Monday, February 26, 2007

It's a crunchy day at my place...

Hi! I am taking some time off from blogging to deal with life. I fell Friday and landed on my thumb, I broke the bone under my knuckle. This slows down my typing speed as I have limited mobility of my left hand fingers. We are buried under 4 inches of ice and had lost electricity. Although we have finally regained power it is unstable and the lights blink on and off. We also lost many tree limbs that are covering our back deck and yard that will be cleaned up soon. Weather forecast says more ice and snow storm is in store for tomorrow and again this weekend. The whole family is home today and I am actually sending this blog entry via my cell phone. I hope all my favorite bloggers are doing well and I will to be back soon (my left hand will be casted for the next six weeks).

This is a picture of a branch that fell from our tree Sunday.

The above picture was taken by Melissa. I think it is beautiful, but it is also a close up of the branches that fell on our deck.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yes Sir that's my baby ....

I know ... two posts in the same day, you are probably thinking, "Come on lady, get a life", but today is a special day. We captured my daughters taekwondo board breaks on the digital camera. Don't forget to check out the great looking seitan keilbasa below while you are here too.

Click on the picture below for the video demonstration, it is very short, so shouldn't take to long to load.

That was with the hand, this is with the foot.... high in the air!

Yes the men are standing on chairs and yes this is my 15 year old daughter. Yes, I'm a proud mom. :o)

Lunchboxes, gas and keilbasa

This weekend I made some seitan that I thought my readers would enjoy seeing. I was impressed with the fact that this was cooked in my crockpot.

The original recipe came from Bryanna Clark Grogan, it is kielbasa style heavy on the garlic and pepper. All seitans recipes she has are good, but this one is simply my favorite. Since she is coming out with an e-book on seitan making soon I will encourage anyone to give it a try. Comparably I have been a Bryanna seitan fan from the beginning and have been satisfied with no desire to stray. My perspective is that nothing compares. She also has so many wonderful seitans using a variety of flavors and ingredients, I have never been bored or lacked trying new recipes either.

Picture #1: Seitan rolled out on the counter into logs. This dough uses tofu as a wet ingredient. The texture is my families favorite. They do not like seitan without tofu - I like them either way, but there is a very big difference when regular firm tofu is used.

Picture #2: Logs placed into the warmed and intensely flavored cooking broth. This broth was cooking while I made my guten dough. I use a BOSCH kitchenaid dough hook to mix it... I let it knead for 10 minutes so the gluten is very well developed.

Picture #3: The cooked logs (overnight on low in my 6 quart oval pot). The smell permeates the house.

Picture #4: The logs removed from the crockpot and placed on a plate. I sometimes quarter a log and use on hotdog buns or set as a protein portion on a plate with a main grain dish and salad.


I have a few pictures of recent lunchboxes too, although they are not the expected "using the harvest" post I have promised but not yet completed it dies use up some of my home canned goods. The red beans were home canned using the wonderful and flavorful recipe in Bryanna's Almost No Fat Cookbook for Red Beans and Rice.... the first red bean recipe I have ever tried, good enough that I keep coming back to it. When pressure canning legumes the required time to process is 1 hour 25 minutes under 1o pounds of pressure. Since the temperature is so high and long I soak the legumes and bring them to a boil, cook five minutes and then proceed with the recipe. I do not cook any of the veggies, just combine all, divide evenly between the pint jars. They are perfect once all is processed. I ate on one pint jar two days in a row for lunch... one day with orange and red sides and the next with a big scrumptious salad. The rice was prepared in my rice maker.
Then I made a meal of eggless rolls, salad and tropical fruit mix. The sauce is my own homecanned plum sauce which I got the recipe from an Andrea Chesman book (see my side links). It is a little hard to see in the picture.... actually it was a little hard to see in my kitchen too because it was eaten so fast that if you didn't make a quick grab you didn't get any.

