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Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Batch of Truly Finished Compost

In the past I never let the compost just age and completely finish. I would often take the "almost" finished compost and mix into the beds in the fall and by spring it was finished there but then I wouldn't get to appreciate it. Well I noticed the squash bugs had attacked a pumpkin vine that was growing out of this compost bin I haven't touched all summer. I went to pull the vine out and wow the soil was perfect and crumbly. OMG it's done just a little dry grass on the top of it. So I sifted it all into a new bin to save for potting or seed starting or adding to some plants that could use a boost. But first I had to take pictures of course.
Sifting out the unfinished peices and big sticks.
The bin as I removed the compost. 
Eventually about filled this bin.


Rylie holding a handful of black gold pre-sifting.

Very exciting. I estimate this batch took about a year and a half. I probably had compost in here for more than that but kept adding to it and taking some almost finished away. But then this pile overwintered and I only added straw and grass early in spring when I layered it and put in various objects to improve airflow then threw a couple pumpkin vines on it and left it and whallah!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

SwingNCocoa: Covered Greenhouse Garden

SwingNCocoa: Covered Greenhouse Garden: While we're waiting for our fence to suntan before we stain it, I took on another outdoor project this weekend. Yep, it's ...

This is a link to a blog with a cool project.

Monday, August 12, 2013

New food mill for making smoother paste and sauces

I know I have a different kind of food mill here somewhere that my mother-in-law gave me. She made according to my husband like 50 quarts of tomato juice a year so I'm sure it works very well. I remember it being similar to the picture below.

However, my husband put it somewhere in the attic and I've twice looked for it and can't find it. So technically actually that's a strainer but it does some of the same thing. Maybe even better.  So I really needed one so I bought a different kind so that I wouldn't have two of the same thing and could see which I like better for what. I got the oxogrips food mill from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It had fairly good ratings.
So far I've put up about 5 small jars of paste, 2 large jars and 1 small jar of tomato sauce. BUT wow long way to go since I had a bumper crop of tomatoes. My seedlings died so I bought 4 different kinds of plants, 4 of each of the first 3 then 2 of the last. 
Sweet cluster
Oval or fingerling type also cluster
Arkansas Traveler (Pink heirloom)
Patio Tomato
And wow I've got tomatoes coming out of my ears.
I've had a half an island covered with tomatoes at least 4 times.

No I'm not using canned tomatoes, I'm dumping some waste in the can.
Roasting loads of the fingerling/grape type tomato for paste.


After pulverizing in food processor

Grinding through mill to remove skins, pulp and missed seeds.

Unfortunately all that winding is hard work.

Simmering juice mixed with puree tomatoes to make paste.

Shucks I should have taken some pictures of it on a spoon or something to show how thick it is at the end. I only am adding some brown sugar at the simmering stage. But when I roasted them they were sprinkled with olive oil and Italian seasonings mix.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

No Can Do Time to make pickles and tomato paste!

This year I'm going to try fermentation instead of canning for the pickles.  And I'm going to use the roasting method of making tomato sauce so I won't have to can that either!!!! hahahaha no can do!
http://nourishedkitchen.com/sour-pickles/


sour pickles recipe
Ingredients

  • 1 Gallon Organic, Unwaxed Pickling Cucumbers
  • 2 Big Bunches Organic Dill (Preferably Flowering Heads)
  • 2 Large Bulbs of Organic Garlic
  • 3-4 Tbsps Pickling Spice (Allspice, Mustard Seeds, Cloves, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper etc.)
  • 5-6 Tbsp Unrefined Sea Salt
  • Horseradish Leaf (Stem Removed)
Instructions
  1. The first step in making sour pickles is to thoroughly soak the pickling cucumbers in chilly water. This is a very necessary step unless you picked your cucumbers that day as it helps to perk them up a bit before the fermeting begans.
  1. Next, you’ll want to makes sure all stems and flowery ends have been removed as either may contribute an off-flavor to the sour pickles. Make sure your pickling cucumbers are throughly scrubbed and clean.
  1. Peel each bulb of garlic and use only the best and freshest cloves of garlic to season the sour pickles.
  1. Add the pickling cucumbers and garlic, dill and pickling spice to the jar or vegetable fermenter in layers, I like to sprinkle a little salt between layers.
  1. Add the horseradish leafe to the jar as well. I find that you needn’t tear it to ensure that the horseradish leaf is evenly distributed throughout the jar; indeed, it can be left more or lose whole. The leaf not only yields a subtle additional flavor to sour pickles, but it also helps them to remain crisp, not mushy, when the lactic acid fermentation is complete.
  1. Prepare a brine of 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons of unrefined sea salt to 1 quart filtered, chlorine-free water and shake it to ensure the salt is fully disolved. Pour the brine over the pickling cucumbers, spices, garlic, dill and horseradish until all of the ingredients are submerged in salt water. It usually takes about 2 quarts of salt water to sufficiently cover the vegetables and spices.
  1. Make sure that the vegetables are completely submerged beneath the salt water which is easy if you’re using a vegetable fermenter. If you’re using mason jars, simply place a smaller, plastic lid or other clean wait in the jar ontop of the vegetables until it weights them down sufficiently.
  1. Allow your ingredients to ferment for at least a five days and more likely seven days and quite possibly ten days. (Fermentation is an inexact art.) Taste them to see if they’ve soured to your liking. Once they’re done, simply place them in the fridge and use wisely and judiciously.
By Jenny Published: July 29, 2009
Sour pickles are a mainstay at our summer dinner table.   Naturally fermented, sour pickles are rich in beneficial bacteria and …

