Bumper crop! Our community has several gardens, an orchard, and a vineyard, and every year
seems to have a harvest highlight. So far this has been the year of the cucumber. After serving
cucumber salad in numerous forms, and making at least two multiple batches of sweet
refrigerator pickles, I have to admit that I sighed when I saw the next tub of cucumbers arrive in our kitchen. Garden bumper crops are faith building but can offer a challenge for speedy
processing and creative recipes. One year it was plums, and we saw plum pork, plum sauce,
plum butter, plum muffins, plum cakes, and frozen plums in the freezer for quite some time.
We found ourselves praying for a peach!
But this year – it’s the cucumber! Someone mentioned refrigerator dill pickles, and although I
was initially daunted by the idea, I found myself researching several different recipes and quite taken by lovely images on the internet of homemade dill pickles. With the beautiful ingredients in this recipe, you’ll end up with colorful jars of refrigerator pickles to give as gifts, or to keep on hand for eating. Once opened and served, expect them to disappear quickly! This recipe also can be multiplied out easily. (I made two gallons of pickles.) However, if multiplying, do use less garlic.
Rumor has it that this will also be our year for the apple. The initial drops and first fruits have already started to roll in….stay tuned.
- Combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a stainless steel or Teflon pan over high heat. Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Transfer the liquid into a bowl and whisk in the cold water. Refrigerate brine until it has cooled enough to add to the cucumbers (approx. 30 minutes).
- While brine is cooling, place cucumbers into two clean 1-quart jars, leaving a little room to add the dill and spices.
- Then, when brine is cooled, add the coriander seeds, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, dill sprigs, and chilled brine into jars, dividing evenly.
- This is the fun part, as the finished product looks lovely! If necessary, add a bit of cold water until the brine covers the cucumbers.
- Cover and refrigerate about 24 hours, then serve. Cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.
There’s a crispness to the air, a welcome relief to the humidity and heat of our 2018 Cape Cod summer! This past Saturday, our entire community joined in a “beehive” of activity as we
tackled a daunting list of tasks and projects, left in the wake of a busy summer. Digging out attic spaces, weeding gardens, scrubbing the bell tower floor, getting the barn clean and ready to house animals for winter, and cooking meals ahead for an upcoming choir recording were some of the projects accomplished last weekend. But it was also the beginning of harvest time. We culled apples and pears and gratefully recognized what a bountiful harvest it was going to be. The Sisterhood celebrated with brunch on Sunday. And since I was “in the mood,” I whipped up some ingredient-packed muffins that had all the essence of Fall – complete with cinnamon!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Grease muffin cups with non-stick spray and line with muffin papers
- Beat eggs, oil, orange zest and vanilla in a bowl to blend
- Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl
- Separately, mix carrots, zucchini, apple, raisins, coconut, and almonds together - add the egg and oil mixture
- Sift flour mixture into the vegetable mixture and mix all together by hand until well blended.
- Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup with one scoop of batter.
- Bake until center of muffin springs back to touch - about 20-25 min.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Our community is blessed with two dairy cows, and we enjoy fresh milk and yogurt each week!
Sometimes we make ricotta for upscale recipes. My favorite? Fresh Ricotta Blueberry Ice cream.
Last week, after enjoying delicious fresh ricotta, ham, and melon salad, I spotted some extra ricotta and remembered a recipe for ricotta ice cream. A friend from a nearby farm with blueberry bushes had invited us to pick berries earlier in the week, so our refrigerator also had a bucket overflowing with beautiful fresh blueberries. The ricotta, blueberries, and kosher salt turned out to be a delicious combination, but of course, this basic homemade ice cream recipe can be adjusted to include your favorite ingredients. At the last minute, I decided to add lime zest to this recipe — Blueberry Lime Jam is one of the favorites from the Monastery Kitchen line, so I thought that combination would be especially tasty. It’s also the season for fresh mint, which is a lovely garnish along with fresh blueberries.
Making homemade ice cream can seem daunting, but with an ice cream maker, it’s quite easy. The ingredients directly are mixed, placed in the ice cream maker for 30 – 60 minutes, then frozen for several more hours, or overnight in the freezer. This particular recipe was made to celebrate an exciting event, and would be perfect for a summer dessert for any special occasion!
Fresh Ricotta Blueberry Ice Cream
- Lay blueberries out on a tray and place in the freezer.
- Blend ricotta, cream cheese, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth. Add lime zest & heavy cream. Blend until just combined.
- Freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions. Blend in frozen blueberries. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.
Scoop and enjoy!
Also - nuts, candied citrus peeled or chopped chocolate can be added, as well as fresh mint and blueberries for garnish.
“Sr. Irene, you just have to taste this!” came a cry from the kitchen. One of our special event cooks had just tried out a new appetizer for an upcoming reception. I could tell from the sound of her voice she was quite happy with it.
“Be there in a minute,” I responded, unable to leave just then. The next day one of the kitchen sisters asked, “Wasn’t that new appetizer just the best?”
Oh no! How could I have forgotten? I chastened myself, vowing to get to the kitchen before the end of the day. When I finally arrived with much embarrassment and was able to locate and ravenously devour the one and only “Tasting Sample” that was left, I could only groan. The caramelized tomato bruschetta with fresh garden pesto was beyond delicious. Why oh why didn’t I get myself there the moment I was first called!
A savory twist on a summer classic, this bruschetta is a great way to enjoy both fresh garden tomatoes and basil!
Caramelized Tomato Bruschetta
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar.
- Place on a cookie sheet or sheet pan and roast in the oven until tomatoes turn a light to medium brown and the sugar is visually caramelized.
- While tomatoes are roasting, brush the flat bread with oil and spread the pesto overtop, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- When tomatoes are finished, carefully remove them from the pan and arrange on top of the pesto and cheese. This is a delicate process as the tomatoes are likely to fall apart after roasting.
- Serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and enjoy a taste of summer!
Years ago, we were asked by the local Episcopal church to help them with their annual Devonshire Tea, a lovely traditional English tea served every summer in the church gardens.
The lady who for many years had been responsible for them, met with me to discuss the details. The simple menu consisted of three items: biscuits, coddled cream, and strawberry preserves. Her main concern was the size and shape of the biscuits. To ensure their correctness, she carefully sketched them on a page from her personal notebook and gave the page to me.
The biscuits’ size and shape were of utmost importance! She was certain I would make the cream perfectly, and as far as the preserves were concerned, any I chose would be fine. My choice was a vibrant colored fresh strawberry jam sometimes referred to as “freezer jam”, although none I’ve ever made stayed around long enough to reach the
Perfect for the occasion, it met with great applause and added a most beautiful touch to this splendid event.
- Combine crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes.
- While the strawberries sit, dissolve the pectin into the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and add the salt and lemon juice to the saucepan.
- Stir the boiling water into the strawberries and allow to stand for 3 minutes.
- Pour jam into containers and let set overnight or for 24 hours.
Enjoy with coddled cream and biscuits or as an ice cream topping, in a milkshake, or on toast...the possibilities are endless!