It’s that time of year again where we’re up to our eyeballs in produce. So much… so, so much… So at the end of each week I’ll spend a day or so canning. But after three weeks of canning dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, Such and Such pickles, pickle this, pickle that, it gets old. And I don’t want to be eating the same flavored pickled cucumbers all winter long. That would be a long, boring winter. It’s time to shake things up a bit. We have stacks on stacks on stacks of zucchini and green beans this year so it’s their time to shine! Instead of going to regular dilly bean, spicy beans or whatever route, I decided to spice it up and make curry zucchini pickles and curry bush bean pickles. Curry, apple cider vinegar and turmeric make for a zesty Eastern flair pickle that would be perfect on a winter’s terrine or charcuterie board.
Canning season is among us! Every time I go out to the garden I’m greeted with rows and rows of bush beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs, okra, I could go on and on… For a second I stop to think, “Man, this is really beautiful! And amazing that we’re growing so much food!” But then I’m like, “Holy expletative! This is a lot of food! I need to can this ish.” So now after I spend my day in the gardens, my nights are filled with wedding planning and canning/preserving recipes. After taking a quick straw poll of everyone who is a frequent visitor and therefore will be eating pickles whether they like it or not in the winter months, I found that there was no general consensus as to whether I should make kosher, spicy, garlic or ‘whatever’ kind of pickle. So I took matter into my own hands and came up with our own blend of kosher, garlic dill and spicy pickles. And so was born the Such and Such pickle.
During the summer I really love to can and preserve all that I can from our harvests. I want to can gallons and gallons and gallons of things however I’m always stingy to use it and I try to ration it out so we have enough to get us through until next season. Anytime Dave reaches for a can of pasta sauce I’m always quick to say “No!! I’m saving that! Let’s make something else tonight!” He replies, “What are you saving it for?” “I don’t know.. I just am!” However, when company comes over I’m popping pickled peppers and dilly beans like it’s Cristal or something. I know, I don’t get it either. But there’s a big pile of snow outside and no sight of above freezing temperatures for a while. So that means I want some warm, hearty homemade soup. And I figured that this would be the perfect time to pop open some of the cans I put up to treat myself to a taste of summer in this hearty Tomato Pepper Chicken Stew.
One thing we learned from our garden this year is that we planted waaaaay too many cherry tomatoes. It got to a point that if we needed to punish them, we sent them out to pick cherry tomatoes. Forget water boarding… come to cherry tomato hell. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad but it was very tedious and we were left with plenty of spare cherry tomatoes after our restaurant deliveries. What do we do with all of these suckers? You can’t really sauce them, we don’t have freezer space to freeze them but there is one more solution… to shrink ray them! Or, you know, dehydrate them. I really love sun-dried tomatoes but I don’t have the time (or the daylight) to do that, so the next best thing is to fake and bake. No tanning goggles necessary!
So we’ve been really quiet on the blogosphere lately… shame on us! See, what had happened was that we got hella busy you know… farming. But that’s no excuse! But we’re going to make it up to you, I promise. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to and where we’ve been lately:
I’m not gonna lie to you, friends. Sometimes I get in a canning rut. I look at a pile of peppers and think… this is boring. But I need to can. But I know I’m not going to want two gallons of pickled jalapenos. I mean, I love nachos and all but do I love them enough to make two gallons worth of jalapeno pepper toppings? Maybe for football Sunday. But we’re not sports people, per say. We don’t follow the sports balls. Maybe we could invite all of our friends over and have a nacho party. But 1) I don’t think we have enough friends to warrant a nacho party and 2) can adults even have a nacho party? Maybe if there’s an e-vite. That would be legit. But I digress. Basically, I don’t want a boring old pickled peppers canning recipe. If I’m going to slave over a hot stove for a few hours, it better be worth it. And lemme tell you friends, this here pickled peppers with shallots and thyme is worth it. And it sounds fancy.
I’ve already confessed to you my love of strawberries and canning season with my strawberry shrub recipe. With strawberries still in season, I’m trying to preserve as much as I can. I started out with your classic strawberry jam but as soon as word got out that I made homemade strawberry jam, it was gone. Seriously… how can a gallon of strawberry jam disappear in a week? I asked the boys where it went to and they convinced me that we must have some sort of strawberry jam starved honey badger in our neck of the woods that unlocks our kitchen door and goes through our pantry at night. I’m sure that’s what it was. Anyway, I decided to kick it up a notch with my next batch of jam. A twist on the classic, if you will. A sweet jam that will bite you back. Introducing, the strawberry chipotle jam! Or as I call it, “Sweet, Spicy and Everything Nice-y Strawberry Jam!”
Strawberry season is here! You know it’s summertime when strawberries are ripe for the picking. And although we’re not growing our own this year, we’re looking forward to starting our own strawberry patch next year. I feel like they’re one of the most versatile foods known to mankind. Alright.. maybe that’s a stretch but you can do so much with them when it comes to preserving. Is it bad that I went to the market to buy strawberries just so I could preserve them for later? Did I also mention that I love canning season? I love canning/preserving so much that I actually refer summertime to “canning season.” You know, like fall time, wintertime, springtime, canning time. My first canning adventure this year wasn’t a jam or jelly but a strawberry shrub. What the hell is a strawberry shrub anyway?