Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Ode to the Farmers Market

It's been a bit quiet over here on the blog front, lately. I've been quiet here, but busy at home. I've spent most weekends canning my heart out trying to capture the freshness of summer. I'm pretty lucky that I live just a block or so from the farmers market. It's great because I can just roll out of bed and walk over there first thing as they're opening. It's not quite as busy at 9am, which is nice. There are also a few things that always sell out pretty much immediately so getting to the market early is in your best interest if you're looking for something like dill heads or green tomatoes or sometimes strawberries.

dill pickles, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, chinese plum sauce, vanilla peaches, cinnamon pears, whole canned heirloom tomatoes, tarragon mustard and bourbon brown sugar mustard

The jars in the cabinet in the background are just my rice and dried beans and grains and nuts and things. The stuff on the table (minus 3 jars that I gave to a friend the day before) was all canned in one weekend. There are actually 3 more large jars that you can't see. I have a huge stack of boxes of jars on the floor from all of the canning I've been doing this year. I've been giving stuff away and trading jars with friends, but it's still starting to take over the house. I need to get a cabinet to put all of this stuff in so it's not just stacked up on the floor.

I have plans to highlight a few individual things that I've made during October's Vegan MoFo. I'm quite looking forward to opening some of the jars and trying what's inside. A few things I've made have been things I've made before and some have been made for the first time.

This cucumber... well... I don't even really know what to say about it. I get a good giggle when vegetables and fruits have a strange shape or try to grow a second one of themselves, but this one... Hmmm. I think this cucumber was a bit too excited to become a pickle.

Garlic is one of my favorite things. I put it in everything. Usually if a recipe says to put 3 cloves of garlic in, I'm pretty sure they really mean 6-7 cloves so that's what I do. This giant garlic bulb made my day. I ended up roasting it and putting it in some roasted garlic and sage bread that I made. Delicious. I realized a couple of years ago that I'd never actually had fresh garlic before. When it's newly picked, it's so juicy and crisp, it's incredible. I think we're going to try and grow some of our own garlic for next year because I get so excited about it. I can't wait!

This huge box of strawberries was actually a spur of the moment purchase. I was thinking about making jam or something and then saw one stand that had this one huge box of strawberries left. When they told me that these berries had been picked the day before, how could I resist? I started out making jam with these, but it didn't quite set like I wanted so I decided it was strawberry sauce instead. Put a banana in a bowl with some vanilla coconut milk ice cream and then top it with that strawberry sauce and you have instant awesome. Sometimes when things don't turn out the way you expected, it's a blessing in disguise.

Okay, so the onions weren't from the farmers market, but the garlic and peppers are! (Do you see that crazy red pepper in the front middle?) I love the way sofrito flavors things so I decided to make a bunch and can it. I was clearly out of my mind. I ended up buying about twice as much of everything that I meant to. That happens when everything is so fresh and awesome, sometimes. Well, that just means I'll have sofrito for quite a while.

What is sofrito, you ask? I'll do a post on it soon. I discovered it from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan!. I don't want to eat beans without it anymore.

Yes, that is two large pots full of chopped onions. 10 pounds of onions to be precise. I have no idea how I did that in one sitting. (Well, actually I was standing, but still.) It's definitely something to be proud of living through.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eggplant Bacon

Okay, so it doesn't really taste like bacon, but it's pretty good all the same. I've been intrigued with the Eggplant Bacon recipe in Appetite for Reduction for a while now. I just kept forgetting to buy eggplant or I'd have tried it a while back. You end up with this nicely flavored roasted eggplant that goes really well on salads or sandwiches. We put it on a salad this first time but then there was leftover so we just kept eating it off the plate. I think it's the liquid smoke that's the secret.


 It's still gorgeous summer weather out here right now so I'm thinking there will be a few more lunches and dinners like this one. If you can stand turning your oven on for the time it takes to bake the eggplant, I think this is something that would go well with all sorts of things. You could maybe make it early in the morning when it's not so hot yet if the heat is an issue. Eggplant Bacon is super easy to make. You just slice up some eggplant, mix together the marinade, dip the eggplant in the marinade and bake it. Easy peasy. Even better - even some of our omnivore friends loved it.