simple homemade berry ice cream

Setting out for a long walk this afternoon, I knew it was going to be cold. But the sun rays were beaming through the windows and I figured, “Meh…how bad can it be?”. Answer: real bad. The wind caused tears to stream down my face and they subsequently froze to my cheeks (which is actually pretty uncomfortable when you have frozen stubby fingers trying to wipe them off), my ears started stinging and every time I inhaled my lungs burned. To top it all off I think I got a sunburn. Ugh. This is not Portland weather. The sun is nice…but it’s just a damn tease. There’s a reason I live closer to this ocean and not the Atlantic…I like having moisture content in my winter-air.

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Well anyway when I got home…I ate ice cream. I knnnooowww…seems weird. But my affinity for ice cream runs deeper than Crater Lake. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside. And lucky for me, I was finally able to save for the Kitchenaid ice cream maker I’ve been wanting since what feels like the beginning of time. I’ve made about five different kinds of ice cream, but so far my favorite is a variation of a simple mix and freeze recipe. I like the custard type ice creams that require eggs and cooking it all up before hand, but honestly that tasted too…store bought. It’s rich and creamy but didn’t remind me of homemade ice cream. It’s hard to explain. This strawberry recipe has been my favorite by far and it was fun to pull August-picked berries out of the freezer to use up.

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Maybe I’ll get to enjoy some more of this when it snows this weekend, right meteorologists!!??

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup half and half

2 cups frozen strawberries (or other berry perhaps?)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Puree berries in a blender or frozen food processor. Combine all ingredients; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to it’s instructions. Should make about 1-1 1/2 quarts.

The vanilla variation: skip the strawberries and increase the half and half to 2 cups total.

DIY Fabric Labels

Today’s been a good Saturday so far. It was raining early this morning, but it cleared up long enough for Gideon and I to take a 3 mile walk. Those long walks often end with a stop at our local coffee shop. A latte for me and a heart-shaped dog biscuit for Gid. We walked home through sunny sprinkling and hung out in the backyard while my hens enjoyed some yogurt. It’s been one of those days where it always feels like early morning. Something about the light and quite.

So today, on this fabulous Saturday, I feel like sharing. I’ve been asked several times how I create my fabric labels for my clutches.

Here’s how:

You need an ink jet printer, freezer paper and cotton fabric. You should be able to get freezer paper at any grocery store, usually by the tin foil. It’s original purpose was to wrap meats and fish for freezing, in this plastic coated parchment paper. Somewhere, somehow, it was discovered that if ironed to fabric, it made for a fantastic applique aid.

One. Cut out a piece of freezer paper and a piece of fabric a little bit larger than 8 1/2″ x 11″. I usually use a beige cotton fabric, that isn’t too sheer. I also, almost predictably, skip steps to make things go faster. I “measure” by laying a piece of copy paper down and cutting around it.

Two. Iron the crap out of your fabric. Making it really smooth. Following instructions on your freezer paper box, iron your fabric to your freezer paper. I dry iron the shiny side to fabric, with fabric on top. Iron, and iron, and iron.

Three. Cut it down to precisely 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Four. After you cut it, for good measure iron again. Making sure the edges are sealed.

Five. Design your page. Test print to make sure it’s exactly how you want it. I was working on some pre-Christmas stuff. Test print, until you are happy with the size and font.

Six. Place your fabric sheet into your ink jet printer and print away!

Seven. Cut out your new labels, peel off the freezer paper and enjoy!

I usually iron my labels after giving them a chance to dry. I’ve washed them in cold water as well, and the color faded slightly, but not too bad. The possibilities are endless. Anyway, enjoy and I hope you find this helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions!

Freezer Salsa – Don’t not make this. Right? Yeah. Double Negative.

*First off, for those wondering, Miss Marple, is doing much better. She was inside on a crazy diet of water-soluble foods for two days. That coupled with intense monitoring and lots of cuddling. She has seemed to pull through. Today she was back outside in the run. We’ll see tomorrow morning if her crop is looking okay…fingers crossed! One thing for sure is if you ever need help troubleshooting chicken crop issues…I’m your lady.

Okay, I know. You are so sick of me posting about how to use up your garden tomatoes. I wasn’t even going to blog about this salsa. I didn’t take any picture of the process.

However after I tasted it I HAD to share the recipe. You can ignore it. But I will have done my duty and passed on to you one of the best homemade salsa’s I have ever eaten. We’ve been eating it so fast, we didn’t even need to freeze it.

This recipe was created for TONS of tomatoes. I used about 9 1/2 pounds and cut all the other ingredients in half. Except I used two whole jalapeno, I love spice. It turned out perfect!

