Food in Season

eating locally all year long

Out of season – In season – Grape Jelly

Isaiah 62:9  but those who harvest it will eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary

Eating in season is best. Perseving during the season is still great though. With perserving you can eat locally all year long! Last year I picked grapes and made grape jelly for the first time. It was a long process and very time consuming. Cleaning the grapes and picking them from the stems was not that fun! Well just last week a great friend gave me a jar of frozen grape juice. And not just any grape juice. Grape juice made from the grapes grown at the Harmony Museum in Harmony, PA! So what is better than in season grapes? Preserved local grape juice; because I did not have to wash, destem, and cook those grapes!!! Since this was already frozen I couldnt freeze the left overs. I had enough to make 8 half pints of jelly and some grape pudding. What is grape pudding you ask. Well read on!

 

Grape Pudding

1 3/4 cups of unsweetened grape juice
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of sugar
3 Tbs of cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a pan and cook until thickened. This has a very unique taste. Audrey loved it!

 

Now on to what you really came to read about, grape jelly! There are so many recipes for grape jelly. Each book I have has a different on. Each website has their own version. I decided to stick to the simplest version.

Grape Jelly

5 1/2 cups of fresh, local, unsweetened grape juice
(I will post this fall on how to get juice from grapes)
3 1/2 cups of sugar
1 box of low/no sugar pectin

 

Combine the grape juice and 3 1/4 cups sugar in a large pot. In a seperate bowl mix box of pectin with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  Heat over medium until it comes to a boil that cannot be stopped when stirred. Add pectin mixture and boil 2 minutes (no longer). Quickly ladle hot jelly into sterilized jars. Wipe rims and put on lids. Process 5 minutes (for my altitude 10 minutes) in a water bath canner. This makes 8 half pints of (the most delicious) jelly. This is a very soft set jelly due to the fact there is not alot of sugar in the recipe. It is almost watery until it completely cools and sets. Don’t worry.

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Pressure Canning Dried Beans

Ezekial 4:9 Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself…

Canning dry beans can seem like a real pain. The rinsing, sorting, soaking overnight, changing the water. There’s the “quick cook” method – boil for 2 minutes, soak in the hot boil water for 1 hour, drain, fresh water, bring back to a boil – what a pain! I do not have time to bother with all of that!

So here’s the super easy way to do it!

Fill your pressure canner up to the correct line with warm water and put it on the burner to start the heating process. In a seperate pot boil some water. I fill up my big spaghetti pot.

Rinse and sort the beans. Put 1/2 to 2/3 cup of rinsed sorted beans in each pint jar, producing an approximate yield of 4 to 5 pint jars from each pound weight of dry beans. Pour in boiling water to 1/2 inch of the top (just about where the screw threads start).

Cap your jars and process at 10 pounds of pressure (or my altitude, over 1000 feet, 15 pounds) for 75 minutes. Follow the usual steps for pressure reduction and cooling as specified in your pressure canner user manual.

There you go! Between four and 10 pint jars of pressure canned/cooked beans in about 90 minutes, more or less, ready and waiting for you to deploy them in all sorts of interesting manners.

The cost savings is phenominal! A can of beans is $1.00 or more.  A can of home canned beans is under .50 cents!

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Garden Envy – I need more space!

Psalm 104:14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth:

Oh how I wish I had room to grow more things! I visited a greenhouse this weekend, and they have so many things I want to get. I want to grow herbs, green beans, sweet peppers, tomatoes, berries, potatoes, kale, lettuce, eggplants, squash… And so much more! They have beautiful plants there and the prices are amazing. I have a small bed to plant in and a few containers, but I wish I could do so much more. Maybe some day I will have the yard space to plant. So my real list for the year is this. Tomatos and green peppers and green beans in my small bed. Herbs, banana peppers, cubenelle peppers, and garlic in containers. If my containers go well this year I will get some more for next. I guess I will just have to save the squash and other things to buy at the farmer’s market.
As for herbs, I have more of them. I am growing parsley, chives, cinnamon basil, mint, and stevia. I can’t wait until I can get these things off my kitchen table into my garden!

