Thursday, September 23, 2010

New York Times

Indeed. And isn't life sometimes strange? A little more than a week ago I had a phone interview with a New York Times journalist about a story she was writing about "Booozy Fruit." Check out the article, with a quote from, well, me here:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tomato Sauce

First a couple of unrelated notes:
1 Things that happen on twitter: Furmint Day is coming up on 10/23. Suggestions more than welcome.
2 I don't write for the UCPress blog, but take a look there for more on what is going on in our office, including the Twain autobiography and some mentions of my titles as well including Reading Between the Wines, the book reviewed by my mother earlier in the summer.
3 Serving my daughter home baked bread with homemade jam makes me feel good.

Now, onto the tomatoes!

Indeed, 40 more pounds for sauce and juice. And more company in the kitchen: today we were joined by Molly and Valeria, along with Molly's daughter Daisy to hang out with K. Which is a good thing because with their long processing time and lack of cupfuls of sugar, tomatoes are not K's favorite thing to can. Last year we made our sauce with San Marzanos from Mariquita. Sadly, they are yet to be available, so we used 2 boxes of their Early Girls along with a third case Lisa picked up at the market.

The sauce we made is very basic. We do this so it can be personalized at home whether by adding sausage or mushrooms or olives. The recipe below is adapted from one we learned at a tomato class taught by Happy Girl Kitchen several years ago. Their sauce calls for quite a few roasted red peppers and after experimenting we decided we liked a more basic and versatile sauce.

Tomato Juice and Sauce

40 pounds tomatoes, blanched, peeled and roughly chopped
4 T olive oil
4 cups chopped onion
8 cloves garlic, minced
Herbs of choice, minced finely to taste We used basil, thyme, and oregano

Blanch, peel and chop tomatoes. Place in a non reactive pot, probably several, and bring tomatoes to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes until juices release.
To make juice, skim off juices with a ladle and strain. Fill jars and finger seal. Process for 35 minutes per pint or 40 minutes for quarts.

To continue with sauce, add chopped onions to a pan with olive oil. Continue to cook until well cooked down. Add garlic and continue to saute, until onion is translucent and garlic is fully cooked. Add herbs and cook until heated through. Add to sauce and continue to simmer until well combined. Continue to cook until sauce is at desired consistency, 2-3 hours or so. Ladle into jars, finger seal and process 35 minutes for pints or 40 minutes for quarts.

We ended up with 12 pints of sauce, 51/2 quarts of juice.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sept Can Jam

Another month that starts with a confession. This year we have canned cherries, plums, apricots and peaches. So when stone fruit was announced as the September Can Jam assignment, I knew that I was not going to do a new project, but, instead, cheat and write about something from earlier in the year. It is not that I don't love all of our stone fruit creations, but after 40 pounds of apricots, 50 pounds of peaches, 20 pounds of cherries and some fine scrapes from the tree climbing involved in the plum jam, I have enough jars to get me through the year.

So this is a recipe from last month's peach extravaganza. I have large blackberry bushes in my backyard. So large that along with having as many berries as I can eat, I end up freezing many pounds of berries for use later. Last year later included blackberry "cheese," gin, and jam. This year it has already led to blackberry lemonade and the recipe below: Peach-Blackberry Jam. I have in mind some sort of blackberry-lime creation later in the year, but am open to any suggestions.

Peach-Blackberry Jam

8 cups peaches, skins removed and roughly chopped
8 cups blackberries
4 cups sugar
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 box Pomonas Pectin

Make calcium water with packet included in Pomona's pectin by combining 1 t calcium powder with 1 cup water. Shake well to combine.

Combine the peaches, blackberries and 16t calcium water sugar in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add lime zest/juice and stir to combine. Meanwhile combine sugar and 12t pectin powder. After the fruit mixture reaches a boil, add sugar and pectin, stirring vigorously. Continue to simmer until jam beings to gel. Test for a set by placing a teaspoon of jam onto a very cold saucer, leaving to cool then pushing the jam with your finger to see if it wrinkles up: even if the wrinkle is only on the surface and faint, the jam really should be done (and don't forget it will set more in the jar).

Fill jars with the hot jam, wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies

School morning breakfasts can be tough. Neither of us likes cereal and milk very much. I’d like to be the sort of mother to get up each day and make scrambled eggs or pancakes or waffles, but that rarely happens. Katie would happily eat Greek yogurt and honey every morning, but she is a very slow eater and on days when we are running late, we need something a bit quicker. I tend to make muffins and pancakes in batches and freeze for easy reheating in the morning. Right now we have both peach muffins and multi-grain pancakes in the freezer.

However, this past week Katie read in a book about a girl who has oatmeal cookies for breakfast. I have seen many recipes online for oatmeal breakfast cookies. So we played around a bit and found a cookie that may not be for everyday, but for those rushed mornings, just about perfect. Note that I used steel cut because we had them in the house. This makes for a crunchy cookie, which we both like but some my find odd. For a more traditional texture use rolled oats.

This recipe is based on one from Smitten Kitchen that can be found here:

½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
½ t vanilla extract

¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour

½ t baking soda
¼ t ground cinnamon

¼ t nutmeg
½ t salt
1 ½ cups oats
¾ cup dried apricots (chopped roughly)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Per my lazy baking ways add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix until combined. Stir in the oats and combine well. Add dried apricots and mix until incorporated .

Scoop the cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Note that if you use rolled oats, baking time will be significantly less. Transfer to a rack to cool.