I have read many times that "healthy" food causes some to have painful gas or other negative side effects. As a vegan and whole foods promoter I must admit that when I first started changing my diet I had problems and occasionally still do with some foods. I was reading book by Dr McDougal (one of my first vegan reads) he mentioned that a client of his health resort mentioned that his diet should be called the Mc Bugle for obvious reasons. I was saddened that this must be a consequence and ate small amounts of food, but the food was healthy and fit the requirements I had however did not have enough calories. I became weak with low blood pressure (dizzy spells) and anemic. I was not ready to give up and I knew I needed to eat more despite the consequences... at the time I learned about fennel tea, ginger, and other digestive remedies. Finally I started finding information about food allergies and the the symptoms of such. I know that it is an overload of various foods that causes me digestive upset, not just "healthy" food or "soy", although I never figured out the science of eating w/o ever having complications I have reigned to carrying this little jar of pills with me and use it when I have a day in which I eat a hodge podge of food or that some food may disagree with me... cabbage, corn, amaranth, quinoa and millet have all given me problems at different times (yet unpredictable), however not when I take this. To me it's worth it to have the confidence that I can eat what I desire.... whole foods, healthy foods, soy foods, vegan foods, etc.

That being said I can continue to post whole food, bean filled, vegetable abundant meals that are healthy for me and considerate of others.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Using the harvest, part 3 (tomatoes)


picture: Tomatoes taken directly from the freezer and put into the crock pot. These were cleaned, dried, and placed into the freezer to be used with skins intact and stems removed. More pictures below.

How about red for a cold February day? A red soup fit perfectly with our "HEART"-y meal. Back to my using up the harvest series...

rank number one for garden canning endeavors and as a high acid fruit they can be processed in a water bath canner. They are the veggie I grow the most of, but as far as canning I usually find that when all the tomatoes are ripening I am to busy dealing with all the other garden produce. I learned from a fellow long-time farmer's market vendor (age 65 +) how she deals with the tomato abundance in September - October. ... she just wipes off the fruit to remove dirt and put them in the freezer to use when she was ready. I have done this also for several years. To begin I freeze them in a single layer using a pop flat box (this way they don't mash), then I place them a common grocery store plastic bag to keep them from falling all over my freezer until I am ready.

Tomatoes in recipes usually require 1 - 14.3 oz can or 1 - 28 oz can of tomatoes. I calculate that one pound of fresh (or frozen) tomatoes with skins removed is the amount for a 14.3 oz can recipe. To save time my tom's are usually in a cheap plastic grocery sack and from experience I consider a 1/2 full grocery sack is somewhere around six pounds. A quart size bag of medium tomatoes is the equivalent of a 16 ounce can (or 1 lb) and a sparse gallon size freezer bag of tom's equals the amount in a 28 ounce can, however I use the medium and large size ones which require more "air space" to make it more like a 28 ounce can in recipes. I did actually weigh them for a few years, but then I got to the point where I could eyeball a pound or two pretty well.

FAQ's about freezing tomatoes
Freezer burn ... Since I mentioned that I put them in a common grocery store (thin, cheap) bag, I bet that is what you are wondering. When I intend to make large batches of pasta sauces, BBQ sauce, tomato soup, etc I will have them used up by February. Since these foods are well seasoned I have never really noticed anything awry. I did go to the time and expense of using gallon size freezer bags one year and when I opened four or five at a time it seemed like such a waste. The farmer woman who gave me this advice said she just kept them in the box, she never even bothered bagging them or covering them. Again I stress that we used them up within six months and they were never defrosted and froze again at any point which is usually the reason for ice crystals.

Diced canned tomato similarity? The helpful farmer woman said she made soups and salsa with her freezer tomatoes. I like a chunky style salsa (which a frozen tomato cannot do), so I use them for soups and sauces only. The frozen tomato does not offer body, just flavor and volume. I cut the frozen tomato up when it is still frozen using a paring knife and acting quickly so my hands do not freeze or after it is in a cooking soup and thawed, then I use my kitchen scissors and chase after the tomato body cutting it into bits and pieces (sorry for the graphic description).

picture #2 above:
I let them cook on low overnight. You can see the the tomatoes are actually floating in a potful of clear tomato liquid. Unless pureed or the skins are removed and the tomato body is chopped the texture is not good at this stage, but it does maintain all of the tomato flavor. However you must remember when you buy them form a can salt is added and sometimes acidic preservatives are added, so this fresh tomato pot will not taste the same unless you doctor it.

