Saturday, September 12, 2009

Best Recipe EVER

as long as you are trying to feed a large army...and need to run the jeeps off methane.

I think I mentioned this one before but I don't think I had the recipe on me.

This black bean soup recipe is on the label from some canned tomatoes I bought in Plummer, local store brand.
It claims to serve 8 (eight). Those must be some BIG people. Here are the "ingredients" (almost all canned)

3 cups chopped onion
2 T olive oil
8 cloves of garlic (that's 1 clove per person)
2 cups chopped bell pepper
1 can (28oz.) diced tomatoes with liquid
3 t cumin
2 cans (14.5oz) chicken broth
8 cans (15oz) black beans, drained and rinsed (that is ONE CAN per person!)
1/2 c red wine vinegar
Sour cream

Heat oil in a large, deep, sauce pan. Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer 10minutes.
Serve garnished with sour cream.

Well, it's fast. And easy. And, given the sodium content of the ingredients, salty.
And there are approximately 30 cups of soup produced. At 4 cups per quart...that is 7.5 quarts which is 1.75 GALLONS of soup. Wow.
Serves 8. Almost 4 cups per serving! I'm guessing there won't be many takers for dessert.

It's not that I don't make a couple of gallons of soup at a crack, but I start with a recipe for less than one gallon and it grows. If I started with a 2 gallon recipe I'd be making soup in my canner...both canners.

Speaking of bean soup. I bought a couple pounds of soup beans a while back. If I double that recipe...I won't have to cook again until spring.

Friday, September 11, 2009

200+ Posts

Well, it seems that either this or one of the recent posts is number 200. If it were a sitcom someone would celebrate it and there would be a catered lunch.

But, it's a blog and I'm posting on dial-up so there won't be much.

I haven't done movies lately so I thought I'd give a couple of the good one's I've seen lately:

The Window 2007. Obscure Argentinian film (as opposed to the mainstream US box office hits coming out of Argentina I guess). An old fart at a ranch has had a health crisis and is in bed, looking out a window and talking to the remaining staff. It's better than it sounds. It's really quite good.

Pushing Daisies which is a TV series, not a movie. Also quite good. I must give credit, Angela recommended this in her Christmas card last year and I didn't get around to it until now.

Clatterford Series 2. Another series, this one is British. If you haven't seen series 1, then watch that first. It's about the ladies group in a small town. Hilarious! Both of the chicks from AbFab are in it, though not the leads.

The Cooler. I'd tell you the year but it's in the player right now. William H. Macy plays a "cooler"...someone who brings bad luck to gamblers in Las Vegas. Hijinks don't exactly ensue. Alec Baldwin plays a violent creep. I don't think it's much of a stretch for him so he does pretty well. Not something for the kids though.

Most of the other films I've been watching are alarmingly depressing (as I like them), so I won't recommend them to others.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plum Sauce, Plum Jam, Plum Jelly, Plum Cocktail, Popcorn Plums, Plum Scampi, ...

OK, the title is a bit of a reach. Supposed to be a reference to Forrest Gump (when the other guy was listing all of the kinds of shrimp).

ANYWAY: 33 more jars of plum products today AND I still have a big colander full of lovely pink plums that I haven't used yet. There were 4 or 5 colors of plums (purple, gold, pink, red...there might be more but I'm tired) and I wanted to use each one and see how it goes.

My pitter is dead so I've been cooking them down a bit, squishing through a colander, and using a paring knife to pull out the pits from the mush. Combine the juice and the mush and voila! Jam base.

I got tired of picking pits on the 2nd load of gold plums and gave up. I poured the lot into a bit of cheese cloth and made jelly. If I were a good and frugal person, I would have taken the pits out of the plum mush and made it into plum butter. Too tired. I'll put it in the compost and plant some of the pits.

The red...ah, the 5th color, plums were reduced to plum butter. Partly because I'm running out of jars! I put in some raw, organic hawaiian honey that a friend gave me for babysitting her dog (Romney...he's been in the blog before). It isn't very sweet still, but the color is amazing. More of that fuscia. Same color I got mixing red and pink plums for a previous batch of jam. I wanted to spice the plum butter, but I forgot spices at the co-op, and here in town they only have the over priced little bottles. I just could NOT spend 12$ for two little bottles. Plain butter it is. There are 7 8oz jars and one I said, running out of jars. Next year I may just put the jam in quarts.

I'll let you know how the jelly turns out. It's my first attempt at jelly and it was born of typical of me.

