Sunday, September 12, 2010

Green Tomato Salsa

Here's another "green tomato" inspired recipe!

Green Tomato Salsa...

it's a different take on salsa, good on meat or just with some tortilla chips!

You will need:
7 cups of chopped, cored green tomatoes
2 cups worth of red onions, diced
4-5 jalapeno's (a few more if you LOVE heat!!)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, (roughly 4-5 limes)
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

-Firstly get your jars ready...this recipe will make enough salsa to fill 6 250 ml jars, get them on the stove & sterilized.  Bring tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic and lime juice to a boil in a large stainless steel pot.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Get your jars and fill, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.  Put on your lids and screw bands, and boil in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.   Take them out and place on a level surface!

That's it!  What a delightful thing to do with your green tomatoes!
xo maureen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Homemade Pizza Sauce!

The tomatoes have been abundant this year.  Here's a great thing to do with the bounty...make some homemade pizza sauce!  I know our family has pizza at least once every few weeks...this is a great alternative to store bought!

You will need:
25-28 tomatoes
2 large onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp celery seed
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp summer savory

-Peel and puree tomatoes...I used my food processor to puree.  Put them aside in a very large bowl. 
Mince your onions and garlic.  Put your olive oil in a deep sauce pan and saute onions and garlic until translucent.  Add tomato puree and the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well to blend and bring to a boil.  Turn down to low head and simmer for 1.5-2hrs to reduce and thicken, (or longer if need be).  Pour into freshly steralized, hot jars.  Put in a water bath canner for 25 min. (250ml size).

This recipe yielded 13-250ml jars.

Oh, I know we'll be SO grateful to have this in the pantry on pizza night!

xo maureen

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fruit Relish from Fletchington Farms!

I'd like to give a BIG welcome to a "real life" friend and fellow homeschooler Paula!  Go check out her blog at Fletchington Farms!  This gal is a real life homesteader...she farms, cooks, sews, knits, preserves...truly an inspiration!  

This next recipe is very special to me. It’s one of the very few recipes I have that I know my Great Grandma used to make. I have her old cook book but who knows which ones she used. This Fruit Relish
was made every year and my Grandma still makes it, and now I do too.
Not too many people make fruit relish at home, but up here is seems to be more popular. Up here they tend to call it Chili Sauce, which I find confusing because I think chili sauce is more like ketchup in consistency (like Heinz Chili Sauce). Where as my Fruit Relish still has all its parts visible. Start this recipe early in the morning.  You don’t have to babysit it, but it takes a while.

Fruit Relish
*recipe says 8 qts, but it seems to change every year

24 large tomatoes, you want tomatoes to be the majority of the ingredients
6 peaches
6 pears
6 apples
6 onions
2 red and green peppers
1/2 c pickling spice
2 T salt
3 c white sugar
4 c vinegar

-Peel and dice everything. You want the pieces no larger than 1/2 inch. Tie the pickling spice into a cheesecloth bag. Mix ALL the ingredients into a large pan/pot. Let stand for 3 hours. Then simmer, uncovered, until thick. My recipe says 2 hours, but I have never had it ready that quickly. I simmer over a fairly low temperature that way I don’t have to worry about sticking and burning.  You want it thick but with plenty of liquid to fill the jars -hope that makes sense.

Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-1/4 inch headroom. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

How to Peel Fruits Easily:

-Bring a large pot of water to boil. Put in a few fruit you want to peel, sometimes it’s easier if you cut a X in the bottom. Let sit in the water a few seconds then carefully lift out and set aside for a couple of minutes. If you are not cooking the fruit, put it into a cold water bath to stop the cooking. If you are using the fruit for
something like fruit relish, the cold water is unnecessary.


Green Chili Sauce...

I'm starting to have tomato impatience...the darn things just won't ripen, (and I've heard it said from many a farming folk in this Valley of ours that I'm not alone)!
So...what's an impatient girl like me to do?  Bring on the Bernardin Home Preserving Bible, (er, I mean book).

You will need:
18 cups cored and chopped tomatoes
3 onions, chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped, (I used 5 med sized ones)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
3 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups lightly packed brown vinegar
4 1/2 tsp pickling salt
4 1/2 tsp pickling spices, (tied in a cheesecloth bag)

-Combine all the vegetables, vinegar, brown sugar and salt in a large stainless steel saucepan...add your pickling spice mixture which you have lovingly tied in a cheesecloth bundle.
Now bring it all to a roaring boil, stirring frequently for a few minutes.  Then bring down the temp and boil gently for 3 hours or so, (until mixture reaches desired consistency)...stirring occasionally, (to prevent scorching).  Discard cheesecloth bag.  Put into freshly sterilized jars, (250 or 500 ml sized are best).  Put on lids and screw bands and put in a water bath canner.  Can 15 minutes for the 250 ml sized or 20 minutes for the 500 ml sized.  Remove jars and place on a level surface for 12-24 hours.  Label and store in a cool, dark place!

