Friday, July 30, 2010

Peach Chutney and more!

The canning bug has bitten. I feel like between the sewing, baking and canning I really do belong out here on the prairie (albeit 100 years ago).

A recent weekend yielded peach chutney, tomato jam, and 8 lbs. of tomatoes "put up" in the freezer. I also canned 3 pints of peaches in a lovely honey water recipe I found online. I am going to link to the recipes as I only very slightly modified the chutney one. (I didn't have allspice or mustard seed, so I omitted the allspice and put in ground mustard - about 1 1/2 T. I didn't put in quite as much brown sugar and only used about 2 1/2 cups vinegar and 1/2 cup water and no pickling spices.)

For the tomatoes I got some fancy Ball Brand freezer jars from Farm and Fleet - a BARGAIN!, cooked down the tomatoes a bit, and filled 4 jars (including what I spilled, darn it…) I got 10# of canning tomatoes for $10 from the lovely Amish tomato ladies at the Farmers Market in Urbana on Saturday. They were in wonderful condition and we ate several. I have gotten "canning" tomatoes before that were pretty rough looking. I am planning to go back this Saturday and get 20# as I have beautiful visions of making chili and spaghetti sauce this winter with delicious summer tomatoes. I think I will make some more tomato jam in 1/2 pint jars as well. I used 4 oz. jars this time which are actually quite tiny in retrospect. My mom LOVES tomato jam and these days we can only find it at Curtis Orchards which is only open from the end of July through December.

I also made bread salad (it has a fancy Italian name which I am sure Lisa knows!) which is one of my favorite things. I love mushy bread, always get my Italian Beef in Chicago "dipped".

Bread Salad

1/2 baguette - mine was nice and stale so much so that I could only crush it. That was fun! If your isn't so stale, toast it slowly in the oven until hard then coarsely chop
2 medium to large fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped - I do this over the bowl so I don't lose any juice (I will use 3 next time.)
1/2 sweet onion minced
1-2 T lemon juice
1-2 T good quality olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Mix up the dressing and let sit while you are peeling and chopping the tomatoes. Mix everything together and let the bread soak up the juices. Yum. I love this the next day but you REALLY have to like mushy bread!

As I said above, next time I will use even more tomatoes. You could also add sun dried tomatoes, or do this with halved cherry or grape tomatoes. Other additions that would be nice are fresh mozzarella, feta, pitted black olives, capers, or anchovies.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


The Lawyer, the kids and I went blueberry picking at Pontius Farms on Saturday. If you haven't been - this is a lovely place owned by very friendly folks. I highly recommend it. We spent about an hour picking - luckily Maya and I found some bushes in the shade as she had a sunburn from daycamp. We found that the straggly looking bushes usually had the best berries and the lush ones with many green leaves not so much. I don't know a THING about growing blueberries. Maybe folks before us just didn't want to check out the straggly looking ones?

We were amazed to find we had picked 5 pounds (EXACTLY) of berries between the four of us. I took them home, washed the ones the kids didn't eat in the car, made a pie and still hadn't made a dent in them. I summoned up my courage, headed for County Market and got pint jars and Sure-Jell (I got the "less or no-sugar" type). The insert in the Sure-Jell package was great! Full of tips and hints and recipes. I followed their recipe and process exactly and ended up with 4 pints of delish blueberry jam. I've always heard that canning is a HOT process and oh my yes it is! Everything went relatively quickly though - I only had to process two batches.

I also picked some rhubarb from the Lawyer's garden and made freezer jelly with that. That was SO easy! Slice up the rhubarb, let it sit overnight in sugar, cook briefly and add some (lemon) jello. I am skeptical about the Jello but I couldn't find any recipes with plain gelatin….. We haven't dug into that yet but I'll keep you posted.

Next time I will get 1/2 pint jars and probably invest in a larger pot to process them in. I used my dutch oven which fit 3 pint jars at once. I may, GASP, even get a canner cause I really want to do some veggies too.