Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yes, We Can Can

The woman sews, too
The turning of the seasons has brought my annual salsa canning date with my neighbor. If you grew tomatoes this year, you know we've reached the point where the vines are withering and turning bleh, but the tomatoes are hanging on and tasting wonderful.

Mrs. Neighbor is cooking up vats of marinara and salsa, and even peeling and dicing raw tomatoes and throwing them in the freezer to be used in those winter recipes that call for "one can diced tomatoes."

While I'm still canning-impaired (meaning, I only do it when someone else invites me to help and that other person is equipped and in charge), I decided to share our fabulous recipe with those who are canning-gifted or just more daring than I am. Proper equipment does help, like a canning rack that fits in a big kettle and jar-lifter tongs, but other than that, everything else is pretty straightforward.

Got this pic from
And this baby from!

One quick tip: sterilize those jars in the dishwasher!

And line up your lids and such:

Give 'em a quick dip in a skillet of simmering water right before you put them on

Yeah, yeah, say you experienced canners, But what about the recipe?

Mrs. Neighbor got this recipe from her boss's Korean dry cleaner's mother, so you know it's got to be good. As usual, I've put asterisks by all the items you can find at our friendly neighborhood farmers market.

Korean Dry Cleaner's Mother's Salsa
1 gallon peeled, coarsely chopped tomatoes*
8 jalapeno peppers*
6 cups chopped onion*
1-1/3 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp salt
1-1/2 Tbsp garlic salt
2 12-ozs cans tomato paste (those are the big cans)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or more, to taste

Mix and simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours till it breaks down and blends.

Then ladle into hot jars and cook in the hot water bath 10 minutes. This recipe makes about 9 pints! Almost enough to have one to give away...

Hmm...last year's pic, and I only count 7 pints. Maybe we drank two on the spot.
Trust me--when all this sunshine and warm weather goes away, taking with it the last of the real tomatoes and all the fresh pico de gallo I've been making, homemade salsa will be the next best thing. So come out this Thursday or Saturday and load up! Yes, you can can!

Three Thursday Markets Left--Eat These While You Can!

I hate the end of the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market because it comes just after the end of summer and presages the end of all Bellevue Farmers Markets whatsoever until 2015. Not to get too dramatic, but there are just THREE Thursday Markets left: Oct 2, Oct 9, and Oct 16. There will still be a goodly amount of Saturday Markets (until before Thanksgiving), but I loved thinking I could buy peaches Thursday and eat them all, since there were more where those came from on Saturday.

Don't let the season end without eating these:

Lunchbox size, unprocessed, and no artificial anything!

How can anyone resist a fruit dubbed "Dapple Dandy," even if it is unfamiliar, as a pluot might be to you. I'm happy to report that, as a lover of both plums and apricots, I'm entirely won over by their pluot offspring. They're pretty, too, which (to paraphrase Jane Austen)  a fruit ought likewise to be, if it possibly can.

Then there are the Asian pears, which Martin Family Orchards had on offer:

This particular variety is crisp and sweet and juicy. Another perfectly lunchbox-sized fruit.

I'm still seeing ears of corn at the Market! Here's a tip: buy bazillions now, and cook them all the same day. Eat the first ears just as corn on the cob. Cut the kernels off a few ears the next night to make this salad from a post last year. Then, on another night, cut the kernels off the last few ears to throw in this soup. (As always, an * indicates an ingredient available at the Market.)

Corn Potato Chowder
Corn-Potato Chowder (Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1976)

2 medium diced potatoes* (I used Yukon Gold from Samish Bay)
1 medium onion, diced*
1/2 cup chopped celery* (sometimes--found it at Hedlin Farms once)
1 tsp salt
2 cups cooked fresh corn*
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled*

In saucepan, combine potatoes, onion, celery, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Cover; cook 15 minutes or until tender. Stir in corn, milk, herb, bacon, and dash pepper. Heat through.

A lovely accompaniment to the soup and another user-upper of late season goodies is Deborah Madison's recipe for stuffed tomatoes:

I overbaked them a little. So sue me.
Tomatoes Proven├žal
4 medium or 8 small ripe tomatoes*
3 garlic cloves*
1 cup flat-leaf parsley*
3 Tbsp chopped basil*
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I chopped up a heel of whole wheat)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease an 8x8 or gratin dish. Cut the tomatoes around their equators and dig out the seeds with your finger. In the food processor (or chop by hand), whiz together the garlic, parsley, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Fill the tomatoes with this mixture and set them in the dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes till soft and browned on top.

Do yourself and your family a favor, and cook a real dish with real, seasonal ingredients before they're gone!