Real Food

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7/19/2016

 

First off, this recipe is absolutely delicious! It’s a rather unlikely combination in a way, as drinks using honey are somewhat unusual. One that comes to mind is mead, a very ancient drink made from honey, spices and water, among other ingredients, then fermented.

Mead is fairly difficult to come by for the most part, although it may be more popular in England. This cocktail makes use of honey simple syrup, and simple to make it is.

It’s just a 50/50 concentration of honey and water, simmered together. (Regular simple syrup is just water and white sugar, same ratio. Try it for sweetening ice tea.)

The recipe calls for Ungava gin, and if you can’t find it, use any high quality gin that’s readily available, although Ungava would be preferred for its unique flavor. This gin is a Canadian specialty utilizing arctic plants and herbs from northern Quebec. It has a lovely golden colour to it, unlike the usual clear gins on the market.

Wait a minute you say, Canadian gin? There is no such thing. Gin comes from England, end of story. Not quite. This one is the first to be made in Canada, outside of the English sphere of gin influence. So, if you can find it, do try it, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Bee's Knees Honey Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

• 45ml Ungava Gin
• 30ml lemon juice
• 30ml honey syrup

Total Recipe yields one portion

Directions:

1. Load ingredients into shaker tin

2. Shake with one scoop of ice

3. Strain over chilled glass

Honey Syrup Recipe

Add one part honey with one part water and bring it to a boil.

Now you have the perfect sipper for out on the deck, balcony, picnic or whatever social occasion that needs a cool, sweet/sour drink to savor. Just the thing for this hot summer we’re having!

Remember, please drink responsibly, and don’t drink and drive.

Important Notes:

Ungava Gin. Their website for more ideas and recipes. Do check this out, it’s a totally cool, pun intended, website. Last accessed July 14, 2016. Ungava Gin is produced by Domaine Pinnacle.

You can follow the Sue Van Slooten's adventures or sign up for a class at her website. Email Sue at wwwsvanslooten@icloud.com, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



7/18/2016

 

When garden vegetables are coming in by the basketfuls, I am always eager to craft dishes that utilize as much of summer’s abundance as possible. One of the easiest ways to make use of excess is to do a simple slow-cooker dish like this one. A delicious pork roast is enlivened by ripe tomato, savory squash, fresh pepper, and hearty carrots. Feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever is ready in your garden, as nearly any vegetable will taste heavenly after hours under low heat.

Ingredients:

• Pork roast
• 1 large tomato, sectioned
• 1 yellow squash, sliced
• 1 bell pepper, sliced
• 1 cup baby carrots
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon pepper
• 2 teaspoons organic garlic powder
• 2 cups organic French onion soup

Directions

1. In the base of a slow cooker, pour French onion soup and arrange baby carrots.

2. Place pork roast atop and arrange squash, peppers, and tomato around its sides.

3. Season with garlic, salt, and pepper.

4. Cook on high for approximately 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7. For faster cooking, cut deep slits into the roast. Serve when fork tender.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



7/18/2016

Pressing the Reuben

All families have their folklore. Their tales of the past, of the the good and the bad. Some of which you learn from a serious conversation and sometimes through an off-hand comment. Then there are the times when you do the research, and you discover deep dark secrets and a revelation that changes how you look at your family and yourself.

Gaga’s Fudge

My father has three brothers and a sister. He is the second oldest son and the sister is the youngest. They spent parts of every summer visiting family in various parts of the country and by country, I mean largely Texas and Arkansas. It sounds like their grandmother (their father’s mother, called Gaga) was especially dear to them. She was very old when I was born, but I do remember her, if only through a virtual memory generated from old photographs. My daughter has her bedroom furniture.

One of the treats she made for the grandkids was fudge. She would wrap the pieces in wax paper and put them in a cylindrical cardboard Quaker Oats container and give it to the kids. It is a fond memory for all of them. One Christmas, long after she had died, the Hudson families gathered in Dallas for the holidays. It was rare for all of the families to be together and the always competitive “boys”, now quite grown men, would compete in anyway possible (but usually in a game of Risk that extended several days). Each day as the survivors gathered around the board for the day’s rounds of play, someone invariably suggested that somebody had moved their pieces around during the night, placing them at a definite disadvantage.

