11 September 2012

Autumn Prelude

I'm sneaking away from my water bath canner for a few minutes to give a quick 'stead update.  For the past several weeks I have been canning my can off.  In that time the ducks have flown the coop, the hornworms have appeared, it's greens season again, and the nightshades have started producing, which means I'm finally getting my pepper and eggplant fix.

eggplant, poblano, sweet banana, and cayenne peppers

The cooler weather has allowed some great roasting and braising experiments.  Most noteworthy is Molly Stevens' End-of-Summer Braised Green Beans (listed below) from All About Braising.  If your plants are still producing or you can find them at your local farmer's market, give it a try.  It's perfect for tougher late-season beans.  And don't be scared of the anchovies.  They make the dish.

canning tomatoes

Also, it's high tomato season.  That means we are eating more than our share of caprese salads, tomato based sauces and braises, and Margherita pizzas--there is nothing like a Margherita pizza with homegrown tomatoes and basil, nothing I tell you!  It also means my baby girl is practically making herself sick on cherry tomatoes straight off the vine.  She knows not to pick the green ones yet.  I'm not sure if that is from telling her that they're not ripe several hundred thousand times or if she learned that in her private experiences with the tomato plants.
the Margherita
It also means my water bath canner is getting a workout after a brief respite from pickling season.  I'm putting away the standard tomato puree, but I also found a few new recipes that made me excited enough to put in more hours in my canning kitchen.  I love making jams.  Unfortunately, I don't eat that many items that call for jam.  A dollop on oatmeal or the rare piece of toast is great, but the majority of my jams are destined for gifting and holiday desserts like sour cherry bars or black raspberry tarts.  But, I came across a few savory jams that have proven quite delicious.  Savory jams are great for appetizers; they pair well with brie or goat cheese.  I was looking specifically for sandwich jams, something that compliments a burger, pulled pork, or roasted chicken.  I don't do ketchup, I find most mustards barely tolerable, and standard mayonnaise is made with industrial vegetable oils that are forbidden in our household.  So, I put giardiniera on almost everything that calls for a condiment, which can get pretty boring, until now.  Marisa McClellan, the canning genius behind Food in Jars, has several savory jams.  I used my sweet cherry and yellow teardrop tomatoes to make this Tomato Basil Jam and this Orange Tomato Jam with Smoked Paprika.   They've already been sandwich tested and approved.


how bout them apples?

Also in canning news:  we were lucky enough get the opportunity to collect as many apples as we wanted from a wonderful relative in the next town.  She has four apple trees that produce more than several families could need.  My sister-in-law and I, and our families, collected hundreds of pounds of apples.  Talk about hitting the jackpot: an overflowing abundance of local, delicious, chemical-free apples.  After several days of sorting them, we have bags of unblemished apples for fresh-eating and ten half-pints of this apple butter each.  Additionally, I spent a day canning fifteen quarts of applesauce for this winter along with several pints of this apple jelly.  And, of course, there was pie.

apple pie--not my prettiest crust
All of this means fall is upon us.  Even if the produce didn't tell me, I would know by the browning of the cornfields, the new autumn-toned wildflowers by the creek, the crispness of the air, the mice droppings in my kitchen, my sudden inclination to listen to Dave Brubeck's Time Out, and my husband's relentless need to build campfires.  Before the season is in full-swing, I plan to take advantage of as many sun-warmed tomatoes as humanly possible and figure out where the hell one gets a Pumpkin Spice Latte in an area of the country so rural that Starbucks has yet to grace a non-existent mini mall.       

jerusalem artichoke by the creek

End-of-Summer Green Beans Braised with Tomatoes
Molly Stevens, All About Braising
Serves 4, Braising Time: about 1 hour

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 anchovies, minced
1 lb green beans, topped and tailed
1 1/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes or one 14 1/2 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup water
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  The aromatics:  Heat the oil in a large lidded skillet (12 to 13-inch) over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute gently until it releases its fragrance and just begins to show touches of gold on the edges, about 2 minutes.  Do not let the garlic brown.

2.  The braising liquid:   add the anchovies and oregano, smashing the anchovies with a wooden spoon to blend them into the oil, and saute for a minute longer.  Immediately add the green beans, stirring and tossing to coat them with the oil and seasonings.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add the water and season with pepper and just a pinch of salt, keeping in mind the saltiness the anchovies add.

3.  The braise:  Cover, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, and braise the beans, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure that they are not simmering too energetically.  If they are, lower the heat a notch or place a heat diffuser beneath the pan.  Continue to braise gently until the beans are completely soft and are beginning to wrinkle but not splitting open or falling apart, about 1 hour.

4.  The finish:  Depending on the beans and tomatoes you used, there may or may not be a lot of liquid remaining in the pan.  If the beans are swimming in sauce, remove the lid, increase the heat, and boil for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce is the consistency of a loose tomato sauce that generally coats the beans.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve hot or warm.



1 comment:

  1. Hurry up and get all of your harvesting done so we can hang out sometime soon okay??