Tag Archives: Cooking

Making Plum Preserves

Strainer
Straining the plum preserves.

We hard a large harvest from one of our plum bushes this year! We purchased them from our County Extension Office as pencil sized twigs several years ago. The largest is now about seven feet tall. They are covered with sweet smelling white blossoms in the spring. I recently read that the type we have are called wild plums or sand cherries, among a few other names. They start to bloom after three years and produce fruit after four to six years. So we may have even more fruit next year if our other bushes kick in.

I made our first batch of plum preserves last week. I followed a recipe I found on-line which called for lime zest and juice to be added. I strained the final product through a colander which was a bit of work and had some waste. The result was tasty, if a little tart.

Just after that we went to our neighbor’s barn sale. She will be moving soon and was clearing out a lot of things. We will miss Shirley. She has been a good neighbor. And Zekie has certainly enjoyed chasing the geese off her pond. https://sanctuary-acres.com/2021/03/22/a-working-dog/ My husband and I had found a few items and were ready to leave the barn sale when we saw one last item we had to have. It was the colander type strainer with wooden pestle seen above. Our neighbor said she had used it for making applesauce. We knew that it would be perfect for making plum preserves!

I had four more pounds of plums from this week’s picking, so I made more plum jam this afternoon. This time I made plum cinnamon for one batch and the other was plum ginger with freshly grated ginger root. Both are delicious. I used the new strainer set up to remove the plum skins and it worked beautifully.

Preserves
Two flavors of plum preserves.

I also made a peach custard pie this morning with peaches I purchased at a local farm stand. It was a productive day and I am happy we were able to take advantage of local produce.

Peach custard pie
Peach custard pie.

A Recipe for Fresh Turnip Sauté

A turnip, just minutes out of the soil

I came up with this recipe a few years ago when we were inundated with turnips from the garden. There must have been 50 turnips, all ready for harvest at the same time. I learned my lesson. Now, I plant a short row of turnips and replant as I use them, so we have only a few turnips needing to be used at any one time.

Sautéed Turnip with Greens

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium turnip with greens,

Cut the end and top from the turnip. Discard end and set the greens aside. Peel the turnip and cut into slivers, or do a fine dice. Cut the greens from the turnip top and discard the top. Strip the tender greens from the tough part of the stems. You can just pull and strip them off with your hand in one fluid motion. Discard the stems. Hold the greens in a bunch on the cutting board and cut into long strips.

In a medium size skillet, heat the oil on medium heat until it swirls freely in the pan.* Add the garlic and cook until golden brown and crispy. Add the white part of the turnip and cook until tender and edges are browned. This only takes a few minutes. Add the greens to the pan and cook until partially wilted. Add more oil if needed. Be sure to flip the greens and stir in the garlic and turnip so they don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

Add the salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the greens are fully wilted. They are especially tasty if you let the greens brown slightly. At this point, the dish is ready to serve. It holds well if you need to prepare other courses. Just turn the burner off and cover the pan. Let it sit on the burner to stay warm.

Serves 2-3 people.

Finished turnip dish.

*You may have noticed that I always mention heating the oil in the pan before adding the ingredients. This is an important step. Foods cook differently if they heat up along with the oil and it will change how the dish turns out. Also, some foods make stick to the bottom of the pan if they heat up along with the oil. You must, however, not let the oil get so hot that it smokes or it will burn your ingredients. Oil at the preferred temperature has a nice glossy flowing look to it as it swirls around the pan. It will also easily move around the pan and cover the entire bottom with ease.

