Category Archives: Cooking

Dehydrating Swiss Chard

I have a garden full of Swiss chard more than I can possibly eat at the moment so I decided to dehydrate some and thought I’d share how I did this. From what I could find out from the Internet and from some books I have, it’s best to blanch the Swiss Chard before dehydrating it. The times vary from one site to the next from around three minutes to just dipping the leaves in briefly. Since I have oxalate kidney stones boiling the swiss chard helps to remove some of the oxalate in the leaves so I timed the blanching for three minutes. I can understand why another source said to briefly dip the chard into the boiling water as the stuff kind of turns to mush and is hard to spread out. The chard doesn’t take that long to dry about four hours depending on your machine and humidity.

swiss chard
Deveining the leaves.

Pot of boiling water
Pot of boiling water ready for blanching.

blanched chard
Blanched chard, it reminds me of cooked spinach.

Excalibur dehydrator
Excalibur dehydrator.

american harvest nesco dehydrator
Nesco American Harvest dehydrator. This dehydrator is a great little dehydrator, its cheaper than the Excalibur and dries well. The drawbacks are that you have to rotate the trays more often than the Excalibur and the trays are more fussy to clean. It is quieter than the Excalibur, much quieter.

chard on Excalibur drying tray
Swiss chard on Excalibur tray. This tray takes more to fill it up than the Nesco dehydrator.

chard on american harvest tray
American Harvest tray. These trays are stackable from four to eight trays.

chard in excalibur dehydrator
Trays in Excalibur.

dried chard
Dried Swiss chard.

food saver with vacumm attachment
Food Saver with vacuum attachment for canning jar.

chard in bottle
Dried chard in vacuum sealed bottle. It should last for about a year and I’ll be using it for soups and stews.

Karen

Apple season.

I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks and part of that has been doing a lot of drying and canning. I thought I would post a few pictures of some of the jars of preserves that I have been making.

First we start with the apples.
C-grade apples

apples
This was a bag of C-grade Macintosh apples from the farmer’s market.

Then I cut the apples and cooked them in a huge stock pot, I lost that picture it’s in the files somewhere, oh well. Then I took the apples and using my Kitchen Aid strainer attachment I ran the apples through the sieve. The strained pulp comes out into one bowl and the seeds, skin and core gets pooped out the other end into the kitchen sink or you could use another bowl.
straining applesauce with kitchen aid

waste apple parts
Waste apple parts.

applesauce
Strained applesauce.

canning jars
Here’s a variety of canning jars I bought.

applesauce pressure canned
The finished applesauce, in this case I used a pressure canner and you can see some of the applesauce clinging to the top of the lids inside the jars. The two batches of applesauce I did in the waterbath canner didn’t have this problem so next time I’ll just use the waterbath canner.

applebutter
This is some apple butter that I made. Apple butter is just applesauce that has some sugar and spices added to it and you cook the applesauce down until it is thick. I learned online about a trick where you cook the applesauce in a crockpot and that way you don’t have to worry about the applesauce burning overnight while you’re in bed sleeping :)

applebutter closeup
Close-up of the apple butter, it turns brown from the sugars and spices in it.

Here is a picture of some fresh kale from the garden.
fresh kale

A couple of photos of kale and beets from the garden and then a last picture showing the apple butter on the breakfast sausages, yummy!
kale beets breakfast sausage patties

kale breakfast patties with applebutter

Karen

Cherries and Kale

Thought I’d post a few pictures of some recipes that I’ve just tried out for the first time. I decided to try and make some cherry pie filling this year having been inspired by some of the ladies at the Ravelry Canning forum: It’s not very hard to do and there are tutorials out there but here is the link to the recipe I used from the Utah State University Cooperative Extension, scroll down to see the cherry pie filling recipe: Cherry Pie Filling.

cherry pie filling 2
Cherry pie filling.

The thing I found interesting about the pie filling is that I’d put the filling in the jars and left the one inch headspace but the filling still boiled out but the jars still sealed. This has happened to me before most notably in my pressure canner with soup, etc. The thing that gives me pause to wonder is that instructions will have you very carefully wipe down the rim of the jars so there won’t be any food that prevents the jars from sealing. I guess my question is how can the food overflow out of the jars but the lids still seal? Another of life’s mysteries I guess.

I planted some kale and swiss chard this summer. I’ve never planted it before and was worried about how well the plants would do during our hot humid summers. Well no worries there as this has been a really cool summer and the stuff is thriving. So I went to the web and looked for a recipe that involved smoked turkey legs and kale and found this one at Culinate’s website: Collard Greens and Smoked Turkey Soup

smoked turkey and kale soup in bowl
Collard greens and smoked turkey soup.

The soup is pretty tasty given that it uses smoked turkey and the recipe uses an incredible amount of kale/swiss chard. The greens wilt down so although it seems like a ton of greens the mass does reduce.

