Thursday, September 19, 2013

End of Summer Coming....

......and with it the end of veggie gardens!

 I have not been snoozing....

nor laying around on my back dreaming......(this is my Bizy Bea - not very dignified, but then when does a dog care about those things....)

I have had sinks and sinks and sinks full of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and some cucumbers.  Each time I load up a sink I asked myself - "what am I going to do with all of these veggies?"

This batch of tomatoes I decided to turn into Tomato Jam.
There is probably 25-30 pounds of tomatoes in this 12 quart pan ready to start cooking on the stove.

Sorry I don't have more photos of all of the ingredients I added.

Here is some of the finished product.  The following is my recipe which can vary from batch to batch and year to year.  It's one of those recipes you sort of work through by the seat of your pants.  There are a zillion recipes on the Net but here is mine.  You will have to taste as you go and you decide what you like best.  This recipe is based on this very large pot you see above.

Tomato Jam

20 lbs. diced tomatoes 
(last year I put them through the food processor which works well)
2 large diced onions
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 small can tomato paste
2 jars apple jelly
this year I used apricot since I had a large 16 oz. jar in refrigerator
crush dried red pepper, to taste
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar

You can add, to taste, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, allspice, chili powder and a host of other ingredients but the above was my formula for this year's batch.

Bring to a boil, stir to mix everything together and then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for several hours uncovered until reduced to a thick consistency - sort of like crushed tomatoes or thicker - your choice.  Ladle into washed and sterilized jars.  Label and freeze what you can't use within a week.

This is excellent served over beef, pork, chicken and even fish.  Use it as a dip and scoop with scrambled eggs.  I spread it over cold tofu (story of making tofu below) for lunch today - I was in a hurry to get something into my stomach and get on with my task at hand.  Better than catsup any day!

I had zucchini coming out of my ears - hah, at least coming out of the garden.  We all know how prolific zucchini can be.  This year we grew the regular long variety but also one that is a cantaloupe shaped.....can't remember the name but the seeds came from Burpee's Seeds.

I've made zucchini bread until I can't find room for any more bread in my freezer.  I have blanched it and bagged for the freezer to cook in bread or whatever else I think of doing with it so what else to do with it?  Pickles!

This is a delicious "bread & butter" tasting pickle.  I used a mandolin to slice my zucchini but you can use whatever suits your tastes and needs

Zucchini Pickles

Pack tightly sliced zucchini into quart jars along with sliced onion, multiple garlic cloves and hot chili peppers.  You can also add Jalapeno peppers or other ingredients of your choice....just pack everything tightly.

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dry mustard seed, crush some of them
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. dill (I used fresh)

Heat brine on the stove and simmer for about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from stove and let cool.  When cool pour over the zucchini.  Once cool to touch place in the refrigerator and let chill and then enjoy.

Drowning in tomatoes and green bell peppers along with a multiple of other odd peppers.  What to do with these, ugh!  Have frozen many bags of Jalapeños, Scotch Bonnets and Banana Peppers to use throughout the winter.

I decided to clean, chop in the food processor and cook these Bell Peppers!
Sorry no photos of the cooking process.  Just imagine the same large pan above filled with chopped peppers and one large chopped onion which reduced down into these five sandwich sized bags.

I cooked the peppers until dry......very little liquid left in the pan, so keep an eye on them and stir regularly, and then ladled enough peppers into freezer bags to lay flat on the counter to about half full.  I pushed all the air out of the top part of the bag and zipped closed.  They are now stacked nice and neat in the freezer.  When you need cooked peppers for a recipe then just open a bag and snap off a chunk.

My adventures into tofu making.  This is my new tofu press from
Earth First Innovations.  Once again I don't have step-by-step photos but if anyone is interested I will post photos the next batch I make.  The tofu finished sitting in cold water on the right and below.

This is about 2 pounds of tofu sitting in its muslim wrap in cold water.
Wow, this was a lot of work but since I've worked through the process I have come up with ways to short circuit the process so next time won't be such a mess or take so long.  The other thing I did was purchase an inexpensive stock pot from made by T-Fal that is teflon coated.  Soy beans leave a nasty residue on EVERYTHING THEY TOUCH!  You have to wash everything almost immediately or you wind up scrubbing a lot, particularly the pan, to get this mess off!  My new pan should reduce this problem considerably.

This morning I made scrambled Tofu and eggs with tons of onion, peppers and tomatoes (have a lot of those these days, LOL) cooked along side of the eggs/tofu in the same pan for a delicious breakfast.....even my husband liked them!

Well, you have some idea of what I've been up to and until my next post I'm off to clean some more peppers and tomatoes!  Enjoy what's left of your summer because Fall and Winter is just around the corner!

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