Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Soup

What's not to enjoy about turkey... leftovers the following day in the form of a cold turkey sandwich and of course turkey soup?

Our turkey this year was again roasted as in previous years, except for the decision to brine the bird for the first time. The brine consisted of water, salt, brown sugar/honey, cider vinegar, and fresh herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary) from the garden. An aromatic was used for the belly of the beast: apples, onions, cinnamon stick... and throughout the hours of roasting our home was filled with a sense of divine.

The result was as intended, juicy and tender, but unless you like your turkey to taste like herbs rather than a turkey, think again about adding them to a brine for 24 hours. Only several tablespoons were used, but it was overpowering, at least according to our simple palates. I believe herbs and spices should complement not eclipse. But be advised, the aromatic will definitely be used again for poultry.

Following our meal and while the turkey is still somewhat warm, what better time to make some preparation?

Turkey Vegetable Soup from Diana's kitchen

Turkey carcass, parts and pieces
2 fresh bay leaves
fresh pepper

1 TB olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, sliced or chopped
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

4 lbs turkey, pulled/cut into bite sized pieces
1 to 2 (32oz) free range chicken (or vegetable) stock

1 cup barley (or rice)
kale (sauteed kale left over from our meal)

Remove any of the meat that will be used for another meal and/or sandwiches, and refrigerate. Place the carcass and any remaining legs, thighs or wings in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil, add bay leaves and fresh pepper, and simmer for 1 to 2 hours or until turkey begins to separate from the bone.

Remove the meat to a platter to cool. Strain the broth through a sieve into another large pot, then return the liquid soup base to the stock pot. Pull the turkey from the bones and cut or tear into bite size pieces and set aside. Discard the skin and bones.

In a heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, garlic, celery and carrots, a touch of salt, ground pepper, cayenne, and saute about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the parsley and cook for another minute or two.

Add the sauteed vegetable mixture to the soup stock, all the turkey pieces, and any additional chicken stock for the consistency you prefer in a soup (stew). Bring it to a boil, add the barley and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until barley is nearly done (al dente). Add the remaining sauteed kale left over from dinner and any additional salt and pepper to taste.

Once cooled to room temperature, place some of the soup into plastic containers (we use re-purposed cottage cheese containers or an equivalent), label and freeze. Think about how nice it will be on a cold wintry afternoon.

Note: Remember the aromatic used inside the breast of the roasted turkey? There was the slightest hint of sweetness and an added dimension that carried into the soup. I may have a bowl for breakfast. (wink)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Waning Harvest and Blue Moon

Sunday morning: 35 degrees F and with a forecast of below freezing during the coming week, we headed to the garden to disconnect hoses and finish draining water lines. In the distance the Ginkgo biloba stands tough.

One remaining tomato plant was pulled. Does it not know that which is coming?

Shall we cut back the beautiful blossoming Piracicaba broccoli?

Produce picked: salad greens 0.5 lbs; broccoli 0.8 lbs; kale 4.8 lbs

And look what deposited its eggs upon the underside of some of the kale. I carefully scrutinized each leaf, and it appeared that those infected were at the outer edge of the raised bed. Once inside the kitchen, and just in case I overlooked some, all the leaves were soaked in a cold salt water solution to insure that everything was okay and rinsed several times.

We finished our work shortly after noon, and the rain began.

Monday continued with rain, clouds, and fog and did not allow us to see the Blue Moon in all her glory, but...

this waking morning, a cold 28 degrees, fairly clear sky and an inch of snow, brought a smile to my face. Waning yes, but the pleasure is still there.

and just a few hours ago...

Pete and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy and thankful Thanksgiving. May God be with each of you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SkyWatch Friday, Thursday

For some it may depress
no, beauty, so well expressed

(enlarge and experience the rain against the window)

For beautiful skies from around the world
Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing guy, and Sylvia for hosting this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Canned Green Tomato Salsa

Ever wonder what to do with all those green tomatoes left on the vine at the end of the summer?

Fifty-six (56) pints of Tomato Salsa, 28 pints using green tomatoes and 28 with a mix of green and red, and nine 8oz jars of Green Tomato Chutney, and I am done canning for the season. Yeah!

Canned Green Tomato Salsa from Diana's kitchen

3 TB Extra Virgin olive oil
11 lbs green tomatoes, chopped
3 extra large sweet onions, chopped
3 sweet red peppers, chopped
3 sweet green peppers, chopped
4 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped (+/- according to personal taste)
8 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TB sea salt
1/2 TB black pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 TB raw honey

Add olive oil to an extra large kettle and heat on medium. Add tomatoes, onions, peppers and stir. Add and combine the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well, heat slowly to simmer, and cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you prefer. Stir frequently and be careful of the temperature so as not to burn the mixture.

