Green Tomatoes

It’s nice to go to the garden an to be able to use unripened fruit. You get excited about eating from your plants that have been growing for months. A green tomato from the garden is a special treat you get during a season of the year and should not be overlooked for its ripe self. I have used them in two ways I’d like to share: Fried Green Tomatoes and Dilled Green Tomatoes.

Dilled Green Tomatoes

I got this from the Ball Blue Book- Guide to Preserving Ball Blue Book-Guide to Preserving. I enjoy canning and making pickles. I am very happy with these. The basics are this: Core and quarter 5 pounds of firm green tomatoes. Put tomatoes into pint jars with one clove of garlic, a head of dill and a bay leaf per jar. While doing that make a brine for the tomatoes with: 1/4 cup salt, 3.5 cups vinegar and 3.5 cups water. Bring brine to a boil and pour hot brine into jars. Remove air bubbles and process for 15 minutes. I use these on salads. They are dilly and garlicky; they melt in your mouth. 

Fried Green Tomatoes

I don’t want to sound repetitious, but I cook these the same way I cook the dandelion blossoms and the zucchini: A egg bath, dusting in flour, fry in oil for several minutes per side, salt and eat.

With all three fried dishes, you groove on the fried-ness of them. The tomatoes soften up, but not too much. With salt they are great.

You appreciate food that you have grown more than food that you buy prepared. With myself I know I am a more adventurous eater than I was a couple years ago. I would not have wanted to try either of these a few years ago, now I look forward to making them.

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Sauerkraut

I found this book last year called Wild Fermentation, by: Sandor Ellix Katz. He is a god. I cannot say enough good things about this book. The really good thing is- he has another book out called, This Revolution Will Not be Microwaved. They are both must reads!

In Wild Fermentation, Sandor teaches about fermenting vegetables, making breads, drinks and more. I took on a few projects last fall including: making sauerkraut, homemade wine, ginger beer, kombucha and bread. Most of the projects worked out, some did not. I had an explosion of ginger beer. I had it fermenting in a one gallon glass bottle when it exploded…it was a mess. It sounded like a shotgun blast, I was hit with a chunk of flying glass and I had a gallon of sweet/sticky ginger beer on my floor.

The difference between this book and other “cookbooks,” is it takes time. Some recipes take a day or two, others take months. It’s a perspective changing book if you have no experience with fermenting food.

I wanted to share my sauerkraut making experience. To make sauerkraut you need two ingredients: 5 pounds of cabbage and 3 tablespoons of sea salt.

You give the cabbage a good chop. Put it in a bowl layering the cabbage with the salt. After that you want to put it in a container. I use a half gallon Ball jar. Start to pack the cabbage into the jar. Pack it real good, I use a wooden stick to jam it all in.

This is when something really neat starts to happen. The salt draws water out of the cabbage making a brine. Continue to pack the cabbage into the jar. The water will slowly make its way to the top.

I had to use the half gallon jar and a quart jar to fit two cabbages. I saved two of the outer leafs to put on top of the brine. They press the chopped up cabbage down below the top of the brine. I covered with a cloth and I am letting it sit on my counter. I will taste it every few days to see how the sauerkraut is progressing.

While it is fermenting the cabbage should always stay below the brine. You can make extra brine, if needed, by using 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water and adding it to the container. The brine protects the cabbage from all the bad bacteria. There is a potential of some mold or scum forming on the top; you are able to take that off and the sauerkraut will be ok. That is one reason I use a whole leaf to press down the cabbage, it will not be eaten.When it is at the stage I like it I will put a lid on it and put it in the fridge.

I can’t wait to make Reuben sandwiches. Most of all I am looking forward to making sauerkraut brownies. It sounds like it won’t taste good, but they are some of the best brownies I have ever had.

Thanksgiving Turkey

It’s four months to Thanksgiving but I know where my turkey is being raised; LTD Farm. When I visited Callister Farm they said all their Thanksgiving turkeys were all sold for this year. I assumed that was the case for other farms too. I saw a facebook post from LTD Farms that they had turkeys for this year and jump at the opportunity to get one. Not only are you getting a local turkey that is raised on a good farm, but LTD allows you to come pick it up and help process it, if you like.

