Archive for the ‘Organic food’ Category

July Can Jam – Zesty Zucchini Relish

Cooking in the pot.

Cucurbits.  They are some of my favorite things.  I remember lovely watermelon rind preserves from my childhood.  I thought that would be good to make.  My mother never would make them.  She said they were too much trouble.  When faced with the reality, the thought of peeling and chopping all that watermelon suddenly made me understand how she felt.

Zucchini Relish.  That sounded yummy to me.  All the vegetables, except the onion and carrots were grown in my yard.  I found the recipe in Well Preserved by Mary Ann Dragan.  If you only knew what I’ve been through this past week, you’d be amazed that I did this at all.  But in an effort to restore a sense of normalcy to my life, I set about to grate and chop a bunch of veggies into a tasty, spicy treat.  I have already eaten a big spoonful on my purple hull peas and it is very good.  So here goes with the recipe:

  • 6 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 – 3 finely chopped, seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups herb vinegar
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp, each, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry English mustard

Combine the vegetables and pickling salt in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Cover with ice and let sit in refrigerator overnight. 

The next day, prepare the preserving jars.  Drain the vegetables, rinse well and squeeze out, using cheesecloth lined colander. 

Combine sugar and 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and spices in preserving pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir in the drained vegetables.  Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.  In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and mustard.  Pour in the remaining half cup of vinegar and stir ’til smooth.  Pour into relish.  Cook another 5 minutes, stirring, until liquid thickens.

Remove from heat.  Spoon into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Wipe the rims and put tops on jars.  Process in hot water bath 15 minutes.  Makes 4 pint jars.

I love the color.


Can Jam Strawberries


Well, it turned out more like Strawberry Syrup than Jam, but it tastes really good and I think pancakes with Strawberry Balsamic Syrup will be delicious.  The vinegar adds a really nice layer of flavor.  The strawberries were locally grown and organic.  The process went quite smoothly, but one thing I would do differently is to crush the berries.  The recipe never says to do that and so they really float in the syrup.  I hope the challenge for next month will be something. . . . . oh, I don’t know; they say you should be careful what you wish for.  I’ll just wait and see.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

from Eugenia Bone’s Well-Preserved

  • 8 cups washed and hulled Strawberries
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Pour the strawberries into a large, deep, heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Once the strawberries are boiling, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved.  The sugar tends to burn on the bottom, so keep it moving until it is thoroughly dissolved.  Bring to a boil and then add the butter.  (The addition of butter keeps the foam volume down.)  Turn the heat down to medium low and boil the jam gently for 40 minutes, until thickened to a loose, soft jam.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Pour into half pint jars and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. 

Jars of Jam.

June in the Garden

Sorry I have been missing in action.  Things have been crazy around my house and it is time for Summer Reading Club at work.  By the time I get through one of those days, I am exhausted.  But my garden has been growing with or without me.  I went out this morning and made some pictures that I would like to share. 

Sungold tomatoes almost ripe.

The tomato jungle in front of the porch.

Basil in the herb garden.

A cucurbit that volunteered under the blueberries.

This is what the fruit looks like. I think it is a butternut squash.


One ripe blackberry.


Amish Paste Tomatoes.

Baby Pears

Swiss Chard

Black Mission Figs.

The original three beds of my garden with peppers in the front, squash in the middle and okra in the back bed.

Pesticides on your food.

Find out what's on your food at:

There’s more stuff in the news every day about the effects of pesticides in our foods.  The website above tells you what is on all kinds of foods.  The information comes from research studies and government data.  It is at least a starting place that may convince you to try to eat as organically as possible.  My husband has type 1 diabetes and Addison’s disease, both of which are auto-immune diseases in which particular hormone systems are being destroyed.  I don’t know, but I suspect that a lifetime of eating foods sprayed with hormone disruptors might have something to do with this.  So if you want to know as well as possible what is on your food, check out the website and also look at to find sources of local organic food in your area.  Just click on the map and it will zoom in on your area.