Tag Archives: vegetarian

Kumquat Marmalade

Marmalade is good.

Marmalade is good.

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you will know that one of my many obsessions hobbies includes gardening. My gardening extends to tree growing as well, in fact, my yard’s fence is made out of dwarf citrus trees. All kinds! From naval orange to kumquats to citrons, I have a nice variety.

I was forced to pick all of my citrus this week because of the rare cold snap we’ve had here in Northern California. I’ve actually had to wear two pairs of yoga pants to do my chores in the morning. Anyway, I have a glut of citrus and I was scrabbling to find recipes to use all my citrus up. I made citrus curd. I made salted lemons – it was time for marmalade.

2 cups of chopped kumquat.

2 cups of chopped kumquat.

Since I am not a huge fan of eating plain ole kumquats, I thought the perfect application would be marmalade. Off the the Ball Blue Canning Book I went and found:

Kumquat Marmalade

2 cups thinly sliced kumquats

1 1/2 cups chopped orange pulp

1 1/2 cups sliced orange peel

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 quarts water

sugar

Use a sharp knife, it will make cutting these little suckers easier.

Use a sharp knife, it will make cutting these little suckers easier.

Combine everything except the sugar in a large saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and let stand overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, place your mixture back in a saucepan and cook rapidly until your peels are soft. Measure your mixture and add equal amount of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Bring to a boil, stirring often to the gelling point.

I used almost 8 cups of sugar for this recipe - be aware.

I used almost 8 cups of sugar for this recipe – be aware.

Remove from heat, skim foam and place in sterilized jars. Process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

Cooking jam is so pretty.

Cooking jam is so pretty.

These looked amazing too:

Sunday Morning Kumquat Jam 

Small Batch Kumquat Marmalade 

Kumquat Marmalade 

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Olive Curing

I take my lifestyle for granted. All the time. I can’t help it. It is my normal. But now and again, something reminds me, I am not normal. Most people don’t make their own soap, cure their own olives or make jams and jellies. Thankfully this is normal to me and I have a super cool family that has passed these arts down to me. YAY!

First some fun facts about California olives:

  • Olives were brought into California in the 1700’s by Franciscan missionaries from Mexico.
  • The trees can live from, on average 300 to 600 years (the oldest is over 5,000 years old!)
  • Generally, the hotter the region where the olives were picked, the bolder the flavor of olive oil.
  • 95% of the olives grown in California are canned as black-ripe or green-ripe olives.
  • California is responsible for producing 99% of all olive oil in the United States.
  • California is the only state where olives are grown commercially.
  • One ton of California olives produces 30-42 gallons of extra virgin olive oil.

 

This is what an olive tree looks like, pretty huh?

This is what an olive tree looks like, pretty huh?

However as I talk about this stuff on my social media I am often reminded that these arts are not as normal as they once were and I should be sharing and talking about them more than I do.

Ready to pick.

Ready to pick.

I realize this because I have stories like this: we had some friends over a few years ago. They were foodies. Now these foodies made it clear to me (a simple ranch kid) that they knew way more than this simple ranch kid about where food comes from. They knew from the internet and a class they took once. So of course I told them we had olive trees on the ranch and asked if they wanted to try fresh olives, right off the tree. Being experts in all things food, they were adamant that they must have some fresh olives.

Cured olives!

Cured olives!

Normally I would have explained to these people that fresh olives are gross and bitter and gross and nasty and we do not eat them until we cure them (did I mention they are gross and nasty?). But since these people were experts, who was I to tell them differently? It was pretty funny when they tasted the un-cured olives. They didn’t think so though.

My new olive crock! The 5 gallon crocks we had were just too big for me to handle. This is a 3 gallon and I love it.

My new olive crock! The 5 gallon crocks we had were just too big for me to handle. This is an 3 gallon and I love it.

Cured Olives

You will need:
Mature green olives
Lye
Water
Salt

Cleaned olives ready for lye.

Cleaned olives ready for lye.

