Category Archives: Cooking

Pickled Beets


This post is part of my REWIND series!  Pretend it’s July and enjoy.  🙂

It’s been 99 in the shade here all week.  So much heat and humidity has caused the garden to either accelerate growth (as in bolting lettuces) or decelerate growth (like the leeks that would prefer cooler temps).

Beets fresh from the garden and ready for the royal treatment.

Beets fresh from the garden and ready for the royal treatment.

I had noticed that my beets were just the right size for harvesting, and since the heat was doing them no good I pulled them out yesterday and did some pickling. It might seem counter intuitive to boil a huge vat of water on a 99 degree day, but  when the produce is ready it’s time to can–regardless of the weather.  It’s on days like this that I’m thankful for central air!  I’m not sure how our ancestors processed all their food in this heat.

I used a recipe from an older canning book, it didn’t tell me how many pounds of beets I would need or how long to boil the syrup.  Hopefully I guessed correctly!

I used this old recipe and it turned out to be delicious.

I used this old recipe and it turned out to be delicious.

The beets needed to be boiled then peeled.  Most I kept whole, although there were some larger ones that I cut in half before placing into jars.

Cooked and peeled beets.

Cooked and peeled beets.

I truly enjoy food projects.  Working with food makes me happy and I love to think about the time when we will open up the jar and enjoy those beets in the future.  I feel like I’m really participating in the feeding of my family in a completely hands-on way.

As I worked with the beets I admired their deep red color.  So much nutrition packed into those jewel-toned beauties.  Growing beets has been a fun and easy, gratifying experience.

This was an easy and rewarding project.

This was an easy and rewarding project.

[And now a word from present day me, January 2013.]  The final product was enjoyed with a few meals and shared with a special friend.  These beets had that old-fashioned taste I had hoped for, and the spices gave them a bit of a holiday flair.  I only wish I had more than four jars because they are already gone!  I will definitely be canning beets again this year.

Jars of pickled beets all ready for storage and gifting.

Jars of pickled beets all ready for storage and gifting.

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Christmas Leeks


christmas8

Just because it’s December doesn’t mean gardening season is completely shut down.  At this very moment there are leeks in my garden awaiting their most honorable duty of becoming part of our annual ravioli tradition.

When we started a family six years ago, my husband and I wanted to establish some traditions of our own.  He had the great idea of making homemade ravioli on Christmas Eve.  I took the idea and ran with it!  I had never made pasta before, so this seemed like a great challenge.  I’m happy to say that in six years I’ve become a competent pasta maker, and we’ve successfully established this tradition in our home.  It’s something we all look forward to each year.

I’ve found that Lidia Bastianich’s recipe works well for us, so that has become our “official” Christmas Eve recipe.  It’s a basic fresh egg pasta dough with a leek-spinach-ricotta filling.  This fits the bill, because the days that follow Christmas Eve are filled with indulgent foods.  The Christmas Eve ravioli feels light and appropriate just before a major feasting season.

Planning for the ravioli begins in March when I plant leek seeds.  It’s at this time that I choose a location for them, some place they can take root and hang out for  nearly 10 months.  As the season rolls along, I harvest the smaller leeks leaving the best for Christmas.  When the weather is mild, they can stay in all the way until the day I make the filling.  This year they’ve made it the whole year!

Leeks started back in March are ready for their Christmas harvest.  We've had a mild November and December so they've stayed green and happy.

Leeks started back in March are ready for their Christmas harvest. We’ve had a mild November and December so they’ve stayed green and happy.

In September I also plant spinach with the intention of using it in the ravioli as well.  This year it has worked out.  I may supplement with some store-bought spinach as well, but the garden will provide at least some of the required amount.

My daughter watering our spinach on December 15th.  We are still harvesting a few things even this late in the season.

My daughter watering our spinach on December 15th. We are still harvesting a few things even this late in the season.

The tomato sauce for our Christmas ravioli will also feature rosemary from my potted plant.  When temperatures are warm and the sun is out, I take my rosemary outside to sunbathe.  When the “weather outside is frightful” the rosemary huddles near the window in the house.  We may not have a real Christmas tree, but we can enjoy the scent of our rosemary plant during these darker months.

