CSA Cooking: Single Quart Fermented Dilly Beans

Philly Food Works September share

Last Thursday, the nice folks from Philly Foodworks dropped off my September share of goodies. The box contained a little bag of spring mix, 12 ounces of perfect green beans, one hefty eggplant, a tiny watermelon, both hot and sweet peppers, half a dozen ears of corn, a bundle of sweet corn, one giant heirloom tomato, six multigrain bagels from Metropolitan, and a bottle of sweet and spicy hot sauce.

bean close-up

Despite the utter chaos of the weekend (a family wedding, loads of visiting cousins, my mom in town, and my mother-in-law’s on-going health issues), I managed to cook, process, and preserve a goodly amount of the bounty in the box and I can feel how my future self is already appreciative.

12 ounces green beans

I combined the sweet and hot peppers with a head of garlic, some ginger, and a salt brine and it’s on the countertop turning into hot sauce as I type. I made a trio of easy salads with the corn, spring mix, eggplant, and tomato.

My mom and I split the watermelon, each taking a half and digging in with spoons (though I did save the rind for pickling). And with three people in the apartment, the bagels certainly didn’t last long.

beans in a jar

That leaves us with the hot sauce, swiss chard and the beans. I’ve been dribbling the hot sauce on scrambled eggs. The chard leaves are destined for a pot of soup, while the stems will make more of these pickles. And the beans are also on their way to becoming pickles. One of my favorite pickles, in fact.

beans in a jar side

I hinted at these pickles last fall when I gave away a short stack of preserving books. The bones of the recipe comes from the wonderful book Fermented Vegetables, though I’ve scaled it down (as I so often do). It ends up being an easy, adaptable pickle that stays super crisp, is effervescently tart, and just happen to have all those gut-friendly bacteria swimming about.

Make as big or as small a batch as you want. Just make them! And look for the hot sauce recipe next week!

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Spicy Peach Preserves

peach pulp with spices

It feels bittersweet to write these words, but I do believe that this will be my last fresh peach recipe for this year. I’ve peeled, cooked, and processed about 25 pounds this season and I feel utterly done with them. However, if you’ve still got some peach energy, this sweet, spicy, tangy preserve might be a fun one for you.

spicy peach preserves close

To build this recipe, I took the bones of my beloved tomato jam and made just a few small tweaks. I reduced the amount of sugar, added a little salt for balance, and reduced the cooking time (because peaches don’t contain as much water as tomatoes do).

spicy peach preserves

The finished jam has a nice sweet and savory balance, and would be really great to use as a glaze for baked chicken or as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables. I’m sure that when the days get a little cooler, I’ll stir some together with apple cider vinegar and use it as a tasty braising medium for chicken thighs.

If you make it, let me know what you think, since this one is more of an experiment that most of the recipes I post here.

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Books: Stir, The World on a Plate, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and Orchard House

four books August 2015

Between canning classes, multiple cross-country trips, and processing piles of produce, I’ve managed to read my way through a tidy stack of books this summer. Here are four food-related volumes that I really enjoyed and think some of you might also like.

Stir by Jessica Fechtor – This memoir-with-recipes is the story of Jessica Fechtor’s brain aneurism at the age of 28, and her grueling but hope and love-filled recuperation. An avid cook and joyful eater prior to the aneurism, the book is the story of her recovery and the ways in which food brought her back to herself as her wounded brain and body healed. Jess is a honest, thoughtful writer and I devoured the book in just a day and a half back in July.

The World on a Plate by Mina Holland – A fun and well-researched volume, The World on a Plate isn’t a book to read straight through. Instead, it’s one to dip into when you crave fresh flavors and a easy visit to another land. Every time I open it up, I add another recipe to my to-make list.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal – This novel wraps around Eva Thorvald (a girl and then woman with a singular palate), home cooking, foodie culture, and (of course) the Midwest. The characters are well-defined, quirky, and human. It was a delight to read.

Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver – On its surface, this is a book about rebuilding a neglected garden. But really, it’s about building community, healing a family, and embracing life as it comes. It is beautifully written and contains moments that will break your heart with sweet sharpness of life. When I opened up my copy to write about it here, I found myself pulled back into its pages and found myself again lost in Tara’s words.

Now, for some disclosures. The first is that all four of these books were sent to me for review. However, I only share the really good things with you guys, so know that the opinions expressed here truly are my own. 

The second disclosure is that I know both Jess and Tara. We’ve shared meals, talked shop, and swapped preserving tips. Still, the kind words I’ve written are deserved. These two women have written truly remarkable books. You should read them. 

