Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pickled Jalapeno and Fresno Peppers

I thought I was all done pickling things.  But then I found out that my husband was eating all of the peppers that I pickled.  I know it's a good thing that he actually likes them, but I wanted them to last through part of the winter, and autumn just began. 

We made an impromptu trip to Whole Foods, and I picked up 3 pounds of organic jalapenos and fresno peppers.  Fresno peppers look a lot like red jalapenos.  But, their skin is thinner, they are more hollow, and they are hotter.  Jalapenos typically rate around 4500 Scovilles.  Fresnos are hotter (I kept finding conflicting Scoville ratings between 5000 and 10000).

I used a different recipe than the one mentioned in this post.  I again referred to my current favorite canning book, Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry.  This recipe included a little bit of honey in the pickling mixture.  It added just a little bit of a sweet taste to the heat of the peppers.

I ended up with what my husband nicknamed 'Christmas in a Jar.'

I increased the pickling liquid by 1.5 times (seeing as the recipe called for 2.5 lbs. of peppers).  The recipe yielded 7 pints of peppers.  Of course, I only had 5 jars sterilized, so a quart jar ended up in the fridge.  I've really got to work on more accurately guessing the right number of jars...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Roasted Turkey Breast

On Sundays we usually eat something that is more time consuming to cook.  I didn't know what we were going to eat this Sunday, then my husband mentioned that we haven't had a turkey breast in a long time.

I took a trip out to our favorite local butcher shop, and picked up their last turkey breast.  It was a good size for a full meal for us, plus leftovers (probably a whole 'nother meals worth)...just under 3 pounds.

I didn't have a recipe that I followed.  I just made it up as I went along.  Here's what I did.

I looked in the spice cabinet and chose Penzey's Bicentennial Rub (which includes coarse flake salt, Tellicherry black pepper, sugar, turmeric, minced orange peel and coriander).  I also love garlic, so I minced about 4 cloves.

 I poured some extra virgin olive oil in a shallow-sided pan.

I lifted the skin and made a pocket (careful not to remove the skin).  I put a splash of EVOO, the minced garlic, and about a teaspoon of the Bicentennial Rub in the pocket.

Then I tied up the breast with some kitchen twine.

I melted a tablespoon of my homemade butter in the microwave.

Then, I brushed the butter over the top of the breast.

Here's the beauty, ready to go into the oven.  I preheated the oven to 450 degrees.  When I put the turkey breast in, I turned the heat down to 400 degrees.

After 20 minutes, I basted the breast and brushed another tablespoon of melted butter on top.

I thought it would be done after 45 minutes of cooking, but I was wrong.  It ended up taking about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I knew it was done when the thermometer read 170 degrees.  I  let the turkey breast rest for 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute.

The skin came out so crispy and delicious.

When I sliced into the turkey, it was so moist.  It was cooked to perfection.  The garlic flavor was noticeable without being overwhelming.   

I would have used butter in the pocket instead of EVOO, but my husband doesn't have the same opinions about "real" food as I do.  I was trying to keep the majority of the turkey breast healthy.  I figured he could pick off the skin if he was unhappy with the butter.  It turns out, he loved the skin, and didn't mind the butter.  Although, if I caught him on another day, the result may have been different.  He ate his turkey with couscous, and I had mine with corn and mashed potatoes.  I'm not anti-couscous, but it's new to me, so I'm slow to warm up to it.  Plus, I think that mashed potatoes pair perfectly with turkey.

This post is linked to:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Replacement Post

Sigh.  I was hoping to get up a post about making apple pie filling.  However, I failed.  I didn't even make any yet.  My plan for the weekend was to process the rest of the apples that I had picked the previous weekend. 

Here's the deal.  I needed ClearJel.  I thought I already had some ClearJel.  It turns out I didn't.  ClearJel is a form of corn starch.  It's a thickener needed for apple pie filling.  You may be wondering why I didn't just use corn starch.  Because it's not USDA approved.  I try my hardest to only post recipes that follow USDA recommendations. 

Now...I thought I had ClearJel.  It turns out I had Certo.  Certo is a liquid form of pectin.  I swear I'd seen ClearJel in the store before.  I ran to the local Pick 'n Save.  NOPE!  They had Sure Jell, which is a brand of pectin *insert eyeroll here*.  Grrr!

This meant no apple pie filling for me until I could get my hands on some ClearJel.  I ended up ordering some online.  I've got my fingers crossed that they ship quickly.  As a side note, if you ever want to give Pomona's Universal Pectin a try, and order from their website, they ship VERY quickly.  I ordered on a Friday, and received it on the following Monday.

