Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cooking with Fresh Veggies and a Recipe from Rachael!

As I was gathering veggies from my garden last night, it dawned on me that perhaps more people would grow their own herbs and vegetables if they knew what to do with them after they are "picked" and ready to take into the kitchen.
It's second nature to those of us who have either canned or opted to freeze garden goodies for years; however, I get a lot of comments from others who seem amazed at such "feats". You can grow herbs in a pot in your kitchen window; tomatoes, peppers and even beans can be grown in a window box outside your apartment door. Or, if you don't want to try your hand at gardening, you can always visit your local farmers market and buy fresh produce. You can buy enough for one meal, one recipe or enough to can. If you're new to canning, you'll probably discover that you don't save a lot of money the first year because you'll have to purchase jars and a canner. (Of course, there's always the option to freeze fresh veggies but you'll need room in your freezer.)
Before drying herbs, gather a small bunch and fasten together using a rubber band. That's a tip - the rubber band will tighten as the herbs dry, keeping your bundle together. A string or wire will not adjust to the drying, shrinking items and you'll end up trying to tighten the binding every day and bruising the herbs.
But back to cooking the veggies: Last night's dinner was a meal adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe. Click the link for the recipe, which is delicious!! Instead of using canned fire roasted tomatoes, I used tomatoes and banana peppers from our garden. The onion was also fresh from our garden (you didn't expect freshly pulled onions to be pretty, did you? LOL!) Oh, and I added some basil leaves. When you're cooking with herbs, be sure to add the herbs last so they won't look all black and yucky in the pot. Cutting onions and peppers are pretty much a no-brainer (just wash them really well, remove the pepper seeds and chop the onion and peppers up before you add them to the bacon. It's okay if you miss a few seeds, by the way.)
If you're adding fresh tomatoes to a recipe (other than a salad), you'll want to first remove the skin. Heat a pot of water to boiling and lower the tomatoes the pot. Use kitchen tongs to remove them after only about a minute. This will loosen the skin and will make peeling the tomatoes soo much easier! Be sure to cut out the stem and any "bad" (brown or bruised) areas. Cut the tomatoes (I like to dice mine) before adding them to the bacon and onion mixture. Sprinkle them with a little salt; the salt will make the tomatoes "sweat", therefore providing juice for the sauce.
Whether you try this particular recipe or another, I do hope you experiment with fresh fruits and vegetables in lieu of those canned by a manufacturer. The taste is more vibrant and fresh is healthier. Let me know how you do!

6 comments: said...

Fresh is ALWAYS better, isn't it? I just love garden season.

Judy said...

I don't have much room but I grow my own herbs and dry/freeze them for winter. Have you ever dried them in the microwave? I read an article and I may try it this year. I go the farmers market and buy lots to freeze for winter. It is so much better than what you buy at the store. This is my first visits and I love you blog, I'll be back to visit. I saw a post at Garage Sale Gal and hopped over.

Sher said...

Hi, Karla! Yes, fresh is always better! The smell, the color, the taste - it's all good!

Judy, I've never dried herbs in the microwave. I'll have to google it! Thanks for the tip! Thanks for stopping by, too! I do hope you come over often!


SweetAnnee said...

Oh yummy
I love ANYTHING with fresh tomatoes in it..
smiles, Deena

Janet C. Fish said...

You okay? I hope your silence is due to buying your busy self.

Love, Janet

Janet C. Fish said...

Uh, excuse me! I meant "being" your busy self, not "buying" your busy self. How would you buy yourself anyway?

Well, unless you bought yourself some neat stuff, that'd be fun.

But I meant being.

Love, Janet