Use olives that are mature but still green. You can purchase lye at most hardware stores. However due to all the meth-heads cooking drugs it’s getting harder and harder to find lye. Rinse you olives and pick all debris out. Place them in a glass or porcelain jars or crocks. You will then need to determine how much lye you will use.

Use gloves and safety glasses when working with lye. It's no joke.

Use gloves and safety glasses when working with lye. It’s no joke.

You will need to cover your olives with this lye solution. Add a solution that has been mixed at a ratio of 1 gallon of water (at 65 to 70 degrees) to 4 tablespoons lye. Soak your olives in this for 12 hours. (If you are working with a small amount of olives 1 quart of water to 1 tablespoon of lye works).

Adding the lye to the fresh olives (I did it outside because it scared me so  bad).

Adding the lye to the fresh olives (I did it outside because it scared me so bad).

The lye solution will have turned brownish after you have soaked your olives for 12 hours. This is good!
Now do the same thing again, with the same ratio of lye solution for another 12 hours. Drain and rinse with fresh water. Cut into the biggest olive, if the lye solution has reached the pit your cure is done! You will want to rinse and drain the olives 3 to 4 times after the lye has reached the pit.

Brown olive water. This is good.

Brown olive water. This is good.

If two lye baths weren’t enough, go ahead and do one more lye solution bath for 12 more hours. Rinse your olives again and soak in cold water.

Washed olives.

Washed olives.

Soak the olives in fresh, cold water changing the water three (or more) times a day for the next 3 days to 5 days. At the end of the 3 to 5 days, taste an olive to make sure there is no lye flavor!

Water is getting clearer!

Water is getting clearer!

Finally, soak the olives for at least one day and up to 3 days in a brine solution mixed at a ratio of 6 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon of water, changing the brine solution about every 12 hours. Congratulations, you’ve cured olives.

Yum.

Yum.

We like to add a chopped jalapeno or garlic cloves to our olives at this point. Store the olives, jalapeno and/or garlic in the brine solution in the frig. Use within two months.

Right after I added the brine, before I added the lids and placed in the refrigerator.

Right after I added the brine, before I added the lids and placed in the refrigerator.

References:

http://weolive.com/about-olive-oils/fun-facts/

http://www.foodreference.com/html/folives.html

http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/education/fruitnutproduction/

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Salsa Verde

Tomatillos. For years I wondered what they were in my grocery store.

Tomatillos. For years I wondered what they were in my grocery store.

When I went to Mexico for the first time I was amazed at all the salsas and sauces they had at every table. I mean, I’m from California so I’ve been exposed to decent Mexican food for most of my life, but nothing compares with going to the food’s natural habitat to realize how much everything you’ve had before, sucks.

Once I learned what tomatillos were I grew to love them. Not scary at all!

Once I learned what tomatillos were I grew to love them. Not scary at all!

I became enamored with salsa verde (thats the green stuff). When I came home to California the salsa verde I found was lacking. It simply wasn’t flavorful like it was supposed to be, spicy is one thing, but flavor is a whole other.

I took a Mexican cooking class and pumped my Mexican friends for tips and recipes. After a few years, I managed to make a decent salsa verde. I’m pretty hardcore about it these days, I grow jalapenos, tomatillos, onions, and limes.  And know what? It’s worth it!

 Salsa Verde 

  • 6 cups husked and chopped tomatillos
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups jalapenos (I leave most of the seeds in because I like the hot)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (I’ll actually use half bottled lemon)
I like to use foil, it just helps with the cleanup.

I like to use foil, it just helps with the cleanup.

Place peppers and tomatillos on a cookie sheet with edges and broil until you have lovely char marks.

Burnt=yum

Burnt=yum

The basics.

The basics.

Then place the onion, cilantro, garlic and pepper/tomatillo mixture in your cuisinart and mix until smooth.

The cuisinart is one of my favoritist things ever.

The cuisinart is one of my favoritist things ever.

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

At this point you can place it in your refrigerator to enjoy on everything.

OR

Place in sterilized jars and process in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes.

This is so good and fairly easy. This winter when I am enjoying my summer tasting salsa verde, I'm going to pat myself on the back!