How rewarding to sit down to Christmas Eve dinner and see the fruits (or veggies and herbs?) of my labor before me.  There is so much to be thankful for, but at mealtime I’m most thankful for the abundance which God provides in so many ways.  Our table is always full.

This Christmas I’m thanking God for the many blessings He’s provided through our garden, but also through my husband’s job, our friends and family, and the many other channels He uses.  I’m continually amazed at how our needs our met, and thankful.  Praise God for earthly and heavenly blessings this holiday!  And praise God for leeks, planted in March which grace our December table.

Prepping for Pesto


For many years I’ve wanted to purchase the BIG olive oil.  But I could never really justify it.  Until now!

With five family members and a garden full of green stuff, it’s finally time for the big olive oil at our house.  This week I bought it in anticipation of making pesto.  While the basil in my garden isn’t quite ready to be picked yet, the arugula is going gangbusters and with the upcoming hot forecast it’s destined to bolt soon.

Since I was prepped for pesto-making, it was easy to throw together some arugula walnut pesto for my freezer this morning in between other household chores.

I’m at a point where I don’t use a recipe, but if you are looking for a starting point here are some measurements:

4 cups packed arugula leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Start food processor and drop in garlic cloves.  Once chopped, turn off processor, add arugula, walnuts, salt and pepper.  Process a bit, then while leaving processor on, stream in olive oil slowly.  Continue processing until it reaches a nice saucy consistency.

I do not put cheese in pesto I intend to freeze.  It’s nicer to add the cheese later when using the pesto.  That way the cheese is fresh and I can customize the amount depending on how I’m using the pesto.

Pesto freezes nicely in small serving size containers.

Many sources will tell you to freeze pesto in ice-cube trays.   If this works for you, fine.  But I find that it’s hard to remove them from the trays and it makes my ice-cube trays smell like pesto.  Not good when I need to chill my lemonade.  The serving size containers are so much easier to work with.  They sell small and even very small sizes of these containers, perfect for pesto.  I will never go back to the ice-cube tray method again.  (Just thought you’d like to know!)

Pesto can be pricey.  To save money it’s possible to substitute a more affordable nut, as I did with my arugula pesto.  The traditional pesto nut is a pine nut.  These are delicious and I do use them, especially with a basil pesto.  But it’s fun to experiment with other nuts and the results are almost always delicious.

I also save money by adding cheese later.  Sometimes I don’t even add cheese since it’s yummy without.  Or I will just put cheese over a dish made with pesto, such as sprinkled over pasta or a pizza made with pesto sauce.  Don’t try to save money by using the green can of Parmesan in pesto.  Always use a real wedge of cheese (domestic is fine, imported is divine) and grate it yourself.

And of course, the number one money-saver idea I can offer is to grow your ingredients yourself.  Basil (and arugula) are very easy to grow in a backyard garden or in pots.  You can grow a large amount and really stock up the freezer for the winter.  Parsley, mint and cilantro can also be used for making pesto…. each has its own unique flavor.

Two soups to make right now.


The garden and the farmer’s market are still loaded with lots of goodies.  I have two favorite recipes I like to make in October that use ingredients that are super fresh right now.

Celeriac, also known as celery root, has a flavor similar to celery but comes in root ball form rather than a stalk like celery.  It’s pretty ugly out of the garden, but so great in a fall soup.  And I’m happy to report it’s a cinch to grow.

This is what the celeriac looks like after I've significantly cleaned it, but not yet peeled it.

I first discovered celeriac in a CSA box a few years ago, wasn’t sure what to do with it at first.  It’s delicious in a slaw or roasted, but my favorite way is in a soup.  Google “celery root soup” and you’ll find a slew of simlar-ish recipes from the likes of Oprah to the folks at Joy of Kosher.  There are literally hundreds of great recipes at the push of a button.

I’m sharing an un-recipe… in other words, this is how I make it but I don’t really measure and sometimes I throw in other stuff.  But it’s a method that works and is always good.

Fall Celariac Soup  A Gracious Garden

In a pot, saute cubed celeriac (celery root) and diced onion in a bit of butter or olive oil.  When lightly cooked, add diced potato, diced green apple, a large container of chicken broth, and fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme or tarragon).  Bring to a boil, then set to simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through.  Using an immersion blender (or whatever blending device is available) blend soup in batches until smooth.  Return to pot, reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  A drizzle of olive oil and a few croutons make a great garnish to this bowl of fall flavor.

