Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Curry Zucchini Pickles
I was handed three large zucchini squash.  Hmmmm.  Knew the seeds would be large and tough and inside a bit pithy.  Would have to figure out how to use the outer parts.  This meant cutting centers out and slicing thin ( 1/8" ish ) rectangle shapes.   The recipe I worked with is in Complete Book of Pickling by Jennifer MacKenzie, page 106 ( Curry Zucchini Pickles ).  My version is a bit different.

20 cups of 1/8" pieces of zucchin
1/4 cup plus a tablespoon pickling salt
2 tsp curry powder ( I blend my own ,  next time I will use 3 tsp as the flavor was milder than I prefer)
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 cup sugar ( I used raw organic )
1/8 tsp cinnamon ( I used Vietnamese )
2 and 3/4 cup cider vinegar ( I used Heinz in the glass jar )
1 and 1/4 cup water ( I used filtered)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1.  Cut up the zucchini.   Leave the skin on.  1/8" thick pieces. Remove the seeds if using larger squash and the pithy center.
2.  In a large non-reactive bowl, ( glass or stainless ) layer zucchini and salt.  Weigh down the zucchini with a plate that covers the entire surface.  Cover with a dish towel and let stand in a cool room for at least three hours.   After that amount of time, remove the plate and check to see if the zucchini has wilted a bit and there should be some juice in the bowl.
3. In a colander , rinse, drain , rinse and drain the zucchini , working in batches.  Lay a dish towel on a cookie sheet .  Put the now drained zucchini on this towel.  Place another towel on top.  Leave this for an hour or at least for a half hour.
4.  Prepare the canner, jars, and lids.  I was able to get seven pints from this amount of zucchini.  This filled the large enamel water bath canner.
5.  In a dry skillet on low to medium heat, toast the curry powder and cumin seeds.  Stir and when you smell the spices come to life, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or plate to cool.
6.  In a large heavy pot on the stove, combine the toasted spices, sugar, cinnamon, vinegar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Boil for a minute.  Add the zucchini and lime juice.  Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes or so til the zucchini looks translucent.  I found that this took about fifteen minutes.
Pack the zucchini in the hot jars.  Leave an inch head space.  Pour in enough hot pickling liquid to get to 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rim .  Place hot lid disc and screw band down til finger tight.
Place jars in canner and bring water to a boil.  Process for ten minutes.  Turn off heat and remove canner lid.  Let jars stand for five minutes in the water bath.  Transfer jars to towel lined surface and leave for twenty four hours.

* I added chopped medium hot chile pepper pieces in the bottom of each jar to add a bit of kick ( I hope ).  Next time I will also add garlic cloves. 

Will make full report in a few months when I open the first jar.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kelly's 2011 canning list

The previous blog post was a compilation of this woman's daughter, Myrtle Buntin Winchester. This lady is Cora Barker Buntin, my paternal great grandmother. I like to think that her canning gene is within me as well. Cora raised twelve children and lived in Tennessee.

I keep a daily farm journal of my gardening , foraging, gathering, and cooking experiences. This has become a gem of information for me as I refer back to each previous year's journal to stay on track of what needs to be accomplished in a particular month and to see where the current year compares. In 2010 , there were three months that were swallowed up in canning of tomato sauces and salsas besides regular daily gardening chores. I regret not even keeping scraps of paper noting how many sauces I canned. There were 150 tomato plants that year and we didn't sell any tomatoes. I canned and dehydrated night and day. In 2011 there were considerably fewer tomato plants and we are still eating sauces from the 2010 marathon. Still delicious. Also from 2010 are many jars of pear butter. I developed three different spiced recipes and that year was a bumper crop of pears. I spent most of that fall canning pears.

Here is my list from 2011. I hope Great Grandmother Cora is pleased with the fruits of my labor. I am sad to say that I never met this lady. She was gone before I was born.

Apricot jam 88 half pints ( two trees in our yard )

Strawberry jam 19 half pints ( I pick these at a farm north of our place )

Peach jam 28 half pints ( these peaches came from southern Missouri and there are more in the freezer to be worked up)

Blackberry jam 7 half pints ( from our canes, more in freezer to work up )
Blackberry jelly 6 jelly jars ( 4oz. )
Blackberry vinegar

Mulberry vinegar ( from our tree )

Gooseberry jam ( from wild gooseberries I pick in our woods ) 4 half pints

Boysenberry jam ( from our canes ) 4 half pints

Elderberry Grape jelly ( from elderberries on our place + grapes from farmer couple in Arkansas ) 8 jelly jars ( 4 oz. , more in freezer to work up )
Pontak sauce 1 recipe
Elderberry shrub ( good medicinal )

Breakfast Pears 36 pints ( from one ancient tree in neighbor's yard)
Pear Mincemeat 13 pints ( an all fruit and spices recipe + rum, cellar it for a year to deepen flavor )

Still have raspberries, red currants, blackberries, peaches, mulberries, and gooseberries in freezer to work up into jams and jellies before spring.

