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The Feast Nearby….and in my kitchen.

The Feast Nearby is a wonderful book by Robin Mather. The book’s subtitle, How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week), says it all. I identify, in my own way, with this book. I went through a divorce a few years back that left me with a mound of debt.Along the way to now, I was a room and went through bankruptcy. Now, I am proudly living on my own in my studio apartment (with not a single credit card).

I highly recommend this book.

I’ve begun to make my own food. I can’t really afford to eat out or buy certain things.I make things out of a desire to know what I’m eating, in addition to knowing that homemade food is a heck of a lot cheaper in many cases. Right now, the yeasty smell of bread rising fills my apartment. I’ve made bread on many occasions as well as crackers, broth, sauerkraut, pickles, relishes and pickles, canned countless tomatoes, and dried corn (for throwing into winter stews). I fill my pantry with dried pasta and beans. And spices. I always try to have on hand onions, garlic, potatoes, tinned tuna and some sort of cheese. I feel that with what I have on hand, I can whip up any number of meals.

Dried corn for winter

Later tonight, I plan to try my hand at chutney. I love Major Grey Mango chutney, but don’t often justify the purchase. I have plums. I’m going to try plum chutney. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, yesterday, I made zucchini relish. It’s quite similar in taste to cucumber relish, and is a great way to use that glut of zucchini. All it takes is patience to chop it fine. I use relish frequently on sandwiches and in salads. Try this.

Zucchini Relish

Zucchini relish

Ball Blue Book® guide to preserving

makes about 4 half-pints

  • 2 c chopped zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 1 c chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet green pepper (about 1 small)
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet red pepper (about 1 small)
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar

Combine zucchini, onion, green and red peppers; sprinkle with salt; cover with cold water. Let stand 2 hours. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Add vegetables; simmer 10 minutes. Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust 2-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

After a long day on cleaning and canning, I made a dessert for my fella. He loves blueberry pie. So I made a blueberry crostada, a rustic pie. It is SO simple; I wanted to share it with you all.

Blueberry Crostata

Crostada, a rustic blueberry pie

from paninigirl.wordpress.com

Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • about 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar (for crust)

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut butter into cubes and toss with flour mixture. With a fork or pastry blender, cut butter into the flour until it’s the size of small peas. Mix the water in by the tablespoon until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Filling

  • 1 pint blueberries, washed, stems removed
  • zest of one lemon, grated
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Dry off blueberries and toss in a bowl with, lemon zest, sugar and flour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out crust into circle. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Spoon berries in to the center of the dough, leaving a 2″ border around the edge. Fold dough up around the berries. Brush edge with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Place in pre-heated oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream. Happy Summer! Serves: 4-6

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