Is anyone else growing something this year?

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Homemade Laundry Soap

Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

I made homemade laundry soap in powdered form last year and I did not like it. I used up to triple the recommended amount and still my clothes were not clean looking. So I gave up on it for a while. Well a few weeks ago I was cleaning out my cabinets and I came across the supplies I had left from when I made the powdered soap. After speaking with some internet friends they convinced me to try the liquid. I am so glad they did. This recipes is floating everywhere around the internet. From my understanding it became popular when the Duggar’s said on TV this is what they did.

Homemade Laundry Soap – Liquid
Makes 10 gallons

4  Cups – hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (Not Baking Soda)
½ Cup Borax

 

First you have to buy the supplies. I found them at Walmart. They were all together in the laundry aisle on the very bottom shelf. The total cost was about $7 for all three ingredients.

Step One – Grate the soap. Alot of people said this is the most annoying step so I chopped the soap instead. It took forever to melt. Next time I will chop it, then run it through my food processor.

Step Two – Melt the soap with 4 cups of hot water on the stove.

Step Three – Put 1 cup Washing Soda and 1/2 cup Borax in a 5 gallon bucket. Fill the bucket half full with HOT water. Mix well. Add the melted soap. Mix. Fill the bucket the rest of the way with hot water. Mix some more. It’s ok if your soap isnt gelled yet. It will be in the morning when cool. It will be like gel floating in water.

This 5 gallon bucket is considered undileted. You will dilute is 1:1 with water. You can either poor half the mixture into another 5 gallon bucket and add water to both or you can fill old containers half with soap mixture half with water. Or you can do what I did and fill one old detergent container half with soap half with water and leave the rest in the bucket. When the container is empty i will fill it again.

 

Review:  I use it often. My first test was when I washed my guinea pigs bedding (I use fleece and towels for part of their cage) I was highly impressed. It got most of the staining out and ALL of the smell out. I normally wash my guinea pig’s bedding with bleach. I didnt for this test just to see. I was impressed. It doesnt get your whites as white as you might be used to because most commercial laundry detergent have enzymes and brighteners. It doesn’t get spaghetti sauce out well (but then again neither does the Aldi brand I have). Clothes come out of the dryer with no odor – that is good.  The best part of all is the cost $7 for the initial supply and after your first 10 gallons run out it only cost $1 to get a bar of soap until the other things run out. The other things wont run out for a long time.

 

 

 

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First Attempt at Cheesemaking – Lemon Cheese

2 Samuel 17:28b-29a They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat.

A friend challenged me once to make cheese and although I was interested I procrastinated. Well, I finally did it I attempted cheese. I came across this cheese recipe that required no special equiment. Lemon cheese is a rich and delicious soft cheese reminiscient of ricotta. It was fun and easy to make and has led me into trying to make more varieties of cheese. I used this cheese to make a stuffed pepper appetizer and salami pizza. It was outstanding.

LEMON CHEESE
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 gallon Whole Milk (2% will work, but produce a drier cheese)
  • Juice of 2-3 Lemons, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • Approx. 1/2 tsp. Cheese Salt (any salt will do)
  • Finely chopped Herbs, such as chives, oregano, or lavender (optional)
Instructions

In a large pot over medium-low heat, gently bring the milk to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to stir frequently to keep from scalding the milk.

Turn off the heat. Add about 1/4 cup of lemon juice and stir well. Let sit for 15 minutes.

After waiting, the milk should be curdled, and the whey (the liquid) should be clear. If it’s still milky/cloudy, add more lemon juice, stir gently, and give it a few more minutes. Depending on the acidity of the lemon juice, it may take quite a bit more. It won’t hurt to use more, but if you use more than necessary, the final result will have a stronger lemon flavor.

Line a colander with butter muslin or cheese cloth (Do not use the cheese cloth you get from Walmart. It needs to be a good cheesecloth) and gently pour the curds into it. Allow it to drain for a few minutes, and then tie the corners of the muslin together to form a bag.

Hang the curds to drain. I use a ponytail holder to hook the bag onto the kitchen faucet.

