Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Great Pantry & Larder Challenge

The end is nigh. Well, rather, the end of 2013 is nigh. Which has encouraged me to take a good, hard look at my food stores, and begin to use them. So, I have created a challenge (of sorts) for myself. I will attempt to eat a lot of what is in the house before more grocery trips. As part of this little goal, I will allow myself to purchase the following for the duration:

Organics to You deliveries. Right now, there is no fresh produce coming from the Clementine garden, and one can only eat so many pickles. I will, however, go the "all veggie" route, since I have all sorts of fruit put up.

Eggs. Though my (recently former) housemate Ashia tried to convince me to keep chickens, I have decided that now is not the time. So, I will buy eggs.

Ashia, trying to talk me into cute chickens.
Coffee. I will not deny myself coffee.

Half & half, milk. I drink my coffee creamy, and will allow myself to buy milk to make yogurt and cheese with.

Flour. I found a wicked good no-knead bread recipe, and will make that instead of buying bread.

Condiments. Worcestershire sauce takes something like 26 ingredients. Homemade mayo concerns me. I will buy condiments.

Other than that, I am going to make an effort to reduce the larder. Maybe put together the cheese press. Maybe save some moolah.
If nothing else, I am hoping to learn what to plant next year (though I already know less pickling cucumbers) in order to eat more efficiently. And start planning menus once again. I'll report once I actually start (estimated date 1/1/14, though I plan to practice starting this week).

Bon apetit, and enjoy your week!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Food Preservation As Art

Warning: The post that follows contains explicit photographs of food in jars.

In my never-ending quest to pull myself from old habits, I find that I have been attempting to read more and watch less. The frosty Portland weather of late has been quite the boon to this goal, as my cute little road bike (Skipper) has been awarded an unexpected vacation. While I am perfectly comfortable riding in rain, the thought of skidding sideways on frosty pavement at 7 AM is, quite frankly, unappealing. So, I will be bussing it until my beloved cloudy (and frost-free) mornings return.

All this extra time on public transit allows a great deal of reading time. Pleasure reading time. Which is simply lovely. I have always enjoyed NPR, especially The Salt. Food stuff plus an NPR bent? Yes please.

Recently, I came across an interesting piece about an artist in New York who is making art from preserved (dehydrated) food. This particular gent was impacted by Hurricane Sandy when he ran out of provisions during the storm. Though my reasons for preserving are quite different from those of Tattfoo Tan, I quite enjoy the idea behind the installation. Sad though that he will not (likely) be eating those delightful concoctions.

Though I don't proclaim that my pantry is art, I do take a great deal of pride when I sweep aside the curtain to gaze at my larder. Pickles (so many pickles), diced tomatoes, peach barbeque sauce, jams, tuna canned in oil, and canned fruit are amongst my favorite items. Plus, homemade canned soup (split pea and potato leek ham soups are finishing up in the canner as I type).

Fruits of my labor

Brussels sprout pickles, roasted corn salsa, and lemon pickled cauliflower

So yeah, I think I enjoy this canning thing. Might just keep on doing it. But, for now, it's a chilly, gray Portland day. Think I need some sunshine, and fortunately have some in jars. Off to eat delicious (albeit not totally pretty) peaches.

Peachy happiness in a jar

Bon apetit, and happy preserving (and art creation)!


As is wont to happen on the fourth Thursday in November, I did not trek home to spend the holiday with Iowa kin. For the 12 years I have lived in Oregon, I have been fortunate enough to have spent only a handful of this holiday on my own.

This year, I was lucky. I had several pals who were orphaned on the day for one reason or another. So, we all gathered at a palatial estate in Tualatin to create a true feast. For weeks prior, we all pingponged around a list of what we would bring, and by the few days before the menu was immense (to put it lightly).

Due to working schedules, we supped late, so the hens gathered earlier in the day to cook, cluck, drink wine, and snack.

Around 6, we  assembled at the table. Food, food, so much glorious food! The inevitable Calorie Coma quickly followed. We then forced ourselves to have pie and coffee, and dispersed to our respective domiciles. A lovely day spent with a fantastic group of foodies.

Mau flips the bird

The Shrine of Wine
Bon appetit, and enjoy the holidays!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Food Hoarding, Part 2

Thursday night was my grand premiere at the Homebrewed By Design event. And being the prepared little squirrel that I am, I worked long days all this week in order to have Friday off. Combine that with the fact that us bank people have Monday (Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving) off. Which equals...Four Day Weekend! I am especially thrilled about this because I used up the majority of my vacation time by early summer buying a house and doing house stuff. So every little bank holiday is very welcome.

