Newsletters: 12 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 12 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
This month, the WSU Master Gardeners say you should plant garlic and green manure (a nutritious cover crop such as crimson clover). This is also a good time to divide perennials and plant spring bulbs, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Winter is a good time for all kinds of transplanting. Don’t forget to turn off any irrigation system you might have, and rake those fallen leaves right around (and even over) your tender plants so the mulch can protect them over the winter and feed them in the spring.

In the kitchen
Instead of recipes, this week let’s revisit vinegar, because I have a reader’s question to answer. After the discussion of the health aspects of vinegar, Catherine wrote to ask how to make vinegar. It turns out it’s not as simple as keeping wine so long it spoils, although that may be where it began. Here is a general outline of the process; you should check with a brewing supply store or the extension service for more exact directions, or hit the library for some quality research time, before actually starting a project. You should also be aware that it is generally considered a bad idea to try to make wine and vinegar in the same space.

Making vinegar is a two-step process, in which sugars are converted to alcohol and then the alcohol is converted to acetic acid. The first part is the familiar fermentation of wine, cider, or beer (vinegar made from beer is called “alegar”), which in vinegar-making is called “vinegar stock.” The best vinegars are made from a stock with an alcohol concentration of 9-12%, to which the bacteria Acetobacter aceti is added. This bacteria is sensitive to UV light, so the vinegar stock should be left undisturbed in the dark for the first two to three weeks. The container should be covered but not sealed, because the bacteria need oxygen. If a mat of solid matter — a “mother” of vinegar — forms, your vinegar is doing well, although its absence is no cause for concern. It should be removed once the vinegar is through fermenting, however. It can be used to create another vinegar (a bit like sourdough starter) or just discarded. After about four weeks, the vinegar should be ready to test; you can get a test kit that will tell you the sugar, alcohol, and acetic acid levels, or you can just taste it. Fresh vinegar has a sharp, intense flavor that will mellow as it ages. Once all the alcohol has fermented to acetic acid, the vinegar should be strained into airtight containers so the acetobacters won’t continue to break the vinegar down into carbon dioxide and water. Vinegar is usually aged about six months once it is done fermenting.

Well, OK, one recipe; but keep in mind that this is still an overview for the curious and you should do more research before starting your first batch.

Maple Vinegar
950 grams maple syrup
800 grams live vinegar (red wine vinegar, or unpasteurized cider vinegar)
300 grams dark rum
200 grams water
Combine all the ingredients in a glass vessel. Cover the opening with cheesecloth and store the container in an undisturbed, dark place for at least four weeks. Test the vinegar for development. Once the alcohol has been completely fermented out of the stock, strain the vinegar and store it in sealed bottles or mason jars. It can be used immediately but will improve with age.

You can find more information at:
Virtual Museum of Bacteria

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Newsletters: 13 Oct, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 13 Oct, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
Last week I got a request for green tomato recipes, and especially fried green tomatoes. When I was growing up, green tomatoes always went into relish (I never heard of fried green tomatoes until the movie came out) so I’ve given you my mom’s green tomato relish for the second recipe. About this time of year she’d start watching the weather forecast for frost (this was in Spokane, you see), and when it was likely to freeze she’d go out and pick all the tomatoes, ripe or not. The red ones got eaten right away, the green ones got put aside for relish, and the in-between ones went on the kitchen windowsill to see if they’d ripen (the cats always managed to knock at least one off, but they were too green to squish so Mom put up with it). Then the food grinder would come out and the relish-making would begin. This was a rather messy undertaking, because no matter what we did the grinder dripped. There was a big yellow plastic bowl that went on the floor under the grinder (the rest of the year it was used for popcorn) but it didn’t catch all the splashes. Everybody in the house took turns turning the handle (funny how Dad always had errands to run…) and the kitchen filled with steam from the sterilizing jars while we cranked, it seemed, for hours. Enjoy!

Fried green tomatoes
1/4 lb thick-sliced bacon, finely diced
1.5 lb green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c coarse yellow cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
Fry bacon until just beginning to crisp. Reserve bacon and fat separately. Press tomato slices into cornmeal until well coated on both sides. Cook tomatoes in some of the bacon fat 5-6 min. on each side, until golden; wipe out pan between batches to avoid burning loose cornmeal. Season to taste and sprinkle with bacon bits.
From: Vegetables / James Peterson. William Morrow and Co., c1998.

