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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Flowers

Here's some photos I took of the flowers growing on my back deck.

Tomato Soup Cone flower


Mama Mia Cone flower


Zinnias


Double Click Cosmos


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Canning: Applesauce

Mmmm.....applesauce. I love applesauce! I prefer unsweetened applesauce with no cinnamon. Pure unadulterated heaven! Gravensteins are in season and I did my research and they're supposedly great for applesauce. They're a little tarty apple (in a good way). Since I'd rather not add too much sugar if I don't have to, I decided to use a naturally sweet apple and mix them to create the best applesauce ever!! I used my favorite fresh eating apple, the Fuji. I used a ratio of 1/3 tart to 2/3 sweet apples. It was perfect for me. You may want to experiment and adjust to your own taste. I made both unsweetened and sweetened applesauce with the above Gravenstein/Fuji ratios.

One note though, this recipe makes 4-6 pints of sauce. It depends on whether you like your applesauce thick or a little thinner. My first batch was thick (used only about 2 c. water) and make 4 pints. The next few batches made a consistency that I liked and canned about 6 pints (using 3 c. water) per recipe.

I would suggest you investing in an apple corer/segmenter (see below). It will make the chopping so much easier. Also if you can, invest in a good food mill such as a Roma or Villa brand or an attachment for your Kitcheaid mixer. These made the work go so much faster!!

I used the instructions at www.pickyourown.org. See that site for more information.


Applesauce
Makes: 4-6 pints



2.5 lb Fuji apples
5 lb Gravenstein apples
2-3 c. water
1/4 c. sugar or more (optional)

1) Start by placing your mason jars in the dishwasher and washing them. Allow them to stay in the dishwasher (and stay warm) until you're able to use them. Bring your large hot water bath to a boil over high heat.

2) Wash your apples under cold water.


3) Using an apple corer/segmenter, chop all of your apples into slices and place them in a large bowl. Pick over the slices and using a paring knife, cut out any seeds or stems and any obviously bruised sections. Don't bother peeling the skin. Also, don't worry if your apples start turning brown. You'll cook them anyway.



4) Place the apples in a large pot. Add 2-3 cups of water to the pot (add 2 c. for a thicker applesauce and 3 cups for a thinner sauce). Be sure your pot is large enough to accommodate all the apples and still have room for you to toss them. Cover the pot with a lid and heat the apples on high. When the apples really start to boil, reduce your heat to medium high and continue cooking for about 20-30 minutes or until the apples are soft throughout. Stir often enough to prevent burning the bottom of the pot.

5) Turn off the heat on the stove and remove your pot. Your apples should look like this.

6) Set up your food mill.
7) Spoon the cooked apples a little at a time into the hopper of the food mill and use the plastic plunger to push the apples into the grinder. The applesauce with be pressed out and the skins and other pieces will come out the side.


8) Pour the applesauce back into the large pot. Taste your applesauce. If it's too thick, add some more water. If it's not sweet enough, add sugar by about 1/4 cups at a time. Stir well and taste again. You can also add cinnamon to taste. If you add anything to the applesauce, put it back on the store and bring to a boil again before pouring into jars.

If you didn't add anything else to the applesauce, you don't need to reheat the warm applesauce.

9) Place your metal lids in hot water for about 5 minutes or until you're ready to use them.

10) Remove your jars from the dishwasher and fill the with the applesauce. Use a non-metal knife or a small spatula and run it against the inside edges of the jar to dislodge any air bubbles that may have formed. Continue to fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Wipe the rims and tops of your jars. Cap the jars with a two piece lid system.
11) Place your jars in the hot water bath (be sure to allow 1 inch of water to cover the jar tops). Boil pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 minutes. (Note: If you live at an altitude of 1000 feet or more, you will need to add additional time to your hot water bath. See chart at www.pickyourown.org for more information).
12) After they are done, remove the jars from the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free location overnight. In the morning, test your seals by pressing down in the middle of the can. If the lids spring back and make a clicking sound, the jars have not sealed.

**Applesauce that is canned will last 18-24 months on the shelf.**

**Linking up to Allison's Apple Harvest**

What's Cookin?: Roasted Shishito Peppers with Miso Vinaigrette

I had another big harvest of Shishito Peppers. Although my favorite way to eat these are just pan fried with sea salt, I was trying something new. This recipe was a nice change of pace and the miso vinaigrette added a nice touch.



