Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canning Tomatoes with Friends, it Take Two!

Let the canning lesson begin!

Ms. Elaine, one of my best friends and I decided that this year we were going to can tomatoes, green beans and corn.

So far no green beans, you can blame it on the lack of rain; however several weeks ago the tomato harvest was in full bloom! Our usual Saturday ritual of yoga, farmers market and breakfast turned into a last minute preparation to can on Sunday afternoon.

Elaine grew up canning with her Mom; however she had not tried her hand at canning tomatoes since she lost her mum many years ago. 

Here’s what we learned: It takes two! We followed the directions in the book that came with Elaine’s Mothers Pressure Canner and I think Elaine’s Mum would be proud!

We planned on 50 pounds of fresh ripe tomatoes and Bill from The Specialty Farmer, Inc had a truck load of fresh organic tomatoes that were ready for canning. Once the tomatoes start to crack and sit in the hot summer heat they will begin to put off a very unpleasant smell. So be prepared to can when the tomatoes are ready, they will not wait for you. I found many websites that provide in-depth information on canning and they suggest adding lemon juice, our recipe did not call for lemon juice and since Elaine has used this recipe for years  we followed the instructions. Elaine has already made tomato soup from one of her pints, which she said was beyond delicious!

Here’s what we used:
Recipe called for 50 lbs of fresh ripe tomatoes; however some of the tomatoes were really ripe so Bill loaded us up, probably 70 pounds because although the tomatoes were fresh off the vine with such high temps the tomatoes start to spoil rather quickly.
Sharp paring knife – Cut out the bad parts and if it smells, well do I need to tell you to cut until all you smell is fresh tomato. Now we know where the term “Rotten Tomatoes” comes from.  Elaine said they always canned as the tomatoes ripened, so she never experienced the tomatoes starting to smell.  
24 Pint jars and 7 Quart canning jars
New Lids with sealsboil, remove with tongs and air dry right before you start canning
Large Pot to boil the tomatoes in
Large Spoon with slates to remove the tomatoes from boiling water
Large bowl to cool the tomatoes, we both had a huge Tupperware bowl with the green lid, check in your kitchen you probably have one as well…
Large spoon to push out the air in the jars and pack in the tomatoes
Pressure Canner ~ we used Elaine’s Mother’s and it still does the job!
Salt ~ Just a pinch per jar

Place a large pot on the stove and bring to a boil.

Rinse off the tomatoes and use you’re pairing knife to cut out any bad spots, the tomatoes should smell fresh. Place in the boiling water, we had a variety of sizes so we just put 5 to 6 in the large pot, don’t crowd them. 

It only takes 1 to 2 minutes for the tomato peel to start falling off. Once they start to peel use your large slated spoon to remove the tomatoes and drop immediately in a bowl of cold water, the peel should fall right off.

Next cut the tomatoes in quarters and put in the jars, using a spoon to pack the

jars. You need about ½ to 1 inch from the lid so they will seal properly. 
This is really important: Make sure you clean and dry the rim of the jar so they will seal properly!

Next stack the jars in the canner per the instructions, seal and turn on the heat. We waited for the “Jiggling” sound, then we waited for the sound of the steam escaping…Make sure you pay close attention and follow the instructions for your canning equipment!

Once the canner cools remove the jars from the canner and wait for the sound of the lids to
pop, which indicates that they are sealed!

We decided to leave the jars to cool at Elaine’s and I planned to pick them up the following Saturday. I had pictures to carry me over until I proudly placed the jars in my pantry! I can’t wait until I crack open the first jar and I will let you know what I make with them. Soooo many recipes to try….

For a more in-depth process on canning go to simplycanning, 
youtubePickYourOwn - Canning tomatoes made easy and illustrated, love this site they even use the font that I love!

Thank you Elaine and of course Chloe for sharing your kitchen, I can't wait for our next cooking adventure! 

Do you have a canning story to share?

Just cook something, or can something! Cheers! Kary~ 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen Produce~ What to buy

It seems like almost every day I have a discussion with someone about the cost of organic produce and food. With many children, teachers and staff heading back to the classroom I thought it would be the perfect time to post this.

This is my go to list from Environmental Working Group

Clean 15

If the cost of organic produce does not fit into your budget or isn’t available in your neighborhood here is a list of the “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables. The following is a list of vegetables and fruits with the lowest pesticide residues, which was posted by the Environmental Working Group on their website.

Here is their list of the “Clean 15”:

1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangos
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon

The Dirty Dozen posted by the Environmental Working Group

Now for the list of the “dirty dozen” that you should spend your hard earned money on. Recommended by the Environmental Working Group here is the list of vegetables and fruits with the highest pesticide residues. Let’s go shopping!

Here is the list of the “Dirty Dozen”:
Organic Blue Potatoes

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell Peppers
8. Spinach
9. Cherries
10. Kale/Collard Greens
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes

Hmmm what about tomatoes? I will need to do some research, of course home grown is always best... Have you seen this list before and what are your thoughts?

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Waldorf Salad for Two or More

 I was visiting my parents out in the Pacific Northwest and it was the hottest day of the year, but hey no humidity!!!  I love living in the Carolina’s however it was a nice escape from the long humid summer.  
Waldorf Salad 

While we were heating up the house making Lemon Spaghetti with Chicken, we were trying to decide on a side dish that was cool and would complement the pasta. Mom had a couple of apples and some celery that she needed to eat before they spoiled and suggested that we make Waldorf Salad, one of my favorites.

