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I decided last summer that I wanted a food dehydrator. I oven-dried some tomatoes and they were delicious, but it took about 3 days in the oven. I looked at about a million of them on Amazon and was about to order one recently when I thought hey – why don’t I place a ‘wanted’ on freecycle? Seems like the kind of thing someone might purchase with good intentions and never really use. I have given away a lot via freecycle, but this is the first thing I have taken.
Sure enough, the next AM I had an offer from someone who got one for a wedding gift 7 years ago and had never used it! I picked it up from the end of her driveway later that afternoon. It’s the Nesco FD-40 Snackmaster Elite. They don’t make it any more, but it’s similar to this, only without the timer and temp options. And mine is 400-watt, I think. It’s not that loud either, which is nice.
This weekend, I finally gave it a try with some apples and bananas. Here’s what I did:
1. Washed and sliced apples. I used Golden Delicious since that’s the only kind of apple I like. I sliced them with my new mandoline that I am totally in love with. I used the thick setting and then sliced them lengthwise with a knife. The best bits are the end pieces with lots of skin, though.
2. Tossed the apples in a mix of a little lemon juice and some orange juice. This is to keep them from getting brown (if you didn’t know, you can do this for sliced apples in a lunchbox, too. I also tossed them with a little cinnamon and sugar, just to make them extra good.
3. Sliced banana thin and also dunked it in the lemon/orange mix, just for kicks.
4. Piled them in and dried on Saturday for about 8 hours. Turned it off overnight and gave them another 3 hours or so today.
They are SO GOOD. A little tart, sweet, and crunchy. They tasted good after being dried just a little (I’d grab one every now and then yesterday – you know, to check…). Today they are excellent. I could probably have dried them a bit longer, but since I know they’ll be gone by the end of the week most likely, I’m not concerned with them being 100% dry for long-term storage.
Had some on top of my cereal this AM and have been snacking on them all day. I bought some more apples and grabbed a giant bag or ripe bananas they marked down to 60¢ (for the whole bag! dried bananas and banana bread FTW), so I can make some more. I want to try different fruit as well, but nothing really caught my eye today.
Next I want to try other fruits (I’m wondering how something like beets might be, too…?), fruit rolls (it came with one fruit roll sheet), and maybe some jerky for the hubby. This summer, I can use it for tomatoes, herbs, and peppers as well. Kind of excited! Yay freecycle!!
[I’m on vacation this week, but I’d love to come back to some suggestions on this one.] I usually dry a handful or two of basil just by letting it sit on the windowsill, but I have SO MANY herbs this year, I wanted to do something a bit more official so I can use the over the winter. Seems a waste just to let them die out. I do have 2 types of basil and a sage planted in a small pot on my kitchen sill, so we’ll see if they make it all winter (the windows are drafty, so I’m not sure if it will be too chilly. Elsewhere, they won’t get enough sun).
I had been putting off the project because I didn’t know how I was going to store things, though. And lo and behold, when I went to the local Dollar Tree to see if they still had the sea salt and pepper grinders (they didn’t), I found spice jars for sale! How perfect is that?! I bought a bunch of them – I figure I can share the love a bit, plus when else am I going to find them for $1 each?? So I bought 7, then went and picked a bunch of herbs to dry.
First I cut them, washed them well, and left them to dry out a bit.
Then I patted them dry some more, and tied them up into little bundles with some gift-wrap twine (not too tight, especially since they were still a little wet).
Then I tied them up to another piece of twine that I hung from a cup hook in front of the kitchen window.
I figure they’ll take a couple weeks to dry, then I can mix them, crush them, and put them in the jars. In the meantime, they smell awesome – especially the lemon verbena and lemon thyme. Hopefully it’ll work and I’ll be able to use them all winter. I plan on doing (for myself) one basil, one basil and oregano, one lemon verbena, one rosemary and thyme, and one sage and thyme. Any other suggestions for combos for the herbs I have? I already did one sage and lemon thyme jar from some stuff I had dried already. Only…other than putting on chicken or potatoes, I kind of have no idea what to use it for! I also don’t know what to use the lemon verbena for. Sage and lemon verbena I’m lost on. Rosemary and lemon thyme are great on roasted potatoes, though. Maybe I should do a combo of that. hmm….suggestions?
FYI, I am in Zone 7, so the rosemary will generally stay evergreen all winter and come back next year. The verbena and thyme should as well (I know the thyme will). My oregano is currently in the tomato pots – not sure if I should try to save it or just start it from seed again next year (it was pretty easy). The sage will also reportedly some back, but I’m not a big sage fan, so it’s kind of OK if it doesn’t. The basil is annual, except what I’ll try to overwinter – the ones in the small planters, and some I’ve just rooted in a vase of water.
This summer, I’ve joined a local CSA. I’m splitting the subscription with a friend. This week was the first summer harvest, and I went and picked up the first box today! It’s really well organized. They send out an email each week telling you what you’ll be getting (exact names and everything!) with a few suggestions for prep or storage. They also have a great looking cookbook written by them that they’ll sometimes refer to with the box (ie next week they are supposed to be giving us stuff that will make some salad dressing in the book).
