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Hot And Spicy In The Kitchen: Making Horseradish

Hot And Spicy In The Kitchen: Making Horseradish


The Finished Jar of Homemade Horseradish

At the farmer’s market this morning, I bought a large root of horseradish. Actually, I only bought half of the piece, because it didn’t smell that spicy, and I was worried it would be too mild. Isn’t it lovely?

Making ground horseradish is pretty important for our winter’s diet. The spicy oomph that it brings to the heavier dishes, can’t be beat. Even the kids like it mixed with mashed potatoes or to make a spicy dip for fries. For our family, having 4 jars of this condiment is a must have.

The strange thing about horseradish, is that it loses its flavor when cooked, so I can’t seal the jars. Although they are not sealed, it stays fresh and delicious just sitting in the back of my fridge.

To make horseradish yourself, find a fat root of it at the market:

 

 

After washing (it can be pretty dirty), peel the skin and ends.

Chunk it up and place into a food processor, with a pinch of salt and 1/8 cup of white vinegar.

Blend until smooth.

 

WARNING: After blending, keep your face away from the top as you open it. The fumes are very strong. Then, place in your canning jar with a lid and band. Place in fridge to store.

 

For more info on horseradish,

Horseradish also makes a fantastic flu tonic

A post I did for EarthEats.org

 

 

Strange Days On The Farm

Strange Days On The Farm

Goldenrod

Goldenrod with plenty of bee action

DH just mowed down the last of what was supposed to be our garden this year. I managed to keep it for a few extra weeks, because although the squash plants didn’t give us any veg, it was a haven for the bees, so I didn’t have the heart to get rid of the blossoming plants.

Our farm is so strange right now. We live in the ~in between~, of packing and thinking of moving, and the actual moving. Instead of filling my pantry with every available food from the garden and wild, I am trying to use up the foods that we do have stored (you know, the pickles that are a little mushy, the less desirable meats that end up in the bottom of the deep freeze). It is not the bustling kitchen that I am normally experiencing, and that is sad.

Now, I worry about NOT selling the farm before winter, and how our diet is going to be affected by not having a large stash of foods available. The rising cost of food isn’t really that worrisome, since the things most affected are not even on our menu. In my opinion, flour-sugar-yeast-beans-etc, may cost a bit more, but they still stretch much further than a box of Hamburger Helper; which I was shocked to see priced at $2.50 the other day, as a loss leader no less!! Scary stuff.

Right now, we haunt the local farmers markets and enjoy all the fresh, local foods we can. I believe frozen food is going to be more important for us this winter, as it is always less expensive. Oh well, at least my creativity will get a workout!

No matter what is going on during in our personal lives, the herbal stash grows. Right now, I am harvesting Goldenrod for winter cold and flu season. There seems to be plenty blooming, and it’s early. Hopefully, that doesn’t indicate more illness than normal this year. Either way, it sure is pretty.

If you are following the seasons for your pantry, now is the time to make some Sauerkraut. Actually all the veg could use a little fermenting, but start simple if you are new at it. Remember how stinky it gets! Don’t keep it right in the kitchen if you can help it.

Have a good day, and look for me on Twitter and Facebook!

Eat Local: Really Local

After enjoying one last Food Preservation class at our local community college, I started to really think about the idea of eating local.  For many of us that is easy to do in thesummer. We all know about farmers markets and the like. Even walmart isoverflowing with so called local produce.
I am talking about digging a little deeper (no pun intended), and try to eat seasonally all year round. 
Despite what you may think, thewinter has plenty of variety for cooking. Root vegetables have  beentucked away in the yukky veg category and that’s too bad. They have a naturalsweetness that is enhanced after a cold spell. They keep well and are flavorfulas well as colorful. I like to use winter squashes as sweet ingredients and allof them pair well with maple syrup-a warming, winter sweet. I also use them as a side dish. Rich in Vitamin A, they can certainly add a nice dose of flavor to a heavier winter meal. I make roasted or even fried winter squash fries and chips. They taste better than white potatoes, and the family asks for them now. Try making Homefries with half winter squash and half white potatoes, along with your onions. Really delicious!
You can use the things you stored from the summer, combined with winter offerings, and have a full range of foods ready tobe eaten. I will never forget the discussion I had with a conceited person inthe Ag business who told me he had the right to eat whatever he wanted, wheneverhe wanted. I asked him what made him so special and he replied that it was hisright..His Right.
So the people who don’t have the money to eat tomatoes inDecember, don’t have that right? Ghaaa…some peole need a good smack with aturnip. That’s all I have for tonight. I get too worked up about elitism whenthere are hungry children in my own town who watch the corn trucks drive by, heading to the ethanol plant. 
Do you use your local vegetables all year? What do you eat in the winter? Share in the comments! 

What Is That Smell – Homemade Sauerkraut


When people find out that I have gurgling vats of fermented things in my kitchen, the first things they say involve safety and food poisoning. I think there is a  misconception that aging food or fermenting food equates rotting food. Although fermented food is aging, I like to think of its as aging with style. What I mean, is that fermenting is controlled decaying of the food you start with, into a completely different food, that is healthy for different reasons.
My advice to anyone trying to eat fermented foods is to start slow. A tablespoon of real sauerkraut alongside a richer food, like a piece of beef, will not only benefit the flavor of the dish, the sauerkraut will help your body digest the meat itself.  Possibly, there is nothing valid in this, but it’s how I think.
If you ferment, there are some things you should know.
1. Fermenting is bubbly, smelly and sometimes kind of creepy.
2. Fermented food has a tingly feeling on your tongue and many times a natural carbonation. It’s yummy, but weird if you don’t expect it.
3. Your family and friends will think something has dies or gone terribly wrong in your kitchen if you even dream of letting a vat of sauerkraut work on the counter.
4. Once you start to like fermented food, you will begin to crave it. I think that is a basic and natural part of us being human.
If you want to get started with fermenting, its not hard. Try to make something easy, like sauerkraut
You need:
Cabbage
Salt
Glass jar to make it in
Something to seal out the air, like a bag filled with water that will squeeze down onto the top of the cabbage and keep it under the brine.
Shred cabbage fine and place a layer in the glass jar.
Sprinkle canning salt over it
Mash down cabbage as you go, to sort of bruise it and help release the juice.
Repeat until jar is full, with juice covering the cabbage
Fill bag with water, seal and press that onto the top of the shredded cabbage, salt,juice layer.
Every other day, remove bag, clean off scum that formed on the bag and the top of the liquid if any. Check that cabbage is under the liquid at all times. Add salty brine to keep it that way if needed.
Wait for a couple of weeks and your sauerkraut is done. Don’t leave it in the main part of your kitchen or it will smell unholy-this is good and means its working but your friends and family will not understand. Enjoy!

The Farming Wife Plays With Jars

Our garden overfloweth. I love this time of year; feeling slightly overwhelmed each time I go out and harvest what is ready to go from the garden. Too much for one meal, I have to stop the world and get things processed. For instance, last night I brought in:

 This in my huge stockpot
And these in another stockpot
 Finally, these in a canning pot
I ended up with plenty of veggies for the day, so I made  6 pints of salsa and another batch of tomato sauce.  I froze the sauce to be quick about it, ending up with  9 quart bags – 3 cups in each one. There are still plenty of veggies left for snacking and making sandwiches with,  not to mention that the garden will be ready to pick again in two days.  Beans and zucchini are up next. Yum!