On Sundays I listen to the radio.
All day. I turn on NPR and cook while listening to Krista Tippet, then Weekend Edition, then the local Chicago gardening show The Mike Nowak Show. After Mike I’ll haul my little portable radio out to the porch, crank up the volume and garden while listening to Bob Edwards, then Tavis Smiley, then Marketplace, then back into the kitchen for more cooking to the BBC and All Things Considered.
It’s my favorite day of the week.
On hot days my husband walks into the steaming kitchen after church (he’s a church musician–how’s that for irony), looks at my sweaty hair, turns on the exhaust fan, and disappears to cooler climes. On cool days I wonder what I was thinking when I made jelly two weeks ago while it was 90 out.
Last week I baked–crackers, scones, pita, and cobbler. This week it’s stovetop and preserving.
Freezing tomatoes with Krista Tippet
“On Being” had the usual thought-provoking discussion, this week about the political life of the observant Jew. While having my mind bent in unexpected ways (a hazard of this program), I processed some of those end-of-season tomato dribbles, when you don’t have quite enough to making sauce. Boil a pot of water, and blanch tomatoes a couple at a time by dropping them into the boiling water for about 20 seconds. Cut them into handle-able chunks, slip off the skin and scoop out the seeds. Then just throw them in quart-size freezer bags and stick in the deep freeze. A quart is about the right amount to throw into a stew or pan gravy in the dead of winter. Now, you could throw those seeds and skins into the compost, but you can also run them through the food mill; you’ll get about 6 oz of lovely fresh tomato juice for every quart or two of tomatoes. I was going to save this morning’s cupful for risotto, but I ended up drinking it instead.
Apples and Mike Nowak
The Mike Nowak Show was apple processing, while learning about tree keepers, climate drift, mulch, and compost. All responsible gardeners, of course, throw their vegetable scraps on the compost. My neighbor in fact just tosses scraps over the side of her porch; a little disturbing but fortunately they appear to be vegetarians, so they aren’t tossing any bones.
But you don’t really need to compost vegetable scraps, or at least not yet. Any fruit or vegetable scrap can be used for stock. Right now, I’ve got a two-quart pot of apple peels, fresh sage and green peppercorns going. I’ll use it to make risotto tonight. On the other burner, apple sauce. I used 2 Early Golds, 4 large Granny Smiths, and 6 (8? oops) Cripps Pink. The Cripps are really too delicious to cook with-they have an amazing honey sweetness, but this is what I had so into the pot they went. Juice of one lemon, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a quarter cup of honey. Then just simmer until the apple pieces have broken down. Can it as is, or run it through the food processer for a smoother, chunk-free sauce. I still had nearly a pound of peels and cores, so those are going into a bag in the freezer for a future stock, maybe for a potato or squash soup.
Bob Edwards helps with the Salsa Verde, eggplants and heat canning
It’s raining, so Bob Edwards is inside today, talking to an author of fantasy books. I shelled and halved about a quart of tomatillos, halved a jalapeno and scooped out the seeds (so the salsa won’t be too hot), peeled and halved two medium onions then broiled them for a few minutes, just until they started browning. Once cooled, the vegetables, a quarter cup of cilanto, and jalapeno peppers all went into the food processor with the juice of half a lime. Process for about a minute, or until the pepper is chopped very fine. Salsa verde is not just for chips, either. It makes a wonderful ingredient in meat loaf or chili, as a sauce for chicken (fantastic mixed into the pan gravy), or as a pizza topping.
The salsa and the apple sauce went into a heat bath. I tend to can in tiny batches; not very efficient or sustainable I suppose, but I don’t get the harvest necessary to do giant batches all at once. So I tend to do six to eight pint and half-pint jars at time. This time I had two pints of apple sauce and two 1/2 pints of salsa, plus a 6-oz jar of salsa to eat right now, with my contraband tostitos (don’t tell October Unprocessed).
The eggplants I just roasted for freezing. Using a cookie sheet with raised edges, quarter or slice the eggplants, dredge with olive oil and bake at 350/170 for 35 minutes. Allow to cool, then skin, and freeze, one eggplant per 1 quart bag. Mid-winter fresh eggplant for risotto , bharta, or baba ganoush. The freezing breaks down the cell walls too much, so this is not as effective for something like lasagna or ratatouille.
As soon as the jars are done, I’m heading off to see some urban chickens. Thanks for listening to the radio and cooking with me!
Read Full Post »