Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adventures in Harvesting

This carrot was twisted all the way to the tip!
This past week I've been on vacation and so has my Hubby. We've gotten quite a few things done, especially outside. Not all that I had hoped, but still quite a bit. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of just about all of it! Most of it wasn't exciting anyway.

We ripped out a bed that had been neglected long before we took possession of the house. It was overrun with lily-of-the-valley and three large lilac bushes. As much as it pained me to do it, I cut down all three of the bushes and ripped up the lily mat that lay on top of the actual dirt over there. In it's place, we've planted an apple tree. I want to get two more dwarf varieties for over there, and find something that does well in semi shade until they get bigger.

I also dug my potatoes. I got quite a few and some much larger than I anticipated. I filled up my potato basket and kept a handful of green ones for seed potatoes for next year.

Last of the kohlrabi and some carrots.
Most of the green plant material got pulled up in the other beds. Spent squash vines and tomato plants and bean plants were pulled up. I even harvested about half of the carrots. And I'm glad I did. This variety got huge! A couple broke off in the ground and I couldn't pull them out. I'll leave those for the squirrels.

Adventures in Pop Tart Baking

That's right, I made my own poptarts. The real things, the ones from Kellogg's, are my Achilles heal. I lived on diet coke and chocolate poptarts when I was in college. The were my breakfast most days. I love them, I can't help it. Even now, when I know how terrible they are, they are my go-to breakfast when I'm running late. I can get one strawberry tart at the gas station for $0.69. And then I feel like crap the rest of the day. Hubby loves them too.

So, I set out to make my own and try and make them at least a little healthier. I found the recipe at Smitten Kitchen. I followed her recipe almost exactly, except I did the half whole wheat, half white flour version. And they were pretty good.

Homemade Nutella tarts
 I made two different kinds. One with raspberry jam and one with my homemade nutella. But, my nutella is very crumbly because I store it in the fridge and I made it with coconut oil, so they don't look as  pretty as hers do! I also made one that was half and half because I had just a little jam left from the first four. That one was amazing!
Raspberry tarts
 Apparently my fork pricks didn't make it all the way through the top layer, because they all puffed up quite a bit. And the tarts with the jam in them are a little soft still, they didn't bake up hard like the others did. I'm thinking they could've gone in for a little bit longer.
Baked and cooled the next morning. Not bad really.
The verdict: These are good, but they aren't the same. Which is okay I guess. They're good on their own. And if I keep some around, I won't succumb to the 8am frenzy that is the gas station!

This post is part of the Simple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Best Homemade Ice Cream Ever

And I'm not kidding, at least that's what my husband says :)

This is a recipe based on an Alton Brown recipe, but entirely different.

Ingredients:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups rapadura or sucanat*
2 vanilla beans

Heat milk and sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans and place beans and pods in pan with liquid. Heat to 170°F or until the very first bubble appears. Do not let it boil!

Mixture heating on the stove.

Turn heat off and let cool on the stove. Once cooled down, strain and place in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Then process according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Straining to cool. Yes, it was mostly cool at this point,
but my kitchen was VERY cold. I refuse to turn the heat on yet :)
After processing, it will still be quite soft. Place in freezer until hardened. This is where I add cocoa powder to some of it to make it chocolate. I mix about 1/2 a cup of cocoa with about 1/3 of the ice cream before hardening.

Then eat, both are delicious :) My hubby says the vanilla is so good that it's not worth making anything else! It has a little bit of a carmel-like flavor. It also isn't too sweet and, as my husband said, has a nice, refreshing taste. It doesn't leave you thirsty like some ice creams can. And, I feel good eating it. I know that there's only good things in it (for the most part anyway) and it's delicious. Enjoy!

*It is VERY important to use rapadura or sucanat, not regular white sugar. This isn't just for health reasons, but because it's what imparts the unique flavor to the ice cream and makes it oh-so-delicious!

This post is being shared as part of the Pennywise Platter.

New Tattler Winner

Congratulations to Sara, our new winner of the Tattler Reusable Lids. Our first winner never contacted me, so we are on to the next. Random.org picked comment #7:

Congrats to Sara. Please contact me with your info and I'll get them out to you!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Garden Update: Green Tomatoes

This weekend is really chilly in this neck of the woods. This morning it's 44°F at 9:30 in the morning. I haven't turned the heat on yet, but I am definitely baking today!

Last night we were in danger of frost. I don't think we actually got any, but I wasn't taking any chances. It was cold and raining most of the day, and I knew that covering my tomatoes wasn't going to do me any good if they were already dripping wet. So, I made the decision to harvest all of the tomatoes, no matter how green they were. It hurt! There were even new flowers on some of our plants. I felt so sad...it seems like such a waste. But seasons change and there's nothing we can do to stop it, no matter how small our baby tomatoes are.

Green tomatoes, as well as a few peppers
and a weird melon that I'm not sure of...

I got almost a bushel of tomatoes, some were red, but most were still green. It was a cold, wet harvest and I couldn't feel my fingers when I was done. But I do love smelling like the tomatoes :)

Ripened tomatoes, destined for pizza sauce and salsa!

Now I have over half a bushel of green tomatoes. I've pulled out the ones that I think will ripen over the next few weeks, but I'm left with quite a few that are still very green and underdeveloped. Now what do I do with them? I can't waste the food, I just can't. So much food is sitting here, I'm just not sure how to eat it!

I need help friends! I'm thinking about maybe making a ketchup or relish, or even a jam to give as gifts. But if any of you have no-fail recipes or other ideas, please share. Thanks!

And I never heard from our winner, so I will be drawing a new winner later today. Good Luck everyone :)