Posts Tagged ‘post produce’
A loaded peanut butter and jelly sandwich will ooze jam when I bite into it. The sweet fruitiness calls back flavors from last year’s growing season.
It’s the first 22nd of 2013; the first Post Produce of the year. Finally, winter has found my small kitchen garden in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. A fresh inch and a half of heavy, dry snow covers an earlier, well-hardened snow that was on the verge of melting away just a few days ago. The thermometer reads eight degrees Fahrenheit as I type, and it’s heading lower as morning approaches.
To celebrate Post Produce in the dead of winter, I’ve only preserves from my garden. We’ve been eating carrots, beans, squash (both summer and winter varieties), pepper relish, and herbs from last year’s garden. While I try to create new combinations and flavors with my own preserves and farmers’ market purchases, a classic, unoriginal, all-American standard has recently exploded back into my repertoire: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches!
Lunch for a Bedtime Snack
We don’t do dessert so much at the Cityslipper ranch, but lately I’ve developed late-night urges for sweet snacks. Having to assemble something to get me through to bedtime, I slapped together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using one piece of bread cut in half, and it satisfied. I guess when you go without dessert long enough, that quasi-nutritional lunch-time standard tastes pretty sweet.
The bread and peanut butter I use for these snacks come from a grocery store, but the jams and jellies come from my larder. In 2012, I made strawberry jam, sour cherry jam, black raspberry jelly, fruit punch jam (sour cherry, black raspberry, and blueberry), peach jelly, grape jelly, and quince jelly.
In the interest of full disclosure, only a few strawberries and fewer blueberries came from my garden, though peaches could have. Black raspberries grow wild across the street from my house, so harvesting and preparing them makes it feel as though I grew them myself.
But wherever the produce comes from, it’s always a joy to make a sandwich using jam or jelly I made from the fruit. I’ve produced videos and written posts about making jam and jelly. I hope you’ll try making some in the coming season; it’s easy to do and a terrific first project when you’re learning to can.
How to make strawberry jam – written instructions
How to make sour cherry jam – written instructions
Now You Post Produce!
Please participate. Write a post on your blog about how you’re using produce from your garden—fresh or preserved… or write about produce that you’re harvesting or planning to harvest. Then return here and use the Linky widget to link to your blog post. Follow other bloggers’ links to see what your fellow gardeners produce.
Every bean in the casserole came from my small kitchen garden! I harvested and froze several gallons of beans in 2012. Most were yellow wax beans, but I had enough green beans to make a double-sized casserole following the French’s Fried Onion recipe that my mom used when I was a kid (except I use cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom soup).
Post Produce landed a few days late this month. People trying to manage link parties do well to anticipate holidays so they don’t leave participants hanging. I’m not well enough organized for that. I’d have broken several natural laws if I’d written my article early and set it to post automatically while I was baking pies.
It occurred to me: Why not make Post Produce about Thanksgiving? I hope at least some of you used homegrown produce in your Thanksgiving meals. Even more, I hope you’ll share your stories about it! Thanksgiving gives me extra thrills when I can serve goodies that I grew myself.
Photos tell the story. I hope you’ll have a look and then write your own Thanksgiving post. Once your post is up, return here, scroll to the bottom, and add a link back to your article. What did you eat from your garden this Thanksgiving?
My homegrown sweet potatoes looked reasonable, though they hadn’t filled out completely. Sadly, many had started to rot—which you couldn’t see until you peeled and cut into them. So, we (my son, actually), cut out large sections. By the time the pot was full, it contained seven or eight commercial sweet potatoes and as many of my crummy homegrown ones. I hope next year to plant sweet potatoes early and harvest them before frost; two things I failed to do this year.
Not surprisingly, neck pumpkins played a role in my Thanksgiving dinner. These three grew in my garden, and I used the largest—a 17 pounder—to make pumpkin pies. I cut up the squash on Tuesday and baked it for about 90 minutes. Then I pureed the flesh in a blender, and packaged the very smooth pumpkin mash in two-cup portions, most of which I froze. I saved seeds from neck pumpkin and will include them in a giveaway on my blog(s) in January or February.