With such a large family, the exchanging of gifts was invariably chaotic and fast. However, that year, my uncle Andy pulled out of his bag of gifts five Quaker Oats containers - one for each sibling and his father. For the first time, maybe ever, the Hudson clan was quiet. They all beamed and almost simultaneously asked “Is that Gaga’s fudge?”. Andy handed out the tubes, and as each sibling received it, they went back 25 years to those special moments with Gaga. Just as they did way back when they could no longer wait, they opened the cans, hands shaking in anticipation and pulled out a roll of of fudgey goodness and the proceeded to gorge themselves. And that was the Christmas diabetes came to our family.

The Cheese Dip Deception

My dad’s mom was pretty good cook as well. She didn’t knock ’em dead like some grandmas, but when she did something, it was pretty good. One snack that was a staple at all family get togethers was Rotel. As a child, I watched her make this with fascination. You take this block of cheese, a block of cheese used only for this purpose, cut it into cubes, open a can of tomatoes, drain it but save the juice and put the tomatoes and cheese in a blender. Using the saved juiced to help liquefy things, you whipped up this wonderful dip that was called Rotel and eaten only with Fritos. It was smooth and creamy and absolutely amazing.

Jump ahead a few years and I am at college in my own place with a couple of roommates at Texas A&M University. It is football season during the great Jackie Sherrill years, and we were having some folks over to watch the game. Memories of Rotel inspired me to try and replicate the dish. My mom had come up with her version that used the stove to melt the cheese often resulting in the formation of a black skin of burnt cheese forming on the bottom of the pot. It was good, but not as good as Grandmother’s. The use of the blender made it creamier.

So I’m at the store looking for something tomato-ey to use in my own version of Rotel when I see a can labeled, Rotel. Wait, what is this? Did someone steal my grandmother’s recipe and rip her off? Or perhaps she sold someone the recipe and someday I’ll inherit a fortune made from cheese dip. I grabbed a can looked at the label to see if her name was on it or something, turned it around and there on the back of the label was a recipe for Velveeta Cheese Dip with Rotel. Wow, Grandmother hit the big time! She got her very own recipe on a can of product named after the dip she invented….wait a minute, I had it all backwards. She was a fraud. She didn’t invent Rotel cheese dip, she got the recipe from the label on the can. I was crushed.

When I got back to the house, I called my mom and asked her for an explanation. Her only response was “Seems like we are wasting a lot of money on you for an education.” and hung up. She was an obvious co-conspirator. I made some Rotel, burned it, of course, watched some football and drank a few Pearl beers as I tried to process this huge betrayal.

Not The Fudge, Too

Jump ahead another 20 years and I see my Uncle Andy at some family gathering, unfortunately, probably a funeral. I told him I was thinking about putting together a family cookbook and asked if he still had the recipe for Gaga’s Fudge.

He said “Yep, you go to the store..” I was not sure where this was going.

“Find you a can of puffed marshmallow..” Okay, I’m not liking this.

“Slowly turn it around and there it is on the back of the can!” He started laughing.

I was like, “Wait, it was not some great, passed down through the ages family recipe.”

“Nope, no great recipe. She got it off the can. Can you believe that?”

What is it with this family?

The Reuben Sandwich Sauce

And now, I have a DIY Reuben sandwich and while I did not invent the sandwich, I did manage to kick it up a few notches (to quote a celebrity chef). As I told you a couple of months back, I have started making my own corned beef and sauerkraut and we figured out how to make a Jewish rye bread. I’m not making my own Swiss cheese yet, so all I needed was the sauce.

