Category Archives: Recipes

I love to cook and do a lot of canning, which is sort of a lost art in these days of pre-canned vegetables in the grocery store. But I like to know where my food came from and what is in it. Canning is a lot of work but everything is so much better!

Spicy Pickled Beets

4 lbs beets

3 cups thinly sliced onions
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 tblsp mustard seed
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon, broken
Wash and drain beets.  Leave 2″ of stems and tap roots.  Cover with boiling water and cook until tender.  Remove peel, trim ends, slice.  Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes.  Add beets and cook until hot throughout.  Remove cinnamon sticks.  Pack hot beets into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace, ladle hot  pickling liquid over beats, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust 2-piece caps.  Process 30 minutes for pints (40 minutes for quarts) in a boiling-water canner.  Yield 4 pints.
On July 16th I canned 16 quarts of pickled beets (about half of my row of beets in the garden!)  I ended up giving the rest of the beets to my neighbor.
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NOTE:  I always plant Cylindra beets, their carrot like shape make them a breeze to peel!  Actually you just pick them up, hold them in both hands and twist and off come the skins!

Strawberry Glaze Pie

fresh strawberry pie6-8 cups of whole strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 tblsp cornstarch
3/4 cup water
single crust pie crust
whipped cream

Mash 1 cup strawberries, set aside.

In a saucepan, combine sugar & cornstarch.  Stir in water and mashed berries.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir 3 minutes more.  (This should be REALLY thick).  Cool for 10 minutes.

Spread about 1/3 cup glaze over bottom and sides of pie crust.

Half remaining strawberries, arranging in shell.

Spoon remaining glaze over berries.

Chill 1-3 hours.  Garnish with whipped cream.

NOTE:  Don’t attempt this pie with frozen berries as it will be absolute mush!  Use fresh berries – from the local farmer’s market or ones that you go and pick.

Tomato Sauce

The original recipe came from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration (I think it’s Volume 1 and it actually has a blue cover)- and I’ll post that first.  Ben says that a recipe is never safe in my hands because I always modify it (and he’s right) so I’ll add my modifications after.

  • 45 pounds tomatoes
  • 6 cups chopped onions
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Bottled lemon juice

Wash tomatoes, drain.  Remove core and blossom ends.  Cut into quarters; set aside.  Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large sauce pot.  Add tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, salt, black pepper and sugar.  Stir in crushed red pepper, if desired.  Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove bay leaves.  Press mixture through a sieve or food mill; discard seeds and peels.  Cook pulp in a large, uncovered sauce pot over medium-high heat until sauce thickens, stirring to prevent sticking.  Reduce volume by half for a thick sauce.  Add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar – OR – t tablespoon lemon juice to each pint jar.  Ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4″ head-space.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process pints 35 minutes (quarts 40 minutes) in a boiling-water bath canner.  Yield 14 pints or 7 quarts.

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Ok, so that was the original recipe.  I’ve always like a really thick, flavorful sauce with lots of other veggies in it.  And because I have a good sized vegetable garden, I always have an abundance of veggies on hand.

My modifications:

  • No olive oil
  • No salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 cups of chopped sweet bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves – chopped
  • 6 cups total of chopped zucchini and yellow squash (quarter and cut out seedy center)
  • 1 or 2 carrots – cut into 2 or 3″ chunks
  • 6 celery stalks, diced to 1/4″ thick

Wash your tomatoes removing any blossoms and/or stems.  Half or quarter if necessary.  Assemble your Sauce Master and grind up your tomatoes (the Sauce Master automatically removes the skin and seeds and you are left with a beautiful, thick puree).

Put the puree into a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot.

Chop your onions, peppers, squash, etc., chunk up your carrots,  and add to the tomato puree.  Cook puree over medium heat until it starts to bubble, then reduce it to a simmer (or move it to a simmer burner, if you have one).  Let this simmer several hours and then add your spices.  You really do need to reduce the volume of puree by half for a really thick sauce.  Throw out the carrot chunks before jarring your sauce.

Sterilize your canning jars (I run them through my dishwasher on a short wash cycle), just make sure that your dishwasher has a sterilize cycle.

Add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar – OR – t tablespoon lemon juice to each pint jar.  Ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process pints 35 minutes (quarts 40 minutes) in a boiling-water bath canner.  Yield 14 pints or 7 quarts.

NOTE:  The carrots and the sugar help to reduce (in many cases eliminates) the natural acid in tomatoes – at least that’s what my Italian ex-grandmother-in-law told me.

