Monday, September 28, 2015

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Cats (and dogs) being kissed!

For today's GKM, here's a cute video of cats (and even cute doggies) who don't like being kissed:



STAHHHHP HOOMAN!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Happy Fall everyone!

I know many of you are done with tomatoes for the season. In fact, you might still have a bunch of green tomatoes on your plants that you know won't ripen before the cold weather arrives.

What to do? There's only so many fried green tomatoes that you can make, right?

Welcome Green Tomato Salsa Verde!


This mild (IMO) green tomato salsa certainly isn't a traditional salsa verde, which is usually made with tomatillos, but it is every bit as delicious. I found this recipe on the Ball website and it's a keeper for sure. Like most of my canning recipes that call for tomatoes, I roast them first for peeling and extra flavor.


Of course you can enjoy it with tortilla chips, but I particularly like to make Cheesy Pork Enchiladas with it, which calls for salsa verde in the recipe.


Green Tomato Salsa Verde
Recipe Source: Ball website
Makes 6, half pints (double recipe to get 6 pints)

12-14 medium green tomatoes (7 cups chopped after roasting)
5-10 jalapeno, habanero, or Scotch bonnet peppers, seeded & finely chopped (I used jalapenos)
2 cups chopped red onion
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

To roast and peel the green tomatoes, set oven broiler to high and place oven rack 6 inches away from broiler heating element. Wash tomatoes, remove cores, and slice in half from core to core. Place tomato halves on a cookie sheet skin side up and place in oven. Roast tomatoes until blackened and charred; remove from oven, and place a dish towel over tomatoes to steam and cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and discard.

Chop tomatoes to equal 7 cups. Combine tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, and lime juice in a large pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 5-15 minutes.

Ladel hot salsa into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process in a BWB for 20 minutes.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Miss Thang does all kinds of tricks, to include sitting up and begging, giving high-five, and shaking paws. This video shows just some of her other antics... never a dull moment:


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Homemade Coleslaw

There's something wonderful about coleslaw that's made from scratch. This coming from someone who's a bit of a coleslaw snob.


Unfortunately, coleslaw is often thrown together with store-bought slaw mix and a bottled dressing, which is a shame. When it's done right, the humble coleslaw can elevate a pulled pork sandwich into a spiritual experience, but when it's done wrong, it overshadows the whole meal. You end up with this amazing entree, but slobby slaw, and it's a buzzkill. How a restaurant makes their coleslaw tells me a lot about who they are.


And coleslaw is so darn easy to throw together, but you do need some heavy equipment to do it well. You could make this with a mandolin and a box shredder, but a food processor makes this go a whole lot easier and with less mess.

This recipe is a takeaway from my culinary idol, and future wife in another life, Ina Garten. Her original recipe calls for red cabbage, but I don't like it as it's too bitter for my tastes, and less sugar. I also like to add either diced pineapple or golden raisins to my slaw for a little sweet surprise.

Kathy's Homemade Coleslaw
Recipe modified from: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 medium-sized head of green cabbage
5 carrots
2 cups mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup diced pineapple chunks or golden raisins (optional)

Fit a food processor with the slicing blade set to small/med thickness. Cut the cabbage into quarter wedges, removing the core, and process in the food processor in batches. Next, fit the processor with the grating blade. Peel the carrots and place in the feed tube; process in batches and mix with the shredded cabbage.

I a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper with a whisk until combined. Pour half of the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix well. Pour the rest of the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix well again. If adding pineapple or raisins, mix those in last until well distributed. Serve cold.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Miss Thang (this is an old picture) agrees that cold weather is good sleeping weather!

We finally had a break in the heat this past weekend and it's wonderful. I am definitely a cold weather kind-of-girl.

I've been wanting (and trying) to upload some videos of Miss Thang doing tricks, but I am having internetz issues.

Oh well, in the meantime, a nap.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Herb Roasted Tomatoes

I can tell by my page view stats/history that you all have been very busy figuring out what to do with all your tomatoes and summer produce that's pouring in right now.

You've also been doing some cooking!

My most popular blog posts this past month have been:

But I'm about to drop another winner in your laps. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and lovers, I give you Herb Roasted Tomatoes:


What to do with all those tomatoes that you just don't have the time or patience to can or preserve right now? Imagine sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, BUT BETTER!

I could barely stop myself from eating these right off the cookie sheet!


I discovered this recipe from Alana Chernila and immediately set to work. She says that you'll "end up with something slightly shriveled, released juice, a little bit dehydrated, caramelized at the edges. It’s totally delicious right away; you could just pour the whole tray over spaghetti right away."