The sauce put on a Reuben sandwich varies from region to region across the United States. Most commonly used are Thousand Island Dressing and its derivative Russian Dressing. My dad in his retirement has decided to reinvent cooking and, of course, he started with the Reuben. He soon learned that there is not much flexibility with most of the Reuben ingredients. If you are not making your own, you get what the store gives you. However, the sauce does allow a little flexibility and creativity. He has spent years perfecting his craft. Many different interpretations with modifications here and there. I am sure his Reuben sandwiches will be a lasting legacy, perhaps the lasting legacy for which all of the grandkids will remember him.

I knew it would be difficult to get the recipe from him. Certainly the correct recipe. I hoped he had written it down. I knew I had to come up with some incentive to get him to cough it up.

“Hey Dad,”

“Yes.”

“I made up another batch of corned beef. I have some homemade kraut, and we have a rye bread recipe.”

“Sounds good. When can we come over?”

“Sunday, but I’m just missing the sauce. I was wondering if I could have your recipe so I can give proper respect to the sandwich you perfected.”

I had him! If he wanted a good sandwich, he would have to give me the right recipe. Looks like that education paid off, Mom.

“Well, I don’t know,” he said pausing for a moment. I’m thinking “c’mon old man, if I don’t carry the Reuben torch, who will? Matt? (my younger brother) Not bloody likely!”

“Okay, I’ll give it to you...just Google Emeril’s Reuben sandwich, and it has a recipe for Russian Dressing.”

“What?”

“Yep.”

“Did you even tweak it?”

“Nope, I like Emeril’s stuff and use his Russian dressing recipe.”

For the love of originality, I come from a family of plagiarists. It is apparently in my DNA. It probably resides in that mole on my back. Three generations of Hudsons have passed along mythical recipes... that someone else came up with.

It would seem that Huddy’s Reuben Sauce is really Emeril’s Russian Dressing. AYFKM?

As a public service announcement, please note that I always reference and credit my sources. I am trying to break this cycle and give credit where credit is due.

For your own DIY Reuben you can go here for the corned beef and sauerkraut recipes that were posted a couple of months ago. You can apparently Google Emeril’s Reuben Sandwich recipe to get his recipe for Russian Dressing, or see below for the sauce. Please don’t confuse it with Huddy’s Reuben sauce. By the way, it is great on almost anything.

Corned Beef

Also included below is an abridged version of the Sourdough Rye Bread recipe. For the full recipe go to Hudson’s Farm on the Cement Pond.

Assembling the Reuben

On a griddle or large skillet, melt a little butter. Lay two pieces of bread down in the butter to toast. Apply dressing to each of the pieces on the side facing up. Add cheese to one slice of bread. While the cheese melts, add corned beef and sauerkraut to to other side.

Grilling the Reuben

Once the cheese has melted to your preferred consistency, flip onto the other side and press down with a spatula. Carefully flip it over and press again. When it is toasted how you like, remove, cut in half and enjoy.

Ready to Eat

When my mom and dad tried it, they said it was the best Reuben they ever had, especially the sauce. They may be a bit biased, but I guarantee you will impress some folks with this DIY Reuben sandwich.

Huddy’s Reuben Sauce

Emeril’s Russian Dressing

Mix together:

• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup chili sauce
• 1 tablespoon minced yellow onion
• 1 tablespoon minced dill pickle
• 1 tablespoon minced celery
• 1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves
• 1 tablespoon heavy cream
• 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Once mixed, add salt to taste. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Homemade Sourdough Rye Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

• 100 g Sourdough Leaven (freshly fed sourdough starter, fed with a 1:1 ratio of all purpose flour and water, then allowed to ferment for at least 4 hours at room temperature. Note, if you cannot bake in 4 hours, transfer the leaven to the refrigerator until ready to bake, but do not store for more than 48 hours in the refrigerator – the longer it goes, the more sour the bread. Longer than 48 hours makes it too sour and too dense)
• 400 g Water (room temp)
• 400 g Bread Flour
• 100 g Whole Rye Flour
• 10 g Sea Salt
• 1Tbsp Caraway Seeds

Preparing the Dough

Transfer the Leaven to a large mixing bowl. The Leaven will be bubbly and fluffy.

