WE WANT TACOS!

August 17, 2012

Katie and I like to go and see the Rockies play on occasion, especially when our friend Jamie is in town. This visit has been no exception. Part of the deal locally, is if the Rockies score seven or more runs in the game, Taco Bell runs a promotion in that they give away free tacos the next day. Last night’s game we won, but didn’t quite meet the requirement for tacos. Additionally, I don’t think Taco Bell tacos are all that yummy, so here is a recipe for your own delicious tacos.

We used a basic, small-sized flour tortilla for our tacos. We then made the following filling:

18 oz braising beef or skirt steak

1 small onion

Garlic

4 tomatoes

Herbs (we used thyme, oregano, and parsley)

A bit of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar

Hot pepper of your choice

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 Tbsp tomato paste

The original recipe called for boiling the steak for about 30 minutes, at which point you shred the beef with forks. This totally didn’t work for us as boiling the steak made it pretty tough. We wound up shredding it by hand, which took a long time, so I would do all of this before hand. I think next time I would be inclined to a) brown the beef and cut it up b) boil the beef in something more flavorful or c) choose a different cut of beef entirely. Plus it looked unappetizing.

Beef issue aside, heat a saute pan with some olive oil and brown the onion and garlic. Next add the tomatoes, pepper and seasoning to the pan, reduce the heat and cook for approximately 20 minutes covered.

Remove the lid and cook for another ten minutes or so, until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the shredded beef and cook for a few minutes until everything is warmed through.

Once warmed through, you can begin plating your tacos. We added sour cream, romaine lettuce, feta, and sliced  radishes to our tacos, which made for a very surprising flavor. They taste very fresh and summery.

Don’t Be A Jerk-y

August 13, 2012

While we clearly have a summer preservation plan for fruits and veggies, but we also have another agenda in mind. Our fifth anniversary passed by at the beginning of the month, and we decided to mark the occasion by taking a trip. It’s our typical tradition to go camping over our anniversary. Looking for something special, we turned toward my childhood and decided to plan a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, which is a huge expanse of lakes in the northern part of Minnesota that extends up in to Canada. I’ve been lucky enough to go twice as a child.

 

 

Photo credit

 

The BWCA is a very special place to me and I’m nothing less than thrilled that we have made it happen. Some number of years ago Katie and I bit the bullet and bought most of the equipment we needed for camping. Thinking ahead, most of the equipment we bought is appropriate for backpacking (read: LIGHT).

So this works perfectly for this type of trip, which also happens to be our first backpacking trip together.

Anyhoo, I’m generally disappointed by the quality and price of pre-packaged meals, so we have dehydrated a lot of produce to make soup mixes and such.

Photo (left to right): Peaches, apples, strawberries, jerkey, front carrots and celery.

One of the hardest things about backpacking I think is that it is hard to incorporate protein. One of the more interesting ways of doing that is by making jerky! I love all kinds of jerky but beef is the most economical, so that’s what we chose today.

Jerky is pretty easy, all things considered. You make a marinate, soak your meat, slice it up (or not), and dry it. Our marinade included soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, garlic, and cayanne pepper. We let the meat, cut in to strips, marinade for about six hours and then put it in the dehydrator overnight.

 

 

We’ve actually made jerky on a couple occasions and we haven’t quite got the timing right yet. Left overnight it tends to go a little on the long side and while good, is a little tougher than necessary. You’ll have to play around with it and see what works based upon your meat size. Our pieces were pretty small which probably contributed to the cook time issue.

I have no doubt that we will post more about this trip as we close in on it (early September). For now after eight hours of packing food, we’ve got a start, albiet small, in our packing.

Photo credit

Yes, We Can!

August 10, 2012

As we’ve posted many times before, Katie and I do a lot of canning, and this is the perfect time of year to do it. As much as I love fall, it marks the time when produce refers exclusively to potatoes and apples. Now don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes and apples, but it gets a little tedious after the ninth straight week. To fight this, we go crazy on produce over the spring and summer, processing and canning while everything is at the peak of its season.

Now I know I have promised a post on canning peaches, so I’m going to do a small series on the things we have canned this season (so far!). I might also include some of the other preservation we’ve done.

Today’s feature is corn salsa. This salsa is incredibly fresh-tasting all year around. The general recipe is along the lines of 12 cobs of corn (we used sweet white corn), 5 pounds of tomatoes (Romas are fine and generally inexpensive), 1 onion, 1 bell pepper (green), and as much hot pepper as you want. We used one serrano pepper.

Cut the corn from the cobs and dice all the vegetables. Mix them up and chop some cilantro, held to the side in a separate bowl.

 

Take the veggie mix and put it in a large stew pot with (3 cups?) white vinegar and bring it to a boil. Once it hits a boil, stir in the cilantro and turn the heat off, removing the pot from the heat.

Ladle the salsa in to previously sterilized jars. Tip: It’s important to sterilize your jars every time because otherwise nasty critters can get in there and make you really sick.

 

Add your lids and rings, then can them in a water bath or a pressure cooker like shown above. Be sure to read the instructions for your canner closely, to make sure that you boil your jars for long enough. Altitude also affects the boil time. For more information, check out the website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Their site contains a lot of good reading about the best way to preserve food.

Once the jars have boiled long enough, remove them (carefully!) with your jar tongs, set them aside overnight to allow them to cool slowly (reducing the likelihood of shattering), and for the seal to pop. When you are ready to store your canned jars, make sure all the seals have not popped up. If so, you can still use the contents, just make sure you put it in your fridge and use it soon 🙂

 

 

Yardening

April 3, 2012

This weekend Katie and I put a lot of backbreaking work in to our gardens, to get them up to speed for the new seasons. Of particular pleasure is the fact that we planted two trees end of season and they both survived and are starting to leaf out. That’s a big deal.

So we weeded, we raked, we picked up sticks, we trimmed and primped and planted. We started our seedlings the other week for our veggies. All in all it was a good weekend.

Katie and I are currently discussing our goals for this season. We definitely have a garden we’d like to finish, as well as the veggies, and we’ve even started talking about a chicken coop. At 18 eggs a week, we could use the help.

So my question to you is, what are you doing to get ready for the new season? Cleaning? Gardening? Mowing? Cooking? Tell us in the comments!

Seedlings Approacheth

March 20, 2012

So last year our garden did alright- it kept us stocked in produce for a large portion of the year. But it would have been totally KICK BUTT if I had started seedlings. Which I didn’t. However, this year I got on top of it and started all of them. I’m hoping to get some good starts in pots so that I can plunk them in and get a ways ahead this year.

Our starting lineup includes:

Cherry tomatoes

Um..red tomatoes

Yellow tomatoes

Banana peppers

Bell pepers

Cantaloupe

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Arugula

Rosemary

Basil

Dill

Zucchini

Radishes

Carrots

Beans

Other beans

We used a combination of peat pots and egg cartons. The plan is to get shoots and replant them in to pots once big enough. They’re living out in our garage until I’m a little more certain it will stay nice out. Colorado “winter” is weird that way.

Oh, and update on last year’s garden — despite snow, sleet, COLD…we STILL have parsley. Send me your address if you want some. Seriously.

Veggies Redux

May 8, 2011

Not much to add to today’s post, just pictures of our veggie gardens coming along.

Small box 

 

 

 

 

The total list includes beans, peas, radish, carrot, onion, basil, rosemary, chives, herbal mix, cayanne peppers, habaneros, cherry and grape tomatoes, bistro tomatos, pumpkins, watermelon, and cucumbers. Pending are zucchini, bibb lettuce, and spinach.

In other news, our front gardens are starting to go for it!