Pancake weekend

It’s that time of the year–time for the pancake feed!  Such a glamorous name.  It calls to mind some unglamorous pictures. :) But I just have to put in a plug for my Kiwanis club, because the things we support are so worthwhile. All the money we earn goes to help young children in various ways.

My club holds our annual pancake breakfast this weekend.  We serve pancakes and sausage at Christ the King Church in south Moorhead from 7:00-1:00 on Saturday and from 8:00-1:00 on Sunday. Along with the fabulous pancakes, we also have a silent auction, which is run by my sister (with some help from me as well).

I will be bringing five large baskets of my canned goods–jams, salsas, pickles, chutneys; just about anything you can think of. :)

So if you’re in the mood for pancakes, a little shopping, and your money going to a good cause, stop out at Christ the King this weekend for some pancakes! And while you’re at it, please bid on a basket of canned goods!  ;)

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Wild grape juice

I was going to make jelly with the big bowl of wild grapes we picked at the lake the other weekend.

We had picked them off the stems last week, so I just put them in a big pot on the stove, added a bit of water, and turned it on.  As they cooked, I smashed them with a potato masher. After they had cooled a bit, I put them in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let it drain.

The photo above shows how much we got.

I guess we’ll freeze it and see if we run across any recipes this winter that call for grape juice. If not, maybe between this year’s and next year’s, it will be enough for a small batch of jelly.  :)  Hey, it was an experiment, and it was free, so I can’t really complain. ;)

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Veggie spaghetti

If you read my blog on Wednesday, you saw my beautiful mushrooms. (If not, just scroll down.) ;)

My plan was to chop them, fry them in butter, and eat them on steak.  But the days this week have just been getting away from me, and I had no steak in the house, and no chance to actually cook anything until last night.

So, I decided to do it the easy way–spaghetti sauce. Typically I use some sort of jarred sauce for a base, just because I think it’s hard to duplicate that tomatoe-y, sweetish flavor that they impart.  Then I’ll add a can of chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce, and go from there with whatever veggies and fresh herbs I’m in the mood for.

Well, we’ve got a lot of veggies at the moment, so I used onion, my gorgeous mushrooms, a yellow pepper, garlic, a zucchini, and a few fresh tomatoes in addition to the canned ones.

(Now THAT’S an onion.  My hand is just there for perspective. That onion was massive. I only used about a one-inch section of it.)

Then I chopped up some fresh oregano, thyme, and basil, and let it simmer a bit.

It was delicious. :)

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Funny mushrooms

I maybe shouldn’t have titled the post that–I may have some very strange comments. (You just never know who’s going to find your blog from strange search words.) :)

But I bought the most beautiful mushrooms at the Battle Lake farmers market on Saturday–I was showing them around to everyone that came to the lake. No one was as impressed as I was, although I did have some interesting comments.  I didn’t think to ask the guy what kind of mushrooms they were (I didn’t really care), but I have gotten wine caps from him before, so that’s sort of what I was thinking. But then they all have that really particular shape. . . some might say they look like a tractor seat.  Others (most of my relatives) think they look like the part of human anatomy that actually sits on the tractor seat. :)

The wine caps I’ve had before were just round. Shout out a comment if you know what these beauties are.

Anyway, my plan is to chop them, fry them in butter, and eat them on a nice, grilled steak. Maybe tonight. :)

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Wild grapes

We’ve got some wild grapevine at the lake–Trevor noticed this past Friday that the little bunches of grapes on the vines were ripe.  We’ve never dealt with them before, but we thought it might be fun to make grape jelly from them.  They are tiny, super-sour, and are basically filled with two large pits. I’m sure many of you are familiar with them–we’d never seen them before.

So, we picked grapes.  And when we got home last night I looked in my canning books, and didn’t find one recipe for wild grape jelly.  Anybody out there have any ideas?  I will google it, and see what I come up with.  I’m sure I’ll find something.  I did have a few recipes for just regular “Concord Grape” jelly, but I’m sure they’re nowhere near as sour. So I thought I’d better look for the real thing, maybe. :)

It was, as always, a bittersweet last summer weekend at the lake.  The weather was not great, which maybe made it easier to leave–no last hours in the sun and water, as it was windy and pretty cool and drizzly. But we will miss the lake over the winter.

I’m already looking forward to our annual long fall weekend at the lake in October. :)

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It’s that time of year

Yes, you guessed it–it’s time for roasting tomatoes. :)

We’ve got tomatoes that won’t quit right now–but lots of other veggies as well. So, I decided I’d better get off my butt and make something besides BLTs for supper. :) (I mean, really, though, you can hardly get any better than a BLT with fresh tomatoes and maple bacon that’s been roasted on the grill.)

So, I took the advice of my ex-sister-in-law (hi Nancy!) from the comments on Wednesday, and made a wonderful mixed vegetable sort of stew for supper last night. And while that was stewing, I made two big pans of roasted tomatoes.

Typically I only do this with smaller tomatoes–cherries, pears, romas, things like that.  The smaller ones I just cut in half; the larger of those I cut into four or six pieces, instead. Then I sprinkle with olive oil, chopped garlic (you can skip this step, or any of them, to suit your own personal tastes), and lots of chopped fresh thyme and oregano, salt and pepper.

