Latest Adventures in Local Foods

Posted by Karen in Day to Day, Food, Friends.
Saturday, November 15th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Pedro gave us the most beeeeautiful pumpkin in the whole world 20081114164834_punkin.jpgon the last day of selling.  Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of it.  But I did get a picture of the aftermath of cooking that sucker up. 

It’s interesting what a disconnect there is in America when it comes to pumpkins as food.  We carve pumpkins, we decorate with them, we even chuck them, but very few actually consider cooking them.  When a recipe calls for pumpkin puree, we automatically think of canned pumpkin.  It’s true that cooking a pumpkin is no small endeavor – this particular specimen took a good 4 or 5 hours – but man is it gratifying, and so worth it.  Because this guy was so big it was a bit challenging to cut, and then wouldn’t all fit in the oven so had to be baked in a few rounds.  Then we let it cool, scooped and scraped all the flesh into our new totally kick-ass food processor, and blended it up.  The result was 8 pint glasses and a bit.  We froze the puree in the pint glasses, and will then warm them up enough to slide the puree out into a freezer bag or container for storing.  (We chose pint glasses because they are roughly the same size as a can of pumpkin puree, which is what most recipes call for – 16 oz. vs 15 oz.)

What, you20081114164907_punkin_martini.jpg ask, do we make with all that punkin puree?  Well, for starters, to celebrate the fruits of our labors (literally), I tried out Marianne’s pumpkin martini recipe.  I do love a good martini, and this one was a winner.  Thanks Mom Schroeder!  Nate made a pumpkin carrot soup that was pretty awesome, and is as we speak in the process of trying out a new pumpkin bread recipe that we hope to serve up at Justin & Juliana’s shower on Sunday.  We are also planning on making some kind of pumpkin cookie, or bar, or pie, or cheesecake for the shower.  We actually have a cookbook devoted entirely to squash and pumpkins, so I don’t think we will run out of ideas! The seeds of this guy were also big and perfect and beautiful, and I cooked them up in the iron skillet with some oil, sea salt and cumin.  Yummy.20081114173810_from_scratch_pizza.jpg

We’ve also had some new adventures in homemade pizza making, one of our faves. We made a pizza entirely from scratch a couple months ago – Nate made the crust, I made the sauce with tomatoes from our garden and CSA, we made the mozzarella, put veggies on it from our CSA, and venison sausage from a deer Peter shot at his grandma’s farm.  Wh20081114164815_pizza.jpgoa.

Then we stole an idea and a super easy slow roasted roma tomato recipe from the Kastlers and have now made our new  favorite pizza, with buffalo mozzarella and basil. Thank you, thank you, thank you Madeline for sharing this recipe, it has changed my life.  In fact, on the chance it will change yours too, I’ll put it below.

I had the intention of canning a whole mess of salsa, because we eatalotta salsa and this would be a good money saver, in a20081114173822_salsa.jpgddition to not going through all those jars.  But the recipes for canned salsa call for a ton of vinegar or lemon juice to  make sure it’s acidic enough to be safe, and after a couple of test batches, we decided the tang was too much.  So I ended up just making one large jar at a time that we’ve kept in our fridge and ate right away, and that’s kept us in salsa heaven for a few months straight!  Note to Karen’s Secret Santa: I want a pressure canner so I will be able to can salsa without all the vinegar or lemon juice! 

And the last thing I would like to discuss is all the usage I’ve been getting as of late from our dehydrator, handed down to us by Mom Phillips – thanks Ma!  Faithful readers may recall that earlier in the season I spent way too much time drying an insane amount of dill in the dehydrator.  I was kind of over the contraption for awhile after that. But lately I’ve been drying lots and lots of apples and cranberries and I’m kind of in love with the thing.  I can now reasonably declare that Honey Crisp apples are hands down, without a doubt, the greatest apples in the entire world.  It does not matter what you do with them – eat them raw, dry them, bake them, roast them with fall vegetables –20081115095155_dehydrating_cranbizzles.jpg they are astoundingly delicious every time.  I vow to one day buy them by the bushel and dry and can and whatever else I have to do to them so that I can eat them non-stop, year-round to my heart and tummy’s delight.  Ohhh Honey Crisp.

I’ve also been making craisins, which, as it turns out, is not as easy as just throwing a bunch of cranberries in the dehydrator.  Here’s the method I’ve been using:

1. Put the cranberries in a pot of boiling water so they pop (this allows the moisture to escape in the dehydrator).  Poke any that do not pop with the end of a knife.

2. Soak overnight in a bowl of orange juice mixed with honey or maple syrup.

3. Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid, and spread them out on the racks of the dehydrator, then plug the thing in and let them dry for what seems like forever.  (You could also use an oven on low heat.)

4. Very important step: Make the reserved soaking juice into a martini using a 2:1 ratio of juice to vodka. Or mix it with soda water (and vodka) for a yummy sparkling juice (cocktail).

I made one pint of these (craisins, not cocktails) last week and have been eating them with granola and yogurt for breakfast.  They also added a perfect punch to a breakfast dish of cooked cracked barley, cream, and maple syrup that Nate made. I imagine they would be awesome on a salad with some goat or bleu cheese and walnuts and a nice vinaigrette.  Mmmm.  I have 3 pints currently drying which will hopefully last a few months.

And now we’re off on a round of errands to start getting ready for the shower tomorrow and get a certain wonderdog a birthday present – Seward co-op, Green Gifts Fair, Urbanimal!

Slow Roasted Roma Tomatoes a la Mad-dog

Prep a shallow baking pan with two tablespoons of olive oil.  

Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and lay them cut side up in the pan.

Brush another tablespoon of olive oil over the cut side of the tomatoes and sprinkle with chopped garlic and herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, whatever you have.  

Put it in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.  Voila!  

Use immediately on a pizza or in a pasta dish, or freeze and store.  Freeze them right in the pan and then put them in a baggie or container so they will be easier to separate when you want to use them.

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5 Responses to “Latest Adventures in Local Foods”

  1. Mary Jo Says:

    Wow, I’m impressed–you are really getting domesticated there. I had forgotten about giving you the dehydrator–now I can stop looking for it–thought I had just put it somewhere out of the way after the remodeling. LOL Seriously I really haven’t been looking for it–keep thinking about it but haven’t really done anything about it–so glad you’re getting a lot of use out of it, much more than I ever did. I used to use it mainly for drying pineapple sliced and also making my own fruit roll ups out of applesauce, but didn’t do it regularly so I’m glad it’s in a good home where it’s being appreciated.

  2. Marianne Says:

    Oh, excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin!! Gotta try the slow roasted Roma pizza (with buffalo cheese) and the homemade craisins. I have a pie in the oven, made from a fresh pumpkin, but it seems kind of boring compared to what’s coming out of your kitchen!

  3. Rick Says:

    OMG, I second Marianne’s drool comment. I can’t decide what I am most wishing I could try – the pumpkin martini, or the totally homemade pizza with venison (I never met a pizza I didn’t like, but this one sounded extraordinary!), or the salsa, or the … rest. Now I am even more excited for our upcoming visit! And then top it off with some homebrew, man you guys have it going.

  4. steve Says:

    I think I need to stay with you when I return. I’d also be drooling, but am a bit dehydrated today (Harmattan is already here) – however, my stomach is calling too much attention to itself. I love the use of all the by-products for things like your very important 4th step – martinis.

  5. Madeline Says:

    Gimme those craisins!! I may have to borrow your dehydrator sometime…