I have a “Kootenay Mom” my mother in law appointed our regional mother when we moved to a new province, and far away from our folks. My Kootenay mom is a super woman, her garden is magnificent and her husband and her grow all of their own food for half the year right here in the Kootenays and then pack up their VW bus with all of their homegrown food canned and preserved foods, and head south to live in Mexico for half of the year, where they promptly get canning tropical fruit salsas and chutneys to bring back north with them in the spring. Truly an inspiring year of eating and growing. She has shared so many delicious relishes and chutney with us over the years, and just the other day I called her for her fabulous plum chutney recipe, which I am inclined to share with you all, because it’s great, I am drowning in plums so likely this will not be the last canned plum recipe you see here.
By best backroad girlfriend passed this recipe on to me after sharing a stelar jar of this zesty zucchini relish with us, This year I have been coming up with a million and one uses for my starburst (patty pan) squash abundance, and this was the perfect addition to the growing “what to do with squash” list.
Hopefully your not all growing boarded with canning recipes… I have so much to preserving get through still but I will be sure to keep the non canned recipe coming too, as we move fully fall forward into my favorite eating season!
We have been harvesting everything, gleaning trees, and collecting seeds, foraging for mushrooms and watching the fall crops come to ripen up, what a terribly exciting and busy time of year!
For this Easy Relish You’ll need:
12 cups shredded starburst squash (or zucchini)
4 cups chopped onion
3 large sweet / hot peppers*
1/3 cup course sea salt
1 ½ cups can sugar
2 tbsp fresh ground nutmeg
4 tbsp turmeric
2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 large hot pepper with seeds
* The original recipe calls for 4 tbsp horseradish, but I’m not a fan so I omitted it and subbed in an extra hot pepper for the sweet pepper.
Shred zucchini and chop the peppers, sprinkle with the sea salt and allow to sit over night in a colander or cheesecloth, give the lot a squeeze in the morning before cooking down.
Finely chop all ingredients and bring to a boil in a large heavy bottom cauldron for 35-45 minutes. Use a submersion blender to reach desired constancy.
Portion into sterilized jars and hot water bath or steam process for 20 minutes. Ta-da zesty relish for all your BBQ needs, and yet another great place to hide excess zucchini!
Another round of tomato canning (I have 50 lbs under my belt this week already) and todays mission was tomato sauce, thick chunky sauce with a spicy kick. This batch yielded 10 quarts. It was pretty non-fussy and the sauce came together quickly. I decide to leave both the skin and the seeds in and just zipped it all up with my old faithful submersion blender. Lots of recipes call for removing the skin and roasting the peppers and removing their skin too… and frankly I just couldn’t be bothered with the mountains of other produce to put up. I like a homestyle sauce and thats precisely what this is.
18 pounds tomatoes chopped
3 pounds chile peppers
3 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1 handful of fresh chopped oregano
1 handful of fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Stew everything down in a big ‘ol pot for about and hour, stirring often. Then blend up to desired consistency, before simmering for another hour.
Portion into sterilized hot jars and pressure can at 11 lbs for 25 minutes (for quart jars). I love my pressure canner, have I mentioned that? Oh here is a tip you may not know… I noticed my pressure canner was leaving a water line on the bottom of my jars, and if you add 1 tbsp vinegar to the water… presto, the jars are sparkling clean!
This sauce is fresh and spicy, and I know I will enjoy all the tastes of sun warmed tomatoes in the drizzling cold winter months ahead.
I can’t tell you how long I have been wanting to make pickled eggs.. but it seems no one will share in their delight with me. On this cloudy sunday morning after peaking through the mountain of eggs we have on hand, I thought… this is it! Today I will pickle up some eggs, if only for me to enjoy.
I can understand the weirdness around the idea of pickled eggs, if one has never tried them before. But frankly if you like pickles and you like hard boiled eggs… then you are certain to enjoy pickled eggs. And if you have ever been to England or a british pub in the west you are very likely to find two jars on the bar top.. one containing pickled eggs and the other likely pickle sausage or at the least big dill pickles, and aside from a pack of crisps if your hungry in the UK at a pub, your not to likely to come a cross a menu of much other than those snackables. So best get used to them!
