Thursday, August 28, 2008

monday's haul

here is what we canned up on monday of this week. 15 pints of corn, 6 pints of green beans, 1 pint and 13 1/2 pints of salsa and 14 quarts of potatoes. i don't have the pear butter on the hoosier yet, since it's going in the canner today. i think i'm going to hold off on canning through the weekend. i have plans to can next monday. it's about time to get some tomatoes on the shelves.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

how a locavore eats local all winter

Canned peaches on the Hoosier cabinet
by canning of course! we are now full swing into canning season. i did make some strawberry jam and freeze blueberries earlier this summer, but in the last week i've increased my panty inventory by leaps and bounds. i canned some green beans last weekend. then my friend beth elder with terre verde farms came over this past tuesday and we canned corn and peaches.

we had good success with the corn, although i did find beth's missing basket, the next day, full of corn in the utility room frig. oops. so thursday after egg orders went out the door, i canned up the rest. we got a nice haul of corn and it's sooooo sweet! i have two large pressure canners so we did not have to wait for the pressure canner to cool down before we popped in the next batch. very nice.

A bushel of peaches, quickly disappearing!
we canned peaches too, about 1 1/2 bushel's worth. we canned up sliced peaches and made peach jam. after beth left, i decided that i didn't want to go through all the hassle of scalding, peeling and slicing the rest of the peaches, so i opted to make peach butter instead. i washed and cut up the peaches, put them into a large stock pot and cooked them for about 15 mins, while mashing with a potato masher. i then scooped out the cooked peaches and ran them through my kitchen aide food strainer/mill. this cuts out sooo much work! i put the peach puree and juice back into the pot and cooked it down for about 12+ hours until it was nice and thick. i put the peach butter in cute litttle 1/4 pint jelly jars and canned it up in a hot water bath. i ended up making two batches of peach butter. it's so yummy.

i love having a full canning cupboard. canning is my prefered method of presserving the local harvest. i do freeze many items too. sometimes i both freeze and can the same vegetable or fruit, since the tastes and textures are a little different and i may prefer one

Beth slicing peaches
method over another in a recipe. grandma beno's green bean soup HAS to be made with canned green beans, not frozen beans. i need to save all the freezer space i can this year to make room for the meats for our winter csa, so canning suits me well this year.

sabrina, my new canning friend, is coming over monday to can whatever is ready. i'm not sure what that is yet though, so i'll have to take a look this evening. cameron says there is more corn availalbe, but we just might make salsa instead. maybe we'll can up some of those old stewing hens i have in the freezer. they make the best canned chicken!

if you are puzzled by how you are going to eat local this winter, i suggest you "can your own" and start squirreling away whatever you can get your hands on. you can can just about anything, even complete dinners. if you don't know how to can, it's not so hard. there are plenty of resources available online or you can come to my canning workshop on thursday sept. 6. see the side bar for details.

here is one week's worth of canning efforts!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


An unassuming sign
blueberries are one of those "super foods". i guess the blue is what makes them so good for you. did you know that as a general rule of thumb, the darker the vegetable/fruit, the better it is for you? yup, eat the dark veggies first!

indiana soil is much better for growing blueberries than our fantastic ohio soil. blueberries like a more

Mature blueberry bushes
acid soil with a lower ph than we have around here. since i grew up in indiana, making the trip is always worthwhile in that i get to visit with family and friends while picking. this year, debbie and her daughter emily assisted in my blueberry picking adventure. we have a favorite picking patch, craig's blueberries, located in a plain community outside clunette, indiana. the craig's began planting their 4,000 bushes in 1963, so they are

Debbie picking berries
nice and mature. the caretaker told us that this year promised to be the best they have had since taking ownership in the mid-80's.

picking blueberries is easy. blueberries typically grow on bushes. it's easy work with no thorns and no bending over. we use baler twine to tie 10# cans around our waists and drop the picked blueberries right in the cans. the drawbacks of picking are the heat of summer, biting bugs and the

Denise in the berry patch
annoying "bird guard" calls used to chase the birds out of the blueberry patch. blueberries come ready in july. this year, harvest started a week or so later than usual due to the cold spring. we enjoy picking at craig's since it's really off the beaten path and kinda hidden

Emily, Denise and Debbie
, very well established patch, located in a plain community (quiet) and it's the place where many memories have been made. you see families and friends coming together to pick their annual quota of blueberries. much laughter is heard in the patch, along with many complaints about the heat. this year it was 90 degrees while we were picking. poor emily developed a bit of heat stroke and hung out in the shade most of the second day of picking.

a few years ago, my chef friend martha, gave me a wonderful new recipe for blueberries, blueberry salsa.

blueberry salsa

3 c. blueberries, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 scallions, including green tops, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
3 T. fresh cilantro, minced
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste
sugar if desired

mix ingredients well. let flavors combine in frig for one hour. serve.

serving suggestions: use with any curried meat, use on burritos or tacos, eat with spoon or chips. we like it best served with lightly seasoned ground turkey and lime cilantro rice all wrapped up in a large flower tortilla.

Monday, August 11, 2008

makin' cheese

i enjoy making cheese. i got into making cheese when i was goat sitting my friend lorene's milk goats a few years ago. i had to milk them twice a day and had oodles of goat milk around. i bought a package of rennet at the amish bulk goods store and jumped right in. i use the recipes on dr. fankhauser's website, since his recipes are geared for people like me, the small home cheese maker. there's no special equipment or cultures to buy to make most of the cheeses featured on his website. i like that his recipes allow you the opportunity to try cheese making before dumping big $$ into cheese making supplies.

we have a small flock of sheep. the price of sheep cheese is just out of our cheese budget, so we decided to make some of our own. we milked our ewes, (easier than it sounds), and after a few milkings, had enough to make some cheese. sheep milk is surprisingly good. it's light and sweet. i usually make a basic hard cheese which takes about two days. i add whatever herbs are available, or the family favorite, pesto.

i'm not going to give out cheese making instructions here. the link above does a great job. i'm not an expert, just enthusiastic about making my own food. there are plenty of other sites out there with instructions.

the hardest part about making cheese, in my experience, is getting the chemistry right. yes, there is lots of chemistry in cheese making. think about it. there are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of cheeses out there. and, for the most part, the ingredients in all cheeses are the same--milk, cultures, rennet, salt. most of the difference in the various types of cheeses is in how these ingredients are combined and at what temperature. i have occasional "cheese disasters" where the curds don't set up right. i have forgotten about the cheese and ended up with a big pot of yogurt too. the chickens and pigs don't mind, as they are the recipients of most mistake cheese attempts.

but when i am successful, look out! friends and family love my pesto goat cheese. it doesn't last long around here. ricotta cheese is an easy cheese to make. extra sustainability points for making ricotta, since you use the whey drained from the curds in your previous batch of cheese. my husband, cameron, came up with a great plan for pressing cheese, ratchet straps. this pressed the cheese quickly and thoroughly.
i'm thankful we have more than one refrigerator. we wrap the cheeses and allow them to cure in the utility room or barn frig. it's easier to put the cheese in a refrigerator other than my kitchen frig so it's "out of sight and out of mind". that way i have my cheese to share on special occasions.

and there you have it....homemade pesto cheese!

welcome to my food blog!

why isn't this a recipe blog? because sourcing your food, acquiring it live and getting it from live state to the dinner table is most of the fun! i will explore local foods from central ohio, from the farm to the table. look for tips on preserving your own food along with recipes and the interesting stories experienced in aquiring local food.