Friday, October 13, 2017

Weekly Waterfowl (12!)

Weirdo duck looks like a deformed dinosaur. 

Happy Friday, everyone.

Also, if you live in Salt Lake City, our congressman Chris Stewart just voted against aid for Puerto Rico. Time to leave him angry messages and demand he explain himself.

DC: 202-225-9730

SCL: 801-364-5551
St. George: 435-627-1500

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Baked Gigante Beans with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

There are some real advantages to 12-hour canning days. For instance, you can plug your electric car into a regular 110 volt outlet and be fully charged the next time you leave the house. You have enough time to listen to basically everything Lin Manuel Miranda has ever written consecutively. Also, if you're going to spend all day in a kitchen anyways, it's the perfect opportunity to slow-roast everything in sight.

Right now, that means tomatoes. Or, to be fair, until yesterday it meant tomatoes: Tuesday night saw our first morning frost (a whole TEN DAYS before I was supposed to can things!!) and most of the tomato plants are dead. So is all the basil. I've been handling my grief by reminding my farm wife twice daily that we need to do tomatoes and pesto in August next year, and also by opening the freezer to stare, Gollum-like, at the handful of slow-roasted tomatoes I put away last week.

So right, slow roasting. A couple weeks ago, I believe while canning peaches?, I made a pot of beans AND a tray of tomatoes in the oven at the same time. What followed was the easiest week of meals ever, mostly comprised of a rotating combination of beans, tomatoes, bread and cheese. Nobody really needs instructions on making a  sandwich with mozarella and slow-roasted tomatoes, but I can tell you it's a great idea- even if your bread is stale or freezer burned, the juices from the tomatoes soften it up. Photographed below is the closest thing to a recipe I made that week, and even then I hesitated to post it. Who writes recipes that start out "roast tomatoes for 6-12 hours, sometime in advance"? Most people don't sit in their houses all day making jam. But last night I ate it again, and when I was scraping the last juices out of the baking dish with a piece of bread I realized it might be a keeper.

Pre-oven. It looked lovely baked, all burbly and melted, but by that time the sun had gone down farther and all my photos looked terrible. Ah, to be an organized blogger with photography skills...

Baked Gigante Beans with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

8 slow-roasted tomato halves, from 4 tomatoes
3-4 cups cooked white beans with some of their cooking liquid (or two cans, drained but not rinsed)
2 Tbsp roughly chopped oregano
3 oz soft goat cheese
2 Tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper

To slow roast tomatoes:

A note on tomato type: this is easiest with Roma tomatoes, which are both smallish and have a lower water content. Obviously this isn't a requirement- the yellow bits in the photo up there are the remains of a beautiful heirloom I felt a little bad roasting. I try and cut bigger tomatoes into half-Roma sized pieces, but I'm an oddball. In general, the larger and jucier your tomatoes are to start with, the longer you need in the oven- I left this batch in for 10-12 hours and they were still jammy.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and brush a layer of olive oil onto a baking tray. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise (if using romas) or into thirds if using larger tomatoes. Arrange tomatoes cut-side up, then brush the top sides with more olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and any herbs and spices of your choosing (I like coriander because as always I'm a fangirl, but I've seen recipes with rosemary, thyme, etc). Put the tray in the oven and bake for at least six hours, checking every hour or so. Tomatoes are ready whenever you want them to be... but I like them to be collapsing and starting to curl at the edges.

Extra tomatoes (and you should be making extras) freeze well.

To make beans:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut your tomato halves into a couple of pieces each. Combine tomatoes with cooked beans and oregano in an ovenproof baking dish and mix gently. Break the goat cheese into chunks/crumbles and scatter on top. Drizzle with the olive oil, then a big pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, then eat, using a big h of bread to sop up the juices.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Your Weekly Waterfowl (11!)


This is a rough week in America, which is a sentence I've found myself saying more frequently than is perhaps reasonable. Please take care of yourselves, and then call your representatives. Mine are counting their NRA money while praying, but yours might be more useful.

