Stock Your Pantry

We seem to be in the height of the harvest now and it is a great opportunity for people to grab what they can to enjoy the tastes of summer through the winter. 2014-10-03 11.21.47Can you imagine tasting a summer peach in February?  The ones available in the supermarket are currently in flower in  South America. They will be harvested a bit green to make the 1500+mile journey to us without spoiling. They will be presented in the grocery store a bit hard and you will ripen them on the counter. When you taste it, it will be very pale in flavor compared to the tree ripened, freshly harvested fruit you can pick up in the market.

So what can you do?

You COULD consider eating in season. We used to do that when I was little because fruits and veggies grown overseas and brought in were very expensive. Then shipping prices dropped and here we are, expecting to eat watermelon in January. Consumer demand drives corporate decisions. If we the people who love our food to taste good decide we will not buy unripe produce during the winter three things can happen:

  • The stores will reduce what they bring in.
  • Local farmers probably will pick up the slack as much as the climate permit.
  • We learn that eating in season brings a lot of joy as we welcome a favorite flavor once again for the first time.

Image result for canning equipment canning toolsAnd there is a fourth, but it’s all on you: preserve the food available in season. You can freeze (easy), dehydrate (also easy and you can pick up a dehydrator that will work well for you for as little as $50), canning (a bit of a learning curve and you need a huge canning pot and attention to food safety issues), and freeze drying  (if you have a spare $3500 to purchase one, I want to use it for just 2 kinds of processing, please).

Of course, there is an easy way: shop Can-Do Real Food and stock your pantry.personal pantry

For example, right now we have a lot of dehydrated fruit offered as single types, combinations and fruit leather (roll-ups).  Can you imagine buying some watermelon strips now and holding them in your cupboard until January?  That will be a ripe full-flavored yumminess.

Image result for summer poeach winter peach comparison

The tomatoes began to show up in the market a few weeks ago and last week the farmers who provide surplus to Can-Do Real Food started sharing. I had enough to make salsa, some mild (golly gee, people, I ONLY used bell peppers…..and some mild Hatch chilis that barely stirred my palate, so be BRAVE) and some we loaded with jalpenos and more but Graham says it is “medium”. Heat lovers will have to taste to know if it provides enough pain/pleasure.  So, when you buy, buy TWO and put one in the back of your cupboard and forget about it……until the holiday gatherings. Then pull out the taste of August!tomatoes from BS

The next tomato project is the Loaded Pasta Sauce. Buy 6, get 10% off. Buy 8 and get your choice of a small (9 ounce) jar or a small dehydrated bag of your choice free. Buy 12 and get 15% off (and the freebie that you earn at 8).

Why do I suggest this? Because eating locally grown food supports our neighbors, the farmers who work from beyond sunrise to sundown in all kids of weather.  I want you to enjoy eating local food year-round and if you don’t preserve today’s harvest, take advantage of the fact that I do…with no artificial anything.cropped-mission.jpg

 

Shopping Gets Fun

So, a couple of weeks ago I realized since I was busy with all the fruit this time of the harvest, I needed to get more pectin before I ran out. And so, I headed over to one of my favorite websites, Nuts.com. (No, I’m not hawking for them…..I just thought you’d know why I was attracted to shop there….and THEN I saw their quality and their pricing…ladedah)Image result for nuts.com logo

I found my pectin and into the shopping cart it went….and then I remembered we needed some dried apricots because I never got any fresh a month ago. Okay, that done.

But then I noticed “dehydrated ingredients” and decided to “window shop.”

Okay, so the punchline to all this is that we have CHEESE-A-LISCIOUS Popcorn Topping Mix” at the farmers’ market this week.  Ingredients: white or yellow cheddar cheese, butter, garlic, thyme, rosemary. $6 for 2-4 uses.popcorn

The first and last time we made it before was three years ago near the end of the September. We knew we only had a few more weeks left in the farmers’ market run, so we went through all our odds and ends of dehydrated veggies, fruits, nuts, and herbs. We also had obtained some sample containers from various vendors at the Portland Ingredient Expo held that prior winter. Voila, we found a recipe that included what we had and made up about 10 packets. They sold out in the first public exposure.

This will be the second time…..we have 19 packets. Does one have your name on it?

 

My Daughter: My Muse

From the time Lisa was pretty small she made her opinion known about…well, everything.  In regards to food and flavor, her earliest wonderful contribution was to suggest a change in the banana bread recipe I had gotten from a co-worker in 1976. “Remove those raisins!”, she demanded at age 3. “And definitely add chocolate chips!”  We renamed the new recipe “Banana Bread a la Lisa” and enjoy it that way to this day.

age 4 ribs on trip to Vermont
A good eater, even at age 4!

