Food in Jars! (part 4)

A mason jar on a white counter against a white background.  It is full of thick pale tan liquid with pieces of corn and green flecks suspended in it.

This is my first attempt at potato-corn chowder. Given that I don’t really like potatoes, how did this come to be? Here’s how:

My friend has been telling me all about the wonders of fridge preservation so I thought that I’d give it a try. Having a two-day snowstorm (the edge of what hit Buffalo, NY) made me really want wintry food. So I decided to go with soup. Partly because she spent about 40 minutes singing its praises, and partly because it’s an easy and wonderful winter food. Also because I’d bought corn on sale from the grocery store a few days prior and it really needed to be used up. I had some aging potatoes in my fridge, and some sad jalapeños kicking around. So potato-corn chowder it was to be!

Here’s how I made it:

  • sauté onion, garlic, celery in some olive oil. I could have added a carrot as well, but I didn’t.
  • throw it in the slow cooker along with chunks of potato, the corn, some red pepper, and the jalapeños. Those were all the veggies that I had in my fridge.
  • added the broth that I’d made a few days before (and used as practice preserves). I also added some smoked paprika because it smelled good.
  • before going to work in the morning I turned it on, leaving strict instructions to Fuzzy that he was to turn it off at a pre-arranged time. I also texted him a reminder.
  • it sat in my fridge for a few days
  • you’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt. Later on (upon tasting) I threw in some Bragg’s, some soy sauce for good measure, and some worcestershire sauce just for added assistance. They barely made a dent, but at least it’s not impossibly bland.

Today I canned this (resulting in two jars) and turned them into fridge preserved soup. Given that I have a couple of very hectic weeks coming up and am seemingly incubating a cold, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. I’m also already planning some other soups that I’d like to make, including tomato-bean soup, and carrot-couscous. At this rate I’ll have to make more broth base first!

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Gracious!

So, that’s what happens when you don’t turn things off and on again: they break down. Now I know. At least my computer is back up to its usual limping along state, rather than still out of commission entirely!

However, the unexpected time off has allowed me to start new projects and investigate old ones more completely. Here’s what’s on the go right now:

  • finishing my pink arm warmers
  • started a blue sweater
  • I figured out how to make fridge preserves!
  • Now I have a lot of soup broth to use up!
  • Time to preserve the corn/potato chowder that I made the other day
  • Must fix my blue winter bicycle!

So those are all the posts to look forward to in the near future as I catch up. There may also be a post about my turtle, Pythagoras. I recently had to fix his filter and I’m still leery about it.

Food in Jars! (Part 3)

This is me trying to make a salad. I can marinate feta (when I’m marinating feta for a party I don’t do it like this. I add roasted red peppers and olives, then let it sit), so I decided to start there. I’d originally planned to use the whole block until I realized that it’d be equally good on a pizza; I used half the feta block instead.

A mason jar filled 1/4 of the way. At the bottom are chunks of feta, covered in oil, dried rosemary, and red chili pepper flakes

Marinating Feta

Then I added lentils. I didn’t want to use too many lentils because I couldn’t remember how they’d expand once cooked. I’m used to brown lentils – not little green ones.

A mason jar filled 2/3 of the way. At the bottom are chunks of feta, on top of them are little brown lentils. They are sitting in a liquid marinade.

Marinating lentils and feta

My ratio of liquids to solids is really quite off here. I still have a half-bunch of kale so I might use this jar as a topper to that. Or maybe I need to buy some chard or something. I’ll figure it out. I guess that’s why it’s generally easier to cook with a recipe.

Food in Jars! (part 2)

A mason jar filled 5/6 full of applesauce. A clove sits 3/4 of the way toward the bottom.

Applesauce! If you look closely you can see the whole clove still in it.

I’m still trying to figure out how to make preserves. So, following the half-success (hey, they got into the jar) of the roasted yellow peppers I decided to make applesauce. This is easy for me because I’ve been making it since childhood. I can make it while half-asleep.

