Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Persimmon Pudding !

Those are my Persimmon trees.  I started them from seeds a number of years ago.  This year we are getting a bumper crop!  The little tree isn't bearing yet, and that may be because I transplanted it a few years after the two larger trees.
Here, you can see, side by side, two persimmons on the tree.  One is nearly ripe and one is still green.  You do NOT want to eat a persimmon that is anything less than "dead ripe."  It will make your mouth pucker!  You have to wait until they fall off the tree and then pick them up.  You can also shake the tree gently and pick up the ones that were ready to fall.
A view up into the tree.  Loaded with fruit!!
Here is the bowl of persimmons I picked up today.
I picked off the little, hard caps...
and put the fruit in my Foley food mill over a bowl to catch the pulp.  Here is how I operate it.  Crank it 5 times clockwise, and then 1 time counter-clockwise.  Repeat until you feel that you've squished as much pulp from the fruit as possible.  Then discard the seeds (or save some to plant a nursery row of saplings.)
Some of the persimmons were quite large.
I've gathered all of the ingredients for the persimmon pudding. (Recipe follows)
The batter is all well beaten.  You must beat it very well, so it gets kind of fluffy.
Spread the batter in a buttered square baking pan.
Just out of the oven!  
Here is a photo of the original recipe I was given in 1980 by a sweet neighbor lady.  They had a large persimmon tree and invited me to come and get some.  I've loved persimmons and persimmon pudding ever since!

If you can't see the recipe very well, click on the picture and it will get bigger.  This time I cut the amount in half.  If you do a whole batch, use a 9 x 13 baking pan.  But, since it's just me and my husband here, we certainly don't need that much!  However, after it's completely cool, you can cut it in pieces and freeze them, well wrapped.  It's good, even frozen.  :)  I made some substitutions, also.  Here is what I did:

Persimmon Pudding

2 cups persimmon pulp
1 cup milk (that is twice what is called for and it turned out very nice.)
1 egg
1 cup Sucanat
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream the sugar and butter.  Add the pulp and egg and beat well.  Add the dry ingredients, alternately, with the milk, and beat very well.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to see if it's done.

Serve warm or chilled.  Fabulous with whipped cream, but really really good just plain!

Persimmons are native to where I live in Indiana.  It is an unusual fruit, and blessedly needs nothing to keep it free of insect damage.  Deer LOVE persimmons, so if you want some, you need to gather them in a timely manner or you will lose out!  There are lots and lots of spitted out seeds out there.  We have many white tailed deer in the area.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall fermentations...

I had quite a few Jalapeno peppers and just a few smallish other peppers that I didn't think I'd use up fast enough, so I decided to make a ferment. I adapted a recipe from THIS book by Wardeh at Gnowfglins.
Here are the peppers, washed and drained:

 And here they are, with the ends trimmed off and being weighed.  I had more than I really needed, but went ahead and processed them all anyway.  The chickens got the leftovers.  :)
Oh... notice what I did with the paper plate?  That makes it much easier to actually be able to read the scale. (Idea not my own.)
Here is the food processor with the narrow slicing blade attached:
Now they are all sliced up.
I did NOT remove the seeds, so this mixture is quite hot and can irritate one's skin, so I donned a protective glove so I could handle the peppers.  (See?  Sometimes I actually use my head!  My mommie would be proud.)
For the recipe, I  needed some live whey, so I poured some milk kefir into a birdseye cloth and hung it to drain.  I quickly had enough.
Here is the recipe.  Wardeh used cayenne peppers and added garlic.  I omitted the garlic (DH dislikes the odor) and used the Jalapenos and sweet peppers.

1 pound peppers
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup live whey
filtered water

Place the whey and salt in a little jar and shake it up to dissolve:
 Slice the peppers thinly.
Put the peppers into a Fido Jar (wearing a protective glove.)
Pour the salt mixture over the top.
Add enough filtered (non-chlorinated) water to cover the mixture.
Close the jar.  Set it out of the sunlight on your kitchen counter.
Ferment for 2 to 3 days.
Store in the refrigerator. 
This will be a Very Spicy condiment and the juice can be added sparingly to soups and things that you would like to add more heat to.
On to ferment #2 !!
Again, this is from Wardeh's book

I have a number of apples that are kind of mushy and my family is reluctant to eat them.  So, I was looking for a way to use some so they won't get wasted.

Perfect - "Spiced Applesauce"

3 to 4 medium apples (any type)
1/4 cup unrefined sweetener (I used real maple syrup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup live whey

Quarter and core the apples and chop them up in a food processor or blender.  You want it to be chunky:
Mix all of the ingredients together an spoon it into a Fido jar.
Put on the lid and set it on your counter.
Allow to ferment for 2 or 3 days and then keep it in the refrigerator.  It will keep for a few weeks.

Here are both jars, ready to ferment:
Now I just have to wait a couple of days and the jars can join the jars of sauerkraut in the fridge.  
Naturally fermented foods are so very good for you.

By the way, I was able to buy some of my Fido jars at a Ross store very cheaply.  You can use other jars, but this is the easiest and most reliable way I've found.  Prepare it, forget it, and put it in the fridge.  Easy Peasy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

25# Concord grapes, 24# Winter squash, One young and enthusiastic rooster, and lots of vegetables! What a Day!