I couldn't agree with her any more and that's exactly what I did last night for dinner.

Whatever is left over will be tucked away in the freezer for future dinners of pasta, sauces, grilled chicken, casseroles, hell warmed up and eaten with bread and a glass of wine!



You're welcome!

Herb Roasted Tomatoes. 
Recipe Source: Alana Chernila

Approimately 7 lbs. of fresh tomatoes, any kind
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper
Dried or fresh herbs (I used Penzey's Italian Herb Blend)
Garlic powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 275°. Clean tomatoes and slice in half. Arrange on a cookie sheet flesh-side-up. Give tomatoes a hearty drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on salt, pepper, herbs, and garlic salt to your liking.

Place cookie sheet in the oven and slow roast approximately 3-5 hours, depending on the size and thickness of your tomatoes. You want them to be significantly shriveled reduced, but not dehydrated and tough. I roasted mine, which were a blend of medium-sized beefsteak tomatoes, for 6 hours.

Eat right away, if you can control yourself, or freeze in a container or Ziplock bag.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday/Tuesday

Long weekends always throw me off, so I guess it's Tuesday acting as Monday!

Our kitties LOVE plastic bags. They love to play on them, sleep on them, hide under them:


My office floor is littered with three, ratty, plastic department store bags that our kittehs would rather play with or sleep on than the expensive beds, toys, and kitteh trees we have throughout the house. Crazy cats, although Leo loves this kitteh tree!



Thursday, September 03, 2015

How To Pump Water Out of A Rain Barrel

It’s been so dang hot and dry in Virginia this past month. In the 5 years I’ve been up here, I’ve never seen temperatures as hot as they’ve been for so LONG, especially in September. We haven’t had a solid rain shower in over a month, and it’s going to be 95° today with the heat index over 100! We’ll get a little break into the mid-80s for the next few days, and then back into the 90s, but no rain.

Needless to say, I’ve had to hand water the vegetable garden and some potted plants to keep things alive around here. We are on a well, so the thought of using drinking water to water the grass or some ornamental plants doesn’t appeal to me, so we use our two 75 gallon rain barrels when we can.


Our rain barrels are from Gardner’s Supply Company and are daisy-chained together to give us 150 gallons. Prior to this year, we’ve just relied on gravity to siphon the water out of these barrels, which really limited our ability to make the most out of their potential.  Of course, I haven’t really HAD to use these barrels as an emergency watering source until this year.



We bought this pump this year off Amazon based off of all the positive reviews and Q&A responses we read. We liked that it was an external transfer pump and all we had to submerge in the water was the siphoning end. We liked that it was small enough, yet powerful enough to pull the water up-and-out of our rain barrels and give enough water pressure to hand water. Lastly, we liked the price point!

We had to do a few alterations to make it suit our needs though:


First, we put on a quick disconnect on the hose outlet port.


Second, the user manual said to prevent debris from being sucked up into the pump, so we had to figure out some sort of filter/strainer system for the end of the siphoning hose.


We knew we couldn’t just screw some sort of small, hose-end strainer on there, as the small surface area at the end of a hose would get clogged easily.

So, we went to Tractor Supply Company and Macgyvered a large plastic pump strainer (Part #SR150P) and two coupling collars that would fit both the strainer and the end of the hose.  Lastly, we zip tied a knee high panty hose over the strainer to filter out small debris.

Knee highs are like duct tape, you can do a million things with them!


Once we had everything set up, we first connected our hose to the quick disconnect on the outlet port.


Then we lowered the strainer/suction end into our rain barrel. We had to cut out one of the support spokes in the top of the barrel to fit in the strainer end.


Then we plugged it in. WE HAVE WATER!


The water pressure wasn’t enough to attach a hose-end sprayer or a sprinkler, but you could easily cup your thumb over the end of the hose to get the water to spray. I'm using a 100 ft. hose, so that may be the reason for the low water pressure. 


Some people said they could use hose-end sprayers and sprinklers with this pump. Still, the pressure is plenty enough for me to hand water the veggies and some ornamentals.

The pump siphoned about 30-35 gallons of water in about 30-40 minutes, which isn’t bad at all, so that gives me 4 potential watering periods for both rain barrels. The pump's instructions said you shouldn't run it for more than an hour. 

I've used this about a 1/2 dozen times so far and it's been a champ. Some people on Amazon commented their pumps quit working not long after they bought it, but I'm betting they didn't filter the siphoning end of the hose and debris got into the pump's motor. It makes a difference!

Hopefully, we will get some rain soon so my rain barrels will refill!
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