Tomato Powder – For Those Tired of Canning Already!

Ah, the harvest of tomatoes is a plentiful this year, however … Honestly, I am sick of canning tomatoes.

Too much time.  Too much work.  Too much space.

You get the point.

So I thought I would look up Do-It-Yourself sundried tomatoes, being all clever to figure something different out.  I do love sundried tomatoes but until I looked them up, I did not realize the difficulty in storing them.  Well, I don’t really want to have to freeze tons of sundried tomatoes.

As I was surfing through delicious photos of reds and yellows, recipes slowly going through the back of my mind, I saw the words:

TOMATO POWDER

how the POWDER changed my cooking life forever

These words combined have made my love of tomatoes grow beyond measure. And taste.

MR. DEHYDRATOR

Cutting up large numbers of my beautiful, organic tomatoes (courtesy of my wonderful garden this year!) in slices no more than 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with a dash of pickling salt and now steps in Mr. Dehydrator.

The tomatoes get a really good air drying for around 12 – 20 hours.  Toss in some freshly chopped basil or oregano from my garden on top of the slices and add a punch of flavour.

MR. SPICE GRINDER

Spice grinder in one hand and the other throws a bunch of crushed, dehydrated tomato slices in.

BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

It’s pulse grinding.  Keep at it until you have taken a peek and find the consistency you are looking for, which for me is finely ground tomato powder.

USES

2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato powder plus about 1/2 cup of water creates the most amazing tomato paste to use for sauces.

Sprinkle a small amount into your foods, depending on taste.  Use anywhere you would use tomato or sundried tomato in recipes, just make sure to taste and adjust accordingly.

ALWAYS TASTE.

It is so versatile.

THE TASTE

It totally tastes like ketchup chips minus the chip part.

STORAGE

Storage is the best part it takes up WAY less room.  I store in a mason jar with a bunch of rice at the bottom to keep the moisture out.

Hope you enjoy, let me know any recipes that you may know of that uses tomato powder.

BBQ Chicken: Here’s a Good Tip

I’ve heard that using recycled cans is not a great idea because of the lining inside combined with the heat.

Using cake rings works great.  This keeps your chicken off the grill and crisps up the skin really well.

Bon appétit.  Enjoy!

Lemon Vinegar – The Art of Homemade, Safe Cleaning

Vinegar. A versatile & classic liquid, used in cooking & cleaning.

When it comes to cleaning, it’s a natural disinfectant, a brilliant cleaner, but … it stinks.

Salt & Vinegar Fish & Chips, sure, loves it! But not a house that smells like pure vinegar?  Too abrasive to the senses.

Hence, a formula for Lemon Vinegar.

Now, you can use orange peels if you like … I’m a lemon girl!

What you need:

500 ml Mason Jar or whatever size you wish

Peel from 2 -3 lemons (add more for bigger jar)

Vinegar

How to do it:

Place peels in jar. Fill to top with vinegar. Cap tightly.

Let sit in a cool, dark place for about 14 days, give or take.

ET VOILA!

Lemon scented vinegar to be used for making the house not only shine its cleanest, but smell like bright, fresh lemons!

Enjoy.

Green Tomatoes? Chow Down On Canadiana Style Chow Chow – Fresh Gardening Recipe

The Art of a Great Chow Chow

This year, I’m on the verge of  a tantalizingly tasty tomato crop.  Reds, yellows & even purples I have painstakingly been gardening in a very organic fashion.  But I always find some that have found a home on the ground, or a few that have a brown patch or two … and besides, I don’t always want to wait for the September for the last of the green tomatoes to make something with them … something called Chow Chow.

Many of you have been reading about the horrors of genetically modified produce & meat, and I have been doing my best to avoid GMOs & processed foods.  Corn syrup, for instance, has given rise to heated arguments between scientists & health specialists & all kinds of people, and we all know we find it in everything.

One thing it’s in is Catsup. Or Ketchup. Heinz lists it here in Canada as ‘liquid syrup’, but we all know it’s genetically modified corn syrup.

Catsup or Ketchup is for some, like butter is to bread … a marvellously sweet, spicy & salty condiment that goes with everything from the classic french fry to being used as a flavour enhancer in curry sauces.

