It is always a fun project to get the family together to decorate cookies. An inexpensive way to add color to them is to make your own colored sugar. It’s fun, easy to do and stores well. To make your own at home simply pour some sugar into a bowl and add a couple drops of food coloring. Mix the food coloring in well with a fork and add more as needed until you get the color you want. Let the sugar dry out (an hour or so at room temperature) before storing it in an airtight container. Make several colors and have them ready to use when you are in the mood to bake and decorate cookies.
Remember that pepper jelly you made last summer? The holiday season is a great time to begin using it. Spread on a brick of cream cheese and add some crackers for a simple and easy appetizer. Used as a topping for a pork roast it will give the meat a spicy, sweet flavor. Spread on a baguette to make crostini with a bit of a bite.
With a bit of imagination you will find many uses for that delicious jelly. You can add to a vinaigrette, make “adult” PB&J sandwiches, or add some to a stir fry.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
It’s getting to be that time of summer again; tomatoes everywhere. After you have eaten your fill of tomatoes it is time to start preserving them. Remember that unblemished fruits and vegetables make the best quality preserved foods.
Freezing tomatoes, to me, is just about the easiest vegetable (or is it a fruit?) to preserve. I drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, slip off the skins, and then place the tomatoes on a cookie sheet to freeze overnight. After they are frozen solid, I place the tomatoes into a large freezer bag. That way I can easily use just one or two tomatoes in soup next winter.
Cauliflower was one of my least favorite vegetables when I was a child. It was usually served overcooked, pale in color and under seasoned. In recent years I have discovered a great way to prepare this nutritious vegetable and it could not be easier (nor more delicious) – ROASTED CAULIFLOWER! Some recipes call for separating the head into flowerettes. I prefer to remove the core and simply slice the entire head into ½ inch slices. This results in more surface area to be caramelized when roasting. Lay the slices in a jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil or olive oil. Spray the tops of the slices with a little more olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (either black or red) and roast in a 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness desired. I usually remove mine from the oven when it is golden brown and beginning to crisp. Both adults AND children love this recipe!
When I was a child my grandmother had a pasture full of pear trees. The pears these trees produced were small but of unequaled flavor to anything I have found in the grocery store. If you have pear trees on your property or have access to a quantity of delicious pears and want to can them, follow these guidelines:
Choose ripe fruit of ideal quality (sub par fruit will not improve in the canning process, so always start with an excellent product), allowing the fruit to ripen for at least 1 day after harvest.
Hot Pack: Fruit can be packed using a very light, light or medium syrup; or by heating white grape juice, apple juice or water. Wash, peel and cut lengthwise in halves and remove core. Dip them in an ascorbic acid mixture to prevent browning and then drain well. Boil drained pears 5 minutes in water, syrup or juice then pack hot pears into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Fill jars with liquid used for cooking them, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims, adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath.
Pints: 20/25 minutes (20 minutes for elevations under 1000 ft and 25 minutes for over 1000 ft)
Quarts: 25/30 minutes (25 minutes for elevations under 1000 ft and 30 minutes for over 1000 ft)
Note: Though a raw pack method can be used for canning pears, a hot pack is generally preferred. If a raw pack method is desired, follow the instructions for canning peaches with a raw pack.
Quantity: An average of 17-1/2 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 50 pounds and yields 16 to 25 quarts—an average of 2-1/2 pounds per quart.
Pickles! It seems like everyone wants to make pickles this time of year. We get so many calls related to pickles; I will highlight just a few of the facts that we share with callers.
- Use small cucumbers of a variety designed for pickling.
- Use canning or pickling salt. Other salts may result in cloudy brine.
- Use commercially produced vinegar with 5% acidity. Use white if you are concerned about brine color.
- Recipes do exist for reduced salt pickles. Don’t just cut back on the salt in your recipe, the product may be unsafe. These recipes can be found in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.
- Alum is not recommended in current pickle recipes. Other products and processes are available. Check with us at AnswerLine for some ideas.
Are the carrots in your garden ready now? If you want to start canning carrots here are some things to remember.
It takes 2 to 3 lbs of carrots, without tops, to make a quart of canned carrots. So be sure to dig enough carrots for only one canner load at a time.
For a raw pack: wash, peel, and rewash carrots. Slice or dice them. Baby carrots can be left whole. Pack tightly, leaving 1-inchheadspace. Cover with boiling water, maintaining 1-inch headspace.
For a hot pack: wash, peel, and rewash carrots. Cover with boiling water; bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Fill jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Cover with boiling cooking liquid, maintaining 1-inch headspace.
Minutes of processing
Canner pressure at altitudes of
Raw or Hot
Remember to check your altitude. As altitude increases, water boils at a lower temperature (below 212° F). Lower temperatures are not as effective for destroying organisms. Therefore, when using a pressure canner, the pressure must be increased as altitude increases. Refer to the map below to check the altitude of your county, then follow the altitude adjustments in the above table
Altitudes of Iowa Counties
Shaded areas are less than 1,000 feet • Unshaded areas are 1,000 to 2,000 feet
Soon there will be more sweet corn available than we can eat. I plan to freeze some so we can enjoy that good Iowa sweet corn this winter. Use the easy directions listed below after you have husked removed the silks and trimmed the ends of the corn cobs.
Whole kernel corn: can be frozen by blanching the kernels before removing them from the cob. Blanch the corn for 4 ½ minutes, cool in ice water, and then cut the kernels from the cobs.
Cream style corn: follow the above directions but only cut the kernel tips. Next scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to remove the heart of the kernel and form some “cream”.
Corn on the cob: Blanch the ears for the time listed in the chart. Cool the cobs in ice water. If you don’t cool the corn long enough the corn may become mushy and have a “cobby” taste. Cooling the corn requires a longer time than blanching.
small ears (1¼-inch diameter)
medium ears (1¼-1½-inch diameter)
large ears (over 1½-inch diameter)
My favorite time of the year is finally here – time to grill! Who doesn’t love the aroma of meat and/or vegetables coming from a grill as you walk around your neighborhood? My family made chicken and steak kebabs last weekend, adding a new touch with the addition of peaches and pineapple. Why have I not tried grilling fruit before now? Both the peaches and pineapple were sweet, juicy and succulent!
The use of a marinade is one way to keep your grilled foods juicy and tender. A marinade not only keeps your food from drying out but also can add additional flavor to your dish. It is important to remember food safety when using a marinade. The effects of marinating are hastened by higher temperatures, but so is the danger of bacterial activity. Refrigerate any foods in their marinade if the immersion period indicated is 1 hour or more. Allow about 1/2 cup of marinade for every pound of food to be processed. Cubed meat is soaked just 2-3 hours; a whole 5-10 pound piece, overnight. Sometimes a recipe calls for the marinade to be made into a sauce for the dish. When doing this, it is important to bring it to a boil on the stove to destroy any harmful bacteria before using it on cooked foods. Using these tips will result in safe, tender, and juicy meats, vegetables and fruitsfrom your grill!
BEEF OR PORK MARINADE
- 1 1/2 cups flat beer
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Stir the oil in slowly, then add
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 cloves
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
Marinate the meat refrigerated and covered for 2-3 hours. Turn frequently.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 minced clove garlic
- 1 finely chopped medium-sized onion
- 1/2 tsp. celery salt
- 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, tarragon or rosemary
Mix well. Chill several hours in covered jar or dish. Shake well, then pour over the chicken pieces. Chill about 3 hours, turning pieces at least once. Baste during cooking with any excess marinade
REF: Joy of Cooking