Hopefully an apple pie filling post will be coming in the next week or so.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomato Jam

Here's a food quirk about me that I'll let you in on (that is, if you don't know me in real life).  I don't like ketchup.  It feels so anti-American to say that, but it's true.  I really can't stand it.  There are a lot of foods that I don't like, but I can at least tolerate.  I might like the way they smell, but not care for the taste or the texture.  But when it comes to ketchup, I can't even stomach the smell.  Yuck.

My husband isn't a huge ketchup eater either.  He doesn't hate it like I do, but he doesn't need to have it in the house.  I checked the fridge, and we do have a bottle of ketchup in there, but I'm pretty sure it's from the last time we had people over for a party (maybe Father's Day???). 

Marisa at Food in Jars posted this Tomato Jam recipe on her blog recently.  I'm surprised to admit that it intrigued me (being that I'm so anti-ketchup).  I had slightly under 5 pounds of tomatoes in my freezer.  **As a side note, did you know that you can freeze your tomatoes whole?  Well, now you know.**  I decided to give the Tomato Jam a try.  Well...not 'a try' as in 'I'll actually taste it', because I don't intend to eat it.  I have no problem cooking foods that I don't like just to please others.  I do it all the time.  Probably half of the stuff I canned this year I won't eat.  It's no biggie.

I chopped up the frozen tomatoes as well as the last bit of cherry tomatoes I'll probably get this year (just so I'd make it to 5 pounds).  Well, maybe I should say slightly defrosted tomatoes.  I took them out of the freezer for about 2 hours and they were still pretty solid.  It actually made them really easy to cut up.  The only downside was that the peels were coming off.  Not too bad if you're using a recipe that calls for peeled tomatoes.  However, in this recipe, Marisa notes that the peels are neccessary.  I did my best to keep as many of the peels on the tomatoes as possible.

Then I added the freshly grated ginger and lime juice.

And finally, the salt, sugar and spices were added.

After mixing everything together, this is what it looked like.  I guess tomatoes can macerate just like other fruit.  I was surprised (but I guess I shouldn't have makes sense).

After simmering for about 1 1/2 hours, this is what it looked like.  It was relatively thick and jam-like.  It cooked down by about 1/2.

I ended up with 5 half pint jars and 3 quarter pint jars.  Less than what the original recipe lists.  I'm guessing I may have cooked it down too much, but I didn't think it was thick enough until the 1 1/2 hours were finished.

Now, you may be wondering, "Adrienne...what are you going to do with that Tomato Jam?"'s going to be gifted to family and friends.  I'm thinking of marketing it as Adult Ketchup, Ketchup for Grown Ups or Ketchup for the Finer Palate.  That's what it sounded like to me after reading Marisa's description.  She said it can be used in place of ketchup (such as on top of a burger) or paired with a soft, stinky cheese.

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Homemade Applesauce

Sunday was apple picking day.  It was a day that I was very much looking forward to.  It was my first time apple picking, so I didn't know exactly what to expect.  I went with my sister-in-law, Karey, who also is a canner.  We went to the Elegant Farmer, a cute farm in Mukwonago that is great for families (there are hay rides, pony rides, make-your-own caramel apples, corn maze, pumpkins, trolley/train rides).  It's a bit on the tourist-y side, but I still enjoyed it.  Of course, I don't have any pictures of us picking.  Every time I've gone picking this year (strawberries, raspberries, and now apples), I've failed to take pictures.  When we got there, we each picked up an empty bushel basket (which holds around 42 pounds of apples...I think I got about 46), and loaded them into a wagon (I'm so glad they had wagons...there would be no way I would have been able to carry my bushel full of apples).  The farm had about 10 varieties of apples, and the trees were color coded with ribbons.  We were on the lookout for the white ribbons, which were the Cortland apples.  They are great all-purpose apples.  Because we wanted to do many different things with them (applesauce, apple butter, apple jelly, apple pie filling), we chose the Cortland.

When we came across the first set of trees with white ribbons we just had to laugh.  We couldn't reach any of the apples.  Oh, and did I mention it was raining?  On and off, and not too heavy, but the rain was definitely there.  So, then we started jumping to try to reach some apples.  Everytime I tried to pull an apple off, I'd also get a face full of water.  We also tried climbing some of the trees.  I got a few apples that way, but either other people beat me to it, or not many apples grow near the middle of the tree.  I could have walked out on the limbs, but they were wet and I didn't want to break my neck.

