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Posts Tagged ‘post produce’

Post Produce, Jan 2012: Sweet & Sour Pork

Scroll to the bottom of this post if you’re here to link to your January 2012 Post Produce post. I look forward to seeing what you’re consuming from your garden!

I can pineapple and pickled mixed vegetables so they’re on hand when I want to make sweet and sour pork. The vegetables are carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and chili peppers quick-pickled in brine made of water, vinegar, and salt. Canning pickled vegetables involves specific procedures to prevent growth of deadly bacteria, so please don’t make your own pickled vegetables without following USDA-tested procedures.

Still no produce to pick fresh from my small kitchen garden! Actually, we finally had our first snow of winter, and the planting bed is buried under white powder. About six inches fell overnight, finally making winter real.

But this non-planting season hasn’t soured me on Post Produce. I try always to look at the larder when planning meals, and more often than not, the larder saves me when I’ve failed to plan. Today was such a day, so for dinner we had sweet & sour pork.

Pickled Vegetables from My Small Kitchen Garden

Each year I like to preserve at least one canner full of pickled mixed vegetables in quart jars. When I can them, I follow the procedures I wrote in my post, Pickles From Your Home Kitchen Garden, with two significant differences:

1. I don’t use pickling spice—I use no spices at all.

2. I don’t use dill.

Making a canner full of pickled vegetables in summer lets me make sweet & sour pork or chicken seven times through the year.

I also can a lot of pineapple, but I don’t grow that in my kitchen garden, so it doesn’t qualify for sharing during Post Produce. Still, it’s important to know if you want to do this at home: I use 10% sugar syrup to pack pineapple chunks when I can them. Of course, what matters during the off season is how the veggies and the pineapple combine to make a sweet & sour sauce.

Sweet & Sour Pork (or Chicken) in a Hurry

Typically, I serve this stuff with rice. Right when you start prepping the meat is a good time to set rice on to cook. I almost never work from recipes, so there are no hard numbers here.


1 pound of boneless pork (boneless spare ribs, chops, or tenderloin all work well)…


1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken (I prefer breasts, but thighs work well, too)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 clove garlic (optional)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)

1 pint canned pineapple chunks in juice

1 quart pickled mixed vegetables

1 – 2 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable stock

1 – 2 tablespoon cornstarch


Cut the pork (or chicken) into bite-sized pieces. Peel and dice the onion, and crush and dice the garlic if you’re using it. Open the pickled vegetables and reserve ½ cup of brine; pour off the rest if you can’t think of a way to use it. Open the pineapple and strain the juice into a measuring cup. Ideally, you’ll get a cup of pineapple juice, but if not, add water to result in a cup of liquid.

Heat the vegetable oil on high in a wok or skillet. Being careful not to splash the hot oil, put the diced onion, grated ginger, and garlic in the pan, and stir briefly to prevent sticking. Then dump the cut-up pork or chicken in on top. Stir and turn the meat for five minutes or so to coat it with the oil.

When I cooked dinner, it didn’t occur to me the meal would end up in tonight’s blog post. So, the only photographic record remaining is of the leftovers in storage containers. My son and I each had a generous serving without side dishes, and there’s enough left for two more servings. The recipe in this post should easily feed four and possibly five people.

While the meat is still obviously not fully-cooked, add the soy sauce and sesame oil to the pan and stir it in thoroughly. Continue to stir until all surfaces of the meat appear cooked and most pieces have cooked through. You don’t need to stir continuously, but neither should you leave the pan unattended while cooking on such high heat.

Add the drained pickled vegetables and toss the contents of the pan gently for a few minutes until the vegetables heat through. Add the drained pineapple, and heat for another minute or so. Then add the reserved pickle brine and pineapple juice and stir.

Taste the liquid! If it’s sour, stir in a teaspoon or two of sugar till it dissolves.

When the liquid has a pleasant sweet and sour balance, stir in a cup of stock. While that heats, stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into a quarter cup of stock and then add that to the skillet. Stir it all until it thickens… if it’s too thick, add more stock, if it’s too thin, mix more cornstarch and stock to stir into the pan.

Your Turn to Post Produce!

Please join the celebration of home-grown produce. Post about something you’re eating from your garden, then return here and link to your post. Watch for other Post Produce posts to see what others are enjoying from their gardens. Follow this link for more information about Post Produce.



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December 2011 Post Produce: BBQ Pizza Sauce

Looking a lot like a calzone, my folded pizza contains BBQ sauce I made using produce from my own garden.

