Category Archives: Canning and preserving

Barb’s Pesto

My neighbor Barb is one of the reasons I’m vegan.  She and her family have been low-fat vegan for a while and finally convinced Michael and I to give it a try.  We did, we’re more healthy, we love it!  Low-fat vegan cooking is a whole new beastie, when you’re used to olive oil and cheese and eggs.  Barb is my go-to girl when I have questions like, “but how do you saute?”  I love basil and make pesto every summer to preserve that lovely summery flavor all winter.  But pesto has cheese.  And oil.  So, I went to Barb with a “but how do you…” question and of course, she had the answer.  So yummy, so fresh.  And an added bonus–no nuts!  Barb’s allergic to tree nuts, so naturally, she makes her pesto without them.  How could it be yummy without oil and cheese and nuts?!  See for yourself:

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Here’s what you’ll need:

ingredients

  • 8-12 cloves of garlic, depending on the size and how much you like garlic, minced
  • juice of 2 limes (2/3 cup)
  • juice of 1 lemon (1/2 cup)
  • garlic salt to taste, or just regular salt–again, depends on your garlic tolerances  🙂
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen corn, thawed
  • black pepper to taste
  • enough fresh basil to fill your processor

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade in place.

all in the processor

Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

process til smooth

To freeze for later, place 1/2 cup pesto into containers–I use snack size ziplocs and then place them into a labelled freezer bag.

package to freeze

Or, enjoy right away:  on pasta, with crackers, with veggies, on a yummy garden-fresh tomato….

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What do you like to eat pesto with?

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Filed under Canning and preserving, dairy-free, dinner, food gifts, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, salad, side dish, Vegetarian

Lizette’s Dilly Beans

Late August and September are when my garden is most productive.  Tomatoes, squash, peppers, and LOTS of beans.  They need picked twice a week!  Definitely more than I can keep up with, so what to do?  Make my friend Lizette’s Hot and Spicy Dilly Beans, of course! Just as easy as regular cucumber-based dill pickles, but even more yummy.  

let cool and label

Head out to the garden or farmer’s market and grab some dill, garlic, jalapenos and green beans.  Mine are purple, an heirloom variety called Royal Burgundy.  They turn green when cooked, unfortunately.  Although, these pickles retained some of the purple color in the brine!  I’ll give you the brine proportions (make more as needed) and what you’ll put into each jar.  It’s easy to adjust as you go.

ingredients

  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • peeled whole garlic cloves
  • fresh heads of dill
  • jalapeno peppers
  • fresh green beans

Sterilize jars, rings and lids; make your best guess at how many you’ll need.  I try to over-estimate so I don’t have to stop mid-process to get more ready.

Get your brine going (vinegar, water and pickling salt) at the same time you start water boiling in your canner.

prepare brine and canner

Wash and snap the stem ends off the beans.

snap beans

Peel garlic and wash and cut jalapenos in half length-wise.  Remove seeds and veins if you want your beans less spicy.

cut jalapenos

Place a head of dill and a clove or two of garlic at the bottom of the jar.

dill and garlic on jar

Fill the rest with beans, and then squeeze in a jalapeno half.

beans and jalapeno in jar

Add boiling brine, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Use a knife to help any air bubbles come to the surface, and add more brine to keep the 1/2 inch head space if needed.

add brine

Wipe the rim and adjust the lid.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water. 

process

Remove jars and let cool.  Label each jar with the date.   If any refused to seal, re-water bath them, or keep them in the fridge.

let cool and label

Let your Dilly Beans sit for a day or two for full crispy-spicy-dilly yumminess.  Save a jar for midwinter and enjoy the taste of summer.  Perfect for your holiday relish trays!

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Filed under Canning and preserving, food gifts, Garden produce, Holiday foods, recipe, side dish, snack, Vegetarian

Peach Pie Filling (to make now and freeze for later!)

I have wonderful friends who pack peaches for an organic grower here in the Valley.  The grower comps them boxes of “thirds”–peaches with bird damage, split pits, bruised, etc.  Perhaps not beautiful from every angle, but still delicious and perfect for cooking.  Anyway, my friends had more boxes than they could deal with and gave three boxes to me!  Score!  Have a look at my bounty:

big peach

lots of peachesI decided I could make lots of peachy things (including daiquiris!), and decided to start with some pie filling.  Won’t a freshly-baked peach pie be spectacular on a snowy day?!  I tackled the peeling and pitting first.  Peeling is easier when peaches are dropped into boiling water for a minute or two and then placed into cold water.  The skins tend to slip right off.  Some people score a small x  into the skin of each peach before boiling to help the process, but I’m too lazy to do that and have never had trouble with just the boiling water-cold water thang.