So, what will I be doing on my four (blissful) days off? Adding more goodies to the pantry, of course! On Friday, I went to the first day of the Portland Nursery Apple Tasting. Got close to 15 pounds of Seckel pears and Asian pears. For to make Seckels preserved in rose wine and Seckels preserved in ginger syrup, also to make Asian pear fridge pickles (so so good in salads). Other pantry items being made? Pickled Brussels sprouts, tomatillo salsa, chicken stock, roasted red pepper and tomato soup, and maybe start some sauerkraut. And make some non preserved items, such as mozzarella (fourth try is the charm), an eggplant zucchini stir-fry, and a margherita pizza (using up the end of my green tomatoes and some basil, plus the homemade mozza). Essentially, my aim is to use up all of my produce.

Right now, I have just finished an hour of ballet, followed by two hours of park cleanup. I am sore and sweaty and ready to start switchin' in the kitchen.

Bon apetit, and enjoy the weekend.

The pantry: before shot. New and improved pantry to come.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

End Of Summer Garden Season, Onto Winter Gardening. A Recap of the Haul.

Portland has been experiencing an odd weather summer. Warm, right from the beginning. Sunshine in June. A lovely Fourth of July (even on the coast). That being said, my first garden at Clementine might be setting me up for disappointment for next year. Oh well, I have enjoyed it so.

The summer garden has (mostly) been harvested. What remains is ripening tomatoes, Thai eggplant, some carrots, tomatillos (soaking up the last of the sun), and one lone stalk of Brussels sprouts. A few weeks ago, I planted my winter garden (an Iowa girl really has to wrap her brain around this concept), and cleared the harvestables. Here was the total haul, as of Sunday, September 8, 2013 (when I gave up on keeping tabs):

Snap peas (2 lbs)
Kale (3 large bunches)
Lettuce (2 heads)
Oblong zucchini (27)
Jalapeno (1)
Round zucchini (22)
Carrots (77)
Cucumbers (62) 
Gold beets (7)
Purple beans (1 lb)
Lemon cucumbers (4)
Basil (massive amounts)
Assorted Tomatoes (188)
Sungold Tomatoes (67)
Scallions (5)
Broccoli Leaves (many. many many many.)
Cabbage Leaves (a whole lot)
Swiss Chard (1 large bunch)
Bell Peppers (6)

At mid-August, the cucumbers and tomatoes really took off, and I stopped counting and started weighing:

Cucumbers (5 lbs)
Tomatoes (30 lbs)

So, summer was successful. Looking forward to the greens of the winter garden.

Next pantry and larder. Some ill-gotten, but some home-grown.

Bon apetit and happy Fall (t minus one day)!

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I need a new hobby like I need a sixth hole in my head. However, I ran into a blog post the other day and realized that now is the time to start making bacon. Which will inevitably lead to more advanced charcuterie.

Bacon: The Gateway Meat. Ask any "semi-vegetarian", they will probably eagerly confess to eating the stuff. Because it is salty, fatty, luscious, and BEAUTIFUL.

I popped into my local butcher, and found that they only special order pork belly. And in 8-10 pound increments. I was considering getting some folks together to buy in on 10 pounds, however, later that weekend was at my neighborhood Asian market, and they happened to have it in their butcher case. So I decided to try my hand at beginning charcuterie.

Here is the recipe (extrapolated down to the 2 pounds of pork belly that I have):

1/8 cup salt
1/4 cup organic sugar plus a tablespoon maple syrup
1 T coarse black pepper
1/4 t ground bay
1.5 t fresh minced onion
1/2 t powdered garlic
1/4 t ground thyme
1 t of pink salt (Cure #1)

The process itself is fairly simple: combine everything except the pink salt. Taste, if  it's right, add the pink salt (which apparently tastes horrible and can make you ill). This mixture is the cure. Next, massage the cure into every inch of the pork belly. Rub it good. Like that belly's had a real tough week. Now, put the pork belly in a plastic storage bag and refrigerate for 7-10 days, flipping once halfway through the time.

After the curing process is complete, the remaining cure is rinsed off. You can then either smoke the meat, or slow roast it. Since I do not own a smoker (nor did I wish to smoke it in the grill), I chose to slow roast it. 200 degrees for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees.

Before Roasting

After Roasting

To use it, slice very thin and fry like store-bought bacon (slow 'n low). Then, in your bare feet, traipse out to the garden, pluck a perfectly ripe tomato from the vine, and enjoy the most satisfying BLT of maybe ever.

