Sunday, November 27, 2011

Green Tomato Lemon Marmalade

Cook down halved or quartered tomatoes
We were given a slew of green tomatoes. Last week I picked out the ripe ones and made pizza sauce.Now what to do with all the green ones? We did make some fried green tomatoes, but that didn't even make a dent in them. At first I wanted to make a chutney but a friend of ours gave us some lemons (and some canned items) for helping her cull an injured chicken she had. I love to make marmalade, but it wasn't quite enough lemons to do that so I came up with the idea to do a green tomato lemon marmalade.

Mill the tomatoes to remove seeds and skins

OK, so I have to be honest, I don't like this marmalade. You do have to take that with a grain of salt though because I don't like tomatoes very much. For the most part it does actually taste good, but for me I get this really strong zinc taste from it. That same taste you get when sucking on a zinc lozenge when your sick. No one else that's tried it can taste zinc though. They all really like it, so I'm posting this because you can't take my word on it.

Zest the lemons
 You will need a couple of specialized tools to help speed things up. First, you'll need a food mill. Otherwise you can seed and skin the tomatoes the old fashioned way. Also, I highly recommend getting a zester for the lemons. This really helps making long, thin strands of zest for the marmalade. Otherwise you'll need to carefully cut the zest away from the white pith and then slice it really thin. You don't want to include the white pithy part of the peel because that is what will make the marmalade bitter.  Oh, and now that I've got myself a candy thermometer I can't believe I went so long without it. So get one if you plan to make a lot of preserves.

Supreme the lemons

So what you need:
6lbs of Green tomatoes
1 1/2 lbs lemons
3/4 cup of sugar per 1 cup of liquid

1. Half or quarter the tomatoes and throw them into a pot. Bring them to a boil and let the tomatoes cook down. Once they are soft run them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins.
2. While it's cooking down, zest your lemons, cut off the white pith and outer membrane, and remove the pulp from the membrane (supreme).
3. Add everything together and then measure out how much you have. Add the sugar.
4. Cook down until your preserve has reached the gelling point at 220 deg F.
5. Ladle into sterile jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pizza Sauce

I have to apologize for not posting much this past week. We've been crazy busy and I just haven't had time to write. Hopefully this coming week will be a bit calmer.

Halved tomatoes
If we can save time it's a bonus for us. Yes, I freely admit that I sometimes use a bread machine to save time, but I also know how to make bread by hand and sometimes I do. We're so busy all of the time with the animals, garden, events, friends and family that half the time I don't know how we have the time to do anything else.
Cooked down tomatoes, skins, seeds and all
Friday nights are pizza nights around here. Other than making the crust, the sauce is what can take the most time. It also seems a waste to open a quart of tomato sauce to make a cup of sauce so this year we decided to go ahead and can sauce. We put the sauce in 8 oz jars which end up being the perfect amount for one large pizza. It cuts our kitchen time in half by having these little jars.

Adding cooked tomatoes to the food mill to remove skins and seeds
I nearly wasn't going to be able to post this recipe because we no longer had any tomatoes but Tom's boss gave him two buckets of green tomatoes (green tomato recipe coming up next week). In that bucket there were quite a few red ones, actually more than I expected so I was able to make 12 more jars of it and finally make a post.

It doesn't really matter how many tomatoes you have to do this because it can be multiplied or divided how you like.

If you process a lot of tomatoes I highly recommend investing on a food mill. It doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to do it's job. Using a food mill really saves us a lot of time while making the sauce (Yay! more times saved!). You don't need to skin and seed the tomatoes first. Just simply half or quarter the tomatoes and throw them into a pot. Bring them to a boil and let the tomatoes cook down. Once they are soft run them through the mill to remove the seeds and skins. This also makes the sauce smooth. If you don't have a mill go ahead and skin and seed them first. Put them in a pot and boil them down. In batches, blend the tomatoes until smooth or use an immersion blender.

