9.18.2011

Photo Recipe Archive - Pinterest


I recently discovered Pinterest.com.  Pinterest is billed as:
A virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.
When I read the bit about "favorite recipes" I had a fabulous idea.  I could use a Pinboard to create a visual archive of my recipes on this blog!  So I did.  Check it out: http://pinterest.com/foyupdate/foy-update-garden-cook-write-repeat/.  You can also choose to follow me or my board if you join the site.  Happy pinning!

9.16.2011

Blue Ribbon Corn Relish - Preserving The Harvest



Tangy and sweet this homemade corn relish is a go-to item in my pantry.  It has been incorporated into many meals over the last year.  My favorite use was to add a couple dollops to sour cream and enjoy it as salad dressing.  I've also put it on burgers and mixed it into chicken salad.  It was delicious with Thanksgiving turkey.

Not only does this corn relish bring a burst of texture and flavor, it adds gorgeous color.  The turmeric deepens the sweet corn to a lovely gold, add in the red flecks from the bell pepper, and you've got a beautiful spoonful.

I plucked this recipe out of the July 2010 Better Homes and Gardens.  I made it because I thought it was pretty and since I had green pickles and red tomato sauce I thought it would add another color to my cabinet.  I didn't really care if it tasted good. 

I have no idea what blue ribbon it won, but I can see why it won.  It is both pretty and tasty.  The only thing I changed was to reduce the amount of celery seeds from two teaspoons to just one because they were over powering.  I'm not a big celery fan.

I made this recipe last year, but I wasn't sure if I liked it so I didn't share it with you all.  Now I am sure.  This relish will liven up your meals as a topping or a mix-in. 

I have to make more while there is still sweet corn to be put up.  Here's the recipe, enjoy:


Blue Ribbon Corn Relish from Better Homes and Gardens

16-20 ears of fresh sweet corn (8 cups)
2 cups water
3 cups of celery (6 stalks)
1 1/2 cups chopped red sweet pepper
1 cup chopped onion (2 medium)
2 1/2 cups vinegar
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons cornstarch

  1. Shuck the corn and make sure you get all the silk off the ears.  Cut the corn off the cobs, do not scrape the cobs.  Measure 8 cups of corn and put them in a sauce pan with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes or until the corn is almost tender.  Drain the water off. 
     
  2. In the same pot, combine the cooked corn, celery, peppers and onion.  Stir in vinegar, sugar, mustard, pickling salt, celery seeds and turmeric.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir together cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water; add to corn mixture.  Cook, stirring until slightly thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 2 minutes more.  The mixture will start to thicken. 
     
  3. Meanwhile, prepare jars by sterilizing them.  Ladle the hot relish into jars.  Leave a half inch head space.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean towel and top with lids and bands.  Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes. Start timing when the water returns to a boil.  Remove jars; cool on wire racks and then store in a cool, dark place.   Refrigerate after opening. 
How would you use this delicious corn relish?

9.15.2011

Classic Creamy Chicken Salad – Easy Recipe



Our cat is going crazy because the whole place smells like simmering chicken stock.

Confession: I used to buy frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts. They were dry and they had almost no taste, but the media had me convinced they were a healthy “lean protein” option. I can’t believe I missed out on all the flavor and goodness of the rest of the chicken.

Four quarts of chicken stock ready to freeze
Now, when we do eat chicken, I find a local source and I buy the whole bird.  (Try Local Harvest to find a farmer near you.) We eat the meat for dinner. Then I boil the carcass, pick the little bits of leftover chicken out for future soups or salad, strain the liquid and reduce it to make some of the most beautiful, rich stock you have ever seen. I even skim the fat off the top to use for bread making or sautéing veggies. Nothing goes to waste.

To make Classic Creamy Chicken Salad I start with this simple recipe and then I add things like apples and walnuts or some corn relish I made last summer to keep things interesting. The basic chicken salad recipe is creamy mayonnaise with acidic lemon juice, crunchy carrots and pungent onions. That’s all you need to get the right balance of flavors and textures.