Also, for anyone who hasn't read it, this is a great primer on American gun violence.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bourbon Peaches

Hello world! My work has been a little nutso recently, and then I made a 36-hour trip to Boston last weekend for my mother's 60th birthday. Also, jam club is officially up and running again- the 35lbs of apricots we put away a couple weeks back were just the start. Two Fridays ago, when I turned down a social invitation to do jam things, my friend was all "isn't Saturday jam club day?" and then I laughed like a crazy person because EVERY DAY IS JAM DAY. Do not test me. I will pelt you with apples and not even shout "rock!" as I drop them. I have 302 pounds of apples. We can spare a few for revenge.

Correction: I had 302 pounds of apples. They are now cider, 10 gallons of which are being stashed in my incredibly accommodating roommates' chest freezer.

Anyways... last two Saturdays ago was peach day, and although it's rapidly cooling down here (quick seasonal transitions seem to be Utah's thing this year) I'm hoping that wherever you are, there are still peaches. Because these bourbon peaches? They were the best thing we made last year, and quite possibly the best thing to ever be put on top of vanilla ice cream. More creative people than I could probably even finagle this into some sort of upside-down peach cake situation. Regardless, they're phenomenal - and I need to tell you about them now, because today is my breather between Tuesday (picking pears), Wednesday (making vinegar from fallen pears), Friday (cutting and prepping pears) and Saturday (making pear ginger jam). Also, I start hunter safety next week in anticipation of a trip that probably won't happen. These are appropriate ways to use my time, right?

Problem is, I don't have any good pictures. Jam days tend to be gross, sweaty indoor affairs, and any photos taken have empty coffee pots in the background and terrible lighting. Instead, I hope you will accept last year's photo of my farm wife, seen here performing her solemn duty to be queen of the jams. The peaches in question are quite visible in the bottom left corner, and also in her hand. I made the paper crown- does that count?

Bourbon Peaches
Adapted very slightly from the Food in Jars book!

6lbs peaches
1 lemon (optional)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup bourbon, divided*
4 pint jars

Peel the peaches: boil a pot of water, and fill a large bowl with ice water. When the water is boiling, add the peaches (in batches if necessary). One minute later, remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and put in the ice water. At this point, the skins should slip right off.

Once the peaches are peeled, cut them in half and remove the pits. Toss all the peaches together with the juice from the lemon, which will help stop the fruit from browning**.

Boil a pot of water big enough to hold four pint jars standing up. Sterilize four pint jars, along with their rings and lids. (If canning is TOTALLY new to you, the same lady I stole the recipe from has a great resource on her site!). Combine the sugar with 3 cups of water in a pot over medium heat and cook, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolves.

While the syrup is cooking, pack the peach halves into four pint jars as tightly as you can. When all your peaches are packed, pour 1/4 cup of bourbon into each jar. To remove air bubbles, run a chopstick or thin knife down the side of each jar, or tap them gently on the countertop. Add syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

Wipe the rims, put on the lids and rings, and put the jars into the boiling water. Set a timer for 25*** minutes. When time is up, turn the pot off and let the jars cool at least partially with the water- this was the best way we found to avoid bourbon leakage.

*A note on the booze: we used bottom shelf bourbon- like, really bottom shelf. In-a-plastic bottle bottom shelf. If we weren't canning with it, and it were vodka, I might attempt to use it as a cleaning product. Point is, you're welcome to use whatever actually tasty bourbon you've got hanging around, but it might be a waste- between adding sugar syrup and peaches, even shit bourbon ends up tasting pretty good. I'm enough of a snob to have been seriously skeptical last year, but I can tell you now it works.

**Also, this year, in a (successful) attempt to avoid last year's three-day peach meltdown and subsequent cursing, we rallied the community and got a bunch of help peeling and pitting on Friday night before canning the next day. It's not a big deal, but despite the lemon juice, the peaches did get a little brown. If that's a deal breaker, just peel and can them all the same day.

***This is at sea level- in Utah we went longer!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Your Weekly Waterfowl (10!)

This is the face of a duck who has just run down a rogue chicken AND a cat. She is not sorry at all.

