Sunday, February 27, 2011


I have enjoyed several variations of Carrot Soup lately.  Two of my favorites are created by the Irving Farm Coffee House in Millerton, New York and The Falls Village Inn, Falls Village, Connecticut.

Of course, I had to come up with something I could do myself at home, and I wanted to be able to preserve it.  As much as I enjoy cooking, sometimes I just want want to warm up a delicious bowl of soup with minimal effort. Pre-cooking and canning a few batches is an easy way to have a quick hearty soup during the cold, short days of winter.

This will require pressure canning because the ingredients are low acid, but this soup can also be made and served the same day. 

Hot or cold, this savory soup is equally delicious served hot during the cold winter months or served chilled during  the dog days of summer. I hope you enjoy my version.

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1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

4 Tablespoons Butter

3 Cups Carrots

2 medium Acorn Squash (optional)

1 Spanish Onion

2 Cups Light Cream

3 Cups Chicken Stock

4 Cloves

3 Garlic cloves

Salt; White Pepper

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Fresh Dill


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

If using halve and de-seed the acorn squash. Place face down on baking sheet and cook until soft,
20 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until they are comfortable to handle.

In the meantime, scrape and slice carrots, dice onions and garlic.  In heavy bottom stockpot over medium heat add one tablespoon of olive oil and 4 tablespoons butter.  Add prepared carrots, onion and garlic.  Saute until onions are soft.  Scoop flesh from acorn squash and incorporate into mix. Add 1 ½ cup chicken stock.  Simmer 20 – 30 minutes until carrots are soft, stirring frequently.

Using stick blender, or tabletop blender, blend mixture until smooth. If using tabletop blender do in small batches and return to pot. Add the remainder of the chicken stock, salt and white pepper to taste, and simmer to meld flavors, 10 – 15 minutes, stirring often. Turn off heat. 

NOW -  If you are going to serve for dinner, Slowly add 2 cups light cream and blend thoroughly.  Chop fresh dill and add to taste.  I use 4-5 tablespoons.  Serve immediately.

OR - If you would like to bottle up and use at a later time, do not add light cream or dill, instead using sterilized quart size canning jars leaving one inch of headspace. 

Pressure process at 75 minutes for quarts, at 11 pounds, or 10 pounds for a weighted gauge.

Cool jars completely before storing on shelf, 6 to 8 months. When ready to serve, warm over medium heat, follow directions from NOW, and serve hot.

For saftey tips on Pressure Canning Soups click here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


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"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." William Shakespeare

My sweetheart, Paul, gave me the most beautiful roses for Valentine’s Day. As they slowly began to fade I contemplated ways to preserve the petals.

I’ve experimented with this task many times in the past. When my son Hunter was younger he collected some beautiful little bottles and concocted a perfume, rose petals were one of the ingredients. The result was, umm, interesting and very sweet, but I don’t really have the time or interest in creating a perfume. I’ve tried potpourri in the past with rose petals and just wasn’t happy with those results either, besides I wanted to preserve them somehow.

Hunter's Bottles.

Growing in our flower garden are rugosa rose bushes that produce hips. I have not taken advantage of collecting them over the past several years, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions was not to let this season pass without experimenting with a Rose Hip Jelly, however that didn’t solve my current problem.

I have been wanting to make more vinegars. I made a lovely red raspberry version several years ago for holiday gifts that I was quite pleased with, so I thought why not rose petals in vinegar.

Well, I discovered rose petals are a culinary wonder. A vinegar is absolutely possible and so versatile that you can use it in vinaigrette salad dressings, drizzled over fresh fruit, in your bubble bath, as a light facial toner or in your favorite shampoo: a canning coup!

Rose petals, leaves, buds and hips should always be washed well to free them from all insecticides and fungicides. Rose petals to be used in foods or beverages should always have the white portion at the base cut away, as this is bitter.
 and should be supplied by a guaranteed organic source.


To one cup fragrant rose petals (white removed) add one pint (two cups) barely boiling white vinegar. Cover tightly, let stand 10 days, strain, rebottle.

Vary using rosemary, or lavender with roses. So sweet and simple!

I also discovered that rose water and rose syrup, made from rose petals, are used in numerous Middle Eastern and Indian pastries and confections and are available from specialty stores and ethnic markets.

Rose petals can also be used in making jelly, butter, vinegar, syrup, teacakes and desserts. A rose flavor may be obtained in standard cake and icing recipes by substituting 1/2 teaspoon of extract of roses for standard flavoring. They can be crystallized or macerated with wine and fruit. Lassi, an East Indian yogurt drink that is a favorite of my stepson Daniel, is flavored with rose water. Daniel loves to cook and has culinary aspirations so I am sure we will be creating some homemade Lassi soon.