Picture #3 above:
I used a hand blender to emulsify the tomato body and liquid together. I have a powerful kitchen aid hand immersion blender that works wonderful, and in this picture you can see it brings a bright red color that is basically a tomato puree with the consistency of what you would open from a can but without the salt or other preserving acids. Because my hand blender is powerful you cannot tell the skins are in this. Next I added the other ingredients required of TOMATO SOUP (link to my recipe) and let it cook on low while I went to work. When I came home I pureed again and ate tomato soup for supper with sandwiches. I personally like a red tomato soup that I add some dill or basil to right before eating, however I have known some who like a creamy, pink soup I guess you could add plain soy milk or pureed silken tofu to it if you desired.

Once the soup is pureed with the flavoring I could pour them into pint jars and further process with my pressure canner. Because I have low acid foods in there (carrots, onions, etc) I would process them for as long as the food that takes the most time. With this soup because I added no legumes I would process at 45 minutes for a pint, but then if I also needed to process tomato based pasta sauce of which I add mushrooms and TVP (a legume product), I would go ahead and place these jars with the others and process for 1 hour 25 minutes because that is what is required for the legumes. The way I made the tomato soup above may separate in the jar into the a layer of clear liquid. This is okay and can just be stirred to remix.

Another use for frozen tomatoes:
Bryanna's quick chili from the 20 minutes to Dinner Cookbook
This is one of my favorite fast easy winter soups. I take a frozen tomato and run it under warm water until the skin cracks and then peels right off. I do this with as many tom's as I need. The weight of the frozen fruit is the same as the fresh. I sometimes throw them in the frig and left them thaw after this, but am usually in a hurry and just begin chopping up the frozen fruit with my sharpest knife to throw into the soup. The chopped tomato body will basically dissolve and no texture will be left, just taste since the skins are removed. This works for any soup. Always taste for salt after the product has cooked... remember these have not had commerciall acids nor salt added to then.

Next tomato post will be about canning homemade pasta sauce and Italian Stufado stew.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Six weird things about me....

I've been tagged by Erica to tell you six things you did not know about me (and to be honest MAYBE do not want to know about me).

1. My fifth grade teacher gave me the nickname of Dorito accidentally. She was calling on me to answer a question and that is the word that came out of her mouth, somehow it stuck with me.
2. I crochet my own dishclothes once every six months (that seems to be how long they last). I used to crochet more when my children were little, a skill I learned by watching my mom and sister who can crochet an regular size afghan in two days.
3. I had no desire to cook or learn how to cook until 9 years ago and then all the "sudden" I became a kitchen diva not able to learn enough, but then I changed my dietary preferences to became vegan at that time also.
4. I have taken six "years" (combined high school and college level) of various artistic skill classes and although I never had a desire to work in the field professionally I am known as the artist in my family and can sketch, charcoal, chalk with the best of them. I had a charcoal work sold for $160 at a local consignment shop ten years ago... and yes I was shocked at the price it brought.
5. Someday DH and I desire to volunteer or skills and abilities to the peace corps and travel to another country, it is a dream of ours. We have also seriously considered adopted a child from another country, but notice that the need for kids to be loved in our own country is great.
6. I was arrested for drinking alcohol once when I was 15 years old, I seriously had two drinks and barely registered a number on the breathilizer (didn't like the taste of it). I was charged $25 plus court costs for persons under the legal age. My mom picked me up at the police station and I was very much in trouble. I had to explain to my state educational examining board recently that I was arrested for this (more than 20 years ago), that I was successfully rehabilitated and that my "criminal" record will not affect my professional performance in any way.

Although I don't normally tag. I will change this one time and tag:

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Great Potato Challenge

Inspired by my canned potato post Kate of Vegan Ventures asked for ideas on dishes with potatoes.
I could share a few dishes I enjoy that include potatoes and will, but I thought it would be fun to see what other vegan bloggers say about their favorite potato dishes.

