Farm Fresh

… Fresh on to the farm. Here is an occassional chronicle of a new family in a small town.

Apricots

My moms neighbor has a tree that hangs over the fence. All week (mid August) I have been climbing up a precarious ladder to pick them. Who knew? I never thought I would like these things but I can’t resist and they are so beautiful. Plus Justin’s friend Ryan brought us 20lbs from his tree. I froze two trays worth- Apricot Dacquiri’s anyone? We’re drying a bunch and I couldn’t resist the following jam recipe.

Apricot Rosemary Jam from http://www.foodinjars.com/2011/07/urban-preserving-apricot-rosemary-jam/#more-2002
makes 4 half pints- I made two batches and cut the rosemary in half and used lemon juice (2 1/2 tbsp). It took longer to get jammy than I thought necessary but it took about 25 minutes. It is good! But sort of weird.

4 cups mashed apricots (about two pounds whole fruit)
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1 lemon, juiced

Prepare a small boiling water bath canner and 4 half pint jars. Place lids in a small pan of water and set to a bare simmer.

Combine mashed apricots, sugar and rosemary in a roomy, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Let cook for 7-15 minutes*, until the fruit thickens and runs slowly and thickly off the back of a spoon.

When jam seems thick and spreadable, add the lemon juice. Stir to combine. Remove pot from heat.

Carefully ladle jam into four half pint jars (depending on the concentration of the sugars in the fruit, it may reduce down further and leave you with just three half pints. Prepare to be surprised). Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in your small boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from pot. Let cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. If seals are good, store jars in a cool, dark place. If any of the jars did not seal, put those jars in the fridge and use within a month or two.

*Please remember that cook times are approximations that can vary greatly depending on the width of your pot, the amount of water in the fruit and even the humidity in the air. Don’t just blindly rely on that time frame, use your senses to help you.

Apricot Upside Down Cake from Martha Stewart.

Martha Bakes, January 2011

  • Yield Makes five 6-inch cakes or 36 mini cakes

Ingredients

  • For the Fruit Enhancer

    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon dark rum
    • 2 cups light-brown sugar, packed
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • For the Cake

    • 2 1/2 pounds nectarines, plums, or apricots, about 10 to 15
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, not self-rising
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
    • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling fruit
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cups milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the fruit enhancer: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, maple syrup, dark rum, light-brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt until well blended.
  2. Spray five 6-by-3-inch round cake pans or three 12-cup standard muffin tins with cooking spray; if using cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Divide fruit enhancer evenly among cake pans or muffin tins and spread with an offset spatula to make smooth.
  3. Slice fruit into 1/4-inch wedges. Starting from the inside and working outwards, arrange fruit slices in a fanlike, circular pattern on top of fruit enhancer, using about 2 to 3 pieces fruit per cake. If making mini upside-down cakes, slice fruit into circular, cross-sectional slices about 1/4-inch thick, using one round slice per muffin tin. You can also use thin wedges or slices for the mini upside-down cakes, and arrange in a decorative fashion.
  4. Make cake: Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
  6. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes for the 6-inch cakes, or 20 to 25 minutes for the mini upside-down cakes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 30 minutes, or 20 minutes for minis. Loosen side of cake with small offset spatula or paring knife. Invert cakes onto a rack set atop a baking sheet; peel off the parchment if necessary. Serve warm or cool.
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Filed under: Food, Garden

Pickles

Pickles- I got 20 lbs on August 15th from Blue Heron Farms. I think I overdid it. The bread and butter are a hit but I haven;t tried the others.

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Dill Pickles – made 12 jars- mostly pints
Recipe was from Country Wisdom Know How – I added peppers

2. Bread and Butter Pickles- So good. I substituted fennel seeds for the celery seeds and added crushed red pepper. Enough to make it look pretty- 2 tbsp?
http://www.mykitchenaddiction.com/2010/07/bread-and-butter-pickles/

Bread and Butter Pickles

(Yields 7 pints, from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

  • 16 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
    (If you have a mandolin, this is the time to use it!)
  • 8 sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt (or Kosher salt)
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved
  • Ice cubes
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds

Combine the sliced cucumbers and sliced onions in a large stock pot. Stir in the salt and the halved garlic cloves. Top with a layer of ice cubes (about 1-2 inches), cover, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours (up to 12).

After refrigerating, discard any ice that has not melted.  Drain in a large colander, and remove the garlic cloves.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, vinegar, and spices in the large stock pot.  Heat to boiling. Add the drained cucumber mixture, and return to a boil.