I was a machine filling sandwich bags with pureed neck pumpkin before I realized I’d filled too many. I managed to put the last portion in a reusable container which I stored with one bag of puree overnight in the refrigerator. On Wednesday, I used these four cups of neck pumpkin puree to make pies. Sandwich bags, by the way, aren’t impermeable enough to preserve food in a freezer. Each holds enough puree for one pie, and I put four or five bags in a single gallon-sized freezer bag.
Didn’t think to snap photos before the gang had dessert. After lunch on the day after Thanksgiving, I photographed what remained of five pies I’d baked on Wednesday. We had already finished off a sour cherry pie (frozen during cherry season), and a pumpkin pie. What remained was part of an apple pie, most of a second pumpkin pie, and about half of an apple/pear/raisin spice pie I improvised from stuff in the fridge. To be clear, only the pumpkin pie contained homegrown produce, though I made from grapes the raisins I used in the apple/pear/raisin spice pie.
Post Produce on your blog, then return here and add a link back to your post. Because Post Produce is late this month, think of it as Post Produce weekend rather than Post Produce day! Share the produce you served at Thanksgiving from your own garden:
Black, red, orange, and white tomatoes (with a little diced onion) were the base for a salad I made earlier this month. I love the colors though white tomatoes have yet to win me over: it’s weird to eat a tomato that looks like that.
The main issue for August’s Post Produce at Your Small Kitchen Garden is tomatoes! Sure, there are gorgeous purple jalapenos, a few bell peppers finally turning red, more zucchini (frost probably won’t even shut down those plants), carrots, plenty of herbs, and even the last of the cucumbers. But tomatoes usually make my gardening season, and this has been a terrific year.
I bought seeds this year to grow tomatoes of many colors: black, red, orange, yellow, and white. The earliest tomatoes were black followed quickly by white and orange. Actually, we’ve had tomatoes of all the colors (except yellow) from early in August.
For entertainment, I grew a disproportionate number of white tomato plants. The plan was to cook down several pints of sauce using just white tomatoes. I would eventually use the sauce in traditional dishes such as spaghetti, pizza, or lasagna. At best, I figured, this would be a conversation starter. At worst? A conversation starter.
Things couldn’t have gone better (though I’ve yet to use any of the white tomato sauce I preserved). The photos tell the story.
Here’s the tomato that started me dreaming of white tomato sauce. Cream Sausage is a paste tomato that starts greenish white on the vine and ripens to a somewhat reddish white. The vines seem to be determinate which I didn’t know when I planted them. I’ll grow these again, but I’ll support them with tomato cages rather than with a hanging string trellis.
White Queen is a white slicing tomato. You can tell when it’s ready to eat because it looks “warmer” as it ripens. I used a bunch of these in my tomato sauce along with the cream sausage tomatoes.
I filled a 4 gallon pot with cut-up white tomatoes, simmered it for several hours, and put the cooked tomatoes through a food mill. I cooked the milled tomatoes a bit longer until I had just over a gallon of sauce, and then I canned the sauce. If you’d like to see how this all works using red tomatoes, have a look at my video titled Make and Can Tomato Sauce from Your Home Kitchen Garden.
The slightly off-white color of my white tomatoes didn’t hold through cooking and canning. Still, few would guess that these canning jars hold pure tomato sauce. My next batch will be red. Depending on how quickly I get to it, I might follow that up with orange tomato sauce as well. There’s no significant difference in flavor from one sauce to the other, but having different colors from which to choose adds a bit of whimsy whenever I cook with tomato sauce.
Now You Post Produce
What edibles are you consuming from your garden? Write about it on your blog, then use the Linky widget below and link back to your post. Visit other posters’ blogs to see what homegrown goodies they’re consuming.
The lettuce has been fine this spring, but that’s coming to an end. At least half of my romaine plants are bolting and my Ithaca lettuce heads are shriveling. Ithaca lettuce remains my favorite for flavor and crunch, though the heads tend to be small and loose enough that I often find critters living deep among the leaves. Record-setting heat is making the lettuce bitter, and I may remove the plants as early as this weekend.
That’s my Post Produce story for June. What’s yours?
