Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Serving Floyd: Is that what I'm doing?

We had an excellent tomato canning class last Saturday in spite of my totally geezer moment of leaving the house without the cherry tomatoes, herbs and garlic for the roasting segment.  Micah's Garden came through with little paste tomatoes and saved the day (and my butt)!

In addition to the students we had a photographer and a writer from Virginia Tech in attendance.  They spent the afternoon documenting the class and  talking to folks.  At one point Lori Greiner, the writer, asked me what volunteerism meant to me.  I had an uhh...uhh... moment and then babbled out something totally disjointed about tradition, giving back to the community, self sufficiency, and god knows what.  Because I don't think of what I'm doing as volunteer work.  I don't really think about it at all.  I just enjoy doing it and having a venue to pass it on to others so we can have fun doing it together.  And yup, there's that little piece of me that does a happy dance while waving the one finger salute at Big Food with both hands.

Michael and I have talked about what we do as Master Gardener/Food Volunteers.  We do have an answer to that question, I just spaced it.  Lori, if you're reading this, here it is:

We can give a family a sack of food and they'll eat for a week.

But if we teach them how to garden

and cook and preserve

they will be able to feed themselves forever.

That's what volunteering means to me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Preserving Floyd: Ajvar! (Eggplant and Red Pepper Spread)

Last month Shana and I stopped in at Big Lots because they had gel-filled chef mats on sale and I wanted a bunch of them.  Turns out it was their International Foods sale as well.  Shana loaded up on her fav Euro-cookies and I went with imported priest stranglers and little ears.  That's pasta actually- strozzapreti and orrechiette.  Then I spotted a jar filled with a bright red something and had to check it out.  Ajvar.  No idea.  The ingredients list said sweet red peppers, eggplant, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and salt.  Seriously.  Nothing I couldn't pronounce and a use within 4 days of opening warning.  That's my kind of ingredients list.  Since we are eggplant lovers I snagged a jar.

oh. my. god.
So much greater than the sum of its ingredients would suggest!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Preserving Floyd: Bread and Butter Pickles

The summer that I began my food preservation adventures, bread and butter pickles was my second ever canned product, strawberry jam being the first.  Since then I have altered strawberry jam with all kinds of flavors but my bread and butter pickles recipe has never changed.  It's classic, versatile, friends get miffed if they don't get a jar.  The pickles are great straight, chopped into relish, made into tarter sauce or Thousand Island dressing.  My grandfather insisted the only ham salad worth eating was made from ground country ham, Helman's mayo, and finely chopped bread and butter pickles, no substitutions, no additions!  It's a winner.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gardening Floyd: ma-mA-MA MY KABOCHA!

Ya know, when you're gardening your mind tends to wander.  You think about all kinds of things and mostly that's good.  But sometimes there's places you just shouldn't go.  For Michael it was belting out KOHLRAAAABI!  OH-OH! to the tune of "Volare" when working in that bed.

My no-go happened today.  It sounded like this:

because I was delighted to find that not only do I have a load of these growing,
Sunshine Kabocha Squash
 but I seem to have a "Knack" for growing them.
Now I'm stuck with an earworm from a not particularly shining era in the history of rock for at least the rest of the gardening year.

Preserving Floyd: Meet Alma

Alma Paprika, that is.  She's a little bit spicy, a little bit deep, and a little bit rich.

I just made my own paprika powder.  Awesome.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Preserving Floyd: Golden Beets

Michael and I are not very good at growing beets.  He mostly prefers the greens anyway but I love sweet pickled beets and beets as a side dish and beet salad with walnuts and blue cheese.  But we have reached a compromise on golden beets.  He says golden beets don't taste as "earthy" as red beets.

Our CSA was offering bulk golden beets so Shana and I split a half bushel (20 lbs) because really, I think 10 lbs is probably more than enough to see Michael and I through the winter.  So I ran home with my share and pulled out recipes for Golden Beets in Ginger Syrup and Pressure Canned Beets.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cooking Floyd: To Squash a Moose

Hey! You! Yeah, you with that lumpy grocery bag!  Step away from the mailbox!  I've secured my house and locked my car and if you think you're gonna get away with jammin' that bag of summer squash in my mailbox, you've got another think comin'!

Even though people know I've got three big gardens and any number of little beds, and even though it stands to reason that I'm growing my own, they just can't help but unburden their own gardens and avoid the guilt they'd feel composting their own overabundance of squash by dumping it on me.


No. Really. Thanks.  I never would have thought to grow my own.

Now what am I gonna do with this.    sh*t.

Preserving Floyd: Chicken Corn Soup (Nostalgia in a Jar)

I'm not very nomadic.  I grew up and lived in the Buffalo Valley in central Pennsylvania until I was 37 years old.  It wasn't until I met and married Michael and moved below the Mason-Dixon that I discovered that there were foods, comfort foods, I took for granted that other people knew nothing about.  Like chicken corn soup.