I am sure I could get a good turkey from the co-op or farmers market, but for me it means a lot to be able to go out to the farm. Being able to help process the turkey is wonderful. I feel a responsibility for the killing and butchering of the meat I eat. I want to be reminded my turkey leg helped carry a 30 pound bird.

The Perennial Plate an awesome job last year of documenting some of that days events at the LTD Farm.

Lunch

Today I found a heirloom zucchini in the yard. Zucchini is one of my favorite things to eat from the garden. They taste good and we get them in abundance. I found a dozen dandelion flowers also, so I fried everything up for lunch. I fry the zucchini the same way as the dandelion:

2 eggs
1 cup flour
Small pan with 1/4″ oil at the bottom over medium heat
Cut zucchini in 1/4″ slices
Dip flowers and zucchini slices in egg
Then flour
Fry for a couple minutes per side
Set on plate with paper towel to cool
Salt

I got the zucchini seeds from EGG|PLANT Urban Farm Supply in Saint Paul. They are from Baker Creek Seeds: Squash Cocozella Di Napoli.

Zucchini grow a lot in a short amount of time. It is easy to not see one and come back the next day and it is double or triple the size you expected. I really want to save all the seeds I can this year. I will let a few of the zucchini get very large so I can harvest their seeds.

Links

So I’ve been searching the web for local food related stuff. I came across two websites worth putting up. The people behind the websites are awesome and do a great job presenting what they are doing. These websites are very encouraging for me. I am not going to put up every cool website out there, there is a lot. I am putting these up because the creators live in Minneapolis or Saint Paul and are promoting local and sustainable food.

http://www.theperennialplate.com/

http://www.mnlocavore.com/

Grape Leaves

 We have seven grape vines in our yard. They are growing like crazy. I trimmed them all this past spring and now they look overgrown. I read; this year, the fourth year, they really take off. We have a lot of grape clusters on them now too, it looks pretty cool.

We did find wild grapes in Saint Paul. Come harvest time I will go check on the grapes. I saw a lot of other people picking raspberries this year, I wonder if people forage for grapes.

Kristina and I enjoy Middle Eastern food. One of the sides is stuffed grape leaves. I know I can’t stuff a grape leaf like the Falafel King but I want to try. I picked 50 grape leaves; blanched them; stacked them together; rolled them up; put them in a quart jar and poured a brine over them; finally processed the jar. Now to find a recipe for the stuffing…and some falafel.

I wonder if I could marinate some meat, than wrap the meat up in the leaf and smoke it. Hmmm.


Loca-WHAT? Part 2

So it’s been a few days. I have had a chance to finish the book and process it.

I think I was questioning my diet because I was being challenged; by who, myself! I need to take greater steps in eating local. There has been a theme to my thinking. It is this: We are losing our culture to convenience and greed.We should know where our unprocessed food comes from and we should be able to take the time to cook good meals for our families.

I have been buying a lot of convenience food lately. It’s been good food, but Trader Joe has been doing most of my cooking. I have only been heating it up. That seems like the way things have been for a while. I do cook from scratch, but maybe 3-4 days a week.

Last night I made spaghetti. We had pasta from Cub, I have no idea where that came from. Meat from Trader Joe’s, that came from California. Sauce from Cub, no idea where that came from… Is that cooking? I browned the meat, boiled the pasta and added the sauce to the meat. Done!

Did I cook? Is that a expression of our culture? Can you taste Saint Paul in that meal? It’s not tomato season yet, unless I buy hothouse tomatoes or had canned tomatoes from last year, I cannot have spaghetti. Is that extreme?

What would be an expression of our culture? Locally grown and milled wheat. Homemade pasta; local beef from a farm I have seen; tomatoes and herbs grown in my yard for our sauce.  With this meal I would have a greater pride in severing it and a deeper appreciation of the food.

Is a diet like this possible?