For ever 4 cups of tomato juice add:

1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs choped basil
1 Tbs chopped oregano
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp chopped rosemary
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer down the sauce and herbs until it reaches the desired consistency. This, of course, is a personal preference but can take over an hour depending on how much sauce you have. While it's simmering prepare your jars and to each 8 oz jar add 1.5 tsp lemon juice. Ladle sauce into jars and then process in a water bath canner for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

California Scapegoat

Today my friend alerted me to a recall of raw milk here in California. Five children in Contra Costa, Kings, San Diego and Sacramento counties got sick from E. coli O157:H7 between August and October. Three of them suffered from the highly dangerous hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The finger was being pointed at Organic Pastures, a fully licensed and legal raw milk dairy. When I heard that I immediately had to look it up. When I read the news article on it my bullshit alarm went off. The CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) claims that raw milk was the only common food consumed by the children and since such a small population actually drinks raw milk that must be the cause. Never mind, of course, that none of the milk, including the actual milk the children supposedly got sick from, actually tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. It's also important to note that the State tests Organic Pastures' milk monthly and that the milk is also tested several times a week by an independent lab. All tests have been negative for E. coli.

This is actually the second time the state has pointed a finger at Organic Pastures for contamination. The first time, coincidentally also didn't show their milk was contaminated and they were allowed to resume business. With California's renewed interest in shutting down any and all avenues to raw milk, including herdshares (where you own and board a goat at a farm and the farmer milks it for you), I find this all very suspicious. It's a great way for CDFA to get raw milk in the news with E. coli in the same sentence. The damage is now done and they hope to see more people avoid raw milk and call for an outright ban of it.

The victims here are the children but I find it does them and our society as a whole a great disservice to point the finger at the wrong company. If the actual milk that the children drank isn't contaminated that cannot be the source, even if it's a common food they all consumed.

This all goes back to my post last week about your right to eat the food you want to.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best Turkey You'll Ever Eat!

Since Thanksgiving is coming up quickly I thought I'd repost my recipe for the most succulent Turkey you'll ever taste!

I have finally perfected our Turkey Recipe! It takes some preparation, but in the end it was more than worth the effort!

This recipe will work for a 16-25lb turkey. Make sure the bird is completely thawed the day before you plan to cook it because brining it requires at least 12 hours.


For Brine:
1 gallon unsweetened apple juice
3/4 cup salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6-8 slices of ginger
2 Tbs peppercorns
2 Tbs allspice berries
2 Tbs whole cloves
2 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir in salt and sugar. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes and then allow to cool completely.

We use a large orange "water cooler" that we have designated just for brining similar to this one:
Unwrap the thawed turkey, remove the giblets and place neck end down into clean cooler. Pour cooled brine over the bird. Add water until the bird is completely submerged. Add a bunch of ice on top to keep cool. Put lid on cooler and leave undisturbed for at least 12 hours.

For Roasting:

1/4 lb butter (1 stick) cut into pats
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbs chopped fresh Thyme
2 Tbs chopped fresh Oregano
2 cups chicken broth
Olive Oil

1. Remove bird from brine and let brine drain out of cavity. Don't rinse bird.
2. Coat roasting pan with olive oil and place bird breast side up in it.
3. Using your hands separate skin from breast and legs. Rub the chopped herbs onto the meat.
4. Place the cut pats of butter under the skin in various locations, including the legs. Pour chicken broth over bird.
5. Cover bird with lid of pan or foil and place in a preheated oven at 350 deg.
6. Roast for two hours basting every hour. Remove foil and allow bird to brown, basting every 20 min.
7. Continue to roast bird until interior temp reaches 165 deg. Can range from 1-2 additional hours depending on whether the bird is stuffed. Make sure when taking the temp that the thermometer is through the thickest part of the breast and is not touching bone.

This recipe will give you an incredibly moist flavorful bird that is amazingly tender.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Do Not Have the Fundamental Right....

This is a cross post from my Dog Island Farm blog but I think it's important to post it here as well since some of you don't follow the other blog. While I wrote this, I do want to give credit to Evren Seven, a lawyer, who provided some information for this post.