Transfer the pickles to sterilized pint canning jars.  Wipe the jar rims and add the lids. Process in the boiling water canner (placing the jars on a rack, filling with liquid to cover the jars, and returning to a boil) for 10 minutes. Be sure to start timing after the water returns to a boil.
Remove the jars and allow to cool. If the lids remain down when they are pressed on, the jars are sealed properly. Refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly.

Homemade Cornichons from http://houndsinthekitchen.com/2011/07/21/home-pickled-cornichons-recipe/ I omitted the grape leaf and added a red pepper.
for each half pint jar

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup water
5-8 whole 2-4 inch cucumbers, washed thoroughly with spines rubbed off
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 small bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon pepper corns
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 fresh grape leaf, washed, optional

1. Heat salt, vinegar, and water in a pot over medium heat until boiling.
2. Pack cucumbers into a sterilized jar with peeled garlic clove. Sprinkle spices over cucumbers.
3. Pour boiling vinegar brine into the jar, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
4. Wipe rim and place new lid on the jar. Finger tighten a ring on the jar and place in a hot water bath.
5. Boil in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature.

Filed under: Food, Garden, Random

Summer Harvest

Thought it would be good to take notes of our bounty and production over the summer so I can try to stay up on the timing of things.

Morels- The amount of morels I got was embarrassing by comparison to some of the fanatics I call friends. Note here that they peeked the week of June 9th when we were in Portland but I understand that some were getting 10lbs at a time. I may have gotten 5 total but I didn’t weigh them.

Asparagus – Last week of May Sara Oblas got me 20 lbs of seconds from some warehouse in Mattawa.  I blanched and froze about half (putting them on a cookie sheet first so they didn’t stick together). Then I pickled about a 1/4 which gave me 5 pints. Unfortunately the were way to salty so I’ll be looking for another recipe next year, although they were GREAT for bloody mary’s.  The rest were broiled for our housewarming brunch.  Honestly- I could take 30 lbs easy.

Strawberries – Gramma brought in two flats from Puyallup for the housewarming on July 3. Could have taken less but we did get 7 1/2 pints of strawberry ginger jam (used the box recipe from the sure-set or whatever gelatin I used and added ginger), some strawberry Brush with red wine vinegar, froze about 1/3 (again with the cookie sheet) and we’re still trying to eat the sugared preserved guys in the fridge.

Cherries – Next up Justin is getting 20 lbs to freeze, can, marinate for cocktails and make cordial. That is our weekend.

Other things for the summer to process include corn, cucumbers and blueberries. Hopefully I will be able to can tomatoes but the way the garden is looking I am not hopeful. I’ll have to do another garden post to remember the long list of failures.

 

Filed under: Food, Garden

Ode to the Tomato

Unlike many gardeners in this area, we had a plethora of tomatoes this year. I am still undergoing tomato management as the last of the green ones continue to ripen on my counter.  I am contemplating throwing them in the compost but I love tomatoes so much, it hurts. Instead, I fear they will shrivel up and even worse, get moldy on my counter top. If I can, perhaps I will attempt to make tomato paste.

This year I was able to dabble in canning and after 5 or 6 failed attempts (I know, it’s supposed to be easy), I have now 8 quarts of plain tomatoes, some salsa and a good stash of the dried little guys.  This does not count even the fresh ones we have consumed and/or given away. In summary though, I will not plant as many romas- they were mealy and flat in comparison to the black beauty and other heirloom varieties we planted.  I definitely want a beefsteak, a couple cherries and some good old fashioned salad tomatoes. And although our cages worked, even the 36″ proved too small so we may be going up to 4′ next summer.

I found this poem from a favorite- Pablo Neruda to close out the tomato season:

Oda al Tomate

 

La calle
se llenó de tomates,
mediodia,
verano,
la luz
se parte
en dos
mitades
de tomate,
corre
por las calles
el jugo.
En diciembre
se desata
el tomate,
invade
las cocinas,
entra por los almuerzos,
se sienta
reposado
en los aparadores,
entre los vasos,
las matequilleras,
los saleros azules.
Tiene
luz propia,
majestad benigna.
Debemos, por desgracia,
asesinarlo:
se hunde
el cuchillo
en su pulpa viviente,
es una roja
viscera,
un sol
fresco,
profundo,
inagotable,
llena las ensaladas
de Chile,
se casa alegremente
con la clara cebolla,
y para celebrarlo
se deja
caer
aceite,
hijo
esencial del olivo,
sobre sus hemisferios entreabiertos,
agrega
la pimienta
su fragancia,
la sal su magnetismo:
son las bodas
del día
el perejil
levanta
banderines,
las papas
hierven vigorosamente,
el asado
golpea
con su aroma
en la puerta,
es hora!
vamos!
y sobre
la mesa, en la cintura
del verano,
el tomate,
astro de tierra,
estrella
repetida
y fecunda,
nos muestra
sus circunvoluciones,
sus canales,
la insigne plenitud
y la abundancia
sin hueso,
sin coraza,
sin escamas ni espinas,
nos entrega
el regalo
de su color fogoso
y la totalidad de su frescura.