The second recipe I’m sharing is for a rich and creamy carrot soup that utilizes carrots, onions, potato and rosemary from the garden or farmer’s market.  I love this soup on a chilly fall day with some crusty bread.  Very comforting.  I’ve made it without the cream before and since the potato adds a starchy creaminess, it is also good that way.   Though I admit I prefer it with the cream, it’s just so delicious.

Creamy Carrot Soup  Taste of Home
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 1/2 cups sliced carrots (1/4 inch thick)
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (I use fresh rosemary)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a 5-qt. Dutch oven, saute onion in butter until tender.  Add carrots, potato, broth and ginger.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Cool 15 minutes.  Puree in small batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Return all to the saucepan; add cream, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Cook over low heat until heated through.  Yield: 6-8 servings (2 1/2 quarts)

Grilled Pizza


Grilling creates a perfect pizza crust.

I like to have a base recipe and a no fail method of cooking just about anything that comes out of my garden.  The answer almost always to the question “What should I do with this?” is: grilled pizza.  The perfect blank slate for any herb or vegetable, it can take on any flavor profile it needs to.

To make this super easy, I make balls of pizza dough in advance at my convenience.  They freeze and thaw nicely.  And it’s much easier to make a double or triple batch of dough when I’m already doing it anyway then it is to create new dough every time we want to eat pizza.

I have found the perfect dough for me, but I do recommend that others experiment because dough can vary based on several things such as which brand/type of flour or yeast is used, climate, how it is mixed, the method used for thawing.  Flavor and mouth feel matter too.  My perfect dough isn’t necessarily THE perfect dough, but it works best and tastes best for me.

I love this Kitchenaid pizza dough recipe.

I use the recipe that came with my Kitchenaid mixer, but I add an extra tablespoon of olive oil which results in a more golden crust.  You can find the recipe here:

Kitchenaid Pizza Dough

I have often added garden herbs to my pizza dough to make it a herbed crust.  This tastes great as a pizza or made into bread sticks.

The key to success is to have everything ready before you start.  I like to have all my ingredients and tools laid out on a tray.  Here is what I use when grilling a pizza:

pizza dough
cooking spray or oil to brush on the grill
olive oil in a cup with a brush OR pizza sauce in a cup with a brush
cheese (shredded or sliced)
veggies, meats and/or herbs completely chopped and ready to go on the pizza
cookie sheet
large metal spatula
grill tongs

In addition to having these items ready to go, I make sure to preheat the grill well ahead of time so that I’m sure it’s piping hot when the dough hits the grates.

Smaller pizzas are easier to work with on the grill, though it’s certainly possible to do a large one too.  I will usually divide the above pizza dough recipe in half and make two pizzas with thinner crusts, or even four personal sized pizzas.

The process is pretty straightforward.  With the grill on as high as possible, I oil the grates and then carefully lay on my prepared pizza dough directly on the grates.  If the heat is high enough, the dough will not fall through the grates.  While the grill is working its magic I quickly brush on some oil to the top of the dough.

It only takes a minute or two on high for the dough to bubble and become stiff enough to turn over.  I do this carefully using the spatula and tongs, sometimes employing the cookie sheet if it’s a large pizza.  Once it’s flipped over and I have the grilled side up, I turn the heat down to low.

Now I can put on the oil or sauce and the rest of my toppings.  This part is fun.  I enjoy tossing on fresh herbs while it’s on the grill and also when it comes off the grill.  Once I have the pizza topped I shut the lid to the grill and let it cook.

Topped and ready to finish off with the lid down.

It doesn’t take long from this point.  Five to ten minutes depending on the thickness of the dough or how many toppings are piled on.  It’s possible to eyeball from here.  When I like how it looks I slide my cookie sheet underneath the pizza and pull it off the grill.

Hot off the grill is a good time to drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or sprinkle with herbs.  Handfuls of arugula or baby spinach are nice to pile on at this point too.  Whatever is fresh and delicious in the garden will be great on a grilled pizza.

I do use a gas grill which allows me to turn the heat down.  If cooking on coals you’d need to set up a hot side and a cooler side.