I grew up loving both of those aforementioned pickled oditties and though it has been year and year and years since I have eaten either, it seemed high time to preserve up some of the surplus off winter food we have right now, and get back to one of my earliest childhood food memories.
In a large pot:
hard boil 18 small and medium eggs for 13 minutes (or until hard in your area based on sea level, just ensure the yoke is just cooked fully… but not overcooked and dry!)
Once cooked immediately remove eggs from the hot water and let them cool in cold water until they are easy to handle and peel.
*when using farm fresh eggs, you really need to let them sit for 3+ days before hard boiling, otherwise peeling a super fresh eggs can be a nightmare, as the oxygen barrier around the thin skin, won’t have formed yet, and you’ll end up with a mess of swiss cheese like hard boiled eggs 😦
Mean while bring brine to boil:
1/2 L water
1/2 L vinegar (I used half white vinegar half apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp course sea salt
Assemble in a clean 1 L wide mouth canning jar:
6 juniper berries (dried)
10 pepper corns
2 bay leafs
plop your peeled and cooked eggs into the jar
pour boiling brine over top to cover completely, allow to cool a little before capping and refrigerating.
Let them sit in fridge at least 24 hours before eating, and then try to eat them all within a month.
* You can hot water bath process pickled eggs into smaller canning jars, for 12 minutes, if you want to give them away as gifts or store them in the pantry.
So this is a pretty easy entrance to the world of pickled eggs… who knows you night love them as much as I do!?
At the start of fall I made my first ever batch of apple butter.. and I vowed never to do it again. Why? because I was using a total piece of garbage food mill that had my kitchen a disaster and my stress level through the roof! I had to get out every pulsing, processing piece of equipment I owned to try and get that inferior mill to do anything! I spent hours and hours up to my eyeballs in apple muck all to get 3 lousy pints of fruit butter…. um no thank you. The time input to quality output ratio was all off.. and I am not a fan of make work projects.
Weeks past and then the box of quince showed up, and I was destine to make quince paste so I struggled through another 10 rounds with that borrowed food mill, while drooling over new models on the internet. Wonder just how much better a new one would be. Then found myself meandering through a thrift shop (one of my must do’s when ever I head into town) when I stumbled upon a beautiful piece of vintage packaging, my heart fluttered, oh how I love an old kitchen tool in it’s original box! “PERFECT FOR CANNING AND FREEZING” it stated plainly in red ink on a punchy yellow background. It was a Victorio Strainer.. from the era when things were made to last and work. This large well built clamp down countertop food mill, was OMG the answer… all the pieces were in tact and accounted for according to the easy to ready instruction manual complete with exploded parts diagram. EEEEE! 🙂
Hello Quince Paste. Hello Apple Butter. Hello Pear Butter.
Moments after returning home from that town trip I had water boiling and the last of my quince bubbling away until tender, time to get cranking! and after only 5 minutes (assemble included) I had run 10 lbs of quince.. no sweat, no mess. All of the sudden I was aching to start processing the bucket of apples and pears sitting out in the snow I was trying to forget about!
So today I did just that I boiled up all the rest of my apples and pears (separately), ran them through my new most favourite piece of vintage kitchen equipment. I baked them off with a few cups of organic cane sugar each along with some lemon juice. The apples got a cinnamon treatment and the pears got fresh ginger. They are happily baking down in my oven right now! and tonight they will be processed into oh so worthwhile butter!
Finally I get it…. making fruit butter or fruit sauce is no big deal when you have the right machine to process it! Yeah for the right machine!
Oh and when my girlfriend came to collect her food mill.. I happily sent her my Victorio No. 200 to borrow and compare! (I couldn’t in my right mind send her home knowing she had fruit to process with that inferior object!) ‘Ha ha she called me glowing about just how amazing my new strainer was now they are on the look out for a similar find!
butter baby.. I’m back!