Add the Water to the bowl of Leaven. Stir with a spatula or a dough whisk to disperse.

Add the Bread Flour and the Whole Rye Flour. Stir with a spatula or a dough whisk to combine into a shaggy dough. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the flour.

Cover and let rest for approximately 30 minutes, but no more than one hour.

Add the Sea Salt and the Caraway Seeds to the bowl. Use the dough whisk or your hands to fully incorporate the Salt and the Caraway Seeds throughout the dough.

Bulk Fermentation – Letting the Wild Yeast Do the Work

Cover the bowl. Rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, use a spatula or your hands to stretch the dough and fold it in to itself. Scoop along the edge of the container and pull the dough toward the center, working your way all the way around the container. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat Step 2 at least three more times – until the dough has increased approximately 30 to 50 percent, and has a springy texture that will hold a shape. It may take longer than two hours, but you will learn what the dough is supposed to feel like – just do a stretch and fold every 30 minutes until it is ready.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough, cover with a cloth and rest for 10 minutes.

Shaping and Proofing

After the 10 minute rest, pat the dough with your fingertips to make it slightly flatter. Take the two side edges and pull them toward the center, then roll the dough, creating tension and forming a cylinder loaf. Sprinkle flour on the outside of the roll, and set it on the floured counter, seam side down. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes rest, tighten the dough roll to make sure there is tension on the surface. Lightly flour the loaf.

Transfer the dough seam side down into a loaf pan (We use a Pullman Loaf pan with a cover). Cover the loaf with the cover (if using) or with a cloth and let rest and rise for approximately one hour, until the loaf is almost to the top of the loaf pan.

Baking the Bread

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place a heavy skillet on the lowest level shelf.

2. Get a very sharp knife or a bread lame ready. Make sure you have oven gloves that are suitable up to at least 500 degrees – the oven and the pans get VERY hot!

3. Get a cup of ice and set it on the counter, near your oven.

4. After the rise, remove the cover and use the sharp knife or baker’s lame to score the surface of the dough. Replace the cover (or if not using a Pullman Loaf pan, cover with aluminum foil).

5. Put the covered container into the oven, then dump the ice into the heavy skillet on the lowest shelf and immediately close the oven door, allowing the oven to fill with steam. Turn down the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 18 minutes.

6. After 18 minutes, wearing oven gloves, open the oven and carefully remove the skillet of hot water and discard the water. Remove the cover on the loaf pan. Close the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.

7. Keep your eye on the bread - it should be browned, and may even get dark brown edges near the scoring. You can take its temperature (wear oven gloves!) – the center should be approximately 198 - 200 degrees when it is finished. It should be finished approximately 13-18 minutes after you have removed the cover, depending on your oven and the size of your bread.

8. When the center of the bread has reached 198-200 degrees, pull it out and immediately transfer it to a cooling rack. Cover with a cloth. If serving immediately, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Bread Recipe Resources:

We have researched online and in books and have done many experiments with baking sourdough bread. Our primary inspiration for techniques and recipes has been Chad Robertson’s book Tartine Bread. For troubleshooting, starter development and other recipes, we have often referred to Mike Avery’s website/blog SourdoughHome.com.

Ed Hudson is a biochemist for NASA in Houston. His free time is filled with gardening and an ongoing list of Food Preservation Projects with his lovely wife, Jennifer. You can read more MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts from Ed here and contact him via email at hudsonfarmtx@gmail.com. He is always looking for comments, new ideas and suggestions.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



7/15/2016

 

When summer time is in full swing and the tomatoes hang gloriously ripened on their strong green vines, nothing is more pleasing to the palette than a simple and refreshing dish. This one makes use of those little red beauties, as well as the intoxicatingly sweet herb, basil.