Here are some of my favorite garden-inspired combinations:

  • Swiss Chard & Italian Sausage
  • Spinach & Pine Nut
  • Grilled Chicken & Herbs
  • Grilled Peppers & Onions
  • Tomato, Basil & Fresh Mozzarella
  • Roasted Beet & Blue Cheese
  • Green Tomato & Bacon
  • Pesto & Sausage
  • Pancetta, Basil & Cherry Tomatoes

There are so many delicious possibilities for grilled pizza.  I’m so happy to have this cooking technique in my arsenal, as it’s something I go back to many times during the growing season.

Cheers!

Garden to Table: Chickpea Salad & Sweet-Sour Coleslaw


It’s the second to last day of March (a month that was more lion than lamb) and I’m kicking off my Garden to Table series with two delicious side dishes.  I have, in fact, harvested some parsley and basil from my indoor garden.  While they are a drop in the bucket of what will inevitably be an herb filled growing season, they are so very welcome!  I’m thrilled to share this dish with you as it is absolutely delicious. 

Simple and delicious.

Bon Appetit readers will recognize this recipe from the most current issue of the magazine, April 2011.  I couldn’t resist such a simple but satisfying example of how even the most meager use of fresh herbs can dress up something like a chickpea in way that makes it sing.

Basil leaves of the bush basil plant I started in February.

Parsley, plants are still small but there are enough leaves to add flavor to this dish.

Who knew chickpeas could be so satisfying? Notice how the fresh herbs punctuate this dish.

 

Here is where you can find the chickpea recipe:  Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan and Fresh Herbs.

The second item I used today from my garden was carrots.  Carrots?  In March?  Why, yes.  It’s a fact that carrots, if stored properly, can remain sweet, crispy and fresh for months… in this case half a year.  I only had a few left so I shredded them and put them into a crunchy Asian style coleslaw.  I learned to make this coleslaw using a Betty Crocker cookbook.  It works every time, even when I’m missing an ingredient here or there.  Today I was short the green pepper, so I just left that out.

Carrots harvested in September become March's coleslaw.

These two side dishes will be served tonight alongside some grilled Italian sausages.  It’s pretty cold outside–mid-30’s!–but that doesn’t stop a true Wisconsinite from grilling sausages.  It wouldn’t stop me from grilling veggies either! 

There’s no reason a gardener can’t infuse dishes with homegrown goodness year round.  It requires planning, but not so much to be an inconvenience.  And sometimes serendipity plays a role as well.  Things just fall into place once in a while and an ingredient presents itself at just the right time.  (I didn’t remember I had those carrots!  But I was sure happy to find them this morning when trying to figure out what to do with half of a cabbage.)

Since Betty doesn’t share her coleslaw recipe online, I’ve typed it out for you here.  It’s so good!

Sweet-and-Sour Coleslaw
Betty Crocker’s Cookbook Bridal Edition 2001

1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded (4 cups)
1 large carrot, finely shredded (1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
4 medium green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine, white vinegar or cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place cabbage, carrot, bell pepper and onions in large glass or plastic bowl.
2. Shake remaining ingredients in tightly covered container.  Pour over vegetables; stir.  Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, stirring several times, until chilled.  Serve with slotted spoon.  Store covered in refrigerator.

Happy Cooking!  And don’t be shy if you have recipes or ideas to share throughout the season.  I welcome links to recipes in the comments area or at my Twitter account @AGraciousGarden.

Teach a man to fish.


Here’s the thing about cooking that people who don’t cook won’t believe: it’s not that hard.  Really. 

I generally cook from scratch, using very few “cheats” or “shortcuts” and even fewer processed ingredients.  Why?  Because I don’t have to.  There was a time when most housewives could bake a loaf of bread, roast a chicken or make a batch of spaghetti sauce without a recipe.  And there are many folks cooking today who can do the same thing.  The secret is to learn the technique, not a recipe.

Makes me think of the Chinese proverb:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Indeed.  Learning a technique is like learning to fish.  The technique can be applied in an infinite number of ways, feeding you for a lifetime.  And unlike a recipe with all of its technicalities, a technique is based more on feel and experience, which by my estimation is far more trustworthy than measurements and cooking times.

