Saturday, August 8, 2015

Relish day!

Ok, so I am not the most consistent in writing down and sharing recipes. Usually by the time I am done doing a canning marathon with my friend, I am too pooped to even think about blogging.

Yesterday was one of those days. We had oodles of fresh zucchini to process into goodies, and I had hot peppers, tomatoes and other goodies. So we primarily did relishes and a couple tomato jellies! That was all yesterday, my canning began the evening before by doing a bunch of bread and butter and cajun dill pickles for a friend.

It was a LOT of pickles, and the cukes she was gifted were huge!

I also had some beet juice from par-boiling beets to make into this gorgeous and yummy jelly with Thyme. Sadly the pics do not do the color of the jelly justice.....
Yes, I am always about waste not, want not.... your beet water makes so many delish things.... Even wine!

Yesterday's adventures were mostly relishes, but we did do two tomato jellies too, one with basil, and the other called for crushed pineapple and green chili in the recipe. Those can be for another post.

Today's brief efforts were Strawberry Garlic Serrano Jelly and Sweet Pickle relish.
Again, all yum!

Ok, on to pics from yesterday and a couple recipes!

First up as it was requested is Jalapeno Relish. Though a word to the wise, please make sure you process the jalapenos in a well ventilated room, and if you are sensitive to chilies, wear gloves while handling and processing them.

Jalapeno Relish
makes 5 half pints

30-40 small to medium jalapenos
1 large slicing tomato
1 large yellow onion
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2/3 cup chopped fresh or 1/3 cup dry cilantro
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp kosher or canning salt
2 tsp sugar

Remove stems from peppers and finely mince in your food processor, do the same for the tomato, garlic and onion. Mix the minced vegetables with the remaining ingredients and taste to see if you desire more salt.

Have hot sterile jars ready, fill the jars with mix leaving 1/4 inch headspace, wipe the rims and seal with hot lids. Process the relish in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let the jars cool fully, remove the bands and store. Reprocess any jars that did not seal.

Zucchini Relish
makes approx. 10 half pints

(adapted from Ball Recipes)

12 cups either finely chopped or grated zucchini
4 cups of minced or grated onion (we used a sweet onion)
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and minced or grated
1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and minced or grated
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 1/2 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 Tbl ground nutmeg
1 Tbl ground turmeric
2-4 Tbl prepared horseradish
3-4 serrano peppers, finely minced

Combine the zucchini, onions and peppers in a large stainless mixing bowl and mix with salt. Cover and let stand for a couple hours in a cool place.

Drain and press out extra moisture.

Combine the zucchini, sugar, vinegar, horseradish, turmeric, nutmeg and serranos in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently, stirring frequently until liquid is reduced and the mixture is thickened. Approximately 45 minutes.

Ladle into hot sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, seal with hot lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars and cool on a towel.

And last but not least...

Tomato Basil Jelly
makes 5, half pints

2 1/2 lbs of tomatoes pureed in a food processor
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbl of snipped fresh basil
3 cups sugar
3 Tbl powdered pectin

Place puree, lemon juice basil and pectin in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and keep stirring and bring to a full rolling boil, boil one minute and remove from heat. Skim off any foam (tip: use 1/4 tsp butter to reduce or avoid foam).
Ladle into hot sterile jars, wipe rims, seal with hot lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool on a towel. Check seals and remove bands after 24 hours.

Remember to have fun with your canning! It shouldn't be a chore! And it's always more fun with a friend or two or even three!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Gluten-free, Corn-free Peach Pie Filling

Yup, I am in full swing picking and canning.... Though being Gluten-free and Corn-free can have it's difficulties and like me, those of us with food intolerances or allergies can have a rough time finding good things to can easily. Many pectins aren't GF or Corn-free. And thickeners that are approved are refined corn starch.

And sadly to say, while other thickeners have been used through the years, they haven't been thoroughly tested and approved as safe. However, They can be just as safe and GF, CF pectins can be found.

