From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Quick Chicken'n'rice

In a previous post I expressed my disappointment with Pacific brand organic chicken broth.

That said, I found cartons of Pacific gluten-free organic condensed soups at Marcs.  Pricey at 2/$5.00.  Still, the ingredients** were excellent (although so were the ingredients of the boxed broth).  I like to have condensed soups on hand for casseroles, creamed chicken, etc. so thought I'd give them a try.

Yesterday was a great day to do it.  I'm sick with flu and wanted something hot yet easily digestable.  And quick. Chicken'n'rice was the ticket, but homemade chicken'n'rices take a lot of time.  Time to try the new soup mix.  

The condensed soup was nice and thick if rather pale and sorta bland (but then, I all canned soups are bland to me and I always add stuff).  I stirred in 1C water and it stayed nice and creamy, not watery.  By then I'd added parsley, turmeric, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, garlic granules, onion salt, sea salt and chipotle powder.  That turned up the flavor volume!

To that I shredded in 2 small pieces of grilled chicken, brought it all to heat and poured 3/4C over 1C of rice.

Ah.  Good stuff.  

There was almost 1.5C soup left, so I poured that over a container of rice and popped it into the 'fridge for a couple more servings.

I had also picked up a carton of the cream of mushroom and look forward to trying it at a later date.

Nice thing about these cartons, they are ultra-pasturized so there is good shelf life here (best used by date on both is end of 2016).  I'm sure canned soup last forever what with all the preservatives, but this has shelf enough for me.

All and all, I'm glad I tried it.  As for price, heck, a simple can of Campbell's condensed mushroom soup runs around $1.25 and the ingredients## are almost frightening.  So for double I get safe, wholesome and delicious.  Organic and all non-GMO.  Yum.  It won't cure the flu, but it was comfort food nonetheless.

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** (Pacific) water, chicken broth concentrate (water, chicken, rosemary extract), creme fraiche (cultured cream (milk)), cooked chicken, rice starch, rice flour, sea salt, chicken fat, garlic powder, onion powder

## (Campbell's) Chicken Stock , Wheat Flour , Chicken Fat , Chicken Meat Cooked , Cream , Corn Starch , Canola Oil , Corn Oil , Cottonseed Oil , Margarine , Chicken Mechanically Separated , Salt , Soybeans Oil , Water , Beta Carotene , Calcium Caseinate , Flavors Chicken , Chicken Powder , Dairy Blend Dried , Whey Dried , Food Starch Modified , Monosodium Glutamate , Flavoring Natural , Sodium Phosphate , Soy Protein Concentrate , Soy Protein Isolate , Spices Extractive , Whey , Yeast Extract


Sunday, September 20, 2015

1st pot of 2015 - veg soup

A week ago the breezeway was filling up with harvest and the 'fridge was filling up with market veg so it was high time to start making veg stock.

Into an 8-quart stock pot I filled 3/4 with chopped tomatoes and topped it with carrots, potatoes, yellow squash, green beans, hot & green peppers, onions, celery and herbs (mostly parsley, garlic, peppercorns).

Set on HIGH, it soon boiled and reduced quickly (about 15 - 20 minutes).  I piled in more tomatoes to fill the pot, brought it back to the boil (stirring to prevent sticking), reduced it to simmer, covered it (the lid has a steam vent) and let it go for 5 hours (stirring occasionally).

It was still very warm when I poured it all through a sieve to remove chunks and allow soft pulp to join the broth.

Then a 2nd pass (through a finer strainer) and I ended up with 4.5 quarts of rich vegetable stock for soups, etc.

It ended up a nice balanced flavor except that I had no idea that just one hot Hungarian wax (market bought) could fire up a whole pot like that.  Fortunately I know that a future pot of soup thick with veg and potato will take the burn down a couple of notches.

Today I made another pot of broth.  While that was simmering up, I used some of last week's pot and made up soup for lunch.  (It's only in the mid 60s today so a hot lunch would just the ticket.)

Oh yum!  
(P.S. The hot pepper did get toned down enough.)
(P.P.S. It was a mix of green beans, they tasted pretty good, but I could tell the difference between Contenders and the Blue Lake.)

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Friday, August 28, 2015

How too much SUCCESS made me FAIL

In 2011 I made THE BEST EVER B&B refrigerator pickles.  Quarts and quarts.  Everyone clambored for them.  I made so many I didn't have room in the 'fridge so I froze them in bags.  


I've never been able to make a good pickles ever since.

I tried in 2012 - deer damage, no harvest.  No harvest in  2013. I tried in 2014.

While I used the same variety cuke and the same syrup recipe, they always came out bland bland bland.

Never say die - I made 3 quarts this August.  Same disappointing results.  


I studied the original post.  No help there.

Then I studied my vegetable page posts.


In 2011 I grew cukes in the veg bed back by the shed.  I noted how much of a pain it was to haul water from the shed trash tub water (no barrels yet).  From a few posts I gathered I only watered the cukes every 2-3 days.  Hmmmmm.

In 2012 the deer arrived - so no harvest to speak of.

In 2013 I tried growing cukes in containers: bush types.  Not enough to eat let alone pickle.

In 2014 (last year) I grew Sweet Success vines both up the privacy fence and the deck trellis.  Four huge vines.  Over 120# of cukes!!!   So I made pickles.   I made a ton - gave them to clamboring fans.  And I disappointed them all.  BLAND BLAND BLAND.  I was so embarrased.  Had to compost all those in the 'fridge.

2015.  This year - fewer cukes, Sweet Success on the privacy fence - but enough to try again.  Made up 3 quarts.  FAIL AGAIN.  I'll have to compost them too.  WTF???

Back to the veg page posts.  Hmmmm.  Then the freaking light bulb went off.

OMIGOSH!  It was ALL MY FAULT.  Cukes are good.  Recipe is good.  But having the cuke vines up by the house had allowed me to water them every day (hose and/or rainwater).  That's why they got so big and crisp and made the best salads e.v.e.r.

But for pickles?  They were too wet!  So, using a couple of my last cukes, I tried another jar.  This time I did not add any ice to the sliced cukes and used 2-3x of salt on them.  I let them sit for 4 hours and look - almost a cup of liquid from 2 big cukes.  Had to rinse the cukes several times to get all the salt off, then used the wilted cukes to make pickles.

And then ---


< ======

You can see that these late season cukes, while billed as 'seedless' did develop some seeds.

But the pickles ?

Wonderful.  It was like 2011 in a jar.

Now I know the secret of my success - and failure.  Lots of water = great salad cukes but bland pickles (too much water in the fruit, no syrup/spices can penetrate).  All I have to do is really wilt the cukes before pickling. (BTW, the pickles, using the wilted cukes, were just as crisp as anything using the pickle crisp.  I love that stuff.)

Boy, I can hardly wait for next year!!!  :-)
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