*I think this sauce would be great served on rice, or added as a sauce for a stirfry!  It's not too spicy, but really seems to have a unique flavour!  Although it did take a long time to make, it really wasn't much work after the chopping was done!

It yielded 10-250ml sized jars...not too bad for an evening of canning!

xo maureen

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canning Adventures with Simplicity Mom!

Woohoo!  Our first guest post...welcome to the delightful Stephanie G from Simplicity Mom
Please go and check out her blog and her journey towards living more simply and sustainably! 
Here's the post:
I think it's safe to say we're getting this home canning thing down. I'm still nervous about the pressure canner. I just know it's going to explode and take me out. But I can practically water bath can with eyes shut. Not only is it a practical way to save what we reap but it provides a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction. Plus, hubby usually helps and we have a good time together in the kitchen, sort of like a "date night" over boiling water and bubbling fruits and vegetables.

Ever the doomer, Hubby likes to point out that to be a well rounded, sustainable and prepared family, we should explore other food preservation techniques. He's not a pessimist per se....more, he sees the direction the world is headed and believes that we should be as prepared as possible for what may come. It's a good combo: he's a survivalist, I'm an environmentalist and proponent for simple living....we're getting prepared, treading lightly on the earth and becoming happier people in the process! Anyway,Hubby thinks that at some point in time, there may not be canning supplies to be had. Whether flood, or famine or whatever, what happens if we can't get canning lids? How would we preserve our food? Aside from buying out the stores, we have turned to the book Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning. This book details food preservation old school style. We're talking drying, lactic fermentation, alcohol, vinegar and oils. Any of these methods can be used to save your harvest and you don't need canning lids or electricity.

The first experiment was radishes. I've begun to look at radishes like I look at zucchini. Tasty for the first couple weeks and then you are so overrun you don't know what to do with them. Hubby decided he would used lactic fermentation to preserve them. He filled the jars with clean, trimmed radishes, occasionally adding salt and packing them down tightly. Thinking the radishes might be bland, he tossed in a couple of cloves of raw garlic for good measure. Then, he covered them with boiling salted water and put them in the pantry to do their thing.

All was well for few days. The water had turned a lovely pink color and the radishes bobbed happily in their brine. I don't quite remember when I started noticing the smell. I would catch faint wafts of something I couldn't quite put my finger on every time I opened the pantry. Then, after about two weeks, I came in the house after a morning of errand running and when I breezed by the pantry, I was overcome by the pungent stench of something rotting. I tore the pantry apart expecting to find a moldy potato or a dead rodent. But no. I took one whiff of those jars of radishes and nearly passed out. I didn't even save the jars. I threw all six of them in the trash, unopened. Lesson learned. Radishes are best eaten fresh, straight from the garden. Save the lactic fermentation for something else!

After the radish disaster, you would understand why I might be hesitant to try any more of these "stone age" preservation techniques. However, we had a sizable carrot crop which we harvested so as to make room for fall plantings and not a lot of freezer space. So....hubby decided we should try preserving them in oil. The carrots were scrubbed, trimmed and sliced. The spears were blanched in vinegar, packed loosely into jars, sprinkled with herbs and spices and covered with olive oil. That's it. And though I was skeptical, they are the BEST carrots I have ever eaten. They are supposed to cure for couple of weeks but they are already bursting with flavor. I've never seem my kids eat so many carrots in one sitting! Really. I'm not a big carrot fan but these would be great as an appetizer, chopped in a salad or straight out the jar. And work was minimal. No hot boiling pots, no timers....easy peasy.

As happy as I am that the carrots were so much more successful than the radishes, I still think the classic canned good is my preferred method of preservation. We will continue to experiment but just in case....I think I'm stocking up on jars and lids!! 


*Thank you Simplicity Mom!
I know I'll be checking out that book for sure!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sundried Tomatoes in Oil!!!!

Every year I plant WAYYYYYYY too many cherry tomatoes and mini plum tomatoes!
Last year I harvested them, dried them and froze them, but to be completely honest with you, I wasn't inspired often to head down to the freezer to get them out. 
Then I read about a new way of preserving oil!
So, here's how I did mine.

