Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer's Over - Lots to Come this Fall!

My busy summer is finally winding down and I've got lots of good stuff to share this Fall.

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Banks, OR, and picked about 20 pounds of cucumbers for making pickles. My mother-in-law has a truly fantastic recipe for dill pickles, and she turned the entire 20 pounds into quarts of dill spears for us.  If I haven't mentioned how much I love my mother-in-law here, I probably should have.

But wait, it gets better.  A week before the cucumber adventure we went to Silverton, OR (just south of Salem) and picked pears in the front yard of some of old friends of my in-laws.  They had five pear trees (not sure of exact species), two of which were "winter pears".  I don't know how many pears we picked, but it was enough to fill the back of a pickup with produce boxes full of them.  We had to wait a while for the pears to ripen, then we all spent a Monday canning pears.  85 quarts.  Eighty five!  And we had plenty left over for several pear crisps (excellent, of course) and some fruit leather (pear puree mixed with reduced home-canned concord grape juice).  I'm not sure exactly what we'll do with so many canned pears, but you'll probably get a first hand look right here before too long.

Today, my in-laws are once again in Banks picking up our tomato order.  150 pounds of vine-ripened tomatoes - 50 pounds for them, 100 pounds for my house.  We plan to can them all.  With an average of 2.5 to 3 pounds of tomatoes per quart, we should get about three dozen quarts of canned tomatoes.  That's about a year's worth at my house.

I'm out of home canned tomatoes right now, but not too long ago I had plenty and this is one of the things I did with them:


I started with six pounds of ground meat.  In this case, I had two pounds each of ground veal, ground lamb and ground chuck that was ground at home:
(only half of the meat is pictured here)

I added one egg per pound of meat, along with an entire bulb of garlic (finely chopped) and some spices (oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper:

Mix well:

Form meatballs and brown in a little olive oil:

Turn the meatballs to brown on all sides, add more as space permits:

Six pounds of browned meatballs:

Deglaze the pan with some red wine:

Add some onions:

Add the tomatoes - I used three quarts of home-canned tomatoes that I turned into a puree/sauce with a stick blender:

Ready for noodles:

I served this over linguine, and it was delicious.  I served the entire office meatball sandwiches the next day, and everybody loved them.

You can use whatever meat you have, but I'd advise against using 100% beef.  I made a four-pound batch last week and used three pounds of ground elk (about 10% beef fat) and one pound of ground pork.  They were also delicious.  I served meatball sandwiches again at work, and they were very well received.

I will be taking pictures during the tomato canning process, and will make a post here with all the details...