Green tomato relish
Put the following through a food grinder (you can use food processor but a grinder gives a more even result):
24 med. green tomatoes, cored but not peeled
2 red peppers
4 green peppers
8 small onions
4 Tbsp. salt
Mix well. Let stand 2 hours. Drain. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
2 cups sugar (up to 4 cups if you like sweeter relish)
3 cups vinegar
4 Tbsp. mustard seeds
2 Tbsp. celery seeds
Add tomato mixture; boil 10 minutes. Pack boiling into hot (sterilized) jars, cap with hot (sterilized) lids, and hope they seal. Unsealed jar(s) will keep all winter if refrigerated. Makes about 10 1/2 pints.
From: Dorothy Huffman’s recipe collection

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Newsletters: 22 Sept, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on DATE. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
I was browsing along in my little stack of canning and preserving books — mine and the library’s, anyway — when it occurred to me that most of the recipes I was looking at made some pretty broad assumptions about the reader’s level of expertise. I can’t really include all the basic information a beginner needs here in the newsletter (well, I could, but I’d run out of little photos to fill up the sidebar), so I found you a website instead. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a pretty comprehensive overview — I’m sending you to the canning section, but there’s a little list at the lower left with links to freezing, pickling, fermenting, all kinds of fun stuff (the fermenting section includes how to make your own yogurt, for instance).

We now continue with your regularly scheduled recipes…

Sweet and sour pepper jam
12 large red peppers, stemmed. seeded, and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. salt
1.5 lb. sugar
2 c vinegar
Sprinkle pepers with salt and let stand 3-4 hours; rinse in cold water. Bring peppers, sugar, and vinegar to a boil and simmer until thick, stirring frequently. Pour into jars and seal.

Spiced peach jam
2 lb. peaches, peeled and with pits removed
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp crushed cinnamon bark
1 tsp whole cloves
1/2 c peach juice or water
1 lb. sugar
Crush peaches, cook until soft, and press through a fine sieve or food mill. Tie spices into a cheesecloth bag and add to peaches, juice, and sugar. Boil until thick, or until it registers 222F on a candy thermometer. Remove spice bag. Fill jars and seal.

Both from: The home canning and preserving book / by Ann Seranne. Barnes & Noble, 1975.

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Newsletters: 15 Sept, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 15 Sept, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
As our thoughts turn more and more to the cold weather to come, many start to think about saving the wonderful summer flavors. Poking around in my old canning and preserving books, I came across these interesting-sounding recipes (well, actually, I came across a lot of interesting-sounding recipes, so we may be seeing more from this little collection in the coming weeks).

Yellow Tomato Preserves
2 qt. yellow cherry tomatoes (about 3 lb)
3 c sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
1/4 c thinly sliced candied ginger
After washing and drying tomatoes, cut a thin slice from the blossom end and press out the seeds, keeping tomatoes otherwise whole. Combine tomatoes, sugar, and salt; simmer slowly until sugar dissolves. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring. Boil gently 40 min. until it thickens, then add lemon and ginger. Boil another 10 min, stirring often. Fill about 4 hot, sterilized jars (8 oz. each) and seal immediately.

October butter
8 med. cooking apples, chopped
2 large firm Anjou pears, chopped
3 c orange juice
2 sticks cinnamon
2 c mashed ripe banana (3-4 bananas)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
half as much sugar as fruit pulp (see below)
Chop apples and pears into small pieces without peeling or coring. Cook, covered, with orange juice and cinnamon over med. heat until very soft, 45 min.-1 hr. Put through a food mill, discarding skins and seeds. Combine with banana and lemon juice and boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound slightly on a spoon. Measure and return to pan; add half as much sugar (e.g. 3 c sugar to 6 c fruit). Continue boiling and stirring another 20-25 min. until thickened. Fill about 5 hot, sterilized jars (8 oz. each) and seal immediately.

Both from: The how-to book : canning, freezing, drying / written and compiled by Anne Borella ; Barbara Bloch, ed. Benjamin Co., 1976.

One more book on preserving, and a fun one I came across while looking up something else entirely.

Canning & preserving your own harvest : an encyclopedia of country living / Carla Emery & Lorene Edwards Forkner. Sasquatch Books, c2009.

The hungry scientist handbook : electric birthday cakes, edible origami, and Other DIY projects for techies, tinkerers, and foodies / by Patrick Buckley and Lily Binns. Harper, 2008.