After peaches are peeled, assemble ingredients.  Here’s what’s needed for each future peach pie; recipe from The Prairie Homestead Blog:

ingredients pie filling

  • 5 cups peeled, sliced peaches
  • 3 Tablespoons arrowroot powder OR cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or more to taste) sugar or other granulated natural sweetener
  • 2 Tablespoons pure lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Mix everything thoroughly in a bowl.

combine all in bowl

Pour into labelled freezer bags and voila!  Freeze until you need them.

place in freezer bag and label

When you’re ready, defrost the frozen filling, place in a crust and bake 25 minutes at 375F.  Or make a cobbler!  Or a crisp!  Or defrost, heat and serve over ice cream!  Or bake into cinnamon rolls!  Oh, your house is gonna smell good this winter, and your people will be so happy you froze these yummy peaches for them!  I just love baking for others.  How ’bout YOU?

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Filed under Canning and preserving, comfort food, dessert, food gifts, recipe

Perfect Peach Salsa

Peach season.  Farm stands loaded with luscious glowing orbs of yumminess.  Perfect for eating fresh.   The juice running down your arm?  No worries!  All hail the glorious peach!  Enjoy them fresh now, and save some to brighten the dark days of winter.  So many options to save peaches: canning, freezing, pie filling, jams, jellies, and butters.  One of my favs is the spectacular combo of sweet and heat, peach salsa.  Yummy as a dip and as the perfect condiment to Mexican foods, especially in my humble opinion, fish or chicken tacos!

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Make it and store it in the fridge or can it to have all winter.  Peach salsa is an easy canning project–don’t fear the canner!  Recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 6 cups chopped, peeled and pitted peaches
  • 1 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (seeded as well if you want to tone down the heat)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used a green pepper, because that’s what I had on hand–red would make a pretty salsa, though!)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed, finely chopped cilantro (Ok to leave this out if you hate cilantro)
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Prepare your canner, jars, lids and rings.  Combine all ingredients in a large stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  (Placing vinegar into the pot first and chopping peaches into it as you go will stop peaches from browning.)

chop and combine

Reduce heat and and boil gently, stirring frequently until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Boil and simmer

Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace with more salsa if needed.  Wipe rim, center lid and screw band down to finger-tight.

ladle into hot jars

Process in hot water bath canner for 15 minutes for 1/2 pints, 20 minutes for pints.  Remove canner lid, wait 5 more minutes and remove jars.

process for 15 min plus 5

Let cool for lids to seal–you’ll hear a “thunk,” and the lid will be concave.

remove and let cool to seal

Label your pretty jars with the date canned.

label lids

Peach Salsa makes a lovely gift, but be sure to save some for yourself to enjoy!  Yum!

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I’ve noticed people either love or hate the whole “sweet and heat” thang.  Which side are you on?

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Filed under Canning and preserving, dairy-free, Garden produce, snack, Vegetarian

Apple Pie Filling (To make now and freeze for later!)

When I was little, my Mom was the queen of Thanksgiving dinner.  Turkey and all the fixin’s, often other game meats as well, and pies of course.  Mincemeat for Dad, pumpkin, and apple.  After our fall trips to Wisconsin for apples and cheese, she’d organize my sister and I along with herself into a pie-building assembly line to make a jillion-jillion apple pies to put in the freezer, crust and all, ready to bake.  At least two of these were thawed and baked for Thanksgiving dinner.  I still make apple pies in the fall and winter, and always for Thanksgiving. The pie tradition continues into the day after Thanksgiving–one MUST have pie for breakfast that day!  Why am I blogging about Thanksgiving in August?  A free box of apples landing in my kitchen this week, that’s why.  🙂

Our friend, the winemaker at Reeder Mesa Winery, has summer apple trees–the kind that get ripe at the end of July.  These apples are green and tart and perfect for pie.  He called the other day and asked if we’d like a box….well, of course!  However, July and August are usually not my choice for pie baking, so why not make the filling now and bake when I crave fresh hot, spiced apple wonderfulness this fall?!  Of course, I couldn’t resist baking one, for blogging purposes–the last bag of filling just happened to fall right into a crust!  If you’re more of an apple crisp sort of person, this filling is perfect for that as well.  Or maybe use it inside some cinnamon rolls?  Mmmmmm!