The potato picture (click the pix to go to the site I found it) is from and may be copyrighted, so I must give them a proper citation and be thankful this potato recipe page can look interesting.

VEGAN POTATO BLOGGERS: If you would like to link this page on your potato blog entry it will appear at the bottom of this page. Other potato interested readers can click there to see your potato recipe.

When I first changed my diet I was in a position to attend group meals or to help plan them frequently. To allow myself some food choices in a buffet style meal I always recommended a potato bar that would include a big variety of toppings. Baking a bunch of potatoes in a crockpot (and leeping them warm there) was easy work. If we were serving pot luck style guests would be asked to bring their favorite potato topping. I liked to bring my favorite Chili Sin Carne and serve it with a few morsels of vegan chedda' (although I just usually brought a container of some of Bryanna's cheesy sauce and drizzled that on top because I was on a strict budget back then). A side salad was a must also. This type of buffet really allowed flexibility for everyone's food preferences, even low carbers would munch on salads.

On Sunday's we leave for church around 8:30 and get home around 12 - 12:30. I like to fill my four quart crock pot up with potatoes and cook them on high. At four hours they seem just perfect. Then when we get home we have potatoes ready to top and eat. I will usually have things like veg baked beans, smartlife hotdogs, chedda cheese, already cooked and needs reheated cauliflower and broccoli, etc in the frig to pull out for quick fixings. The leftovers get stored in the frig and we eat on them during the week in whatever way strikes our fancy.

  • Dori's Dry Potato Soup Mix. When my children were younger I used to make these up ahead of time (and in large quantity so we could just scoop out amount needed) so they could make an easy meal for the family.
  • Sweet Potato Oven Fries. Sometimes I wonder why I don't make these more often.
  • Bazu says, " love potatoes in any form- cubed and roasted in the oven with olive oil, garlic and rosemary? Yes.

    Potato salad with onions, celery, vegannaise, and fresh dill? Yes.

    Mashed? Oh yes. Mmmmmm, potatoes, how do I love thee. There- that was my valentine's day poem. =)"
  • Axtvegan says white food is still a it of a concern for her, but she recently made green beans and red potatoes and purple potatoes she would eat roasted anytime! "
  • A picnic in France: New Potato Salad.
    I want to try this sometime, so am adding the whole recipe here to remind me. :b
    Combine in a pot:
    4 c. light broth (to make a quick "dashi" [Japanese broth], I use mushroom bouillon cubes [enough for only 3 cups broth] and a piece of kombu sea vegetable-- you can also use soaking water from shiitake mushrooms)
    4 oz. any fresh mushrooms, sliced
    8 oz. thin-skinned potato, scrubbed and thinly sliced
    1 medium onion, thinly sliced

    Simmer about 15 minutes, or til potato is tender. Remove and discard kombu, if using.

    Add:1/2 (12.3 oz.) box firm or extra-firm slken tofu, or 6 oz. medium firm regular tofu, in cubes

    After heating tofu, turn off heat. Mix some of the broth with:
    1/3 c. brown rice or barley miso

    Add back to soup with:
    2 green onions, thinly sliced

    Serve immediately. Servings: 4

    Nutrition Facts
    Nutrition (per serving):
    136.4 calories; 15% calories from fat; 2.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 880.0mg sodium; 588.5mg potassium; 22.0g carbohydrates; 3.3g fiber; 4.0g sugar; 18.7g net carbs; 8.4g protein; 2.3 points.
  • Bryanna's CAUSA (Peruvian Potato Salad). I made this dish to serve at a cultural dinner hosted by us when we invited friends over to share there experiences living in this area for more than a year with us. This was my first experience with blue potatoes, we thought they were so fun that we planted them in the garden the next year.
  • Bryanna's Potato and Sweet Potato Gratin
  • Bryanna's Bread Machine Sourdough Potato Bread

Also, about canned potatoes. Of course I would rather eat a fresh potato, but having them already cooked ready to dice, mash or otherwise prepare to add to another seasoned dish I like them for this use (soups, stir-fries, etc). I have noticed a difference in taste between the type of potato I used to can with, I will not can russet potatoes in the future. I will definitely grow more yukon gold though. I keep hearing reports from my other canning friends that this is what they prefer to use. Personal note: Keep a cold storage potato supply for fresh potatoes and can a few because I like the prep they offer.