“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice”

These are the words of Wisconsin Judge Patrick J. Fiedler in his clarification of his ruling against the Zinnikers who were running a herdshare and ordered to stop because the state claimed it violated law. 

Do you think you have the fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of your own choice? This isn't the first time this has been said. The FDA said almost the exact same thing not that long ago.

"There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food."
 [p. 25]

"Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish." [p. 26]

Unfortunately they are right. Technically the Constitution doesn't say that you have a fundamental right to eat what you want. However, the FDA doesn't care much about the Constitution when they stated "(observing that “it is within HHS’s [United States Department of Health and Human Services] authority . . . to institute an intrastate ban as well”)." thus trampling over the 10th amendment. 
This doesn't affect just those of us that choose to drink raw milk. It can have a much further reach than that so it's important that even if you don't drink raw milk that we take a stand against the outright ban of it.

Have you ever heard of Wickard v. Filburn? Chances are you haven't, but it has the potential of affecting all of us that grow and raise our own food.

The quick and dirty story is that in 1938 the Federal government set quotas on the amount of wheat put into interstate commerce to try and stabilize the price. Roscoe Filburn, a farmer, grew wheat for commercial and also for personal use. Unfortunately, combined the amount was over the quota so he was fined. He refused to pay the fine and was taken to court, eventually ending up in the Supreme Court. The ruling, based on the Commerce Clause*, stated that the Federal government, can indeed, regulate what is grown for personal use and not put into commerce and it it can also regulate intrastate commerce because it can indirectly effect interstate commerce. It is important to note, however, that Wickard never dealt with whether or not growing food for your own consumption (or being able to obtain whatever food you see fit) is a "fundamental right," since the statute wasn't a total ban but rather a maximum production limit that far exceeded what a family might require.  Should the Supreme Court decide that growing one's own food is a "fundamental right," it becomes extremely difficult for a state to regulate it.  Once you get "fundamental right" status, Congress or a state legislature would have to show that it is "necessary to achieve a compelling government interest" to regulate raw milk production for one's own use (or purchasing), and that's never happened.**  Given today's business friendly SCOTUS, it's essentially guaranteed that such a case, should it get there, would not get that protected status.

Personal use affects interstate commerce because if you can produce it you don't buy it, thus reducing the demand. One person doing it is trivial, but when a lot of us are producing our own food it can have a huge impact on interstate commerce.

We better be careful because us vegetable gardeners may be the next ones with targets on our backs. 

*The Commerce Clause was also used against California's Medical Marijuana legalization because it said that making it legal in California effected the prices in other states. Nevermind that it's illegal in other states though.

**OK it happened once regarding Japanese internment but the Court later admitted it was wrong. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Got Apple Cores and Peels? Make Jelly!

I spent all day today processing apples from our trees. After I finished peeling and coring them I ended up with a pretty substantial pile of apple bits. It would be a shame to just throw them out so I decided to use them for all they were worth. I was originally thinking of making them into apple cider vinegar but I didn't really have a container I could use for that. Instead I decided that I'd make jelly out of them. Since you generally just throw out the fruit when you make jelly it kind of seemed appropriate to use the unusable parts of the fruit to start with.

What you will need:
 Apple peels and cores
1 Tbs lemon juice for every 2 cups of liquid

1. Put the peels and cores in a large pot. Add water until you can see it just under the top layer of fruit. Bring to a boil.
2. Boil fruit, uncovered, until it is soft. Strain liquid into a new pot.
3. For each cup of liquid add 3/4 cup of sugar. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil. Watch it carefully so that it doesn't boil over.
4. To check consistency: put some ice in a bowl. Scoop up a small amount of liquid with a spoon and place the spoon on the ice to get it to cool quickly. Turn spoon sideways. If the liquid has jelled onto the spoon and doesn't appear syrupy then it is done and ready to can. If you have a candy thermometer, you want the temperature to be 220 deg F.
5. Ladle hot jelly into sterilized jars. Put on sterile lids and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.