After the usual morning things, my garden fairy and I went to a nearby friend's home and picked the rest of her Concord grapes. She had used all she wanted and offered.  It was fun and we came home with about 25 pounds!  I will wash, stem and figure out what to do with them.  Stay tuned for that. Here are some of the grapes.  :)

After we got back, we went out into the garden and picked everything that needed picking.  Here are pictures:  This is a Marina di Chioffia winter squash.  (More about this later.)
 Tomatoes, of course...:
Some smallish winter squash and a honeydew melon:
 I couldn't resist digging up one the sweet potato plants!
 I had some onions drying out there.
Zucchini squash:
I dug a small bucket of potatoes to use.
 Ok, so now about the squash.  It weighed 24 pounds.  The bugs had started getting to the stem, so we decided it was time to take it in before it starts to rot.  The only way I could figure out to cut it open was to use my hatchet.  So, here goes!
 That was not enough.  I went and got my hammer to help cut all the way through.
 At last!
 Here it is on a baking sheet in the oven.  It took nearly 2 hours at 350 F before it was all tender.
 Before baking, I scooped out some of the seeds to save for next year.
 Here it is out of the oven with a knife sticking in it so you can see it's very tender.  It was also sweet and delicious!  I ate some with butter, mashed.
On to the sad part of the day.  We have/had a young rooster.  He became a very enthusiastic breeder and hurt 3 of my hens, because roosters grab the feathers on the back of the hen's neck.  My Buff Orphington hens are very docile, and they were getting the worst of it.  See this poor girl?
We've been dealing with this for a few weeks now and made the decision today that our poor, beautiful boy was going to become dinner.  :(
Here is the garden fairy, plucking his carcass:
I roasted him in my clay baker with a peeled onion inside of him, poured melted butter and salted and peppered him and sprinkled on some ground poultry seasoning. 500 F for 45 minutes  Here he is, cooked.
I had to remove the drumsticks before putting him in the clay baker, so he'd fit.  I have to say, his meat was a little tough, but quite delicious.

So, now I have a lot of produce I need to deal with.  It's a wonderful blessing to have too much food.  We had squash and chicken for dinner.  I didn't expect that.  Much nicer than the salmon burgers I had planned.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Got Cabbage? - Easy, healthy sauerkraut

Here is a picture of this year's sauerkraut.  I made it from the cabbages we grew in the vegetable garden.  Sauerkraut is VERY easy to make, and if you don't can or cook it, it is full of enzymes and other lovelies that will benefit your body.  Besides, it's delicious!  And this will keep for a LONG time.  I have some from a year ago, that I'm going to give to the chickens today, to make room for the new batch.

Some of this was fermented in Pickl-It jars and some in Fido jars.  Fido jars are less expensive, work just as well and are easier to use because you don't have to bother with the air lock.  I was able to buy my Fido jars at Ross for a very nominal cost. They are also available through Amazon.com.

Last year, I posted instructions on how I make sauerkraut.  That post is HERE.   Cabbages, at least where I live, are very inexpensive right now. What you see in those jars is about 10 pounds of cabbage, and I'd be able to purchase that much for less than $4 right now.  The only other thing you need is salt and a little time to do this.  Don't be afraid!  It's fun! It's easy!  It's good for you!

By the way, I did NOT add any caraway seeds this year.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sigh.... those canned caramelized onions are NOT good!

Warning!!!  Yesterday I canned 4 pints of caramelized onions.  One of them did not seal, so a little while ago I tasted it.  They are all mushy and do not have a nice flavor.  They tasted great before I processed them in the canner.  I hope I didn't lead anyone astray.  I am so sorry.  :(

Monday, August 11, 2014

Garden Bounty!

Yes, I'm barefoot.  When the weather is warm, that's how I like to work in the garden, and when it's harvest time, it makes it easier not to stomp on something edible.  We brought in quite a few winter squash this morning and some little melons as well as cabbages.  I was able to walk amongst the crowded vines without destroying anything.  :)  In that picture, I'm wearing my wonderful garden apron.  I can work out there without getting my clothing all dirty.  Here, I have baskets of cucumbers, jalapenos, green peppers, okra and zucchini squash.

 Some of the bounty!

Here is my garden fairy (a.k.a. our daughter) wheeling in the goodies.

And tomatoes!  I have to pick them before they are "dead ripe," because otherwise insects get to them first and they spoil.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I love this time of year....

I often think that this is the "real" time of the year.  The winter is, for me, just when I am waiting for the the summer and the garden bounty, nice temperatures, sunshine, bird song... in the words of a song from the  musical, "Porgy and Bess," --- "Summertime...and the livin' is easy..."  That's how I feel.  Even though I work really hard all spring and summer and into the fall, it makes me happy.

Here is a picture of what I had for breakfast this morning.  I went out to the garden and found a very small zucchini squash, melted 1 Tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and grated the zucchini into it.  I sauteed that for a little while.  Then, I took 2 of the tiny itty bitty eggs from our baby chickens that have just begun to lay, and scrambled them in a small bowl with a bit of water, some salt and pepper.  I poured that over the zucchini and cooked it together.  Then I put a 1 ounce slice of marble cheese on top, turned off the heat and let it sit until the cheese was nicely melted.  I ate all of that with a cut up nectarine.  Oh, it was so good.  Come over and I'll fix some for you too!

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