Wednesday, May 26, 2010
But there was a part of me that said, "Wait a minute, could it be that we have TWO resident turtles?" And this past weekend pretty much confirmed there is indeed a Barry and a Barbara.
Get a room you two!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I don’t know what the heck happened to the asparagus this season. Usually, asparagus is $3.99 a pound or HIGHER in Florida, comes from Peru, and tastes like shoelaces. But there’s a small window of opportunity every spring where I can buy it for around $1.49 a pound and I could even drive to where it was grown. It would be a long drive, but I digress.
But this year, NADA. Nature’s french-fries never dropped below $2.50 this year and I was lucky if they came from California. Mostly, it stayed around $3 and up per pound in all my groceries. And there’s no such thing as a “farmers market” that sells organic or local asparagus in Florida.
What the heck happened? Was it the hard winter? Are farmers not growing the stuff? Was there a disease or insect problem? Is there a cycle on production?
And I don’t even want to GO THERE on rhubarb. There was ‘nar a stalk to be found in any of the groceries, and the one rare glimpse I did see, wrapped in styrofoam and cellophane, cost around $7.00 for 5 STALKS!!!
Plus, I don’t like the stuff, so that’s no big loss for me (hee-hee).
So, in keeping with the sprit of local and available ingredients, I’m afraid this month’s Can Jam Challenge will contain a visit from the ghost of post’s past. Besides, I can’t think of anything I would rather do when preserving asparagus than pickle it. It’s my favorite.
Until next year, I guess I’ll have to pickle more cukes!
Recipe source: The Joy of Pickling
Makes 5, 12 oz. jars
3 lbs of fresh asparagus (sometimes I need more or less, depending on spear thickness)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
15 allspice berries
50 black peppercorn berries
20 coriander seeds
Red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups white wine vinegar
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ tsp canning salt
2 T sugar
Trim asparagus to fit inside canning jars, giving ½ inch of space from the tip of the spears to the top of the jar. Prepare jars for hot water bath canning. In a saucepot, mix vinegar, water, salt, and sugar; bring to a boil. When brine has boiled, fill each hot jar with 1 garlic clove, 3 allspice berries, 10 black peppercorns, 4 coriander seeds, a dash or two of the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of nutmeg. Fill jars with asparagus spears, tips up, till comfortably full without packing. Ladle brine into jars, giving ½ inch headspace; top jars with prepared lids, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Wait 4-6 weeks before eating.
**Note: If you don't want to process for canning, just pour the hot brine over the asparagus and keep in the refridgerator.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I received the mother plants as a gift in a plant swap years ago at Seminole Springs Nursery. I wish I remembered the name of who gave them to me. All I remember was his name was Tom and something about "friends-don't-let-friends-plant-Tom's-Tomatoes," and here we are.
Every year they sprout up on their own and I laugh. For the longest time, I couldn't grow tomatoes and these babies popped up without any help. They're a welcome, cheerful, and tasty gift that keeps on giving!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Remember that little comment I made about summer being just around the corner? Well it’s here and these popsicles will definitely keep you cool. These would be perfect as a dessert for a grown-up barbeque or summer dinner.
Apple Cider and Rosemary Ice Pops
Recipe Source: Bon Appetit
4 cups apple juice or cider
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 whole cloves
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine apple juice, water, sugar, rosemary, and spices in a saucepan and heat medium-high, till mixture reaches a boil. Reduce temperature to a light simmer and reduce mixture to 3 ½ cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Strain into a 4-cup measuring cup and cool to room temperature. Stir in vinegar and extract. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight or till set.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
A couple of years ago, I learned the hard way that pickling season in Florida does not equal the same pickling season for the rest of the country. At the time, I experimented with a fermented pickle recipe, which required several days of open air fermenting, adding new brine, and skimming scum.
All my pickle peeps were claiming these pickles were the bee’s knees, so I promptly went out and picked up 3 bushels of fresh cukes. I was anxious to have quarts and quarts of delicious, home-fermented dill pickles, so I gave it a shot.
Now, by the time early-season cukes are ready in Florida (May), the weather is already on the verge of hot-as-balls. As of this past weekend, the temps were already in the mid-to-upper 90’s, so you can imagine what temperatures like this can do to fermenting cucumbers. After the third day of my “pickle experiment,” my husband and I walked into the house to a smell that resembled fresh road kill and rotting vegetables. The fruit flies were having a party, and we weren’t invited.
It took many trips to the compost pile and many hours of cleaning, scrubbing, and disinfecting to clean up the mess. Now, several years later, I know that fermenting vegetables require very COOL temps, and we have a very short, if any, window of opportunity in the Sunshine State. I did; however, successfully make some awesome sauerkraut this past winter!
Pickle season is upon us again, and I am looking forward to another stab at making the perfect pickle. I’m almost there!