Recipe for Beans and Rice

This beans and rice recipe can be used as a main dish or as a side dish. It is a good side to serve with the quesadillas shown above, link to that recipe follows. In Search of the Perfect Quesadilla This beans and rice recipe is a staple at our house. We serve it when we are due for a trip to the grocery store or don’t have any other ideas for dinner. This and spaghetti are two dishes that we have about once a week or so, because they don’t take much thought to prepare. Do you have dishes that are old standbys at your house too? What are they? We can all use more ideas of what to make for dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 13/4 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 small onion, chopped in large pieces
  • 1/4 of a red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin (adjust to taste)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips to crumble on top
  • may be served with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole
  1. Make rice per package directions. Generally bring the water and salt to a boil, then add the rice. Cook covered for 20 minutes or until done. You can leave the rice sitting on the burner until you are ready for it. Just be sure to turn the burner off when the rice is done.
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the other ingredients. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil olive when the pan is hot, then heat the olive oil. You can tell the oil is hot when it easily swirls around the pan to coat the bottom. Do not let the oil smoke or burn.
  3. Add the chopped garlic, onion, and red pepper to the oil in the pan. (You can also add chopped if you want.) Sauté the vegetables until tender. You may need to put a lid on the pan for part of the cooking time to get the veggies tender without burning them.
  4. When the veggies are nearly done, add the spices and sauté for a minute or so. Keep an eye on it so the spices brown and do not burn, or they will become bitter. Drain about 1/2 the liquid from the bean can. (You could also use kidney or pinto beans.) Add the beans and remaining liquid to the mixture in the skillet. (You can also add frozen peas, finely chopped broccoli, or spinach at this point. Or not.) If you added more veggies, cook or heat until they are tender. If you only added beans, just heat them through.
  5. Add the cream of mushroom soup. (You could substitute any cream soup, celery, broccoli, golden mushroom.) Heat the mixture through.
  6. At this point, you are ready to transfer the warm rice from the cooking pot into the skillet with the soup-veggie-bean mixture. Mix the rice thoroughly with the other items, this will take a minute. Reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. (You can use any kind of cheese. Provolone, Havarti, mozzarella, brick are all good.)
  7. Put a lid on the skillet and wait for the cheese to melt.
  8. You are ready to serve! We cut ours’s into pie shaped pieces for serving, then garnish with the crumbled chips, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Serves 6, or 4 very hungry people as a main dish.

Harvesting and Processing Herbs

Mortar and Pestle with Thyme

Autumn is a flurry of chores to wind up the growing season. There was putting the vegetable garden to bed and now I am processing herbs that I recently harvested. I cut and dried thyme, oregano, and chives. These are perennials. Once they are dried, I strip the leaves off the stems and grind them up with my mortar and pestle. I store them for use throughout the winter.

Basil is an annual plant. I grow several of them. Just before frost I pull the entire plant up by the roots and hang them on the porch to dry. Then I follow the same procedure as above.

This year I think I will give some as gifts. It is easy to grow them yourself and reassuring to know they are all organic.

On Not Lounging

Well, today I was NOT sitting in a lounge chair enjoying the patio. And not just because it was so hot.

First I helped tie up some loose ends from a construction project. Then I picked up nails from said project. After that it was time to pick green beans. Picking beans seems to be my new hobby. Either that or cleaning and snapping them.

This afternoon consisted of making rice pudding for this evening’s dessert and then working on cleaning up the office. I never did get around to writing which was the whole point of cleaning up the office.

Oh well, as a line from a great movie says (in a wispy southern accent), “Tomorrow is another day. “

Veggie Season

It’s that time!

We get this many cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash every three days.

We also have more than sufficient amounts of green beans, Roma beans, turnips, snow peas, and tomatoes.

I am trying all kinds of new veggie recipes looking for some variety. We have had Mediterranean pickled turnips, Thai cucumbers, old fashioned refrigerator pickles, zucchini fritters, and all the usual standbys too.

We can only eat so much. Time to freeze veggies!

Abundance

Vegetables in the garden are ripening at an increasing rate.

Each meal now we must make the choice between turnips, beets, Romano beans, Slenderette green beans, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, zucchini, or yellow crook neck squash. Sometimes we have multiple vegetables.

This evening it was green beans pan fried with minced garlic and a dash of sea salt.

And none of our six kinds of tomatoes are even ripe yet. Summer can be glorious.

Ovenless Dessert!

It is so hot!

  • Ninety-five I do not like,
  • I do not like it in the sun,
  • I do not like it for a hike,
    I do not like it anywhere.

So, I found a recipe for a dessert that does not require using the oven. Pictured above is Stuffed Sweet Focaccia Bread.

It is cooked in a pan on the stovetop. Recommended fillings are peanut butter, chocolate, or Nutella. I improvised and used apricot preserves, walnuts, and brown sugar. It came out quite well. I will be making it again.

If you would like to try it as well, I found the recipe on Pinterest at the link below.

https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/sweet-focaccia/

Garden Dinner

This evening’s supper included beets and a turnip from the garden. I don’t know the particular kind of beets, because we planted a pack that was a mixture. The red one on the left was long and skinny. The candy cane striped one was red on the outside peel. And on the right is the turnip.

I sautéed them all together in some avocado oil and threw in the greens from all three as well. The only other addition was a little salt.

I topped some freshly made polenta with a fried egg and some cheddar cheese. Then I spooned the beet, turnip, and greens mixture over the top.

It was a fine repast.

What’s For Dinner?

What to do when you don’t know what’s for dinner. Grab something out of the freezer and add a side.

Lightly breaded perch, and polenta with mushroom gravy, peas, and Parmesan cheese. I also keep an all purpose breading in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Usually 3/4 flour, 1/4 cornmeal, salt, garlic & onion powder, and a little dill. The spices may vary.

The breading is suitable for fish or chicken. Keeping it in the freezer let’s you reuse it a few times.