By Jenni McHugh
The first time I “put up” food as an adult I was 22 years old, working on a farm with my then-boyfriend-now-husband. We were so proud of what we’d accomplished we were beaming. We put our jars of tomatoes, dilly beans and pears on a shelf above a couch in the employee kitchen so that we would see them first thing in the morning when we came in for breakfast. The next morning we arrived to find half of our jars broken on the couch, all mixed up in a nasty soup of veggie mush. The shelf had collapsed under their weight during the night. We learned the hard way that canned goods are not just beautiful, they’re heavy! Despite our setback, my husband and I continued our romance with food preservation. We are still amazed, twenty years later, at what we can accomplish with fresh produce, Mason jars, and a few hot, determined hours in the kitchen.
If you are curious about canning but not sure where to begin, this is your lucky month. Preserving Food Safely, a workshop on August 24th from 2 to 4 p.m., will teach you the safest way to preserve by canning, freezing or pickling. Winona Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer questions on food drying, etc. Preregistration needs to be completed by AUGUST 20TH, so call soon to register or for information: 507-457-6440.
Eating food you’ve preserved yourself is extremely satisfying. More importantly, putting up fresh produce allows you to eat in season all year long. If you are a lover of good food, canning is definitely something to add to your bucket list.
Meanwhile, summer’s hot weather crops—tomatoes, melons, and sweet corn are finally here. The recipes here will allow you to build a meal that will leave you feeling content, but not too full, on a hot and steamy August night.
--Adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices (or two or more Japanese eggplant)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 cloves garlic or more to taste, crushed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Place eggplant slices in a colander over a plate; sprinkle with salt and gently toss. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain well. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of each slice with olive oil.
Place on a broiler pan. Top eggplant with tomatoes, basil, garlic and Parmesan. Broil 6 inches. from the heat for 5-7 minutes or until eggplant is tender and cheese is melted.
The following two recipes are from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates (2003):
The directions for this soup say to start with cold melon, cucumbers and buttermilk so that you won’t need to chill it before serving.
½ Honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and cubed (4 to 5 cups)
3 cups buttermilk
2 T chopped fresh mint
½ t ground coriander
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
½ t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper, or to taste
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced into ¼-inch pieces (3 cups)
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
In batches in blender, combine the melon, buttermilk, mint, coriander, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and puree until smooth. Stir in the cucumbers.
Serve immediately with a dusting of nutmeg and, if you like, a bit of cilantro.
Grilled Curried Corn
on the Cob
6 unhusked ears of corn
¼ cup coconut milk*
1 T curry powder or garam masala
2 T minced fresh cilantro
½ t salt
*If you open the can of coconut milk without shaking it, skim off the thick part that rises to the top and use it. The baste will cling better to the corn.
Prepare the grill or preheat the oven broiler.
Carefully peel back the husks of the corn without detaching them from the stem end. Remove the corn silk. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut milk, curry powder, cilantro, and salt. Brush the kernels of each ear of corn with the curry base and then pull the husks back to the top.
Grill or broil the corn for 15 to 25 minutes, turning often, until the husks are dry and the kernels are tender and just beginning to brown. Remove the husks carefully—hot steam may escape.
* This column of good eating is brought to you by members and friends of the Winona County EDA Local Foods Committee and UM Master Gardeners. Questions or comments? Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org