Companion plants by nature, it is no wonder the two pair so deliciously in the kitchen. I often make this bruschetta as a light lunch for one, but it could easily be doubled for a couple or for an appetizer. Make and delight in its seasonally fresh flavors.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta Recipe

Ingredients:

• One large tomato, or two small
• Eight basil leaves
• Minced garlic, to taste
• Salt, to taste
• Olive oil, for drizzling
• Five slices French bread

Directions:

1. While bread is toasting, dice tomato and set aside.

2. Place basil leaves on top of one other and roll them horizontally starting at one end. Then, slice vertically. A simple rough chop is also perfectly acceptable, if easier.

3. Layer tomatoes on toasted bread. Sprinkle on basil.

4. Season generously with minced garlic and salt, to taste.

5. Drizzle on plenty of good olive oil and serve.

Monica Sharrock is a hunter's wife living in rural Oklahoma. She enjoys cooking with venison and preserved garden veggies. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. 


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



7/15/2016

 

The green bean harvest is coming in. My kids watch them grow with anticipation. They love when I make string beans sautéed with soy sauce and garlic. They love this dish so much that they have to work at portion control.

Then there are a few nights when the green beans are plentiful in the harvest bowl. That’s a treat, because we have “All You Can Eat Bean Night”. It usually takes me a couple batches to make enough for these special evenings, and sometimes I keep them going throughout the meal. You can see why it is an occasional offering.

Our CSA members are likely anticipating the green bean harvest, too. At House in the Woods Farm, we offer U-pick green beans to our CSA members as a membership perk. It gets them involved and out on the field. Picking their own beans is one step closer to knowing where their food comes from and how it grows.

It gives members a taste of the hard work it takes to grow food, and the deep appreciation that comes from eating food you harvested yourself. Also, picking green beans is intensive work and would take us too long to harvest beans for 50 CSA members.

Blanching and Freezing Green Beans

This summer I am preserving the harvest by blanching beans and vacuum packing them for freezer storage. I will use them for my sautéed string beans and vegetable soup all winter long. I chop off the ends, rinse the beans, and blanch them in small batches.

To blanch, boil a big pot of water. Add a bowl of beans, maybe four cups worth or a big bowl. Cover and cook for three or four minutes, until the water starts to boil at the surface again. Scoop them out into a bowl of ice water to cool them quickly. Drain them on a clean towel. I freeze them in quart bags. Labeled, of course! It will be nice to have green beans throughout the winter, as I am hoping to freeze more bags than I have in the past.

 

It is summertime, so we get to enjoy the fresh green beans and All You Can Eat Bean Night. The kids are watching the beans grow. This weekend it will be time for sautéed green beans again. Now we are enjoying my brother Ron's green bean recipe.

This summer, Ron introduced us to his version of sautéed string beans. He makes great Schezuan string beans on the grill wok. The grill wok is huge. It is big enough to cook a huge batch of All You Can Eat Beans all at once! This recipe works on a stovetop pan or wok, as well. Ron’s Schezuan string beans are aptly named Schez-Ron String Beans.

'Schez-Ron' String Beans Recipe

Ingredients:

• green beans
• cooking oil of your choice
• garlic or garlic scapes, chopped
• water
• soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
• salt
• toasted sesame oil

Directions:

1. Rinse beans (some blossoms might come off). We don’t always take the time to cut the stems off the beans, but certainly you can.

2. Heat a couple Tablespoons of oil in a large pan.

3. Sautee chopped garlic scapes or garlic for a few minutes. Maybe two cloves, adjust to your taste.

4. Add green beans with a little water (about a quarter cup). Cover the pan. Steam it. Stir it occasionally, cooking for five minutes or until tender. 

5. Add soy sauce or tamari.

6. Add a dash of salt, optional.

7. Continue to cook down to evaporate some of the liquid.  

8. Add a splash of toasted sesame oil at the very end. 

Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm's Facebook Page. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to the House in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



7/14/2016

Restaurant-grade containers are good choices for storing bulk foods. Photo by Joanna Reuter

Buying certain foods in bulk is a great way to save money, packaging, and shopping time, while opening up new opportunities to support good farmers. We raise much of our own food on our homestead farm, but still need to source kitchen staples like flour, sugar, salt, dried pasta, and nuts from the outside world.