Pickled Greens 7 half pints ( turnip, amaranth, and nettles, separately. The concept for this recipe is a good one but I wasn't thrilled with this particular recipe. Will create my own recipe and try again this year.)

Pickled JalapeƱos 17 pints

Pear and Sweet Onion Chutney 4 pints
Major Grey Pear Chutney 9 pints

Apple Onion ale relish 8 pints

Pepper Onion relish 7 half pints

Cranberry Onion JalapeƱo relish 6 half pints ( didn't care for this recipe at all)

Smokey Three Pepper Cucumber relish 9 half pints ( blue ribbon recipe)

Peperoncini 4 pints

Picked Sweet Green Peppers 4 pints

Bread and Butter Cucumber pickles 3 pints
Persian Tarragon cucumber pickles 2 quart jars ( fridge recipe, blue ribbon)
Pickled Green Tomato slices and Onions 1 quart jar ( fridge recipe, blue ribbon)

Tomato preserves 10 half pints
Bruschetta in a jar 10 half pints ( not crazy about this recipe, needs fixing )
Tomato salsa 18 pints
Tomato sauce 26 pints ( herbs + onions + chiles )

* remember the larder shelves are loaded with 2010 tomato sauces and pear butter( three recipes I developed )

The above list does not reflect the three large ( rather ) upright deep freezers packed to the point of bursting. Nor does it reflect the dehydrated cherry tomatoes, herbs, and greens stored in glass jars. Nor does it reflect the root cellared crops. Not to mention the barrels of black walnuts gathered from our trees, pecans gathered from our trees, and acorns , also gathered from our trees.

The funny part is that this is food for two people. We eat all of our meals at home.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

List from mid 1950s

A piece of ephemera from my collection that hasn't a thing to do with the list below. Just something I wanted to share.

This list ( and people seem to make them at this time of year ) is from the mid 1950s. It came into my life from my second cousin's family folder. It is a list accomplished by my paternal Great Aunt. A list of foodstuffs that she preserved to feed herself and the six children still living at home.

4 and 1/2 bushels of sweet potatoes
1 and 1/2 bushels of white potatoes
Lots of dry peas and lima beans
85 quarts peaches
15 quarts pickled peaches
69 quarts black berries
70 quarts green beans
80 quarts tomatoes
25 quarts vegetable soup
55 quarts apples to bake
18 quarts apples for pies
35 quarts beet pickles
48 quarts cucumber pickles
10 quarts mixed pickles
12 pints apple jelly
32 pints pear preserves
10 pints peach preserves
5 pints plum jelly
14 pints blackberry jelly
18 pints blackberry jam
175 pounds vegetables in the freezer at the Food Locker in town ( lima beans,3 kinds of peas, okra, cut corn and several pounds of goat meat)

I have not compiled my list of preserved foodstuffs for the year of 2011 yet. Am still cooking fruit jams from this year's crops. Numbers are in the journal and soon I shall share.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Farm Report nine days before Winter Solstice

carrot crop. planted 31 Mayo. dug 10 Diciembre.
scarlet keeper. atomic red. jaune obtuse du doubs. muscade. tonda di parigi.

rows of fall greens: torasan komatsuna. cima di rappa. giant red mustard. marzatica. kyoto mizuna. champion collards. golden ball turnip. rutabaga.
thriving with a simple plastic blankie when temperatures plunge into the teens.
fresh salad greens daily.

twenty nine half pints apricot raw vanilla jam
results from last week in the kitchen
raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, red currants, and elderberries await alchemic act resulting in jars of jam and jelly
therapeutic nourishment for the soul.

as winter settles in
seed catalogs arrive in the mail
research book towers threaten to topple
reflection on lessons learned this past growing season
hopeful lists of fruit trees and nut trees, different varieties of heirloom vegetables, canning recipes, hoop house, adding bee colonies, saving and sharing more seeds.

rain is falling,
nine days before winter solstice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rabbits, everyday

Lapi ( rhymes with happy) exhausted by its job painting eggs each spring reclined peacefully in chick's gondola, reflecting on past lives and future possibilities. Perhaps a career in vegetable gardening, though being an empathetic rabbit, perhaps nursing would be a good field with job security. Lapi's Dutch uncle had enjoyed the title patron saint (local only) of wounded hares, looked to in times of distress both mentally and physically. Perhaps Lapi could hop into Uncle's boots. Thankfully, Lapi knew whatever new pathway it hopped down it would be loved.

