Friday, September 24, 2010

I just decided this.

I just decided that for our 23rd Wedding Anniversary (approximately 1 year and 10 months from now) we are going to Bora Bora. I know, right? What is the big deal about a 23rd wedding anniversary? Well nothing other than the fact that we can't afford to go next year and we have already booked our timeshare for Hawaii for next year anyway. I have to start saving my pennies (pennies are all that is left over after paying all this school tuition).

As I sit here in my sweatshirt and jeans... I am still cold. I refuse to turn the heat on and I have all the windows open for some fresh air--with three pets in our house that insist on being right next to me at all times--fresh air is a must. I am holding out for the 80 degree weather they keep promising, but every morning that 80 degree forecast seems to turn into a 60 degree actuality.

I have wanted to visit French Polynesia since I was 20 years old and in college at ASU. I worked for a commercial photographer who took photos for cruise line brochures. He also took photos of gorgeous luxury cars outside castles in Germany. And photos of luxury boats in Southern Bayous. Anyway, one of my jobs was sleeving all the negatives when he and his wife returned from these lavish all-expense-paid "working" trips to exotic locations. I remember sleeving hundreds of photos of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris... ah, some day. But right now, I have my heart set on Bora Bora.

and here is why:

yes, and this:

oh and yes, I have always wanted to stay in a hut over the water:

and swim with turtles:

They even have a Four Seasons Resort on Bora Bora. I have calculated everything out and if I start putting away $30 a day, every day until the week before our anniversary in 2012, I will have JUST enough. Hmmmm. I may need to rethink some of the particulars on this one. But I can dream!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cherry Tomatoes

We have so many cherry tomatoes we do not know what to do with them all. We love eating them fresh and in salads. Joey used some on a homemade focaccia bread last month. But we have at least three different varieties of these little guys and they do not seem to care that we have lost sunshine in Portland. We have harvested literally hundreds of cherry tomatoes. All the other larger tomato varieties are sitting there, green as can be. We may be making a lot of fried green tomato recipes here soon if the sun decides it is done for the season. Luckily we got some great fried green tomato recipes while we were dining our way through Savannah, Georgia. No, I have not given up on the sun, I am just trying to keep the glass half full thing going....

I decided I needed to get creative. I cut all the little tomatoes in half and put them seed side up on a cookie sheet.

Then I added diced onions, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh basil and topped the whole thing with olive oil:

I roasted everything in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. It is sweet and savory and delicious. We ate it warm on toast. Michael also put it on his bagel this morning. He said it might taste very good on a burger. I think he might be on to something.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canning Party at the Farm

One of the things we love most about our CSA Farm is that it is hands on. We volunteer out there, we pick up our share each week at the farm, and they have a number of parties throughout the season for all to enjoy. Lyn and Juvencio really want everyone to feel like they are a part of the farm (and family) and they especially want to educate city families about farm life, what it means to run a farm, and they even desire to share the many struggles they face.

Since the day we signed up at La Finquita del Buho (Little Farm of the Owl), I have been looking forward to the annual canning party. This year they had 24 families signed up to participate. I'm not sure the full 24 showed up, however, there were lots and lots of people ranging in age from 9 months to 80+ years.

Lyn and Juvencio have a beautiful farm house plus many greenhouses and outbuildings including the structure in the picture below, which looks like a garage, but is actually half ceramic studio, half extra kitchen. By my count, we had at least 14 burners of all types going most of the day. There were brines to boil, jams and sauces to cook, lids to sterilize, and lots of filled jars to bathe. There were also at least 4 ovens going at all times sterilizing the jars. The area outside the garage was for prepping ingredients as well as some cooking. Both kitchens were overflowing with people cleaning fruits and veggies, filling jars with both veggies and brines, cooking fruits, and cleaning utensils as we went.

Below, Juvencio is a great host. He always has a smile on his face.

Some people showed up early Saturday morning to pick the freshest fruits and veggies possible for canning day. There were constantly people out in the fields picking more fruits (apples and blackberries) and vegetables for recipes. I arrived at approximately 8:45a.m. and there were already a dozen people in the fields.