Post Produce is my effort to celebrate homegrown food with other gardeners. On the 22nd of each month, I encourage bloggers of all stripes to post about whatever they’re eating from their own gardens. Posts can be status updates on what’s growing, photos of recent harvests, recipes that include your own fruits and vegetables, instructions for preserving your produce, and even articles about using your preserves. Write about what foods you’re using from your garden and/or how you’re using them.
Once your post is up on your own blog, return here and use the Linky widget (at the end of this post) to link a trail back to your story. I follow all the links and comment on all the posts, and I encourage everyone who participates to do the same.
What’s Ripe in my Small Kitchen Garden
The photos show what we’re eating from my garden, and captions provide a bit of information about each crop. I look forward to seeing what you have to share. Find the linky after my photos.
A few broccoli heads got away from me; they went from “looking good” to “oops, in bloom” just before I figured to harvest them. Still, my daughter’s 16th birthday dinner featured a head from my garden, and there are more on the way. Already, plants are putting out side shoots; we could be eating homegrown broccoli for many more weeks.
Is this not a lame strawberry? I bought a 25 pack of bare root plants and created a hanging planter out of a four-inch PVC pipe. The experience deserves a blog post or two, but this isn’t one of them. Sadly, the strawberries have been small. I hope to create a dedicated strawberry bed before next spring and use the plants from this experiment to get things started there.
Oh how I love fresh peas from the garden. Oh how I love fresh peas IN the garden. When I’m out there, I pop open pod after pod, scrape the peas into my hand, and pop them into my mouth. As a pod holds just a teaspoon of peas, it takes at least a quart of pods to serve a family of five. I once estimated that to feed a family peas once a week for a year, you’d need to plant a row nearly 300 feet long—the length of a football field. In a good year, I plant about 45 feet of pea plants and manage to freeze about a gallon of peas (after we eat another gallon or so).
Weren’t expecting blueberries, were you? Neither was I. Still, I found this handful of berries ripe on two bushes my wife planted at least a decade ago. We’ve been poor stewards of those plants, but I’ve read up on blueberry culture and hope to get decent production from them in coming seasons. I was surprised to find ripe berries because in past years I’ve seen robins eating unripe blueberries days before the berries would have been ready for harvest. This handful went directly from the photograph into my mouth.
Your turn to Post Produce. Link to your blog entry here:
Weird winter has given way to silly spring in my small kitchen garden. By last weekend I was about three weeks ahead of my usual pace preparing the soil and planting. However, I’ve been busy with other things, and am impatient to commit seedlings and seeds to the garden bed.
An abundance of applesauce and red pepper relish in my larder led me to create applesauce and red pepper relish cornbread for dinner tonight. It’s very satisfying to find ingredients from my garden to use in my cooking.
I’ve turned and raked nearly half the main bed, and it’s ready for three rows of pea seeds, a row of cauliflower and broccoli seedlings, and a row of lettuce and spinach seeds. I also need to find a spot for a bunch of romaine lettuce seedlings. Usually, I leave all these cold weather crops till April, but with daytime temperatures consistently in the sixties and seventies this March, I’m afraid I’ll miss spring veggies if I don’t plant immediately.
No Fresh Produce to Report
On this Post Produce day, I can almost claim to have fresh herbs. Last season’s cilantro plants have perked up, and spring onions I left in planters last fall are green and appealing. As well, young shoots are emerging from the roots of my tarragon plants… but I’m not harvesting any of these for another week or two.
Normally, our homemade red pepper relish ends up with cream cheese on crackers. I once posted about how to make red pepper relish. I plan my small kitchen garden to produce enough ripe peppers to make several batches of red pepper relish each year, though I’m branching out to other colors. Last season I made orange pepper relish, and this season I’m hoping for white pepper relish, purple pepper relish, and yellow pepper relish as well.
To celebrate Post Produce, I turned once again to my larder. With a pot roast in the slow cooker, I realized I hadn’t mixed yeast dough in time for dinner, so I decided to make cornbread.
Applesauce and Red Pepper Relish Cornbread
There’s a lot of applesauce in my larder, and we aren’t going through it as quickly as we used to. I like to use surplus applesauce in baked goods, so I promoted a jar from larder to kitchen. Then, it occurred to me that cornbread might be tasty if it had red pepper relish mixed through the batter. So, I pulled a 4 oz jar of last fall’s relish off the shelf.
