Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saurkraut 101

It is SO easy to make your own saurkraut. It just takes time and patience. I just harvested my 6 green cabbages today. I could only use 4 for saurkraut and will use the other two like my Grandma Sadie would have done and fry it up with some bacon and salt and pepper...Yep...can live off that stuff for as long as it lasts!

Here is the process for making saurkraut.... it takes anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to "cook" or "ferment"....I personally like a strong kraut flavor and go for the 8 weeks, but if you like yours mild.....can it at at 6 weeks.

First, line a 5 gallon bucket with a trash bag. Next,shred the cabbage very thin. Place a layer of shredded cabbage dust lightly with kosher salt and either caraway or dill seed (This year I alternated both varieties). Place another good layer of shredded cabbage and do the same.... this process ending with the seasoning of choice or NONE if you decide.

Now put a clean trash bag over the top of your cabbage. Now fill the trash bag with water (to seal your cabbage underneath!!!....I move the bag around a bit (without breaking the bag) to get out as much air as possible.....the water in the second bag completely seals your cabbage.

Keep your bucket in a cold dry place from 6-8 weeks. I like mine REALLY sour so I will go the 8 weeks....but at 6 weeks your kraut is mild yet tart and ready to eat!

FYI: If you do not eat it immediately, you should process it in pint/quart jars.......Please know that your kraut needs to be processed or eaten.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Garden Jelly

I must beg forgiveness from those who are following this blog for my somewhat cryptic title of a truly fabulous jelly. I fear that if I divulge the secret ingredient right away that everyone will close their minds and even refuse to try it! I suppose I can understand. In my mind, the taste of liver can't be disguised no matter how hard one tries....although...a number of years ago I found that I loved Dirty Rice ... aka...gizzards and chicken LIVERS. (eek....running away screaming)

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Yes. It is August and therefore it is FALL in Alaska. Last night my tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants froze. The fireweed has finally bloomed to the top, signaling the end of summer. We really know that fall is here when the "Dirty-Feet-Smell" permeates the air. That's when I know I must venture out into my own backyard with my raincoat, high-top rubber boots, ballcap and berry picking bucket to harvest those nasty smelling High Bush Cranberries and make and jar that wonderful ketsup!
High Bush Cranberries
The root crops are still fine and enjoying the cooler temperatures. I harvested most of the beets last weekend and couldn't bear to throw away that beautiful crimson liquid. So, I looked on-line as to what I could do with my beet juice and found an interesting recipe for Beet Jelly as well as some really cool information about the benefits of beets. There is just something about this fabulous veg. That intense, deep almost royal red of it, the Earthy smell and taste of immediately KNOW it is GOOD for you and, if like me, want a little more. I didn't fully appreciate beets until pregnant with Chris-and then I couldn't eat enough of them. I love them best simply boiled then lightly dusted with salt, pepper and a little melted butter...nothing fancy.

Beets are a universal veg! You can eat the greens as you would spinach or any other green, the root with butter and seasonings, and the juice made into jelly. They are full of anti-oxidants and have been used to treat anemia, circulatory problems, kidney disease, menopause, tiredness, bladder problems, eye fatigue and liver problems. Beets are a great source of calcium, sodium, vitamin A, chlorine, sulfur, vitamin B-6, iron, potassium and choline. The leaves and juice are known to cleanse the blood and kidneys...this is why you need to eat/drink them in moderation (I've read that one should never drink beet juice alone-it needs to be mixed with another veg).

With that said, here is my recipe for "Garden Jelly a.k.a. Beet Jelly"

4 cups beet juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 pkg. Sure Jell Pectin
1 -3 oz. pkg Jello (raspberry or black raspberry)
6 cups sugar

In a large pot, mix beet juice, lemon juice, SureJell and Jello. Bring to a boil. Add sugar and bring to a full rolling boil for 3 minutes and pour into sanitized jars. Process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

This recipe made 12-4 oz. jars and three 12-oz. jars and two 1/2 pint jars. (Yes, everyone will be getting one of those little ones with your Christmas present)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Farmer's Daughter Tribute

Thanks Mom!

Growing up, my brothers and I were led to call broccoli "baby trees" and Brussels sprouts "baby cabbages". My mother had to divide Brussels Sprouts among us or a fight was sure to ensue. I can't think of one veg that me or my brothers will not readily eat. In fact, I'd almost be willing to bet that any one of us would pass over the meat for a fresh ear of corn on the cob, a green onion plucked from the soil-washed and dusted lightly with salt, or a slice of a tomato cut from the vine.

This farmers daughter tells me she grew up poor but what she doesn't know was rich in culture. My grandfather read to his children (3 girls) for entertainment. I remember my grandma Sadie telling me to go pick out some fruit for the dinner table....Oh how I loved my grandmas pears and peaches! Cousin Cathy and I would sneak out in the middle of the night, lift up our nightgowns and fill the pockets with Granddads sweet peas, then retreat to our downstairs room and feast on his lovely crop! Sorry Granddad!

So....the conclusion is this. Every year about this time I begin to harvest the rewards of my efforts in the garden. But I have never acknowledged the beginning of my efforts. This is a good time to do so.......And, by the way....Isn't my mother beautiful?
Tonight I am making a grilled King Salmon with lemon and dill weed. Poor thing is a shadow to the fresh beets and beet greens I harvested from my garden today. To add more salt to that wound, I have fresh zucchini clipped from the vine that I am sauteing in a lovely butter and garlic/tomato sauce. Of course, this meal is not complete without a lovely salad of my own grown butter lettuce, red radishes and green onions served with vanilla-cinnamon walnuts and a blue cheese dressing. Also to accompany this is fried green cabbage with my last year's canned red sauerkraut and bacon. For dessert I made a lovely fruit compote of raspberries and blueberries we picked last weekend and have mixed them with peaches and an oatmeal crust.

Thanks Mom for exposing us to so many wonderful veggies. Poor King Salmon is taking a back-seat to the beets I pulled up today!

Next-up: Green Beans!!! they will be ready to pick next week!