With this, the first Post Produce of winter, my small kitchen garden is dormant, though not frozen. It is crazy warm for late December, but rain keeps me away from the garden. Thank goodness for canning!

For a few weeks this summer I harvested tomatoes from my kitchen garden. I canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, and I used some of the tomato sauce to make Pear and Tomato BBQ sauce… which brings me to today’s Post Produce post.

Folded BBQ Pizza

I discovered that I really like pizza with Pear and Tomato BBQ sauce in place of traditional pizza sauce. When I started to make some pizza, I also discovered that my pizza paddle is broken, so I made what I dubbed “folded pizza.”

My folded pizzas look a lot like Calzone. They’re really easy to make, and they taste fine with traditional tomato-based pizza sauce, or with pear and tomato BBQ sauce. The photos tell the story.

Use whatever pizza dough recipe you prefer, and make each folded pizza starting with a chunk of dough slightly larger than a golf ball. Heavily flour an otherwise clean counter, and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a six- to eight-inch disk about 1/8 of an inch thick.

Leave a generous border around the sauce when you spread it on the pizza blank. Cover the sauce with shredded mozzarella cheese, then fold the blank in half.

Align the edges of the folded pizza blank, and fold the dough over along the entire edge. Crease the dough along the fold and then fold in the edge a second time. Press firmly so the folded material sticks together reliably. Set the filled, folded, and crimped blank on a baking sheet that you’ll covered liberally with corn meal; there’s no need to grease the pan.

One you’ve made an air-tight seal along the edges of your folded pizza, stab a few holes in the crust using a sharply pointed knife or some other sharp implement. By the way, you can put these pretty close together on the baking pan; they don’t rise a lot. Bake the folded pizzas at 375F degrees for about 12 minutes. The top crusts should develop a golden-brown. Sadly, even with the vent holes you poke through the dough, pressure may build up during baking and cause melted cheese and BBQ sauce to ooze out. When that happens, I scrape up the mass, let it cool, and snack on it.

Post Your Produce!

The 22nd is Post Produce day. Please join me and other bloggers and share whatever you’re consuming from your garden. Whether it’s still growing in your garden, you’re harvesting it for a meal, you’re preserving it, or you’re taking it out of your larder for dinner, blog about your homegrown produce, and then link to it below. For more information, follow this link to the Post Produce page.



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Corn Pancakes Post Produce: November, 2011

I doubt the canned corn I ate today included any kernels from my kitchen garden, though I did harvest sweet corn this year. This ear went from the garden to our dinner table in less than an hour. Home-canned sweet corn tastes much better than commercially-canned corn. For the best corn flavor in a preserve, try freezing.

It’s time to Post Produce at Your Small Kitchen Garden. This month, I’m posting corn. In the interest of full disclosure, the corn I’m posting about is almost certainly not from my garden. I grew and harvested sweet corn this year, but I also bought a few bushels at various farmers’ markets—way more than I harvested of my own. It would be impossible to find the specific canned corn in my larder that grew in my small kitchen garden.

That said, for lunch today I made corn pancakes. I ate corn pancakes occasionally when I was a kid, and was dismayed to learn recently that my wife and kids don’t care for these delicacies. I still like corn pancakes, and it doesn’t bother me at all to make up a batch that I’ll eat for breakfast and lunch over the course of several days.

Will you like corn pancakes? If you like corn fritters, you’ll probably like corn pancakes. They’re nearly the same product except that there’s no deep-fat-frying involved with corn pancakes.

Daniel’s Pancake Batter

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

7/8 cup of milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 or 2 eggs

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the milk, then the melted butter, and finally the egg (or eggs). With each addition, mix till you’ve blended everything well. If the batter is very runny, sprinkle in flour one tablespoon at a time, blend it together, and reevaluate the consistency.

When the batter is appropriate for making pancakes, stir in one pint of drained canned corn.

How to Make Corn Pancakes

You make corn pancakes exactly as you should expect: mix up pancake batter, stir in sweet corn, and pan-fry pools of batter. Use a commercial pancake mix or make batter using your favorite recipe. The box titled Daniel’s Pancake Batter holds an approximation of the recipe I use.

I like corn pancakes with maple syrup; real maple syrup. I also like them with fruit syrup, and today I used black raspberry syrup that I canned myself from berries that grew in the woods up the road from my house—not specifically from my garden, but when I pick them in the wild, it feels as though the black raspberries are “my produce.”

I made a video that shows how to make corn pancakes. So, if you’d like more guidance on the topic, look in the Linky below for the link from “cityslipper.” That leads to my Youtube video. Then, I hope you’ll join in on this third Post Produce event.