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Giveaway: Cheese Making Kit from Hobby Hill Farm

Hobby Hill Farm cheese making kit

This week’s giveaway comes to us from brand new sponsor Hobby Hill Farm. Based in Powhatan, Virginia, Hobby Hill Farm offers locally made jams and preserves, homemade pretzels, candies, and cheese making kits. What’s more, if you’re in the area, owner Sharon regularly teaches cheese making classes around central Virginia (she tells me she has 3-4 a week on the books straight through to November).

inside cheese kit

It’s those cheese making kits that I’m here to talk about today. The kit that Hobby Hill Farm sells retails for $26.95 and is designed to get you making your own mozzarella or ricotta cheese in just 30 minutes (they also sell an array of more advanced cheese making supplies). The kit contains cheese salt, citric acid, rennet, butter muslin, and easy-to-follow instructions. All you have to add is a gallon of milk and you’re ready to go.

I’ve completed many a DIY food project over the years, but until this kit arrived, I was always a little wary of trying my hand at cheese. However, I’ve made a batches of both mozzarella and ricotta so far and am loving how easy and satisfying a project it is. I’ll be back tomorrow with some pictures from my own experimentation.

cheese making ingredients

Thanks to the kind folks at Hobby Hill Farm, I have one cheese making kit to give away this week. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about a time when you tried to make something new in the kitchen.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, September 12, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, September13, 2015.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (and is void where prohibited).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

If you can’t wait, know that Hobby Hill Farm is currently offering all my readers 10% off their purchase. Use the code “FIJ” at checkout to get the deal.

Disclosure: Hobby Hill Farm is a Food in Jars sponsor. Additionally, they provided the kit you see here, as well as the one up for giveaway (along with a sack of the most delicious pretzels ever). 

Links: Late Summer Jams, Soggy Pickles, and Winners

omega workshop kraut

This last week has been such a good one. My mom got into town on Tuesday night and it’s been so fun to have her here. We’ve done a bit of preserving together, have gone on some very nice, meandering walks, and have generally enjoyed being around one another. When we weren’t just hanging out together, we were with extended family, celebrating the marriage of our cousin Amy to her partner Jean. They’ve been together for more than 30 years and it’s been such a joy to see them legally wed.

Now, links!

flip caps

The winners in last week’s Flip Cap giveaway are #24/Sue F. and #167/Pamela. Congratulations winners! And don’t forget, if you like the sound of the Flip Caps, you can get them here.

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September Sponsors: Cuppow, iLids, Mason Jar reCAP, Fillmore Container, and More!

flipped open flip cap

It is the beginning of September and that means that it’s time to thank the companies who help make this blog possible. If you like the products and services these folks offer, please do show them your appreciation by giving them your business.

Cuppow is the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. They also recently expanded their product line to include branded jar coozie and they’ve teamed up with the EIO Kids Cup folks to bring the manufacturing of that kids drinking system onto US soil. I used my coozie just today!

iLids is a Seattle-based small business that makes both storage and drink lids in both regular and wide mouth sizes for mason jars. Their storage lids are water tight and the drink lids can accommodate a straw. Best of all, their lids come in a whole bunch of different colors, so there’s something for everyone!

Mason Jar reCAP is a company based right here in Pennsylvania. They are the producers of the original reCAP pour lid and have since expanded to include the reCAP Flip. They also sell pump and spray caps to fit regular mouth mason jars! I’m currently giving away two of their Flip Cap Kits, so make sure to enter!

Fillmore Container is a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and sells all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. They also publish a blog that is a very useful resource for canners. This week, they’ve been talking pressure canning!

MightyNest is an amazing resource for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families. Check out their new subscription program called Mighty Fix. For $10 a month, you get a reusable product and everything else you buy ships for free!

Mrs. Wages makes pectin, vinegar, and more canning mixes than I can count. Their website is an incredible preserving resource and I can’t say enough good things about their salsa mixSign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Fermentools offers a brilliant fermentation starter kit that involves a heavy-duty glass pickling weight, an airlock, a lid with a reusable rubber seal, and mineral-rich salt. Get one (or several!) to help turn your CSA goodies into naturally fermented pickles.

Orchard Road makes mason jars, lids, and rings for home canners. Now in their second year of business, you should be seeing their jars in more physical stores. Their online store is now open for business, so you can now order them straight from the source.

If your company or small business is interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more details here. I offer discounts for multiple month purchases and am always happy to work with your budget.

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