Allow to drain for 1-2 hours, until it stops dripping and has firmed up a bit. (If you’re in a hurry you can speed the process somewhat by squeezing the bag gently from the top down). They key is gently if you squeeze too much out your cheese will be dry.

Remove the cheese and mix in the salt and herbs to taste. I only used a small amount of salt.

The cheese can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 
This recipe can be easliy double. Cheesemaking supplies can be purchased from www.cheesemaking.com (Butter muslin, thermometer, kits, etc…)
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Local Spotlight – McCormack Apiaries

Proverbs 24:13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good;  honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

There are so many apiaries near my home. I did not know the bee business was so big in Aliquippa! Today I will tell you about the most common local honey producer I know of in the area.

McCormack Apiaries, Inc.
115 Reeseman Dr.
Aliquippa, PA 15001
724-495–6310

This was the first local honey I bought. They are at all area farmer’s markets. They sell honey in muliple sizes, honeybomb, beeswax, and bee pollen. The nice thing about this local honey is that it is sold in many stores. You dont have to go anywhere special to get it! I think most Giant Eagles carry it. Bilo (in Zelie) carries it, and I have seen it at a few other stores. They have 2 varieties.  The traditional yellow honey (sold in stores) made from pollen from PA wildflowers in the spring and early summer; and red honey (sold at farmer’s markets) made from Japanese knotweed which grows along rivers and highways of Beaver County. I called them a few weeks ago and found out their honey is considered raw honey. Local raw honey is supposed to be good for seasonal allergies.

McCormack Apiaries was established in 1977. It is a family owned and operated local business. They are inspected and certified by the PA Dept. of Agriculture. Honey should not be fed to infants under one year of age.

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Pear Cinnamon Jam

Zechariah 8:12a The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew…
This weekend I went and visited my CSA farm and since a local farm market is right around the corner I decided to stop. They had a whole bin of discounted fruits and vegetables. I got 2 packs of 5 pears for  .50 each!

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I got home and ate one and OH MY it was delicious. Then the canning bug bit me, and I decided to make some jam. I had read a recipe a while back for pear cinnamon jam. I decided to make it.

Pear Cinnamon Jam

8 cups of cored chopped pears
4 cups of sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice (half a lemon)
1 Tbs cinnamon

I found that each pear yielded about 1 cups of fruit. So I quartered each pear. Cut out the core and chopped – you do not need to peel the pears. I added the chopped pears and 4 cups of sugar to a pan.Image

 

Now you just cook on medium and stir the pears until they can be easily smashed by the back of a wooden spoon. Then you use a potato masher to mash them until they are a mostly smooth sauce.

 

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My daughter loves to help me cook! When they are mashed into the “sauce” add you lemon juice and cinnamon and let cook. Cook until the jam looks thick and passes the plate test. This will fill 6 half pint jars. Process according in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

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Easy Bread Recipe

Matthew 6:11 Give us today our daily bread.

I found a recipe for no knead bread in 5 minutes a day. This is my favorite bread to make. Everyone loves it and it is very easy. You can double or triple the recipe and keep the dough in your fridge until you are ready to make a loaf.


Easy No-Knead Bread (Bread in a Pot)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. I normally start mine before bed and it is ready the next day after work when I am getting ready to make dinner.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. I use cast iron. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

A note to remember. Wheat bread will not rise as much as white bread, and the finished product will be much more dense. You can search many good youtube videos on making this bread.

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Composting

I Corinthians 10:26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.