The part that I don’t find easy is the ‘preserves’ part. I can sterilize jars, I can sterilize lids, I can add put the hot applesauce into the jar (although I want to get a canning funnel to make this easier and less messy). But somehow I can’t get the jar to seal. I’ll just have to make pancakes for this sauce, and then I’ll bake some things. Applesauce tends to be a good fat substitute in baked goods.

I must go and get more apples! When I buy them especially for this purpose they’re 50% so that’s a pretty good deal. Eventually I’ll get this preserving thing. Right?

BEEP!

So, I was going to post about the roasted yellow peppers that I’m currently making (it’ll be my first attempt at stepping up my canning skills a notch. These should last for a year, rather than a couple of weeks, in the fridge. If all goes according to plan). It’s also the first time that I’m trying roasting them on the stove, rather than in the oven (because the jars are sterilizing in the oven, of course).They’re inspired by this recipe here.

Did I mention that I’m 5′ tall? And that we have 9′ ceilings where I live? Apparently the stove-top roasting method is much more smoky than I’d anticipated (and I even used canola oil, which is much more heat tolerant than the recommended olive!). But the blaring thing is that, when my smoke detector goes off, I can’t reach to turn it off. All I can do is open the door to the outside and wait. Which, given that it’s not much above freezing here, rather defeats the purpose of turning my oven on for warmth!.

Ah well. I’ll have pictures of my peppers in jars at some point in the near future, at least. Hopefully they’re worth it!

Mexican Casserole

Using the same cookbook, I also made a mexican casserole. This one was very spicy. This might be because I added three jalapeños, which turned out to be a bit much.

Yoghurt-spice sauce

Yoghurt-spice sauce

That’s on top of all of the spices in the yoghurt.

A glass bowl filled with kidney beans, rice, corn, and tomatoes all stirred with a wooden spoon

Filling

This filling really helped me raid my freezer. From it came corn, tomatoes, rice, and beans. The only fresh ingredient was the jalapeño! And I can buy them at the corner store, so it really wasn’t that much of a hardship.

A casserole dish filled with filling, comprising rice, kidney beans, corn, green onions, and tomatoes

Waiting to bake

1/4 of the finished casserole gone

All baked and delicious

This was all eaten in two days. It was pretty delicious!

It turns out that I’m much happier with food in my fridge. Apparently when my fridge is empty I get anxious, upset, and irritable. It’s stressful to think that I don’t have any food! I feel as though there’s a lesson in there.

Stew

Earlier this year Fuzzy bought me a cookbook for my birthday. It’s dedicated to spicy food. It’s one of my favourite cookbooks!

Last week I dedicated myself to raiding my freezer and pantry and making meals for the week. So this is Ethiopian wat (‘wat’ means ‘stew’ according to this book), made vegan. It looked pretty much like this, only with more tomato in it at the end.

Finely chopped onion and cubed tempeh brown in a dutch oven. Shown with wooden stirring spoon.

The beginnings of a stew!

It was pretty great, and I will make it again. Today I got more tempeh so that it’s an option in the future.

Doing Nothing

Sometimes, despite my usual zeal for making stuff and doing things, I get hit by a gigantic bout of demotivation. I can barely be motivated to do anything right now, and it’s all I can do to make some plain pasta to combine with the leftover stew. That’ll be lunch tomorrow.

Which reminded me that I didn’t post about my stew yet! Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow as I eat the last of the leftovers.

Some days are just harder than other days, and that’s okay.

Announcing: the daily blog challenge!

NaBloPoMo_1114_465x287_badges

The badge signifies National Blog Post Month. (As an aside, the ‘national’ in such challenges always amuses me as well as always managing to slightly tick me off: ‘national’ nearly always signifies American unless we’re specifically talking about something that my country of not-America would recognize, such as The National with Peter Mansbridge, or something).

The goal is to write a blog post every day for a month. Now, since I can barely manage to make stuff or do things every week, how am I going to put out something every day, you ask? Well, we’ll see. Maybe you’ll get to know me a little bit better. Maybe we’ll have to get personal. That’s the challenge, so wish me luck!