Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick--What Would You Like To Eat For The Next Year?

In trying to live without processed foods, this is the Question of the Moment here at Chateau Sutton-Goar.  The tomatoes are FINALLY on,
but still not as strongly as they were at this time two years ago, so now the questions begin.  What tomato canned goods are our highest priority?  How many will we need?  Do we want to use some tomatoes for new recipes or stick with the old?  If we run short of tomatoes again, what could we be most likely to buy without forbidden ingredients?

I've already canned about half of the vegetable salsa we use in a year
(Can you tell it's one of our favorites?)  I'll still need to make our signature carrot salsa supply for the year, and perhaps some roasted tomatillo-chipotle salsa.  

We did decide to try a few new recipes this year, so we now have 7 pints and 6 half-pints of roasted garlic tomato sauce:
which smelled wonderful while cooking, but is probably not nearly as thick as it is supposed to be, as even after "cooking until reduced by 1/3," I still ended up a lot more than the recipe said it would make, so I'm guessing they probably used Roma or some other paste-type tomatoes.  I have Romas growing, but we have such a short growing season that most of my tomatoes every year are Early Girls.  We just don't have time for anything else to really get going.

Of course, not everything in the garden is a tomato, so I have been making and freezing pesto and ice cubes of chopped fresh basil, and Saturday I made and froze three batches of this:
Andy discovered a wonderful recipe for green poblano rice that I love so much that I planted about 12 poblano pepper plants.  Even after me killing a bunch of them in the transplanting process--and Theo taking out a couple in a process we aren't going to discuss--I have a lot of wonderful mild chilies in the garden.  To make the rice, one chops up a couple poblanos in water or broth, to cook for a while, then purees them with some cilantro and salt--then you would cook the rice in the new vivid green liquid.  I made 4 batches and froze 3 right after pureeing, so all we'll have to do is add the rice and cook.  Of course, AFTER doing all of this, it occurred to me that I could have actually only used half the liquid in order to save space in the freezer, leaving half the liquid to be added with the rice, but there are a lot of peppers out there.  Next time......
I also grow a lot of jalapeno peppers so I can use them when I make salsa, but in order to have enough to make salsa, one really needs quite a few pepper plants, which means one also has lots of jalapenoes when one isn't trying to make salsa.  So...
I now have 6 jars of pickled jalapenoes.  I made these two years ago when I had a big jalapeno crop (they didn't do well with last year's cold and wet summer either), and Andy loved them.  Since he likes things hot and I don't really care much for the pickled jalapenoes, this year I left the seeds in to add a bit more heat.  

And I am happy to report that yesterday's soup adventure,
was hot but successful, and we now have 16 pints of vegetable soup.  There was a little left over after filling all the jars, and it was amazingly good stuff.  I'm a little less terrified of the pressure canner each time I use it, though I still am more comfortable with the traditional water-bath canning process.  Now that we've had most of the jars and all the canning equipment for a couple years, we're finally starting to see the return on investment in all of this.  If we were to buy 16 cans of soup (most of which are no long 16 ounces as my jars are but 13 to 14 ounces and shrinking), it would be approximately $1.50 to $2.50 a can.  So, I made about $32 worth of soup yesterday.  Of course, if you factor in the time spent in gardening and planting and canning, it's probably about $1000 worth of soup, but we're going to focus on the no artificial ingredients or chemical additives angle at that point.........

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