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I found this recipe on line and adjusted the spices a bit.  Here’s what you’ll need to make filling for one eight-inch pie.  I made my filling in one-pie batches, but if it works better for you to do one giant batch and divide it out, do that.  I found I memorized the recipe, which made it easy, and liked that the peeling and slicing didn’t need to happen all at once.

ingredients

  • 8-9 small to medium apples
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice 
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom

Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Place them in a bowl that has water and a splash of lemon juice to help stop browning.

peel and quarter

Thinly slice the apples, but don’t worry if they’re not perfectly the same.  The pie or crisp you make from this filling will be so yummy, no one will be measuring your pieces.  Just keep them close enough to cook evenly.  Add the rest of the ingredients.

slice and add sugar etc

Stir until well combined.

mix

Place in a freezer ziploc, label and freeze up to 3 months.

bag label freeze

To bake a pie later, thaw the filling, preheat oven to 375F, and prepare a crust.  I’m a huge fan of those rolled, ready to use crusts.  Place one in the bottom of the pie pan, and trim excess.  Add your super-yummy filling, mounding it a bit in the center.

thaw place in crust

Place the top crust, trim excess, fold it under the bottom crust, and crimp it closed with your fingers making it all pretty, or use a fork to crimp the edges down.  Do it however your Mom did; it will feel just right that way.  Cut vents in the top–again, use Mom’s pattern.  Brush the top and edges with a bit of milk–dairy or non-dairy–and sprinkle with sugar.  Isn’t that pretty?

add top crust

Bake 55-60 minutes; until the vents ooze with bubbling yummy sauce.

bake

Let it cool to let the yummy sauce firm up, or cut it warm and have a delicious ooze perfect with ice cream.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream if you like.  Oh.  Yum.

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Yup, just like Mom used to make.  What’s your favorite pie?

 

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, Canning and preserving, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe, Vegetarian

Western Colorado Cheese Steak

Isn’t it wonderful when an idea comes together?  Last summer I pickled some peppers from my garden.  Corno di Toros–meaning horn of the bull, as these peppers curl as they grow and are reminisant of bulls’ horns.  I planted them because they are heirlooms, and I am a total sucker for heirloom plants of any kind.  Anyway, everything I read about them indicated they were a mild sweet pepper.  I commenced my pickling and thought, “hmmmmm…these smell kinda hot.”  I took a small bite.  HOT!  Wow.  I continued pickling them and thought about how I might use them this winter; some way to bring a bit of summer garden into the grey days of winter.  Some sort of cheese steak? Like a panini?  Totally forgot about the pickled peppers, until dear friends gave us Wild Onion Salsa for Christmas.  And then today, flat iron steaks were on sale at the grocery store!  Ta-Da!  The premire of the Western Colorado Cheese Steak!

Feel free to adjust ingredients according to what you can find, of course.

  • 1 small flat steak, like a skirt steak or a flat iron, grilled medium-rare
  • cheese; I used swiss
  • dijon mustard
  • your favorite bread; this is a semolina batard
  • pickled hot peppers
  • onion salsa; not hot, kinda sweet, actually.

Grill the steak medium-rare.  Often these flat steaks get tough if you grill them all the way to medium.  Let the steak rest while you get other ingredients ready.  After at least five minutes, cut against the grain into thin slices.

Preheat a panini press or contact grill.  I have a contact grill my mom insisted I needed…..she was right!

Cut bread into slices.  I cut on the diagonal to get larger slices.  Spread each slice with mustard.  Then layer on cheese slices, thin slices of steak, then peppers, then onion salsa.  lay more cheese on the other bread slice, then more cheese then the top bread slice.

Grill the sandwiches until the cheese is melty and everything is heated through, 5-10 minutes.Cut in half and devour!  Look at all those yummy layers!

I really loved the grilled combo of sweet onion, briney hot peppers, savory steak and melty cheese.  It would have been even more yummy if it were snowing, the summer garden contrast with the snow would have been perfect!