This is so good and fairly easy. This winter when I am enjoying my summer tasting salsa verde, I’m going to pat myself on the back!

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Vanilla Cantaloupe Jam

My parameters for canning this year have been 1) I have to grow it 2) someone I knew grew it 3) I picked it. I’ve been highly successful with these parameters (plus it helps I live in California, the best place to grow awesome stuff all the time). The only snafu I have encountered is beating my piglet, Silly, to the garden spoils. She is sneaky. Oh so very sneaky.

I accidently on purpose planted a jungle of vines. There's gourd, cucumbers, watermelons, and cantaloupe all in there.

I accidently on purpose planted a jungle of vines. There’s gourd, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, and cantaloupe all in there.

I’ll put her in her outside pen to root and play in her pool. She waits until she thinks I think she is all settled in, then she will bust out and hit the melon patch like it is her job. I’ve lost several cantaloupe, a few spaghetti squashes and more watermelon than I will admit.

I saved them!!!! Success!!!!

I saved them!!!! Success!!!!

Anyway, I was lucky enough to save a few cantaloupe before she could get them. They were slightly green, so I thought the perfect use would be jam. I found a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Canning 2013 magazine. And jam I made…

Vanilla Cantaloupe Jam

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped and peeled cantaloupe
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, the guts scraped out
  • the zest of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 pouch liquid fruit pectin
Melon peel, I might have let Silly have one.

Melon peel, I might have let Silly have one.

Place the melon, sugar, and vanilla guts in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees.  Add the lemon zest, juice and pectin. Let vigorously boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

This smelled so good. I love vanilla and cantaloupe, it's a great blend.

This smelled so good. I love vanilla and cantaloupe, it’s a great blend.

Place jam in jars and process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes.

It was a small batch and I'm kinda not sure I'm going to share this one.

It was a small batch and I’m kinda not sure I’m going to share this one as gifts, I think it is private reserve.

Also try these recipes!

Cantaloupe jam (Ohio style)

Cantaloupe jam and jalapenos

Cantaloupe jam (Texas style)

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Fig Balsamic Jam

This is what a mission fig tree looks like.

This is what a mission fig tree looks like.

Fig trees, olive trees and pomegranates grow really well and almost wild here on the ranch. I haven’t been a fan of figs since I was a little kid and my Mom’s pot-bellied pig made himself sick on them and well, you really don’t want to know the rest of that story because you won’t like them either.

Figs!

Figs!

This was a great year for figs! Usually the birds and deer beat me to them, but for some reason I was able to pick lots and lots! And I still have some! I do love fig trees because they are a lot of fun to climb! I had the best fort in an old fig tree out here until the pig incident. After that, it got cut down, we never wanted to have the pig incident again (it really was that bad).

A fig in it's natural habitat.

A fig in it’s natural habitat.

I may not be a huge fan of figs but lots of my friends are. I decided to make some jam to use as gifts. After I tasted it I was surprised to find, I liked it! It was pretty good! I could see myself using it as a glaze for meat. Since it was good I decide to share my recipe (I used this as a base recipe), I give you:

Fig Balsamic Jam

  • 4 1/2 cups chopped figs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Lucero balsamic vinegar
  • 1 3-oz pouch liquid pectin
  • 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 6 cups sugar

Wash and de-stem your figs. Chop finely.

Chopped figs.

Chopped figs.

Add the figs, lemon juice, vinegar, water, sugar and butter in a large saucepan. The butter helps reduce foaming. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring often.

Anytime a recipe says add butter. I do. I love butter.

Anytime a recipe says add butter. I do. I love butter.

Once rolling boiling is achieved stir in liquid pectin. Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Skim foam, and ladle into processed jars leave 1/4 inch headspace. Process for in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Fig balsamic jam. Yes.

Fig balsamic jam. Yes.

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Balsamic Tomato Basil Jam

As you recall I made a tomato jam earlier in the summer. It was glorious, I mean, honestly, on a sandwich, it almost made me cry. I also made a port-balsamic jelly which was pretty good. Naturally this got me to thinking about more balsamic recipes and more tomato recipes.