I am still working on my tomato using the harvest post and should have some great things to share by the end of this week. Midwest Vegan, I will include pictures and a thorough description of texture, etc in this post.

ALSO HAPPY V-DAY FRIENDS! I hope to bake up something fun for Wednesday, something like a Dreena cake ... maybe something including chocolate and raspberries (oh yummers).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Using the harvest, Part 2 (potatoes)


I also added information about water level in the potatoes at the end of this post.

The potato mash seen here is made using 1 1/2 quart of canned potatoes a bit of plain soymilk (1/3 cup) and a tad of nutritional yeast (1/2 Tbsp). Straight from the jar, drained, and placed into a bowl, I mashed them by hand with a potato masher and then made VWAV punk rock chickpea gravy to top. I liked the gravy even though some of the spice mixture (like every spice in the cupboard) made me wonder what I was attempting to accomplish. I went to the ppk kitchen site to see if I could find a recipe similar, but no avail... this one must be a treasure for the book. Here is a link to ppk general gravy recipes posted on that site. My picture features the potatoes with a side of home canned corn and stuffed mushrooms made using whole grain bread crumbs from my freezer. I make bread crumbs with the last of a loaf OR when I have a loaf not turn out so well.... these breadcrumbs happened to come from a loaf that I forgot to add the salt to. The corn was cut off the cob and canned with some dried red bell peppers for flavor.

Someone mentioned that my pictures are small. I usually turn them into thumbnails before uploading them or it takes 3 minutes or more to upload one picture, but as a thumbnail it uploads almost instantly and I do have DSL connection. On my full size home PC the pictures appear big on the screen, but on my laptop they appear small. I plan on taking a closeup of each of the canned goods I use and post it on this blog to show detail in the product when I begin to use it. Today's post will focus in on the potatoes. This is the first year I have canned potatoes because they are a low acid food and I didn't have the ability pre-pressure canner. (See below for information on cold storage.)

My canning friend told me awhile ago her family likes yukon gold potatoes the best as a canned good in comparison to other varieties of potatoes. The few yukon gold potatoes we had this year were eaten early so I had none to can, only a generic russet and pontiac red. I know these have a firmer texture and pleasant yellow color. I was a little concerned that the choices I made might end up mushy after the processing and maybe only good for mashed potatoes, especially the more tender and thin skinned red potatoes - not so. Now that I have used both varieties I can not that neither are mushy, the only big difference is in the skin. I left the skin on both, the russets skin is tougher but skips right off with a slight rub of the fingers, I did leave the skin in when I made mashed potatoes but I paid special attention to ensuring that they were well blended. Yukon skin is also thin and could be left on for canning purposes.

While comparing these jars visually (these were canned in July and it is now February) the jarred red potatoes look somewhat cloudy, but I can see the defined line of starch as well as the clear liquid separately. I believe this is just a little starch release and the red obviously has more but then potatoes also have various cooking properties. When I opened the jar and drained the liquid the starchy cloud disappeared, the potatoes felt normal, the liquid was not thick, it really was no problem .... just a visual difference between the two. After draining I dumped the potatoes into a bowl and began mashing with a hand held potato masher. They broke apart into what reminded me of a cubed hashbrown and I think could have easily been used for that. In canning I let the skins on these and the skin is thin enough that it causes no problem leaving it on while cooking.

Previously we kept potatoes in a cheap food cooler with a blanket wrapped around them at the bakehouse because we don't heat the bakehouse in the winter (except a special heat tape for the water pipes) so things might freeze there esp when we have temperatures like we have been having (-15 degrees F). The blanket and cooler did protect them through our winter months however this is the coldedt I have seen us since we started gardening and preserving five years ago. I have made it through March with fresh potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and even longer with squash. However by March the potatoes will be growing roots (which I will break off if I am going to cook them), so I use those to plant again. April is the time (Good Friday) to plant potatoes in my village along with some spring greens and a few onions.