Buying these items in bulk has allowed us to virtually eliminate normal shopping trips, reduce packaging waste, and ensure that more of our food dollars to go farmers instead of middlemen. While the bulk bins at many grocery stores are a good start, in this context we’re talking about direct-ordering large quantities of single items rather than choosing a few pounds from a store bin.

Here are some tips and considerations for buying and handling bulk foods in a homestead setting.

Understanding Your Kitchen Patterns

Buying in bulk is a good way to learn more about just how and what you eat. For example, the average American consumes about 130 pounds of sugar per year — do you have any idea what your number is?

When you buy small amounts of ingredients on a weekly basis, it’s really easy to lose track of the annual total, but when your sugar comes in 25-pound bags a couple times a year (as ours does), it’s a lot easier to keep track of.

Conversely, knowing what you eat and when can help you use bulk purchasing most effectively. We tend to keep more sugar on hand during late spring and summer for preserving fruits and fermenting drinks. Salt comes in handy in later summer and fall, for fermentation and meat preservation. If you do a lot of pickling, a timely case of vinegar can save you money and stress.

The shelf-life of various foods is an important factor interacting with your consumption patterns. We started buying brown rice in 25-pound bags, but found that it tended to go rancid before we could finish it, even though we eat a fair amount of rice. Bulk buying isn’t sustainable or sensible if it just leads to more food waste.

In general, the more processed (and less healthy) a food is, the longer it lasts — think white flour, white sugar, and standard pasta. Brown rice, whole-grain flour, and nuts can go rancid if stored improperly or for too long.

Handling and Storing Bulk Foods in the Kitchen

Proper storage will really enhance the longevity and quality of bulk foods. We primarily use restaurant-grade containers with tightly-sealing lids, which we purchase from a restaurant supply store. They’re more expensive than generic plastic-ware, but are far stronger and longer-lived.

For everyday use, we keep quart or half-gallon jars on the counter — refilling these from a home bulk bin is far easier than a trip to the store. Tight lids are important, as pests like grain moths can squeeze through small cracks and ruin a large batch of material.

Freezing bulk items temporarily can kill any eggs and larvae that might already be present. We also freeze items like nuts that might go rancid before a large batch is fully consumed, generally dividing up the bulk amount into smaller containers that can be retrieved one at a time to thaw.

Doing some of your own processing can save money and enhance the storage life of some bulks foods. For example, we use a KitchenAid mixer attachment to grind our own flour (wheat, oat, rye) and cornmeal. The whole corn and grains are far more shelf-stable than the milled final product — we can store 25 pounds of whole wheat berries far longer than we can store 25 pounds of whole wheat flour, and grinding it ourselves gives more control over the texture and quality of the product.

Sourcing Bulk Foods

In some areas, grocery or health-food stores will make bulk orders for you of any item they can get in commercial quantities, usually for a discount. We order many generic items like sugar, salt, raisins, and pasta this way.

However, another benefit of bulk buying is the ability to purchase directly from good farmers or co-ops, which directs your spending to growers you approve of and gives you more options than many stores. While we buy locally for appropriate products (such as fruits in-season), we’re also happy to buy from good farmers in other parts of the country or world if they produce a special product that’s worth supporting.

For example, we buy a wide variety of Filipino heirloom rice, happy to support the conservation of that country’s beautiful rice terraces. While we raise many fruits here in Missouri, citrus isn’t one of them, so we order boxes of high-quality fruits directly from an organic orchard in Texas. The rice and citrus available in our local stores is generally of lower quality, and has passed through many middlemen; direct bulk purchases send more money to the farmers.

Other direct-order foods for us include pecans and wheat berries. If you direct-order in bulk, be sure you have a good way to receive the large packages; no one wants a big bag of wheat berries left out in the rain!

