Archive for Cooking

Fiddleheads

Yesterday we finally got around to cleaning and blanching our fiddleheads.  We picked about 6 lbs this year, a little less than we planned on but pretty decent over all.

In case anyone is interested in freezing their fiddleheads, here are a few pointers.

1.  Make sure to clean off as much chaff as possible before doing anything else with them.  This is best accomplished outside with two 5 gallon buckets (or other similar sized containers).  Put all the fiddleheads in one bucket, lift it about 2 feet above the other bucket and slowly pour the fiddleheads out.  This works best with a light breeze so the fiddleheads drop down, but the chaff blows away.  A large fan could be used to supply the wind on a calm day if need be.

2.  Bring in your fiddleheads and rinse them in the sink.  Cold water is fine, you’re just trying to get off as much of the sand and small pieces of chaff as you can before you blanch them.

3.  Now you are ready to blanch your fiddleheads.  Bring your pot of water up to a steady boiler, pour in your fiddleheads and let them stay in there for 2-3 minutes.  Make sure the fiddleheads are entirely covered in water.

4.  Take them off the heat, drain them and rinse with cold water in the sink.  Freeze them immediately.  We use quart size freezer bags, but you could use gallon bags or plastic containers if you want to.

That’s it.  It’s a lot of work from the time you pick them by the river to when they are cooked and on your plate, but well worth it I think.  Last season we had enough that we had fiddleheads for Thanksgiving and Easter!

 

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(Originally published: May 10, 2010.)

Merry Mabon!

mabon 2

Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox, marks the common calendar’s first day of fall. For many Pagan traditions it marks the middle of fall and the beginning of the rush to get in the last harvest.

We’re a mixed faith family – Hubster is a Congregationalist and I’m a Pagan Witch – so there’s always a balance to strike with the holidays. The great thing about the Pagan holidays is how strongly they align to the tides of the year. Holidays are used to mark the passage of the seasons based off from nature and agriculture. They give holidays where they are needed to boost the spirits and keep people going. Mabon is no exception.

This time of year is always crazy-go-nuts. There is jam to finish, pickles to polish up, gourds to find room for, apples to bring in, and gardens to wrap up before the frosts come. Its a time of long days and sometimes longer nights. Mabon comes right in the middle. The equal time of day and night remind us that balance is always a must. Without balance things can fall into chaos.

One of the greatest things about Mabon is the chance to feast. In this time of abundance, it’s guaranteed that you can get in a full meal, one made with love and that can give the chance for a moment to breath and reflect on the crazy season. Given how busy the week can get, we decided to have out Mabon meal last night. We enjoyed spaghetti squash with homemade tomato sauce. Apple crisp graced the table for our dessert. Only two ingredients weren’t local (minus seasonings in the crisp), and three others didn’t come from our own garden. The tomatoes, green peppers, basil, parsley, and zucchini were all from our own land. It was delicious.

Beat that, CAFO.

I drove less than five miles this morning and paid Rob Rowbottom at Rowbottom Farm for our quarter of organic grass-fed, Angus beef.

I then gave him a lift to our mutual mechanic’s shop, less than five miles from either of our homes, where he needed to pick up his truck and I needed to drop off my car.

Vaughn and I walked home and I’m now working to getting things prepped for when I get a call from the butcher’s this week saying that our beef is ready for pick up. Blaisdell’s Slaughterhouse is less than five minutes from here, so I won’t need a cooler to pack it in.

What other lifestyle lets you meet the man that raised your beef and the butcher that delivers the final blow and packages it all within a stone’s throw of your home? I love it.

Freezing and Food Safety

I am a very excited girl! Last year, when our hens were producing like mad, I had the forethought to freeze some eggs. They continued to produce over the winter, so we never used them. This winter, however, not only did I not freeze any in advance, but NONE of the three ladies are laying. I was thinking this morning that I should probably throw out the frozen eggs that were never used. But, I came across this piece of information from the USDA:

Freezer Storage Time Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this document, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.

If a food is not listed on the chart, you may determine its quality after thawing. First check the odor. Some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long and should be discarded. Some may not look picture perfect or be of high enough quality to serve alone but may be edible; use them to make soups or stews.

While I’m not a huge USDA fan, they are a great source for information like this and have just made this girl’s day! It looks like we might actually get to have eggs with our turkey sausage patties tonight.

Bread Failure

For the first time in a long time, I’ve failed at making bread. Well, I guess I should wait and say that after it comes out of the oven to heat up and coating the loaf with oil and throwing it in, like I normally do, I spaced it and oiled it well before the oven was ready. The result? My bread went flat. Bah. Worse case scenario I can slice it thin and toast it for crackers I guess, not to mention make another batch of bread tonight.