Roasted Shishito Peppers with Miso Vinaigrette


1 lb. Shishito peppers
sea salt
canola or vegetable oil to toss
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
t tsp. miso paste
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the peppers with a little bit of oil. Place them in a baking pan or cookie sheet and roast them for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle them with sea salt when you remove them from the oven.
2) In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Drizzle the sauce over the peppers and serve.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peach and Apple Picking: Jossy Farms

I thought I was done with Jossy Farms after bringing home 34 pounds of peaches a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, I'm a sucker. I actually wanted to pick some Gravenstein apples. They opened at 9am and I made the trek out to Hillsboro. This time I decided to get there at 9am. Last time we got there at 9:30am and the parking lot was full!

As I pulled off Hwy 26, there was a line of cars. Was there an accident? What was the hold up. As we inched further along the road, I realized what this was. It was a line of cars going to Jossy Farms. Seriously???
There were TONS of people and most of them were coming out to pick peaches. People had boxes and boxes. They quickly ran out of carts. I weighed my boxes and set out. I wasn't going to get peaches but I decided to get just one box full. I had heard that the Veteran peaches were excellent canning peaches. The peaches that I picked last time (Vivid) were easy de-skinning peaches but they were so juicy that it was difficult to de-pit them and my peaches ended up looking raggedy.

Here's a row of peach trees.
I was able to fill my box off of just a few trees. Mmm....peaches! The Veterans weren't as pretty as the Vivid peaches. In fact, they look rather plain and bland. I hope they make up for it in dead winter when I dig into a jar of these beauties!

I ended up with 12 1/2 pounds of Veteran peaches. All the fruit were $1 a pound.

I quickly moved onto Gravenstein apples. I had heard that these were great for applesauce. I *heart* applesauce. I love it unsweetened with no cinnamon. I thought I would try making my own applesauce this year. It seemed simple enough.
I found out Gravensteins cook down really well and have a nice tart to them. Here's trees filled with apples.



After picking my apples, I stood in this gigantic line of people to weigh and pay for my finds. Some people in line were saying that they've never seen Jossy's this busy before. Me either!

Here's the peaches my neighbors collected. Yummy!!
In the end, I took home 12.5 pounds of Veteran peaches and 32 pounds of Gravenstein apples.
Jossy Farms has a cult-like following. It was amazing to see so many people there on a Monday morning. The age range was wide. There were older folk, middle aged folk and even young children there.

If you decided to go out to Jossy Farm, call ahead first to see if they're open. They only open the farm when there are ripe fruit. This season it has been open only a few times (since the fruit crop was relatively sparse this year). You can also sign up for their emails too and they'll email you when they plan on being open so you can plan ahead.

Here's some tips:
- Bring your own boxes and/or containers. For peaches, you'll want to layer them 2 deep at the most. Ripe peaches bruise easily.
- Wear tennis shoes. It's a farm and although they keep things really tidy, there are fruit on the ground.
- Bring cash or checks only.
- If you have one, bring your own wagon. They have some available but quickly get taken up.


Jossy Farms
31965 NW Beach Road
Hillsboro, OR 97124
ph:(503) 647-5234

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) Slow Cooked Borlotti Beans

Since I harvested my Borlotti Beans, they were still fresh. I love how pretty these beans are. I believe they are also called Cranberry Beans. It was my first year growing these so I was unsure how to cook them fresh. I had planned on trying them for soups in the winter.

I searched the internet for recipes using fresh borlotti or cranberry beans and found some that slow cooked them in the oven. I tweaked this recipe a bit. I didn't have any fresh sage leaves so I used some dried ones. I think fresh would have been a lot more fragrant. I believe this is an Italian recipe. It is wonderful!

I'll have to grow more of these beans next year. Forget drying them. They're so good fresh! It's hard to describe what they taste like. They're a really hearty bean. When cooked they have a nice starchy feel to them. They cook up to a texture in between a potato and a dried bean. They're very tasty in this recipe. I love how the beans are infused with the tomatoes, sage and garlic.

If you can't find fresh Borlotti beans and want to try this with dried beans, you can. It'll just take longer to cook. Soak dried beans overnight, drain them and then proceed with the recipe. You'll need to cook the beans for an additional 30-45 minutes.


