Dilly Beans


The summer of 2013 will always be known as the year of the “bean” at the farm.
We had tons of beans.
Oodles of beans.
It was such a blessing, we had enough beans to eat fresh and can and enough beans to play around a bit.

This year we tried the Dilly Bean.
Canning Dilly Beans was a lot of fun and really simple, which is a huge plus for me, I just don’t have time to play around with complicated canning recipes.
I have lots of mouths to feed!

IMG_4766The preparation is very simple.  Simply wash the beans and cut them to the size of your jars, steam them until they are just tender.  That’s it.

IMG_4767IMG_4768In clean, sterilized jars place one dried chili pepper, one clove garlic and one half teaspoon dill seed. Pack the beans tightly in the jars, standing on end.

IMG_4769Bring 2 cups water, 2 cups apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup canning salt to a boil and pour over the beans, leaving about a half inch head space.  Screw the lids on tight and flip jars over.

IMG_4770Once the jars have cooled completely, flip them back and check the seal.  Store for a few weeks before serving, so the flavors can mix and mature.

Serve cold




Drying the Zukes

A gardener’s delight,
the gift that keeps giving
and giving
and giving
right up until the first hard frost.

Zucchini is one of those beautiful vegetables that seems to grow despite the blackest of black thumbs, it gives prolifically for a long time, making it one of the best vegetables to grow for fresh summer eating.

There are many recipes out there for fresh zucchini, from skillet dinners to baked goods, but today I am going to talk about preserving zucchini.  Zucchini is a delicate vegetable, being that its flesh turns soft quickly when cooked, making canning and pickling a little challenging.  However it dries and freezes beautifully.


Zucchini is very simple to dry, if you don’t have a dehydrator, a warm oven or a couple sunny afternoons will do.  The method is as simple as slicing thin and sprinkling with salt (if you want).  Some recipes call for oil to be added, while added oil is good for a very crispy, flavorful zucchini chip, it doesn’t work well for long term storage, as the oil will go rancid quickly. IMG_4592

It only took one day in my dehydrator, it always amazes me how much produce shrinks in the dehydrator. IMG_4596

The dried zucchini will be stored in glass jars in my pantry to be used later in soups, stews and sauces. IMG_4878

Bok Choy

One vegetable that did extremely well in our cooler than normal spring was my Bok Choy. Which really isn’t much of a surprise, since that is the type of weather they like the best.

Bok Choy, also knows as Chinese Cabbage is used in a lot of oriental dishes and stir frys. However it can be used in any recipe as a substitute for cabbage. If you grow this vegetable in your own garden, harvest while the weather is still cool, Bok Choy quickly bitters in the heat of the summer. So it is best grown and eaten in the spring and fall. If you do plant and harvest in the summer time, harvest them very small and they should still be nice and sweet.

Cooking a Bok Choy is very simple. First you separate the leaves and give it a good washing in cold water.

Then you separate the stalks from the leaves,
and chop the stalks into uniform sizes.
Then chop the leaves to your desired size.
I like to cook my Bok Choy in good old fashioned butter, but olive oil works well too.

To the melted butter add the stalks and saute until they are nice and soft, this takes about 5 minutes.

Then add the leaves, cover the pan and cook until they are wilted. You don’t need to add any water or extra butter at this point, there is enough water in the leaves that they will steam themselves.
Serve with salt and pepper

Summer Squash

This past week my family and I went on vacation to Yellowstone National Park.
This is my third trip up there and my children’s first.
Yellowstone is seriously one of my favorite places to visit.
More about that later.

We stayed in a town called Island Park in Idaho,
my family (Parents and married sisters) rented a cabin (that was fabulous, thanks Lindi) which made things easier.
We were able to cook all of our own meals, and that saved us a ton of money. I can’t even imagine what we would have spent had we eaten out, all three meal with our family of 7!

Even though we were able to save some in the food department I still spent my whole grocery budget for the rest of the month on our 5 day trip. I didn’t cook like I usually do (breakfast was cereal and that can get pricey with 7 people eating) and I knew we would need a lot of prepackaged snacks for the ride through the Park.

This is going to present a bit of a challenge for the next week and a half. I am going to have to feed my family from the food I have stockpiled, and even though it will be a challenge, I think it will be fun.

Last night I went scavenging and this is what I came up with. Sorry it is a little disorganised, I was seriously making things up as I was going.

While we were gone my summer squash exploded, so I figured that would be a good starting place.

I also have very vigorous Chard plants, I cut a bunch and put them into my sink full of ice water, to crisp up.

I felt like pasta, so in goes the spaghetti noodles into a pot of salted, boiling water.

I also had some parsley from the garden that needed to be cut, and I love parsley in hot pasta.

Knowing that I needed to cook my summer squash and not really wanting to go the traditional route of boiling or steaming them I figured I would try sauteing them with some Olive Oil, Onions and Garlic. I like the flavor of onions, but not a big crunchy chunk of onion. So I chopped them really fine. (I will admit I used my Pampered Chef chopper, on my own I wouldn’t have had the attention span to chop that onion that small!)

Then I threw the onion in a hot skilled with three cloves of crushed garlic, some olive oil and salt and pepper and cooked then until they had a nice brown color.

Meanwhile the pasta had finished cooking I drained it and slapped a pat of butter on top. Typically I would have stirred in Olive Oil, but for some reason I felt like butter…mmm…butter!
This will keep the noodles from sticking together while I was working on the rest of the dish, and butter adds a nice, buttery flavor.

I put the summer squash in the nice hot skillet with the browned onions and let them cook stirring frequently. I didn’t want those little guys to burn!

Don’t they look yummy!
That right there would be a great side dish.

While the summer squash was cooking I prepared the parsley, after washing it I separated the tender leaves from the harder stems.

Then I coarsely chopped it.

About that time the squash was almost cooked, I added my chard.
I didn’t drain all the water off, I wanted the leaves to be nice and wet so it would create steam.
You need to pile it on in there, it cooks down a lot so don’t be shy.
(You could also use fresh spinach)

Then cover your pan, ideally with a lid, but since mine didn’t come with one tin foil works too.

This will help steam the chard and finish cooking the squash.

I then added my parsley and a generous amount of salt and pepper to the pasta and stirred it all it. Any herb would be yummy tossed in with this pasta, whatever you like…the sky is the limit!

The Chard only take a few minutes to cook so you have to watch it closely or the squash on the bottom will burn

Dump the squash/chard mixture into your pasta and stir.
It tasted really good, even my kids ate it and Dadzoo asked for seconds!

There are a few things I will do different next time. I will chop the chard, coarsely, I like the big pieces, but the whole leaf was a bit much. I will also add more garlic, at least two more cloves, maybe more, I need to experiment on that. I also think that this would be yummy with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed in (everything is better with cheese) and I also think it would be good with sour dough or french bread.

So there you go, my scavenged dinner!