My Yummy Local Life











{August 15, 2013}   Yum Yum Produce Box #17

Cannot believe that this is box five out of our eight week cycle! It feels like it just started. Here’s what we got in our box this week:

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1 bag of sunflower sprouts
1 bunch kale
1 bunch chard
1 eggplant
2 sweet onions
2 bulbs of garlic
2 lemon cucumbers
4 cucumbers
Many cherry tomatoes

We plan on using the eggplant ad some tomatoes for a ratatouille type pasta. I getting fresh milk on Monday so I will make some cheese and we will have fresh pizza. Also planning a stir fry to try to use up some sprouts. Got to use some greens for something. Hubby things maybe in some Mac and cheese. That will only make a dent (as we forgot to put the greens in the frittata we planned to use them in last week).

I will have you notice that there was no (sweet) fruit in my box, but never fear:

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(Ugly, sweet) nectarines that I picked thanks to Lindsey…and also a few bunches of grapes. So thankfully I am set on fruit again for a little while. It would be awesome if my freezer was fixed and I could freeze it in bigger batches.

Check out the other CSA blogs this week at In Her Chucks.

Have a yummy week!

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{August 10, 2013}   Yum Yum Produce Box # 16

It was another great haul from our CSA box this week:

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1 bunch of arugula
1 bunch of chard
1 bunch kale
1 bag sprouts
3 crook neck squashes
3 peaches
3 apples
4 red onions
LOTS of cherry tomatoes

Yay fresh fruit!!! Oh and speaking of fresh fruit, my husband gleaned a peach tree out at the farm he works at this week and came home my hero:

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My original plan (in addition to the peach crisp that I made), was to freeze most of these peaches, but our freezer is on the fritz and the land lord is ordering a part, so we also made some peach jam:

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I think we will also be able to make some peach pocket pies to put in he freezer. Fresh fruit for the win!

The menu for the week…was invented by the hubby- so I don’t really know what it involves, but I do know we are making this squash frittata (again) because it’s an excellent way to use up a bunch of squash.
Right now I am supervising the boys making a batch of pickled vegetables from our friends garden.

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I am retired from making pickles because I think they never get eaten, but I am supervising to make sure they don’t give themselves botchalism ūüôā

Have a yummy week. And check out the rest of the lovely summer boxes over at In Her Chucks link up.



{June 29, 2013}   Apricots- edible sunshine!

So earlier this week the lovely Lindsey invited me over to help harvest fruit off of their apricot tree. My reward was about half of the bounty:

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The above picture was after I had sorted them into “ripe today”, “ripe tomorrow” and “needs a few days” batches.

The ones that were ripe right away I halved and frozen on a sheet tray.

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After about 2 rounds of freezing I ended up with about a gallon of frozen apricots for use in smoothies and smoothie popsicles.

There were still A LOT of apricots left. I thought I might make some jam but since it is HOT here in AZ- with the high temperatures hovering around 110¬įF- I decided to see what was involved with drying fruit in the sun. As it turns out, as long as you dip them in lemon/citric acid water so that they won’t brown, that you basically have to remove the seeds and let the sun do all the work.

EASY AND 100% FREE!

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The first batch went from being 40 ounces to being about 8 oz once the fruit was dry enough. Surprisingly this only took about a day and a half. So afterward I did two more batches. And that is the end of my apricots (or the beginning depending on your perspective). I am storing them in mason jars and filled 3 quart jars and them a little overflow in some plastic baggies.

I am still shocked and amazed that this was a successful endeavor. Coming from Florida and then North Carolina you can even dry your hair in the summer time, let alone food!

Now I am definitely going to make some sun dried tomatoes…and maybe some other dried fruits…what would you dry in the excessive heat and next to no humidity of the Arizona sunshine?



Happy Easter!!

So I have gotten carrots in every CSA box so far, large carrots, and this week I didn’t get to any of the current weeks carrots since we were still using up those from last week.

Then I had this thought. Carrots are in plenty now, but they are seasonal too. What if I want to make carrot cake or stir fry with carrots in the dead of summer?

So I decided to freeze my carrots. I have done this with squash and other gourds so I figure the carrots will be alright.

