Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making fruit leathers on a hot day...

I really hadn't planned this blog to be a cooking one, but I have been having so much fun with my new dehydrator that I wanted to catalog the results here. Today after the extreme heat (100s these days) has made all my apricots ripen and start to fall of the tree, I picked a bunch more and decided to try out apricot fruit leather for roll-ups. Yesterday we took the dehydrator outside so it wouldn't keep heating up the kitchen. I was working on a makeshift outdoor area for these today.

So I took a bunch of ripe apricots...

soaked them in a citric acid/water solution for 5 minutes then blended them up the best I could in my old funky blender...

spread it out on the mats  (which look just like my silicon baking and crafts mats) that are for fruit leathers...

and put them in to dry.

They should take around 4 hours so I will know later this evening if it worked. Seemed it was not as smooth as it should have been AND it was very hard to spread out evenly so that might affect how it dries. We shall see.

Friday, July 25, 2014

First batch results...

Here are the delicious results from the first batch of dehydrating.

Tasty beef jerky (not spicy enough for Andy but I like it just fine!):

And here is the first batch of fruits:  apriots (from our tree), apple, and pineapple:

Today we moved the dehydrator outside because it really does heat up the kitchen/house and it is already hot enough (today is day 1 of 5 days promised to be over 100 degrees!). So it is outside the kitchen door and now I am drying more apricots, another apple and trying an orange.

The trick to not having the fruit brown up is to soak them for 10 minutes or so in a solution made with water and citric acid. Andy got a package of citric acid from the Coop for me a few months ago when I told him I wanted to look out for it. I am eager to get more peaches and nectarines now at the Farmer's Market so I can dry those too! And then in the fall, pears! I think dried pears are my all-time favorites!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

IKEA and the dehydrator...

Yay! My dehydrator came yesterday so today we went out to IKEA to get another one of these to put it on:

The dehydrator fits perfectly on top and this little table fit perfectly into a small space by our back door where there was also an outlet. And the amazing part is that we tested out if we could have the dehydrator and the microwave on at the same time and we could! Doesn't work with the toaster and microwave-- old circuits don't like that combo!

THIS  is the dehydrator I got from Amazon:  (Excalibur)
I wanted to be able to make my own beef jerkey from good (grass-fed) beef and without preservatives and soy sauce. That way I could limit the amount of sugars and salts in it as well and just be able to make smaller batches as needed. So I am experimenting today. 

I got a lovely 2 pound London Broil from Winterport Farms at the Farmer's Market last weekend. I am only using half of it to start with as my first experiment. So I sliced it very thin, then made my marinade, got the meat all juicy with marinade... (easy peasy: coconut aminos, maple syrup, salt, pepper, a little garlic and onion powders based on THIS recipe.)

then into a ziploc bag and into the fridge overnight. I will start the dehydrating part in the morning.

Meanwhile I started in on the apricots from our tree. I soaked them in a citric acid-water bath (so they hopefully won't get too brown) before putting them into the dehydrator...

On the dehydrator rack. Just making one rack to start with so I can see how they do overnight... lots more apricots to follow!

Tomorrow I will be adding the some pineapple and maybe an apple to the fruit trays, then when they are done, up the temp to 165 for the beef jerky. The nice thing about this dehydrator is that there are two controls: one for temperature and one a timer. AND it is square with top air flow from the back so all rows dry evenly. My funky old one was on-off and air from the bottom so you constantly had to change the rows around and there wasn't as much surface area since it had a big hole in the center. This one has already won me over!

Now that I am retired I have plans to do a lot more homemade foods and really focus on healthy eating. I usually eat pretty well anyway but now I have no excuses! And it's fun anyway... sort of Little House on the Prairie meets City Life. Without the dresses!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home and the farmer's market...

Got home from my month-long Nova Scotia journey late Monday (well really for me it was 4 am on Tuesday) so spent most of Tuesday jetlagged. Amazingly the rest of the week FLEW by and here it is Sunday already!

And Sundays are always good for the Farmer's Market:

Today we found a stall with carnivorous plants! Beautiful ones too -- Pitcher Plants, Venus Flytraps, and more! Pricey but pretty!

And there was the usual wonderful flowers, fruit and veggies... we didn't need much today but it is always fun walking though the market and taking in all the scents (basil was strong in the air today). And there were amazing sunflowers!

Yesterday I bought myself an early birthday present of a very nice dehydrator and am looking forward to making my own beef jerkey as well as a lot of dried fruits and vegetables. It is supposed to arrive on Thursday so I imagine next weekend might be a busy one for drying things! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More Cape Breton...

With more to follow. I sort of gave up trying to post on the blog this time. My thoughts on all this in a later post when I get home next week.
Visit to a coal mine, more beaches, nice drives...
Had a wonderful time visiting with Leah... more on that too when I can figure out how to link her page on mobile-blogger (I miss my normal computer!) *** EDITED: Here is Leah's wonderful BLOG!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A few Cape Breton images...

Here is what I have learned about myself when I travel: I can post photos to Facebook or I can blog. Apparently I am not good about doing both.

So here are a few more Nova Scotia photos while I figure out what I want to do about the way too many social media options available now.

I will be home in 9 days. More on this wonderful trip then!