Loving CanningUSA.com!!

August 31, 2008 in Gardening

www.CanningUSA.com, awesome resource!

I do not do this usually but I had to recommend this site!!

www.CanningUSA.com

This site is so informative and charming!

If you want to put up some of your beautiful organic garden foods but are somewhat hesitant about canning method and recipes (we all are in the beginning!) then try this site.

Basically, you have two very calm and down to earth people, David Blackburn and Andrea Van Wallenburg, who have put together online FAQs and recipes and even videos showing you how its all done. They even do podcasts. They are, in their very low key way, extremely in to or passionate about canning! I think they are in lovely sunny France, their videos show such a lovely utilitarian kitchen filled with bright sunlight.

www.CanningUSA.com, awesome resource!

I am going to share a few screen shots from their videos – visit their site and watch the videos for yourself.

They show equipment..

www.CanningUSA.com, awesome resource!

www.CanningUSA.com, awesome resource!

They even make and can pork, rabbit, and http://canningusa.com/IfICanYouCan/FishTuna.htm pâté! We have a frozen duck in our freezer (from our backyard), I am thinking I might do something like this with it.

www.CanningUSA.com, awesome resource!

www.CanningUSA.com, awesome resource!

Right now I am brewing up a batch of tomato sauce from our homegrown organic heirloom tomatoes. I will be canning them a bit later today and then put them up for the depths of winter when the garden is a distant memory and buried under feet of snow.

I grew some cherokee purple tomatoes from Victory Seeds and they are funky looking – purple! They are very meaty and went right into the pot.

I will go into more detail about this in another post but I had to share this site with you all!

Let me know if you can anything up and how it goes!

Bait and switch food magazines burn my biscuits

July 29, 2008 in Food Porn

cherry-2-060908-JPG

When I was a kid, I was such a food nerd, I got Bon Appetit instead of some pimple magazine for teen girls (yikes, atrocious at any age). I would pour over each issue, reading the recipes, visualizing how to do each step. They were the protocols (as we call them in the lab) for success, guides to new flavors and precious experiences.

In some ways, it was almost enough to know the recipe and see the photos, the eating never really came close to the imaginative savorings. You would know what I mean if you read the Harry Potter books and then saw the movies – almost there but nothing is ever as vivid and fantastic as one’s own imaginings.

I remember making a homemade peach melba ice cream cake (made the ice cream by hand and all the meringue, by hand). My family seemed to enjoy it!

For Christmas 2007, my husband got me subscriptions to several food magazines (something which I never do because it seems like an unwarranted excess in light of the budgetary needs of getting a few toys for the kids), including Bon Appetit and Gourmet. Now, it’s not about cooking so much as food photography. Instead of simply being a food nerd, I now consume the photos in a wholly different way.

But, I need to kvetch about one negative in what should be a purely aesthetic experience… these magazines are really not about food but about the luxury lifestyle.

This consumerism is a major negative for me. With an honest understanding about climate change, peak oil, the state of the economy as a nation and our own, consumerism is unethical, it’s a key part of the problem. These beliefs are critically important to my personal ethic, along with Buddhist principles that guide one away from attachment and living in the now and not to live for things.

I flip through these magazines, savoring the mysterious darkness of one shot, crab legs peeking from a creamy soup, deep living colors and then the next page is all about these super luxury residential cruise ships that cater to my every need (if, that is, I had millions to spend on an alternative residence, far from the hue and cry of the brown rabble).

A Day at the Quabbin: boat

Totally spoils the food porn experience, utterly.

I guess I am a populist food pornographer. I prefer to focus on the best of us that arises from the intersection of cultures instead of the pretentiousness of that which arises from within an exclusive food culture.

Food should be for all. Good food should be for all. One pint of pick-your-own local blueberries from your local surrounds is vastly superior to a foie gras terrine flown in by jet.

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A simple hearty corn chowder crafted from homegrown corn from your own backyard is leagues and leagues far superior to some molecular gastronomic construction of cubic veal collagen overlayed by persimmon gastrique nanospheres that levitate when the magnet under your table is turned on.

This is an overwrought cry to you all, help me find a good source of food photography that is not really about multi-million dollar homes in Aspen, luxury residential cruises and all manner else of useless fripperies.

If you can recommend something, please do!

I am not going to be renewing my subscriptions.

Blue Eggs Yellow Tomatoes – A Beautiful Life

June 1, 2008 in cookbook, Local Food, photography, review

blue eggs yellow tomatoes cookbook

Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden

Eating homegrown food is not only good for you and your bank account but it can be fantastically tasty and quite photogenic.

