Preserving the bounty

By Dr. Linda Mitchell
All the hard work Dean put in a few months ago is now bearing fruit… or veggies as the case may be. We enjoyed our first home-grown tomatoes and peppers this week and the crop looks to be bountiful. The problem is how to preserve it so we can continue to have that tasty experience of homegrown goodness. A few years ago I got into the dehydration mode…if it could be sliced I tried to dry it. I had so many dried apples I changed my motto from an apple a day keeps the doctor away to a pie a day keeps everyone happy, happy, happy.
Home preserving is making a comeback. Don’t know why but I do know it’s a smart skill to have and an easy one to acquire. A boiling-water canner and rack are necessary tools for preserving high-acid foods such as jams, jellies, whole fruits and pickles. The rack keeps the glass jars off the bottom and allows water to circulate. If you have a big enough pot, you only need to purchase a wire rack to fit it and you’re in business. For low-acid foods like veggies and meats a pressure canner with a locking lid and safety valve uses steam to reach the high temps necessary for safely preserving low-acid foods.

Peach Pie Filling
3 1/2 cups sliced peaches or other fruit
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup clear jel (recommended by the USDA for making pie fillings because it does not break down and it can be frozen)
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice or Fruit Fresh

Sanitize the jars either in the dishwasher or by boiling them for 10 minutes. Keep them in the hot water until ready to use. Place the lids in a pan of hot, but not boiling water for 5 minutes.
Peel and cut up the peaches. Sprinkle with lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep the peaches from turning dark. Gently toss so that all the surfaces are coated.
For the liquid, mix water, sugar and clear jel together and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Add drained peach slices and continue to cook 2-3 more minutes.
Fill the quart jars to within 1 inch of the top, wipe any spilled filling off the top, seat the lid, and tighten the ring. Put the filled jars in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 inch of water while boiling. Boil for 30 minutes. (Note: if you are 1000 feet or more above sea level check a chart for boiling times.)
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching them. Once cooled, check to see that they are sealed. Just press gently in the center. If it pops up and down, it is not sealed. If you refrigerate the jar right away is will still be safe for use.

Brown Butter and Maple Carrots
2 pounds carrots, trimmed and halved or use baby carrots
2 teaspoons olive oil
Sea salt (to taste)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss carrots with olive oil and season with salt. Place carrots on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt butter and stir until it turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup. Drizzle maple butter over the carrots and roast another 10-12 minutes.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 – 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one large loaf pan or three smaller ones. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and gently fold the batter together until almost no flour remains. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out.

Loaded Baked Potato Dip (perfect for tailgating time)
16 ounces sour cream
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, diced

Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate before serving to allow flavors to meld together. Garnish with extra shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and chopped chives. Will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Coconut Shrimp
1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Oil, for frying

Whisk together the flour, spices, salt and sugar in a shallow dish or pie plate. Lightly beat the eggs with the water in another shallow dish. Combine the coconut and panko in a third shallow dish. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Bread the shrimp by dropping them into the flour mixture and then dipping them into the eggs. Next, drop the shrimp into the coconut-panko mixture, pressing to make certain it sticks.
Drop in small batches into the hot oil, stirring to prevent sticking. When golden brown, remove from oil and allow to cool.