Some fresh bread and a homemade garlic dill pickle doesn’t hurt either. Scale this recipe to however much chicken you have left.  If you are feeling a little adventurous mix in some of the bonus ingredients in the last step.  In the picture above I added 1/4 cup corn relish and a diced tart apple. 

Featured in Simple Lives Thursday

Classic Cream Chicken Salad

1 pound leftover chicken meat
2 medium carrots, diced very small
1 small onion, grated
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice (you could also use dill pickle juice)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Shred the chicken meat by cutting it into one inch chunks and then using your hands to pull apart the meat into shreds.
     
  2. In a bowl combine the chicken meat with the carrots, onion, mayo, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
     
  3. Now get creative and throw in some pickle relish, chutney, walnuts, apple, herbs or even raisins and curry powder. I love fresh tarragon minced in with dried apricot. Taste as you go to create a unique dish every time.
How do you spice up your chicken salad?

9.11.2011

Crisp Garlic Dill Pickles - All Fresh Ingredients Recipe


I thought I had missed the pickling season entirely when Jeff got his job and we had to move at the end of August.  I was resigned to making due with leftover pickles.  Last year I made two kinds of pickles a hot water bath dill pickle from the Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving Recipes and a refrigerator garlic dill from the blog Food in Jars.  We ate all the refrigerator garlic dills because they were delicious and crisp.  We still have half a dozen jars of the soggy, too clove-y and sweet dills from the Ball Blue Book.  Even if we had no other pickles I'm not sure we would finish those jars.  But, I won't have to find out.  I got some pickling cucumbers! 

Several folks told me about Hawkins Family Farm which runs a co-op just outside of North Manchester.  Before we moved I contacted them and they seemed very open to the idea of me working for food.  I've driven out two mornings so far and this exchange is going swimmingly.  Last week I did a bunch of weeding in the beans and pea; harvested peas, beans, corn; and thinned radishes.  Their cucumbers are kind of at the end of the season, but I found enough to pick to make seven quarts of refrigerator garlic dill pickles. 

This recipe is based on Garlic Dill Pickles from Marisa's blog Food in Jars.  I did change the recipe up a bit.  The origonal recipe uses dried spices.  I had access to fresh, so everything but the black peppercorns are straight from the garden.  I also sliced the cucumbers into spears rather than fat coins.  I liked the coins just fine and they are much more forgiving because the length and width of the cucumbers doesn't matter.  However, Jeff likes spears.  Actually he likes the whole little pickles even better, but I couldn't fill seven pints with just whole baby cucumbers.  I did manage one jar of whole ones just for him, but the other six are spears.   also used quart jars rather than pints because they are more space efficient in the refrigerator. 


The pickles are excellent.  They have a nice salty cider vinegar brine with some spice from the jalapeno and black pepper as well as the richness offered by the fresh garlic and dill.  Plus they only took two hours to make start to finish. That includes all the time for me to scrub the cucumbers and take lots of pictures.  The only thing I'll change up next year is to double the jalapeno.  I'll go for a whole one rather than a half.  I like a little more spice. 

These pickles are crisp.  This is why refrigerator pickles are better than hot water bath pickles.  They don't get soggy from seven minutes at a boil.  Sure they take up some extra space in the fridge, but they are worth it.  They are the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches like the BLTs, Mushroom Burgers or hearty soups like Yellow Split Pea.  I even got the ultimate complement when Jeff said they taste like his grandma's pickles!

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles

Makes approximately 4 quarts (or 8 pints - total yield varies depending on size of cucumbers)

4 overflowing quarts of pickling cucumbers, sliced into fat coins or spears or use whole little baby ones
4 cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
5 tablespoons pickling salt
16 garlic cloves, peeled (5 per quart jar)
4 jalapenos (1 per quart jar)
8 heads of dill that have just finished flowering but haven't set seed (2 per quart jar)
4 teaspoons black peppercorns (1 teaspoon per jar)

  1. Start by preparing your jars.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends "sterilizing empty jars, by putting them right side up on the rack in a boiling-water canner. Fill the canner and jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft. elevation."
     
