Pickled Butternut Squash-Putting Up with ErinDSCF2465e

Whether it’s the crisp fall ambiance and fireplace aromas, or the obvious fact that I grew up in a relatively season’less part of California, every year I find myself “jumping the gun” on root veggies the minute tree leaves begin to color in Maryland. “Goodbye brightly colored tomatoes, peppers, and herbs… hello earth-toned cornucopia of pumpkins, potatoes, squash, and yams!” Reminded that root vegetables would soon dominate the local scene, I held off and began compiling my harvest inspired recipes. I decided that this fall I would stray a bit into alternative pickling and preserving of fall/winter crops (after all the goal of this blog is to keep up with the hobby year round). Returning home from a weekend away in New Hampshire and Maine (see trip photos here), I pulled out my recipe queue, category: pickling. With several pounds of butternut squash, I decided to try the trusted Joy of Pickling’s Crisp Pickled Pumpkin recipe. I modified the original recipe by doubling it and swapping out pumpkin for butternut squash.

I’d be curious to hear what you guys think. Do you typically lean towards more savory or more sweet squash recipes?

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You knew something related to science and canning was coming right?  While eagerly searching for the starship Enterprise at the National Air and Space Museum a few Fridays back, I found myself thinking about food preservation for outer-space. Upon further investigation, I learned that in fact though American-supplied food is typically freeze-dried or dehydrated, many Russian-supplied foods are put up in cans and tins for food consumption (and reheating) in space. Space food can be processed in one of two ways: (1) thermostabilization: a method similar to canning, that heats foods to destroy pathogens, microorganisms, and any enzymes that may cause spoilage, and (2) electro-resistivity: heating that allows particles and liquids to heat at the same rate and permits the rapid heating of mixtures of high solids fractions (Fryer, 1995). For thermostabalized foods, a special heater is required, as you can’t just throw these pouches/cans into a martian microwave. The Russian space program has about 100 different food items such as fish products (pickled or spiced perch) for breakfast, a variety of soups, lamb with vegetables, sturgeon, borsch, goulash, curds, and nuts.  Russian canned goulash floating in zero gravity space! Cool, right?

But that’s not all!  Just one more tiny tangent from canning… “StarShip Gardens” are currently being developed by NASA.  The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a space bound planter box capable of growing plants (initially lettuce strains and other salad-type crops) fit for astronaut consumption.  Veggie is set for deployment to the International Space Station later this year (we will see, this is coming from an agency that postpones satellite missions by 5 to 10s of years).  While this is not NASA’s first attempt to grow plants in space (see Diary of a Space Zucchini), it is the first attempt to grow space crops for cosmonaut feasting.  

Now that space science is out of my system (for today), I’ll be back to posting earthling recipes next week! 🙂

 

Honey Pickled Pepper Rings- Putting Up with ErinHoney Pickled Pepper Rings- Putting Up with Erin

Has slicing hot peppers without gloves on ever left you frantically waving your hands/ running for the shower/ice water bath?  If so, you’re not alone!  I vividly recall the horror of my first time… it was a pleasant summer evening without a care in my world, birds chirping, children laughing, I was making dinner, listening to music, probably drinking wine, chopping hot peppers for black bean soup, when all of a sudden I had an itch… let’s just say I’m really glad I didn’t have roommates at the time to witness this dreadful mistake.  One would think that after that awful “ring of fire” evening, I would have learned my lesson.  A time or two I’ve tried half-ass’ing it by putting plastic produce bags over my hands, alas the pepper oil still managed to find its way under my fingernails only to haunt me days latter during hot yoga.  I was weary when I first came across the Joy of Pickling’s Honey Jalapeño Rings; clouded by their beauty I decided to give them a try. I swapped out the jalapeños for a milder sweet pepper alternative with hopes that it would save me the agony of fire fingers.  Also I accidentally used 1-1/2 Tbsp rather than 1-1/2 tsp of honey… oops, I hope it’s for the better.  Use these pickled peppers as a Bloody Mary garnish, atop a bowl of Cuban black bean soup, or straight up if you can handle the heat.

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Today marks the 2 week anniversary of the first Putting Up with Erin post! You’re probably thinking “keep it up for two years, then we will have something to get excited about”, but nonetheless I’m excited! Already have I had the courage to tell a young aspiring canner at the farmers market about the blog. Already has a friend in another state tried out a few recipes and posted photos on social media unbeknownst to me. Aside from putting up several recipes that I may have otherwise not tried, I feel as if all my preconceived woes, i.e. “why would I start a blog, I have no new content to offer” or “look at how amazing these other canning blogs look, mine could never amount to that”, of starting a blog have almost disappeared. I embrace the challenge of posting two to three new posts a week (without internet at home) throughout the on and off “season of canning”. I’ve have began thinking ahead to what types of locally sourced fruits and vegetables I will can during the dead of winter, and if the options are limited to local root veggies or store bought frozen berries, what types of non-recipe posts will I make. Any suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Spiced Port Apple Cranberry Sauce-Putting Up with ErinSpiced Port Apple Cranberry Sauce-Putting Up with Erin

In college my typical Thursday night would involve drinking too much, eating MSG laden ramen, and making bad life choices.  Fortunately for the sake of my health (with the occasional relapse), now I just drink (higher quality alcohol), decide to start canning a pretty involved concoction at 11:45pm, and then proceed to drink all the ingredients (hello late 20’s).  A few years back, I decided to openly declare that I really disliked the canned cranberry gelatin-like glop that my mother used to serve every year during holiday meals. To resolve the issue, she suggested that I try my hand at homemade cranberry sauce.  To say the least, my first stab at cranberry sauce was not quite as satisfactory as I had hoped. I think the store bought extra pulp OJ may have been the culprit.  I made further improvements last year by using orange zest, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Alas this attempt also failed to enticed the meal goers, and quickly landed itself a place in the dark depths of the refrigerator.  Last night, after a few glasses of wine, and Thanksgiving only three weeks away, I decided that I would give it a go once again. This time I added apples, port, and a whole slew of other ingredients.  Preliminary findings from my late night finger-tasting, resulted in a quality improved sweet and slightly tart mixture of cranberry goodness.  I will definitely be bringing a jar or two of this Spiced Port Apple Cranberry Sauce to this year’s holiday festivities. This recipe can be easily modified by adding or omitting spices, or by substituting bourbon for the port. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

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