Sunday, October 30, 2011

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

It is the end of the growing season and while the days are still lovely, warm and clear.....the nights are bringing freezing temperatures. 

My tomato plants are now brown with just a few straggling red globes hanging grimly on.   Since we picked an abundance of cherry and roma tomatoes last week and I am sick to death of canning.....I am going to slow roast the tomatoes.

[insert photo here when I get around to it]

Slow roasting tomatoes is so effortless.  Cut the tomatoes in half and lay onto a cookie sheet, cut side up.  Drizzle or brush with olive oil until they are all covered and shiny.   Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, garlic granules, pepper and any herbs you may like.   Bake at 225 for several hours.

You want them to be dried and shriveled but still retaining some moisture.  In other words not shoe leather quality.

Cool and eat.  Or pack in olive oil in the fridge and enjoy.   They should keep for several weeks if completley covered in oil.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apples and Plums... Oh My. Asian Plum Sauce and Apple Butter.

While still in the throes of dealing with nature's bountiful gifts this year of apples and plums, I decided to finish off the last 3 1/2 pounds of Italian Prune Plums with a batch of Chinese Plum Sauce.

This many apples will make a batch of apple butter

Apples? Oh YEAH we have apples this year. Previously I made and froze apple pie filling for 12 pies. Now neatly wrapped and stacked in the shop freezer. A friend, who is also up to her eyeballs in apples and pears, gave me a super recipe for crockpot apple butter. Fabulous!. Easy peasy!! No standing and stirring and stirring over a hot pot. Just put the peeled cored and chopped apples in the crockpot with the sugar and spices and go about your merry way.  

First: Chinese Plum Sauce. I like the sauce just a bit sweeter and each batch of plums will have its own level of about half way through the cooking process I stop and taste and add some more sugar if needed. Makes about 6 half pints, plus a little dish extra.  I think we will have to have pot stickers tomorrow.

4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 oz of fresh ginger minced
1 onion minced
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
2 cups of water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil (no substitutes)
1/2 tsp crushed dried chilies
3 or 4 pounds of ripe plums pitted and chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

Put all of the ingredients, except the cornstarch and water, into a stock pot and bring to a boil.  (If you don't have fresh ginger....I used a heaping tsp of ground ginger. ) Reduce to a low simmer and uncovered let gently cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom.  Taste to see if sweet enough if not, add about another 1/8 cup of sugar and cook some more.  Remember......Chinese Plum Sauce is not supposed to be sweet like a sweet and sour sauce.

Blend the mixture, either in a blender or using an immersion blender (my preferrence) until smooth.   Mix the cornstarch and water together and while stirring constantly add to the sauce.  Simmer and stir for several minutes until smooth and thickened.
Ladle into 1/2 pint jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Next: Apple Butter

Oh man, is this an easy way to make apple butter.  Next year I may try it for pear butter.

5 to 6 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped.
4 cups white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt.

Put the apples into a large crock pot.  Toss well with the sugar and spices and salt.   Cover and cook on high for one hour.
Just starting to cook down.

 Reduce to low and cook for 9 to 11 hours.  Stir once in a while.  The mixture will start reducing and become browner.
Halfway done.  Starting to get mooshey and thicker.

At this point it was getting late so I just shut the cooker off and went to bed and started it up again in the morning.  Cook until the apples are almost mush. 3 more hours  Break out the trusty immersion blender again and being careful not to splatter yourself with the scalding mush, YIKES  HOT!!.....blend until desired texture.  I like mine with a bit of chunks still in the apple butter.

Done! Thick and tasty.

Ladle into 1/2 pint jars and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  This recipe made 7 1/2 pint jars.

TIPS:   To make your life easier if you plan to preserve, can or make jams.  Have on hand, a canning funnel, a jar lifter, some good metal ladles for scooping out the product into the funnel and several small tongs for lifting jars and lids from boiling water.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Forest Gump of Plums

I am the Forest Gump of plums.

This year all of our plum trees have gone into overdrive producing.  So many plums.  So many types.  I feel like Forest Gump

Wild plums, Italian plums, Santa Rosa plums.

Plum jam, plum jelly, plum pulp frozen to make more plum jam and jelly, plum bread, plum cookies, plum crisp, plum tortes, plum pies, plum sauce, dried plums, frozen plums, canned plums, fresh plums.  

FREE plums.  Please take some of these plums.  Begging people to come an pick them before our deck is totally spotted with rotten plums dropping off of the tree.

I can't stand to see the fruit go to waste so I spend my time preserving, cooking, freezing and drying.

Here is a recipe that freezes well.  The bread is better after sitting and 'aging' for several days, otherwise, it is cakelike, crumbly and doesn't cut well.  The Italian plums are a pleasing blend of sweet and tart that doesn't make the bread gooey.

Italian Prune Nut Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
1 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4  large  eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp  cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon peel, finely grated
3 to 4  cups Italian prune plums - diced 1" pieces
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Pre heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two loaf pans

2. Cream the butter sugar and vanilla until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition

3. Sift together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda.  If you don't have cream of tartar use baking powder ( 2 tsp)

4. Blend together the sour cream and lemon peel.  Add the the creamed butter mixture alternately with the dry ingredients.

5. Stir until well blending then fold in the plums and nuts.

6. Pour into the two baking loaf pans and bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.