When I was growing up we had a compost pile in the backyard. I remember carrying the dinner scraps back there after supper occasionally.  Well, now as a renter in a townhouse, I do not have the ability to have a compost pile. After a year of being tired of throwing away things that could be composted I decided to find a way to start a compost bin. After some searching I discovered you can use a trash can to make a compost bin. I decided to do this. I went to Lowe’s and bought the least expensive trash can they had. I Drilled holes in the bottom, sides, and top of the trash can. (I probably could have used a bigger drill bit, but I didn’t have one available so I drilled ALOT of holes) See how tiny they are. I then set the trash can on some old bricks for air circulation, and I put a bungee cord over the top. Why the bungee cord? Well two reasons – first of all it is not a pretty sight to chase a trash can that has been blown by the wind with weeks worth of decomposing material inside; second, you will need to roll this around in the yard occasionally to mix it up. So how did I start collecting the compost? Well compost needs green materials (nitrogen) and brown materials (carbon). You need between 25-50% browns and 50-75% greens. So I started with my kitchen scraps which is what had me wanting to compost in the first place. Tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, veggie scraps, fruit peels, and  juicing pulp are all things that can be composted. You will not want to compost dairy, bread, or meat. For brown matter I collect old leaves, dried grass clippings (fresh clippings are considered green material), sticks, and hay from my guinea pigs. I started this bin at the end of February and to my surprise it is already turning into dirt!  I have rolled it around in my yard about every other week. “Doesn’t it stink?” some people ask. The answer is NO. It smells like dirt! Really, it does! If you create a compost bin and it smells like garbage you do not have enough brown material. If you compost bin is doing nothing – not decomposing – you need more green material. Also compost has to be kept damp. In the spring here in western PA we do not have a problem with damp; but in the summer you may need to add a little water. I actually add water kefir I don’t  finish; it has beneficial bacteria to aid in composting. (What is water kefir you wonder. Well follow my blog and you will see a post on it soon) Since this is my first time making and using a trash can as a composter I don’t have all the answers yet. But mine is working. I have also been asked will you have to sift through all the non decomposed material to get to the compost. Well I am not 100% sure on this but I imagine 2 things will happen. First, it is only a thirty gallon trash can and mine is half full. I imagine by the end of summer it will be completely full and I will let the whole thing turn to compost over the fall and winter and it will be ready for using next spring. Or if it is not full come winter it will freeze and in the spring I will push aside the small amount I added in the winter. I will definitely post an update in this as the year progresses.

One last thing. If you live in the area, the city of SEWICKLEY offers free compost (made from leaves) from May-July. I know their website says 2010, but I called them and it is available this year – 2012. Thanks to some friends in church for letting me know about this.

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Procrastination gets you no where fast!

Proverbs 20:4 Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

I have procrastinated so bad on documenting my kitchen adventures! Even if I would have started in January I would have so many more things on record. I received a pressure canner in january and it has been put to good use already many times. I won a few contests for the “Urban Farm Challenge” I am in. I went to a local festival and got fresh maple syrup and stone ground local grains. I learned how to make no knead “5 minute” bread. I learned how to make a sourdough starter and make fluffy, healthy bread with no yeast. I learned how to make cheese (Yes cheese!). I learned how to make yogurt and yogurt cheese. I made from scratch pasta. I made my first pasta sauce from canned tomatoes from last summer. I canned pinto beans, black beans, ham and bean soup, beef broth, chicken stock, ham broth, zuppa tuscana, corn chowder, and chili. I created a compost bin from a trash can. I started my seeds for my garden this summer. So I wish I hadn’t been lazy, and started this blog many months ago. However, I can’t change time. So, I may bring up some of those past items and blog about them. I am hoping to post some recipes using the things I canned.  Here is an example my newest creation I made this last week and it was delicious! Sorry the pictures arent the best; I wasn’t thinking blog when I took them.

Rainbow Beans

1 pint jar pinto beans
1 pint jar ham broth
1 pint jar corn (or 1 can or equivelent frozen)
1 red pepper (or orange – or some of each)
3-4 green onions

Empty the contents of the ham broth, pinto beans (drained), and corn (drained) into a pan. Bring to a boil. Add red peppers and green onions. Season to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until broth gets thicker and peppers are tender. My two year old like this also. It had a bit of a southwestern fair to it. In the future I would like to get some of those  blue fingerling potatoes and truly have rainbow beans (red pepper, orange pepper, yellow corn, green onion, blue potato)Canned corn is in the picture, but I used frozen corn from last summer. It was the last of my summer corn so I had to put the can in the picture – that’s why its hiding!

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