To make corn pancakes, mix your favorite pancake batter, or use the simple recipe in the box, and then stir in canned sweet corn.

Cook corn pancakes as you would cornless ones. In a properly-heated pan (I set the temperature knob for the burner at about six; it has numbers from 1 through 9), a pancake needs from 60 to 90 seconds on each side to cook through.

Home-canned black raspberry syrup makes a fine topping for pancakes—with or without corn. Chances are that a carnival or country fair corn fritter booth offers only powdered sugar or “pancake syrup.” Those may satisfy as well on corn pancakes, but when you get a chance, try corn pancakes with real maple syrup.

Now You Go!

The 22nd is Post Produce day. Please join me and other bloggers and share whatever you’re consuming from your garden. Whether it’s still growing in your garden, you’re harvesting it for a meal, you’re preserving it, or your taking it out of your larder for dinner, blog about your homegrown produce, and then link to it below. For more information, follow this link to the Post Produce page.


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Pumpkin and Pear Post Produce: October, 2011

Let’s start with “Post Produce.” Inspired by Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, Your Small Kitchen Garden blog sponsors Post Produce on the 22nd of every month. I encourage bloggers everywhere to tell the world what they’re consuming from their kitchen gardens. Do you have fresh produce? Are you using preserves?

Post your Produce and then return here and link to your blog so other Post Produce participants can see. I hope you’ll join me this month. (Here’s more about Post Produce.)

And My Produce Is…

This isn’t all the squash I’ve harvested, and there’s still more in the garden. Notice the two rather small squashes on the left side of the stack. One of those cooked down into exactly a cup of mashed squash that went into a pear and pumpkin pie.

For this, the second ever Post Produce, I present pumpkin! Well… it’s actually butternut squash, but I use winter squashes and pumpkins interchangeably in my baking. I have quite a heap of butternut squashes and neck pumpkins, and there are still four decent-looking but very small blue hubbard squashes on the vines.

But the story actually begins with pears. Pears have teased me for more than a decade as I’ve experimented to find compelling ways to incorporate them into baked goods. I’ve learned that concentrating pear juice by boiling away a lot of water barely intensifies the flavor, and by the time even very thick pear syrup combines within cake or bread, it might just as well have been raw sugar.

I’ve also made many custards that contained pear juice, but they’ve all tasted pretty much like regular old custard. In fact, this year I thought I’d finished with my whole “baking with pears” period. And then it struck me: I’ve had pumple pie a few times, and was always unimpressed (pumple is pumpkin pie with embedded apple chunks). But it seemed to me that combining pears with pumpkin would result in a much more compelling pie filling.

Ready for pie? Pears and raisins add texture and visual appeal to a slice of pumpkin pie. Please let me know what you think if you bake one of these beauties.

Experimenting with Pears and Pumpkin

I’ve made a few pear and pumpkin pies in the past few weeks. The first was poached pears baked into pumpkin custard, and it was fine. However, I felt it could use a bit more texture, so I made another that included homemade raisins. Along with texture, these provide flavor bursts that make the pie complex and unique.

I hope you’ll try my pear and pumpkin pie. If you do, please let me know what you think of it. I’ll be serving this at Thanksgiving, but I’ll probably bake a few others as long as there are fresh pears available at the local farmers’ market.

I put the recipe for pear and pumpkin pie on another page so it wouldn’t slow the loading of my blog. It contains a list of ingredients along with step-by-step instructions and many photos. Find them on the page titled Cooking Pear and Pumpkin Pie from Your Small Kitchen Garden.

Now You Post Produce!

Show off your garden produce in your blog. Then, return here and create a link to your Post Produce post. After you link, leave a comment so other participants can find you!



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Raisins for Pie at Your Small Kitchen Garden

My entry in October’s Post Produce is about pie. The pie involves pears and homemade raisins–both visible in this photo. I hope you’ll join me and bloggers everywhere on Saturday, the 22nd to share whatever you’re consuming from your own garden.

My small kitchen garden still has a few winter squashes, green beans, peppers, and carrots holding on against interminable rain and increasing cold. There’s not much out there, so I’ve put more and more attention on what’s available at the local farmers’ markets. Recently, I bought several pounds of seedless grapes and used my dehydrator to convert them into raisins. I posted about the procedure over at Food Dryer Home. Have a look if you need encouragement to make your own raisins. Please trust me: homemade raisins are so worth the trouble to make them.

What Pie has to do With It

I made raisins because I’ve been developing a recipe—a pie recipe rooted in about seven years of experimentation with pears. The recipe uses stuff from my small kitchen garden, and I plan to present it presently in my pending Post Produce post.