The apples were mostly picked by the older kids so they could use the old cider press to make the coveted apple cider.

The kids pressed cider almost non-stop. Everyone received a jar to take home even though Luna (Lyn and Juvencio's daughter) did not really want to give any of it away. She was gently reminded that if she didn't give it away, she was going to need to drink approximately 30 jars of cider in the next few days. After that it would spoil. She finally agreed to relinquish the cider.

Below Mary Kay, the canning diva:

A list of all the goodies we made:

Some of the recipes were tweaked a little and we ended up not making the homemade tomato ketchup. Frankly I think we just ran out of time and there were a couple of other tomato recipes going.

The pickling cucumbers were plentiful and looked beautiful.

There were so many supplies. We ended up with lots of leftover jars, lids and rims. I'm sure those will all be used for Lyn and Juvencio's own canned goods collection. As we were leaving they were starting on their 75 jars of roasted tomato sauce. Living on a farm also means being able to eat from the farm through the winter.

Below: Mary Kay and Lyn, the canning experts:

The pickles were the first done.

Additional apples were picked and washed...

to be used in the apple butter recipe (so delicious, it's basically a highly concentrated form of applesauce, produced by long, slow cooking of apples with cider).

Farm owners Lyn Jacobs and Juvencio Argueta

These ladies are very proud of their handpicked eggplants. Their preserved eggplant with olive oil recipe included numerous steps and looks absolutely delicious:

For some reason I did not get any pictures of the ladies making blackberry jam. I think it was a pretty quick process once they had gone out and picked all the berries in the brambling patch on the other side of the apple orchard. This extra jar of preserves was put out on the food table to share and it was so good, people were putting it on anything they could find including homemade angel food cake.

The beet ladies were so diligent. Their recipe had been miscalculated so they had to go out in the field a second time to gather more beets for their pickled beet recipe. The pickled beets were being processed in the farmhouse kitchen.

The kids were all so cute, but also mischievous. Shortly after this picture was taken I was sprayed with a make shift squirt gun....

More mischievousness on the farm:

Once I had taken my first round of photos, very few recipes were left. I was chosen for the Jardiniere. So, apparently Jardiniere is a French word meaning gardener. In this case, the recipe for Jardiniere included lots of wonderful garden vegetables along with fresh herbs.

Below are the tarragon and thyme for my recipe:

Many of the recipes including mine came from Lyn's 'The Joy of Pickling' cookbook. Shortly after I was assigned my recipe and Lyn and I started pulling together the ingredients, two families showed up and they were assigned to work with me. This made the job a whole lot easier. We prepped zucchini, cucumber, carrots, red bell peppers, mixed hot peppers, shallots, pattypan squash, garlic and the herbs.

This mother/daughter team immediately started filling the jars with a clove of garlic, 4 peppercorns and a pinch of allspice berries.

Once the jars were filled with the spices, veggies, and herbs, they were ready for their vinegar, water and salt brine.

Sterilized lids and rims were added and while the mixture was still hot, they were processed for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Another mother/daughter team I got to work with: Laura and 9 month old Julia. One of the cutest babies I have ever laid eyes on. She is a twin. Her brother, Matthew was off having fun with Juvencio.

Green beans waiting for their brine:

Hot peppers and olive oil:

freshly picked and washed tomatoes for the hot tomato sauce:

Boiling water baths:

Finished tomato basil sauce:

Juvencio with the twins:

Once the recipes were complete, everyone got one of each canned good:

Most of the group...

I got to bring home 16 jars of goodness. They are all so beautiful.

A big bunch of zucchini went from this

to this:

Lyn wanted me to take two jars of Jardiniere so that I could send one to Joey at Oberlin.

and all I really wanted to do was open up that jar of blackberry jam and slather it all over a piece of toast.

Now I am invigorated to do some canning at home. I am dying to make some peach preserves and Michael just got done picking strawberries and blackberries from the garden that he wants made into jam... and when those big tomatoes finally turn red, they are going into a big jar of sauce, for sure!