Read more: http://nourishedkitchen.com/sour-pickles/#ixzz2axBJiFD2




Actually I ended up using a different recipe.This one came from All Foods and was even simpler. Mainly it left out the pickling spice which Pat doesn't like. He requested this year just dill. So okie dokie. Many more cukes I can always make some bread and butter pickles for myself next batch. 


  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • 1-gallon/4-liter jug filled with water, or other weight
  • Cloth cover
  • 3 to 4 pounds/1.5 to 2 kilograms unwaxed
  • cucumbers (small to medium size)
  • 3⁄8 cup (6 tablespoons)/90 milliliters sea salt
  • 3 to 4 heads fresh flowering dill, or 3 to 4
  • tablespoons/45 to 60 milliliters of any form of
  • dill (fresh or dried leaf or seeds)
  • 2 to 3 heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or
  • horseradish leaves (if available)
  • 1 pinch black peppercorns
  1. Rinse cucumbers, taking care to not bruise them, and making sure their blossoms are removed. Scrape off any remains at the blossom end. If you’re using cucumbers that aren’t fresh off the vine that day, soak them for a couple of hours in very cold water to freshen them.
  2. Dissolve sea salt in ½gallon (2 liters) of water to create brine solution. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.
  3.  Clean the crock, then place at the bottom of it dill, garlic, fresh grape leaves, and a pinch of black peppercorns.
  4. Place cucumbers in the crock.
  5. Pour brine over the cucumbers, place the (clean) plate over them, then weigh it down with a jug filled with water or a boiled rock. If the brine doesn’t cover the weighed-down plate, add more brine mixed at the same ratio of just under 1 tablespoon of salt to each cup of water.
  6. Cover the crock with a cloth to keep out dust and flies and store it in a cool place.
  7. Check the crock every day. Skim any mold from the surface, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. If there’s mold, be sure to rinse the plate and weight. Taste the pickles after a few days.
  8. Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check the crock every day.
  9. Eventually, after one to four weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles will be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.

I can't wait to see how these look every day. Once recipe said they could get moldy on top and just scrape it off! WOW! That's gross and this is safe?

And from the lazy girl guide to roasting tomatoes....you know this recipe was meant for me to find as she did this on my birthday in 2009. I posted before I think or maybe just the link but this time I am going to follow it to the letter.



How to make frozen roasted tomato preserves

1. Wash and dry your tomatoes.
2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees if using a convection oven and 400 degrees if not.
3. Set up a work area with the following:
  • Your washed and cleaned tomatoes
  • Pans lined with aluminum foil that have been greased on the top side with olive oil
  • A fine-mesh colander set atop a large bowl
  • A cutting board
  • A knife

4. Remove any blemishes or bruises from the tomatoes and then cut each one in half.
seeded-tomato
Denise's picture
5. Gently squeeze the tomato halves into the colander so the seeds fall inside.
6. Set the tomato halves on the lined baking sheets, cut side up.
7. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil, kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and freshly minced or dried oregano or basil onto your tomatoes.
8. Bake for 50 minutes if using a convection oven or 1 hour if not (or until the tomatoes are cooked through, being careful not to burn them).
9. When the tomatoes have only ten minutes to go, place the juice from the bowl into a pot and slowly boil with some salt and pepper for about five minutes.
10. Remove the pans from the oven and scrape the tomatoes into a small pile using a wooden spatula and then spoon them into a large bowl.
11. Add in the cooked tomato juices and stir.


finished tomato sauce
Denise's picture
12. Let cool until room temperature and then ladle into quart-sized freezer bags that have been labeled with the date and contents.




tomatoes bagged and ready for the freezer
Denise's finished project