The Dark Days Of Winter

Hello there old friend! I know I haven’t been posting as much lately, but sadly fall and winter isn’t exactly prime gardening time. However, fear not, I have some canning and cooking-related posts bubbling up to a nice boil and I will be focusing on those two areas as the days get shorter.

In other news, The Meat Hook, a new butcher that is housed with The Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, recently opened up and since it is right around the corner from me I decided to stop by and see what all the fuss was about. I am sort of spoiled in that I live in a neighborhood with quite a few butchers, bakeries and fish mongers, so I was surprised when I heard about a new “celebrity” restaurant-linked butcher shop (the butcher is run by ex-Marlow and Sons/Diner people) opening up in the area. A few months I ago I was disappointed with one of the other butcher shops near me when I went to go buy chicken and all they had was Perdue chicken breasts the size of a small lap dog. I’m not a foodie-snob by any means but come on: if I wanted Perdue chicken I would just go to the supermarket. I stopped by The Meat Hook to have a peek and was very pleased by their selection and service, so go there! Go now! Go MEAT!

Anyways, getting back to what was the real point of this rambling tale, I noticed that in The Brooklyn Labs section of the store that they had an amazing selection of home brewing ingredients and equipment. I have very little experience with home brewing but I was thinking about reading up on it and writing about it on this blog as a way to make up for my lack of gardening posts. So, once I get the guts (and funds) to buy some brewing equipment, expect to see some brewing-related posts.

Also: The Brooklyn Labs was pretty cool although it looked like it still was under construction. They had some bulk items, cheese and milk, some basic veggies and lots of strange and wonderful spices (although I still couldn’t find Dill seed, which I have been searching for since this summer when I was making pickles). If you live in Williamsburg you should definitely check it out.

Making And Canning Apple Butter, A Step-By-Step Guide

applebutter6 Apple butter is one of those items that just signal fall to me. They are a little thicker and spicier than their cousin, apple sauce, but you can use apple butter in a variety of ways. Fruit “butters” are really just thick fruit jams, often made with stone fruits or other fruits that you don’t often see in jam version. However, a “butter” is not a jam, it is much more concentrated and requires a long time of boiling the fruit down to make a thick butter. In the end, all that time is worth it because you can use your butter in a variety of ways. I like to put apple butter on bread with figs, goat cheese and baby greens to make a quick, sweet sandwich. You can also put apple butter on bread or mix it up with actual butter and maybe add a pinch of caraway seed to spread on home-made biscuits. (The Roebling Tea Room, a popular restaurant in Brooklyn, make a version of this butter/apple butter mix and it is a-ma-zing.) After the jump, I will take you through the process of both making and canning apple butter.
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Gourmet Magazine The Latest Victim Of The Dying Print Media Industry

gourmetmagazineCondé Nast announced today that they would be folding Gourmet magazine, the nearly seventy-year-old food and recipe monthly. It is a sad day for food-lovers everywhere, myself included. Gourmet has a long and rich history and is a very well-respected magazine in the food world. It’s folding has shocked quite a few people, most of whom thought that CN would close the younger Bon Apetit over Gourmet. While the choice of magazine to fold does shock me, I can’t say that I am too surprised that food magazine are beginning to feel the brunt end of the great print media die-off. For one, food blogs have been increasing in popularity over the past few years, drawing higher influence and an increased amount of readers. As food blogs like Eater and The Kitchn have gained popularity, magazines like Gourmet have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. As food blogs have gained popularity they have also drawn the attention of advertisers. We don’t live in the dark ages of online advertising anymore, large companies aren’t afraid to advertise on established blogs and technology has allowed advertisers to track the effectiveness of their online ads. Sadly, this means that a lot of great magazines have been badly hurt by the drop in readers and the drop in advertisers. Hopefully, some day Gourmet can come back and regain its status as the best food magazine.