Start by cutting them into smaller pieces.  For the plum tomatoes I cut them into 3 slices, for the smaller cherry tomatoes I cut them in half.  You can also use larger tomatoes, just make sure you cut them into thin slices.  Put them in a bowl and marinate with some olive oil and salt.  I used about 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 Tbsp of sea salt.  Let it sit for 15 min to overnight.

Spread your tomatoes on a dehydrator sheet...and put your dehydrator on about 100 degrees for approximately 18 hours, or until your tomatoes are sufficiently dry, (you want them very very dry).  You can also dehydrate them in an oven on low temperature

This is what your dried tomatoes should look like.

Using a freshly steralized jar, put in your tomatoes and some sprigs of rosemary, basil and oregano.  Cover it all up with olive oil and keep it in the fridge indefinately!

*I would recommend using organic olive oil if you can

This recipe is loosely inspired by "RAW...the Uncook Book" by Juliano.
(he recommends putting in a clove of garlic, but my fear of botulism prevents me from doing this)!
If you're into raw food it's a great, colourful uncook book that I would highly recommend.

Happy preserving and putting away!
xo maureen

Crushed Tomatoes...

Oh these glorious tomatoes!    If you are thinking of canning anything this season, please consider canning your tomatoes.  Here's why:
"It has been proved that more than any other fruit or vegetable, tomatoes are the worst kind of product to be consumed, if they are stored in cans and tins. Tomatoes are very acidic to begin with. It is this acidity of the tomatoes that will cause the chemical that lines the can to permeate into the food. This chemical is known as bisphenol-A, or BPH. These cans contain about 50 mcg of toxic BPH, which can impact an adult severely, let alone a child. And thus when the chemicals permeate into the can, it leads to an increase in the toxicity of the canned tomatoes."
here's my source for this information

I know I use crushed tomatoes in many recipes...soups, stews, sauces.  There is no better feeling than having your own organic, homegrown tomatoes on the pantry shelf, and it really requires very little work to can tomatoes!  Here's a quick tutorial...

First go out and pick your tomatoes...wash off all the dirt.  Use whatever you have on hand and try to guestimate the number of mason jars you will need.  I usually use 500ml sized jars myself.
This mornings batch, with about 16 tomatoes yielded 5-500ml jars of crushed tomatoes.

First you need to take your washed tomatoes and immerse them in a pot of boiling water.  You can put a little notch into each one with a knife before putting them in the water, or not.  I find the peels come off pretty much no matter what you do.
When you see the skins starting to come off the tomatoes, (in about 30 seconds or so), put them into a bowl of cold water and peel the skins off...they should come off very easily.

Then take your tomatoes and quarter them...put them into a large bowl or measuring cup.
(this is the point at which I sterilize my jars, to have them at the ready)

Take your quartered tomatoes, (2 cups worth at a time), and crush them in your large stainless steel pot using a potato masher.  Keep adding and crushing until all of your tomatoes are in the pot.  Now put on the heat and get that tomato mixture boiling on high heat for 5 minutes.

Get your mason jars out and at the ready.  Put into each 500ml jar 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt, (the salt is optional, but the lemon juice is MUST use lemon juice...unless of course you actually want to get botulism)!  Add the crushed tomatoes to within 1/2 inch of the rim.  Wipe your rims clean, put on the lid and place in a water bath canner for 35 minutes.  You must make sure your jars are covered with water...I find that with crushed tomatoes I have to add water to the canner several times.  Have your kettle on the go and top up your canner with boiling water.

That's it....get them out after 35 them on a level surface for 12-24 hours and label.

Don't they look beautiful!!!
xo maureen

Fruit Ketchup

It looked SO pretty in the pot, so I took a picture!

You will need:
4 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes
4 cups chopped pitted, peeled peaches
2 cups chopped, cored, peeled apples
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup liquid honey
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, (optional)

-In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine tomatoes, peaches and apples.  Over low heat, using a potato masher, mash the fruit until the juices flow.  Add onion and garlic.  Increase heat to med high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and cover and boil gently until fruit is heated through and onions are translucent.
-Working in batches, transfer mixture to a food mill or sieve places over a glass or stainless steel bowl...mill or press with the back of a spoon to get out all the liquid & pulp.  Measure out 5 cups worth and discard solids.
-Return liquid and pulp to the saucepan,  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil over med high head, stiriring occasionally.  Reduce and boil gently for 45 min, or until it is the consistency of ketchup.
-Prepare canner, jars and lids.
-Ladle hot ketchup into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and wipe rim. Put on the lid and screw band.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with boiling water.  Process for 15 min.  Remove jars, cool and store.