Case in point today is for Peach Pie filling. This recipe is also diabetic friendly, and it will can up just fine, and makes a nice thick pie filling.

First, pick your peaches, and yes, I picked a lot of them this year. Just as they are starting to ripen is when you want to make your filling. The peaches we picked this year are amazingly sweet and extremely juicy, so slightly firm is best for this filling.

If the peaches aren't cling free, save the pits for making jelly later. They freeze fine, as do the mushy parts. :)

Wash and slice your peaches, yes, leave the skins on! Yum.....

12 cups of sliced peaches
1/2 cup plain orange juice (from concentrate is fine, just make sure no added sugar!)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup quick tapioca
8 Tbl fresh lime juice
1/3 to 1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

Have your jars ready and sanitized.
Place peaches, water, and orange juice in the stock pot and bring to a boil. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl  let sit no longer than 5 minutes and add to the boiling peaches. Simmer for about 3 minutes as it will thicken quickly. Remove from heat.

Ladle into 3 hot sterilized quart jars, or 6 pint jars

Wipe rims and seal with hot lids. Process in a boiling water bath, 20 mins for quarts and 15 for pints. Carefully remove jars and allow them to cool on a towel or rack. Remember, any jars that don't seal, should be refrigerated.

Viola! pie filling! and uber yummy!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Wild Berries in Your Backyard!

Here in the Pacific Northwest we really do have a bounty of wild foods in our backyards. Some of them even may be growing in your yard!

Sadly, many folks aren't aware that so many of the berries that grow in the wild are edible and even delicious!

Case in point today, Oregon Grape Holly, Mahonia Aquifolium. People here in Oregon use them in their landscaping as the flowers in spring are beautiful and fragrant.

The holly shaped leaves turn red around fall time. Though the plant is an evergreen and the leaves are rather prickly, the beautiful blue berries are edible. They also grow in the wild out here.

These little fruits generally hang at the end of branches, and can look much like a cluster of grapes. They pick easily like blueberries. And it doesn't take much to harvest enough for a batch of jam.

I will say though that the juice will stain your fingers, so if you don't want purple fingers for a couple days, pick with latex gloves. And you want to select nice plump tender berries.

Harvesting them is easy. Hold a bucket or bowl under the bunch and gently rake them off with your fingers. When you get them inside, you can pick out the bigger pieces of debris, and put them in a colander. As you rinse them off, shake the colander side to side which will actually help remove any attached tiny stems that may have stayed with the berries and the water will wash them through the colander. Don't worry, they don't bruise or break that easily.  Pick out any unsuitable berries and throw them away. Do small batches at a time, like a cup or so at a time. It goes relatively quickly.

Now onwards.... To the jam making! These tart little berries make a very yummy and silky jam. (sorry, didn't take a pick of the jam, my bad!)

Oregon Grape Jam

4 Cups of fresh picked berries, rinsed.
2 Cups of water
2 oz. of pectin
3 cups of sugar

8, 4 oz. or 4, 8 oz. jars

Boil the berries in the water for about 10 minutes. Using a chinois or food mill with the finer screen, process the cooked berries in batches to remove the seeds but pureeing the pulp, yes, you want the pulp. Discard the seeds.
Return the juice and pulp to the pot and bring to a boil Stir in the pectin and return to a boil. Add the sugar stirring constantly, return to a boil and boil for about 4 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

Ladle the jam into hot sterile jars, wipe the rims, seal with hot lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool the jars on a towel or rack on the counter.

Even this jam is able to be made your own, you can add things like vanilla, cinnamon, hot pepper flakes, how ever you'd like to try it. But I do promise, this is a very, very tasty little berry when canned.

