I relish the thought....

As I mentioned before, I have been busy converting garden surplus and farmer market goodies into tasty treats for the home team. Yeah it's a pain in the keister. I think it's worth it though. There is something really satisfying about making all this stuff to put by. It makes me happy to be working on something so basic as food preservation. No, I don't think it for everyone. I think most people would not find the sweet spot in peeling 25 pounds of tomatoes. It's there - it right there above cleaning grout with a toothbrush. And there are those of you reading this who know exactly what I am talking about...

So this past week, I have done the following:

Slow-roasted Roma tomatoes for the freezer

Lightly cooked and froze tomatoes for sauces

Canned Tomato Preserves

Canned Apple Butter (Check out the one by Annie halfway down the page.)

Froze Apple Sauce

Froze Homemade noodles

Froze Thai Red Curry Paste

And lastly -

Canned Chow-chow

Yes - I decided that I could not live without this relish. It is very close to the one my mom made when I was little. Not quite the same though. I do not have my mother's recipe. It was not in her collection. I have a feeling it was up in her head like so many other things she made regularly. (I still get cravings for her liver and onions - the gravy was to die for. No recipe for that either. Dammit, Mom!!)

I have kinda put off making chow chow though - I just remember my mom grinding away at the various ingredients. Food processor? Oh hell no... She had one of the old hand crank models. I used to tell her I would "help" her. Every parent here knows how much "help" I was - 5 or 10 cranks later...I was no where to be found. But I was more than ready to help tuck into a newly opened jar of the relish.

I am not a stickler for that type of authenticity however. I borrowed Gail's grinder attachment for our Kitchenaid mixers. I may be nostalgic - but I ain't stupid. Take a look at the recipe I came up with:

10 pounds green tomatoes

12 medium green bell peppers

12 medium red bell peppers

6 yellow onions

2 small heads cabbage

2 large or 3 medium cucumbers

4 jalapeno peppers

1 medium head garlic

That's a lot of grinding folks. Even with the miracle of modern technology - it still took me about an hour to get everything through the grinder. The smaller you can cut materials before you put it through the grinder the better. I used a pretty course grind - here is the veggies as they come through the shoot. Doesn't look too good does it?

After you get everything ground and put into a non-reactive container (like a crock or stainless steel stockpot), you are ready to start the actual process of cooking the relish.

Here is the recipe in its entirety:

10 pounds green tomatoes

12 medium green bell peppers

12 medium red bell peppers

6 yellow onions

2 small heads cabbage

2 large or 3 medium cucumbers

4 jalapeno peppers

1 medium head garlic

8 cups sugar

8 cups cider vinegar

1/2 cup canning salt

3 tablespoons pickling spice

  1. Rinse the vegetables, peel onions, carrots and garlic. Remove the seeds from the peppers and scrape the inside to remove the ribs. Cucumbers can be peeled and seeded if you like. Grind all the vegetables and place in a large container. Add salt, cover with water and allow to stand for 1 hour.
  2. While the vegetables are soaking, in a large pot, add the sugar, vinegar and pickling spice tied in a cheesecloth bag. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  3. Drain and rinse and drain the vegetables again, making sure as much moisture as possible is out of the vegetables. (I actually put them in several layers of cheesecloth and squeezed them dry.) Add to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Relish can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple weeks or canned for longer preservation.
  5. Makes about 12 pints of relish

To can the relish, I recommend going to The National Center for Home Food Preservation. Run by the USDA,they always have the latest and greatest info on home canning. This is one of the good things that gets done with your tax dollars (a rare event!) so take full advantage of it...

Ok - that's it for now. I drank way to much caffeine this morning and need to start scrubbing down the house or I'll explode...Where the hell is my toothbrush?


Bitchin in the Kitchen: Tabloid Edition

A long time in ago in a month far far away (July to be exact) Lisa of Restaurant Widow tagged me to tell 8 random things about myself. Well, life being the roller coaster ride that it is - I am just now getting around to to my contribution.

So here it goes - 8 random facts about my overcrowded life

1) I used to collect comic books. I am still a big comic book fan. I particularly love some of the more intense graphic novels like Watchmen, V for Vendetta and The Dark Knight. I also love old school comics like The Spirit. My only regret is that the Spirit reprints are $50 a pop and there are 20 volumes. My current favorite: Fables written by Bill Willingham. I suppose that makes me a geek.

2) In relation to the first secret - I squealed like a little girl when I saw the Iron Man trailer. When he broke the sound barrier at the end - I actually stood up and did a little happy dance. And I guess that makes me an even bigger geek...don't care. I will be in the theater on opening night. I just hope it doesn't suck like the Fantastic Four.

3) I love going to Studio 35. I have been a semi-regular there for about 22 years. I have been through four sets of owners and a lot of beer. We are going tonight to see Stand By Me and enter the pie eating contest. I hope the pie is cherry.

4) One of my goals is to drive Route 66 with Tony and Annie before she goes off to college. I want to stop at the Big Texan and watch someone eat their huge steak challenge - I sure as hell ain't gonna try it.

5) I like eating mango chutney on bread as a snack.

6) I like old piano jazz. One of my favorite performers is James Booker. Yeah, he was a coked-up drunk, but damn...what music.

7) I am tired of working so much. Well that's not really a secret. I have been dreaming about owning goats and making aged goat cheese. My friend Gail says I am insane - goats stink.

8) I hate the North Market when it's crowded. Hell I hate any place that is too crowded. People are too freaking self centered and never apologize when they run you over in the aisles.

So there you go! Eight things you probably could have lived without knowing. I am tagging Lorence of Lorence's Kitchen, Butta Buns and ummmmm anyone else who needs to post something on their blog. (I assume that means everyone.)

Next time - I have been busy canning and putting things by before fall does it thing and the bounty ends. I hope to have everything posted soon.