Then into the oven for 2 hours at about 300 degrees. They get smaller, they dry up a bit, and their wonderful tomato flavor just concentrates into something wonderful.

I put them in containers in the freezer and we’ll use them in just about anything we’d use tomatoes in–as an addition to spaghetti sauce or pizza, for a little deeper tomato flavor, or just as a sandwich topping with, say, turkey and cheese.  The possibilities are endless.  And it’s so much faster than making up a batch of salsa and canning it. :)

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More vegetables than sense

I was going to call this picture “More Vegetables Than Time”. . . but I decided it was really sense I was lacking more than time and motivation. :) I just cannot turn down fresh produce when it’s offered–do you know what I mean?

More CSA bounty, plus gifts from friends at work–cukes, zukes, summer squash, onions, a lone beet, broccoli, beans. . . beefsteak tomatoes on the windowsill, romas on the counter. A few delicious CSA potatoes. I am awash with beautiful vegetable bounty. But I don’t have time to do anything with it. My new job is absolutely wonderful–everything I had hoped, and more. The people are just fantastic. The schedule is flexible.  But, right now, when classes start tomorrow, things are just crazy here.  In spite of the fact that I only work 3/4 time and I had last Monday off, I’m still going to have in more than 80 hours for the two-week period. And this weekend is clean-up weekend at the lake–taking out the dock, the boat, the boatlift, and just generally getting the place sort of buttoned up for winter. So I won’t have any time for vegetable-preservation this weekend.

Again, please understand, I am absolutely not complaining.  I just love this place, and I love my new digs and my new duties. But it is overwhelming right now, especially since I’m just learning most of what I need to know how to do.

I don’t think there will be any canning in my near future.

But, there’s always the freezer–I have to figure out how to preserve cucumbers, other than making pickles, but for everything else there’s chopping and freezing. That I can do. :)

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Pickles, pickles, pickles

And chutney. :) That could be the title of my weekend.  I had a very productive couple of days.  This is the breakdown of what I made and canned (mostly on Saturday):

Peach chutney, 12 half-pints
Sweet pickle chunks, 9 pints
Refrigerator cukes, 2 pints (this is a recipe that doesn’t get processed)
Bread and Butter pickles, 6 pints
Pickled carrots, 3 pints (I actually had 4, and one broke in the canner–don’t you just hate that??)
Corn, one 4-cup package into the freezer
Kosher dills, 3 quarts and 5 pints

I was absolutely exhausted when I went to bed on Saturday night.  And I still have about 10 pounds of cucumbers left–I had other things going on yesterday and I didn’t want to take the time to make another couple batches of pickles.

We certainly shouldn’t run out of pickle-y things to eat this winter. :)

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SSSSSsssssssss……..

You’ll never guess what I saw slithering through the garden the other night.

YUCK!! I hate snakes. . . I know, I know, they won’t hurt me.  In our area it’s mostly garter snakes.  But I have a phobia, and they just give me the serious willies.  You know that saying, it’s more scared of you than you are of it?  Well, in my case, that’s not true at all. :)

And this sighting was right on the heels of discovering a wasp nest in one of our window wells.  I’m telling you, it’s like wild kingdom in our yard right now.

As I’ve said before, if we have to have snakes, the very least they could do is scare the rabbits away. But our snakes apparently have a deal worked out with our rabbits so they seem to coexist happily. I hate them both. :) (Please don’t send me hate mail–I know some people love rabbits. And snakes. Which is awesome. But I just don’t, so please don’t berate  me for it.)

So, because I would never, ever taint my blog with a photo of a snake, I shared with you, instead, a photo of the flowers I picked for my desk the other day.

I think I’ll be spending the weekend canning–I chopped and froze a bunch of peppers the other night but I’ve still got piles and piles of cukes and zukes waiting for me to do something with them. If you have a favorite way of canning (or freezing, or whatever) veggies, leave a comment–maybe I’ll try something new! :)

 

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And more. . .

Of course you know what I mean by that.  More cukes. More zukes. Some beets and carrots. And yesterday another CSA box. And then Trevor picked up a box of peaches from the local church youth organization. Our fridge is literally full of fresh produce.

And there are a few boxes and bags of things that just simply won’t fit anymore.

I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! That’s right, you guessed it:  canning, canning, and then maybe a bit of canning. ;)

Oh no, I’m really not complaining.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer of mass of it, but still thrilled to have it. And I know that, this winter, it will be wonderful to get a bag of “fresh” frozen peas, beans, or corn out of the freezer for making a tasty meal. And it will be wonderful to be able to open a jar of home-made pickles.  Carrot pickles, green bean pickles, cucumber pickles, zucchini pickles–I’ll pickle just about anything. I think I’m going to try a new one (new to me, anyway, but from the classic Ball Blue Book of Canning): End of the Garden Pickles.  It’s got broccoli, carrots, onions, peppers, and I can’t remember what all.  But it sounded like a great way to preserve some of this wonderful bounty!

I may have to actually start canning in the evenings this week, so the produce doesn’t all wait for Saturday. But it should be a very full (and fulfilling) weekend! :)

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