Now that I know you can make jelly and butter out of one effort (thanks to a book on wild fruit gathering I got from Jeanne...HI Jeanne!) I'm going to try it with crab apples next weekend or the weekend after. Some should be ready then.

There are also recipes for rosehips conserve and other lovely things.

This year, I'm not buying any fruit...must all be gathered by hand. As a result, there is less variety. No marmalade....since there are no wild (or even feral) citrus trees around here.

All that jamming/jellying/buttering (just canning the butter, it had been reducing in the crockpot for a day and a half...lid askew...worked like a charm as it did not scorch) started at about 6pm today. 33 jars in 5.5hours (add 2 hours for processing the plums for the butter so I guess that is 7.5 hours). If you figure 5$ per jar for good organic jam/jelly/butter (which is LOW...especially when one jar is a full pint) and I'm getting 33 jars. That's 165$ minus the jars, lids, pectin and sugar (the honey was free) and a bit for the electricity to heat the water for washing everything, and for running the stove top to cook the jam and run the canner (I only boiled the plum better, everything else was done by flipping the jars fine). So, sugar for tonight was about 4$. The jars this evening were high as I was almost totally out of reusable jars (damn those coworkers who don't return jars) and were 15$. Pectin is 2.15$/pack and used 2 packs so that is $4.30. I've used 4 new lids this evening which is about 50cents or so. Say the electric will cost me like 1$ (it's hydroelectric and cheap in dollars even if pretty expensive for the environmental effects on the river). I get 24.80$ as my cash outlay for the evening (god...what would that have been for the 15 pounds of plums I got free?).

ANYWAY: that leaves: 165 - 24.80 = 141.20(savings over buying jam) / 7.5(hours) = $18.83/hour for my efforts. And of course that is tax free.

IF I had a working pitter...especially one of those that you crank or just hit repeatedly while cherries (or plums...these are about the size of cherries) I could process them MUCH MUCH quicker and up my hourly thrifty activities savings rate.

I used my little handheld plastic pitter the first time I jammed plums this year and it, along with my hand, died. My hand is getting better but the pitter is not.
SOMEONE (Hi Sher and Pam) could get me a very cool pitter for christmas....that would be awesome.

Anyway, after tomorrow, these plums will be gone. Hopefully the crabapples and other apples will be ready next week. I hope I don't have to drive somewhere to get jars. I hate that. I have some pints. But that seems like a whole lot of apple butter especially when I haven't made it before and it might be crap.

There are more plums...and some service berries. But I need to let them go. The berries are a bit past their prime and well, 73 jars of plum stuff plus however many I get out of the last batch should be enough.

I also have several quart jars of dried sweet cherries and some sweet cherry leather so I'll have some variety this winter. And a bit of huckleberry jam but that will probably be mostly for christmas presents to the aunts (sorry to ruin the surprise!) Next year I need to be more aware of what's in season and less occupied with other things.

Perhaps next year I'll grow cucumbers and can try pickles too. They can't suck more than the spiced crabapples. Those stank it up. Apologies to anyone who got them as a gift and tried to eat them. Maybe you could shove them down gopher holes or something.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Smuggling Plums

Well, not so much smuggling as mixing with sugar and putting in jars.
I got purple and yellow wild (at least feral) plums and have been jamming for a day and a half. They are yummy. (Warning to Gary Hawbaker: SOUR is in the title for a reason.) I had some of each color left over and did a mixed batch. It is gorgeous! Fuschia or heliotrope. And sweeter as I used the full sugar recipe. I usually use the half sugar recipe. I'll try to put in photos but I'm on dial up so it will have to be in another entry.

There are tons more plums so I might try some plum butter. The jam is good thinned on angel food cake, as the jam between two layers of spice cake, in muffins, etc. I like it on toast too. Those of you (GARY) who like sweet sweet industrial jam will not like it so don't eat it. Stick with your smuckers.

I pickled some a few years ago but frankly didn't like the texture. Gritty. Same with the crab apples I tried to pickle. Yuck. If anyone knows how to make these things not gritty, please let me know.

I also made cookies today. I have too much stuff in the cupboard am and trying to use it up rather than buy more food. Cookies are good. Oatmeal cookies. Mostly I was trying to figure out what to bring to a bbq tomorrow and I didn't want to buy something crap to take so I made oatmeal cookies.

I've sorted through most of the crap from the move out of the apartment and back into one single residence (so so nice to walk to work again rather than drive and hour and 15 minutes). Hopefully I can maintain the sorting habit and keep chucking stuff I don't need or use.

OK, time to finish watching a video and hit the fart sack