Here’s the recipe:

Fresh and Scrumptious Freezer Salsa

20 lbs tomatoes

2 cups fresh cilantro

2 large onions

10 garlic cloves

10 medium jalapeno (for medium salsa)

2 cups chopped green peppers

2 tablespoons cumin

1/4 cup sea salt

1/4 cup vinegar

6 large limes, juice of

Directions:

1. Peel the tomatoes (How?).

2. Chop tomatoes in a food processor until partly liquid, partly chunky.

3. Chop cilantro, onion, garlic, green pepper and add to tomatoes.

4. Chop jalapeno with seeds and put in to 10 quart stock pot.

5. Add cumin, salt, lime and vinegar to the jalapeno.

6. Throw the tomato mixture into the pot.

7. Bring to a boil and lower temperature to keep at a low boil for 2-3 hours.

8. Stir occasionally, making sure it doesn’t burn.

9. Boil down to about half the original volume to get rid of all the extra tomato water (you can even scoop some out towards the end).

10. Let cool and throw in freezer safe jars or containers, leaving plenty of room at the top for expansion.

11. Eat it all up.

12. No regrets.

Tomatoes Overfloweth.

What do you do with 9 lbs of home-grown tomatoes…especially when you have 30 lbs still to come?

Lots and lots of things. Besides the obvious fresh uses, I wanted to figure out some methods of preserving tomatoes. I don’t own nor do I have the cash for all the equipment needed to jar foods. BUT, I’ve got a tiny little freezer that’s just waiting to be crammed full of fruits and veggies.

Todays tomato lesson; a simple, yummy, garden fresh pasta sauce for your freezer.

To make this sauce (which yields about 48 oz of sauce), you need to peel your tomatoes. If want to freeze tomatoes whole with the skin on, all you have to do is freeze them in a ziplock and then run your frozen tomatoes under hot water. The skin will come right off…supposedly. Or you can freeze them after peeling them. Remember frozen tomatoes are to be used in cooking or baking. They will be too mushy for your salad or sandwich.

Here’s how to peel fresh tomatoes. Cut away stem and any bruised bits. Cut a X on both ends of the tomato.

Get a pot of boiling water going, and prepare a bowl of cold water (filled with ice). Pop one or two tomatoes at a time into the pot of boiling water.

 After about 60 seconds you should begin to see the tomato skin peeling away slightly where you cut the X. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomato to the ice bath.

After a few moments the tomato will cool, and you can pull it out.

You should be able to peel away the skin easily. If lots of the tomato meat is peeling away as well, you boiled it for too long. If it’s difficult to pull the skin off, you didn’t boil it long enough!

If you want to make freezer spaghetti sauce, gather up about 8 1/2 lbs of peeled tomatoes, give or take a 1/2 lb and chop em’ up. 

Since I didn’t go to all the work of seeding my tomatoes, I let them sit in a strainer over the sink to drain excess liquid, while I prepped everything else. (p.s. I got this sink strainer at IKEA a few weeks ago – $10 – I’ve used it almost everyday. Get one!)

To make the sauce, you’ll need to chop and saute one very large yellow onion (or two small), 5 garlic cloves, and a green pepper in about 1/4 cup vegetable oil. When translucent, add your chopped tomatoes and the following: 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and two 6 oz cans of tomato paste (I use the kind that comes with spices already in it).

Let cook on low for 1 to 2 hours, stirring frequently. Stop when you are satisfied with the consistency. It will become less and less chunky the longer it cooks.

Let cool and store either in zip-top baggies, wide-mouth glass mason jars (leave about 1/3 of the top empty), or do like I did and use some freezer tupperware. Pop in your freezer…and done.

Tomorrow I’ll share two different ways you can save all those cherry/grape tomatoes you are overwhelmed with.

Happy peeling!

Pesto Freak Out

I love pesto. We eat it all the time. Use it as bread dip, on our pasta, on our pizza, etc. But it’s so spendy in the stores. This year I got the bright idea to make a bunch ahead of time so I could freeze it to use throughout the fall. However I assumed, as I always do, that I was going to make TONS of it. “I’ve made it before, how hard can it be to make a bigger batch?”.

Well it’s not hard particularly, but I only have one food processor so I’m limited to about 40 oz at a time. So that’s what I’ve done. It takes quite a bit of time and quite a lot of olive oil. It also took about half of the leaves on my three mature basil plants to do it.

However, I’ve got about 30 more seeds sprouting up. So there’s going to be pesto at every single meal this next year. :)

I simply throw basil, garlic, almonds (cheaper than pine nuts) and olive oil into my food processor and blend it until I like the texture. I add more olive oil as I go. I’ve frozen it in some small freezer jam jars. When I want it, I’ll pull it out, let it thaw and add parmesan cheese.

Any homemade pesto experiences or other recipes out there?