I think I'm going to need more roses !

The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery, Leona Woodring Smith, Pelican Publishing, 1973 (ISBN 0-88289-464-1)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


This is a quick guideline for those of you who have not done home canning before, or if it has been a while since you last canned food.

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Canning is not just for making pickles: tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, corn, carrots, onions, eggplants, cherries, rose hips, soups, jellies, even meat and fish  can be "put by." You name it, you can probably can it. Think about it -storing canned food is less expensive than operating a large freezer.

Proper canning practices include:

• carefully selecting and washing fresh food

• hot packing many foods

• adding acids (lemon juice or vinegar) to some foods

• using acceptable, sterilized jars and self-sealing lids

• processing filled jars in a Boiling-Water Bath (aka Hot Water Bath) or Pressure Canner

Canning involves putting food into sterilized jars, then heating them at a temperature high enough and long enough to kill undesirable microorganisms. The heating and cooling process also creates a vacuum and that airproof seal is why we can store canned foods on shelves, unrefrigerated, for extended lengths of time. Of course, once you open the jar you are going to want to keep it refrigerated until you have used it up.

Jars, Lids, Rings and Canner

Jars do not have to be new; look for gently used jars at garage sales and thrift shops. Check rims for nicks or bumps by running a finger around them lightly. If there is any unevenness the jars will not seal properly, do not use them.

Always buy new lids. Lids cannot be reused, as the gasket material is not flexible enough to seal twice. Lids can be purchased inexpensively in packages of a dozen each. Rings can be used again as long as they are not rusty, if they show the slightest sign of rust, or if they are no longer round, get new ones. The only other items you need to get started are an enamel Waterbath Canner, a canning rack, jar lifter, lid lifter (basically a little stick with a magnet on the end of it) and funnel. Believe it or not, most of these items can be found at your local hardware store.

There are lots of recipes and helpful information on-line, but one of my favorite canning guides, used by my mother and grandmother and still available today, is the Ball Blue Book.

There you have it, easy as pie. Taking a little time to can at home will save money, and provide healthier food products for your family with no additives or chemicals...and with much better taste!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Modern research has confirmed what our ancestors believed about the health benefits of garlic. In 1858, Louis Pasteur documented that garlic kills bacteria, with one millimeter of raw garlic juice proving as effective as 60 milligrams of penicillin. Vitamins in garlic, such as A, B, and C stimulate the body to fight carcinogens and get rid of toxins, and garlic may even aid in preventing certain types of cancer. It's sulfur compounds can regulate blood sugar metabolism, detoxify the liver, and stimulate the blood circulation and the nervous system. Read more about garlic history and facts here.

I always keep garlic in my kitchen, usually full heads to be peeled as needed for use in soups, salads, sauces, and dressings. The other day, while shopping at the Sharon Farm Market, I purchased a container of pre-peeled garlic cloves from the produce counter. I used a few, storing the remainder in the refrigerator.  When I realized I wasn’t going to use them all before they went bad, I decided to pickle them.

As with most recipes there are many variations for pickling garlic. This one is quick and easy with balsamic vinegar adding a touch of sweetness.  The pickling juices can be used in homemade salad dressings when the garlic is gone.  Small brown spots will sometimes appear on the pickled cloves, but this is because of the balsamic vinegar,they are still edible.

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2 Cups White Vinegar

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

¼ Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Bay Leaf

½ Teaspoon Coriander Seeds

½ Teaspoon Mixed Peppercorns

2-3 Small Dried Red Chiles

2-3 ½ Pint Sterilized Canning Jars and Lids


In a non-reactive saucepan, stainless steel is always a good choice, mix vinegars, sugar, salt, spices, and bay leaf over low heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.

Add garlic cloves to the pan. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, gently pack garlic cloves into sterilized jars. 

Remove bay leaf from liquid, then pour vinegar into jars making sure to evenly distribute the remaining spices and completely cover the cloves: add more vinegar if necessary. 

Carefully clean edges of jar and seal with vinegar-proof lids. 

Store in a cool, dark place for one month before using. 

Once opened keep stored in refrigerator.  Good for 7 – 8 months.

Friday, February 4, 2011



To prepare food so they can be kept for extended periods without spoiling.

To prepare fruit, vegetables, etc., by cooking for pickling, canning, refrigeration or freezing.

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