Step one: Shred the carrots on a cheese grater.

Step two: Portion into one cup packed sizes and put each into an individual bag.

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Step three: Label each bag with the contents and date, in this case “1 c carrots 3/28/13”. As a rule I try not o leave anything in my freezer beyond one year.

Step four: Use a straw to suck as much air out of each bag to seal it and spread the carrots out flat.

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Step five: Place on a single layer on a tray and put into the freezer. After they are frozen, I usually put these bags into a larger bag to prevent freezer burn.

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Enjoy having yummy local carrots all year long. (And carrot cake too!)

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{October 23, 2012}   Canning 2012- APPLES

I got some Gala apples and some Winesap apples at the farmer’s market last week. A half peck of each- total of $12 worth of apples.

 

Winesaps and Galas

I made some into applesauce and some into chips.  Here is the applesauce process:

1. Peel, core, and chop the apples into cubes. (I did 12-14 apples per crock pot batch).

Crock pot ready to start

2. Add juice of one lime, up to 1/3 cup of sugar (I did half white and half brown sugar this time) * you can also omit sugar completely, and add a tablespoon or so of cinnamon if desired.

3. Cook in crock pot on low for about 6 hours.

Cooked apples

 

Second crock of cooked apples

 

4. Combine all crock pot loads into a large bowl.

Apples ready to be pureed.

5. Puree with a stick blender for smooth applesauce.

Smooth applesauce

6. Put into sanitized jars.

7. Process in water canner for 15 minutes.

8. Label jars with contents and date.

26 apples = 5 pints of cinnamon applesauce

 

I used about 2/3 of the apples for the applesauce ($8), so the cost per pint is approximately $1.60 per pint.

The rest of the apples have been/are being made into apple chips.

1. Slice them at 1/4 inch thickness on the mandolin.

2. Remove any seeds.

3. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. (I find they are BORING without a little cinnamon)

4. Dry in dehydrator for about 12 hrs. Or dry in oven on 300 checking each 15-20 minutes for crispiness (Total is usually a couple hours).

Apples in the dehydrator

 

I came out with about 3 sandwich bags worth of apple chips total.  ($4 of apples).  Making it about $1.33 per bag.



Fall *Spring?* Market…

 

Got some more lovely fall produce at the market today. ¬†And some sugar snap peas… who knew these would grow in the fall?! Also I answered a trivia question right on the cheese guy (Brady)’s email newsletter and got a $5 piece of cheese for free!

 

Here’s what I got:

Broccoli, Sugar snap Peas, and colorful bell peppers: $10

Garlic, baby ginger and baby turmeric: $2

Queso fresco, Gouda with caraway, Ricotta with garlic and chives: $7! ($5 off!)

Shiitake Mushrooms: $5.20

Turmeric and ginger

 

FREE Queso Fresco!

Grand Total: $24.20

 

Also, the Lovely Sue Murdoch is canning my pumpkins for me with her pressure canner.  Here is the first batch of pumpkin:

Indian River Pumpkin!



{August 28, 2012}   Canning 2012- Jalapeno Jelly

Half pound of jalapenos ($2)

If you have been following this blog at all, you know that I just put up things that I don’t want to buy in a jar in the middle of winter. ¬†If you have even had pepper jelly and brie, you know what I mean when I say pepper jelly is a MUST! But you can’t really use that much at once, and it’s more of a special occasion food than an every day food. ¬†So why recipes usually make it on such large scale, I have NO idea. ¬†I used 4 oz jelly jars to make them even smaller scale. The following is how to make a small scale patch of jalapeno jelly (or other hot peppers if you feel so inclined). ¬†I used a mixture of red and green jalapenos.

Other things you’ll need: Apple cider vinegar, apple juice, no-sugar needed pectin

So here goes how to make the jelly:

1) Start with 1/2 lb of jalapeno peppers, I got mine for $4/lb so they were about $2.

2) *Wear gloves so you don’t get hot pepper under your nails* Cut jalapenos in half to expose the seeds and membranes.

Halve jalapenos

3) Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes (these are the super HOT part and are not good for jelly).

Scrape out seeds and membranes

4) Rinse the peppers to remove any stubborn seeds!