I consider myself lucky, I have two bushes in my yard, And I can never use all the berries on the bushes. Maybe this year I will try making wine with some, like they do in Spain. I always love to try new things, and learn about all the bounty the land gives us for free!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Asian Cherry Sauce, A Take on traditional plum sauce

This growing season is a fast and furious one for us out here in the Pacific Northwest. Be careful, if you blink and think that fruits and produce will be ready a week later, you just might find yourself out of luck. So pick while you can, be sure to take note of fruit trees in your parks, where you walk when you are out exploring, neighbors who might have fruit trees that they don't want the fruit off of, etc. It's a great way to get summer's bounty to enjoy through the year.

Like for me, finding a wild Montmorency Cherry tree growing when we go walk the dogs. I got very excited! The same type of cherry I had growing in Santa Fe! OH Baby!

Yes these are smaller cherries, but they are some of the juiciest, and you can make so much with them!  And they aren't overly tart or sweet, just perfect little morsels! They grow wild all over out here. And you need to watch them, and pick them as you can because the birds love them and will beat you to them! But they are worth the effort.

They make excellent Jam, Jelly or sauces. And I found they make the best Cherry Bounce! I would venture to say they are probably the juiciest variety out there. I love them.

I will suggest though, that you take the time to find an old style cherry pitter. Like this one:
They will make your work so much easier and faster. You can find a newer one still made through Lehman's online. The bigger cherries will get halved, but because these little guys are so juicy, they won't halve as cleanly. But this tool makes short work of pitting!

Yesterday was the second time I went out to my discovered tree to pick more. They were even more juicy, I thought OH BOY! YUM!

As my friends will tell you, I love to do out of the ordinary for my jams, jellies and sauces. Hey, I can't help it, my creative mind refuses to color inside the lines!

So, with that being said, I sat down to try to find unusual or yummy recipes using cherries. Suffice it to say, there are few out there! So as I was going along trying to figure out what I wanted to make with these yummy morsels, and as I had also picked red plums with the intention of making Asian Plum Sauce, I thought, hell, why not make the sauce using the cherries instead of plums? Yup, that's what I did and now it's history.... mmmmmm, very fragrant and even tastier!

So here is a new twist on another recipe! It's the perfect balance of sweet and tart and nice warmth, which is what we love in traditional plum sauce.

Asian Cherry Sauce

4 cups pitted Montmorency cherries, be sure to strain the pits for that extra juice!
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup finely minced onion, sweet onion is perfect
1+ TBL of dried either crushed or rings of thai chilies
4 cloves of garlic minced fine
1 TBL grated fresh ginger
2 TBL of gluten free soy sauce
1 TBL dried basil

Get your jars ready and the boiling water bath going while you prep the ingredients. Sterilize the jars while you make the sauce.

Add all your ingredients to a stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil until the mix is thick and syrupy.
Ladle into hot sterile half pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rims and threads and ensure the air bubbles are removed. Seal with hot lids and rings.
Process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes. And cool the jars on a folded towel on the counter.
Enjoy that lovely pinging sound of jars sealing!

This makes about 4, 8oz. jars of sauce.

If you try this recipe, I would love to hear how it goes and what you think!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rhubarb and Strawberries! Oh My!

Yup, the season for picking fresh wonderful things and preserving them has begun! Right now we have rhubarb, strawberries, carrots, snow peas, beets and greens all ready for harvesting.

This means for me and many of my friends that our weekends will rarely be spent to ourselves. Started this weekend off with rhubarb and picking strawberries. YUM.

If you go out to do u-pick berries, get to know the farm, check out the fields and see how the berries look and taste before picking! While a field with lots of weeds in it is ok, it is more like a treasure hunt to find the berries hiding. If the field is getting enough water, you'll find nice juicy berries of good size. Of course a more tended to field makes picking a lot easier, but either way, as long as you go picking with a friend or friends, you'll have fun. And it is easy to pick way more than you think.

I thought I wanted about 10-15 lbs of berries, yeah, I got carried away, picked almost 20 lbs. Still good though! They freeze very well and then you have them for all sorts of other recipes as you go through the season!