Filed under: Garden

Garden Notes

Try more seeds!

Add to the list-

fennel
beets
green beans
ginger

already in the garden are:

STARTS
5 tomato – woah- they are off the hook- 1 cherry, 1 beefsteak, 1 roma, 2 others maybe too many
2 swiss chard
2 kale
1 other green , 1 died with aphids
dill- pretty good

3 basil starts- 1 cinnamon basil
onions
3 eggplants- 2 did well
2 peppers, doing OK
4 cucumbers- only a few cukes so far
2 zucchini- maybe blight, little fruits turn yellow and die
3 brussels, nothing yet but still possible
3 peas- not strung right but a few fruits
onions- doing pretty good but not pulled yet
2 squash- seem okay but nothing yet

SEEDS
radishes- doing awesome
lettuce- doing awesome
carrots- appear to be awesome but haven’t pulled them yet
beets- planted late(2 weeks ago) but are on their way

BULBS
garlics only- pretty small but from Porter house

OTHER- sage, parsley, mint and chives all doing well

FRUIT
raspberry plants from Joey doing well
strawberries did pretty well

Filed under: Garden

Summer edibles

Filed under: Garden

More Morels

When my parents were separated, my dad sent me a bunch of smurfs.  As a result, I’ve always found joy in the little blue guys. Recently Porter and I went hunting for morel mushrooms with our friend Natalie and the terms trippin’ and shroomin’ took on new meanings. It was fun to imagine my childhood pals running for cover as we picked through their habitat.

Thanks to Natalie for showing me the ropes, the way they grow, WHERE they grow (I’ll never tell). We had a wonderful time- what a great way to celebrate the end of spring!  Later, Justin benefited too — with dinner!

Fresh morels with leeks, parmesan, whipping cream and garlic on top of, you guessed it, asparagus! Last year, I would have never guessed that the reason morels are often paired with leeks, asparagus and eggs is because they all share the same season!  Duh!

Filed under: Garden, Menu, , ,

May Days

Hi friends!
Lots of news to share. May marks my 33rd birthday, Porters 3rd month of life, our first Mother’s Day a garden and other updates –
1. We are moving down the road. Still the same great town, but different location.  Sunday, the 16th of May, we’ll be carting our stuff to what was once called the brown house. Mailing address is the same PO Box 555, Ellensburg, WA 98926

2. This is great for us because as many of you may know, we are investigating the potential of opening a small cafe and/or building our own place. Also, we’ll be getting a studio back next door at the old Firehouse owned by artists Howard and Lorri Barlow.

3. If you haven’t heard, Justin just got a great opportunity to go to Brooklyn and make work for a solo show. Guess what- he also gets money to make the work. What a concept! We are excited about going to Brooklyn sometime in the fall or winter (www.3rdward.org).
4. Also, I quickly realized that this next year needed to be about our new family, so after 5 1/2 wonderful years, I have resigned from Artist Trust.  It won’t be all giggles, spit up and diaper changes though- in addition to the cafe idea, I’m also working with the areas BEST gallery to put on their signature fundraising event- Gallery One‘s Paint Ellensburg and was recently invited to join the board of Punch Gallery.
5. A couple of upcoming events in the area you should know about:
– May 15th – Yakima artist studio visits including Leo Adams gorgeous home
– May 16th, we’re moving. Join us for a move 2-5 and a BBQ to follow at 6pm.

– May 29th- THE Thorp Mill auction at the Party Barn. bid on snowblowers, yards of gravel and handmade quilts while enjoying the best BBQ and iced tea (weather permitting, river float to preceed).

– July 4th, Housewarming party
– August- 6th and 7th SUMMERFEST with riverfloat, art and music. You’ve heard about it, but have you lived it?

We are regularly in and out of Seattle for art related happenings.  We’re always at first Thursday and on the 18th and 23rd I’ll be at Victory Bar watching the last 2 episodes of Lost.

But please don’t hesitate to drive this way- it’s a wonderful drive, plenty of places to camp, extra beds and for a limited time, even a really cool spare house to crash in. We always have time for a tour, a BBQ and a beer walk.  The weather is supposed to be tip top this week.

Lots of love,
Monica and Porter and Justin
also, to document some stuff, we’ve started a blog here: beckmanmiller.wordpress.com.

– To be removed from this mailing list, simply the reply and put in the Subject header : I don’t want to be your friend anymore

Filed under: Art, Event, Garden, Menu, Random