In honor of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit and since I was born in a year of the rabbit, I decided to create this small collection of everyday rabbits to be enjoyed and worn all year round. The images come in token (charm )size, pendant size and ornament sizes. In these photos the pendants are shown with nickel plated steel bead ball chain. They will all be available with linen ribbon if you so chose instead of chain. I work with vintage images, paint, beads, ephemera and my hands to create the original artwork which is then printed in an archival manner and safely encased in metal cases and acrylic lens created from flat stock, in Rhett's studio.

I will get back to you on where these can be purchased. In the meantime please feel free to leave comments or email me as to where you can find them for sale.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Year of the Golden Rabbit

Hand sewn and painted , using vintage fabrics, rabbit hand puppet created on the eve of the new rabbit year by a rabbit ( me ).

Year of the Golden Rabbit
began 3 Febrero 2011, ends 22 Janvier 2012
fourth sign of Chinese zodiac
rabbit is symbol of the moon, yin
(whilst peacock is symbol of sun) yang
according to Chinese tradition
a rabbit year should be spent in a restorative manner
bring calmness to your life
breathe deeply
center and focus.

A lucky red envelope
a magic wand of sorts
filled with blessings
red, an auspicious color
to carry red with you
wards off evil
gathers in blessings
red, a lucky color
the color to begin a new year.

I hand each of you in this new rabbit year a red envelope filled with moon dust to sprinkle upon your head. This magical moon dust will have healing and restorative qualities. Carry red with you this year and sprinkle a bit of lucky rabbit moon dust on others in need. Help others breathe deeply.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mekong Giant Catfish, CR ( critically endangered )

Mekong Giant Catfish
Pangasianodon gigas
CR ( critically endangered)

mixed media, hand sewn and beaded painted leather figure seated on hand made wooden chair
photograph by Bruce Mathews
in a private collection

Mekong Giant Catfish
Pangasianodon gigas
CR ( critically endangered)

In May of 2005, a 646 pound nine feet long giant catfish was caught in the Mekong River by a fisherman. This fish is the current record holder for the largest freshwater fish ever caught. Historically the Mekong Giant Catfish flourished in the Mekong River Basin. This catfish could be found in the freshwaters of the Tonle Sap Lake, Tonle Sap River in Cambodia, and the Mekong River which flows through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Local fisheries began reporting the disappearance of the species in the 1970s. Current population size is unknown for the Mekong Giant Catfish. The IUCN has qualified the species for Critically Endangered from estimations of past and current catch records over the last thirteen years which show a decline of more than 80% of the population.

Continuation of this species will not come easily. Fisheries in the Mekong Basin are on the rise. Loss and degradation of the catfish's habitat are serious threats also. Deforestation along the northern parts of the Mekong River area has caused increasing siltation of the Mekong mainstream. The rapids and whirlpool ecosystem within the "Golden Triangle" is the only part of the Mekong that the giant catfish use as a spawning ground. This portion of the river is slated to be reconfigured by a Mekong rapids blasting project sponsored by the governments of China, Burma, Thailand, and Lao People's Democratic Republic. With the removal of the rapids, navigation of the river channel will be easier for boats. Also the construction of dams along the river, like the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand, the catfish can not migrate back and forth to their historic spawning grounds.

Zeb Hogan, an American aquatic ecologist, leads the Mekong Fish Conservation Project in Cambodia. Their goal is to protect vulnerable populations of migratory fish in the Mekong River Basin. One of the supporters of this project is the National Geographic Society's Conservation Trust. As a part of this project, Hogan purchases live fish from Cambodian fishermen. The fish are weighed, measured, DNA samples gathered for genetic studies, tagged, and released back into the water. The record holding catfish caught in May of 2005 that was purchased from a fisherman was a part of this project. Unfortunately, the giant catfish died before it could be released. Optimistically though, this project should keep more endangered fish alive and allow scientists to gather valuable data about migration patterns, habitat use, and mortality rates. Hogan hopes this knowledge will lead to the creation of no-fishing zones and better management of Cambodian fisheries.