Gardening in the Blind

Hot peppers
September 8, 2011, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

Just one of the bowls of hot peppers

I miss this guy I used to work with – Bond.  He was my hot pepper tester.  I also knew that when I had too many, he would be the guy to eat them.  But atlas, I have no Bond this year and the peppers are not stopping.  I can never figure out when a good year is versus a bad one.  I have been forced to be creative with it.  Besides watching my husband’s face when I encourage him to eat a hot pepper ( “They are so small, how bad could it be??”), I have embraced the dehydrator. 

I have made two batches (which is all I can use I think) of mixed hot peppers chopped.  I then put them in the coffee grinder and then put back in the dehydrator.  I now have a seasoning to add to soups during the winter to give it the kick it is often missing.  I think this is going to be my secret weapon for chili this year!  Now to figure out what to do with the two other bowls of hot peppers I have……


Trying something new with herbs
September 6, 2011, 8:37 am
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Herbs

It has been a bumper crop for my herbs this year.  I have dried them in the dehydrator and window, I have cooked with them, I have just ate them, heck I have even fed them to the chickens.  So I decided to try something new.  I am trying my hand at flavored vinegar.  Deron and I eat a  lot of salads.  We make a lot of homemade dressings.  I thought it might be good to have some flavored vinegar that we could just add some olive oil to and whisk.  Here is hoping it is used a lot!

Jars of flavor awaiting vinegar

It is very easy to make the vinegar.  The best part is that you can put whatever you want in it.  I made  most as a combination of whatever I had on hand at the moment. 

Take vinegar (white or cider) and bring to a boil for two minutes and then allow to cool to about 104 degrees F.  Put the herbs in the containers that you wish to use, I just put it in canning jars as that is what I had handy.  Pour the vinegar over it and seal.  Place it in a cool dark place.  It should be ready in about three weeks, but should keep for about 2 years.  Easy, inexpensive gift for the holidays that looks like you spent far more time on it then you really did.

Forgotten Zucchini
September 4, 2011, 8:43 am
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Squash

How did I miss this??

Zucchini has an uncanny ability to hide from sight.  This is why I grow the costa romana zucchini.  It doesn’t get mealy in texture when large.  But I was obviously not doing my job when I found this one!  I took the picture with Deron’s blackberry next to it so you could get an idea of just how big this zucchini was.  I did what any person would do.  I sat down and started grating.  I knew it froze nicely grated.  I like to keep it in packages of 3 cups as that is how much the zucchini bread recipe I use takes. 

After an hour of grating, I was finally finished with task.  I set aside two cups for a zucchini ginger cupcake recipe I found on epicurious, and froze two bags of three cups and one bag of 2 cups.  Wait, I’ll do the math for you.  That made 10 cups grated zucchini from just one.  Guess I need to poke around a bit more from now on!

What to do on a Thursday…
September 2, 2011, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Tomatoes

Taking time to be a kid

This week, Deron chose to take some vacation time.  I decided that I was too burned out to work in the garden for the whole week, so we went to the Worcester Armory Museum.  This was the nicest break from working in the garden.  I have been literally swimming in tomatoes, especially cherry ones (ok not literally, but it feels like it!)  I have made pasta, got tomato tummy every time I work in the garden, oven dried with olive oil and rosemary on top ( ending with tomato tummy again, I really need self-control!) and then decided I still needed to do more as the cherry tomatoes in this war were winning.  I turned to the one place I knew I could count on.  My yahoo canning group.  It is so much more than just canning! 

I ended up filling my whole dehydrator with the cherry tomatoes, running it through the night.  Then I put it through the coffee grinder, which has been doing nothing but tomato skins since the start of the season and added to my tomato powder.  This would be a good time for me to place a memo to myself – easy on the cherry tomatoes next year.  It is insane!