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!