Benefits of Bulk

Our bulk-purchasing system, combined with our home production and farm-sourcing of perishable foods, has allowed us to eliminate “normal” grocery shopping entirely. We figure that we save hours per week by not driving to a store and wandering aisles overstocked with false choices, much less the stress that comes with trying to maintain constant grocery lists. Our waste stream contains minimal food packaging; many of the large bulk bags work great as garbage bags rather than as garbage themselves. The quality of our diet and life is higher, and the greater independence from marketing and shopping fits well in our self-sufficient lifestyle.

Eric Reuter and his wife, Joanna, founded their homestead farm in 2006, within a narrow Ozark-style valley with diverse landscapes and ecosystems. Chert Hollow Farm seeks to integrate food and farming into the ecosystem, at various times managing vegetable & grain crops, perennial fruits, dairy/meat goats, poultry, timber resources, and natural habitats. Read all of Eric's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



7/13/2016

It’s been stinking hot out this last week throughout much of North America. Although we may sweat and curse the hot humid weather, many a vegetable crop is growing like crazy in the heat. This is tomato season!

Cucumbers and bell peppers are also joining the party, and that means it is time to make a batch of gazpacho.

 Marmonde 2014

A giant 12-foot-wide 'Marmonde' heirloom tomato bush from 2014

I never much cared for gazpacho, and that’s probably because I lived in Colorado and Alaska most of my adult life. These are not regions known for great tomatoes. You must have great tomatoes to make great gazpacho.

However, after I tasted gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes like 'Cherokee Purple', 'Brandywine', 'Marmonde' and others from my garden, I realized what I had been missing. Back in Colorado and Alaska, tomatoes were shipped from far away to our grocery stores, but they didn’t taste anything like the tomatoes I grow now or the ones I buy at local farmers markets here in Maryland. This was not a recipe for good gazpacho using travel-weary veggies.

Before the advent of refrigeration and rapid transport, humans ate what the seasons provided. That meant in North America fresh produce like tomatoes, asparagus, stone fruit, etc., were not available in their fresh-picked condition much of the year. In my decades on the planet, I’ve seen more out-of-season fruit and produce show up in my neighborhood grocery store each year as grocers try and tempt us.

 recent harvest

A small but tasty recent harvest

At first, the novelty of buying heirloom tomatoes from California, fresh-picked cherries from Chile, or asparagus from Mexico seemed wonderful. Then, I got to thinking about sticking with local fresh produce and just saying “no” to the stuff from afar.

This is better for the environment, not to mention most of the produce that travels a few miles versus thousands of miles tends to taste better. Tomatoes don’t do very well in transport and are expensive to buy. I’d rather buy good canned tomatoes than crappy fresh tomatoes.

 Gazpacho ingredients

Gazpacho ingredients

With the heat bringing us good home-grown and farmers market tomatoes, it’s time to share my favorite recipe for gazpacho. This was taught to me by my friend Manuel, from Spain. This recipe is easy and delicious. As long as you use good tomatoes, the results should be excellent. 

 gazpacho in blender

Gazpacho Soup Recipe with Heirloom Tomatoes

Serves 8 

Ingredients:

• 3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
• 1/2 yellow onion chopped, about 1/2 cup
• 1 cup peeled and diced cucumber with seeds removed
• 1 cup diced green bell pepper
• 1 medium-sized apple, peeled and diced, I prefer 'Pink Lady' apples but 'Granny Smith' is also a good choice
• 1 clove garlic minced
• 5 Tbsp olive oil, good stuff (not the cheap crap)
• 2-3 Tbsp good quality apple cider vinegar
• 1 slice of bread, cubed (about 1 cup)
• 1 tsp salt

 Gazpacho soup

Directions:

1. Soak bread in water for 5 or more minutes to soften. Drain water off before adding to the blender.

2. If using a blender instead of a food processor, put tomatoes in first to facilitate faster blending, then add rest of the ingredients.

3. If it won’t all fit, blend half for 30 to 60 seconds, and add rest of ingredients.

4. Blend thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your blender. You want it to be smooth.

6. Best if chilled for an hour or 2, but can be eaten right away if needed.

Garnish with avocado or cilantro if desired.

Kurt Jacobsohas been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, TasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


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