My mother in law arrived for her second visit in the past month, and after making strawberry jam last time, she was ready to get back into the kitchen for another adventure in canning! We had planned to finally use up the grapes in the freezer from last years harvest.. but the thought of dripping and straining them left something to be desired at 8 pm, so we opted to make a batch of hibiscus jelly instead… and what a wonderful decision it was.
Start by boiling 14 cups of water and steeping
1 cup of hibiscus flowers in it, for about 20 minutes.
strain the flowers, and add about 1/2 cup lime juice.
We used pomona’s pectin again for this batch (it’s my new favourite) it has and added step of calcium water but makes for a lovely low sugar pectin.
We used 12 tsp of pectin and calcium water (1 .5 boxes) to 2 cups of organic cane sugar
once boiled and skimmed, we processed the jars or 10 minutes in a steam canner, and yielded 14 jars of the prettiest pink jelly you ever did see!
It has a mild floral flavour and a not to sweet presence. It’s perfect for scones and shortbread, or simply to slather on a PB sandwhich.
In warm climates like Mexico and Jamaica hibiscus is drank often to keep you cool, as it’s flower help your body to cool naturally. In Morocco they call hibiscus the magical elixir of life. And those that drink it are energized and invigorated. The flower it self can be hard to come by, and you certainly want to ensure any your find is organic. often i brew this as a cold iced tea with some citris and cinnamon. And if you add a little tequila to a cold cup your well on your way…
There doesn’t seem to be an end to the preserving of things these days…. My sweet neighbor brought over the most beautiful pale green tiny zucchini’s yesterday I sliced them up along with some beautiful jumbo shallots and made mustard garlic quick refrigerator pickles, which smells divine! I can’t wait to try these. I also did a huge batch of sauerkraut both green cabbage flavored with juniper berries and red cabbage with some garlic and hot chili too.
Last post I did while letting a new bread recipe rise and I was honestly really happy with the results. Pretzel making was a first for me the recipe I tried was really easy and didn’t involve too much waiting or hand kneading for that matter! We devoured 16 pretzels and a batch of super garlicky lemon mustard dip within 18 hours! The dough was proofed, boiled salted and then baked. I think this would also be a great start to a bagel recipe…
Just had a cool reminder that fall is around the corner this week, which has me getting my winter greens in the ground, and starting to forge forward on the coop building, commencing tomorrow! I have a weekend with our mom’s visiting so I am hopeful that they will want to help me get the garden together and slap some earthen plaster around.
Last night I fired up the wood stove and decided to do a round of pickling inside, as I was growing wiry of the camp stove kitchen set up, the problem is that massive caldron of water took nearly 4.5 hours to boil, even with our fireplace burning at a raging 500º the whole time! The whole batch was sweaty and frustrating, but I yielded my favorite pickled veg; carrots! During the day we visited some neighbors and Mia picked some beautiful purple carrots from their garden, which I added to some orange ones we got at the Nelson market, along with some local garlic, dill, hot peppers, and a few of our tiny carrot ball variety thrown in for good measure.
While waiting for the vat of water to boil I whipped up a yellow summer salad to die for; I sliced some yellow sunburst squash paper thin, along with some thicker slices of these darling crisp little lemon yellow cucumbers we are growing, added some thin slices of locally grown organic yellow watermelon, & some tiny yellow heirloom tomatoes, all topped with a drizzle of lemon juice, olive oil, lemon and lavender sea salt and some fresh purple and green basil and a pinch of fennel tops all fresh from the herb spiral. I have seen watermelon and tomato salads many times before and never had the desire to try one, until my good friend and foodie reminded me on her recent visit how amazing the combination was, that and the fact the watermelon was yellow was all the convincing I needed. Mmmm, it was stunning and I will defiantly play with this combination of flavors again.
After the long weekend, I hope to have pictures of the chicken coop progress.
