Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Preserving: Oven Roasted Bell Pepper

Now to preserve those wonderful bell peppers that are so bountiful during the summer heat. So here is how I oven roast my bell peppers, first remove the core and dump all the seeds out.

Them cut the peppers into either halves or quarters.

Place the peppers skin up on a large cookie sheet, arranging to fit as many as possible.

Now move the oven rack to the highest level, and turn the broiler on high. Place the peppers on the rack.

Now, this is when the house starts to smell like roasting peppers, which is very nice. The time depends on your oven, so check on the peppers every five minutes or so. You want the pepper skin to be black and blistered. The skin will bubble up due to the extreme heat.

When the skinned is roasted, remove the rack from the oven. Allow the peppers to cool before handling. Once cool, remove the pepper's skin. This process is fairly easy, the skin has for the most part separated and will come off with ease. 

 Then lay the peppers out on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Then after 24 hours, remove the tray and place the peppers into a freezer bag and back into the freezer.

Then when your ready to use the peppers, grab the amount you need and dice up. Then you can throw them into a soup or into a skillet to prepare for you meal. This evening, I made tacos. Frozen peppers with chopped and added to my onions to cool. The peppers turned out great. Hopefully this has shown that preserving doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask away.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preserving: Blanching and Freezing Corn

Trying to eat local during the late fall and winter months can be tough, especially when the last of the tomatoes, green beans and corn slowly come to a halt. But you can enjoy a menu of local corn with an easy process call blanching and freezing. Blanching is when you cook a produce such as corn, broccoli, green beans and greens in boiling water, then stop the cooking process by putting directly into freezing water.  Then the veggie is bagged and popped into the freezer. See below for some easy steps and tips.

Above is the local farmers' market corn on the cob with the husk removed and rinsed, lovely right.

Boil a large pot of water. To speed up this process, put a lid on the pot. Then once boiling put the veggies in, for corn let it cook for 7-8 minutes. There are great web sites that will provide blanching time for each vegetable.

Then from the hot bath to the cold bath. This stops the cooking process. I add ice the bowl to make the water good and cold.

Once the cob is cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut the corn off the cob.

Then you put the corn into a freezer bag and pop it into the freezer, until you need it another day.

Tip 1: To get a close to vacuum seal, try this. Get a straw, with the bag full seal the bag with the straw in the opening. Then using your mouth to suck the air out of the bag. Then while still sucking the air out, slip the straw out and seal the rest of the way.

Tip 2: During another corn freezing day, I had a great idea. Recipes vary for the amount of corn needed, right? So I had some small "snack" ziplock bags and it hit me... Put one cob of corn into each snack bag then place three to four of those bags into a quart size bag and freeze.

If you have any tips, please leave a comment below. I love to learn from others.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Fairy Tale Past 3 Weekends.....

 Better late then, never. Busy trying to play catch-up.

Someone is turning 3!!!!

Homemade Cookie Cake, it was yummy

Tongue sticking out concentration!! hee hee

Trip the park

Ice cream Man delight

Even Sissy enjoyed the rare treat!

She loves her new bday umbrella, even with no rain.

Festive Pumpkin photo

Degutting the pumpkins
Getting to crave on her own!!!

Getting her paint on!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Productive Sunday

Since during the week, I'm busy with working, making dinner, taking care of animals, and occasional laundry. The weekend is when I really rock n roll in the kitchen. It is amazing what a girl can get done in one day.....

So this past Sunday, I got the following complete:

The night before, I soaked 1 and a half pounds of dry black beans in the crock pot over night. In the morning, I filled the crockpot up to just below the rim. Put the lid on and turned it onto low. They will cook for about 6 hours. Once they finished cooking I turn off the crock pot and let them cool some. Then using freezer bags, I fill them with 10 ounces of black beans. Leaving the bag open, let them cool to room temperature. Seal the bag and pop them into the freezer. 1 and a half pounds made 5 bags.

cooking black beans

Checked on lil bit and she was busy searching for the missing mitten.....

Back in the kitchen, using my bread machine, I made to batches of pizza dough. Each batch takes 1.5 hours. Once done, I knead the dough on a floured surface, than wrap in plastic wrap. Then pop into a gallon freezer bag and into the freezer it goes. Then repeat with the second batch. Now I have pizza dough that will last two weeks, Friday night pizza!!

Pizza dough mixing

From the farmers' market I bought 8lbs of beef and 2lbs of sausage, most of the beef was popped into the freezer for later meals. I thawed 2 pounds of beef and 1 pound of sausage. Then made a big batch of meatballs. With meatballs rolled and placed on the cookie sheet, pop into the oven for 10 minutes, then pull out and let cool. Once the meatballs have cooled, place on another cookie sheet and place in the freezer. I freeze them like I do berries, separate so they don't become one monster mush meatball. Leave them overnight then transfer to gallon freezer bag. 


While making the meatballs, I was oven roasting bell peppers, tomatoes and onions to make roasted pepper spread. 

Roasted peppers, tomatoes and onio
Blueberry snack time turned into a cute mini photo shoot...she is too cute for words, most of the time.