Then my Mom found and made this recipe. It tasted amazing. But I thought it could be more vinegar-y and more basil-y. So I played around and came up with this version. It’s a whisper more savory than the other recipe I posted before. I like this one better, simply because of the vinegar taste. I love vinegar.

The summer of glorious tomatoes. My inner canner is so stoked.

The summer of glorious tomatoes. My inner canner is so stoked.

Balsamic Tomato Basil Jam

  • 3 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (I leave the skins and seeds in, I worked hard to grow my tomatoes and I like the texture)
  • 1/2 cups good balsamic vinegar (I recommend Lucero brand)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced garlic (I used fresh, but the stuff in the jar works great too)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion (we’ve made it with and without, both are good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons Ball classic pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
One of my favorite smells. Fresh basil.

One of my favorite smells. Fresh basil.

Put the first 9 ingredients in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir well.

Place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Mix in the sugar. When the full rolling boil takes place again, start timing and cook jam for 6 minutes.

Yum.

Yum.

Remove from heat, stir in basil and fill jars. Process jars in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

This is fabulous on sandwiches, over cream cheese, on toast, straight from the jar. I’m probably going to make a few more batches to give as gifts, it’s that good.

Probably my second favorite jam of this season (the first is jalapeno).

Probably my second favorite jam of this season (the first is jalapeno).

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Lucas Family Bread and Butter Pickles

The best sandwich I've ever made. Because of these pickles.

The best sandwich I’ve ever made. Because of these pickles.

When I was a little girl, most of my great-aunts, grandparents and others from “the greatest generation” were all still alive and active around the ranches. Since I was an only child, growing up on the ranch, these people served as my entertainment and playmates. Of course I didn’t realize how lucky I was then, to have interaction with these people, to learn from them and get to know them.

By the time I was 12, most of them had passed away. It was too late though, my family members left a deep and lasting impression on me. From huge, life altering things, like my passion for the ranch, to little, odd things, like my fierce love of bread and butter pickles.

My great Aunt Mary and I spent a lot of time together. I would walk down to her house after school and we would watch PBS while I rambled on about whatever it is kids talk about. She was an amazing cook that got this picky little kid to eat and like several things my Mom could never get me to eat.

I have a distinct memory of being at her house while she was trying to slice cabbage for coleslaw. At this point she had cancer and was in a lot of pain, but I never remember her complaining about it. I do however, remember asking me to slice up the cabbage for her because she could no longer do it. I felt awfully important and grown up, so when Aunt Mary told me to try the cabbage, I did (not something I normally would have eaten), and I liked it.

I also remember eating hamburger carpaccio at her house, the thought of doing that now makes me want to puke in my mouth, but hey I also drank out of mountain springs with the cows and lived to tell about it. Any way, Aunt Mary made the best bread and butter pickles I have ever had, to this day. They were like no other pickle I had ever had, and for most of my childhood I was spoiled with them.

After Aunt Mary died I realized her pickles were indeed rare, in fact, after years of searching I was fairly certain her pickles were extinct. I was pretty heart broken about it, actually. Until one day, I was talking about these pickles, sharing my memory of them and my second cousin (or something like that), said she remembered her Granny making the same pickles and she had the recipe.

Carrie and Helen were sisters. And they are my great, great aunts.

Carrie and Helen were sisters. And they are my great, great aunts.

Her family and my family are related through the Lucas side. Many of the Lucas sisters married and settled in Indian Valley, and according to my families old pictures stayed close friends. It’s only natural good recipes were shared.

THE recipe.

THE recipe.

I peed my pants a little over the excitement (food makes me happy, I’m not going to lie). After decades of searching for these pickles, after buying jar after disappointing jar, the recipe was so close!!! In fact her Mom texted it to me the next day. I immediately went to our neighbors garden and got some sweet onions, and out to  my garden to wrestle some cucumbers away from Silly Pig and started making the pickles.