Ladle the hot simmering salsa into hot sterilized pint jars (or quarts), and fill to within 1/2 inch from top. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth. Place sterilized flat lid on the jar and adjust the ring. Place in a boiling water bath; water should cover the lids by about an inch. Bring the water back to boiling and process for 15-20 minutes.

When complete, carefully remove each jar from canner with a jar lifter and place onto a thick towel or mat and in a draft free area. Gently lay a hand towel over the top of the jars, and allow them to cool to room temperature. Do not touch the lids, but allow them to seal over a period of hours (overnight). In the morning check seals, label, date and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Makes 14 pints. PS: if any didn't seal, put it in the refrigerator, buy some chips and enjoy!

Important Note: If you are just starting out, first read about the basics of home canning. Here is a place to begin, a simple overview, and from the Culinary Arts College, a list of 50 websites for learning self-canning.

One of the first things I learned to can as a youngster was tomatoes, a good place to start because of the high acidity. Tools were few, and an inexpensive water bath canner was used.

By the way, we love the salsa, as did our friends who came for dinner last week. They said it was the best they had ever eaten. (wink) I'm not sure that it is the best, but that comment got them a couple jars to take home. If you like it with a bit more heat, simply add a little cayenne and that will kick it up a notch.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Week Of SkyWatch

A Week of SkyWatch

For beautiful skies from around the world
be sure to visit SkyWatch

Monday, November 8, 2010

October Harvest

As mentioned in previous posts, we had a slow start to summer here in the Pacific northwest with a cold and wet June. In fact it was the coldest Portland-area summer in 17 years, and now government forecasters predict that the Pacific Northwest faces a colder and wetter than normal December through February. Understandably our vegetable garden's performance was slow when it came to tomatoes: cherry tomatoes did not begin to ripen until the first part of August, whereas the heirlooms, not until the latter part.

Heirloom Tomatoes: the August tomato harvest was less than 10 pounds; September yielded 43, while October was over five times that amount... 229.22 lbs. We had some 90 degree days that helped boost the ripening process, and the size of the Pineapple and San Marzano 'Gigante' greatly contributed to the overall total weight.

Cherokee purple: the largest Cherokee purple weighted 1.53 pounds, and following an initial burst, it slowed to a trickle, as did the Russian Black Krim, Ashleigh and Nile River Egyptian. Old German produced but a few ripe ones, so the remainder were picked green.

Pineapple was the largest tomato picked, weighing in at 1.7 pounds; additionally, it exceeded all other heirlooms in both individual weight and quantity.

The one Roma produced nicely, and the San Marzano 'Gigante' is definitely on my list of tomatoes I love in flavour, texture, quality... I have saved seeds from the best of them; anyone wanting to try a few, just let me know.

October Harvest total (in pounds) 353.6 lbs
Year to date = 789.3 lbs

Apples 35
Basil 1.2
Beans Sadie's Horse Bean 6.3
Broccoli 5.12
Cucumber 5.6
Eggplant Millionaire 4.23
Kohlrabi 1.6
Melon French Orange 1.2
Peppers Hungarian Hot Wax 4.7
Sweet Peppers 9.2
Potatoes 14.75
Tomatoes, various Heirlooms 229.22
Watermelon Sugar Baby 23.5
Zucchini 11.98

On the last day of October, my husband and I picked the rest of the tomatoes (mostly green), amounting to 57 pounds. The plants are now in the compost pile and the area was cleaned.

I don't have to tell you that I have been living in our kitchen processing, roasting, freezing, cooking, canning... but to our delight we now have Green Tomato Salsa and some Green Tomato and Apple Chutney, both of which turned out nicely.

Broccoli Packman continues to offer a half pound here and there, and I must get out and pick the Kale that has been neglected.

Perhaps the years biggest disappointment was my experiment of growing potatoes in pots. We harvested a few pounds of nice ones earlier in the summer, but then the foliage died back and the recent final harvest was only 15 pounds, although, still quite edible.

Read more here about some of the other heirloom vegetables we grew this year, and if you can believe, I have already ordered a few different heirloom bean varieties for next year.

Despite our weather this gardening season, we are more than pleased and thankful for the production we have experienced. But now the cooler temperature and rains have come, and the garden has wound down a bit, as have I. Some rest may be required for both of us.

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day
is the rest we take between two deep breaths.

~ Etty Hillesum

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SkyWatch Friday, It Is That Time of Year

fog filters about the trees
the valley floor seems lost
the moisture swells
the rains are here
yes, it is that time of year

For beautiful skies from around the world
be sure to visit SkyWatch