I don’t like bottled Ketchup. Sorry Heinz, but I can taste the fakeness. It just isn’t like it was when I was a kid (and I’m an OLD lady!).

But recently, thanks to a twitter friend, my attention was brought to a fantastically deliciously wonderful condiment that goes by the name “Chow Chow”.

Thank you dear twitter friend, because now my taste buds have taken me back to my childhood of travelling up to the cottage, stopping by the side of the road on Highway 11 North in Ontario at Dutchie’s Restaurant, where they made the best french fries I have ever eaten in my life.  And I know, I KNOW, they had homemade ‘catsup’.  Chow Chow brings me right back to the old style counter seats & smell of the fryer.  Enough memories, let’s make some Chow Chow and can it!

What you will need:

6 cups of coarsely chopped green tomatoes*

* remove white core, & if too many or too large seeds remove as well

3 medium to large size onions, coarsely chopped

3 medium apples, coarsely chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped up

1/4 – 1/2 cup of water

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of maple syrup

2 cups of white vinegar* (5% acetic acid)

* substitutes: red wine vinegar, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice

1 tbs. of mustard powder

1/4 tsp. of allspice (I put 1/2, I love it!)

1/4 tsp. of cumin

1/4 tsp. of red chili powder (spicy, don’t put in if you don’t like it)

Just a pinch, or two, of cinnamon

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup of pickling salt

In Quebec, additions such as green & red peppers and/or cauliflower are also included.

I always say, “Make sure you play with your food!”

How to Make Chow Chow:

In non-reactive pot (enamel, stainless steel), put 1/4 cup of water at bottom and heat on high.

Toss all ingredients except maple syrup & vinegar.  Bring up to almost a boil & simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the touch of Canadiana style – maple syrup – and give it a stir.  Then mix in all the vinegar.

Let this wonderful pot of goodness simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

Depending on your choice, you can can this chunky or fine.  I prefer it done fine, so I either mush it through a sieve or I use my hand blender.

Water bath canning takes 10 minutes (but as most know, this depends on your altitude.)

Serve with french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers …

One of my absolute favourite uses is as a wonderful side sauce for Jerk’d Chicken or Pork, and it goes heavenly with West Indian Curry.

Please try my recipe & let me know how it turns out for you.

Enjoy!

Summertime Eats – Pickling Cucumbers – Easy Refrigerator Pickles

So the first harvest of my pickling cucumbers has come in.  Yay!

I decided to try growing them along with regular cukes, so that we could pickle them.  We will be canning, but later.

Now to the easy stuff.

I trellised my cucumbers this year, with old hockey nets on the ground, and it works wonderfully.

Hockey Nets for Cucumber Trellis (upper right in pic)

Giving these delicious veggies some serious support, the first cukes I’ve picked are as clean as a whistle.  Check them out:

organic pickling cucumbers

So, in order to create something easy, I’m using a friend’s quickie recipe for scrumptious refrigerator pickles.  And I cheat.  I use a microwave. (LOL)

I find about 8 medium sized cukes are good for about 1 quart of pickling liquid.

You will need:

8 pickling cucumbers (*slice lengthwise or across, your choice)

* thinner you slice, more flavour penetrates but too slim may get mushy

1/4 cup (or so, adjust!) pickling salt (I use sea salt)

1/4 cup (or so, adjust!) white sugar (try different things, like maple sugar/syrup or honey)

About 1 quart of water or so

3/4 cup white vinegar

2 cloves (or more) of garlic

1 white/red onion

Fresh Dill (or seed)

Fresh Red Chili or flake (optional)

Pickling Spices/Flavours*

* This is totally a matter of taste, however, basic pickles have dill, bay leaf, garlic, onion.

Coriander, mustard, dill seeds

Black Peppercorns (or multi-coloured!)

Bay leaves

For some yummy notes:

Cloves (minimum)

Allspice (dash)

Place your cut cukes, along with some minced garlic (I usually mince one clove and slice into quarters, the other) and onion (I cut in 3) into your refrigerator container.  I use a large glass bowl and not jar because these goodies disappear so very quickly.