In addition to the potato mash I also used 1/2 of the russets to make this simple creation for breakfast. I started by sauteing yellow onion slices and a little minced garlic. I had about 1/4 C chopped red pepper left in a baggie in the freezer so I threw that in. I sliced half a quart jar (after the liquid was drained) of the russet potatoes, saute'd a few minutes more and then added some thawed chopped spinach (a handful ran it under warm water in a small colander). Last I sprinkled with some organic bac-un bits. It was pretty good and I didn't need to kill it with ketchup to give it flavor. It didn't need salt because the water in the jar has a little salt in it and the bac'un bits were salty too.

Here's the label on the bac'un bits I bought. They are vegan and organic. I have tried very red colored vegan bac'un bits before and never cared for them because they reminded me of salt and grease, but these are not to bad.... a flavor of it's own. They are also a natural colored brown.

1) open, drain and add them to any stew, Indian food recipe, soup, or other stir fry. They are already cooked and can be used for "fast food".

P.S. I recently had a conversation with someone who asked if I was from the "hippe" generation. Well, no patchouli smells or psychedelic flower symbols here BTW. I grew up in the eighties and although it was "small town no where" I was influenced by the punk movement. I was a heavy metal fan and owned a pair of parachute pants.

From the comments section I had a question asked that I answered there, but then decided I wanted to add it to this main post also.
  • Dori, I am curious about the air in the potato jars. I thought that all the food was supposed to be under water?
  • Good question erica. I called the Iowa State Extension experts and asked them the same thing when I first saw the water level (which was not this low when I started)... meaning I had the potatoes covered and 1/2 inch from the top before they went into the pressure canner. After canning at 10 lbs pressure for the required 45 minutes (time set by the ball canning guide) for a quart jar the water level lowered below the potatoes. The extension office said that this was normal, the vegetables soak them in when cooking and some of it comes out in steam during the pressure cooking process. The important thing is that the temperature is high enough to kill the botulism bacteria, ONLY a pressure canner that is working correctly and at the right pressure setting as well as the correct time can accomplish that task. Once this happens the water level below the potato is acceptable, however it may be a bit drier.... I didn't not find any difference between the tators at the top and the ones at the bottom. Pressure cookers can be checked at a county extension office.
  • I would definitely recommend getting the canning guide (see lnk on my sidebar) prior to attempting LOW ACID canning. It has great pictures of the process and explains everything is great detail.
I think this weekend I will be making up some pasta sauce in my slow cooker using frozen tomatoes from my freezer. I freeze my tomatoes whole in a can flat box, then stick them in a grocery sack until I am ready to use them. Using the harvest part 3 will tell you more - stay tuned. I loved the comments. I know that the site reader tells me what number of visits I get a day, but I never know who is really interested in what I am saying and one sided conversation can get boring.... so thanks.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Using the harvest, part 1

Woot! My new canning storage area in the basement is up!

I put this on DH's "Honey Do!" list to be created since I purchased my 23 quart pressure canner/cooker way back in July 2006. Although I had a rack that held 8 jars deep I did not have the width to see what jars were behind others. If I wanted a certain jar I had to move many others to get to it... not convenient at all. I also had zero space to store the jars once they were emptied until they were to be used again, so a corner of my kitchen had a box full of jars needing to be moved somewhere. However all these problems have been solved with one little purchase and Saturday assembly - DH and DS found it to be a good project for a frigid winter day.

Finally, I can show you canned goods that I have left from last years harvest, minus some tomato based pasta sauces and apple sauce or butter (I haven't decided yet) that I intend to make with the fruits stored away in my freezer. I still have broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, greens , and some corn in the freezer that we have been chowing on. Fortunately I can get to this easily now also, previously the rack I had canned goods on made my time getting to and using the freezer in our basement difficult.

