Memories come from everywhere

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I used this dish a couple days ago to warm up two items — chipotle shredded pork and roasted butternut squash.

It’s a unique dish and I don’t know that I’ve seen one like it other places. The divider is nice when you’re cooking multiple things. I think warming up leftovers is a great example of when a dish like this can be useful. I love that it’s unusual but in a utilitarian way.

To me, though, the dish brings back memories — memories of the beautiful woman that owned it before me. Her name was Charlotte (which is very similar to my name) and she was my great aunt. I remember many things about her, including her love of gardening and her ability to use a use her spinning wheel to make wool into yarn. She had a large sale when she and her husband downsized from their large farmhouse and moved into town and I actually have several items from this woman, and each time I use them, they bring back a warm feeling about her.

 

Last of the fall produce

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I’ve had about 10 butternut squash waiting in my garage since the first freeze and yesterday was the day to do something with them. I know that they would keep fine just in the garage, but with that many squash, I just wasn’t sure we’d eat them fast enough.

So , I cut them in half and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. (You do need to scrap out the seeds before roasting.) I added about a half inch of water to each pan. I ended up doing two batches.

Once they had cooled, I peeled them and mashed them. I did find that the ones that had gotten brown on the skin were much easier to peel (good tip!). Now I have several containers of roasted squash in my freezer for soups or just eating. I saved out a couple servings for dinner tonight with the shredded pork that I had in the slow cooker all day yesterday.

Egg “breakfast bars”?

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I’m kind of fixated on a new breakfast.  I kept seeing recipes online for “egg muffins” or things that looked a lot like them. So, I tried making them to see if they would work well for quick breakfasts on working days.  They do make fast breakfasts so I’ve been making them on Sundays. (You know my routine by now, right?)

One of them in a muffin tin just didn’t seem like enough food though, so I pulled out my trusty silicone granola bar pans and tried them out instead.  Here’s some pictures of most recent version using cherry tomatoes, shallots (from my garden), mushrooms and bacon.  They were both good but I gotta admit the ones with BACON were better. And, I tried try cooking the veggies in coconut oil on the first batch and my opinion is that made the muffins taste a little too sweet for my liking. I’ve also been topping them sometimes with salsa.

 

    

 

 

Tomorrow’s lunch for October Unprocessed

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I broke my habit this week and only made two lunches Sunday night, instead of my usual four. So, tonight I had to make lunch for tomorrow.

I am also kicking it up a notch this month, trying to be even more unprocessed. I’ve taken the 5th Annual October Unprocessed Challenge. The easiest way to eat “real food” is to make it yourself; you just can’t trust restaurants.

So, here’s the lunch I made tonight. It’s not my usual, but it looks pretty good. I made it by scrounging in the kitchen (not that different, I guess, from what I do many Sunday nights.)

On the menu:  Tri-color pepper salad with shallots (from my garden), dressed with olive oil and white vinegar; cottage cheese (doesn’t look that good?), red grapes, a few green olives, a chunk of white cheddar cheese, a snack-size Cashew Cookie Lara bar and a square of dark chocolate.

A question for you….

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I have this thing.. I think it’s kind of strange… but I’m not really sure. So, I’m asking you?

See, I canned a bunch of stuff this fall, like applesauce, tomatoes, peaches, vegetable juice, maybe a few other things.  They’re all sitting there on my shelf, looking awesome. They’re just waiting.  And waiting… and waiting.

You see, I can’t use them yet. I just can’t. I feel like I need to wait until it’s colder outside before I dig into them. (Yesterday, I needed applesauce in my breakfast cookie recipe and it about killed me to open that jar and use it now.) I know, I get it, I canned them to use but it just seems like I should be saving them until a little snow flies.

How about you? Do you start using your fall canned goods right away, or save them a while, like I do?

Cookies for breakfast? Yes!

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On Sunday’s, I like to actually make something for breakfast that takes a few minutes. Often, it’s eggs over easy with sausage or bacon. Today, it was breakfast cookies.

I tried out a recipe by Danielle Walker, who wrote the “Against All Grain” cookbook.  These cookies were easy to make and tasted pretty good. I didn’t have any currants so I substituted mini dark chocolate chips. I even had enough to package a few up in smaller bags for commuting to work this week.

My cookies didn’t look quite as chewy as Danielle’s did, but they looked pretty good.

Preserving my red cabbage

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I’m still getting small heads of red cabbage from my garden, so yesterday, I looked up ideas on how to preserve it. It turns out you can just blanch it for three minutes and then pop it into the freezer. So, that is what I did with about four heads that were ready.

Way too easy!  These will taste great in soups later this winter.

Those tomatoes just keep growing!

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I’m drowning in tomatoes — they are ripening on the vines, plus in shallow boxes on tables on my patio.

Both Sunday and last night, I made and canned batches of spicy V8 juice, using a hybrid of several recipes I found on the internet. Not even both batches that I made are the same, and I think the second batch, which is slightly more spicy, tastes better. But both are quite good.

Here’s the recipe:

Home canned tomato/vegetable juice

12 cups tomatoes, quartered

3 ½ cups combination of spinach, cabbage, celery (other green vegetables that you have), chopped

2 cups carrots, chopped

½ cup onions, diced

7 sprigs fresh parsley

2 cups chopped peppers, any color, chopped

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 jalapeno

Salt to taste

 

Chop all vegetables into large chunks.  Puree vegetables in a high-powered blender in batches. (I used my Vitamix and it worked great.) Add a little water to each batch, if needed.

Place vegetable puree and other seasonings into a large kettle and bring to a bowl. You can cook it a bit or just get it to a boil before canning. I let my simmer a bit before canning it.

Place into hot jars and place into canner for 40 minutes.

 

 

It’s that time of year…

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If your garden is like mine, you’ve reached the point where you can’t eat as much as the garden is producing. I think it’s a good thing, but sometimes also feels hectic and a tiny bit (self-induced) stressful.

Over the last week, I’ve spent much of my spare time canning, preserving, freezing and dehydrating everything in site, including a lug of peaches that I ordered a few months ago and, of course, those also were delivered this week!

I didn’t take exact counts, but here’s a list of what I’ve made:

  • Canned salsa
  • Canned tomatoes — lots!
  • Canned peached
  • Canned applesauce (I made the applesauce first in the slow cooker, and that was a really easy way to get it cooking)
  • Frozen green peppers
  • Dehydrated roma tomatoes (sliced with my vintage tomato slicer!)
  • Dehydrated peaches

I stole an idea from a friend of mine and used the outdoor turkey cooker as the base for my canner. The propane heats up the water super fast and the mess and heat stays somewhat outside. And I wish I had a dollar for every sinkful of dishes that I washed!

My latest breakfast

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With the garden coming in full force, I’ve adapted my breakfasts over the past few weeks. Here’s what I’ve been having:

Cherry tomatoes and cucumber chunks from my garden, plus a sliced hard boiled egg. For a few days, I also added avocado chunks, but I was out of avocado the day I took the picture.

Top it with salt and pepper and grab a fork on the way out the door. It’s pretty easy to eat this in the car (believe me, I know!) and with the garden tomatoes, it’s delicious. A few days, I added a splash of flavored balsamic vinegar, as well. That’s good too but not essential.

The only prep you need on this breakfast is to boil a few eggs Sunday night!

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