Now I boil the pickling liquid in a glass bowl in my microwave.  Boiling in anything less than stainless steel, apparently is a no-no because it changes the chemical composition of the pickling liquid.  I am still learning, canning is my next mission.

So, put water, pickling flavours, vinegar, sugar and salt into a large glass microwaveable bowl and let the mixture come to a boil.  I usually let it boil for about 30 seconds longer than when it started.  Take it out and mix the liquid to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Microwave for another 30 – 60 seconds.

Pour over cucumber-garlic-onion in the glass bowl.  I do not boil the garlic or the onion in the pickling liquid as you will find the flavour turns bitter and unpleasant.  Let the hot liquid basically blanche the yummy concoction (the onion is so good too!).

Let it cool down and after it’s no longer warm, place into the refrigerator. Plastic wrap the top.

Give them about 24 hours before you eat.  But at our house, only a few hours in the frig and literally minutes until they are gone.

Hope you enjoy and please, adjust the flavourings to your own style.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.

I am thinking about making a chinese-style flavouring, using ginger, garlic & sesame oil next.

Refrigerator Pickles

The Healthy Growing Lives of: Chives – Herb, Food, Plant & Flower

Chives: Easy Healthy Add to Liven Up Your Garden & Your Food

I have been taking a good long look at the plants I inherited when I bought my home.  I am blessed with a wonderful property, full of interesting plants, trees and animals.

Recently, for the last couple of years, my garden has been sprouting bunches of Chives.  This year is exceptional, so the following is an ode of information about and for the CHIVE.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a part of the same plant family as onions, scallions and garlic. They actually grow from small bulbs and have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses.

In the Middle Ages, chives were promoted as a cure for melancholy and believed to drive away evil spirits. Today we know that chives and chive flowers are high in vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Therefore, they should be routinely added to recipes to help restore vital nutrients lost in cooking. This herb’s tangy aromatic taste come from its high concentration of sulfur compounds and other essential oils, which are also partly responsible for its healing properties.

Growing Chives: So Easy!!!

Chives can be started from seed but it’s easiest to find a friend that already has an herb garden and dig-up a clump of their chive plant and get started growing your fresh chives.

Once your herb garden is established and you start getting blossoms on your chive plants you’ll quickly find that it’s best to use scissors instead of pruning sheers or a knife on these plants. Scissors are especially useful when cutting your chives to prepare for your favorite dishes.

This hardy perennial grows from 12 to 24 inches tall, with pink and lavender flowers that have flavored meals for centuries. It prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil that high in organic matter. Planting rooted clumps is the easiest way to propagate chives. Seeds germinate slowly and require darkness, constant moisture, and temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees F. Divide plants every few years. Chives also grow well in containers on a sunny windowsill or on your deck mixed with other herbs or edible flowers.

It’s just unbelievable how incredibly versatile chives can be. When you have an abundance of plants in your garden you can always make a chive bouquet.

Here’s a wonderful outdoor dining idea: place a chive bouquet in the center of your picnic table or outdoor dining area, the aroma can enhance dishes placed around it!

You can even use them as dried flower arrangements. They are very easy to dry and keep as edible flowers for your salads and soups.

Chives Save Lives: Surprising Medicinal Health Benefits

You may be surprised to find that there is research that supports how chives ease stomach distress, protect against heart disease and stroke and may help the body fight bacteria that can cause disease. In addition, the herb may increase the body’s ability to digest fat.

Therapeutic Effect:The medicinal properties of chives are as varied as their uses in the kitchen. Chives stimulate the appetite and promote good digestion. They can be used to ease stomach upset, clear a stuffy nose, reduce flatulence and prevent bad breath. Combined with a low-salt diet, they help lower high blood pressure. Plus, they have a mild diuretic effect, as well as some antibacterial properties.

Components: Chives are valued for their many essential minerals, including cardiac-friendly potassium, bone-strengthening calcium and blood-building iron. And unlike most other members of the onion family, chives are high in folic acid (a B vitamin), vitamin A and vitamin C. In fact, just 3 ½ ounces of chives supplies enough vitamin C to meet your daily requirement of 60 mg.

Cold Prevention: The high vitamin C content in chives can help prevent colds. They also speed recovery if a cold develops by helping the body to expel mucus; the sulfurous compounds in chives are natural expectorants.

