Saturday, August 03, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle

Garden candy...
I continue to expand my culinary "repertoire" just a little at a time.  Especially ethnic foods that are fresh, seasonal, and inexpensive.  Some may remember my plan to purchase sumac (a Middle Eastern spice) which is used in some of the recipes I want to make. 

The owner of my favorite gourmet shop told me I could probably buy it at the Asian Market, where I found a large bag for just a few dollars!  One of the benefits of living in a multicultural university town.

In a very serendipitous coincidence, The Create Channel just started showing Cooking With Julie Taboulie... which is all about the cooking of Lebanon... where they use a lot of sumac.  I've only seen a couple episodes but so far I like it a lot.  You can view them... here.

I really wanted to can some tomatoes this year, with plenty coming in from the organic farm.  However, I'm still not feeling the best and not up to canning this year. Sooo... I was concerned that the excess tomatoes would go into the compost instead of in the pantry.

Then I remembered an article about freezing tomatoes and did a Google search to find if that would work for my freezer pantry.  Indeed it would!  So Thursday morning I washed, dried, and prepared the tomatoes for freezing (deciding to leave the skin on) and then placed them on a baking tray to flash freeze in the deep freeze.

I set the timer for five hours... for if I do not set the timer, a week may go by before I remember them!

Later that afternoon, the frozen tomatoes were divided between four plastic bags and labeled.  Then two of those bags were each slipped into a gallon size Ziploc bag for further protection.  They are now in the deep freeze to be used for soups and stews this winter... plus Hubby brought even more home from the farm that will be frozen this weekend.

Let's see, what else did I prepare for the freezer pantry this week?

Oh, yes... I also Googled various ways to use nasturtiums and found a few "recipes" for nasturtium butter.  So on Thursday I also gently washed nasturtiums I'd picked that morning along with some of the leaves and placed them on a towel.  I patted them dry but also left them to air dry further while a stick of butter was left out to soften on the counter.

When all were ready, I pulled the nasturtium petals into small pieces, rolled up and "sliced" the leaves, and placed them in a bowl with the softened butter.  After they were carefully blended, I spooned the mixture onto cling wrap paper and formed it into a log which went into the freezer.

As soon as it was frozen nicely, it was labeled and slipped into a Ziploc bag to protect it in the freezer.  I plan to make a few more herb butters for the freezer, too.  Easy...

What else did I put in my freezer pantry?  Corn on the cob!  I remembered a commenter here saying one does not have to blanch corn for freezing if it is frozen in the husk.  I did a little research and found quite a few people online had success with this method.

Sooo... I placed the corn cobs in their husk in a freezer bag and then sealed it up and placed them in the deep freeze.   I hope this works well as it makes it so easy to freeze freshly picked corn.

Once again realizing one can harvest and preserve food just a little at a time.  :)


Marge said...

I have no space to store canned goods, so I froze all my tomatoes last year. I did them as you did, and have used them all year in soups, stews, chili or casseroles. This year I am going to cook them down and freeze jars of plain sauce. Then I can go any direction...Italian, Mexican or American! I haven't done corn that way though. May have to try it! Blessings.

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

I do enjoy your pantry postings.

You have taken this way of living prepared on smaller budgets and doing it a little at a time to a fine art. I'm sure many are blessed by what you share here.

I've been exploring more ethnic recipes too and enjoy the richness of trying tastes and dishes from the far reaches of the globe.

It's a cultural experience without going through airport security, all the comfort of one's own kitchen.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Great ideas, Brenda!

I want to share a really simple, delicious, healthy salad I learned from my daughter.

Take one small zucchini or summer squash and peel all of it with a potato peeler into a bowl. Toss with salt and a little oil. Alone, this is already a good salad, but add what you would like to it. Perhaps a few chopped up nasturtium leaves and flowers, or Ajvar, if you can find that (eggpland and red pepper spread) or any herbs that you enjoy. This is so satisfying and low calorie/low carb I'm eating it all the time these days.

Vee said...

Oh oh...I might have to think about a freezer. What good easy methods for preserving the bounty. Much easier than canning!

mdoe37 said...

I did a peek in the garden just now...zucchini are becoming ginormous! I'll enlist the husband to help me pick them for shredding and freezing. The bread will a nice treat this winter. Maybe a jar of refrigerator zickles. I will have some sweet corn. I don't plant much. Others (that would be the zucchini picker) don't like it on the cob, so I'll blanch, cut and freeze.

Any tomatoes I do will be canned...juice and diced. I saw something recently that suggested draining the diced tomatoes to get rid of some of the water....why didn't I think of that?

Mrs.Rabe said...

I would never have thought of freezing tomatoes! That's great that you can preserve them without canning.

Nasturium herb butter! Neat.


Anonymous said...

Brenda, I freeze tomatoes whenever there are too many to eat but not enough to can. My hubby and I prefer frozen to canned because they taste more like fresh. If it weren't for the lack of freezer space I would freeze all our garden gives us.

Thanks for the tip of making herb butter. My herbs are really being generous this year and I was wondering what to do with them besides drying or freezing them.

I've never heard of freezing corn without blanching but will try it soon. This would answer the problem of what to do with a dozen ears of corn for two people. As good as it is this time of year you can only eat so much at a time!

Thank you! Marsha

Terri Cheney said...

Seems I recall mama would thaw some of her frozen tomatoes and use on salad back when we did a big garden each year. It didn't taste exactly fresh, but more fresh than canned ones.

When you want corn on the cob, just put the ears in the microwave (husks on) and cook for a few minutes. Or warp (husks and all) in foil and roast at 350 for about 30 minutes. You 'peel' the husks, silk and all, right off once steamed. I've done this for 30 odd years now with great success every single time.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to dry some of those 'candy' tomatoes this year? The tiny ones are so easy to dry and use later. ..and aren't they tasty! :) Sarah

Deb said...

Brenda, interesting about the nasturtium butter...never heard of that! I'd be interesting to know what you think of it when you taste it.

Also that's new to me about freezing corn in their husks! LOTS of corn I've shucked this year looks good on the outside and inside the ends have huge creepy crawlies...huge! Let us know how yours turns out.