There’s a heat wave in Los Angeles, and honestly it’s nothing compared to the heat we just experienced in Florida. David and I didn’t even run the air conditioning, and had the oven on all day, so you know it wasn’t that bad where we live. We usually get a breeze blowing through the house, until the wind shifts in late summer and the Santa Ana’s arrive. August is usually when we run the air conditioning, and many houses in LA don’t even have it!
Dave and I spent the better part of Friday and Saturday preparing food to bring to a food swap! I’ll write a separate post about that, as we just returned and we’re very excited about how it went! But first, here’s what we prepped to bring with us.
Roasted tomatoes (recipe linked in last post, but here it is again.)
We slow roasted our small harvest of three types of tomatoes, and I’m looking forward to doing it again later this week (after it cools off).
We’ve never grown the Jaune Flamme tomatoes before and they’re already a favorite! They are fairly uniform in size, a rich color and just the right combination of seed and meat. Our plant has giant clusters of them weighing it down. Actually, I’m going to run outside and pick a few right now, as I’m getting hungry for some!
The Indigo Rose are so purple! These all seemed a bit mealy or underripe. Roasting them should make their flavor more intense, which they’ll probably benefit from. We’re hoping these are tasty enough to be salad tomatos, and maybe part of the trick is learning what color they’re supposed to be when it’s harvest time.
The San Marzanos are weird to slice. The ratio of meat to seed was weird and I had a hard time making it even while slicing. This heirloom isn’t designed for slicing- it’s a beauty of a sauce tomato. The fruit also had lots of caterpillar holes, and I remember cutting out a lot of spots last year. In the past, we have made sauce, dehydrated, and roasted them. We just finished the roasted tomatos from our freezer; we have a few of the dehydrated ones left.
We had a full tray of jaune flamme, and half a tray each of indigo rose and San Marzano. Before the trays went in the oven, I brushed them with lots of olive oil and sprinkled them with salt, thyme sprigs and whole garlic cloves. They looked so beautiful when they went in. I thought I took a picture, but I can’t find it.
The tomatoes were roasted at 250 for 5 hours. We then let them cool a little, packed the different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, in thick layers, adding garlic, thyme, and fresh basil in between the layers.
I then added a teaspoon of lemon juice and filled the jar with olive oil. We processed it in our canner for the time in the recipe (I never seem to remember numbers).
I was actually kind of sad to bring these to the food swap, because I really wanted to keep them. But then I was excited that other people get to eat these, and we get to make more for ourselves! The idea of the food swap is to bring stuff we made or grew, and then trade it for things that other people made. Since we have such a variety of produce to use, our strategy was to bring a small amount of a wide variety of items.
While David was at the store picking up ingredients for the baking of our giant zucchini and leftover bag of carrots, I prepped all of the pickling things. I measured out how many spears or disks would fit in each jar, and decided on the amount and type of jar. We decided on one jar dilly beans, four jars dill pickle spears, 4 jars bread and butter disks.
This was a great first use of our new canner and canning tools.
Last summer, after the frustrating experience of canning tomato sauce without any tools, we decided that we needed to buy a canning kit. David and I picked one up a few weeks ago, as well as two boxes of jars. The first day of canning was something that we were excited to do and knew we would have time for during summer vacation. David and I took turns using each type of jar grip, and the magnetic lid grabber.
Each pickle was made a different way. The bread and butter pickles were boiled together in the brine for 10 minutes. We followed the Ball Blue Book recipe.
The bread and butter pickles are on the left. I was never a huge bread and butter fan until I had fresh bread and butter zucchini pickles in Vermont. Lisa, the owner of the farm that I worked on, made the best zucchini pickles and I 15 years later I still salivate at the thought of them.
On the right are the dill pickle spears. We used the Ball Blue Book, and added the seasoning for Kosher style pickles. I must say, I didn’t realize that Kosher style involved simply adding garlic, mustard seed and a bay leaf. I was surprised because I’ve always thought all dill pickles include these things. Also, the Ball Book didn’t mention a blessing or cleanliness or any of the other Kosher rules.
We also made one mini jar of dilly beans. I used powdered cayenne, forgetting that we have a cayenne pepper plant (and that there were probably more ripe after I did my initial harvest). The dilly beans were out of the Blue Book also and contained a mix of about six different varieties of beans.
After we finished processing all of the jars, we put away the canner and called it a day.
Day two, Saturday, was for baking.
David got out the food processor and shredded carrots for about 10 minutes. Then he switched to zucchini. He shredded the entire 4 lb one. Each of the piles filled a large bowl.
We made double recipe carrot cake and triple recipe double chocolate zucchini bread.
I’m fast forwarding the description of baking. David and I worked together to measure, mix, clean, scoop, bake and test the cakes. At the end of the day, we had 4 large carrot cakes, 2 small carrot cakes, 4 large chocolate zucchini and 6 small chocolate zucchini breads. These would be our main “money” at the food swap.