Cholesterol Reduction: Scientific research shows that chives stimulate the body’s digestion of fat. Eaten regularly, chives may help lower blood cholesterol levels.

The Chive Flower: Tastes as Good as It Looks

Here are a few foodie food ideas …

Don’t overlook the chive flower. The chive’s delicate purple flowers have a milder flavor than the leaves and stems and add a decorative touch to salads, herb oils and other dishes.

Chive Flavored Oil: add 1 ½ ounces of chive blossoms to 1 quart of vegetable oil. After a week, the oil will turn lilac and take on the fragrance of the chive flowers. Use the oil on salads or in cooking. Keep it refrigerated when not in use!

Chive Salt: If you like the oniony flavor of chives, make your own Chive Salt to add zip to all sorts of dishes. First, add some chive leaves to some salt. Then bake the mixture in the oven to dry the leaves and blend the flavors. Store in an airtight jar.

Cottage Cheese with Chives

  • 8 ounces of cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper

1. Blend the cottage cheese and mustard.

2. Peel the shallot, chip finely and mix with the cottage cheese blend.

3. Wash and dry the chives and snip them finely. Stir about two-thirds of the chives into the cottage cheese mixture.

4. Season the cottage-cheese mixture with the paprika and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining chives on top.

Food & Kitchen Tips

  • Cut chives just before you are ready to use them to preserve their vitamins, aroma and flavor. Chives are delicate; to prevent the loss of essential oils, snip them with kitchen shears rather than chopping or grinding.
  •  Don’t heat chives or they will lose their valuable vitamin C as well as their digestive properties
  •  Grow chives at home in a pot on a windowsill. Wait until the plant reaches about 6 inches in height before cutting. Harvest the chive leaves frequently to prevent blooming unless you specifically want to use the flowers. Once the plant blooms, the leave become less flavorful.
  • Freeze chives for future use. Frozen chives tend to retain more flavor than dried chives. Snip fresh chives into small pieces, then place them in an ice-cube tray and fill it with water. To thaw, put a chive cube in a strainer.

We hope you enjoyed the article on Chives.

Please follow us on Twitter @stealtharmour or Pinterest at pinterest.com/stealtharmour

Online Pins and Posts Party: Top 5 Pinterest Gardening Pins – Best Photo, Funniest and More

Welcome to the Kick Off to the Online Gardening Pins & Posts Party!!!

I am still kinda new to Pinterest (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a relatively new ‘social’ networking site & its very cool!) but I am very lucky and really appreciate the interest my followers have given my blog & pins! Thank you.

So, in appreciation, I am creating a TOP 5 GARDENING PINS & POSTS of the Week page, dedicated to my friends and followers on social networks and blogs.

TOP 5 PINTEREST GARDENING PINS of the WEEK:

Categories include: BEST PHOTO, BEST USE OF RECYCLING, FUNNIEST, Do-It-Yourself DIY & OFF THE WALL.

From Abby Iris: Best Photo

Seems this PIN made a terrific impression with Pinsters, clocking in high repins.

http://pinterest.com/pin/153826143492413264/

Brittany McCrea: Best Use of Recycling

Recycling and saving the environment is a daily habit for most of us gardeners.  This PIN hit home with many. Guess we all might be wine drinkers too. Anyone growing grapes? Cheers!

http://pinterest.com/pin/88242473918877569/

Veronica Frontz: Funniest Gardening Pin

Laughter is definitely the best medicine, so get your dose with this PIN.

http://pinterest.com/pin/237846424040579847/

Nicki Hammon: DIY

This is a great way to bling and sparkle up any fence and gate. Also, think about alternatives to marbles, like pieces of coloured glass etc.

http://pinterest.com/pin/130041507960516206/

Gigi-Mays: Most Off the Wall

http://pinterest.com/pin/18295942206398868/

This is the most off the wall and craziest Tulip I have ever seen.  Reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors.

Feed Me Seymour …

Hope you enjoyed the picks and the pics!

Come back and visit next week for another TOP 5 of the BEST PINS & POSTS …

Please look us up on PINTEREST – profile name: stealtharmour – or make sure to connect with us on Twitter @stealtharmour