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More Tomato Soup

October 17th, 2016

I spent some time this past weekend canning more tomato soup, it’s one of our favorite things to have for quick meal. It’s about the only thing I can nowadays (everything else goes into the freezer). Last year, I labeled my tomato “Tomato Soup 15” which I noticed looked like it said “Tomato Soup IS”. That become the joke and we all started calling it that. (here’s my blog post with the recipe)
When I made soup this year I couldn’t bring myself to change the name, so I decided each year it would be something, this year it’s a heart. Tomato soup is LOVE in 2016, next year it will be something else.
This year I managed to tuck 50 pints of tomato soup in the panty, that’s almost once a week that we can enjoy this delicious treat. It’s such a nice feeling knowing that I have a few instant meals in the pantry and they are healthy and homegrown, you can’t beat that!

What’s your favorite quick meal when you’re busy?

Quote of the Day: Preserving

September 13th, 2015

It is the natural course of events for food to be abundant for a little window in time. Blackberries will be lusciously ripe for just a couple weeks. Rich porcini flush quickly as the rain comes. They won’t wait for your schedule. Be it pickling or jelly making,r ally yourself for gathering and deal yourself into the working game in your kitchen. BEtter yet, deal in some friends or family too: have a working party. Putting up food together links you with thousands of years of human traditions. And it’s a blast.”

Connie Green and Sarah Scott The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

This past week a lot of the garden has been at maximum production. It doesn’t matter how I plan, it seems everything comes ripe at once, and always before a trip or some other big event. The result is LONG days of frantically putting up food for the depths of winter.

Preserving the harvest 4
Preserving the harvest 3
This has been one of my best tomato years every, the bounty just keeps coming. So far I’ve canned around 40 pints of tomato soup, 15 quarts of tomatoes, along with putting a bushel in the freezer to be made into sauce when there is more time. I have also been drying my ‘Principe Borghese’ tomatoes, which are perfection. I grow this variety just for drying and I dry as many racks as I can. They are amazing in omelets and sprinkled on top of pizza.
Preserving the harvest 1
Preserving the harvest 5
My late flush of zucchini and beans are coming on strong, I did the first picking of beans yesterday and put a gallon of blanched haricots verts in the freezer. Zucchini was cubed and blanched, and grated as well, both varieties are tucked away in the freezer to be added to winter soups and frittatas.
Preserving the harvest 2
The apple trees are also producing by the bushel this year. One variety is ready even though I am not. I picked a half bushel for eating and then froze the rest to be turned into apple butter and some applesauce for Mr Chiots. Yesterday, I managed to preserve over 150 lbs of homegrown fruits and vegetables for us to feast on this winter. Not only will I save a bundle on my groceries, we’ll be eating healthfully as well. The satisfaction of nourishing yourself is an amazing feeling!

What are you putting by for winter?

Savoring Rhubarb

June 1st, 2015

It’s rhubarb season here in Maine and probably in other parts of the country as well. Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that people seem to love or hate. I happen to love it, the tart/sweet taste, the pink color, the interesting flavor, the plants; I love everything about it.
I have a few rhubarb plants in the garden, two different varieties. I’d love to get a few more as well to compare the plants and the flavors.
rhubarb  1
Since it’s rhubarb season I’ve been making all things rhubarb to make the most of this lovely vegetable. I’ve made: rhubarb ketchup (which is fantastic on meatloaf), rhubarb BBQ sauce, rhubarb/apple jam, shrub, syrup, and I’m going to make pickled rhubarb and a few more this week.
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The rhubarb shrub I made is so pretty and it’s really refreshing. I’ve been mixing it with sparkling water for a refreshing afternoon drink. You can find the recipe over on Serious Eats. I’ll definitely be making a few more batches of this!
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Last Wednesday I loaded up a big batch of rhubarb, a few cooking ingredients, and headed over to a friend’s house. We spent the morning making all sorts of delicious things featuring rhubarb. It’s always fun to spend your time preserving with a friend. Not only do you get to chat while you work, you don’t end up with mass quantities of everything. I love only having one or two jars of each thing in the pantry, there are only two of us after all.
rhubarb  4
The rhubarb BBQ is FANTASTIC. I love that it doesn’t have any ketchup in it, which is perfect for any of you that can’t tolerate nightshade plants. The flavor is amazing and I can only imagine it will get better and better as it ages. I’m definitely making another batch of this delicious goodness!
rhubarb  5
rhubarb  6
This year I also started some seed for perpetual rhubarb, which allows for harvesting all summer long. The plants are just tiny seedlings right now, I’ll keep you posted on how they do throughout the summer and next year. I would love to have a little bit of rhubarb all summer long instead of just one big glut in the spring.

Rhubarb, do you love it or hate it? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?

Friday Favorite: Chutneys, Sauces and Toppings

April 1st, 2011

I have a friend that always jokes that my table looks like a French table because I put out so many jars of sauces, chutneys, mustards and other toppings for meals. I must admit, I’m a lover of a good topping. With a variety of toppings you can take a burger from “everyday” to “extraordinary”. Not to mention you can make the same thing taste completely differently depending on which topping you add. I have a collection of mustards in my pantry, I buy them when I spot an interesting one while traveling.

