16 November 2019

Wild November

 November has been a fairly memorable month so far, in terms of weather. On the first of the month, gale force winds brought down several trees and left us without power for two days.

This red cedar (Eastern juniper) in our back yard was the most significant casualty. It also took down the power line from the house to the barn and greenhouse.

Mike has been busy with clippers, chipper, and chainsaw since. I still can't get over the amazing colour of the cedar wood, once it is cut up.

A closer look at the root ball of the tree shows just how shallow the soil is here: the roots have wrapped themselves around the limestone rocks below.

A killing frost in the first week put paid to all the tender crops in the greenhouse, so I spent last Sunday clearing them all out and putting the greenhouse to bed for the winter. I'm glad I did, because  this week we had significant snowfall on Monday, followed by record-breaking cold.

It might be an interesting winter!

25 October 2019

Tomato Last Hurrah

Tomatoes, bread, olives and peppers.

I'm still picking tomatoes from the greenhouse, but they are ripening very slowly now and I know it won't be long before a killing frost gets to them.

This week I have been making the most of them by making panzanella for my work lunches. I often make a Dutch oven loaf at the weekend (I follow Tara O'Brady's recipe for Seeded Boule from her book Seven Spoons but don't always bother with the seeds. So these days it's just Boule, really...). If I'm lucky, there will be some of the loaf left over for Monday. This week I was extra fortunate, with enough bread left for Tuesday, too.

Seeded boule.

Both days I made panzanella with a torn-up slice of the bread, a few tomatoes, and a few olives. Then I drizzled over some red wine vinegar and olive oil, mixed it all together and let it sit until lunchtime. It's such a simple dish, but tastes lovely and is a great way of appreciating these late-season harvests. On Tuesday I made the same thing, but this time added a few of the pickled peppers I made last week, just to give the meal a bit of a kick.

20 October 2019

Resurrection with Pickled Peppers

It's been a while since I've been here (over two years, wow), but I want to get back in the habit of writing regularly, and this seems like a sensible place to start. I thought I'd write up my recipe for pickled jalapeƱo peppers. It's an adaptation of a few different recipes I found online. And, unlike one of those, it does not begin with "Clean your kitchen" as the first instruction. šŸ˜’

I grow two kinds of hot peppers: a cayenne type and tam jalapeƱos. The cayennes are easy to deal with: I just put those straight into the freezer and take them out when I need them. They are thin-skinned and defrost quickly. I probably have enough for the next ten years...

The jalapeƱos are a bit more work: they can be frozen for a short period of time, but their thicker skins mean that they suffer from freezer burn if you keep them like that for too long. I like to slice and pickle them, but as I only grow four to six plants, it takes a while to harvest enough to make it worth pickling a batch.

My solution is to freeze the jalapeƱos as they ripen to red, and leave them frozen for a month or two until I have a sufficient quantity to pickle.

Today I harvested the remaining (mostly green) jalapeƱos from the greenhouse and let the frozen ones defrost before slicing them all up and discarding the stems.

I use my pressure canner to process the pepper slices. The recipe is pretty simple: for each pound of sliced peppers, you need 330ml of water and 110ml of white vinegar (roughly 1 cup and ⅓ cup) and half a teaspoon of salt. Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil to make a brine, then blanch the sliced peppers in the brine for two minutes. Pack the peppers into a two pint jar, then pour the brine over, seal with a lid, and pressure can the jar for ten minutes.

These are nice as a pizza topping, or to add a bit of heat to quesadillas or salads. Once opened, they will keep for several months in the fridge. In theory, anyway...