...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Enjoying the Summer Harvest

One of the many dragonflies that have "landed" in Milwaukee.
Ingredients for Cherry Lemonade
Today we had a visit from my cousin (and her family) from Roanoke, Virginia.  It was a mid-afternoon get together so I wanted to prepare some light refreshments.  I love the cooler weather we've been having because it's much more comfortable for spontaneous baking.  I prepared some simple Cherry Lemonade Spritzers with about 2 oz. cherry "syrup" poured off of my canned sweet cherries, 6 oz. lemonade (purchased or freshly squeezed), and 3-4 oz. of sparkling water.  You can adjust the recipe to your tastes; this is just a starting point.  I also cut up some juicy sweet Door County peaches I picked up at the farmers' market over the weekend and baked fruit crumble bars.  These bars could be made with any local fruits you may dry this season--cherries, cranberries, apricots, peaches, apples, etc.  I had raisins, dried Wisconsin cranberries, apricots, and dates on hand and used 1 c. of each.  I also used Wisconsin-milled Oly's oats.

Fruit Crumble Bars
Makes about 1 dozen large bars

Adapted from Afternoon Delights by McNair and Moore.

4 c. dried fruit
1/2 c. xylitol (or granulated sugar)
butter wrapper for greasing
3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

In a saucepan, combine dried fruit, xylitol, and 2 c. water.  Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until fruit is plumped and tender and liquid is absorbed; cooking time will vary with type and dryness of fruit.  Remove from heat, spread on a sheet tray or plate to cool for a few minutes, then transfer fruit to a food processor and pulse a few times to puree coarsely.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with butter wrapper.  Set aside.  In a bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.  Stir to mix well.  Add butter and mix until well blended and crumbly.  Remove 2 c. of oat mixture and set aside.  Distribute remaining oat mixture in prepared pan and press gently to form even layer.  Spoon pureed fruit over layer and spread evenly.  Distribute reserved 2 c. oat mixture evenly over fruit and press gently to form top crust.  Bake about 30 min. or until surface is lightly browned.  Remove and cool on a wire rack then cut into 12 equal bars.  These can be stored at room temp. for up to 2 days.

I've also been trying to creatively use all the eggplants coming out of our garden.  This is one of the new vegetables I'm growing this year that I've really enjoyed so far.  It seems like every season I fall in love with a different vegetable--even ones that may seem ordinary--and have fun creating new recipes.  This one was adapted from a friend of mine.  The eggplant slices, filling, and tomato sauce can be prepared a day ahead, which came in handy for us during this busy week.

Rolled Stuffed Eggplant

Just out of the oven!
Serves 4-6

2 medium to large eggplants, peeled
1 beaten egg
½ c. milk
2 t. cooking oil plus more for cooking
1/8 t. salt
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
½ c. ricotta cheese
2 T. chopped basil
Pepper to taste
Fresh tomato sauce (see recipe that follows)

Cut eggplant lengthwise into about 10 1/4-inch slices.  Place in a single layer on a sheet tray, sprinkle with salt and cover the layer with paper towel; repeat with remaining eggplant and let sit about 30 min. For batter combine egg, milk and 2 t. oil.  Add flour and salt; beat until smooth.  Dip eggplant slices into batter and cook on both sides in a small amount of hot oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Combine Parmesan, ricotta, parsley, and pepper.  Place 1 T. of cheese mixture in the center of each eggplant slice; roll up jelly-roll style.  Place seam side down in baking dish (or hold with a toothpick if you feel more comfortable).  Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes or until heated through; broil on high another 3 minutes.  Serve eggplant rolls with warm tomato sauce and additional Parmesan if desired.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

This recipe is very flexible; the amounts are up to you depending how thick and seasoned you like it.  You can also add any end pieces of eggplant not suitable for rolling; dice these medium.

Fresh tomatoes, cored and diced large
Fresh or dried basil and oregano
Fresh or granulated garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything but salt and pepper in a saucepan and cook down to your desired thickness.  Season to taste.

Although this is still the height of the summer season, I am planning for fall preserving and storage.  This week I harvested dried beans from my rattlesnake bean trellis.  This is the first year I've let them fully dry on the vine.  So far I have one pint, but there are many more beans still on the trellis.  One goal for next year is to add more bean trellises.  It's nice knowing that if it really came down to it I could grow my own protein and perhaps get all the nutrients I need from my own small parcel.  I also picked sage, air-dried it for at least a week on a sheet tray then ground it up in my spice grinder (coffee grinder dedicated to grinding herbs and spices) and laid it out to dry further.  If you save sage this way, be sure to fully dry it after grinding.  Last year I stored it immediately after and it molded, but I nearly put it into a Thanksgiving dish because the mold was not visible (same color as the sage); it was the smell that gave it away almost too late.
Homegrown "rubbed" sage
Over the weekend I was busy canning two cases of dilly beans for friend and former co-worker, David Swanson of Braise.  In the summer, preserving is like a natural, weekly activity for me--like doing laundry.  Pretty soon I'm going to need a production kitchen.  

1 comment:

  1. Your Rolled Stuffed Eggplant looks delish! I just picked 3 giant eggplants from our garden and was going to make eggplant parmesan, but your recipe looks better!

    And aren't the dragonflies crazy this year? I've never seen them like this. Our yard is full of them. But, they're welcome any time. Since their arrival, I've gotten less mosquito bites!