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Filed under Canning and preserving, dinner, Garden produce, lunch, recipe

Celine’s Lemon Marmalade

Toast and marmalade for tea?  I think yes!

My mom is always on the hunt for new recipes.  She tries them out and then shares the yummy ones with me.  This super-uber simple recipe is one of those.  Two ingredients and a little time results in a tart, golden, yummy schmear for toast.  Adjust the ingredients to however much marmalade you want to end up with.  I decided to just do a little test run to see how it worked; using just a few small lemons.

  • 3 small lemons–I think Meyer lemons would rock this marmalade–use ’em if you can find ’em!
  • enough sugar to equal the amount of juice from the lemons

That’s it!  First, wash the lemons and peel them, using a vegetable peeler.  I suggested zesting, Mom said absolutely not–your little pieces of peel would not create the desired texture in the marmalade.  You MUST use a veggie peeler.  OK…now that I’ve tasted it, I must agree–use the peeler.  🙂

Finely chop the peel until you have lemon peel confetti.  Place it in a sauce pan that will hold the juice and sugar you expect to use.

Juice the lemons, strain off the seeds, and measure the amount of juice.  Place juice in the pan.

Measure out an equal amount of sugar–I had 1/2 cup of juice, so added 1/2 cup of sugar.  Add to the pan.

Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until a couple of drops of the marmalade dropped into a large metal spoon hold their shape and have a thickness you like when cooled.

Pour marmalade into a sterilized, warm jar.  Seal and cool. 

You can do the whole canning thing if you want and make extra jars for little gifties.  My three little lemons made about 1/2 cup of marmalade–enough for a taste, enough for toast and tea.

What food gifts do you like to give?

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Filed under breakfast, Canning and preserving, comfort food, recipe

Parsley Walnut Pesto

Wow it’s been a while since I’ve blogged!  October is a busy, busy month for a band mom–marching events, the state qualifier and a trip to the State Marching Band Competition take a lot of planning and volunteering.  I’m not complaining–I absolutely LOVE our Marching Warriors!  ❤  Marching season is finished, the show has been “put to bed,” and we’re heading into concert band, jazz band and pit orchestra seasons–all a bit less time-intensive for me, so hopefully my poor blog won’t be so ignored.  🙂

We’ve had a series of hard frosts here in Western Colorado.  The first one got my basil–waaahhhh.  No basil pesto this year.  Parsley is a bit tougher plant and withstood the first frost with no problem.  I’ve been covering it to assure at least SOME pesto for the winter.  Parsley Walnut Pesto is a nice substitute for basil pesto, and just as easy to make.

For one batch:

  • 2 cups loosely packed parsley (I prefer flat-leaf Italian parsley.  I think it is more flavor-y)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

I had LOTS of parsley, so I made triple batches.

Remove leaves from the stems–parsley stems are tough and stringy–NOT good for a smooth pesto!

Wash and dry the leaves.  I float the parsley in water in a clean sink, then use a salad spinner to dry them.

Add the measured amount of leaves and corresponding number of peeled garlic cloves to a food processor–a triple batch has 6 cups leaves, 12 cloves.  I highly recommend those little tube garlic peelers if you’re making tons of pesto and therefore peeling tons of garlic.

Give the parsley and garlic a rough chop.

Add nuts, cheese, salt and pepper.  Process on low.

With the machine running, slowly stream in the olive oil. 

Mix until well combined.  You have pesto!  Taste it and adjust salt and pepper if needed.  How easy was that?  No need to pay the big bucks for grocery-store pesto when you can whip up a batch freshy-fresh!

I like to make a lot while I’m at it, package it up and freeze it for the winter. I measure out 1/2 cup amounts and place them in a snack-size ziploc, then place a bunch of the pesto packets in a gallon freezer ziploc, marked with the date and contents. 

Yummy!  1/2 cup is a perfect amount for saucing a pasta, adding to mashed potatoes, or jazzing up chicken

The pesto freezes well and defrosts in a jiffy in the microwave.  My triple batches resulted in five little 1/2 cup bags of pesto.

This recipe is the one I use for basil pesto, subbing in basil for the parsley, pine nuts for the walnuts.  Play around with it according to ingredients you have.  Tree-nut allergies?  Try using sunflower seeds.  I’m thinking pecans would also be yummy…..mmmmmmm!

What will YOU make with your fresh pesto?