Also, she's totally judging me for not posting here in a while because I've been drowning in work, activism and jam. She believes this is not a good excuse.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How to Eat Toast without Poisoning Your Celiac Roommate: An Instruction Guide

Procedures Approved by Becca and Annalise, 8/23/17

Setup: All bread will be double bagged, and preferably kept in the freezer. In future, Becca will try NOT to use her celiac roommate’s bags… even if they’re machine washable. Think this through Becca. Gluten-toast will ONLY go in the red toaster to the left of the coffee machine, which will have some sort of tray underneath it. Said tray will not be plastic, because we tried that and we think it melted.

  1. Ask yourself: are you eating things-on-toast because you are too lazy to make yourself something resembling a meal? Spend at least 30 seconds contemplating alternatives.
  2. Prepare space for gluten invasion. Plug in poison-toaster, find and dampen a clean dishtowel, make sure the sink doesn’t contain anything dishwasher-unsafe, check dishwasher for space
  3. If possible, pre-assemble toast toppings to minimize contamination.
  4. Take the bread bag out of the freezer, and open it next to the toaster. Transfer toast over a plate and the toaster tray. Immediately return the bread, rebagged, to the freezer. Extra credit for wiping hands with the now-designated gluten rag.
  5. Turn on toaster. Contemplate whether a $2 toaster from the NPS store says something good or bad about you. Remind self that the melting plastic smell the first time was probably the tray.
    1. Before touching drawers, jars, surfaces etc, wipe hands with the gluten rag.
    2. Things from communal jars (peanut butter, mayonnaise) require separate utensils for scooping and spreading. There is a high likelihood that you will forget this and gluten the scoop spoon and therefore require 3+ utensils. Forgive yourself
    3. If making eggs, do NOT let pan touch the gluten! Hold the pan a couple inches above the bread.
    4. Under no circumstances call smooshed avocado on toast “avocado toast”.
    5. DO NOT put your gluten-fingers in your salt jar. De-gluten your hands first! Alternatively, you could get a salt shaker like a normal human.
  7. Eat toast! Toast is awesome. Do this at the dining room table, as the Annalise has promised she will not lick it.
  8. If possible, transfer dishes straight to dishwasher. If not, make sure the sink is clear of pans, break out the gluten-sponge and do dishes normally. The gluten sponge should also be used to wipe out the sink- Annalise has promised not to lick that either.
  9. Use gluten-rag to wipe down dining table. Put immediately in the wash.
  10. Optional: dance around the kitchen singing “I didn’t poison Annalise” to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Pretend this is the first time.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Your Weekly Waterfowl (9!)

Hello! It's been a week- I had guests, and then we had to rally in opposition to actual Nazis (because apparently that's a thing we have to do now) and then I had more guests. I went to Idaho to see the eclipse, which was awesome and totally made up for the 12-hour traffic jam we hit on the way home. I wasn't driving though, so I probably can't make that call. Also, thanks again guys! You were champs.

So I haven't been writing about food- partially because I've been busy, and partially because it feels inappropriate to do so when this week's news is our president openly supporting white supremacists. I'm not sure I'm comfortable interrupting a serious social media conversation with a post that's basically self-promotion with a side of zucchini, you know? I haven't quite cracked the 'political recipe-writing' formula either. "Salad for when your Senators are shit?" "Five things to eat while lying on the floor in despair over healthcare?" "Easy-traveling sheet cake, so you can eat it while still showing up to the goddamned protest?" 

That last one has promise, actually. Too bad I don't like cake.

In addition, a staggering percentage of my diet has been tomato+olive oil+salt. Sometimes I add some cheese. Sometimes I don't even make it indoors- I just eat the tomato like I would a peach. Oh! Also there are peaches, which are so ripe I eat them over the sink.

If it helps, my ducks are judging me too. Look at that side eye. Hey, duck ducks, you don't get to judge me- you're terrible at eating and are somehow ALWAYS dirty. YOU HAVE A POOL.

Duck ducks would like to point out that they live in a dirt pit and that their hygiene does not excuse me from cooking actual meals. Also, they would like some tomatoes please.