Clean jalapenos

5) Place jalapenos into your food processor with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.

Food processor w/ jalapenos and vinegar

 

If you don’t have apple cider vinegar (used $0.50 worth) you can substitute with lemon juice!

6) Blend the jalapenos until the are minced.

Pureed jalapenos

7) Dump this jalapeno mixture and another 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar into a medium pot.

8) Measure out about 1 and 1/2 cups of natural apple juice. I used this one- the whole container was about $3 at Kroger, I used about $1 worth:

Natural sugar from the apple juice (no extra sugar needed!)

9) In a small bowl, set aside about 1/2 c of this juice and mix in about 1 packet (or 3 Tbsp) worth of no sugar needed pectin.  Set this aside.  Also set aside a bowl of ice water with a metal spoon in it for testing the jelly-ness).

Cold spoon/ pectin in apple juice (remove as many lumps as possible)

10) Pour the rest of the apple juice into the pepper/vinegar pot.  Bring this to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.

Boil the jelly

11) After boiling for 10 minutes, add the pectin/juice mixture and boil hard for 1 minute (stirring constantly).

12) Use the cold spoon to “test for gel”- when the jelly goes from hot to cold quickly it should gel up. ¬†Mine didn’t, so I added another 1 Tbsp of the no sugar pectin and then boiled hard for another minute. ¬†(Equal to 1/3 packet of pectin). ¬†When I tested it again it was ready.

13) Fill the jars (normally you would sterilize them first, but these were brand new unopened 4oz jars so I just opened them right before filling). Use your canning funnel for filling.  I filled all 6 quarter pint jars and then topped them off with the small amount I had extra.

Quickly fill jars using canning funnel.

14) Use a moist paper towel to clean any drips from the edges of the jars and then place the lids.

ready for lids

15)Process in a water canner for 10 minutes to seal the jars.  Then label with their contents and the date (they should be good for up to a year- if they last that long)

6 quarter pints of jalapeno pepper jelly

NOTE: if you want GREEN pepper jelly use all green jalapenos (and I read some people add a drop or two of green food dye). ¬†I didn’t care about their color, just their yumminess.

6 quarter pints of jalapeno jelly came out to around $0.58 per jar!

What is your favorite type of jelly?



I have said before, we try to can the things that we would normally purchase in a can or jar from the grocery store, in order to have local produce year round and also save some money. ¬†This year we’ve been into having banana peppers on our pizzas so we figured we’d make up a batch of pickled peppers. ¬†We used some half pint jars (8 oz) and some quarter pint jars (4 oz). These baby jars are very adorable and the perfect size for just one or two pizzas worth of toppings.

I bought 2.6 lbs of mixed long peppers, including all of the banana peppers I could easily pick out of the box.  They were $4/ lb so that totaled out to about $10.40.  I used this recipe on pick your own as a guide, but I did not peel the peppers and even though I bough 1/3 the amount of peppers, I ended up needing nearly the same amount of liquids as were suggested for 8 lbs of peppers.  The other ingredients were as follows:

White vinegar- $1.25 (total of about 5 cups)

Water- FREE (1 cup)

Pickling salt- FREE (4 tsp)

Sugar- $0.25 (2 Tbsp)

Garlic- FREE (3 cloves)

Here’s what I did:

1) Wash the peppers off with cool water.

Rinse peppers with cool water

2) Gather up the rest of the supplies you will need. **Use gloves when slicing peppers** Wash the jars to sterilize.

Gather Canning Supplies!

3) Slice into rings and remove large pieces of membrane (but I didn’t worry about the seeds since these peppers are not too hot).

Sliced peppers

4) Pack the pepper rings into the jars as tightly as possible.

Pack jars tightly.

5) Combine the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and garlic in a small pan. ¬†Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. (NOTE- I tried making a smaller recipe and did not have enough liquid, so go ahead and make the full batch all at once- it’ll save you 20 minutes or so!)

6) Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the peppers in order to just cover.

7) Process in water canner for 10 minutes.

8) Label with the date. Peppers should keep for about 1 year from this date (if they last that long)

Processed jars of pickled pizza peppers!