Bon Apetit, and have a lovely week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Food Hoarder Confession One

A decent amount of my food projects this summer have centered around building a pantry and larder for the upcoming cooler months. You know, food hoarding.

In addition to the (rather unexpected) bounty of my own personal garden, Portland has wonderful farmer's markets and chichi grocery stores that occasionally have excellent specials on seasonal seafood and meat. I have taken advantage of all. To the point of filling not one, but two freezers. 

I sometimes just gaze upon the wondrous treats that they hold. Luscious berries, cherries, and peaches which will be a welcome addition to a cold morn's oatmeal. Delectable tuna filets baked up on a chilly evening. Pesto as far as the eye can see...

So, this morning, as I was trying to freeze some chili that I made over the weekend, I hit my space max. I tried to rearrange. To no avail. So, I had to remove the ice cube trays, the last bit of space currently not being used by an actual food product. This created a conundrum. What to do with this ice, as not to waste it? Ice?, you may wonder. Yes, frozen water. I do not want to just toss out frozen WATER. I have recently been introduced to the joy of paying a water bill, so I do everything in my power to not waste it. Because it is horrendously expensive.

Besides, I realized, I have tomatoes now rolling out of my ears, ripening as you watch. So, there was the solution. Can diced tomatoes. See, when you can (some types of) tomato products, it is advised to remove the skins by way of slipping them into boiling water for a few seconds, then plunging them into an ice bath. Voila! Easy peasy skin removal!

This may serve as a prime example of the food hoarder mentality. Add an hour-long project to one's already lengthy To Do list for the day in order to not waste ice.

Bon Apetit, and enjoy the bounty, wherever you may be!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Procrastination, A Green Harvest, and Lessons from Tomatoes

I should be bottling meads tonight, but I am putting it off. Watching Orange is the New Black (again) and writing another blog about garden harvesting. I will get to it, however, because the following needs to be put in bottles and stored away in the crawlspace:

  • Fig Vanilla Mead (Aged on oak chips and fermented with Port yeast)
  • Lavender Gooseberry Mead
  • Flemish Red 
  • Peach Rye Sour

These guys are done and are currently occupying valuable real estate (AKA The Pub).

Onto other news. Here is what was gleaned from the garden yesterday:

So much green! I will obviously be pickling the cukes this weekend, plus making green tomato salsa (more on that shortly).

Now, what the tomatoes have taught me.
  1. Give us more space.
    I have had to prune the darn things several times already, and still it is obvious that I packed them into too small a space. Next year, they get a whole garden plot, with only basil, onions, and pickling cucumbers to keep them company.
  2. Invest in better cages.
    I thought I was clever. I bought the cheapo Freddy's cages. $.99, on special. Almost every day, I come home to a few tipped over tomato cages. I then have to finagle them into an upright position. I am hoping to just make it through the season. But I know to not buy cheap cages next year. Just suck it up and invest in the big, sturdy reusable cages.
  3. If you do not do the above, we will punish you.
    That big pile of green tomatoes? Came from a tomato plant arm that snapped under it's own weight. No beautiful jams or sauces from these greenies, so the best I can hope for is salsa verde. Which, come January, I will be thankful for.
Bon apetit, and enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Garden Update, and What The Plants Have Taught Me

What the garden has provided since my last check-in, and the personalities discovered of the various life forms that exist in my yard:

4 globe zucchinis
5 oblong zucchinis

Zucchini. Lots of people will tell you that zucchini plants are very "prolific". Much as I enjoy this particular vocabulary word, I don't feel that it appropriately describes how much output a zucchini plant is capable of, nor have I found a better description. Since I began harvesting on July 17, I have gathered 18 oblong zucchinis and 13 globe zucchinis. Needless to say, I will be chowing down on a good number of zucchini pickles come cooler weather. Which I look forward to greatly. Also, I see a lot of zucchini bread, stuffed zucchini, and zucchini salads in my near future.

Approximately one pound of purple beans
3 carrots
19 pickling cucumbers
2 lemon cucumbers

Cucumbers. The spoiled, selfish brat child of the garden. I know now that when I plant my pickling cukes next year that they need a trellis on which to vine. Otherwise, the little monsters sprawl everywhere. I shoo them away from the tomatoes daily, and just yesterday afternoon found their little tendrils wrapped around some tomatillo stalks, attempting sibling murder. All is forgiven though, since I dearly love the vinegary, garlicky, dill-y pickles they provide.

