Pumpkin Pancakes

September 20th, 2010

Whisk in a bowl:

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

2 Tblsp. ground flaxseed

1 3/4 tsp. backing powder

3 Tblsp. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Melt together in small saucepan over medium low (I don’t have a microwave):

2 Tblsp. butter

3/4 C cooked pumpkin

Whisk together:

1 C. milk (I use 1%)

2 eggs

Pour pumpkin butter mixture into milk and eggs mixture

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix quickly with a whisk until just mixed. Pour as desired onto med-heated flat, oiled, griddle. Flip when bubbles surface and golden on bottom. I enjoyed these plain and the kids had them with a little honey

In preparation

September 16th, 2010

The dawn before fall is nearly as good as spring when it comes to gardening, for me at least. The first plants are drying in their beds. The grass has all but stopped growing. The temperature inside need only be regulated by the opening and closing of windows. We are passed the heavy maintenance stage of weeding and watering and wrangling. All the pumpkin vines have shriveled leaving our back steps a staggering of orange orbs with only a couple looking as though they are waiting for Cinderella’s fairy godmother out in the garden bed.

Soya Envy soybeans, dried on plant, collected for next year's crop

Next steps:

  • Continue gathering seeds – so far I have edamame, marigold, pepper, tomato and butternut squash
  • Covering the tomato plants for a few more nights before picking all and leaving them to ripen on newspaper in front of a sunny window
  • Pick the last peppers
  • Make a list of what did well and didn’t for next year
  • Canning tomatoes
  • Cooking and freezing the pumpkin for pies and baby food
  • Help my parents pick apples and pears, with bonus bagfuls to take home
  • Plant fall bulbs – my pick this year was crocus
  • Plant garlic – just waiting for the order to arrive

Gardening workshop, Aberdeen SD

September 14th, 2010

The Prairie Partners’ Gardening with the Masters fall workshop will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 25 at Dacotah Prairie Museum, 21 S. Main St.
Within the day will be four individual workshops: starting seeds, growing garlic, hardy roses and raised bed/square foot gardening.
Cost: $5 and payable at the door. Treats and refreshments will be served.

Chile Relleno

September 7th, 2010

Poblano and jalapeno peppers

This Labor Day was spent laboring over making chile relleno. My mom’s hot Big Jim peppers were ripe for the picking and the Hub and I had found 4 lovely poblanos on one of our little pepper plants. So, what better to end a long weekend with than a 3.5 hour experimental cooking session. My mother had made them several times with mixed results and I was inspired this year by a post from a favorite blogger who happened to get into more and more cooking posts recently – much to my liking.

It was fun charring the peppers – too much rain meant we couldn’t use the grill so luckily my mom had a gas stove. The poblanos really danced but the Big Jim’s seemed to rest well during the toasting.

The blister-skinned peppers were then placed in a paper bag. Thus making their own steam which helps with the skinning of the pepper. While skinning I held the still hot peppers under cold water which also seemed to help the skins release.

My mother either sliced the tops off or made a slit in each pepper to dig the seeds out as best as possible. With 14 peppers to do I finished the job not as thoroughly which made for a few surprising hot mouthfuls when we’d finally sat down to eat. I told burning-eared sis that she’d won the Prize Pepper. After seeding we commenced to stuffing with triangles of Jack cheese and some cooked burger I’d seasoned with a little salt and cumin.

The very-basic batter is what attracted me. The peppers are simply dusted with white flour . . .

and then dipped in stiff-beaten egg whites folded back in with their whipped yolks. I used a pinch of salt during the white beating to get them to thicken a bit more substantially.

After dipping the lightly floured peppers they were placed in 1/4 inch of oil in a medium skillet. The oil is ready when you can put the end of a wooden spoon in it and small bubbles rise up. This test is less splattery than the water flick test I used to use.

The batter was puffy and light and adhered well to the floured peppers. They turned a lovely golden color. Each one took about 5-7 minutes to make sure the cheese had melted inside, turning every couple minutes. We served them up with homemade refried beans that my mother had started earlier and a tomato sauce I started earlier, from our garden tomatoes we cooked down, strained and blended. It was seasoned with chili powder, cumin, dried onion, fresh garlic, paprika, salt and a pinch of sugar.

It was well worth the mess and process. Definitely not something I’d want to whip up every weekend but a great once-a-year treat when the garden is bursting with that bounty of peppers.

Cha-cha sal-sa

September 3rd, 2010

Last week my sis, mom and I made quick work of 18 pints of salsa. Last year we hadn’t done any. It can be quite the chore, but with three (and a couple beers) it was quite a fun evening.

  1. Sterilized jars
  2. First we scalded the tomatoes in simmering water for easy peeling
  3. Peeled tomatoes
  4. Chopped onions, garlic, sweet and hot peppers (make sure to use gloves – I also made it a point to take my contacts out before starting this venture, nothing says, “youch!” like hot pepper in the eye)
  5. Threw it all in a couple stockpots to simmer with some vinegar, a little brown sugar and salt – upwards of 3 hours (we didn’t do it nearly as long as the recipe said)
  6. Just before ladling into jars we added some lime, fresh garlic and chopped cilantro
  7. Ladled to within 1/2″ of top of jar
  8. Topped with sterilized lids and rings, tightened
  9. Immersed jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes

I’ve been eating piles of it. We used a few long hot peppers and a couple jalapenos to two grocery-sized bags of tomatoes. We got an awesome medium heat and it is very smooth.