Always willing to try new foods, she encouraged her younger brother on a trip to France when he was 11-years-old that trying escargot was worth it. My budget on the trip became strained as he decided that yes, garlic butter sauce makes everything worth trying and those snails just are not anything like the imagination tried to fool him.

Lisa has become quite an outdoor enthusiast. In the past 10 years she has trekked through New Zealand, Australia and parts of Indonesia. Over to Southeast Asia on another journey she and Josh traveled throughout Myanmar and Cambodia. She’s been to parts of Europe and I’m sure I’m forgetting some of the wonderful places she has seen. Closer to home, she has trekked the John Muir Trail in California, throughout Utah and the Canyonlands and they are planning the Washington leg of the Pacific Coast trail this summer.

Canyonlands
Canyonlands

As I began to explore dehydrating food for Can-Do I kept in mind the way Lisa and Josh need to cook. Most of their food is dehydrated because it is lightweight and condensed. They have to carry their water for drinking and cooking and washing, so I try to keep in mind recipes that do not need too much water. They also must carry fuel because wood fires are not permitted. The risk of wildfire is just too great. So, recipes need to be able to be prepared with minimal fuel usage also.

Once, visiting me with her sibs, we served the Can-Do Real Food Loaded Pasta Sauce and the discussion evolved into the quality of commercially prepared hiking foods. Most have considerable additives and of course, the flavor may be a disappointment.  So, Lisa often prepares the food they bring but the gauntlet was thrown down: I needed to prepare a dehydrated pasta sauce.

Gabrielle and Steven
Gabrielle Keeler and Steven Berger

My Can-Do farm partners have come to my house for a Tasting Supper several years. The last one was the tasting for 3 versions of the dehydrated sauce.

  1. We sliced and dehydrated the tomatoes hard, the better to grind them to powder.
  2. We roasted the sliced tomatoes and then dehydrated them hard for grinding, and
  3. We cut up the tomatoes, macerated them overnight in red wine, then oven roasted them etc etc.
  4. And for fun, we also served our canned Loaded Pasta Sauce.

Each recipe was essentially similar, using the same herbs and surplus carrots and zucchini as the canned version.  The only difference was how the tomatoes were prepared.

We did not tell our taste testers about the difference in the 4 recipes. And we are pretty formal with these efforts, with no talking allowed until after everyone writes down their thoughtful critique and overall rating for the recipe. tasting grid

Perhaps it is no surprise to you that the version that was most enjoyed was the one with the wine. It provided the most complex, deep and enjoyable flavor.

So, there we had the test and next was to wait for the tomatoes. Last summer we prepared what we thought was a significant amount but it still surprises me how condensed dehydrated food becomes when processed.closeup

I have set aside plenty for Lisa and Josh to enjoy on their trek next month, but we now have eight packages of Oven Roasted Double Loaded Pasta Sauce available for you. Each container has one cup of powder which, when mixed with 4 cups of water, makes 5 cups of sauce. Add more or less water depending on how dry or wet you prefer your sauce.  This is enough to feed 3-5 people, depending on serving sizes. double loaded pasta sauce

Excellent with our Forksize Zoodles which take next to no time nor water when mixed into the sauce to rehydrate!  Or enjoy with your favorite pasta.

 

 

 

Can You Manage Your Sweet Tooth?

We just made an amazing batch of Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream Sauce.  Maybe the word “amazing” is unnecessary.  Redundant. Superfluous.

The Stellas are a deep purple, almost black sweet-tart cherries, grown overlooking  Newberg at Sunshower Hill Farm. We add just a touch of sugar and then a bit of lemon to punch up the flavor. Then the 73% Creo chocolate. By leaving it a bit tart, the contrast with the sweet ice cream is phenomenal. But then again, you have to be the kind of person who allows yourself a treat like that. And if you do, it should be something excellent, like this!choc cherry ice cream sauce

Enough said. We have 24 9-ounce jars. They will be priced at $8.  If you want one, let me know. They will be popular.

An Apple A Day

We moved to McMinnville the beginning of September seven years ago. Our rental house has an amazing backyard with a huge herb garden, a lot of raspberry canes, two blueberry bushes, some rhubarb and two apple trees.

gravenstein apples

When we finished unpacking we could pay attention to the apples that littered the ground under one tree. I gleaned what I could and made some pretty darn good apple sauce and an apple pie. The rest of the ground fall was too far gone but I was eager for the next harvest.  We brought an apple and some leaves to the farmers’ market where the master gardeners identified it as a Gravenstein.