I rummaged around in the kitchen and  here’s what Mom had on hand; several  medium sized red apples, a couple of stalks of celery, a bag of shelled pecans (Walnuts are in the recipe but pecans were delicious), Sour Cream, Mayonnaise and fresh lemons.

Here’s what you need for this version of Waldorf Salad:
3 medium sized red apples
3 Stalks of celery (you can use less, I just love the crunchiness of the celery)
1/3 cup shelled chopped pecans
¼ cup raisins – Optional or add more
1 Tbsp Sour Cream – you can use plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
Juice squeezed from 2 small fresh lemons
1 tsp of honey
Medium serving bowl and small mixing bowl

Mom started peeling the apples, Molly jumped in to dice them and I started cutting the celery.

Now it’s your turn and it’s simple really; just peel, chop and mix:
Peel, core and cut the apples into bite size pieces, rinse, dry and chop the celery into bite size pieces and toss in the bowl. Add the nuts and raisins.
Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise; lemon juice and honey then toss with the apples and celery until coated.

Simple, sweet and crunchy! Enough for four or two hungry people…

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Be My Eyes", Turkey Sliders and Book Club

Time for June book club post!  
Turkey Sliders, Broccoli Salad and Corn
Our hostess, Karen welcomed us into her beautiful home with Blueberry Vodka Coolers, her new favorite summer cocktail and now ours! Not to be outdone by Karen’s picnic inspired meal; turkey sliders, corn on the cob with a side of coleslaw broccoli salad.

Blueberry Vodka Cocktails
Karen and Jim's Oasis

Pina Colada Fluff
 And for desert, ok wait for it… Karen made the perfect desert; light, sweet and fluffy Pina Colada Fluff. If you love marshmallow, coconut and Pina Colada’s look no further than Mom on Timeout’s recipe for Pina Colada Fluff. Yes this was unbelievable yummy, thank you Karen!

Do I even have to tell you how delicious our picnic inspired meal was? I didn’t think so.

Over the last several weeks we have been melting in 100 decree heat and rain showers, however much to our delight on book club night the sky’s cleared and we were able to enjoy Karen’s beautiful garden, 85 decrees almost felt like fall. Lot’s of laughs with great friends, fantastic food, refreshing blueberry cocktails. We dined and chatted on Karen’s back deck, surrounded by birds, flowers and lush woods. Karen and Jim, great job on the back yard, it is an oasis and none of us wanted to leave!

Our book for June was “Be My Eyes”  by Dustin Stevens, a journey of self discovery and a road trip from Petersburg Virginia to  Eureka California. Eureka is known for Humboldt University, the gold rush and Timber.

The main characters in the book are Cole and Ruby, who embark on a cross country journey and experience the beauty and solitude of the American landscape. Dustin writes about the sometimes bleakness of the countryside, the people Cole and Ruby encounter along the way. I felt that the bleakness relates to the empty places we carry within us, some more than others can’t seem to let go of the sadness.

To Kill a Mocking Bird is one of Ruby’s favorite books and the mocking bird plays a significant role in Ruby’s life. You will just have to read the book to learn about her and Cole’s journey.

So finally here are the recipes, compliments from our hostess Ms. Karen C. 

Turkey Sliders with Guacamole and Pepper Jack Cheese
2 lbs of ground turkey
1 package of dry onion soup mix
1 package of dry ranch dressing
8 ounces of Pepper Jack Cheese, sliced to fit the rolls
2 medium tomatoes thinly sliced

The night before cooking, mix the turkey with the seasonings, make the sliders, store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Should make about 24 Turkey sliders.

Ready set cook:  Heat a hot skillet or grill and over medium heat cook 5 to 7 minutes, flip then cook another 5 to 7 minutes until done, if you like the cheese melted place a thin slice of Pepper Jack Cheese on each slider 1 to 2 minutes before done.

You will need about 24 Kings Hawaiian Rolls or your favorite rolls

Guacamole spread - always best to make right before you serve, you can add a dash of fresh lemon juice to keep the Guacamole from turning brown

2 medium Avocados
1 to 2 teaspoons of Mayonnaise with Olive Oil
½ tsp of garlic powder
½ tsp of onion powder
½ tsp of chili powder, add more if you like a little more spice
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the avocado and scoop out the avocado, place in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Add the Mayonnaise, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper, then mix.

Place the cooked turkey slider on the bottom half of the roll, top with cheese, slice of tomato and Guacamole. They are so yummy that they slide right down!  

Broccoli Slaw Salad

This salad was fresh and a perfect compliment for the turkey sliders and corn on the cob. Keep it simple, yet delicious and purchase the fresh organic salad mix at your local grocery stores, most markets carry the salad blends.
September’ book is “The Goldfinch” Donna Tartt

 Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cooking with Kary: Lizards first sighting Spring 2012!

Flash back Thursday....Can't have a garden without the critters! Cooking with Kary: Lizards first sighting Spring 2012!: Lizard sighting! I was so excited when my hubby yelled for me to step outside on the back patio and I was greeted by one of my resident c...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cooking with Kary: Pesto with fresh basil

Yes I have fresh basil from my garden~Cooking with Kary: Pesto with fresh basil: I love fresh pesto and it is really easy to make. I was in the market this week and they had a great selection of fresh basil and I decided...