Welcome to One-Quarter Acres

Here's a chronicle of life on a plot of land right smack in the suburbs in Minnesota, whose owners would much prefer to be in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting in the swing of CSA things

We're trying the CSA thing again this year, after trying Harmony Valley Farm a couple of years ago and finding it not quite what we wanted (great communication and produce and a wonderful fruit share, but too much variety and too many exotic things). This year we've chosen Treasured Haven Farm. It's much closer to the Cities, so maybe we'll have the opportunity to visit this year, and it offered a dropsite very close to our house. Unfortunately, that dropsite didn't work out, but Peg at Treasured Haven switched us to another without a problem.

We had many, many weeks of not much but lettuce, and a lot of it went to waste. We're just not big salad people. But now the produce season is kicking into full gear in Minnesota, and we've had a few weeks of the most delicious potatoes ever, cucumbers, zucchini/squash, and finally tomatoes (and amazing tomatoes they are).

I tried a new potato salad recipe and was very pleased with the results. My usual potato salad is the normal celery-and-onions-and-mustard-and-mayo fare, but lacking celery and being awash in cucumbers, I needed an alternative. This is a keeper.


Cucumber potato salad
Found here. Without the cucumbers it would taste very much like German potato salad for a lot less effort (and vegetarian, too).
1 English cucumber, sliced paper thin
2 pounds Austrian crescent or other fingerling potatoes (I used red potatoes)
Pinch caraway seeds (If you don't have these, leave them out; I didn't notice a huge difference in flavor)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon canola or sunflower seed oil (I left this out)
2 tablespoons sour cream, crème fraîche or plain yogurt, optional (I used yogurt)
  1. Put cucumber slices in bowl, toss with 2 teaspoons salt, and set aside.
  2. Put potatoes in saucepan, cover with water, add generous pinch salt and caraway, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are just tender. Drain, peel, and slice into a bowl while still warm. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a saucepan, bring stock and onion to a simmer. Add to potatoes, and toss gently until silky and lightly thickened. Fold in mustard, vinegar and oils.
  4. Drain cucumbers well, squeezing out excess liquid. Fold cucumbers into potato salad. Add more salt, pepper and vinegar if needed. Add sour cream, crème fraîche or yogurt if wanted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This is what you do with 44 pounds of apricots.

Seven quarts of canned apricots, not well packed.

Nine pints of canned apricots, packed somewhat better.

Seven pints of apricot syrup (one went home with my dad).

13 half-pints of apricot jam, 11 that were actually canned; the rest went into the fridge because I ran out of rings.

Several jars of jam have been given away already. It is delicious, and I'd share the recipe but I - *gasp!* - didn't really use one. I tried out Ball's liquid pectin but used a lot less sugar than called for, because I like my jam to taste like fruit, with a bit of tartness. And guess what? It jelled just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I'm happy to report that I used every last bit of those suckers, aside from about 10 lost to spoilage and three (*sob*) batches of fruit leather (using this recipe lost to rain. I was being all smug and green and thought, "Oh, I could HARNESS THE POWER OF THE SUN to dry this fruit leather!" And then it went from sunny to downpour and the fruit leather went into the trash.

For those of you interested in using every last bit of your apricots, I suggest this method:
  • Make yourself some jam.
  • Start canning fruit. Stop after the quarts because you realize using your new, fancy pressure cooker takes a heck of a lot time than you thought. Put leftover fruit in the fridge, along with the syrup.
  • Two days later, when you finally have time and you realize that if you do not can the rest now they will spoil and it will be a huge waste of money and you will not have delicious-tasting apricots to crack open mid-winter, dump the leftover fruit and syrup into the pan to heat while you cut up whatever remains of the non-overripe fruit. Lament that there is any overripe fruit.
  • Can pints of fruit, taking only the ones that haven't disintegrated.
  • Realize that you could make fruit leather with the overripe stuff. Rejoice that you had overripe fruit.
  • Throw the rest of the fruit into the pot with the fruit unworthy of canning. Add some lemon juice. Take out smooshed fruit and blend, getting hot fruit puree all over yourself only twice (out of three times).
  • Realize you still have a lot of stuff in that there pot. Decide to make syrup. Throw more sugar in, and some corn syrup for good measure. Blend the rest of it together and can it.
  • Sit back smugly. And wonder what the heck you'll do with all this apricot stuff.
A big THANK YOU to Amy at Crazy Boy Farm, who organized this fruit purchase. She's taking orders for peaches, pears, apples, and nectarines, which will be delivered in a couple of weeks. Please contact her if you're in the Twin Cities area and want to order. I'm getting two cases each of peaches and pears. I am crazy. The fruit will be crazy delicious.


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