This past fall I got a delicious jar of Ipswich Ale Mustard at Plum Cove Grind a small coffee shop in Gloucester, MA. I also have small pots of mustard from around the world purchased from specialty grocery stores.

The chutneys and sauces we use are made in my kitchen. I try just about every chutney recipe I stumble upon. Making chutney is a really great way to use up small quantities of fruit. My most favorite variety is Roasted Pear Chutney, although I have a peach chutney that comes in a close second.

adapted from Epicurious

2 ripe pears, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 small red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons currants
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Toss the pears with the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the cinnamon, and cloves. Coat a sheet pan with half the vegetable oil. Set the pears cut side down on the pan. Brush the pears with the remaining oil. Roast until caramelized and tender, 40 to 50 minutes, depending on the degree of ripeness. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3. While the pears are roasting, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
4. Using a small spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the cores of the cooked pears. Cut the pears into 1/2-inch slices.
5. Combine the pears and the onion mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving.

I make a big batch of this and can it. I fill sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace, add rings & lids, process in waterbath canner for 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

The sauce, chutney, topping section of my pantry is starting to look a little sparse. I typically make my chutneys every two years. This year I’ll definitely be restocking my collection as I’d hate to run out. My burgers would be very boring without them!

Do you make any sauces, chutneys or toppings? What’s your favorite way to eat chutney?

Stocking the Pantry with Tomato Soup

September 16th, 2010

I’ve blogged about my home canned tomato soup many times. It’s one of my most popular posts, people are always writing asking the recipe and telling me how much they love the soup. It’s one of the few things I can every year without fail. The first year I canned only 30 pints of it and it was gone way too soon. Last year I did 31 quarts and 7 pints and we only have 2 quarts left.

Yesterday I made the first batch of soup this season, most of the remaining tomatoes will be used for soup since I already have 44 pints and 8 quarts of crushed tomatoes. I’m hoping to get at least 35-40 quarts of soup again this year since it makes a perfect quick meal that’s healthy and delicious. It’s also great added to chili and vegetable soup.

I use an old Squeezo to make my soup, this one was handed down to me by my mom. It’s the one we used for applesauce & tomatoes growing up. It’s a relic but still works great, and I love that it doesn’t have any plastic parts. I love pulling it out, I even use the same block of wood on the counter that we used growing up.

I only made one batch of soup yesterday, I’m hoping to make another tomorrow or Sunday. I prefer making double batches so I don’t have to spend as much time canning, but I only had enough tomatoes for one batch. In case you’re interested in the recipe, here it is again. Yesterday I changed it slightly by using whey instead of lemon juice (didn’t have lemon juice but had plenty of whey in the fridge). I also added a few sprigs of fresh Italian parsley since I had some in the garden.

6 onions, chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
8 quarts fresh tomatoes (or 5-6 quarts of juice) *I coarsely chop mine in quarters leaving the stems on them since I’m putting them through a food mill. (10-12 lbs of tomatoes)
1 cup sugar (I find this is too much and I use less usually 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup salt (I usually add 2 T and then taste before I add more)
1 cup butter
1 cup flour*
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Chop onion& celery. Place in large kettle w/ just enough water to keep them from burning. While this simmers, cut tomatoes (remove stems if not using strainer).
2. Add tomatoes to kettle & cook until tender.
3. When tender put through Victorio or Squeezo (or similar food mill) strainer. (reserve 2 cups for mixing with butter/flour)
4. Return to kettle, add lemon juice, sugar & salt.
5. Cream butter and flour together& mix thoroughly with two cups of reserved juice (chill so it’s cold), until dissolved (or blend together in a blender), to avoid lumps of flour in the juice. Add butter/flour mixture to warmed tomato juice. (Add before it’s hot, to avoid lumps of flour!). Stir well.
6. Heat just until hot. (If it gets to a boil, it can make the flour lumpy). Just prior to boiling, turn off the burner. (It will continue to thicken as it cools.).
7. Ladle into hot jars with 1/4 headspace, close securely with lids.
8. Put in canner & process 30 minutes (start timing when it’s at a ‘rolling’ boil).**
9. Remove from canner & allow to set until sealed (approx. 12 hours) To serve, mix equal parts tomato concentrate to milk, and add 1/2 t. of baking soda per pint as it cooks (1 t. per quart). I actually prefer to add chicken stock to mine instead of milk & baking soda. I serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated romano cheese, a sprinkle of cayenne and a little freshly ground black pepper.

*feel free to omit flour if you don’t want it in your soup, the soup will be a little thinner.

**Some people say this isn’t long enough in a canner, some people say you should only pressure can this recipe. I’m happy with it and am quite comfortable making it and processing it in this way. If you’re uncomfortable with this method use whatever canning method you’re comfortable with.

This is one of our favorite quick meals throughout the year, each quart gives us two meals. I usually make mine with half chicken stock and half whey and we enjoy it with some crusty bread. My pantry will never be without some home canned tomato soup.

What item is your pantry never be without?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.