Today I spent making goodies outside of plain jam or jelly. I'll share the recipes here. :)

First up..... a different jam.... heavenly!

Strawberry Roasted NM Green Chili Jam (adapted from NM State Agriculture dept)
(makes 10, 1/2 pints)

4 to 5 cups of fresh strawberries
2-3 cups roasted and peeled Green anaheim chilies, chopped
6 Tbl powdered pectin (1.75 oz)
1 cup of water
1 Tbl lemon juice, or lime
6 cups sugar
2 Tbl red chili powder

Put berries in a large stockpot and mash, add green chili, pectin, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil  over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When boiling, add the sugar all at once and return to a hard boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Ladle into hot sterile jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims and seal with hot lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow the jars to cool for 24 hours and check the seals.

And now for something else different! Did you ever consider roasting your strawberries? If not, I'd highly recommend it! Yummmmm....... And I bet this recipe would be good with grilled peaches in place of the strawberries.....

Roasted Strawberry Barbecue Sauce
(makes 3 and 1/2 pints)

5 Cups strawberries, hulled and if large, cut in half
1 small can of tomato paste
1, 4oz can tomato sauce
3 Tbl maple syrup
1 cup sugar
2 Tbl of strawberry (or other berry) jam or preserves
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl gluten-free soy sauce
5-6 chipotles en adobo with 1 Tbl of sauce (chop the chilies)
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl ginger powder
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl dijon mustard
1 Tbl dried cilantro
3 -5 Tbl red chili powder (depending on your liking for heat)
1 Tbl mesquite seasoning (from Costco)
Juice of 1 lime
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Place the strawberries on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (you want all the  juices) and roast at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a simmer. Add the roasted strawberries and puree using an immersion blender. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring constantly. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Ladle into hot sterile jars, wipe rims and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let jars cool for 24 hours, then check the seals. 

If you don't want to can the half pint, just let it cool and use for your barbecue! YUM.

Have fun! And I'll try to  keep up with all the things I make this year..... Well I did say try!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Yup, It's Spring and we are all gearing up for the season!

It's spring here in Oregon. And I am loving it! Seeds coming up, gardening fever, things blooming..... And those of us who grow our own food, can and preserve foods are anxious for the season to start. I know I can't wait.  And every day that I see new seedlings poking up I get more excited.

Not all of you know that I'm part of a pretty tight knit group of friends, we love to harvest, put up that harvest and try all these wonderful new foods. Yeah, I am a canning addict and last year was just the beginning! This year I hope to put away almost twice as much as I did last year and I have a couple favorites to share here.

Salsas, what can I say, everyone loves a great salsa. They are a great ice breaker at a party, or potluck, an easy appetizer dish to bring, but did you know that they are good with so many other foods, not just for dipping with chips, but they're great on meats, fish, and even toppings for nachos?

Most people when they hear salsa, they think of a traditional tomato based salsa that is pretty much pureed, like they get out of a jar of Pace or at a restaurant. But they're so much more than that.

Enter the good fresh made chunky salsas....

And yes, you can can them to enjoy all year around! Or you can make them fresh, or even fermented. YUM!

Though I usually make my green chili salsa to take to potlucks as it is very popular and never lasts long. And the longer it sits the warmer or hotter it can get. So be careful of the heat level of your peppers.

Roasted Green chilies are the best and while they're roasting, the aroma is incredible. These were anaheims and poblanos and a few serranos I got this last summer, ready to go on the grill to roast. You can also roast them on a dry skillet on the stove or under your broiler. You want to char the skins, blister them, then let them rest for a bit under a damp kitchen towel for a bit. It makes peeling off the skin easier. And please be sure to use gloves when handling hot peppers! The capsicum can irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin.

When making salsas, the freshest you can get the ingredients, the better your salsa.