24 green tomatoes (for pickling)

Tomatoes. Specifically green tomatoes. Every morning, I peek through my curtains hoping (praying, really) to see ripened tomatoes. And I am saddened when all I see is green.  And maybe a streak of yellow here and there. I even bought bacon at the store today, hoping that a largely homegrown BLT will make an appearance on my plate soon. Waiting for tomatoes to ripen is like Waiting for Godot (not sure I am using this analogy properly). It feels like they just never will. Which leads me to the next...

3 reddish Roma and 2 yellow Sungold tomatoes (the first Sungold was IMMEDIATELY devoured from the plant).

An enormous bunch of basil. Which became this:

Wonderfully fragrant pesto, ready for the freezer.

 And finally, 6 very small beets.

Beets. What the hell, beets? Don't the darn things grow plentifully in even the poorest countries? Well, apparently not in my garden. Perhaps I was simply not patient. Oh well, next year.

The Saturday Morning Harvest
Bon apetit, and happy harvesting!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Very Odd Neighbor (I Assume) Interaction

*Warning* What follows contains some salty language. Not offensive, just salty. Perfectly acceptable for the PG-13 crowd.

This morning I left the house to go to the brew shop. I brought snacks and my camera. Today is AHA Mead Day, and I had been tasked to do something mead-related and capture it on film, plus I had fresh chevre to share with my coworker (hence the snacks). As I was walking, I passed a woman on a trek with her geriatric-looking Boston Terrier (and carrying the customary dog poop bag), headed in the opposite direction.

About two blocks from home, I realized that I had forgotten the meads that I wanted to bring in to give to customers to sample. So, I grudgingly turned around and retreated to Clementine to fetch said meads. As I walked, I got closer to the aforementioned woman. I was nearly to my front gate when she veered off into my driveway. "Odd," I thought, "I don't know her, why is she coming up to my house?"

Then, I realized, she was aiming to put her poop bag in my trash.So, I said (in a normal tone of voice, and not accusingly), "Oh, please do not put that in my trash."  She whipped around and stuttered "", then gave me a fairly scathing look. The Midwestern good girl in me surfaced and said "I'm sorry, they just don't pick up until Friday". We then parted ways. I picked up what I needed to, and headed back to the shop. Then I fumed.

I thought "you know what? Shit stinks. Human, dog, cat, whatever. I don't want my trash (which I pass every day when I get home) to stink like SHIT (as Portland is due some hot weather this week)". Plus, I do not create enough trash to buffer the smell. Plus, "that dog is small, and makes small enough poops that she should be able to walk it home and put them in her own trash can".

Once I arrived at work, I told my coworker my tale, and then later, my friend Rachel (who popped in for cultures and PH strips). They both assured me that I was in the right, and was not a cranky old woman.

Anyway, that was my weird interaction du jour.

I would say "Bon appetit", but it doesn't seem to fit this post. Sooooo...have a beautiful weekend, hopefully poo-free!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How My Garden Grows

One of the primary reasons that I decided to buy a house was to have a garden.

Many moons ago, in the thriving hippie metropolis of Eugene, OR, a good friend and I shared a communal garden plot for two years. I loved it. We had fresh produce all summer, which seemed to thrive on our shared negligence. Hauling compost to the garden (on a golf club cart rigged to the back of a bike via bungee cords), weeding, and finally harvesting. Oodles of fun. The veggie grilled cheeses and fried green tomatoes that came from the garden were so good.

After I moved to Portland, I missed it. In my first apartment, I grew a little container garden on the fire escape. Mostly flowers gotten as starts  from the Walgreens across Burnside. This drew many hummingbirds, but not any produce. I then moved across the river, and immediately signed up to be on the (notoriously long)  community garden waitlist for two (very popular) gardens. Which never panned out. Sigh.

So, when I moved into Clementine, one of the first orders of business was to plant a garden. And I did. Then, several weeks later, I planted garden two. And ended up with TONS of zucchini starts (most of which later were pulled) and ELEVEN tomato plants. Which took off like mad.

I do not claim that I, or my similarly sized tomato plants, are solid, tall, and Amazonian. But I feel even my diminutive 63-inch tall tomatoes are still an impressive agricultural feat.
What I have pulled from the garden thus far:

2 pounds of snap peas
3 sizable bunches of kale
2 heads of lettuce
10 green tomatoes (which were later pickled)
broccoli leaves (used for lasagne in place of pasta)
13 oblong zucchini
9 globe zucchini
1 jalapeno
A small handful of baby carrots
8 cucumbers
1 very large, very green tomato (currently ripening on the kitchen counter)
1 scarlet carrot, plus two other, less impressive carrots
3 gold beets

I am pretty pleased with my green thumb.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What Does One Do with a Half Flat of Blueberries and a Gallon of Milk?