That was a new apple to me. I grew up in the Northeast and my favorite was a sweet-tart Stayman Winesap.  It made great sauce and pies and each apple was so large, you really only needed three or maybe four for a pie.  In those days I was bothering to peel the apples before cooking, so the fewer, the better.

Image result for stayman winesap
source: Century Farm Orchards

It was when I moved to Tennessee in the 1970s that I learned that apples generally have preferred growing zones, and regional varieties are not common elsewhere. So, the Gravenstein easily became my go-to and as Can-Do Real Food began, it was the apple found in the applesauce, the apple pie filling mix and later, dried.

But there was another apple tree in the backyard. Each year it would bloom but produce no apples. The master gardeners could not identify it from the leaves. All we knew was it was not a Gravenstein.apple blossoms April 11 2014

Both trees had not been properly maintained so we had them trimmed back. That next year we had about 6 apples on the mystery tree but I found them too late…..they were early summer apples and I had not checked early enough.

Last year we had a “bumper” crop—about 50 apples, all growing on the northeast section of the tree. (I have no idea why THAT was the growth pattern.) We brought the apple down to the farmers’ market and the master gardeners were stumped and suggested I take the apple to some apple agency office in the Portland metro area. We were not that concerned,  especially after I took a bite….and was not impressed.

I made up some applesauce. It was flat…..so I added some sugar and cinnamon and lemon juice. It was edible, but nothing I wanted to use for Can-Do. So I canned the applesauce for home consumption.

But I got a brainstorm to thin the applesauce and make fruit-roll-ups that would become tasty with the addition of…..something.

I had some blueberries in the freezer and made a puree which I swirled into the applesauce mix on the dehydrator sheet. When I ran out of berries, I then sprinkled the rest of the applesauce trays with candied ginger.

apple bluebberry roll-up
fruit leather before becoming a roll-up

Come taste the fruit roll-up concoctions this Thursday at the farmers’ market and see if I turned an early summer apple into something worth repeating.

It may be a moot point…both trees had abundant flowers and the Gravenstein is forming small apple buds now, but all the early apple tree shows is the remains of the flower. So, appears it was not pollinated and you know what, that is just okay with me. We get PLENTY from the Gravenstein!

apples in June
June 2017 Gravenstein tree is loaded!

A New Season Begins

Can-Do Real Food will be back in the McMinnville Downtown Farmers’ Market after a year’s hiatus to permit three joint surgeries to heal. I feel great; completely out of pain, so we are back to share shelf-safe local food with you!

We will be bringing the following canned items for your consideration:

Applesauce – Chunky texture, made with Gravenstein apples and a touch of cinnamon. No added sugar.

Berry Naughty Yumminess Sauce – Perfect for ice cream or an easy topping on a cake or pancakes or French toast or……it is naughty because it has orange liquor in it. OLCC requires us to tell you about that but even kids can eat this. blueberries-blackberries-and-raspberries

Hogan’s Hot Stuff – This is the last of the peach-jalapeno jam until new peaches in a couple of months. Grab it while the grabbing is good. (Message me if you want me to hold one for you.)

Quince Paste – I am sure this will move quickly. Perfect with cheese. If you have never tasted quince, stop by for a fun experience. It has a similar texture as pears but the taste is unique. 

Odds and Ends – Just 2-3 jars left of a few favorites. 

We have been dehydrating thinking of you as well as backpackers so there are some new items:

Mole Meal Mix – You can get supper on the table in less than 30 minutes following the simple recipe on the package. The recipe can feed 8 so way less expensive than fast food! This is a gentle- not hot- take on the Mexican dish……people who like heat will need to add more!

Huckleberry Dust – a powder to add to oatmeal or smoothies or yogurt that is high in anti-oxidants.Huckleberry Dust.pub

yello plum with hazelnut leatherPlum Roll-ups – 3 different takes….”Plain”, “Yellow Plum with Hazelnuts,” and “Pom Plum” which has the tanginess of pomegranate balsamic vinegar added in.

Rhubarb Lace -Just enough sugar to take away the pucker, these will be easy to enjoy!

Apple a Day – cinnamon and “naked” versions for a healthy snack

Fruit Feast – a mixture of dried fruits for healthy snacking

Mushroom Quinoa – Developed for backpacking, this can be enjoyed at home as a side dish or stuffing. Rehydrates in about 20 minutes.  We did all the cooking!