Then when you think you've had enough of prepping all your ingredients, And you swear you will never chop another tomato, you will rethink your current thoughts. Because you will be so thrilled with the outcome and you may have found that you have a new food love. So much better than anything you can get at the store. I promise!

Ok, so with all that said, I'll share my green chili salsa and fresh peach salsa with you....

Green Chili Salsa

About 20 lbs ripe tomatoes, Chopped fairly fine
3 large onions, chopped fine
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup each chopped parsley and cilantro (if you don't have fresh, a Tbl of each dry is fine)
2 Tbl sea salt
1 Tbl black pepper
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbl oregano
10-15 roasted green chilies, anaheims or poblanos are fine, stemmed, and chopped. If you want milder, remove the seeds
5 Serrano peppers, minced. (These don't have to be roasted)
1/4 cup plain red chili powder
1 Tbl ground cumin

Mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Have your water bath canner going and ready. Sterilize your jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, and your lids.
Fill your jars with the fresh salsa leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe rims and seal with hot lids. Process jars in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.
Allow jars to cool on towels on the counter. Check your seals when cool and reprocess any that did not seal or put them in the fridge and enjoy. Try to let them rest for at least a week for all the amazing flavors to meld together. 

Now onto the Peach Salsa! I promise it is amazing, and will quickly become a favorite.

Of course sun ripened fresh picked peaches are a must!
Ready??? Ok, here goes...

Sunny Peach Salsa

6 cups of firm but ripe peaches, diced
1 cup of sugar (I only did a half cup)
1 cup chopped roasted green chilies
2 minced serranos or jalapeno peppers (fresh)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 cup red chili powder
1  Tbl dried oregano
1 tsp cumin

Mix all together and let sit for a few while you sterilize and prepare your jars and lids.
Fill your hot sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace, wipe rims and seal with hot lids.
Process pints 10 minutes and quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When time is up, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the bath an additional 5 minutes. Remove jars and allow them to cool 24 hours on a towel on the counter. Test and check to ensure the jars sealed. Reprocess any that did not or put into the refrigerator.

Let them sit at least a week to let the flavors develop.  I did double the recipe and got around 6 pints of salsa.

Both of these salsas can store at least a year in a cool dark storage place. Refrigerate any jar after opening.

Enjoy them! If you make them this summer, let me know how you liked them. I am looking forward to also making mango salsa and a strawberry salsa. Well there might be a rhubarb salsa in there too!

What is your favorite way to enjoy salsa? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Time For a Review and a Giveaway!

First, I apologize for being late in getting around to doing this! No excuses, I've been distracted lately.

OK.... Last post I wrote about Love With Food, a company with great healthy snacks and gluten-free goodies in their snack boxes, who also do great things to help end childhood hunger and food insecurity here in the states.

When my sample box arrived I was amazed at all the goodies in the box! And that it had a theme, this one was for Mardi Gras. Oh my! And there is a lot of stuff in this box! Not just good snacks to enjoy, but also a Pancake and Waffle mix by Cup 4 Cup, chocolates (my favorite treat), Key Lime White Chocolate cookies by Wow Baking Company (and I can attest that they are heavenly nibblers), and other great well made foods. Their tagline is "Share your Love With Food", Artisan Snacks Without Artificial Junk.

I am very impressed at the quality of the items in the box, that everything tastes good and that they also included several coupons in the box for several of these tasty treats. 

Yeah, I am loving them. And I especially love what they're about, which is donating over 400,000 meals to kids that need better food security. 

 Ok, While I could prattle on and on about the tastes of everything, I will get down to the Giveaway...... Love with Food will give two readers a box to try. And if you use their link HERE, you can get 50% off of your first order! Prices are very reasonable for the quality and quantity you'll be getting.

Ok, easy entry, just use the rafflecopter for entries! Contest ends Tuesday, March 10th! Good Luck! And please help support a good company!

a Rafflecopter giveaway