Don’t get caught up/hung up on the quantities – and certainly don’t feel like you have to run right out and buy 45 pounds of tomatoes at the local farmers market!  You can use smaller amounts without an issue and just gauge the quantities.

As for tomatoes – this year I got carried away – I have a total of 21 plants down in the garden – some Roma’s, a Big Boy, Jet Star, and an early variety that came from Burpee (and I don’t remember the name of them but I’ll find it and post it later).

Basil Pesto

Today I’m going to try my hand at making fresh basil pesto – something I love, but have never made before.  I have some lovely purple and green basil in the garden.  The recipe that follows is a combination of about 3 different ones that I found on the internet.

  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves – packed means stuff them down into a measuring cup and press them down with your fingers.
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (several recipes say that you can substitute walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or 1 tablespoon prepared minced garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Makes about 1 cup – can be frozen but cannot be canned.

Pick your basil leaves off the stems, discard flower buds, stems, or leaves that aren’t in good shape.

Wash the basil in cold water.

Chop the pine nuts, olive oil and garlic in a food processor or blender.

Start adding basil leaves, in small batches) to the food processor with the garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts.

From what I read – here’s the IMPORTANT part – if you want to freeze this – leave the cheese out!

Pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week – so if you intend to use it up quickly add the grated cheese to your basil mixture in the food processor.

If you want to freeze the pesto, leave the cheese out, put your pesto mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze.  When the pesto cubes have frozen, pop them out and put them into a freezer bag.  When you need some pesto, just take out a cube or two, let it defrost, and mix in a tablespoon or two of grated cheese.

Serve pesto over pasta or use it to season fish and chicken dishes.  One of our favorite ways to use pesto is as an appetizer; add an extra tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil to each defrosted cube of pesto and serve it with chunks of thinly sliced fresh bread.


For anyone interested in canning recipes check out Food in Jars and


Pepper-Onion Relish

The peppers and onion are ready and this has to be my favorite relish.  It’s good on burgers, hot dogs, in tartar sauce, or spooned over the top of cream cheese.  From the Ball Blue Book.

  • 2 quarts chopped sweet green peppers (about 10 medium)
  • 2 quarts chopped sweet red peppers (about 10 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 hot red peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups vinegar

Cover vegetables with boiling water, let stand 5 minutes.  Drain, cover again with boiling water and let stand 10 minutes.  Drain.

Tie pickling spices in a spice bag.

Combine spice bag, sugar, salt, and vinegar; simmer 15 minutes.

Add drained vegetables, simmer 10 minutes.

Remove spice bag.  Bring mixture to a boil.

Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4″-inch headspace.

Adjust 2-piece caps.

Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Yield – about 6 pints.

Below is a slight variation of this relish – using a liquid non-sugar sweetener; again from the Ball Blue Book.

  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green peppers
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 quart vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid non-sugar sweetener

Combine all ingredients, except non-sugar sweetener, in a large saucepot.  Bring mixture to a boil; cook until vegetables are tender and the mixture is slightly thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in non-sugar sweetener.  Ladle hot relish into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Adjust 2 piece caps.  Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Yield – about 5 pints

Zucchini, Pepper, Onion, Sugar Snap Peas & Chicken Stirfry

I love stirfrys – and when I’m canning I certainly don’t have a lot of time to cook – and I usually have a hard time getting to the stovetop because of the canning kettle(s).

On Saturday I was thinking of something quick and easy to do for dinner, that would also use up some of the veggies I picked – so I said ok a stir fry!  It was really good.


Combine the following in a ziplock ba

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

zucchini, pepper, onionAdd 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks.  Shake it up good to coat the chicken and put it in the fridge for 2-4 hours.


  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy

Mix this together well and set it aside.

Chop up:

  • 1 zucchini  – cut it in half lengthwise and then into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • a good handful or two of pea pods or sugar snap peas cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • chopped garlic

Dinner time:

Using a wok or a large non-stick fry pan, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce until it’s almost “smoking”.  Add chicken (throw out any remaining marinade/juice).  Cook chicken until the juices run clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.  (Add a splash more oil if you need to – but not much). Throw in all your veggies and cook for just a few minutes, stirring them frequently – they should be very crisp and the zucchini just slightly “browned” on each side.  Add your sauce and the chicken.  Cook for a couple of minutes – until the sauce thickens.

Dish it up and enjoy!

You can serve this over hot cooked rice or over rice noodles – but we just ate it “plain”.

Sorry, no pictures of the final dish – Ben was like – NO WAY – I’m starving and I’m not waiting while you take a stinking picture!