More on Eating Locally in Season: What Do We Eat & When?, Freezing Peppers and other produce & some Yummy Eggplant Recipe’s!

Locally sourced… Home grown… All Natural… Organic… These are a just a few of the key words that we as foodies and locavores look for when we are trying to source ‘real’ food.  We make every effort to know the farmer/producer and build that relationship with them… I am all about that part of it… the getting to know part.  It’s important to me and I know it’s important to you.  It’s a full circle thing… seed to dirt, seedling to plant, blossom to fruit, harvest to market, producer to consumer… and so goes the cycle of what we all need to survive~ the production of food! 

Autumn is here and the harvest is in full tilt right now… tomatoes, peppers, onions oh my… Winter squash, cabbages grapes and apples… food~ real good food.  We are preserving and storing for the cold duldrum of winter… we still must eat and we want to eat good… and we can.  We have been busy in the kitchen with all the preserving we do here.  This past week we were busy with making all the Bar-b-que sauces & ketchup for both our family and our farms Winter CSA Pantry Share, along with pizza sauce and grape juice.  We put up beautiful jars of raspberry and grape jam that are lining the can shelves now.  I was able to use all the left over grapes from the steamer after I got the juice out. What I did was put the ‘pulp’ into a stainless steel colander over a large kettle and left the pulp to drip.  We did five bushel of grapes, got almost 100 quarts of grape juice concentrate and then from all the ‘waste’ I was able to get another 8 quarts of juice concentrate that I made our grape jelly with.  I had some cranberries in the freezer, so I cooked some of those down, used the juice and substituted that for some of the grape; added the cranberries and got some super yummy Cran-Grape Jelly… see below for the recipe!  My CSA Work Share ladies got all the Basil harvested so Taylor & I got the beautiful Pesto made for both our family and our Winter CSA Pantry Shares for this winter.  Go to our farms website to see a beautiful picture of it that I took on our front porch… so yummy!
We’ll be getting into more on this in the next round of posts.  I will start giving you info on storing in root cellars and what can be kept in the garden with a bit of care all winter long… keep posted!

This is some of the Pesto Taylor & I made this week for both our family
as well as our Pantry CSA Sharees!

In the last blog post, which was over a month ago, I truly apologize, I discussed ‘who to go to’ to get the local good stuff, but now we need to delve a bit deeper… what do we eat and when.  While reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, the author does a superb job in giving us the details on what’s in season and when. If you are a regular at the markets, you probably have a fair amount of knowledge in this but for those of you who are just getting your feet wet in this wonderful world of ‘real food’, I say, “Welcome!”  Today I am going to give a brief outline of what’s in season on a monthly basis… enjoy friends!

~ Here is a brief outline on what is in season for September … I will do so again in October and November.
The Season of Autumn is full and overflowing with harvest…
*September~ Eggplant, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, snap beans, fall lettuces, beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet corn, all peppers, all winter squash, apples, raspberries, sweet potatoes, grapes, cherry tomatoes and pumpkins.  Spinach is starting to come back around, along with chard and other fall greens.  Herbs are are still bountiful.

Tips on storage… (keep posted for the upcoming blog posts, I will be getting into Root Cellar Storage!)

*Freezing peppers is so easy… no blanching required. 
~First wash your peppers in cold water and remove any debris and bad spots along with stems if still attached.
~Next, cut your peppers in half and remove stem end and all seeds; either dice or cut into strips~ I do some of both- diced are great for putting into chilies, gumbos and on pizza and the strips are perfect for stir fry or fajitas. 
~Place on a cookie sheet and place in your freezer until close to frozen; use a metal turner to pop the peppers loose and place peppers in freezer containers.  I like to use 1 gallon ice cream buckets.  I also place a piece of wax paper or foil wrap over top before I put the lid on, this helps with freezer burn.  Downsize your container as you use your peppers.

*** You can use this same method with Raspberries, Strawberries, Rhubarb, Blueberries and any other items that don’t need blanching or steaming.

Here are a couple yummy eggplant recipes … some of us need a little help with this bountiful beauty, me included!  Also here is my homemade Cran-Grape Jelly I created by chance!  Enjoy…

Cran-Grape Jelly

1. Prepare lids and jars.
2. Measure out exactly 7 cups of sugar in separate bowl; set aside.
3. Prepare liquid as follows:
~You will need exactly 5 cups of liquid- at least 4 cups of grape and the remaining from the liquid used to cook down the cranberries.  You can add more grape juice to make the five cups if you don’t get enough from the cranberries.
~Take 1 1/2 cups frozen whole cranberries- In a 2 quart sauce pan put about 2 cups of water; add frozen cranberries; bring to a boil and then turn down and simmer for five minutes; drain liquid and reserve; place cranberries in a bowl and mash.  Add cranberry juice to grape juice until you have exactly 5 cups of liquid.
4. Measure exact amount of prepared fruit juice into a 6-8 quart sauce pot. Stir in 1 package of fruit pectin powder (I use Sure-jel). Add 1/2 tsp. butter to prevent foaming! 
5. Bring mixture to full rolling boil ( a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
6.  Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
7. Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Place lid and ring on tightly.  Place jars on elevated rack of water bath caner and cover with hot water- water must cover jars by at least 2 inches.  Process jelly for 5 minutes- adjust processing time according to Altitude Chart.  Remove jars and place upright on a towel or cooling rack to cool completely. 
8. Let stand on counter for 24 hours and put on your can shelves.  Any jars that didn’t seal, place in refrigerator and use first.



Roasted Eggplant Dip

1 head garlic
1 large eggplant, cut half lengthwise
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 large tomato, cored, sliced in half
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
 Cut top off the head of garlic to expose a bit of the cloves.  Wrap loosely in foil, bake until soft, about 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly.
  Meanwhile, coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place eggplant halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut side down.  Roast for 10 minutes.  Add onion slices and tomato halves to the sheet and roast until all the veggies are soft, 10-15 min.s.  Let cool slightly.
 Squeeze the head of garlic releasing the soft pulp into a medium bowl.  Mash with the back of spoon.  Slip skins from the eggplant & tomatoes; coarsely chop.  Finely chop the onion.  Add chopped veggies to the garlic pulp and stir in the lemon juice, mint, oil, salt & pepper. 
Serve  with sliced raw veggies, crackers or pita bread/chips.

 Veggie Stuffed Eggplant

1 medium eggplant
1/2 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced1/2 c EACH; mushrooms, chopped zucchini and sweet pepper– red, green & yellow mixed
3/4 c chopped tomatoes
1/4 c toasted wheat germ, optional
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp EACH salt & pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1. cut eggplant in half lengthwise; remove pulp, leaving a 1/4 inch thick shell.  Cube pulp; set shells  & pulp aside.
 In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute onion & garlic until onion is tender.  Add the veggies and eggplant pulp; saute for 4-6 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, and seasonings.  Cook for 1 minutes.
 Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with the cheese.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake a t400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until shells are tender.

Happy Day,