What a great way to spend an evening.

Snap in the air means fall planting around corner

September 3rd, 2010

The snap in the air reminds me that it’s time to order fall planting items. First on the list is garlic. My mother and I are going to send in an order to the Garlic Store. She’d been saving a bulb or two each year for planting but we are going to start fresh this year. I’m leaning the way of hardneck – they might not have as many cloves but the ones they do are larger and they seem to keep longer. These aren’t your braiding varieties.

About a month ago the hub planted some garlic seeds he’d harvest from a single plant. Now, if this isn’t a lesson in patience, I don’t know what is. Starting garlic from bulbils can take several years before full bulbs form. I guess we won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Tomato Tomato Tomato . . . repeat

August 26th, 2010

Multi grain spaghetti with tofu parm crispies

The tomatoes are bursting and bouncing off their vines and stalks and it’s a wonder how we’ll use them all. Already The Hub stewed a few. I like sliced tomato and cheese sandwiches with a little mustard. A quick favorite is also a quick sauce:

  • 2-3 C. chunks of tomatoes (any type)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 T. fresh chopped basil
  • 1 T. olive oil

Throw everything in a pot and cook over medium til reduced slightly and garlic has softened. To this you can add onion/chard/spinach/peppers if you like. I’ve served it on toast with a little cheese as a pizza. Most recently was over multi-grain pasta. I also made up some tofu parm crispies:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into long cubes (1″x1/2″)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 C. fresh grated parmesan (I get mine from the deli section already grated for me)
  • garlic salt

Heat oven to 450F. One a cookie sheet pour 1 T olive oil, roll tofu cubes around in it with fingers. Sprinkle them with garlic salt. Take a pinch of parmesan and slightly press onto the top of each cube. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes til cheese is a little melted and toasty. (If it’s taking too long I will turn on the Low setting of my broiler to speed things up). Give them a try – I know there’s nothing out of the garden but they are really good – might just change your mind about tofu. One of my kids didn’t like the tofu, the other didn’t like the tomato sauce – I’ll still call it a winner.

Worth a hill of beans

August 26th, 2010

Soya Envy edamame soybeans

This year I finally had success with my edamame soybeans. They were planted by seed straight in the raised bed. The seeds were called Envy Soya beans. I picked them because they were an early variety (80 days) and therefore more suited to our shorter growing season. I’m happy to say it was true! The pods are about the same size as those you would get in a grocery store but the thicker brown fuzz of these ones makes them standout. I could see that maybe being an issue for some – it’s like a 2-day stubble – but you are only going to eat the savory, buttery textured beans inside. I have been freezing 1/2 a quart bag here and there as the pods plump up. Then they are easy to just dump in heavy-salted boiling water for about 10 minutes. You can then either let them cool naturally or do and ice bath to cool them down quicker.

Boiling over

August 22nd, 2010

Stewed Tomatoes

Tis the time for preservation of the all-too-short season of growth. The Hub cranked out the first 4 quarts of stewed tomatoes. We have one determinate tomato (all fruit ripens about the same time) so we need to stay on top of it to reap the most benefits. Stewed tomatoes are quick, he added some onions too.

  1. Cut up tomatoes into rough chunks
  2. Cook over medium heat till desired reduction to intensify flavor
  3. Put into sterile quart jars
  4. Wipe rim clean
  5. Place on sterile lid and ring (tighten to slight resistance)
  6. Place in boiling water to depth that the lids are covered (sometimes it’s easier to keep it a little shallower and have a hot tea kettle standing by to top it off)
  7. Boil for 15 minutes
  8. Remove from boiling water and wait for the !POP! to know it is sealed – if one doesn’t, just refrigerate til you can use it.

Worst thing about the process is the residual steam when we are trying to keep our house cool and dry.

dragon beans

Other means of preservation: freezing

So far I’ve picked some edamame and froze them in quart size freezer bags. When ready to use, just boil up some salted water, drop them in for 5 min. or so, peal and enjoy.

Our Dragon Tongue Bush Beans are awesome. They are great fresh so I doubt we will need to preserve any. Even when they get big they are still good and not too fibery. When they are cooked though, they loose their distinct purple flecks.

One for the Wall Of Shame

August 15th, 2010

This had come in the mail yesterday, a couple days after The Hub had asked if I’d taken the garbage out lately. So I went to the backyard, got to the fence, opened the gate to get to the garbage cans in the alley and was, like, “Whoh?!”  when I saw this

Between two full-time jobs, two opposite schedules and 3 kids 6 and younger, we’d let some things slide. Those are the excuses I’m sticking to. We have 10 days to rectify this situation. I am actually glad for this kick in the pants and feel I should apologize to which ever neighbor complained. I’ve grumbled about other’s unkempt lawns many times. I guess our fence put this area of our property into the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” category. Oh well, I hope to post a finished photo soon. I’ve already taken a few steps to clean up the situation: a heavy-duty serrated bread knife seems to be the best tool for the job and I’ve borrowed a truck to haul away the debris, now to get my 4-month-old cooperate long enough to let me get out there and do it – that might be the toughest part of this job.