Foods on my shelf - - - -
Yearly favorites (links to my previous blog entry about these foods):

Onion curry relish, piccalilly: a dutch pennslvania treat, caraway pickled beets, dilly green beans, dilly cauliflower, dilled cauliflower carrot red pepper mix, bread and butter pickles (stevia sweet), "sushi" ginger carrot cucumber pickles (stevia sweet), salsa, strawberry rhubarb very low sugar (stevia sweet) jam, low sugar orange marmalade, apple sauce, apple butter, pear butter, pumpkin butter, and diced apples (just the whole fruit in a light lemon juice and stevia sweetened water) and cinnamon that reminds me of diced pears, zucchini relish (my purple ribbon county fair winner).

The pressure canner gave me the ability to can russet and red kinebec potatoes, green beans, corn and sweet potatoes. Previously I used a cold storage for these (which I still did for some), but it is so much nicer now to have these veggies ready to open a jar and go.

New in 2006:
  • Plum Sauce (made with 2# purchased plums from a farmer's market I went to), nicely seasoned with oriental five spice powder ....kind of like a sweet and sour sauce, but definitely made with fruit. I sweetened mine with stevia. The recipe I based it off of came from the book Summer in a Jar.
  • Avjar (link to recipe)- Balkan red pepper relish, a recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan. Although she doesn't can it I used the same canning time that animal meat takes (1.5 hours under 10 pounds pressure). My thinking was that if the time and pressure can allow animal meat to be preserved then surely it kill the bacteria in this sauce. I opened a jar of it after four months and it had a wonderful consistency and was very good.... just as good as when I made it fresh and refrigerated it.
  • Cranberry Chutney (link to the recipe) - I found this recipe in a book called Gifts from the kitchen. I made mine sugar free (using stevia instead) and added apple sauce to measure the quantity of the sugar originally called for. I added this to a sandwich using sliced seitan to resemble some of the after thanksgiving sandwiches I have seen in recipes.... yum. I also used it on crackers and soy cream cheese as well as toast one morning that I wanted to finish up the last of it from the jar. This recipe will make it to the yearly list. I did use marked down cranberries from the grocery store (2 / $1). My recipe says this chutney can be made using frozen cranberries also, I stocked up on that sale so I could make it again if I want but I will most likely use the remaining cranberries in smoothies.
  • Stevia sweet apple pie filling - our tree gave us nice abundance this year. I adjusted a recipe from our state extension office family hotline. They actually emailed me the recipe I requested (sugar free apple pie filling) and canning requirements. I made mine sugar free however it does use apple juice so it is not watered down sweetness. The family LOVES this recipe. It is a fast dessert to take some of this, sprinkle it with granola and top it with some soy yogurt or ice cream for a fast dessert.
  • Sweet corn relish - this is delightfully different from Chesman's book, but pretty yummy to dress up a taco salad or wrap. It adds a sweet and sour type flavor combo.
  • Legumes and home canned soups.... Money saver and time saver. This has been my favorite use. Canned convenience soups can be so expensive. The fact that I can use my own veggies (sometimes I purchase them) and organic legumes makes the whole hassle of learning how to can like this worth it.
A garden / preserving resource I added to my side bar is author Andrea Chesman. I love her canning book called Summer in a Jar because of the small batch recipes (one quart or pint at a time). Another one is the Ball Blue Book, it is the canning "bible" if there is one and I use it as a reference on low acid and other food times, but I rarely use these recipes. It is nice because it includes dehydrating and freezing preservation also.

While I am on the topic of garden produce and canning I also will let you know of low-acid soups and legumes I have pressure canned and LOVE.
  • Dori's COOP Black Bean Soup (link to recipe)
  • Sicilean Style Spilt Pea Soup (Bryanna's Fiber for Life Cookbook)
  • White Chik'n Chili (my own recipe, but inspired by a Taste of Home magazine recipe)
  • Basic white navy beans, black beans, black eyed peas ... (not seasoned, just to open and use), and some seasoned ready to use TVP chunks, ground taco TVP meet, and Louisana style red beans to serve over rice.
This is long enough for now, but since I have access to my preserved food I am totally inspired to use it, which I definitely did. If I mentioned a "my own recipe" food here and you would like me to post the recipe, let me know and I will.

Part 2 using the harvest (coming soon)
It will include pictures of :
Dori's canned potato mash with Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy
Stuffed Mushrooms with bread crumbs from the freezer
Bryanna's Fiber for Life Quick Chili with more garden harvest vegetables

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Seeds of gardening (idealistic ol' me) ..

