show guests (see my Wednesday blog post for the interview). I am in love with the exquisite molds, the rich history and the taste and texture of the Springerle Cookie. They may well become a part of my Christmas cookie baking tradition!!
I am so very lucky to have these experiences!!