Roasted pepper spread continued on to simmer, blended and canned for a fall and winter treat.

Canned roasted pepper spread

While the roasted red pepper spread simmered I made and baked two loaves of summer squash bread. One for now and one went into the freezer for this winter.

It was a busy, but not to busy day and at the end of the day I got a lot completed. Not bad for a working mom. Next weekend I foresee making granola, squash muffins and who knows what else. 

a little sass

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Fairy Tale Weekend

Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Ice Cream on a summer night

Clapping for sissy catching fireflies

Catching Fireflies

A glowing jar of fireflies

Deck Pool Time

Getting Toes!!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Do We Care For It?

So I was watching the movie “Dive”, a great documentary about food waste in America. And then, they asked a question, “Do we value the Earth? Do we value all it produces?....Do we care for it?... Has it become another product for us to consume? “  (why would people waste so much? Because we don’t value the Earth and the products it produces)

And with that question sitting on my mind, I headed out to the garden to peddle. As I cleaned and pulled weeds out of my raised bed, and tried to knock as much dirt back to the ground, the question still lingered. Do we value the Earth?

i have mixed feelings about this question, but I know that I value it and I'm teaching my kids that they should too. And this all didn't happen over night, its been since the birth of my daughter in 2010. In my late thirties, I see what we have done and what we need to start doing to fix it. So here are some things that I value and do because I value the Earth.

First, I take extreme pride that we only need to take out trash out to the curb usually once a month and it’s not always full. But my recycling, which is picked up every other week is piled to overflowing and never missed. Knowing that this example I set will instill that my children grow up as waste reducing recycling adults. I've had discussions with my sister over recycling why I do it and why she does not. As she tells me that her kids know that they should, this quote always renders in my head, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” My kids will recycle because we are teaching them why and because they see us doing it. My two year old is learning about trash, recycling and composting just from having to throw something away.

Secondly, gardening!! Now my little one loves the garden. Upon her first escape, able to open doors, went outside and headed towards the garden. I think it is part of her soul. She has watched the plants grow from seeds inside, watered my plants on the deck, picked strawberries and will soon pick ripe goodness from our garden. Next year, I hope to include her a lot more and plant that seed in her, passing on all my knowledge.

This year I'm keeping track of everything I pick from my garden, so that at the end of the season I can see how many pounds of food I grew. I'm hoping that this year will be my best year ever and I have plans to increase my garden by one raised bed, asparagus is in my future.

Green beans in my garden

Beetles fighting for the love of a lady. 
Three, Preserving. During spring through fall, I spend many hours in a hot kitchen preserving produce to last into the fall and winter, as we wait for growing season. It typically starts with the berries, first strawberry followed by blueberries and then black and raspberries. 
Blackberries growing in my front yard landscape.
Then the tomatoes and peaches will ripen. And there will be a packed pantry filled with jars of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pizza sauce, ketchup and salsa. Tomatoes will be oven roasted and frozen, adding the pop of sweetness to my homemade pizza. 
Roma tomatoes
Peaches will make wonderful jam and I may try freezing them this year. Greenbeans and bell peppers then as summer switches to fall the greens, broccoli, apples and pears. I can tell when spring is coming because the stacks of jars are no longer filled, but empty and waiting.

Cucumbers that will become pickles.

Fourth, going to the Farmer’s Market. It is a true love, to see what produce is new for the week. Planning meals of the bounty and knowing all the food is from down the street. I've recently started walking up to the market, fifteen minutes there and back is also good for me.

Here is one of my bundles from the farmers market.

Spring, summer and fall means that windows are open as much as possible, until the high heat days in summer. The house gets the winter stink blown off with every breeze. And the clothes hang from lines dancing in the sun’s heat and slight breeze. I love nothing more that fresh sheets off the line, draped on my bed.

Clothes on the line.
Upon the arrival for our, my first, child, my husband and I discussed and decided pretty early on to use cloth diapers. Our reasons for making this choice, was for the money it would save us and for environmental reasons. Every diaper ever made including the ones I wore are still rotting in the landfill. We first started off using plastic covers and pins, but I soon discovered a new modern take on cloth diapering. There are wonderful things called Snappies, which replaces the need for pins, so you will never stick your child. 

Cloth covers with interchangeable inserts, wet bags, adjustable covers and cloth diaper services. Now we have a cloth diaper serve in my town, The Diaper Fairy, and the owner is wonderful. Along with her services she also holds regularly class to go over cloth diapering, how to, her company’s services and information for those who want to wash at home. 

We are now deep into potty training, using thick cotton underwear instead of training pull ups. With summer on its way, we use a cloth swimmer pants. So for the cost of less than one package of "swimmer diapers", we have a reusable swimmer diaper. As the diaper fairy says, "If your diapers not cloth, its garbage."

So these are a few things that I do for my family and for this wonderful planet we live on. Hopefully this will inspire you to do a little something to show you value the planet. Our planet needs all of us to care and not consume everything that it offers. We need to find a balance of respect.