I'm not dead yet! Sorry for the long long hiatus. So much stuff going on with Clementine. Weeding, planting, mowing. Repeat.


What does one do with a half flat of blueberries and a gallon of milk?

Well, I can't speak for the world, but here was what I did:

  • Blueberry ginger shrub. I wasn't expecting much from this, but was totally blown away. Sweet, slightly tart, and all-around delicious.
  • Froze them. Most of them (4 of the 6 pints)
And the milk?

3/4 of it went into making yogurt, which became Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt pops, plus kefir. The kefir then became kefir cheese, blended with the strained blueberries from the shrub, plus some minced salt-preserved lemons. Amazing!

Bon Apetit!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Checking In

The house is coming along. Bit by bit. Slowly in my eyes, but I am impatient, so probably at a normal pace. But, I have internet now, and the rest of the evening will be spent watching some Hulu and making To Do lists.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

News on the House Front

It has a lovely fenced front yard, and a tool shed out back. A crawlspace worthy of cellaring meads and sour beers. And French doors to the master bedroom.

The offer has been made. And countered. The counter offer has been accepted. The inspection completed (with a live squirrel living in a chimney. A contingency of the repair addendum is that he must vacate the premises). Now onto appraisal and loan underwriting. The process thus far has moved swiftly, and this little squirrel is hoping the remainder does the same. It'd be awful nice to get into my nest in time for growing season.

Bon apetit!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The squirrel starts her search for the perfect nest tomorrow. Wish her luck, for a big yard to scamper about in and grow food in to preserve!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stocking Stock

My research online had led me to believe the following: many of those of us who can run into the enviable position of having too much food stowed away. I have found that stock is my weakness where "too much" is concerned. I save all of my stock worthy bits (onions, carrots, celery, beef bones from Christmas, and bones from various whole chickens). Rather quickly, I found myself with a lot of stock. 20 quarts or so.

So I decided to reduce this:

into 6 quarts

I hope the reductions will be perfect for sauces and stews. And next time I will make them in pints (a jar size that I am lacking right now). Still very happy to have 6 quarts of reduced stock, and the freed up freezer and cabinet space.

Bon appetit, and enjoy the week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I Did With Some Odds and Ends

I have these things in my fridge (that need to be used):

A leek
Swiss chard
Leftover pot roast
Cheese ends that are nearing the end of their life span

What shall I make then, with a minimum of  expense?


* On a side note here, crud! I just found a half pint of homemade creme fraiche that needs to be eaten soon. Guess baked potatoes are on the menu for the week. Mix that stuff up with some herbs and onion powder to make a "ranch" dressing topping. But, back to the pizza.

Make dough, roll it out and get in on the peel.

Slather dough with (my) canned tomatoes, pickled garlic, plus some olive oil.

Add lightly sweated Swiss chard (raw chard tends to just get crispy in the oven, unless you chop it super fine).

Sprinkle leek atop chard (which has been simmered briefly in the pot roast juices), add pot roast bits, plus lovely cheese pieces (knowing that if you find something astounding mid-bite, you might never figure out what it is).

 Top with Italian blend cheese (the only expenditure for this meal, $3). The finished product:

 Bon appetit!

A Brief Introduction and We Can Pickle That!

Hi there! I am Cory, and I love to make things (beer, cheese, clothes, pickles, shelves, etc.).

I stared this blog because I did not ever intend to include food preservation on my "home" blog. But, recently I have become quite taken with this whole canning-pickling-preserving of food thing. I think food waste worldwide is a huge problem, and I am trying to do as little of that as possible.

Until I buy a house and can have a garden, I receive a biweekly produce delivery. It is my goal to use as much as I am able, and send less each week to the compost bin.  This blog will chronicle my attempts to feed myself and put food by.

A short time ago, I picked up a pressure canner (for stocks, soups, and meat products). I am so fortunate to live in a part of the country that has a bountiful growing season, plus excellent, affordable local seafood, which I want to can later this year.

Thus far, here is my bounty (water bath and pressure canned):

 On another note, there is a sketch comedy television program called "Portlandia". It is quite popular here, as it pokes fun (quite accurately) at some Portland quirks.  I was watching Season One the other day, and a skit came on called "We Can Pickle That" featuring a couple that attempts to pickle anything. For example, cd jewel cases and roadkill. All of a sudden, I felt like a Portland stereotype.  Que sera, onward ho pickling!

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

As To Not Bore My Beer Folks

Hey all! This will be my canning/pickling/food preservation blog.. Because having too much food and how one puts-it-by needs to be chronicled. Welcome!