When I was first learning to cook for myself I had very little to go on.  My skill set was small.  I had to piece together a culinary education on my own, figuring out not only what to cook (what did I like, what could I afford, what was healthy) but how to cook it.  I didn’t know how to bake a potato or grill a hamburger.  I had never attended a home economics class because that was never offered.  I never really learned to cook at home because I was involved with sports, music, friends, school.  A Gen-Xer like me didn’t have time for learning the basics in the kitchen.  I was going to college!  They had microwaves there.

And so when college ended here I was, a single gal needing to eat.  With a tiny apartment-for-one kitchen and some hand-me-down kitchen wares.  I got to work on my self-education and before long I realized–I like to cook! 

But with so few cooking skills I hit the books, and the websites, and the cooking shows.  Anywhere I could find some information.  I borrowed cookbook after cookbook at the library.  I called my mom!  I got recipes from my aunt.  I spent some time at the grocery store and explored every section, discovering all the ingredients and imagining how I might use them.

As I cooked, my skill set started to grow.  I learned how to chop an onion, how to braise a roast, when to boil vs when to simmer.  I had some flops.  A lot of flops!  But the best thing about making mistakes is that they are so easy to learn from.  And so I pressed on.

The real revelation came to me years later, as a new mom cooking for a small family.  I didn’t always have all the ingredients I needed for recipes.  I had to improvise.  Necessity was–as it always is–the mother of invention.  And pretty soon old recipes became new recipes.  Then those recipes multiplied–out of necessity or creativity.  I didn’t even need the recipes anymore, I had learned the technique.  As if to say to the recipes: “Thanks a lot fellas, but I’ll it from here.”

Since then I save myself quite a bit of time by learning techniques rather than recipes.  Pan sauces, roasts, marinades, risotto, pastas, pancakes, fish, salad dressing, grilling… so many things come to mind.

This growing season, as I’m sharing the many ways I prepare my harvest for our table and share those meals with you, you might be wondering where in the world are the measurements–and how long did I cook that.  I might not know.  Just think of me as your Italian grandmother throwing in a dash of this or a palmful of that.

I can’t wait to share the many ways I’ve turned my garden produce into meals with you.  And when there is a recipe to share, I’ll be sure to do that–either providing a link or typing it out in the post.

Until then, I’m going to brush up on a few techniques and dig out some ideas.  When the first items–chives–are ready to be picked I’ll be ready to go with  some great ideas.  Likewise, when the season closes with sage, kale, swiss chard and maybe spinach, I’ll be ready for them too.  Learning a few tricks of the trade has served me well year after year.

Cookbook Desktop Wallpaper


I wonder what others use as their desktop wallpapers.  I am constantly changing mine to whatever was my last favorite photo. 

This week, I’m going with this photo of cookbooks from my own collection.  If you’d like to steal it, left click to open the photo, then right click and choose “Set as Background”.

Happy Cooking!

Beans: Really Slow Food


 

Tongue of Fire beans.

About a year ago, I decided I would grow some pretty little beans that would add color and interest to my garden.  I did not have a long-term plan for the actual dried beans, but I thought it might be nice to have them.

Now it is time to do something with these beans.  This is new territory for me, I’ve never cooked a dry bean in my life.  And like anyone who has nursed anything into existence, I’m a bit reluctant to get started for fear of messing something up.  After all, these beans have been a year in the making.

I first chose these beans from Johnny’s Seeds based on their lovely color photo and the promise that these Tongue of Fire beans retain their flavor no matter what you do with them, and could double as snap beans if I chose to pick them early.

I was pleasantly surprised when they poked out of the ground in early June, ahead of the other beans I had planted and much healthier looking.  They further pleased me by not being eaten by whatever ate the other beans.  I’m not sure if it was the sunny location, or the constant tending by my son, but these beans looked great for the entire season.  They were the beauties they promised to be.

Bean seedlings emerge, sharing space with marigolds and tomatoes.

 

I’ve decided on a recipe for Pasta and Bean Soup from We Called It Macaroni by Nancy Verde Barr.  This cookbook is written in such a way that it’s hard for me to stop reading Nancy’s personal stories and anecdotes.  I’m drawn to her simple Italian bean recipe by her memories of running her hand through the bags of dried beans at the local Italian market of her childhood.  She has a knowledge and love for beans!  How perfect.

I love this Italian American cookbook.

 

It’s a multi-step process to take beans from dried to mouth-watering.  And let’s not forget the months already spent growing the beans, the weeks drying them, and the time they’ve spent on my pantry shelf awaiting this day.