We walked over a couple of rows and found some more trees with while ribbons.  Score!  These trees were full of apples.  Even apples that I could reach without jumping.  Even better?  There was a ladder nearby.  My sister-in-law climbed the ladder and handed the apples to me.  This made the job a lot simpler, plus saved us a lot of time.  We would have been there all day if we had to jump to reach the apples.

Check out our trunk full off Cortland apples!

The first thing I wanted to make was some applesauce.  I was dying to try out my new food mill.  I chopped up 6 pounds of apples.  It was awesome to not have to peel them or worry about the cores or seeds.  I added a cup and a half of water and boiled them, covered, for about 20 minutes.  [On my next batch I think I'm going to use apple cider instead of water. I think it will add a little more flavor to the applesauce.]

Hmmm....I seemed to have forgotten to take a picture of what they looked like after 20  minutes of cooking...

Anyways, I broke out the brand-spanking-new food mill.  I put the finest plate on the inside.  I didn't want any of the core or seeds slipping through.  I set about cranking it.

Then the applesauce started draining out of the bottom!  Holy cow!  It was so easy!  If it got a little clogged up, I just reversed it for a few turns.

All that would stay behind in the top were the seeds, core and skins.

The best part was that there was so little waste.  After preparing 6 pounds of apples, this was the total waste I had!  I'd estimate it at less than a 1/2 cup!

 After running the apples through the food mill, I cleaned out the pot, put the applesauce back in, and added about a cup of sugar and some cinnamon.  I didn't exactly measure, I just tasted it until it was perfect.  I processed the jars in the waterbath canner for 15 minutes.  I ended up with 5 pints worth of applesauce.  Cortland apples make the most beautiful pink applesauce (which I learned ahead of time from Under the High Chair). 

If you want to take your applesauce a step further and turn it into apple butter, check out this post.

And, these pictures are only semi-related.  I just couldn't resist posting them.  I tried to take some pictures of my son with the bushel of apples (minus 12 pounds that I had already processed while he was napping).  The first 2 were pretty cute.  He played along with me.

Then I think he was trying to tell me he had enough.  I have no idea why he decided to put his hand down his diaper.  He never does that!

This post is linked to:
This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday.

Stolen Grape Jelly

I'm sure this happens to everyone.  You're sitting in your front yard with your neighbors.  The kids are playing.  The parents are enjoying a few beers or cocktails.  Everyone's having a great time.  Then somebody brings up the neighbor across the alley.  Can you believe he's got that beautiful grape vine with those gorgeously ripe purple grapes just hanging on that giant pergola, and he's not doing anything with them?  What a shame!  What a food sin!

Let's go steal some!  Another neighbor chimes in.  Come on.  We'll go together.  It's dark out.  I don't even think he's home.

All of a sudden, there you are committing a crime with a neighbor and a few minor children (and one of said children's little shopping carts to carry the grapes home in).

In the middle of our 'foraging' another neighbor pulls into the alley.  Oh no!  We're busted!  We admit to our crime.  This neighbor informs us that it's probably ok.  The grape vine owner has told them in the past it was ok to take his grapes because he had no plans for them.  Well...that actually sucks a little of the fun out.

We ended up with about 5 pounds of grapes.  And you couldn't even tell we stole any.  We just grabbed what we could reach, so all of the grapes hanging from the top of the pergola were untouched.

The following day, I began teaching my 9 year old neighbor, Kaytlin how to make stolen grape jelly.  I've got to spread the love of canning somehow, right?  I showed her how to wash them and pick off the over-ripe ones.  Then I showed her how to squish them in a big pot and bring them to a boil.  I made my makeshift 'jelly bag contraption' which was cheese cloth, binder clips, and a bowl.  I told her how we had to let the juice drip out and then refridgerate it for a day.

On day 2, I had Kaytlin make the jelly.  She washed the jars.  She boiled the grape juice and pectin, and added the sugar.  She stirred and stirred until it felt a little bit thicker as she stirred.  She then filled the jars, put the lids on, and processed them for 10 minutes.  And learned the joy of the 'ping' as the jars were removed from the canner.  I brought a hot jar over to her house so she could admire it on her counter for a day before trying it.

On day 3, we distributed the stolen grape jelly to the accomplices, witnesses, and victim.  We admitted our crime to the victim, who laughed, and thanked us for returning his grapes.  He then told us to help ourselves to as many grapes as we wanted.

On day 4, there was a ladder underneath the pergola.  An invitation? Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the $45 gift certificate!  It goes to commentor #31, Christina.  I'll be emailing you shortly and you'll have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Great Mail Day

Friday was a great mail day at my house.  First, the Fed Ex truck delivered my brand new Oxo 1071478 Good Grips Food Mill.  Then, the UPS truck delivered my very own copy of Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry as well as the 2 vanilla beans that I won from Food in Jars.

