One day a couple weeks ago, as I woke to the third cold, dark morning in a row, I went from, “it’s okay; we accept all seasons for what they are,” to, “I’m building a greenhouse,” by seven thirty. By eight thirty I was shopping […]
Tag: Eat Local
This morning I plucked a few early canning tomatoes from the garden. Straddling feral watermelon vines that went berserk while we were at fair last week, I found the first ripe torpedoes of the year tucked down deep beneath the six-foot canopies these parent plants […]
The solstice has come and gone. The days are lengthening, but the daylight comes in sluggish increments at first. The average daily temperature won’t start rising in earnest again until February and then only in fits and starts until about April. With the distraction of the holidays out of the way this time of year gets difficult for me. I am not a lover of winter. I need something to get me through these days. A project, a reason to rise. This year I thought, perhaps, I would blog some of our favorite dark days dinners. Those warming, healing, nutrition-packed things we eat between Christmas and mud season when the daylight peeks out from behind grey clouds for only a few hours each day. (more…)
Over the weekend we had a sow farrow during the day. This doesn’t happen often so I took the opportunity to “live Facebook” the births as they were happening. You can read those updates and see the pictures here, here and here. (In that order.)
We didn’t get a sweet corn patch planted this year, and it’s really a shame, because it’s been a great year for it. Fortunately, we have generous friends and neighbors who did and we’ve been enjoying the fruits of their labor instead. It hasn’t been […]
I don’t grow carrots.
In fact, I despise growing carrots so much I’d rather not eat carrots at all than grow them myself. And you know, it’s not actually that I despise growing carrots as much as I despise harvesting and washing them.
Unlike their underground friends — potatoes, turnips, radishes and beets — who make a regular appearance in our garden, carrots seem to cling to the dirt that nourished them. No amount of scrubbing removes the gritty black stuff from each of the little ribs that flank their sides and I’ve found over the years that I simply have very little tolerance for being hunched over the sink scrubbing any vegetables for which I’m not entirely smitten. Now, tomatoes? I’d scrub for days for a good tomato, but a carrot? Not so much.
So I buy them. I wait until this time of year when local carrots are going for a quarter per pound and I stock up. I let some other sucker do most of the washing — probably a machine, I don’t even care — and I pay for a little orange goodness to stock the freezer.
We much prefer the texture and taste of carrots frozen at peak freshness to those that have been canned, so I thought I’d share with you today just how we do that. There’s nothing wrong with canned carrots — and one of these days I’ll probably get around to a carrot canning tutorial, too — but this is just how we like ours. Ready?
Get yourself some carrots. If you’ve grown them yourself, you’re going to have to scrub them up. If you bought them or you suckered some other poor soul into scrubbing them, then a quick rinse will do the trick.
Peel the carrots.
And then chop them up into fat little carrot coins.
No, more than that. You need lots. We’re squirreling these away for winter, remember?
I tend to get about 78% out of my carrots. That is, if I buy and process nine pounds of whole carrots, I end up with about seven pounds of fat little carrot coins in the freezer. The other 22%, peels and ends, go to the pigs. If you don’t have a bunch of swine eating you out of house and home you could always compost them though.
Now blanch them. First, dunk into a pot of boiling water and let sit for two minutes (make it five if you’ve got small, whole carrots that you’ve not cut into coins.) Once the two minutes is up, transfer them immediately to an ice water bath.
Blanching neutralizes the enzymes that make vegetables go bad, those that change color and compromise taste. Some people profess to freeze all manner of vegetables without this step — and report positively on the outcome — but since I’ve never skipped it I can’t, in good conscience, recommend you do.
Drain them a bit. I simply transfer them from the ice water bath to a colander in my sink as I work.
Bag them up. Ziplocs or vacuum bags work well. Use quart sized bags (of either variety) for one pound portions, gallon for two pound portions. I tend to use gallon sized bags because we like leftovers and I’m feeding an army of four — dear heavens, tweens eat a lot! — but I suspect quart sized bags would work for most families.
Seal them up and stick them in your freezer. If you’re using ziplocs just squeeze out the air as well as you can.
That’s it. Simple, tasty, and inexpensive!
The Pig Dog is starting to show some instinct. It’s terribly exciting. I mean terribly, terribly exciting. The kind of exciting in which a split second can make your whole day. Last night he held a wayward laying hen to the fence like a boss. Like a BOSS. I cannot wait to see what he’s going to be like on stock.
This month is flying by. I don’t even know what happened to the first half of it. We’re launching the CSA season later than usual, but I still feel rushed. Funny how tasks always expand to fill your time.
We managed to get most of the post-mole/vole/dog-fiasco replanting done this weekend. Now we wait. And water. And weed. But mostly wait. I hate the waiting.
The Small Humans have been picking Wild Black Raspberries for about two weeks now. Just a trickle of them at first; a handful here, a handful there. They eat more than they bring into the house, especially early on. Next it was by the pint, and then the quart, and now? Now there’s almost two full quarts in the fridge from just one patch and promise of more in the morning. They’re small this year, but not terribly so, and still scrumptious. These berries aren’t usually ripe until the middle of July and yet, here we are, mid-June and we’ll be putting up the first few jars of “Black Cap” jam.
I haven’t been feeding the momentum lately and I feel a bit like I’m screeching to a halt.
I don’t keep enough fresh flowers in the house. And by that, I mean I keep none, but probably should keep at least one bunch around. Everyone should. That and white linens. You should keep white linens. I read that somewhere. Can’t remember where, but I agree. I wouldn’t have, agreed that is, but I’ve come to appreciate the all-encompassing power of a good capful of bleach in my “old” age. You can’t bleach striped sheets, no matter how sweaty your husband gets at night.
You also can’t take back cheap towels after you’ve washed them once and they’ve shed another towel’s worth of lint all over your house. Lesson: Buy good towels. Even for your grimy kids.