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.

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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!

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

Easy, Delicious and Simple: White Cake Recipe with Applesauce Topping

Can’t help but love yummy food.  Decided to use up all the apples that are starting to have a few too many bruises here and there to make up and sauce.  Along with a homemade white cake that I love.  Thought I would share the recipe. My son claims its like eating a ‘cookie-dough’ cake.

Ingredients for White Cake

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for Applesauce Topping

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 5-6 beautiful apples, macintosh, jazz (I use a combo)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, nutmeg (you decide)

Directions for Applesauce Topping (make 1st)

  1. Peel, core & cut apples into chunks.
  2. In a medium saucepan & starting on a higher heat, drop in butter. Don’t burn but when melted, add in apples and sugar. Bring up to almost “a boil”.  Cover and let simmer on a low heat.
  3. The apples will become super soft, so you can break them apart with a fork, creating a hearty applesauce.
  4. Once white cake has been baked, serve as topping or side sauce.

Directions for White Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

This recipe is simple, easy & no fuss. Plus, its super delicious.  My 8 year old tells me its like eating cookie dough cake with apples and cinnamon.