Our raw produce is predominantly sourced from local farms as well as backyard gardeners. No artificial anything added. Small batches, so grab when you see something!thankafarmer

The market starts at noon and runs until 6pm on Thursday. Located on Cowls and in the parking lot behind Town Hall. Plenty of parking within 2 blocks.  Hope to see you there!!!

 

 

 

 

Mid March Madness

The weather is gorgeous today, reminding me in just 8 weeks I will be at full speed between picking up produce from the farms, spending time in the kitchen canning and dehydrating, and then at the weekly farmers’ market on Thursdays in McMinnville.  The market is expected to start the very beginning of May, but my first harvest usually falls to the end of June, so until then, it is time to clear what we have in the freezer and to mix up our dehydrated veggies and herbs.

A few years ago when I started getting into selling the dehydrated offerings I needed to  identify packaging that would keep the food safe and provide at least a year of tight seal for longer storage. The options were plastic…plastic….and plastic.G dried foods.JPG

I’m pretty involved in Zero Waste McMinnville; it was a natural extension of the food waste reduction we have as part of our mission of Can-Do Real Food. As I learn more about how plastic has taken over our lifestyle, I have been searching for a new alternative packaging for the dried foods.

And while there are some new options this spring, there still is nothing that is workable. I will keep looking, but we will need to keep using plastic.

The bags I use all have zip-lock closure, so after I heat-seal the top of the bag, it is still closable with the zip lock after you open it. As such, the bags can be re-used and since they are good heavy plastic, I hope you will rinse and save them for personal use.

Purple Power

The garden huckleberry (Solanum scabrum) is a member of the nightshade family. It grows on higher bushes and harvests late in the season, usually after the first frost. It is not sweet at all; in fact, eating it raw is not the enjoyable treat you find with wild huckleberries or other forms of cultivated blueberries.

This photo will give you the obvious clue that garden huckleberries are not the same as wild huckleberries!

This fruit is a powerhouse of nutritional value, providing anti-oxidants, inflammation reduction, and more!

I joined the purple hands club last week when we made up the Huckleberry Culinary Syrup for Ranee Solmonsson of Sunshower Hill Farm in Newberg. She sells that wonderful treat through several buying clubs in Sherwood and Dundee. It is fantastic mixed with carbonated water for an Italian soda, or in your adult beverage of choice. Yummmmmm. IMG_0004

Meanwhile, we did what we try to do on whatever recipes of ours that will permit it…..we used a “waste” product to turn into a new food to enjoy. Let me explain.

Ranee is a very considerate farm partner. She cleans the berries of all leaves before she brings them to us, permitting us to give them a wash and then into the pot quickly. Our first step is to soften the huckleberries, so maybe just short of a boil gets them soft enough to put them through the mill.

2017gLast year was the last time we used a hand mill. We then were purchased a new “toy” that is an electric mill. Not only does this save Graham’s shoulder from several hours of repetitive turning, but it takes the milling down to minutes instead.

The mill separates the juice, which gets back on to the stove with some sugar and lemon juice to prepare the syrup, and the “must”, the waste. This waste is essentially the skins of the berries as well as the teeny tiny seeds.

We dry the must, grind it, mix it with some cane sugar and voila! You have PURPLE POWER! Huckleberry dust can be used by you to add that wonderful blueberry flavor to oatmeal, yogurt, and to drinks or however else you might want to play with it. 

High in anti-oxidants, this is a star in our offerings. All are healthy, some more than others. This one, with only a little sugar (believe it or not, garden huckleberries are not sweet at all!) wins out because of all the healthy benefits it providesHuckleberry Dust.pub

You can order Purple Power! and other Can-Do Real Food Products by going to the store offerings page on the website 

 

Farmers’ Market at the Grange

McMinnville has a secret-or so it seems. A few people know about it and enjoy the benefits but everyone can! Few areas of the country celebrate a weekly farmers’ market throughout the year and McMinnville is one!

The Farmers’ Market at the Grange has a full array of vendors inside in bad weather, outside in the nice summertime. There are freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, honey, meats, teas, flours, canned goods, berries, eggs, coffee, and so much more.

This Saturday, there will also be a whole bunch of crafters to help you fill your stockings or find that perfect one of a kind gift for someone special.

Can-Do Real Food will be joining the market for this Saturday only. This will permit you to stock up on a few things and also make some inexpensive delicious purchases for gift giving.

We will bring

Hogan’s Hot Stuff (Peach Jalapeno Jam). I have a friend (last name Hogan) who tried to convince me a few years ago to make this recipe, but we were short of peaches. We finally introduced this spicy sweet jam for your epicurean delight last year. The heat  mellows in the jar so I suspect most people can easily enjoy this now but I expect to hear it is not hot enough. It starts sweet and then the heat starts to build. 9 ounce $6.00.

Naughty Peach Jam is preferred by those who opt for the mellow flavoring of amaretto. Just a bit of the liquor enhances the peaches, but not too much to offer to everyone in your household for their toast. 9 ounce jar $6.

Also very popular is the Quince Paste. This oddly shaped pear or apple kind of fruit has a high level of natural pectin so it thickens up wonderfully. It is great by itself but superb with a salty kind of cheese like manchego or an aged goat or sheep cheese or in a baked brie. Start thinking NOW about the coming holiday season. Are you going to have any people over or do you expect to be going to anyone’s house for a party or meal?  Bringing some cheese, crackers and a jar of this quince paste will raise your status amazingly!  Or, if you want, make a baked brie which is super easy and will be the hit of the party!  9 ounce jar $6.00 Baked Brie with Quince Paste

We want to suggest that if you have never considered how the Naughty Rum Plum Sauce would enhance your holiday meals, you really should take a taste. Like cranberry sauce with your Thanksgiving turkey, this sauce is a condiment that embellishes beef, pork and poultry equally well. 9 ounce jar $6.

If you’re like me, one of your childhood treats was a Fig Newton. This year our Fig Sauce is perfect: the right notes of orange and the perfect texture! We’ll be happy to give our our cookie recipe that makes this an amazing treat! 9 ounce jar $6.homemade fig newtons

The gravenstein apple tree in our yard makes pretty darn good applesauce. We have a pint for you for $12.

Finally, in our offerings in jars, we did the work with our Apple Pie Filling. Gluten free with tapioca used as a thickener, this is gently spiced with cinnamon to provide a quick and easy dessert for you! No added sugar. 32 ounce jar $12.

Our dehydrated offerings also provide snacking and meal prep!

Perhaps you don’t grill much in the rainy cool winter, but we think once you discover our Coffee Rub, you will make it a pretty steady routine when it is not storming. Perfect on beef, pork, poultry and fish! Multiple uses for $5.

Unami dustFor the person who loves to cook, a package of Umami Dust would be mind bending!! Umami is the 5th sense of taste….an earthiness that enriches soups and stews with deep flavor notes. Multiple uses for $5.

High in antioxidants, this Huckleberry Dust is a delightful side product of one of the syrups we make for a farm partner. Her garden huckleberries are part of the nightshade family and this powder can be added to yogurt or smoothies or oatmeal to provide a deep blueberry flavor. Multiple uses $5.

Gingered Pear SnacksGingered Pear Snacks is a delightful snack option for those who enjoy the jam and love ginger. We macerate the sliced pears in ginger powder, fresh ginger and candied ginger to give you an easy to carry healthy snack. $5.

And finally, our award winning (Best in Dehydrated Division at the 2017 State Fair) Winter Squash Coconut Curry Soup mix is ready for you to enjoy in 3 minutes!!! What a delicious blend of flavors! Offered in single servings ($4) and 2-4 servings ($8).

 

Come to the Grange this Saturday. The market is open from 10-2. Located at 1700 SW Old Sheridan Road, just off Highway 18 on the way to the Coast just beyond Roth’s and Bi-Mart.

 

 

 

 

 

Can-Do Online Shopping!!

Yes! You CAN!

You can now order delicious dehydrated products from Can-Do Real Food by going to the website  and clicking on the link to Store Offerings! There you will read about the products that are available to purchase.

The software I used to help with the online purchasing offered a way for local people to opt to arrange for local pick-up instead of needing to pay for shipping. I only entered the zip code for McMinnville. If you live in the Valley and are willing to come to Mac, just process the shipping option but leave a note for me that you want to arrange local pick-up and I will refund the shipping fees.

When I got the shopping system installed, Graham and I ran some testing and I determined that the software’s effort to combine the items into the least expensive shipping option did not always work right.  I will gather your purchases and put them into the smallest envelope or box possible, refunding any difference in shipping rates as well. (One very positive aspect of the PayPal system allows for easy reimbursement.)

So now, you need no longer wait until I am at a market to enjoy Can-Do Real Food!!!