*This recipe yeilds 4 250 ml jars of ketchup.  For all the work that is involved I would suggest doubling the recipe, (that's what I did), and get your times worth out of this!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feeling Peachy!

It's peach season here in Ontario.  The peaches are bountiful, juicy and abundant in our local grocery store.
While I don't grow my own peaches, I do try to support and buy any and all Ontario grown produce, and preserve and eat it in season!  Here's a fantastic way to preserve the freshness of these wonderful fruits...

Spicy Spreadable Peaches

5 cups pitted, peeled diced peaches
4 tart apples, think granny smith
1 can undiluted, frozen apple juice concentrate (thawed)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
5 250ml mason jars or 10 125ml sized mason jars.

I LOVE seeing the colours and fruit sitting altogether at the beginning of the process!

Place all ingredients in a large, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil.  Boil gently for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally or until spread reaches desired thickness.  Pour into your prepared, steralized mason jars within 1/4 inch of rim.  Wipe your rims clean and put on the lids.  Place in a water bath canner for 10 min.
Put on a counter and leave them alone for 24 hours before moving them!

Yum!!!  A couple hours of canning and now we have a pantry full of peaches!!!

*this recipe comes from the Bernardin Home Preserving is well worth the $$ to buy this book for is like my bible come harvest time!

You could also make these in the smaller mason jars...the 125 ml size.  I find that those size are perfect for putting into a Christmas basket.  I make several different jams and spreads in the 125ml size, and pair it with a loaf of fresh baked bread.  What a delightful gift to receive on a cold winters night!

And, just to make your spreadable peaches a little are some awesome free printable lables from  How About Orange that I recently came across.  I think they're awesome and would just make your preserves look even more amazing!

I'd love to know what you're putting away in other parts of the world!

xo maureen

What to do with your zucchini!

The trouble is, you cannot grow just one zucchini. Minutes after you plant a single seed,
hundreds of zucchini will barge out of the ground and sprawl around the garden,
menacing the other vegetables. At night, you will be able to hear the ground quake
as more and more zucchinis erupt.
- Dave Barry

Well, we're back from our blog "vacation"!  This past week has been full of fun, and gave me a chance to get caught up on some of the work going on in my garden!  When I went out this morning, much to my dismay, there were 10 zucchini just aching to be picked.  While I LOVE zucchini and the bounty of my garden, to be honest I just wanted to turn my head and be in zucchini denial!   Once picked these wonders of the garden just have to be used up.  In gratitude though, and in knowing that people in this world of ours are suffering and zucchini will go to waste!  Thank goodness though, for a friend who came over and took away two of the biggest one's for baking!
Here are a few creative and tasty ways to use up a zucchini!

First off...bring on the zucchini latkes!

You will need
1 zucchini...medium sized
2 potatoes
1 carrot
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour, (white or whole wheat)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, (or other vegetable oil)

So...get out your grater, and shred your zucchini, potatoes and carrot.  Put it all in a large bowl.  Add the eggs, flour and salt and pepper...stir it up.

Fill your fry pan with least a couple of cm worth.  Heat it up and drop in your batter by the tablespoon full.  Flatten it down and fry for 3 min per side.  Get out your sour cream and/or maple syrup and devour!

I usually serve this dish with a side salad, however on this night we are also drowning in beans, so beans and side salad it is!

The next best thing to do with zucchini is to make Chocolate Zucchini Bread!

You will need:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
2/3 cup soymilk
2 cups shredded Zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Oil up 2 loaf pans.  Then get a large bowl and pour in all of your dry ingredients, give it a stir to get out any lumpy bits.  Make a well in the middle and add all the wet ingredients.  Stir it up and pour into your prepared loaf pans.  Put into an oven set to 350 degrees for 1 hour.

That's it!  What I've been doing is making two at a time and freezing one of the loaves for later!

And here is another favourite recipe from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  It can be found HERE!  Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Honestly, try them...they're delicious!  And if you haven't already read the book, then GO and read it NOW!!!!  I insist!

Any of the leftover zucchinis that aren't used for baking get grated and put into freezer bags, in 2 cup amounts.  This way when I want to bake something in winter I have the perfect amount of zucchini per bag!

What do you do with your zucchini's...please share your ideas and zucchini inspiration!

Happy harvesting!
xo maureen