July 17, 2009

The Hippest way to spend the day

Rose hips, that is.

This year, our Rosa Rugosa bushes kicked out an incredible number of these gorgeous globs of reddish-orange happiness.
Apparently, all parts of all roses are edible (except, of course, those that have been chemically treated with pesticides and such), including these funny little gifts of fruit.

What's this have to do with the way to spend a day? Well, today is my first day of summer. It's the first day that I'm off of work, the sun is blazing, the garden is booming and I have the entire day to do whatever I please.

So while I sipped on my second cup of morning coffee, I made a do-list of sorts:

And at the top, as you can see, is "make rose hip jam" and tell y'all about it. So I set out to pick the lot of them and get started.

A thorn in my plans?
Every rose has it's thorn?
A thorn by any other name still makes you bleed?
Well, lookout, anyway, when you pick these pretty suckers. I got a little carried away once or twice when I saw a particularly pretty berry and now I have perforated fingers.

I picked a bunch:
They're so pretty!
Next step: process. Rose hips are funny little beings. They have these giant sepals that create a stiff crown at one end, and the other end is where the spikes begin. Both of these have to be removed before you can proceed.
Here are the rose hips floating in rinse water after I sliced off the crowns. 
 Next step: seeds. Not just a few seeds, either. Copious amounts of furry, nasty, inedible and irritating seeds. 
Many sources direct you to cut each rose hip open and manually scrape them all out. But that would literally take you all day for 8 cups of fruit.

For example, these seeds all came out of one fruit:
So I have better way.  Stick the suckers in a blender with a bunch of water (you'll have to do this in batches), blend on low for about 10 seconds or so to chop up the fruits (without chopping the seeds too much) and go check your e-mail.
I mean, do something for a minute or so while the mixture separates out because, viola, the seeds float!
At this stage, you can spoon them off the top. A nice tip is when you're struggling to get the last few seeds, fill the blender to the top with water and scrape them off the surface with your fingers.

I filled this bowl with seeds from all the rose hips:
You can bet that those did not go in my compost pile.

After all that blending and seperating and skimming, you're left with this:

Which you then pour into a pot with the water you used to blend and boil it up for a long time.

Ah! Added bonus. I was hot and inspired, or just perspired, and desired some sweet iced tea. Instead of reaching for the mint tea bags, I took some water from my mixture here, strained off the pulp, sweetened it and poured it over ice. 
So, so good.
Guaranteed to satisfy your thirst and vitamin C requirement for a month.

At some point in all the boiling (after about an hour, I'd say), I added a bunch of sugar and some lemon juice. While that was going, I sterilized my jars
After it got to the jamming stage (a little after this picture was taken) I scooped it into the jars, screwed the lids on tight and processed them in a hot water bath for about 15 minutes.
I didn't add any pectin or gelatin so we'll find out how well it gels, but it sure is pretty!

This process takes a while, so I took advantage of the downtime and baked a loaf of bread to enjoy when the jam cools down. The recipe for this no-knead bread is in my archives.

But I caution you against trying it unless you don't mind gaining 10 pounds in a month. :)

I'll report back when we crack open the first jar!

July 16, 2009

My garlic is so Money!

Remember these?
The other day, curiosity overcame my patience. I had to meet my underground friends that have lived in the front garden since, well, November!

So I dug and dug,

And pulled a little and . . .

It smelled so wonderful!


I dug up the rest (all 11) and now they're drying/curing in the kitchen. 

As a triumphant aside, I went to the Davis Square Farmers Market yesterday and had an experience that thrilled me to my toes. Usually, I walk the aisles of the market and feel a wee bit inadequate because my city-girl produce doesn't often match the pros' goods. Well, that has all changed with this garlic harvest! We blew them away. It would have taken 3 of their bulbs to match even one of ours! Finally, something came out of our ground that I can be really proud of. 

I mention this because on the same day I dug the garlic, I also pulled the a carrot and the beets.

Yah, don't get too excited. They're pretty tiny.

So I sliced them up, sauteed them in some EVOO tossed in the beet greens and served it over proscuitto brown rice and wild salmon garnished with fresh green snap peas.

And look who else came for dinner?

June 22, 2009

It's not the size that counts . . . (well, maybe it is)

We're talking carrots here, people. (But at least they're dirty carrots.)

Last year, as you can see by looking back at some of my old posts, my adventures in growing carrots proved me to be a miserable failure. None - NOT ONE - of my many dozens of carrots of the 4 different crops of carrots topped an inch in length. And the ones that managed to take carrot-ish form were eaten through by ants. 

Pitiful, right?

So this year,  I tried a new approach: plant carrots that are supposed to be short and stubby so I can claim victory no matter what. Meet the Danvers Carrot.

The other morning, I started the day in my favorite way - coffee, husband, garden tour with the sunrise.
(and no makeup)

We wandered over to the front gardens to see what we could see.
(That's Erik, seeing all that he can see.)

And Hark! I spotted something!
A mature carrot?!
So I tugged and tugged and came to an instant conclusion:
 - that I didn't have to tug very hard. Not a good sign.
But it was bigger than an inch and not an ant in sight. So that made me declare a 73% victory.

And then I ate it. It tasted like a carrot. The rest are still in the ground. I'm aiming for a 100% victory in one week. Set your watches!