Out of the jar and ready for action.

 

There is so much to love about these beans.  Each bean has its own unique design, and the colors are terrific.  (Please forgive some of these photos… apparently a snow storm is not the best time to photograph food in natural light.)

Pretty beans.

 

I have to admit I had some fun playing with these beans in their dried form.

 

Now that I’ve had my fun making bean arrangements and photographing them, it’s time to begin the bean bath.  Dried beans need to be soaked overnight, or they can be subjected to the “quick soak” method which involves heat and less time soaking.  For my purposes, overnight soaking worked just fine.

Following the overnight soak, they were drained, put in a pot with cold water to cover 2 inches and a bay leaf, brought to a boil and then simmered for an hour.  I couldn’t resist stealing a few from the pot here and there and calling it a “taste test”.

The cooked beans had a pleasant texture and great bean flavor.

Soaking and cooking the beans.

 

Now the beans were ready for the recipe, twenty-four hours after I pulled them out of the pantry and one year since I purchased the seeds to grow them.

Beans were added to the Bean and Pasta Soup, then served with a smile. Delicious!

 

I think the lesson here is that sometimes slow is good, really good.  In a world where we are accustomed to instant gratification, it seems odd to wait so long for a bowl of bean soup.  It might even be kind of backwards if I thought about it too much.  I could probably buy a bowl of bean soup for $2.00 at the local deli.  Instead, I’m sure I spent at least that much on the envelope of seeds.  I had to use garden space and water to grow the beans.  It took time and energy.  Cooking them involved even more time, the purchase of a few ingredients, and of course that dreaded chore: cleaning up the kitchen and dirty dishes.  It was an effort that seems a bit out of proportion to the result.

Or was it?  As a gardener, I get so much satisfaction out of eating something I grew.  Especially when it turns out so well.  As a mom, I am able to glean so many lessons from the simple task of making this soup.  My kids know how a bean grows, they know what a bean–both raw and cooked–tastes like.  They know the joy of running their hands through a bowl of dried beans, just like Nancy Verde Barr remembers from her own childhood.  They know that God gives us the resources we need to provide for ourselves and our bodies, if we will just put in the effort.  They help with measuring, stirring, “taste tests” and serving the final product.

We pray over this bowl of soup: “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest; and let these gifts to us be blest. Amen.” 

We look outside, where a five-foot snow drift rests against our patio door.  How awesome is it to enjoy something from the garden on a particularly wintry day when I can’t even walk out the door if I wanted to?  It is awesome indeed. 

It was worth the wait!

Chilly Chilis Bring the Heat


I will never purchase another shriveled up grocery store jalapeno again. Not when I can pull out one of my own, organically grown jalapeno out of my freezer anytime I need to add some heat to my dishes.

Jalapenos chillin' in the deep freeze.

It’s so simple. When the peppers are ready to pick, I put them straight from the plant into a freezer bag, zip and pop them in the deep freeze. Days, months, over a year later they are still holding the heat. I just give them a rinse and chop them up for the recipe. Brilliant! (Wish I could take credit for this idea, but my father-in-law is the one who told me about it.)

Husband chopping frozen chilis. Wearing a glove because these peppers are hot!

Here I’m using several frozen jalapeno to liven up a very large batch of chili. Once this chili is done it will be frozen in serving sizes to be used for lunches and the occasional quick dinner.

I love the idea of preserving the summer harvest for later use.  Of course, this idea is as old as time.  But for me, it’s fun to find new ways to save things and new uses for the things I’ve saved.  Throughout the winter, I thoroughly enjoy using items from the garden to freshen up dishes.  It also adds a personal touch.  After all, I could have easily purchased those jalapeno at the grocery store like I did the red bell peppers.  But it’s more satisfying to know–and especially to tell others–that those chili peppers were grown in my garden.  I also know that I spent a lot less to grow those peppers than I would have to purchase them.

Frozen jalapeno can be used in any recipe that calls for a chopped fresh one.  I have never used a frozen pepper in a recipe in which a whole pepper would be stuffed or deep-fried.  Perhaps this works, I honestly don’t know.  I make those recipes during the season when the peppers actually are fresh.

Here is a recipe to try, where a frozen jalapeno can bring real personality to the finished product:  Spicy Cabbage Soup