Finally today I got around to harvesting a big bunch of purple beans and rattlesnake beans which are a striking green bean with purple markings. I dug out the canning equipment at set to work in my outdoor “kitchen” ie: coleman stove, to do some pickling. The sad thing about processing or even cooking all my pretty heirloom beans is as soon as you add heat they resort to common green bean in appearance. I managed to get enough today to do 6 pint jars of spicy garlic dill beans and with a neighborly trade, the last of my plums for 2 long english cucumbers, I managed also to get 5 jars of pickles done too! I had dreams of pickling carrots until the cows come home but I grew these stupid little Romeo round heirloom carrots, which as nice as they taste are way way too small to do much with other than admire and eat from the garden, like a two bite brownie.
As I said the last of the plums are down and I yielded about 10 lbs of now frozen pitted diced plums along with the dozens we ate and baked, all and all the yield from this wiry old tree was entirely respectable.
I was really fortunate to join my neighbors for a short time yesterday while they harvested wheat and oats, 2 acres, naturally grown with no chemicals. The harvest was done with no combine or too much conventional farming equipment. It was amazing to take it all in. I have promised to clear my schedule in 3 weeks to participate fully in the Buckwheat harvest, I will bring my camera along and share images of the brilliant hand made farm equipment in use. I can’t wait.
I am trying to get my winter cold hardy veg in the ground, but I have so much in the bed I am waiting to seed I am finding it hard to make enough room, I really can’t procrastinate much longer.
Well I just finished kimchi part 2 and it was sooooo very easy! I did 5 jars of squash kimchi, 1 large jar of sauerkraut all the while I drank gin with elderflower syrup and soda water. The drink is divine; slightly sour crisp with a floral finish, I used my best organic green juniper berry gin and I can’t imagine a more refreshing summer night drink. Next year I will collect way more elderflowers and make more than 3L of syrup, which is what I yielded after two batches. 2L I have ready to drink and I froze 1L down to use for making plum jelly, just as soon as my plumbs are ripe.
I also broke down and made zucchini bread today; I know I know everyone hates the stuff, but inspired by “A home made Life by Molly Wizenberg” and her ginger chocolate banana bread so I tricked my daughter into making chocolate ginger bread with just a little bit of zucchini 🙂 instead of bananas. I used the Joy of Cooking’s zucchini bread recipe with lots of tweaks (as I usually do) I added cocoa powder, diced candy ginger, and lots of Callebaut chocolate chunks, and it passed the Mia test!
More on fermenting in my last post…
Busy days on the home front! The past week was spent cooking for the troops and unfortunately less time in the garden. However I have been harvesting some amazing things! I have no end of huge Yukon Gold potatoes, and I have been gushing at all the tri coloured star burst squash.
The other day my garden made the best ever salad: butter letus, endive, yellow starburst squash, purple pole beans, cucumber (the first one), purple basil, lemon basil, dill and anise greens: OMG with a little goat cheese from down the street and a handful of sunflower seeds with lemon mustard vinaigrette, it was a sunny summer day in ever bite!
I finished my first batch of elderflower syrup, and found my neighbours tree was flush with a dozen new flower bursts so I started a second batch. I also harvested some more saskatoon berries which are drying, shucked some peas (although I didn’t plant nearly enough), I also collected some pineapple chammomile growing wild on the driveway, which is also drying for tea.
All of these tasty adventures and by far the most exciting thing I have to report is my sheet mulch garden has been pretty darn successful! I dug out a volunteer potato plant that crept up in the middle of my lasagne garden bed and low and behold when I dug the tatters out I found soil! Deep black earth full of fat and juicy worms and critters, the soil was deep and dark and from the sandy stale state it was in back in May, it has come a long way!
The chooks are growing and we ‘ll have eggs soon enough! I can’t wait to have a rainbow of eggs collected fresh each day. I have been watching the plum tree for the first sight of ripe plums, and I am eager to harvest elderberries too! I have also just been told about small dukabor bear apples growing all along the rails to trails pathway, I plan to harvest and dry in cinnamon rings this fall too. I had better get my old vintage stove top running in time to do some canning and preserving soon!
The image in the slide show of the stunning spread of squash was my fabulous dinner the other night: one huge squash cut razor thin and raw drown in a citrus garlic dressing. It was divine.
