Putting Food Up for the Cold Time–with Mom’s Help

This past week my mom visited me in Brooklyn.

We canned corn relish, carrots, pickled hot peppers, dried tomatoes, and blanched and froze okra from the garden. It was a huge help having her here right now while I’m injured. It’s peak harvest season, but getting local food put by while on crutches is challenging (injury update for those who are interested: I have a full ACL tear in my right knee and go in for surgery in a week and a half).

Along with the food preservation projects, we also found time for the silly but fun extravagance of a pedicure (hey, the crutches are ugly but that’s no reason for my toes not to look fabulous).

Aside from Mom’s visit and my knee woes, the other news is that two local food and food preservation videos I participated in just went online. One is part of the launch of a new local food web site called Taste of Local. There’s an article about my 250-mile diet along with the video.

The other is of me and Ellen canning dilly beans in Ellen’s lovely kitchen in PA. The video is up on the Kitchen Caravan site, along with the recipe, which is from my book (shameless plug for the book, just in case you haven’t read it yet). Kitchen Caravan is devoting the entire month of September to local foods.

Both Kitchen Caravan and Taste of Local are great sites with lots of intriguing info. Well worth some time browsing through the other videos, articles, and recipes.

Time to go ice my knee again.

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules


Fireroasted Tomatoes

One of the bummers about being injured and on crutches right now is that this is peak harvest season. Normally I’d be running around to the farmers’ markets to augment my CSA share and garden crops, buying up tomatoes and other goodies at their best and cheapest, and stocking up for the winter. Not possible right now. However, there has been enough bounty from CSA and the garden for me to do a little stocking up.

This is the flower and pod behind it of one of the burgundy okra plants I’m growing: burgundy okra flower and pod I blanch the pods in boiling water for three minutes and then freeze them. It looks like I will get enough off of the three plants I’m growing to make a big pot of gumbo for company some time this winter. Next year I’m going to grow more of them just because they are gorgeous plants and seem to be immune to the various bugs and mildews that abound here…and because I like gumbo. The dehydrator has been on drying celery and tomatoes. I’ve got about half as many tomatoes dried as I’d like to have. My mom is coming to visit for a week, and I am so sending her on farmers’ market runs for me!

I think I’ve got enough jars of ratatouille put up for the year, though if more eggplant shows up in my CSA share, I’ll probably can some more. I’ve pickled plenty of carrots. And I’m about 2/3 of the way to having as many jars of canned tomatoes as I need.

Last year during The 250 I realized that if I ran out of my home-canned tomatoes as had always happened before, I wouldn’t be able to run out to the store for any. Before that, my favorite storebought brand was Muir Glen Organic Fireroasted. So I figured out a way to make my own fireroasted tomatoes. They are so much tastier than the regular ones that I’m fireroasting all of my canned tomatoes this year.

Fireroasted Tomatoes

Step One Skewer a tomato with a fork and hold it over the flame of a gas stove burner (sorry, electric won’t work). As the skin starts to char and split, rotate the fork to expose all sides of the tomato to the fire. Remove from fork into a bowl to cool. Repeat with the next tomato (I usually get all four burners on my stove going at the same time so that I don’t spend all day on this step). During the fireroasting, the tomatoes carmelize slightly, which intensifies their flavor. Now you’ve got something that looks like this: roasted tomatoes cooling

Step Two When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off of the tomatoes. They will come off easily. Don’t worry if you don’t get every single bit off.

Step Three Cut off the stem part of the tomato and discard.  Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Squish most of the seeds and the gel that surrounds the seeds out and discard (you could skip this part, but you’d end up with a very watery, seedy product, which is not what we’re after).

Step Four Pack into pint jars, adding 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice or 1/4 tsp. citric acid to each jar. Leave at least half an inch head room. Screw on two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes. Remove jars from water and let cool completely before moving them. Even though you squished out the seedy gel, there will still be enough water in the tomatoes that at first the pulp will separate from the liquid and look like this: liquid and pulp separation in cooling jar of tomatoes

Once the jars are completely cooled, you can shake them up to reintegrate the liquid and pulp. Et voila! Home-canned fireroasted tomatoes! home-canned fireroasted tomatoes

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

Get the book: Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith