Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2011 was the year of the Berry

I didn't post a lot last year because there was so much going on in our lives.  Highlights included getting my oldest off to college then an internship in Disney World, taking on managing a busy institute under a new director, caring for several elderly relatives, and looking after the rest of my brood which included a new puppy just at back to school time. 

In between all the chaos I found myself continuing my obsession for local food and canning.  We made a day trip to Erie to search for cherries.  We were too late for cherries, but the blueberries were spectacular.  I think next year I will go for blueberries and just pick up some frozen cherries.

I did a lot more freezing last year too.  It was easier to process fruit on hot humid days and the Food Saver makes it a lot more convenient to use the frozen product.  Successes included:

Apple Pie Filling:   I used my peeler/slicer  then added about 4 cups slices to 1/2c flour and 1 c sugar.  I mixed it all up and froze in food saver bags.  I use these for Dutch apple pie mostly.  In 2012 I plan to do a lot more and use them for crisps and cobblers too.

Frozen peach puree:  I took the leftovers from the canning peaches or those that were a little too bruised  to use for canning and I pureed them in the food processer with a little lemon juice.  I put the puree in a small food saver bag and sealed it then flattened it out before freezing.  I use this by chopping off the desired ammount and adding it to smoothies.  I also did this with some mangoes I found on sale at the local fruit stand.

Frozen bananas:  I know these are not local, but when they are cheap I buy the overripe bananas and peel and freeze them for banana bread or smoothies.

Frozen mulberries:  these were the find of the year last year.  I froze a few

Frozen blueberries:  Just pop them in the bag and into the freezer.  I add these to smothies too or use them in muffins or crisp or cobbler.

Frozen peaches:  I did some of these on a day when it was just too hot to can them.  They are ok for crisps, but they aren't as good for eating straight or in a pie for some reason.

As I have mentioned, I commute an hour each way to work at the lab and back.  It is far to easy for me to stop at Starbuck's or Wendy's or Panera for a quick, tasty, fattening breakfast.  Lately I have been trying for better though.  With the five minutes I have between the last time I walk the dog and the time Rebecca is ready, I throw a few things into the blender to make a smoothie.

Commuter Smoothie

I start with 2 containers of lite yogurt, any flavor that catches my eye.  Then I add two or three of my frozen selection of fruits or some fresh strawberries or canteloupe or whatever is left in the fridge. Sometimes I even add a packed of prepared cooled oatmeal. I top it off with about 2/3 c milk and hit frapee.  The smoothie gets poured into 2 pint sized mason jars and a re-used lid tops it off.  Add a straw and I have the perfect commuter breakfast, plus an additional snack for later in the day.