Neighbor Pete's onion patch

Neighbor Pete’s onion patch

Know what? They are delicious. And the taste and smell brought back so many memories of standing in Aunt Mary’s kitchen as a little kid, it was wonderful.

The best damn bread and butter pickles you will ever have. The end.

The best damn bread and butter pickles you will ever have. The end.

I used to be a firm believer in secret family recipes, until I lost some secret family recipes. So in the spirit of not letting that happen ever again and because I haven’t seen many recipes like this (others use turmeric, this uses cinnamon), I give you:

The Lucas Family Bread and Butter Recipe. 

1 gallon sliced cucumbers

4 big onions, sliced

1/3 cup pickling salt

1 quart vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 teaspoon white pepper

3-4 cinnamon bark (sticks, I love old recipes!)

I found slicing the cucs into a gallon pitcher worked well.

I found slicing the cucs into a gallon pitcher worked well.

Soak the cucumbers, onions, and salt in an ice water bath over night. Rinse in cold water.

Ice bath. This is an important step. I don't know why, it's just what I was told.

Ice bath. This is an important step. I don’t know why, it’s just what I was told.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. I let it boil about 5 minutes. Put about half of the rinse cucumbers and onions in the pickling mixture to scald. Then place in sterilized, hot jars. Do the same with the rest of the cucumbers and onions, making sure to pack them tightly and to remove air bubbles.

The flavor.

The flavor.

Adjust your lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Let them “pickle” for about two weeks to really get the full effect.

Since I know this is the best pickle recipe ever, I went ahead and snuck a few of my peppers into a couple of jars. The thought of these pickles with some slight heat to them, almost makes me cry. It’s going to be so good.

If you make these won’t you share with me what you think?

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Pickled Beets

This has been the summer of pickling for me. Know that Portlandia sketch?

The one where they pickle everything? Yeah, that is totally me right now. I blame beets. Beets started my whole summer obsession with pickling. You see, we have this neighbor, Pete.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete has a garden that puts mine to shame, I mean his garden makes me want to cry is it so awesome. And he is very generous with letting me come over and pillage his garden. Every time I go up to our summer ranch, he invites me over and lets me pick produce (like once a week, between my garden and his, I haven’t bought produce in months). Needless to say, I’m a pretty big Pete fan right now.

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn't had a shower, I wasn't wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn’t had a shower, I wasn’t wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

Want to know the really funny thing? I don’t like most of the things I am canning. Actually let me re-phrase that, I didn’t like most of the things.  I finally tried the beets and they were amazing, why didn’t anyone tell me pickled beets are good?

I’ve decided to share some of my pickling recipes. Not that I am making anything that is super rare, or you can’t already find on the internets….

The beets I picked.

The beets I picked.

I got this recipe out of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I modified it slightly after lurking a bunch of other recipes. I am very happy with the finished product.

Pickled Beets

(this makes about 6 pints of pickles beets)

3 quarts beets (like 12 big ones)

2 cups white sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon whole allspice

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

3 1/2 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 cup reserved water from boiling the beets

This is what you do:

Wash the beets really well.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Place them in a large pot and boil until a fork is easily inserted (I cut them in half to shorten the cooking time).

Boiling beets.

Boiling beets.

Once your beets are cooked the skin should slip right off.

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Slice or cube your beets. Combine all ingredients except the beets, in a large saucepan.

Your pickling mixture.

Your pickling mixture.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Pack beets into hot jars (I put my sterilized jars in an 180 degree oven and use as needed), leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Wine helps.

Wine helps.

Ladle hot liquid over the beets, making sure to leave the 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Adjust the two piece caps.

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Process pints or quarts (I used pints) for 30 minutes in boiling water.

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Process for 30 minutes!

Process for 30 minutes!

The older I get the more and more I am realizing how lucky I am/was, to be born into a family that valued canning and pickling. I have wonderful memories of both side of my family canning fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies in the summer. I know many people are intimidated to try and can because it is unfamiliar to them. But you guys, I promise, it’s not really that hard and when you hear that “pop” of the can sealing, it is so worth it! I urge you try it! If you have questions, ask me, I’d love to help!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

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