The raspberries are coming along and slowly ripening a few each day. I went down this morning to pick a handful to put aside for jam and my two grandson’s who were visiting came down to the garden to see me. I told them to go and get the bowl of raspberries as I was weeding at the time. I was thinking they could take the bowl up to the house for me. I’d forgotten how much they love berries so turned around and there they were chopping away, lol. It’s funny how in my head I think of raspberries as something to collect and preserve so I don’t tend to think of eating them fresh. It takes a couple of little kids to show me the way. Kids will immediately go to a bush and start eating, same thing if they are in a strawberry patch, they know the good stuff.

For the last couple of years we’ve been away on holiday when the strawberries have ripened so I’ve missed out on making fresh strawberry jam. This year I was determined not to miss the season and I ended up making jars and jars of the stuff. I learned of Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which is a citrus based pectin and is activated by using calcium water. The great thing about using this pectin is that it is adjustable to your needs so you can make as big a batch of jam at one time and you can adjust the sugar to your taste. The old certo recipe calls for seven cups of sugar but using the Pomona’s pectin I only used one cup of sugar. At first you think the box of pectin is expensive but then you realize you can get 4-5 batches out of one box so the pectin works out cheaper in the end, it stores better as well. The jam is awesome and has that fresh fruit flavour of freezer jam but you store it on the shelf. The only drawback to using Pomona’s is that you have to put the jam into a water bath canner so that’s an extra step. The other drawback would be that since there is so little sugar once opened the jam should be stored in the refrigerator and used within three weeks but many others have said it lasts longer than that. The thing is the jam is so good it tends to be eaten right away anyhow.

pomona's strawberry jamStrawberry jam.

Karen

Northern Bean Soup

Since I’ve been procrastinating on sewing up my baby cable sweater I thought I’d post a recipe for this soup instead of a craft.

Tonight we’re having Northern Bean Soup:


Northern Bean Soup

Rinse 2 cups white beans and let sit overnight (I use northern beans but navy beans are the same thing)
Drain & rinse, cover with water and simmer 45 minutes until almost tender. (I don’t bother)
Add to a “larger” crock-pot:
-7 cups water
-smoked pork hock (I can’t find them so I cut a smoked pork shoulder in half and use that)
– one 28oz can diced tomatoes.
-1 finely diced onion
-2 tbsp brown sugar
-3 tbsp lemon juice
-1 tsp chilli powder
-1 tsp pepper
-the recipe calls for salt but I’ve never added it because the pork is salty enough so I’d taste the soup before adding any. (2 tsp)

Mix and cook at low for 6-10 hours. Remove pork, cut up and debone and return to soup.

The pot I made yesterday afternoon I cooked all day and then overnight. My crock-pot has a warm feature so it’s still been cooking somewhat in the pot today and is fine. One of those soups that can take a long simmer. I also took the fat off of the pork before adding it to the crock-pot and skimmed the soup for any excess fat when it was done cooking. If the broth is too rich just add a little extra liquid.

Karen

This and That.

A couple of pictures of stuff, which may or may not be interesting.

I always enjoy seeing others spend money so I thought I’d include my latest box of goodies, hopefully in a month or so I’ll be able to show you what I’ve created with said goodies.


Hmmm…a box from Knitpicks, what could it be?


Ooooh the suspense…can you tell the best part of getting a goodie is in the opening of it, it’s like Christmas morning.


The goods – various dyelots of “Palette” a hundred percent merino wool in a fingerling weight yarn. The needles are size 2.5mm and 2.75mm should be interesting to knit up because it’s very fine. Possible Christmas gifts if I can get them knitted in time, ‘them’ being a secret.

And now another goodie of a different nature…


Tunnel of Fudge cake from a book of Pillsbury Bake-Off recipes. I’d print the recipe except I’m not sure if that would be copyright infringement so I won’t.


Cut-away view where you can see the moist interior of the cake.

This is the only recipe that I’ve made that has ever called for 1 3/4 cups of butter to make it. I won’t mention the sugar either. I believe it’s a huge brownie and you have to let the cake cool for 2 hours before you even flip it out of the pan and then wait another hour before cutting it. John took a couple pieces into work and they microwaved it and said the interior got softer and it was divine. I’m thinking if you cut into it it’d before it cooled it’d probably be like a chocolate lava cake. I’d make this again but only for company as it’s so rich. Seeing as there was only the three of us guess who ate most of it?

Found the link for the recipe on the Pillsbury site:
Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Karen

Moda Scrap Bags…Part 2.

Well I haven’t gotten the quilt top together but thought I’d post a couple pictures of the fabrics I dyed yesterday to use as backing and binding for the quilt. These were colours that I mixed up myself from primaries.

But first, from the Waldie kitchen…


Pantry organized with Tupperware modular mates.