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Filed under appetizer, Canning and preserving, dinner, Garden produce, recipe, side dish, Vegetarian

Zesty Pasta Sauce

I’m a reader.  I’m a gardener.  I work at keeping my carbon footprint as small as possible.  My BFF Becky knows me really well, and a few years ago recommended the perfect book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  It’s a memoir of the year she and her family lived as locovores–written in Kingsolver’s characteristic style with all sorts of compelling essays on the whys of eating locally.  I keep this book with my cookbooks in the kitchen, so the recipe for this pasta sauce is at the ready when I need it. 

How satisfying to have some of your summer saved in beautiful jars!  How spectacular to have the flavor of summer on your pasta on a cold, grey winter’s day!

This is quite a project–totally do-able–but time consuming.  Set aside a day, make yourself as much working space as possible, and gather up a rather imposing (But really do-able!  Really!) bunch of ingredients.  I’ll give the amounts of each from the book; you may need to adjust amounts according to how much tomato puree you end up with–more on that later!  The best plan is to wait until you have LOTS of tomatoes and make a bunch of sauce all at once.  I freeze tomatoes while I accumulate them.

NOTE: You MUST stick closely to the recipe if you’re canning for proper pH. If you’re freezing the sauce, feel free to add fresh veggies.

This recipe will make 6-8 qts–any combination of quart or pint jars or freezer boxes.

  • 10 qts tomato puree ( I use all sorts of tomatoes.  Paste tomatoes, like romas, thicken the sauce faster.)
  • 4 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dried basil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 TBSP dried oregano
  • 3 TBSP salt
  • 2 TBSP ground, dried lemon peel
  • 2 TBSP thyme
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder (or more, to taste)
  • 2 TBSP dried parsley
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Start with blanching the tomatoes to make them easier to peel.  Cook briefly in boiling water–just until peels start to loosen, about 1-2 minutes.  I use a blancher–a double pot with a strainer that lifts out.

As soon as peels show evidence of cracks/loosening, dump them into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  I fill my (very clean) sink with cold water and ice.

Peel and chunk the tomatoes. 

I set up my processor next to the sink, with a bowl to place the chunked tomatoes in and a measuring bowl to measure the puree.  An apron is recommended–tomatoes squirt and splash as you peel them and pour the puree from the processor to the measuring bowl to the cooking pot.

Place chunked tomatoes in the processor and puree to a fairly consistant smoothness, but not liquified.  Pour puree into the measuring bowl, keep track of how much puree you have as you go along, pouring into a large stainless steel or enamel stock pot.

When all tomatoes are pureed, figure your total amount of puree and adjust the rest of the ingredients in the recipe accordingly.  For example, if you end up with 5 quarts of puree, cut all amounts in half.

Peel and chop the onions and sweat/soften them in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add a small amount of water if needed, but NO OIL if you are canning! 

While onions are softening, measure out the rest of the ingredients and add to the puree.

Add onions to the mix when they are soft.

Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking.  (Your kitchen will smell amazing!) Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.  Meanwhile, heat water in a canner, wash jars and rings or sterlize in a dishwasher.  Rinse jars and rings well and hold in hot water.  Boil lids and hold at a simmer.

Fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

IMPORTANT–NOT OPTIONAL: Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 tsp citric acid (Fruit Fresh) to EACH quart jar. (Half as much per pint.)  This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic.

Wipe rims, place lids and adjust rings.

When all jars are filled, lower them into the boiling water of a canner.  Most canners hold up to 7 jars at a time.

 

Process (boil) quarts for 35 minutes, pints for 25 minutes with the lid on the canner.  Start the time when the water starts to boil again after placing jars.

Carefully remove jars with a jar lifter and let cool.  Listen for the metallic “thunk” indicating the jars are sealing.  The lids will be concave when sealed.  Label with whatever you decide to call your sauce, along with the date you canned it.  (The sauce will keep for a year in normal house temperatures–not that it will last that long!)  Have fun!  Be creative!  BFF Becky calls hers “Romalicious.”  🙂

There ya go!  You just made the yummiest pasta sauce ever!  Use it on pasta (duh!), or as a pizza sauce, a sauce to jazz up a meat loaf, a sandwich spread, or most any time a recipe calls for tomatoes!  Mmmm!  Yummy!

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Filed under Books, Canning and preserving, comfort food, Garden produce, recipe