Here’s the recipe I created using these two ingredients that began last year as produce from my small kitchen garden:
1 cup corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup smooth applesauce
½ cup milk
4 oz red pepper relish
4 oz grated cheddar cheese
Set your oven to 375F degrees. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix the applesauce, milk, egg, and relish in a separate bowl. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry, agitating them just enough to make batter.
You can see flakes of red peppers in the cornbread, and darkened cheddar cheese melted into the top. I baked mine a tad hot and suggested a lower temperature in the recipe. Even though my cornbread looked sketchy coming out of the pan, my family admitted it was good. (Got lucky this time.)
Pour the batter into a greased 9” by 9” baking dish, or a 10” diameter round baking dish. Then distribute the grated cheese evenly over the batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes—a tooth pick should come out clean if you stab through the top crust.
There’s a lot of sugar and pectin in this cornbread, so it may darken quickly. The surface, sides, and bottom may form an elastic crust that traps in moisture and results in a slightly doughy bread. If you find yours a bit tough to cut, yet soft and bordering on gooey inside (but you like the flavor enough to try again), decrease the cooking temperature and increase the cooking time.
Post Produce is ON!
By this date in April, I’m confident my Post Produce post won’t be about food from my larder. There should at least be herbs, and quite likely lettuce to harvest. I look forward to the possibilities and hope to see many more participants in the monthly Post Produce celebration.
Please share what you’re eating from your garden. Once you’ve posted on your blog, return here and enter the link in the grid below. Other readers will find their way to your blog, and maybe you’ll meet more food-growing enthusiasts. I’ll certainly have a look… even at posts from warmer climes; they’ve been making me feel a bit envious through these inappropriately warm months of winter.
The top shelf of my larder gets crowded with empty canning jars as winter drags on. I’ll be dragging those boxes down when my fresh garden produce is ready for packing.
My Post Produce article this month is a bit different; it’s about transition in Your Small Kitchen Garden blog. Just a few days ago, I sorted through the canned produce in my larder and organized it onto two shelves so one shelf would be clear. Then I hung a daylight spectrum shop light and planted cauliflower and broccoli seeds in a tray that I cut from a gallon milk jug.
Just two days ago, the cauliflower and broccoli seeds sprouted, and today the sprouts hold promise for a future harvest.
Small Kitchen Garden as the Circle of Life
A few years ago, my larder was nothing more than shelves to hold canned goods, canning gear, and other random stuff. Then, when I was contemplating another winter of starting vegetable seeds on my ping pong table, it dawned on me: by late winter, I’ve used up a lot of my canned goods; there would be room on my shelves to start seeds.
Above the soil for only two days, the tiny sprout in this photo could produce enough cauliflower to feed my family for three meals.
I love that the larder doubles for seed-starting. Just like my small kitchen garden, it knows all the seasons: It accumulates empty canning jars year-round, with most rapid growth in the dead of winter. Then, as winter becomes tedious, my larder comes alive when seeds sprout and grow until the garden is ready. With the earliest spring fruits—rhubarb and strawberries—I put up food while we continue to consume produce that won’t be available fresh for months. When all goes right, we use the last jar of tomatoes within days of canning the new season’s early fruits. Later, we use the last jar of sweet corn as the first ears come fresh out of the garden. Transitions within this cycle are so smooth, so seamless, that it almost doesn’t seem to have a beginning.
This is what inspires me to write about kitchen gardening. This is why I encourage others to participate. With February’s post, I’m celebrating the kitchen garden’s circle of life and looking forward to seeing what produce my fellow gardeners are enjoying—or planning to enjoy—in coming months.
My repurposed milk jug planter holds 10 cauliflower seeds and 10 broccoli seeds on a shelf above canned tomato sauce and other goodies. I planted head lettuce seeds yesterday and in the next month I’ll start several hundred seeds including peppers, tomatoes, and squashes.
Post Your Produce!
The 22nd is the day to Post Produce. Join the celebration of homegrown food and share whatever you’re consuming from your garden. Whether it’s still growing, you’re harvesting it for a meal, you’re preserving it, or you’re taking it out of your larder for dinner, share it in a post and then link to it below. For more information, follow this link to the Post Produce page.