Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rhubarb Syrup

The rhubarb trimmings that were shading my peas have been made into syrup.

I chopped up the rhubarb and covered it with water.  I cooked the rhubarb for about 15 minutes or so, until it was pretty much boiled mush.  Then I strained it a few times through some cheesecloth to get a nice pink juice.

I ended up with 13 cups of juice.  Into the pot with 6 1/2 cups of sugar (I make my syrup with a 2:1 ratio of juice to sugar).  I cooked it down for quite awhile (about 45 minutes).  The pre-sugared juice was low in natural sugar so it took longer.  I used my candy thermometer and cooked it until it reached 218ºF (or pretty close to it).  Somewhere between 215ºF-220ºF is where I like to cook it, anything past that starts to get too close to jelly stage.  I then processed it in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

I ended up with 8 250-ml jars of a nice dark pink syrup that has a tart undertone.  Yum!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Saskatoon Berry Jam & Pie Filling

I finally finished with the berries we picked last week.  I know I should have got to them sooner but I just kept getting sidetracked.  Darn life stuff. LOL

Well, I made 2 batches each of jam and pie filling, resulting in 8 1/2 jars of jam and 7 jars of pie filling.  I also have 3 full baking sheets of berries freezing, right now.  I'll bag them tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I have to finish making the rhubarb syrup. After that, I should be caught up.  Phew!

No-Knead bread

Tonight is leftovers for the kids so to fill out the meal I thought I would try out one of those No-Knead Artisan breads.  I made the Rosemary Focaccia.  The recipe said to put the dough in an 8-inch square pan.  I thought that would be way too small so I used a 9-inch square.  I still think it is too small.

When I've made it in the past, I've free-formed it on a baking sheet.  I think I'll do that the next time.  The kids really liked this, though.  I sampled a teeny bit (I don't really eat bread anymore) and the No-Knead gives it a bit of a different texture.  Not unpleasant or anything, just slightly different than traditional kneaded focaccia.

The kids couldn't wait for a piece so the loaf already has been cut so that's why it looks a bit small.  LOL

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Minnie Mouse nails

I got my nails done yesterday and they are so fun!  However, when I was showing them to Isabella, I said they reminded me of something but I couldn't quite place it.  Immediately, she said they're Minnie Mouse nails!  LOL

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Garden is a Time Vacuum

I went to the garden early this afternoon with the intention of just thinning the beets.  HA!  Then I noticed that the second planting of lettuce needing thinning, too.  Plus, the beans needed staking because the wind storm from a couple of days ago knocked them over some.  Then, the peas needed weeding and the rhubarb needed cutting back because the young pea plants weren't getting the sun because of the rhubarb plants.

I had every intention of processing the Saskatoon berries today, but it wasn't going to happen.  I had all this garden stuff that needed my attention.

So, I ended up with:
  • 3/4 of a large Ziploc bag of trimmed frozen green beans
  • 5 ice-cube trays of Beet/Pecan Pesto
  • 1 extra-large container of cleaned lettuce greens
  • 1 extra-large container of cleaned beets
  • 5 litres of rhubarb juice (making it into syrup tomorrow)
 All that's left to do now is to clean up the kitchen.  My least favourite part.

I'll try an remember to take a picture after the clean-up.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

White Saskatoon Berry cake with Sauce

We had a really nice dinner tonight of baked spinach pesto cod packets, mixed grain rice, and steamed broccoli, so I thought I would make an easy dessert, too.

I took a basic cake mix and tossed in a cup of Saskatoon berries.  Whilst the cake was baking, I made a sauce of an equal ratio of berries and Tropical Five Alive juice (I had some that had to be used up).  I cooked it for about 15 minutes, mashed some of the berries, and then tasted it.  It would have been very good for a meat sauce at that point, but for a dessert sauce it needed to be a bit sweeter.  So, I added some sugar and then after that dissolved, I added a bit of cornstarch slurry to thicken it slightly.

The Tropical 5-Alive juice actually gave it a nice citrusy finish.

The kids had theirs with vanilla ice cream.  I had about 1/3 of their portion and I had mine with vanilla frozen yogurt.

Saskatoon Berry Sauce

2 cups berries
2 cups juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. cold water

Combine berries and juice in a saucepan, Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mash some of the berries.  Add sugar and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Mix cornstarch and cold water. Add to boiling berry mixture.  Stir until thickened.  Remove from heat.

Makes one 500-ml jar of sauce.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Peaches and Apricots

Today I processed the peaches and apricots that we bought in Penticton, BC, on Saturday.

I'm not too pleased with how the apricots turned out, though.  By the time I was able to get to them they were overripe.  I tried to can them but they look very mushy in the jars.  The apricot syrup looks and tastes great, though.

The peaches were very close to being overripe but I caught them in time, thankfully.  They canned nicely.

Altogether, today I processed:
  • 4 1-litre jars of apricots
  • 12 1-litre jars of peaches
  • 4 1-litre jars of apricot syrup
  • 4 500-ml jars of apricot syrup

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Saskatoon Berries!

I took the kids to a U-Pick this afternoon.  They had lots of fun, as did I.  The farm was owned by a friendly, old Italian widower.  Bonus that it really near our house.  We'll be back to visit Mario for other produce later in the season, for sure.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Garlic Dill Pickles!

A couple of days ago, we came back from vacationing in Penticton, BC.  The twins had a week of Battle Camp at Okanagan Hockey School, whilst the rest of us filled our days floating down the canal and sampling the local produce.

Speaking of which, when we left, I purchased 40 pounds of pickling cucumbers, plus 40 pounds of peaches, and 20 pounds of apricots.  I've yet to can the peaches and apricots but I just finished pickling the cucumbers.

Below is 30 (thirty) 1-litre jars of Garlic Dill Pickles (recipe below).  Also, shown is one 500-ml jar of pickled red jalapeño peppers.  I bought too many peppers for the dill pickles so I crammed them into a jar and pickled them.

Here's the recipe for the pickles:

Garlic Dill Pickles

Pickling vinegar (7%)

1 tablespoon Pickling salt

1 teaspoon Pickling spice
¼ teaspoon Bernardin Pickle Crisp
1 teaspoon (heaping) Minced Garlic
1 Fresh dill head
1/3 of a Jalapeño pepper

Pickling cucumbers

Bring to a boil a 50:50 brine of water and pickling vinegar.  Keep hot.

Into each 1-litre jar add salt, spice, crisp, garlic, dill, and jalapeño.  Pack cucumbers into jar.  Fill with brine.  Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Low-Carb Swedish Meatballs

I'm always on the lookout for ways to reduce refined carbs in my menu. I came across this recipe and made a couple of tweaks. I really like the flavour. It's very, very tasty but the meatball is a bit soft. I'll probably tweak it a bit next time but it is still delicious:
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon butter 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese 
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1.5 teaspoons nutmeg 
  • 1.5 teaspoons allspice 
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt 
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef 
  • 1/2 pound ground pork 
Saute onion in butter/olive oil until translucent, then remove from heat, and cool for 10 minutes.

While onions are cooling, shred the hard cheese, and then mince the shreds to a fine crumble in a food processor. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, and egg and whisk. Add the spices, salt, and pepper and mix. Add onions and hard cheese and mix until smooth. Add the beef/pork and mix until all ingredients are combined into a non sticky "dough". Roll into a small ball. Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350ºF until cooked through and brown, about 20-25 minutes.