Experiments-R-Us

October 25, 2018

Salsa, happily fermenting away.

Well, it wouldn’t be me in the kitchen if I didn’t take out occasionally on a tangent and try something I’ve never made before.

We’re still getting good tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market, which means I am still buying tomatoes. I am, in fact, buying too many tomatoes. Which meant the other day I had to do something with them.

So, I made salsa. Now, I have never made salsa. There are a bajillion recipes out there, but did I go with one of those? I did not. I did what I generally do, and ad-libbed. 

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Pizza heaven, right here. Roasted tomato garlic sauce.

One more go at tomato sauce today, and we’ll can it all tomorrow. Meanwhile, I can sleep peacefully tonight, knowing that not only my house, but all of Jonesboro, Craighead County, and indeed, all the environs of Northeast Arkansas are safe from vampires.

Because we have cooked up a quart and a half of roasted tomato-garlic sauce, which really ought to be called tomato-onion-garlic-herb sauce, today, and the vampire ain’t been made that will approach these premises for the foreseeable future. But we will have some good pizzas and spaghetti gravy this winter, yes, we will.

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Tomato time in Arkansas

August 17, 2018

NOTE: This was written last night, but not posted, because the computer was being recalcitrant and refused to upload photos, and I didn’t have the energy to screw with it. So pretend it’s yesterday. Or, no, wait; don’t. Because, Friday.

First canner’s worth of tomato relish and juice.

Because, well, I couldn’t let a summer go by without a tomatothon.

And, damn, I’d forgotten how much work it is to put up 25 pounds of tomatoes. But we have tomato relish, tomato sauce, and tomato juice, yes, we do.

I nearly went into a panic a couple of weeks ago because I went looking for a jar of tomato relish to go with the purple hulled peas for Sunday dinner, and I couldn’t find one. Further excavation proved there were two or three jars left, and folks, two or three jars is not going to get me through a winter. Another 15 jars may, and that’s about how many I have simmering on the stove right now. I will have to dredge out more jars and wash them.  Plus about half a dozen or so half-pints of tomato sauce, plus about two quarts of tomato juice.

All that out of 25 pounds of tomatoes, for which I paid 20 bucks at the veggie stand. They were canning tomatoes, which means they’re smaller than the premiums. Which also means they take twice as long to peel. On the flip side, peels generate tomato sauce, so that’s a Good Thing.

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A basket of goodness

August 14, 2018

Jams and preserves…

…and pickles and such.

Phone rings t’other day. It’s someone asking me if I’ll donate a door prize again this year to the state economic development conference.

Well, yeah, I guess. What’d I donate last year?

A basket of preserves and jams and jellies.

Well, all righty, then. I can do that again.

I got the idea from a friend who makes homemade wine, and donates a couple of bottles as door prizes, If he can do it, I think, I can do it.

I don’t remember what all I put in last year’s. This year, I think it’s going to be pickles, chutneys, jams and preserves. I have pear preserves, apple butter, fig jam and blackberry jam already made. I have kosher dills, sweet hot chips, sweets, and bread and butter pickles. That ought to make up a nice basket, don’t’cha think?

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Um. Hello?

August 11, 2018

Birthday hi-jinks on the beach, where AGC2 is not too scared of the shark.

Yeah. It’s been a month.

Shortly after I left y’all I left home for a week of vacay on the beach with half my family (the other half couldn’t come because Child B has gone and gotten herself gainfully employed, and thus could not take time off.  And we missed her and AGCs 1 and 3, indeed we did.

But we had a large time on the beach, ate much seafood, celebrated AGC 2’s sixth birthday, shopped, and soaked up sun. And then we came home and I set about catching up from being gone on vacation, and flew into a flurry of puttin’ up, to make up for not puttin’ up before I left, and generally scurrying about like the proverbial beheaded chicken. AGCs are starting school (and Child C may be going into the nearest mental hospital, because she Is Not Dealing well with her baby boy starting kindergarten, and I’ve been car-shopping and house-shopping as well as general, well, work stuff.

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Puttin’ up…or not

July 11, 2018

Pickles. Got to have pickles.

Here it is the middle of July and I haven’t been putting up much.

By this time last year, I’d frozen peas and corn and peaches, canned pickles, kraut, blackberry jam, blueberry sauce, and was starting to put up tomatoes.

This year, I’ve done no corn, only two or three packages of peas, and no kraut, jams or jellies. I’ve made pickles, and I’m drying tomatoes, and so far, that’s about it.

Truth be told, I overdid it last year. I still have tomatoes (I will can some, but not nearly as many as I did last year). I have plenty of jams and jellies, and I’ll be adding to that stash this fall when scuppernongs ripen and when pears come in. I still have corn, and I still have peas; again, I may put up a little, but not as much as last year. And I’ll freeze some peaches. I’d like to make a big batch of blue-Q blueberry barbecue sauce and can that.  And we’ll call it done.

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Pickling things

March 19, 2018

Not to mention they’re quite colorful sitting on your kitchen counter.

When it’s cold and nasty outside, and you have a surfeit of produce in your fridge that needs to be used, and you’re in the notion to spend a day in the kitchen anyway, you might as well set out and pickle things.

So, I have Indian spiced cauliflower, Brussels sprouts kimchee, and Russian spiced red cabbage/cranberry sauerkraut.  I was going to do orange ginger carrots, but I ran out of energy and time and didn’t have everything I needed, anyway. All these will ferment on my kitchen counter for a week or so, and then go into the fridge to be sampled along as I have a notion.

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Ain’t this just ducky?

February 12, 2018

Ready to go swim in the sous vide, as they are doing now.

We have had adventures in duck-dom at Chez Brockwell over the weekend and extending into today.

I picked up a cooler of frozen ducks on Wednesday from a duck hunter friend I’d told I wanted some. He had them. I stopped and got them. There were two mallards, and five smaller ducks, probably either teal or wood ducks.

I left them in their cooler in the storage room to thaw, as I wasn’t going to fool with them until Friday or Saturday. As Friday was sloth day, and I fooled with nothing other than the computer and the TV remote and my Kindle and the fridge, it was by default Saturday.

Got the ducks out. Whole ducks, wings cut off, dressed, most of the feathers off. Lots of pin feathers. H’mm. Been a long time since I needed to part a duck from his pinfeathers. Off to the Interwebs.

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Not making these, but I thought the pic was cute.

It’s that time. It’s time to contemplate Christmas treatmaking. More to the point, it’s time to go shopping for the goodies with which to make the Christmas treats. And then package them up, arrange them in nice little boxes or baskets, and get them ready to give out in the next 10 days.

Gulp. Ten days. That’s…not long. Thank God I’ve got most of my other shopping done.

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Oh, look! It’s a new gadget! And pickles-to-be!

It’s bad enough to have those folks over at the eGullet.org food forum encouraging my purchases of kitchen related gadgetry and cookbooks and such (not to mention specialty ingredients…). Now the damn produce at the grocery store has commenced enabling me to make purchases of culinary widgetry I did not know I needed.

Witness these. These pretty little lids are, in fact, fermenting lids; they’re designed to let you brine your veggies in the jar until the lactic acid sours them to your taste, all the while allowing built-up carbon dioxide to escape while keeping impurities and such out. Once your veggies are fermented to suit, you change out for a regular lid, clap the jar in the fridge to stop the fermentation process, or water-bath can it to make it shelf stable.

And it was the damn cucumbers that made me do it.

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