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Newsletters: 30 June, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 23 June, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
This week’s recipe is from Sue Lundy of Daisy Chain, who will have scapes as well as her distinctive bouquets this week.

Garlic scape and almond pesto
Makes about 1 cup
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)
1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you’d like)
About 1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt
Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle). Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese. If you like the texture, stop; if you’d like it a little thinner, add some more oil. Season with salt.

If you’re not going to use the pesto immediately, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months, by which time tomatoes should be at their juiciest.

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Newsletters: 22 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 22 June, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Peas are a good source of vitamin K1 and folic acid, needed for bone mineralization, and B6, which is good for both bones and nerves. They also have lots of B1, 2, and 3, C, iron, protein, and fiber. Edible-pod peas (snow and snap peas) don’t have quite as much protein as shelling peas, but they’re quicker to prepare and you get more edible stuff per pound. I personally prefer shelling peas, but I also think that canned peas aren’t actually a food and sweet peas are a kind of flower, so my opinions are not necessarily mainstream.

Peas are native to a region from the near East to central Asia, and admirably suited to our cool Northwest summers. There is evidence that peas were eaten in Asia as early as 9750 BCE, in Iraq by 6000 BCE, and in Switzerland during the Bronze age. Apicius, I’m told, wrote about nine pea dishes… maybe I’ll look a few of those up for next week’s recipes.

In the kitchen
To coordinate with the whole steak/4th of July/barbecue thing, here are some barbecue recipes.

Homemade barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
large pinch of dried thyme
2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, to taste
3 Tbsp. honey
1/3 c red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Saute onion, garlic, basil, and thyme in oil 5-7 min., until onion is softened slightly. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, 20-30 min., until thickened. Adjust seasonings. Sauce will keep, refrigerated, several weeks.
From: From the farmers’ market : wonderful things to do with fresh-from-the-farm food with recipes and recollections from farm kitchens / Richard Sax with Sandra Gluck. Harper & Row, c1986.

Colvin’s favorite round steak recipe
For about 1 lb. round steak sliced into finger-sized strips:
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup salad oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon basil
Combine all ingredients. Marinate 4-6 hours. Grill the steak strips at about 300F (not too hot) about 2 minutes to a side. With the oil on the steaks you may get some flare-up, which can be reduced by patting the meat dry with a paper towel before putting it on the grill.
From: the Colvin Ranch newsletter Cattle tales, Mon, Jun 6 2011.

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Newsletters: 1 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 1 June, 2011 (there were earlier ones, but this is the first to include non-market information and recipes). View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the flesh
Raw rhubarb is a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, mandanese, and vitamins c and K. It is a traditional remedy for indigestion, and has been linked to lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. Some claim that regular doses of rhubarb extract will diminish hot flashes.

Rhubarb is related to buckwheat, thrives in cold climates, and is native to western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia. Look for deep red stalks, which will be sweeter and richer, that have been pulled rather than cut; but whatever you do, don’t eat the leaves!

In the kitchen
There’s something about spring and beginnings that makes me want to play with historic recipes. Here are some comparatively recent ones I found in the historic cookbooks at the State Library (yes, they’re still open to the general public, at least for now…).

Rhubarb Conserve
1 lb. rhubarb, washed and sliced
2 c sugar
1/2 c raisins
Juice and grated peel of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange
Sprinkle rhubrab with sugar. Mix with remaining ingredients and let stand a half hour to draw the juice. Bring slowly to boiling and simmer until thick, about 1/2 hour. Let cool and seal.
From: 28 delicious ways to serve Sumner hot-house rhubarb. Sumner Rhubarb Growers Association, [1930]

Chili butter
1 Tbsp. chili sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
toast round
thin slice liver sausage
Mix chili sauce and butter. Spread on toast round, top with liver sausage, and sprinkle with paprika.
From: Yum-yum recipes. Compiled and pub. by the Tonasket Civic League, 1938.

Lettuce cocktail
1 crisp head lettuce, cut fine with scissors
4 Tbsp catsup
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 hard boiled eggs, shredded
4 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 small onions, shredded
salt to taste
Mix lettuce, eggs, and onions. Melt butter and allow to cool; add catsup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt. To serve, pour sauce mixture over lettuce mixture and chill in cocktail glasses.
From: Yum-yum recipes. Compiled and pub. by the Tonasket Civic League, 1938.

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