Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Weekly Local Booty - 7/13-19/08

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekly Local Booty - 7/13-19/08

As I'm sure any regular readers are aware, I post pictures of our weekly CSA and farmer's market booty on the Garden Update. Well, as the season has progressed, the garden updates have gotten quite long, since so much is going on. And this week, we got our first load of booty from our own gardens, and our CSA is getting to the point where we are starting to have to preserve some of what we get, we just can't eat it all before it will spoil. So I decided to have a separate update for the local produce and any food preservation we do. Otherwise the garden update would be a novel.

So, here it is, the first weekly local booty update.

Check out all the goodies we got from our container and community garden plot this week:

It's all so pretty, I still can't believe some of this stuff started from seed! Starting from the lower right we've got: a red serrano pepper (my favorite kind!), 2 hot banana peppers, 6 ripe long red cayenne peppers (another one has ripened and been picked since), zucchini (this was the baby zucchini in last week's garden update), 2 roma tomatoes, 6 hot Hungarian wax peppers, and a yellow straighneck squash.

Here is this week's CSA. We got: fresh mint, beets, a huge tomato, a green bell pepper, an onion, tons of green beans, one of those weird looking cucumbers that are the tastiest cukes I've ever had, a summer squash, a zucchini, and some fresh thyme, I believe. Not bad for $5-6.

Here is this week's farmer's market booty. We spent $26 this week. We've got: a dozen local, "free range" eggs for Brett (the little boys who sell these at the market are the nicest, sweetest little boys I've ever met, and they always make sure to say "we appreciate your business", you don't often see that anymore), strawberries (!), peaches (!!), 12 ears of organic sweet corn ($4!), roma tomatoes, garlic (German Extra Hardy), 2 small red onions, 2 small yellow onions, 2 small white onions, and two purple bell peppers. Just a tip, 3 of those little onions in a large batch of refried beans is perfect.

This week's food preservation activities included:
  • drying the thyme and mint
  • freezing the green beans
  • freezing the sweet corn
  • freezing the hot Hungarian wax peppers
  • sun-drying the cayenne peppers

The thyme and mint are fairly easy to handle. They need to be hung up in a cool, dry place. In our apartment, that is our hall closet (where we also store all our beans). I bundled them together with a twist-tie (left over from a bulk purchase), and hung them upside down in the closet. In a couple of weeks, they should be dry enough to crush up and put in a jar for later use.

The green beans are fairly easy as well. First, obviously, I washed the green beans very well. I started a large pot of water boiling. Next, I picked through them and took out any damaged beans, you only want the freshest beans, any "questionable" beans, keep out and use in the next few days. After I picked through the beans, I snapped off the ends, and broke them into manageable sized pieces. Once the water came to a rolling boil, I added the beans, and blanched them for 3 minutes. While they were boiling, I filled a bowl up with ice water. When the beans were done boiling I placed them in the ice water. Once they were cooled, I drained the beans completely. I even patted them dry with a towel to make sure I got all the moisture off. There are two options you can use to freeze the beans, the dry or tray pack. You can choose whatever method works best for you, we used the dry pack method. The beans should keep in the freezer for about a year.

Next was the sweet corn. First, Brett spent a little while shuckin' the corn :-). I brought a pot of water to a boil. Then, I rinsed the corn off, and got off any stray strands of silk. I cut off each end of cob. You don't always have to do this, but organic corn often has some "imperfections" on the tips, so you usually have to cut them off. We had smaller ears of corn, so we boiled them, 4 ears at a time for 7 minutes. While they were boiling, I got another bowl of ice water ready. Once they had finished boiling, I removed them with tongs and placed them in the ice water. I repeated this process with all the corn, and let the ears cool in the ice water for about 15-20 minutes. I drained them and patted them dry. Then I cut the corn off the cob and packed them freezer bags and removed all the air. Then I just popped 'em in the freezer. They should keep for about a year, but they won't last even close to that long around here, we eat a lot of corn.

Since the veggies we were preserving were local and organic, we saved the water that the corn and beans had been boiled in, as well as the ice water they cooled in, and used that to water our plants. It seemed like a great way to reduce water waste. Does anyone know if that is a bad thing to do for any reason?

Peppers are one of my favorite things, period. They are pretty, fun to grow, spicy - which I love, and they are also very simple to freeze. All I did with the hot Hungarian wax peppers was rise them off, pat them dry, cut off their stems, pack them in a freezer bag, remove the air, and pop 'em in the freezer. You don't have to cook peppers before freezing them. They should keep for about 8 months in the freezer.

And finally, I strung the cayenne peppers up to be sun-dried. I didn't have nearly enough cayennes to make a traditional ristra. I still used the same concept though. I bunched them together in two groups of 3. I tied them together with fishing line and wound some extra around them to make sure they were really secure. I did this to both bunches. I then threaded a needle with cotton thread, pierced the base of the chile stems, and pulled the string through all the stems. I them hung them up outside, and conditions permitting, in about 2 or 3 weeks, I will have dried chiles, ready to be crushed into pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper.

It was a busy day yesterday, but well worth it.

Today we'll take a trip down to the garden, take some pictures, pick anything that needs to be picked, and then relax. Enjoy your Sunday.

'Til next time.


VeggieGirl said...

Oooh, I always enjoy seeing what you've gotten from the CSA - it all looks great! :0)

Chessa said...

That looks like a great haul! You are inspiring me to do more food preservation of my own. So thanks! :D

Courtney said...

Congratulations on your first batch of goodies from your garden! That is so exciting...I love the thought that "I grew this!" before I bite into something. I don't know why, but everything tastes better if you grow it yourself :o)

Your CSA haul looks really good this week too. I have frozen corn before (I got crazy amounts in my CSA last year), but I had never thought of freezing green beans. I guess I always eat them too quickly to freeze them, but I am happy to know that it is an option--thanks for the link! (It is actually from the University of MN, where I work!)

I hope your day at the garden went well today!


Lizzy said...

look at that, your babies all grown up & looking great! i love that you froze everything and hooray for self dried herbs!

also i think it's great that you guys used your cooking water for the plants.

ohhhh i am so totally in the mood for green beans sauteed with onions, mhhh! i've neglected green beans for too long!

Erin said...

Your squashes look even better than the csa squashes! You're going to be so happy to have all the summer produce frozen when winter comes, it's a great idea.

jennycestcake said...

Great job! I never thought of saving my cooking water before, but it's a really good idea. Love your blog!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Veggie Girl - It's always a pleasant surprise for us as well. When Dan hands us the bag each week, we never know what'll be in it!

Chessa - Thanks. You should! It's actually kind of fun (at least I thought so), and very nice to have fresh local goodies in the dead of winter.

Courtney - Thank you. It was! Brett and I were so excited, I kept saying "these started from seed!"

Haha, a fellow university employee. Much of the information I got about freezing corn came from the Extension of where I work, the University of Missouri - Columbia.

It did, thanks, it was just mighty hot.

Lizzy - I know! It was hard to believe that the giant zucchini we pulled off there was a baby last week.

Thanks, we hated to waste it, and so long as we got our food scraps out, I didn't see what the problem would be.

I neglect green beans too, but with the CSA, I am testing the waters of the green bean.

Erin - :-) You are too sweet. Thanks, I think we will be too. We buy so much frozen corn over the winter and eat tons of stir-fries, so I know what I'll do with these!

Jenny - Thank you. It worked out really well, just sift out any veggie scraps, we thought they might rot on the soil.

Thank you!