I couldn't resist the food mill any longer.  I caved and ordered it from Amazon.  And, if you haven't heard yet, they have a new promotion going called Amazon Mom.  I signed up for it because it came with 3 free months of Amazon Prime.  I already had the free trial of Amazon Prime when it first came out and loved it, but I was too cheap to pay for it.  What's nice about it is that you get free 2 day shipping on most purchases.  I ordered the food mill on Wednesday and received it on Friday.  If you sign up for Amazon Mom, you also can get discounts on certain baby/kid items.  I also ordered some diapers for cheaper than I can find them in the stores, even with coupons.  If you want to learn more about Amazon Mom, you can read about it here.

Canning for a New Generation became a staple reference book when I borrowed it from the library.  Once I had to return it, I knew I had to buy it.

And as for the Nielson-Massey vanilla beans?  I already used one.  That post will be coming soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Daydreaming About Chickens

Chickens aren't legal in my city (yet).  But when they are, and when I've finally convinced my husband that we should get a few, I want him to build me this chicken coop.

I've already talked to some of my neighbors, and they don't mind my fantasy chickens (but maybe they don't mind them because they know they aren't legal yet).  I'm not talking about roosters, so they won't be noisy.  I hear hens also make nice pets.  They are great for the garden because they eat the bugs.  And their poop manure is great fertilizer.  Of course, I want their eggs.  Have you ever had eggs that were from free range chickens?  I'm not talking about any eggs you can buy in a grocery store.  I'm talking about free range chickens from a local from.  The color of the yoke is amazing.  The vitamins are unmatched in store-bought eggs.

Maybe I should think about actually doing something to legalize chickens in my city...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grape Jelly

Ah, grape jelly.  To me, nothing goes better with peanut butter, than grape jelly.  It's so smooth.  There's no chunks, no seeds.  It's one of my favorites.

I had no intentions of making grape jelly this year.  To be honest, I had no interest in jelly because it sounded like a lot of work to get the juice out, and I wasn't too excited about it being a 2 day process.  Well, after I was offered free grapes from my aunt (the master gardener I mentioned in a previous post), I knew I had to make some grape jelly.

I did some googling about how to make grape jelly.  I thought I'd give a no pectin version a try.  I did refer to Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry.  Here's the process I went through on my grape jelly experiment.

I went to my aunt's house and picked about 7 1/2 pounds of grapes.  I washed them and picked off the overripe grapes.  This was a long process, and I ended up doing it in 2 batches due to my lack of patience.

I crushed the grapes with a potato masher. 
I thought that I'd give a no pectin added version a try.  Because I didn't have enough under ripe grapes, I sliced up an apple and added it to the pot.  I ended up cooking the grapes and apples for about 15 minutes.
When it was done cooking, I put the grape/apple mixture into my homemade jelly bag contraption.  I can't take credit for this idea.  I saw it on another blog (I can't remember which one, or I'd link it).  I took 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth and used binder clips to attach it to a bowl.  I let the apple/grape juice strain for about an hour.  The trick here is to let gravity to the work.  Don't squeeze the juice through, or you'll end up with cloudy jelly.
I ended up with about 9 cups of grape juice.  I had stored the processed juice in the fridge for 24-ish hours.  As it sat, it developed crystals on the container.  After some good ol' Google research, I learned that they are tartrates.  They aren't harmful and aren't supposed to affect the taste. 
I poured 1/2 of the juice into a pot.  I slowly brought it up to boiling and added 3 cups of sugar.  I kept waiting for it to thicken, but it just wasn't happening.  I thought maybe I just didn't notice.  So, I did the plate test, but it definitely wasn't ready.  I cooked it for about 2 more minutes, and did the plate test again.  Fail.  Hmmm...Now what?  I went to the cabinet and grabbed a package of No Sugar Added Pectin.  I mixed it in, and did the plate test again.  This time it worked.  Yay!  I processed them for 10 minutes in the waterbath canner.
On the second batch (remember, I had 9 cups, and you aren't supposed to double a jelly recipe because it probably won't set properly), I didn't even try to not use pectin.  I followed the directions on the pectin insert.  It went more smoothly.  The first batch took about 3 days to fully set.  The second batch was set within 24 hours.
Another kid tested recipe!  Another success!

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
This post is linked to Grow Your Own #45 hosted by Girlichef.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cherry Tenderloin (using Cherries in Wine)


After participating in Canning Week hosted by Amy at a Latte with Ott, A and Jen at From Mess Hall to Bistro I was invited to participate in their new weekly blog hop.  I Canned a Whole Lott, Now I'm Baking in My Bistro is a blog hop that focuses on what we do with the items we have canned.

I must admit that this is an area that I need some serious help in.  I should be a member of Canning Hoarders Anonymous.  I like to put all the pretty produce in jars and stare at them once they are processed.  I DO NOT like to open the jars.  Every time I catch my husband opening a new jar, I give him a dirty look and think: you can't open that yet.  Summer isn't even over, jerk!  You have to save them for the winter.  But I don't say anything.  I'm just happy that he actually likes what I made.

I did make a small step this past weekend.  I shared a jar of salsa with the neighbors, and even gave another jar away to the neighbors.  It wasn't easy, but I did it.  I think salsa might be the hardest thing for me to give away because it takes so much time to make.  All that chopping (even if I do most of it in the food processor) is very time consuming.  Jams/jellies/preserves/butters are easier for me to share because they are easier to make, and I have so many jars that there is no way my family of 3 will ever eat them all.

Well, on to what I made with an item I canned.  At the height of cherry season, I canned some Door County cherries in wine, according to the recipe from Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.  I used Satin Red from Von Stiehl Winery (a Wisconsin Wine).  Since I was using Wisconsin cherries, I wanted to stick with a Wisconsin wine.  This was the first jar I opened, and they were delicious.  They weren't too soft or soggy.  They still had a bit of crunch to them.

I liked Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods because it helps a person like me who is not very creative with the items they can.  After most of the canning recipes, there are recipes on how to use those canned items.  Perfect!  Cherries in wine meant cherry tenderloin.  The original recipe was for 4 servings, but I only needed 2.  The only ingredients I actually cut in half were the steaks.  Instead of buying a tenderloin, I bought 2 filet mignons (on sale, of course).  I started by putting the 2 raw filet mignons on a broiling pan.  Then went into the oven (preheated to 450) for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, they look kind of ugly and grey-ish.
I preheated a medium-sized pan (NOT'll want to deglaze it later on) with 1 TB of olive oil over high heat.  When I read the instructions I was surprised that I had to heat olive oil to 'high' because it smokes at that temperature.  But, I followed the directions.  As soon as it started smoking (like I knew it would) I added the grey-ish looking steaks.
They sizzled up a storm.  Make sure your little kids aren't around.  Let them sear for 2 minutes.

I had prepared 1 TB of crushed garlic and set it aside.  I heart garlic.  If you don't have a garlic press, get one.
After the steaks seared for 2 minutes, I flipped them over.  Much more splattering happened.  I added the garlic.  What did I get?  Burnt-ass garlic.  Immediately.  That's what happens when you add garlic to a pan that's on 'high' heat.  I adjusted the heat down to 'medium high'.  This is also the point that I lightly salted the steaks with sea salt.
After searing for 2 minutes, remove the steaks (not the garlic) and place on a plate to rest.  Be sure to cover (I just used a bowl).  While the steaks are resting, you add the canned cherries in wine to the pan that had the steaks in it.  The pan will have bits of stuck on steak.  That's good.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape it in with the cherries.
After the steaks have rested for a couple of minutes, add the juices that accumulate on the plate to the cherry mixture.
After the cherries have simmered for about 4 minutes, add 2 TB unsalted butter (yes, that's my homemade butter).
I let the cherries cook for 2 more minutes.  Meanwhile, I sliced the steaks on a the bias.
Then the cherry sauce was added on top, then a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
I ended up serving the steak with some Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes (with the changes suggested by the first reviewer, Serena).

I'm not exactly sure if that's a good pairing or not.  I'm not great at figuring out side dishes.  But, my husband LOVED the potatoes and I LOVED the steak!

Surprisingly, the sauce didn't taste like burnt garlic at all.  The flavor was wonderful, and this is absolutely a dish that I'd make again.  I wouldn't even make any changes to it.

If you are wondering what is in the cherries in wine (seeing as I don't have a post on it because I canned it before I started my blog) here are the ingredients:  2 quarts red wine, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups orange juice, 24 whole cloves, 16 3-inch strips orange zest, and 4 pounds pitted cherries.  They are also great for dessert.  Just top with whipped cream!  Simple!

Please take a few minutes to visit these other blogs participating in this week's blog hop.  Maybe you can get some new ideas of how to use the items that you've canned (or, if you're not a canner, a new recipe!).
From Mess Hall to Bistro
From the Hive

This post is also featured on the Tuesday Twister Blog Hop hosted by GNOWFGLINS.
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