I’ve gone full circle when it comes to Tupperware. When I first started out I thought it was the greatest thing but the problem is storing the stuff when it’s not in use as it does take up cupboard space. Now with all of the environmental concerns I’m trying to kick the Ziploc bag habit because I must admit that I’m a Ziploc bag junkie. Now I’ve gone back to the Tupperware containers and redone my kitchen pantry having about 2/3’s of it in modular mates. The idea being I will try to buy at the bulk food store and cut back on pre-packaged goods. To be honest it’s probably more expensive doing it this way but at least I’m doing my bit for the ecology and for once my pantry is organized instead of a big jumble of food.

I’ve also turned into a thrift store junkie. LOL, the idea behind this is at least if I’m going to buy something it’ll be recycled and less expensive to boot. Anyhow I’ve picked up a few older Tupperware pieces and one that I’ve lusted after came up for grabs at the local Value Village. It is the gelatin mold and I just had to try it out.


Jello and fruit mold using Tupperware.

And here are the pictures of the dyed material.


Lemon yellow MX-8G and turquoise MX-G.

Lemon yellow doesn’t like to play with other colours I don’t know why maybe it strikes first but this was supposed to be a green and white parfait but I guess I used to much dye so no white patches and the yellow seems to have settled out except in a couple of spots so now it looks like a lime green – yellow parfait but all is well since green and yellow are in the quilt top.


Orange created from lemon yellow and mixing red MX-5B.

This was paler to start off with. I ignored the little voice in my head that told me to double the amount of dye to get a deep bold orange so I ended up having to re-dye the piece. The orange in the first dye job matched but didn’t give the quilt that zing I wanted that the second dye job did.


Spring fever remnants with deep orange to be used for binding the quilt.

And the last photo is a piece of material that I dyed for one of my upcoming swaps that is an exchange of fat eighths using flower colours.


Dharma’s wisteria.

I admit that this photo isn’t true to colour in that it’s darker. It didn’t matter how I tinkered in Photoshop I couldn’t come up with the right shade. As far as I’m concerned wisteria is a purple flower and the colour sample on the Dharma site shows it as a light purple shade but twice now I’ve used this dye and it’s come up with being mainly a pale blue with hints of light purple undertones. Very pretty but not what I expected.

Karen

Blue-Orange Colour Run

Thought I’d post the latest colour run that I did for a swap in my fabric dyeing forum group. The swap was a blue-orange colour run and the colours I choose were ProChem’s Intense Blue and Burnt Orange.

Intense blue and burnt orange Prochem
ProChem’s Intense Blue and Burnt Orange.

The idea of this swap was to create browns but as you can see I really only got one brown right next to the burnt orange primary. I’m thinking that the burnt orange is closer to a golden yellow than a strong orange. I really like the blue-green colour that’s next to the intense blue primary.

Here is a picture of the run with the fat eighth parfait I did with the leftover dyes.

intense blue and burnt orange with parfait
Colour run with parfait.

I just mixed up some dried fruit and cherries with brandy to sit over-night. I’ll be making some fruitcakes tomorrow so we’ll see how this turns out. This is one bowl of fruit and I have another bowl that is similar but without the nuts for a different recipe that a friend gave me. I’m hoping these cakes work out as I spent a lot of money buying the ingredients. As is always the case it would have been cheaper to buy the fruitcake but I like my fruitcake without citrus peel so thought I’d give it a try cooking my own.

fruit cake mix
Mix for fruitcake.

I finally finished the little sweater I was working on for baby Chase but I forgot my camera at home and the pictures I took are on my daughter’s camera. I’ll post a couple of pictures when she sends them to me. The sweater just fit, he’s growing so quickly.

Karen

Fall bounty

I haven’t posted in a while. I have been working on a quilt top recently. Its made up of tie-dye swirls that I’ve made myself and some I received in a couple of swaps. I was almost done but wouldn’t you know it I goofed on adding some borders so now find myself picking out half of those. There is something to be said for sewing one row at a time instead of doing everything at once. If I’d done that I wouldn’t be at the point I am at the moment. Anyhow I’ll blog the top once it’s done.

I’ve also been doing some canning and making jam. I’ve decided to make some baskets for Christmas this year with different varieties of fruit and I even found some Christmas lids to go on the jars.

Jam and peaches
Blueberry jam, strawberry jam, peach jam, bumbleberry jam, and canned peaches.

Not a great picture with the window in behind but you get the idea. I’ll have to make some peanut brittle and cookies to put in the baskets as well when the time comes.

Edited to note: Bumbleberries are a combination of fruit in this case blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. I guess the tern is either local or Canadian, lol, I didn’t realise.

Karen

Yummy Bunny

I’ve been busy, I’m almost done the granny afghan just a couple of outside borders to crochet and then it’s done – lol, only takes about 1 hour to go around once.

Meanwhile I had to do the Sunday school Easter craft so I did cookies again where the kids decorate their own. It took me until 2 a.m. to get the cookies baked and the icing made, you’d think I would have learned from last time I did these…alas no…but the kids had fun once again. The big kids as well, here is a cookie I made to show the kids how to put the bunny together.

easter-cookie
3-D bunny cookie.

Karen