I recently received a review copy of “Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden” by Jeanne Kelley (published in April 2008 by Running Press Books). Kelley has decades of experience writing for Bon Appetit, Cooking Light magazine and many of her recipes have been published in LA Times Magazine, Natural Health, Islands and Spa Magazines.

Her professional life and her home life come together in Blue Eggs Yellow Tomatoes as she writes about how she raises some of her own food (chickens, vegetables) at her suburban home in Los Angeles and shares recipes that yield simply delicious concoctions that should satisfy anyone, whether you are growing your own food or if you go to the farmer’s market.

The book includes a charming mixture of fantastic food photography and the author’s own photographic glimpses into her family and backyard. She is not a professional photographer but her images are candid and enjoyable.

egg still life

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce Studios All Rights Reserved)

She covers various topics not necessarily found in your average cookbook, from how to garden in your own backyard to growing chickens to how to compost.

Nascent gardeners are given plenty of reasons to start growing their own food – 150 delightful recipes that span the range from salads to desserts in 10 chapters.

  • Appetizers and Small Plates
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches and Tartines
  • Pizza and Pasta
  • Fish and Poultry
  • Meats
  • Vegetables and Sides
  • Desserts and Sweets
  • Breakfast and Brunch

I found her salads chapter to be particularly enticing. They are quite beautiful and diverse, many interesting ingredient ideas. My attraction to the salads is also fed by a hankering for the veggies that have not even sprouted in my garden.

I really enjoyed the craftsmanship of this book. It is a large book (3.8 pounds) with bright white pages mixed in with country-home pages featuring a sunny palette of colors. As I mentioned before, the food photography is quite enticing.

egg - soft lighting

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce Studios All Rights Reserved)

Other attractions include a guide on pantry stocking and equipment choices, a kitchen garden primer, a section on how to use a recipe, and a guide for chicken keeping.

I am obviously biased positively toward anyone making an effort to grow their own food (veggie and animal). We have our organic garden, a flock of layer chickens, and a growing herd of dairy goats.

I would recommend this lovely cookbook to anyone who loves food and who is interested in pouring love and nurturing into their cooking.

Red bowl, egg, still life

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce Studios All Rights Reserved)

Product Details:

I Have a Bright Green Secret

May 23, 2008 in Gardening, Humble Garden, vegetable

Thanksgiving 2007: asparagus frond decor

(Asparagus fronds)

Can I tell you about a secret thing I learned recently?

We planted asparagus last year and this spring we have been sampling a few spears from the 1st year growth. The production quantity is meager in the first year so its sampling, by definition.

Asparagus and mozzarella stuffed blue cheese and basil hamburgers

(Grilled asparagus)

No, thats not the secret.

Garden Project: Asparagus bed

(Asparagus crowns before being covered with soil)

Let me tell you the secret now. Homegrown asparagus is as different from store-bought as a rainbow is to the pitch black of a new moon night.

My vocabulary for flavor is just unprepared for the job of describing the difference between freshly picked, homegrown asparagus versus the poor things at the big box grocery store that has been soaking in germy water for days, traveling unknown miles. That asparagus is also bred specifically for putting up with the rigors of early picking, bruisy travel, oxidation, and temperature changes – all so that the poor defeated spears can sit on the grocery store shelves in pallid water until you pick them up, dump them in a bag, drag them home, and put them into your fridge for some short period of time. They are also likely grown on mineral and micro-nutrient depleted soils, leaving them mere simulations of asparagus.

Another secret – the flavor of the asparagus changes if you taste the stem versus the tip.

Garden Project: Asparagus bed

(Asparagus bed)

The main aspects of intact homegrown asparagus flavor include:

  • complexity
  • no bitterness
  • vegetal sweetness
  • a unique asparagus favor that is present in store-bought but which is divine in it’s purity

Garden Project: asparagus tops

(First year growth)

As you nibble your way to the tip, it becomes sweeter and more tender. If you are not paying attention, it is gone before you have had a chance to really appreciate the flavor.

Just like all of life right?

Its especially dear if you grow it yourself and you know it will be a whole year until the next chance to have such delicious flavors.

In terms of cooking, I would recommend a quick blanch, chill, and then a quick warm up in a bit of melted butter. There is no need to add anything besides a sprinkle of salt.

Let the asparagus sing to your soul.