Excerpt from rbrand building blog…
“I have also decided to amend my cooking with S.O.L.E blog: while living in the city, seeking out Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical Food could be quite a challenge, and cooking with found treasures, while meeting sustainable farmers was really enjoyable, but now that I am living as part of a food system that is so strongly founded in my ethics of eating I am going to shift my blog focus to my adventures in harvesting and preserving and preparing the bounty of my local Food Shed. The blog will be renamed FOOD SHED (in Kootenay time), and I can’t wait to get cooking, fermenting, drying, canning, cold cellaring and over wintering my bounty and sharing my trails and successes.
The garden is EXPLODING which is wonderful, I am still fearful I have not planted enough food, but I feel this way every year, and this garden is by FAR the largest under my belt. I am trying to follow a new mantra these days to do one thing daily which adds to our food shed. Inspired by the novel Independence Days by Sharon Astyk “ a guide to sustainable food storage and preservation” where I will attempt to do one of these things each day: Plant Something, Harest Something, Preserve Something, Minimize Waste , Waste Not, Cook Something New, Manage my Reserves, Work on my Local Food System. And I will add out of my own permaculture ethic BUILD SOIL to this list. Some of these things (especially the later half) I already strive for most days, or on any given opportunity… but planting and harvesting and preserving are my current challenges. Newly inspired by this great read Mia and I starting harvest huge bushels of Mint from our bog, which we have since dried and jarred. We will do more tomorrow along with picking thimble berries starting to splatter the hillside. I have a “Build Solar Dryer” on Dylan’s “TO BUILD” list but it is soooo long these days I am going to keep small batching things with what I can dry inside right now… which might mean frozen berries for a while.”
This dinner was picture perfect spaghetti and meat balls, only batter. It was Wheat Free, Vegan, and totally guilt free.
When I made the below barley beet and bean burgers I set aside about 1/3 of the batch which yielded about 10-12 patties total. The portion I didn’t turn into patties I rolled into little bit size “meat”balls which I browned for dinner last night. Dinner came together in about 15 minutes and was super easy. I started with 1/2 of a red onion and a few cloves of garlic diced and browned, simmer this with a can of tomatoes, whole stewed if you like your sauce chunky or crushed if you like it a little smoother. * I can’t wait to savor the first tomatoes from the garden this year! anyways as for garden goodie these day I had a bunch of basil and some parsley so I diced this up and added it to the simple sauce along with a pinch of S+P and a squeeze of lemon. In a separate pan (or the sauce pan if you want to do the meatballs first; simply brown the formed and refrigerated balls in olive oil slowly, rolling them around often to evenly brown all sides. Boil a package of Organic corn spaghetti toss it all together and top with more fresh herbs! Viola.
The only thing weird about this burger is that the beets give the patties a raw red meat colour! That aside these patties are really substantial and tasty. I added cheese into the mix but you could leave it aside for a great vegan patty which I have made with tofu instead of cheese many times. Also we devoured them so quickly I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of one all dolled up, so as you can see I just have a shot of my little one enjoying a big bite!
Boil 1 cup of pearl barley with 2 1/4 cups of water for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed (this recipe will work best if the barley is a little mushy and over cooked). While your boiling the grain; grate about 1/2 c of sweet potato,1/2 c beet and 1 carrot blend in large bowl and mix with 1 tbsp canola oil, S+P, 1/4 cup goat feta chopped or medium tofu, 1 tbsp pesto, 1/4 c pumpkin seeds, & 1 tbsp flax seeds. Blend all of this together with 1 can of refried pinto beans and the hot barley once it’s cooked.
Form into patties and refrigerate to set up for as much time as you can up to 1 day.
I don’t have an working oven right now (so sad I know:( I have a beautiful vinatge stove out in the wood shed with no electrician to help me rewire it yet) so I had to just pan fry these, but I would suggest that you bake the patties on a cookie sheet at about 350º for 20 minutes and then pan sear them in hot oil until both sides are golden brown. I had to sear them off then reduce the heat to allow the inside to cook a little. Dress and serve these as you would any burger, enjoy!