Slow Cooked Borlotti Beans
Serves 4


1 lb. fresh borlotti, shelled
about 2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
water to cover the beans
1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
3 ripe Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of fresh sage (or a palmful of dried)
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
sea salt

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2) Place the borlotti beans in a small baking pan. Drizzle the beans with extra virgin olive oil and pour water over the beans to just cover them. Add the garlic, tomatoes, sage and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.
3) Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender to the bite.

Harvest Monday 8/29/11

It's the last harvest of August and things are coming in fast and furious! The garden keeps on giving. It seems I am on constant surveillance for ripe fruits and veggies. I'm harvesting every other or every 3rd day. This week I made several harvests.

On Monday, it was this beautiful assortment of colorful treats. My tomatillo plants were getting so top heavy that they were falling over. I had to do quick tie-ups for the falling limbs. As a result, some not quite ripe fruit were harvest when they fell off the plant. Most of it was ripe though, resulting in 2.4 lbs. of tomatillos. More cucumbers, Glacier tomatoes and a little Konasu eggplant were also harvested.

I also decided to harvest my Borlotti beans. I had planned to dry them on the plant but I needed the space in the raised beds so I harvested what pods were ready. More photos further down. They really are beautiful and very photogenic! I also pulled some carrots. I pulled one Parisian carrot to see how big it was. Still not quite ready but very cute! More strawberries and Shishito and Italian Pepperoncini Peppers were ready to harvest.
Not only are the pods of the Borlotti beautiful, but the beans itself are also pretty.
On Monday I also decided to pull up all the Walla Walla onions that had been planted in the raised beds. Most were small bulbs (as they were blocked out by larger and faster growing veggies). The largest bulb was only about 3 inches across.
They are drying in my garage right now so they haven't been weighed yet.

Another harvest was done on Wednesday. Here are more cukes and my first Japanese Tasty Green Cucumber of the season. It's a a little odd shaped but I'm sure it's still tasty! More Sungold Tomatoes and Shishito and Jalapeno Peppers.

I picked more dried coriander this week also. I haven't gotten around to weighing these yet.

On Friday, I picked 2 good sized Ichiban Eggplant. A few more cucumbers were ripe. I'm loving the Lemon Cucumbers as a nice snack! More Shishito and Italian Pepperoncinis were collected. Also more tomatoes! This time it was Glaciers, Sungold and Black Plum.
Finally, on Sunday, I harvested some lettuce that looked like they were trying to bolt. A few more pepperoncinis were also picked. The big news however, was my first heirloom tomato of the year!! This was unexpected as I thought for sure it would be a Green Zebra. The Paul Robeson ripened out of nowhere.
Tada!! I can't wait to slice into this Paul Robeson!! Yummy!!


This week's harvest totals:
- cucumbers = 3.57 lb
- tomatoes = 3.1 lb
- eggplant = 0.67 lb
- tomatillo = 2.4 lb
- peppers = 0.86 lb
- strawberries = 0.36 lb
- herbs = 0.05 lb
- dried beans = 0.87 lb
- green beans = 0.28 lb
- carrots = 0.4 lb
- lettuce = 0.96 lb

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Little Tomato that Could

Hooray!! It seems this little tomato heard my prayers. I was hoping and praying for my first ripe heirloom tomato before Sept! Here it is in all it's glory!! It's a meager 0.38 lbs but perfect in so many ways!!
This little guy was a sneaker tomato. I was expecting my first ripe heirloom to be a Green Zebra but this Paul Robeson came out of nowhere. I don't even remember thinking that it would be ripe soon and BAM, there it was all nice and red and ripe. I can now rest a little easier!

*insert a mini happy dance*

Tomatoes make me happy!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Drying Coriander

Some of my bolted cilantro were finally dry enough to pick as coriander. In order to harvest them as dry coriander, you have to wait until the seed pods are brown and have ridges.

Here's a mix of harvested coriander. I had a few not quite ready pods but I thought I would pick them anyway and see if they dried on their own.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August Cucumbers

This year I'm growing 4 types of cucumbers in the garden. This one is 3 plants of Boston Pickling Cucumbers.



These are 4 plants of Lemon Cucumber. I love these for snacks. The novelty of the color and shape are a bonus too. I've grown these for several years now and they never disappoint!





I have 2 Parisian Pickling Cucumber plants. This is my first year growing these. I'm loving these for pickles. The cucumbers stay very crispy and crunchy. I'll definitely add these to my lineup for next year!



I also have 1 Japanese slicing cucumber called Tasty Green. This is a great slicer!

What about you? What types of cucumbers are you growing? What are your go-to types?