It's February. It's Iowa. It's cold (-2 degrees F for a high today). I'm jealous of some of the great looking fresh veggie dishes I see being cooked in other parts of the country (and out of it). I know my spring will come again though, the garden catalogs are coming in the mail even though I'm not quite totally inspired to read through them yet. I just found out that I will go unpaid for only 4 weeks of the summer and yet will be off for about 12 weeks. As I think about work I may not bake at the farmer's market this summer because I am discovering a growing interest into more gardening. Previously I have been pretty practical in raising my children and food from my garden, but now I am entering into a new phase in family and life and will probably need to change my profile description soon to describe the changing and growing me.

Vegan blog land has been changing as it seems bloggers I first met when I started almost a year ago are busier, but new ones are beginning to appear that are fun/ inspiring reads. Although I still have a passion for friendly (veg) food, I am finding myself thinking more and more about things in life that have given me great meaning and satisfaction. These thoughts are often fueled by what I see around me.... kids. Although there are still homes that can produce children whose needs are met (physical, intellectual, emotional, mental, social), there are an incredible number of kids who aren't----- WHY? My great, big compassionate mamma's heart wants to take them all in and put them to work in my garden, give them common practical household chores, a routine, and someone who is usually busy with something yet awake at the table drinking hot tea at all hours of the night ready to be interrupted to listen to the latest doldrems and excitements. My common cure for all ills (mentioned when it seems appropriately humorous) is, "Have you had any green vegetables today? How about alive food... something still fresh like it came from the garden." Then I mumble something about a body being unable to do it's job of keeping us emotionally balanced and acne free without feeding our "healer" cells the food they need (Mom's cure all = green vegetables, living food).

I can't take them all in of course, but I have been thinking I can offer more skills. Gardening skills in the summer... a day camp of sorts. I had some thoughts about this in the back of my mind for the last couple of years now intertwined with some geographical lesson plans centered around food and cultures, a sprinkle of some social science diversity acceptance for my rural little midwestern town, and food of course.

Although on the outside necessity has made me practical, I am hopelessy idealistic! I have also been totally taken by a book I read for a children's literature class some time ago called SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleischman.
Amazon review:
"Sometimes, even in the middle of ugliness and neglect, a little bit of beauty will bloom. Award-winning writer Paul Fleischman dazzles us with this truth in Seedfolks--a slim novel that bursts with hope. Wasting not a single word, Fleischman unfolds a story of a blighted neighborhood transformed when a young girl plants a few lima beans in an abandoned lot. Slowly, one by one, neighbors are touched and stirred to action as they see tendrils poke through the dirt. Hispanics, Haitians, Koreans, young, and old begin to turn the littered lot into a garden for the whole community. A gift for hearts of all ages, this gentle, timeless story will delight anyone in need of a sprig of inspiration. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition."

The idealist in me also LOVES books by Sharon Lovejoy. I honestly could not pick out just one of her books as a favorite, although I have pictured one here. This is the book that first inspired me into thinking I could teach young people the love of gardening and eating fresh (real) food with my little one acre plot. It is also the book that inspired me into wanting to see our school lunch programs begin to use locally grown garden produce. Although I personally have not taken action into any serious movement of this sort, I do agree with the efforts of a few I have read about that have. My bent will be different though... I'm a hands on kinda person and I want to give others a chance to play in the dirt or in the kitchen.

As I think warm thoughts about my summer and begin to generate internal motivation for the upcoming planting season I am reminded that my son whose culinary skills have been featured many times on this blog will be home for the summer before going off to the next year of school and although dirty work is not his favorite thing to do, he has always enjoyed having an important role in entertaining others. (He has also decided he would like to switch from computer technology to something with a music emphasis, even though he likes working with computers he says he knows as much as he wants to know about this subject come the end of this semester.) Even people with disabilities can be useful and find great joy in the garden.

There is a new link at the bottom of my sidebar that can help you find a garden blog near you or if you have one and you would like your dot placed on the map, check it out!