...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Left-overs Straight from the Garden...

Canning season is in full swing, with the garden offering a variety of produce fit for canning. Sometimes, however, you bring in just a little more than fits your canning needs. There's just no way to communicate to your garden exactly how many cucumbers that relish recipe needs. Besides, part of the fun of the hobby is choosing recipes based on what your garden decides to give you on any given week.

So today's recipes use up those "extras" alongside a bit of stove top multi-tasking: freezing up a batch of locally grown sweet corn. Nothing brings the taste of summer wafting over your winter table quite like a steaming dish of corn brought in from the freezer and warmed up with a bit of salt and butter.

Tonight, only two of us were dining, so a few extra peppers made stuffed peppers a great option. And since the oven was hot, baked custards made a good choice for dessert. I found the recipe for these custards at:


Topped with a little chocolate sauce and whipped cream, these were easy and delicious!

But I get ahead of myself talking dessert. Back to the peppers. I've read enough stuffed pepper recipes to know, peppers make great little boats for all sorts of left-overs. Tonight, I used some Spanish rice, the remainder of a package of bacon, a jar of pimentos that was in the back of the pantry and a can of seasoned, diced tomatoes. I baked them in a little water at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then topped them with a little cheddar for the last 15 minutes of baking time. Delicious!

Still in keeping with the "leftovers" theme, I used the leftover bacon grease (an occasional dietary indulgence) to saute some leftovers from a recent canning day: chunks of zucchini, onion, tomato and minced garlic all joined a can of mushrooms (water included) in the skillet for a side dish. What's left will probably find its way into a breakfast omelet tomorrow, and the remaining rice mix warming in the back just may show up as lunch for the kids. Today's bread on the side board: a super rapid bread recipe for the Breadman bread machine. These recipes use a little more yeast, but cook in just one hour! If you have a machine that can make them, the rapid recipes turn out a beautiful loaf so don't hesitate to try the setting.

As for the remaining side dish, it was the only part of the meal not classified as a leftover: corn!

Saturday, we shopped for corn at the farmer's market. My backyard garden space is limited, so I don't grow corn. I just buy several dozen ears from farmers' markets in mid-July when the sweet corn is available. I suspect other backyard gardeners follow suit, because this time of year, the line at the fresh corn booth often runs 20 people deep. It's a nice idea to buy snow cones to keep your little shopping helpers cool and occupied in those long lines. (I can almost always get a little helper to go along to the farmers' market.) Here are some tips on successfully "putting up" a batch of corn to freeze.

One option is to freeze it on the cob. Just blanche the ears, 6 minutes for small ears up to 10 minutes for large one. (Blanching involves putting the vegetable in boiling water to slow the processing of enzymes.) Wrap them individually and pack them in freezer bags. I prefer freezing whole kernel, and so I keep this handy gadget alongside on the days I put up corn. After blanching, this corn stripper will in one quick move strip the kernels right off the cob, but be careful. If the ear isn't stable, it till tip and send kernels flying everywhere!

(In fact, don't be surprised if you get corn everywhere anyway, but it is worth it!)

You can pack the corn in freezer jars or freezer bags, but if you use bags, try to be certain to get out as much of the air as possible. You'll be less likely to have issues with freezer burn.

With the corn finished and the oven timer beeping, it was time to dish up! But I quickly wrapped and refrigerated the bare cobs. Tomorrow I'll use them in an old-fashioned recipe for corncob molasses. (Check back to see how it's done.)

A last note, young hands are often happy to shuck the corn for you, especially if they get to eat the fruits of their labor right away!

Tomorrow: corn cob molasses and crock pot to freezer applesauce, as well as a run to the blueberry patch and tips on keeping the garden from going "sour" on the hot and humid days of July!

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