Late Summer And Early Fall Canning Ideas

peachesinseasonWell, the height of summer is finally over and the farmer’s market is starting to swell up more each day with more and more produce. That means that we are starting to look into late summer and early fall canning items. Want to know what is in season and perfect for canning this month? Find out more, including canning recipes, after the jump!
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Canning Class With Eugenia Bone? Yes Please!

wellpreservedboneHey New Yorkers! Eugenia Bone, author of Well-Preserved (a.k.a, one of my favorite preserving books) is teaching a class on pressure canning in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on September 14th! Everything about this would be perfect for me since I love Eugenia Bone and canning and I live quite close to The Brooklyn Kitchen, the store where the class is taking place. Sadly, I do not have the funds to take the class (it is $65) and I am pretty sure I already have another class planned for that night. Oh well, that just means I get to pass on the information to you, so go and sign up for it! Afterward, you can email me and tell me all about the class and how wonderful it is to pressure can fresh tuna.

How To Properly (And Organically) Attack Powdery Mildew

powderymildew2Now that it was warming up and the bugs were starting to drift off, I thought my garden would be drama free for the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, I was in for a surprise: powdery mildew! I have a few squash plants growing in my garden: zucchini, pumpkin and butternut squash but a few weeks ago I started to notice white powdery spots on the leaves of my zucchini which quickly started to multiply and spread to my pumpkin and butternut plants. Oh no! Luckily, it wasn’t as serious as I thought it was and I found an incredibly simple solution. Continue reading

How To Dry Herbs: A Step-By-Step Guide

dryingherbs1Summer is speedily drawing to a close and it is getting to be that time of the year when we dry herbs. Normally, fresh herbs are great to keep around for cooking and if you have a sunny window you can always make a nice little herb pot to keep growing indoors. However, fresh herbs don’t last forever and in order to get the most out of our herbs we need to preserve them in some way. Luckily, drying herbs is almost as easy as growing them. After the jump, find out how to dry herbs easily.
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For Beginners: Tomato Growing Basics

tomatoI know I previously mentioned tomato blight, an infection that can do some serious damage to tomatoes in damp summer months, but I thought it would also be good to just go over some basics about tomato growing. Tomatoes are probably one of the most popular vegetables for home gardeners to grow. They are pretty easy to grow but if you take the time to learn some very basic steps to care for your tomatoes you can increase your yield and improve the health of your tomato plant. These steps are mostly the cause of trial and error on my own part (my tomatoes last year were no bigger than a quarter), but now I have nice and healthy tomato plants growing up on my roof. After the jump, find my five basic steps for growing tomatoes.
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Good Eats: Gooseberry-Ginger Jam

gooseberryGooseberries aren’t that popular in the United States, but they are enjoyed in parts of Europe where they are often used in jams and syrups. Before I made this gooseberry-ginger jam, I had never tried gooseberries but I was intrigued when I saw some for sale at the Greenmarket and was told they were a good alternative to sweet fruit. (I’m not a huge fan of sweet things.) Gooseberries also come shrouded in an aura of danger since according to Wikipedia–the most accurate, never-wrong source since Truth was invented by George Washington and Joe the Plumber back in 1821–the gooseberry is outlawed in some parts of the US! I have been told, however, that they are pretty easy to grow in containers–particularly if you live in an area that gets a good cold winter.

This jam, from Doris and Jilly cook, is really great. Everyone I offer it to goes mad for it. The sweetness of the sugar is undercut by the tart gooseberry and a hint of ginger gives it a sort of candy-like, but not too-sweet, quality. Perfect if you are trying to avoid saccharine jams. One note, about the recipe since they didn’t make a note about it when it was posted: the recipe will yield about 5 half-pint jars with a half-inch head space.

(photo via Flickr)

What Do You Do When Your Cilantro Bolts? Get Coriander!

corianderI’m a big fan of making Mexican food, specifically fresh guacamole, so when I was planning out my garden for this year I was sure to make space for cilantro, an herb that is frequently used in Mexican and other Latino dishes. This was my first experience growing cilantro so I was unaware that bolting–when a plant uses all of its energy to make seeds rather than continue growing, this usually happens when the weather is warm–was a common problem with the herb. Apparently, cilantro, like humans, prefers to remain at room temperature (somewhere between 68 degrees and 74 degrees). Once cilantro feels the temperature rising, it bolts, and seeing as how New York has hot, muggy summers, my cilantro was destined to bolt early. Luckily, the seeds/fruit that cilantro produces after it bolts is another common herb: coriander, so all is not lost when your cilantro bolts.

After the jump, find out how to collect coriander seeds and tips on growing cilantro.
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