Post Produce? Pear Pie? All will become clear before I go to bed on Friday, October 21 (tomorrow).

Join Post Produce!

Saturday the 22nd is Post Produce day. The idea of Post Produce is to encourage bloggers everywhere to share with the world whatever they’re consuming from their gardens. Are you harvesting citrus fruit? Post about it! Are you opening home-canned produce for dinner? Post about it! Do you have awesome vegetables fresh from the garden? Post!

Follow this link to find more details at the Post Produce page. On Saturday, show or tell us about your produce, and then return to Your Small Kitchen Garden, and create a link back to your post. If you’re so inclined, visit all the Post Produce posts to see what bloggers are growing to eat all over the world.


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Launching Post Produce: September 22, 2011

Sorry. I had to lead with sad apples. It rained nearly every day from apple blossom time until June. To grow pretty apples in such conditions, you need to apply anti-insect treatment constantly, and that gets really expensive. I can buy a bushel of apples for around $12 at the farmers’ market and I might have spent $40 or more to keep ahead of the rain. I gave up very early in the season, and this is typical of what’s on my trees now.

September 22, 2011 is the first Post Produce day. Because my Small Kitchen Garden has experienced its worst growing season in 16 years, I’m tempted to share scenes of sickly vegetables and rotting plants. But the whole point of this day is to Post Produce in celebration of kitchen gardening.

There have been some bright spots, despite the crazy weather, and I’ve captured many of them in photos. Captions accompanying the photos provide details. I hope you’ll join me in this monthly celebration of home kitchen gardening and post about your own produce. Find instructions for how to participate by scrolling to the bottom of this blog entry.

If any kitchen garden plant likes rain, it’s tarragon! I set three tarragon plants in a new bed last fall and they have grown into a forest. In fact, I cut them back aggressively about a month ago and already they are overwhelming the shorter thyme plants in front of them. Until this season, I’d grown tarragon only in containers, and I had no idea how massive these plants could become.

Another standout rain-lover in my small kitchen garden is sage. I moved several plants from a wooden barrel planter last fall, and they have exploded with new, lush growth. Those pretty flowers are invaders from my wife’s nearby ornamental bed. If I ever plant a show garden, I may pair these two much as they look in this photo.

I planted a 14 foot row of chili pepper plants in a repeating sequence of jalapeno, banana, and poblano. Apparently, that row ran above an underground lake and the plants’ roots were waterlogged most of the season; I harvested about a pint of tiny, shriveled peppers. Happily, I also set some bell pepper plants in containers on my deck. In a few more weeks, I expect nearly a dozen large fruits to be red or orange and ready to harvest. They all will end up in a pot of red pepper relish.

While my main garden bed spent two-thirds of the season as a swamp, my garden annex drained quite well (it used to be a sandbox), and bell peppers and poblanos I set there produced a modest number of fruits. It’s not a typical abundant haul, but we’ll enjoy a few meals that feature these smoky delights.

Cucumbers disappointed me this year. They grew vigorously in containers on my deck, but none of the fruits they produced were quite appealing enough to pickle whole. Still, I have used these little morsels in salad, and I’ll probably mix up some pickle relish with the dozen or so that are ready to harvest.

Yippee: green beans! This is my first significant harvest and I collected them today. I planted Kentucky Wonders to climb on my tomato trellises and all the plants died as a result of heavy rains in August. But I’d planted a short row in one of our ornamental beds, and they have grown into a nearly impenetrable clump of intertwined vines. This first picking could serve a family of four if three family members despised green beans. There are green bean babies on the vines, so I’m hoping our first frost is still a month away (though, given the way the season has gone, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got frost at noon today).

This year’s big winner is winter squash. Sure, there are water stains on some of them, but these neck pumpkins and butternut squashes look spectacular considering the season. The biggest neck pumpkin weighs about 12 pounds, and the heap weighs more than 50 pounds. There are several more fruits ripening on the vines (even as the vines drown from recent storms), and there are even a few Blue Hubbards in the garden showing some promise.

Join in and Post Produce!

Join the celebration and show the world what you’re eating from your garden. To participate, Post Produce on your own blog. You don’t have to post photos. List what you’re harvesting, write a poem about it, record a song… create whatever post celebrates your food-growing successes.

Then, return here and create a link to your Post Produce post. Also, leave a comment to entice other participants to visit your blog. That’s all there is to it!

For a few more details about Post Produce, follow this link. There you’ll find a bit about why I started Post Produce along with further suggestions for types of things you might post. I’ll watch for your Post Produce posts and visit every one.



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