Note that what’s pictured is only half of the box, and a few of the things are one-offs to give us a taste of what’s to come.
- new potatoes
- carrots w/tops
- grape tomatoes
- a bag of basil (didn’t take any of this since I have more than enough of my own!
And now, a couple questions. Are these green tomatoes? Don’t be a smartass. Like, I mean I know they are green and are tomatoes, but are they that will forever be green and are, as such, ready to pick and somehow be eaten? I don’t know how to tell! It’s one of my mystery hybrids. Help!
And question #2 is: Why do calatheas hate me? I gave up on one, but this other one has been doing well in my office for a few years. I keep it moist like it likes and have it in standard office lighting. Now all of a sudden, the bastard is turning yellow on me! I’ve already cut off the brown/yellow a few times but it continues to spread down the leaf. Gah why do they hate me? Well if this one doesn’t make it, no more calatheas luring me from the plant rescue rack at Lowe’s!
One of my favorite things about summertime is that I get to make my own salsa with ingredients fresh from my garden. Neither my hubby nor I like onions. (Yes you CAN taste them, and more than that you can feel their texture that totally weirds me out. I am not a picky eater other than meat and onions – it just so happens that both of these things can be very hard to avoid!) Though we can handle them in things like salsa and spaghetti sauce, it’s sooooo much nicer if I just make it myself without. Of course, add onions to this recipe if you’d like, but I don’t think it needs them.
My tomatoes (besides the cherries) aren’t quite ready yet, but I had some tomatoes from the Amish that needed to be used before they went bad, so I figured I might as well do my first salsa of the season. The peppers are from my garden, and I use seasonings from my garden when I can. Most of these things are easy to find, and fresh salsa is a great healthy snack to have on hand. The measurements here made the jar in the pics, but it’s all to taste. But here’s what I use…
Jennah’s Easy Garden Salsa
- Tomatoes! 3 large red and about 8 cherry (I usually like to use a mix of large ones and cherry/grape ones.)
- jalapeno peppers – 2
- cayenne pepper – 1 large or 2 small
- banana peppers – 2
- cilantro – small handful
- a little bit of pineapple sage and lemon balm (a leaf or two or each)
- splash of lemon and/or lime juice
- sugar – about 1/4 cup to taste
- salt and pepper ( I use sea salt) – about 1t
- taco or fajita seasoning – about 1t (adjust salt if this has a lot of salt already)
- hot sauce – to taste – I used sriracha this time
- If you’d like, you can also add a slice or two of peach or pineapple
Cut everything up into small pieces and mix together well. I prefer to slice by hand – I have an electric chopper, but I find that tends to turn things (esp tomatoes) into more of a sauce than small pieces. If you’d like, you can stop here and it tastes great, but I tend to prefer it cooked a little bit.
So, if you want to cook it, just put it all over low heat for a while (cover if you like). Once it starts to bubble, turn off heat. You’ll need to drain the excess water – I use a small strainer over a glass or bowl. The one I have lets me prop the salsa jar up and let it drain on its own for a few minutes. Don’t throw the juice away! It’s great for a marinade or to add when cooking rice or various stir-fry dishes. So drain the excess water and let it sit. That’s it! Salsa is best after it’s been sitting in the fridge for a few hours at least. (Keep it in the fridge, of course!)
Let me know if you try it or if you have your own variation!
I do eat some meat. Turkey is OK during the holidays, and I occasionaly eat chicken if it meets certain specifications (no “flat” chicken, no pieces of gristle, no skin, no bone) (chick-fil-a!). But no red meat and no seafood. I try some crab (yes – a Southern Marylander who does not like crab, but can tell a foreigner how to pick ’em) almost every year, but find it meh and not worth the effort at all. I remember eating steak as a child. It had to be super well done, cut into itty bitty pieces, and smothered in A-1. I just didn’t like it. I also do remember (I was in my room, just inside the doorway, it was night) asking my mom, “What’s chicken made of?” because I mean, of course we hadn’t just eaten dead bird. So part of it is that I just don’t like it, and yes part of it is that I think it’s gross.
I really probably should eat more tofu and whatever (or rather I should eat it, since I don’t). I don’t consider myself a picky eater. I’m more than willing to try mostly whatever fruit or vegetable you can throw at me. My main aversions are meat, peppers (I can stand yellow and orange, but I just don’t like the flavor of red or green at all), and onions (“you can’t even taste them, it’s just for the flavor”= I CAN taste them and I don’t like the flavor OR texture – and my husband doesn’t like them either, so THERE). Unfortunately all 3 of those things are pretty common in a lot of places, esp most restaraunts. Too often, I end up having like 3 kinds of potatoes and some pasta instead of real food. It’s bad, I know. I try to take vitamins and have a lot of homemade smoothies to make up for it. I’d love some not-claiming-to-be-a-vegetarian-but-really-am-one tips if you have any.
So what does a person like that have for dinner, anyway, you ask? Well tonight I’m having brussels sprouts (pretty much that recipe, but I add toasted pine nuts), lightly olive oil fried black beans (should be garbanzo, but we are out of those apparently, so I made do), and yummy instant Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Husband is working lates this month, so I’ll make him “dinner” tomorrow AM. Something meaty, perhaps.