** NOTE: Peppers that are NOT pickled are not acidic enough to be canned without a pressure canner! **

Total made: 5 half pints and 10 quarter pints. That comes out to $1.19 per half pint and about $0.60 per quarter pint jar.



I know- I already made 25 lbs of tomatoes into salsa.  But then I was at Kroger and discovered 1) that they sell the same packets I use for salsa mix and I thought I could only get at Walmart and 2) that there is a HOT version of the salsa mix.  So we had to try it.

Gather Supplies: Tomatoes, HOT salsa mix, vinegar (and also canning supplies)

We followed the same method as we did with the original salsa, so if you want to see how it’s done go here.

Boil salsa, simmer for 10 minutes (then puree if desired-we do!)

I just got one packet to try, so that only required 6 lbs of tomatoes.  I got these from the Market for $1.50/lb so that is $9 of tomatoes.  The salsa packet was $2.50 and I used about $0.25 worth of vinegar (maybe less but I want easy numbers here).  We ended up with 2 pints and 2 quarter pints of salsa.  That makes the price per $3.36 per pint and about $0.84 for the tiny quarter pint jars.

Processed for 40 minutes! Don’t forget to label them with the date and that they are HOT salsa.

Conclusion- yes the hot salsa is tasty, NO it is not more economical to get tomatoes just per pound instead of by the 25-30 lb box. Of course if you grow your own tomatoes successfully and then can them, a small batch would be very well worth the price of just the salsa mix.



My co-worker and friend Bridget wanted to take a stab at canning. ¬†So we decided to split a box of peaches ($20) from Better Be Ellerbe at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market. ¬†We made one small batch (ended up being 4 jars) of no-sugar peach jam and 36 half-pint jars of sliced peaches. There was also a small pile of about 10 peaches left over that we did not have enough jars/lids for so I sliced them and froze them (ended up being about a gallon-YAY for smoothies!)

1/2 bushel box of peaches (approx. 25 lbs)

There is no reason why you MUST use sugar when canning fruit, so unless you really like the way overly sugary taste of commercial jams and jellies, I suggest using as little as possible or (like we did) NONE at all.

For jam, use the “no sugar needed” version of pectin ($3) that you can buy in the canning aisle. ¬†We followed the “splenda” recipe, but did not¬†add ANY sweetener. I have sometimes added up to 1/4 cup of sugar if the fruit it very tart, but taste it first and only add it if you think it needs it. This produced 4 half pint jars of peach jam.

Filling jars of peach jam

So here is how we canned peach slices with NO sugar:

1. Sanitize jars in the dishwasher.

2. Set up a boiling station (just like for tomatoes) Cut an X in each peach and cut off any obvious bad spots.  Boil each peach for 2-3 minutes and then place into cold water.

Peaches “X-ed” and waiting to boil.

3. Peel the skin off of the peaches. Cut them in half and remove pits (do not eat the pits they contain cyanide!) If desired (what we did), slice the peaches.

4. Let the peaches hang out in some water with a splash of lemon juice (used about $0.50 worth) in it so that they don’t change color.

5. Also add a small amount of bottled lemon juice to each jar.  For half pints 1/4 tsp is MORE than enough, if you are using pints use 1/2 tsp and use a whole tsp for quarts.

6. Pack as many peaches as you can fit into the mason jars leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch of head space.  It helps to stand them up like little soldiers in the jar.

Packed jars of sliced peaches

7. Use the juices that the peaches have been sitting it to fill the jars to 1/2 in from the top of the jar.

Peaches topped off with their own juices/lemon water

8. Use a moist paper towel to wipe the rims and then add lids and rings.

Bridget in the steam of the canner getting lids onto the jars

9. Using a water canner, boil each jar for 20 minutes and then remove and let cool. ¬†Make sure that each seal “pops”. ¬†If any do not pop, refrigerate and use¬†immediately.

10. Label each jar with what it is and the date.  Peaches will be good for 1 year (if they last that long!)

40 half pints jars of processed peaches (plus the ones that didn’t fit and I froze!)

Price per jar of sliced peaches= LESS than $0.50 per half pint jar

Price per jar of no sugar added jam= ~$1.25 per half pint jar

 



et cetera