  2. Wash and slice the cucumbers into which ever shape you wish.  A quick tip when cutting spears, if the center of the cucumber has lots of seeds you can trim the seedy part out.  Here's how I did the spears:
     
  3.  
  4. Arrange jars on counter and dole out the spices (garlic, dill, black peppers and jalepeno) into each. Pack the cucumbers firmly into the jars. You don’t want to damage the cukes, but you do want them packed tight. (The first time I made pickles I failed to do this and wound up with not enough brine and fewer pickles than I would have liked.)
     
  5. Make the brine by combining the cider vinegar, water and salt in a large sauce pot. Bring to a simmer.  Immediately after the brine comes to a simmer pour into the pickles jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.  It is important to not let the brine simmer very long because the evaporation will change your ratios and make the liquid extra vinegary and salty. 
     
  6. Wipe the rims with a clean towel and apply lids and rings.  You could also use the zinc reusable freezer jar lids.  Let the jars cool to room temperature, label them and then put them in the fridge. 
     
  7. Wait until at least overnight before you try them.  The flavors will become stronger as the pickles sit.  These will keep for at least a year. 
Thanks Sarah for letting me taste your pickles and giving me the link to Food in Jars.  This recipe is a keeper!

9.02.2011

Making a Meal Out of Salsa - Vegetarian Recipe


This time of year I love fresh salsa.  When I went up to the boarder of Canada and Minnesota to visit my sister in July, she made the most delicious salsa. This salsa was more filling than tomatoes, onion and peppers; it also had sweet corn, hearty black beans and creamy avocado. She was gracious enough to write the recipe down for me, which I than promptly lost. 

Last night at six o'clock it was still 90 degrees in the kitchen so instead of turning on the oven or stove I got out the cutting board and made this delicious meal. It's pretty darn close to what my sister made.  I adlibbed a bit.  I think she had even more tomatoes. 

Make a Meal out of it Salsa
8 fresh tomatoes
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed (or 2 cups of rehydrated dried beans)
2 avocados
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen)
1 onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno
1 cup of cilantro leaves
1 lime's worth of juice
The short version of the recipe would be chop everything and put it in a bowl.  However, there are some parts that could use a little more finesse than that.  So here's the long version of the directions:
  1. Start by getting out a really big bowl and spoon.  I used our biggest mixing bowl.  This will make your life easier as there are a lot of ingredients to mix and you'll need the room.  Then get out your largest cutting board for the same reason.

  2. Dice the onion and then taste it.  If it is really peppery throw it in a colander and rinse it with cool water.  You'll be surprised how much of the bite will be taken out.   Allow the onions to drip for a while before adding them to the big bowl. 
     
  3. Next dice up the tomatoes.  Put the diced tomatoes into a colander and toss with a little bit of salt (1/2 teaspoon or so) this will help drain off the extra juice so you don't have sloppy salsa.  No one wants to dip their chips into the liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl.  I like to drink the juice. It's delicious. 

  4. Before you mince it, taste your jalapeno.  If it is really hot, take the seeds out. If it is not spicy enough keep the seeds.  (At the end you can always add some powdered cayenne pepper to heat up the spiciness to your taste.)  Mince the garlic and jalapeno and add it to the bowl along with the beans and corn.  Toss as your ingredients so the flavors start to meld together.
      
  5. Clean the cilantro by taking the leaves off the stem and removing any wilted or yellow bits. Rough chop the leaves and add them to the bowl.
     
  6. Add the drained tomatoes.  The last step is to dice the avocado and add it in with the lime juice.  You want to add the avocado last because it's soft.  Give the mixture one last gentle mix to combine everything and you are ready to serve!
This makes tons which is great for a party or be like us and make it into a meal.  All I added was some Baked Tostitos Scoops.  This is not a paid advertisement. Tostitos has no idea who I am.  I just like having a high ratio of salsa to chip and the Scoops make that possible.  And I liked that they are baked. 


This salsa is even better the next day!  I'm not sure about the day after that, as it didn't last more than two days. 

Jeff and I both thought it would also be good as a pasta salad.  Simply toss some whole wheat rotini in there and skip the tortilla chips.  Of course that would involve boiling water on the stove so perhaps I'll save that for a cooler evening.