The Big Freeze 2012: The Final Tally

What happens when you combine three crazy sisters, 40 lbs of tomatoes, a bushel of corn, and a vacuum sealer? The Big Freeze, of course!

The farm we frequent in NH (also where we joined our CSA) was offering canning specials this month, for various types of produce. And, being obsessed with fresh produce AND bargain prices, we just couldn’t pass it up (20 lbs of tomatoes or a whole bushel of corn for $20?? What a steal!) We figured if we split it between our three houses, it would be manageable.

We hoped.

So Theresa and I loaded the van with tomatoes and corn (and a few baskets from our CSA for good measure, because we obviously didn’t have ENOUGH veggies), and headed back to the cottage, more than a little nervous that we got in over our heads.

Again.

At first, we were all a little hesitant to buy tomatoes to put up for the winter, because we had read a lot of articles about how you must dip the tomatoes into boiling water and then peel them, yadda yadda yadda. But my mother told me she used to puree tomatoes with the skins on all the time, and her tomato sauce was always delicious. Granted, if you are a fan of very smooth tomato sauce, you probably don’t want to skip that step. But we always preferred a slightly chunky sauce, so we settled for just seeding the tomatoes and leaving the skins on. (I know there are a lot of purists out there that will probably be horrified by this… and to those people I say: you are not invited to dinner. Love, Kate).

In order to motivate ourselves to actually freeze this stuff, we did what we always do: turn it into a party! And so, The Big Freeze was born. Thanks to my trusty food processor, (and my trusty little sister) it actually went pretty quickly. Janine is getting ready for her little one to arrive in a couple of weeks (yay!), so we took care of her share of the veggies while we were at it.

Here is the final tally after two nights of chopping, pureeing, and vacuum sealing:

The Official Tally:

40 lbs of tomatoes: yielded 96 cups of tomato puree

1 bushel of corn (46 ears): yielded 24 cups of corn kernels

The Unofficial Tally:

Number of fingers punctured: 1
(“See I TOLD you my knife was sharper than your knife!”)

Number of Prosecco bottles exploded all over my kitchen: 1
(I’m not going to tell you the number of wine bottles emptied throughout the event. Let’s just say it’s impressive more fingers weren’t punctured in the making of this blog post;)

Number of caterpillars found in the box of corn: 3
(this resulted in Theresa jumping three feet in the air and running in circles around the kitchen)

Number of tomatoes that Hannah swiped from the pile to chomp on: 2


Number of times Theresa complained about how wrinkly her hands were from chopping tomatoes: 837

Number of obscene jokes made about shucking: … we lost count ;)

Ridiculous? Yes. Isnt it always? But it will be totally worth it when we’re eating delicious tomato sauce and corn chowder this winter! You can be jealous. We don’t mind.

A Note of Appreciation… and Pickles

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my room watching the Food Network, and drinking a delicious Peach Bellini that Theresa delivered to my door. (More on our weekly cocktail swap in a future post, I promise)

And I’m just thinking about the past year. Wondering how it’s already June, July, August when I feel like time should have stopped back in March. And I find myself reflecting on a lot of things, especially all the amazing support we have received from our families and friends over the past few months.

I just want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who was there for us, whether it was calling to check in, sending food on days when we all would have foregone meals, or offering much-needed support. It was all greatly appreciated, and meant so much to our family. We are very grateful.

I don’t think I can explain everything The Compound has been through in the past year. I will just say that we lost our Dad back in May, and we have all been so devastated that naturally this blog sort of fell by the wayside.  What I will say, is that I continue to be amazed and grateful for the incredible family we have, and the wonderful father that we were blessed with, who taught us so much.

We are all trying to get back to our normal routines, (despite the urge to stay under the covers every morning) and part of that is going back to our place in New Hampshire on a regular basis. This might sound easy, but some of the best times of our lives have been spent up there, so it is definitely bittersweet.

One of the things pushing us to keep heading North, is picking up veggies from a CSA we joined at Moulton Farm in NH. Only the crazies in The Compound would join a CSA 120 miles away, right?! If you’re ever in the area, they have an amazing farm-stand and nursery… not to mention Cider Bellies Doughnuts on the weekends! So we’re currently up to our ears in cucumbers, greens, and zucchini.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

In case you’re swimming in cucumbers too, I thought I would share a recipe for Refrigerator Pickles that The Whole Compound loves. In fact, they all refuse to use any cucumbers themselves, and instead deliver them to my door so that I will make them pickles. If that tells you anything

 

These pickles are really bright and full of fresh flavors, and get spicier the longer they sit in the fridge. If you don’t like spicy pickles, you could totally leave out the jalapenos and they would still be really flavorful. They are delicious after about 24 hours in the fridge, and will stay crunchy for up to a month.

So without further ado, here is a quick, easy recipe for (Slightly Spicy) Refrigerator Pickles that are great for snacking, chopping into salads, and would even be wonderful to bring to a barbecue. It’s a winner.

Quick (Slightly Spicy) Refrigerator Pickles: (adapted from lottie + doof who adapted it from Food&Wine)

  • 12 oz pickling cucumbers, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 large garlic cloves, slightly crushed
  • 2 jalapenos, halved, and seeds removed (feel free to use any type of hot pepper you prefer)
  •  8 dill sprigs

Pack cucumbers into a clean 1-quart glass jar, and tuck garlic, dill, and jalapenos between them. In another jar (or a bowl), combine the salt, sugar, vinegar, and coriander. Shake or stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 1 cup of water and pour the brine over the vegetables. Add enough water to keep the vegetables submerged. Close the jars and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 month (if they last that long!)