Cookus Interruptus — a blog on cooking fresh, local, and organic while also having a life!
Strategies for shopping the farmer’s markets!
My favorite way to eat green beans is how my grandfather cooked them…with lots of unhealthy things. This mess of beans (split with my folks) comes from our common garden at their house. They were the first harvest of the summer. I sauteed some onion and garlic in butter and added some cooked crumbled bacon to the lightly boiled beans.
Peach jam is almost the same as the aforeposted strawberry jam, EXCEPT…you mix the fruit and the sweetner with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and let that sit for 15 minutes before you add the pectin mix. Then you stir the pectin mix in for another three minutes, let it rest for 30 then refrigerate or freeze just like in the last recipe.
I also added 1 1/2 teaspoons of Penzey’s cake spice (cinnamon or any other cinnamon blend is fine too) and it tasted like a cobbler filling…delish!
If you haven’t noticed already, at the top of your screen is a new page for this blog on foodsheds and eating local…check it out!
Making jam is a great thing to do with fruit that is in the height of it’s season or is a bit overripe and damaged. That means, use it up while it’s cheap! Right now for us in South Texas, that means strawberries! I got enough strawberries for three batches of jam for about 7 dollars. That’s even cheaper than buying frozen fruit (but you can definately do that too). Save the expensive stuff like blackberries and blueberries for eating straigt or in cobblers and stuff, make jam with the fruit you have coming out of your ears in your neck of the woods!
Clean and hull your strawberries and throw them in the food processor. Blender is fine or just a potato masher and a big bowl will work too. You need four cups of processed fruit per package of pectin blend.
I used a no-cook mix that required you to mix the sweetner with the pectin mix. We did that, but it probably wasn’t necessary. In the next batches I just threw it all in the food processor and it was fine. However if you decide to use sugar or a sweetner like Splenda, mix in the pectin first, just in case.
We used a cup and a half of agave. This seems like a lot but works out to a little over a teaspoon of agave per 1 tablespoon serving of finished jam. You can definately use Splenda instead, according to the package directions. I prefer agave because it doesn’t raise my blood sugar and is a natural sweetner. It makes an AMAZING tasting jam. Mix the sweetner and pectin with the fruit, pour into clean jars or plastic containers with lids.
Let the closed jars sit on the counter and thicken for about 30 minutes and then whatever is going to be eaten immediately pop in the fridge. The ones you are saving for later can go in the freezer. You will use them up way before they get freezer burned, don’t worry!
I don’t usually write about soup in the summer but we have been having afternoon showers every day over the past two weekends and I thought a nice toasty bowl of onion soup would warm us up (I keep getting caught out in it) but not be too hearty or over the top. I made the soup with onions from my farmer’s market (as was the bread I made the cheese toasts with) and stock from my own freezer (made from a local chicken we roasted). After dinner we played Yatzee and ate peanuts I had roasted. Because we have become the Waltons, apparently.
Onion soup isn’t hard, but it can be a bit time-consuming. Good thing to have going when you are working on other kitchen projects. Or you have a 9 year old who wants to be a chef when he grows up and will stir things for hours if you let him.
You can serve the soup with cheese and croutons (guyere or parmesan is usual). Or if you have a nice hunk of bread, slice it into 1 inch thick slices, put the cheese on the bread and put it under a low broiler until it melts and browns a bit. Serve it on the top of the soup as one big crouton and it is SO GOOD. I used a sour batard from Luna y Sol, a local bakery that sells at the Pearl Farmer’s Market.
Onions from Oak Hills Farm at the Pearl Farmer’s Market. It’s a completely unofficially and made-up fact that local onions will never make you cry. But I may cry if you insist on proving me wrong on that one.
Chop the onion into thick slices and seperate out the rings. In a large pot, melt 3 tbs of butter with 2 tbs of oil (the oil will keep the butter from burning as easily) over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. They will look like this.
Reduce the heat and cover the onions with a lid and let them steam down for about 15 minutes. No need to stir during this part. They will look like this.
This is the stir-y part. Add a teaspoon of sugar and turn the heat back up to medium and let these puppies cook for about 40 minutes. You don’t need to stir constantly, until about the last 5 minutes when you really need to make sure they carmelize and don’t burn, but you need to stir consistently every couple of minutes. This is what they will look like halfway through. It won’t look like much difference for a long time, but hang tough…
At the magic 40 minute mark you will have this. Carmelized and practically melted. So delicious you will want to eat them out of the pot! Now you can add a quart of stock (Beef is traditional for french onion soup, but I used the stock I had in my freezer. Veggie stock is also fine, if you want to keep the recipe vegetarian.). My stock was well seasoned but you can always add more salt, pepper, and herbs if you need it. You can also add a bit of sherry if you want to really get jiggy wit’ it.
Bring the soup to a simmer and let simmer a good 20 minutes while you make your cheese toasts. I would show you a picture of the final soup but it didn’t last long enough to get one. So send me one of yours and I will post it!