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Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie Filling

Surrounded by thick forest, with trees so big you couldn’t wrap your arms around them. The forest floor a cushion of moss, wild flowers and fallen leaves. Rays of sunlight streaming through the tree tops like something out of a child’s fairytale. It  was a little slice of heaven.

That was 18 years ago.

It was where I grew my first garden and had fruit trees. Where the passion for growing my own food was ignited. Where I read as many books as I could to learn how to can and preserve everything I was growing.

Along with all the pickles and jams I made, my most cherished jars were the 9 liter jars of apple pie filling made from the tree out back.

This recipe is super easy all the work is in the prep, but once the apples are peeled the rest of the job is  breeze.

Apple Pie Filling
 
Author:
Recipe type: Preserving
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 9 1 liter jars
Ingredients
  • 36 cups of apple, quartered and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1¾ teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Wash, peal and core apples.
  2. To prevent darkening use Fresh Fruit Powder following the directions on the label.
  3. Drain apples and place in a large kettle with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer until all the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly.
  5. Pack into hot jars leaving 5cm of headspace.
  6. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove jars and allow to cool completely.
  8. To make a pie line a pie pan with pastry.
  9. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  10. Add one jar of filling and sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of cornstarch.
  11. Cover with pastry, seal edges and cut vents.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes at 425F then reduce to 350F and bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
  13. Makes 9 - 1 liter jars of pie filling

 

Canning apple pie filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

Cooking apples for pie filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

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Beet Leaf Holubtsi

Beet Leaf Holubtsi

When I plan my garden I have a few must have veggies that are top priority in my kitchen.

Number one on that list is beets.

Fresh beets from the garden.

Beets are the more versatile vegetable I grow. I use the entire plant, and especially love the leaves. You can use the baby leaves in salads or wash and freeze them for smoothies. But to truly enjoy them allow them to grow a little longer until they are about 2 1/2 inches wide. The perfect size for rolling them around a creamy rice, bacon, dilly onion filling.

I have been making Beet Leaf Holubtsi for years. The tender leaves make the perfect blanket for the rice with fresh dill and onions. Bacon is NOT required but makes a nice addition to the rolls.

They are finished off by topping them with a bit of butter and baking them in whipping cream with some shaved onion.

I like to pick the leaves the day before, Wash the leaves and place on sheets of paper towel to dry. Once dry I put them in a large bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave them in the fridge over night. The next day you will find them lightly wilted and ready for rolling. I have read of a few methods of wilting the leaves, from freezing them to placing them in the oven. I have tried the oven method with okay but very time consuming results. Just pop them in the fridge for the night. Trust me.

 

Beet Leaf Holubtsi

beet leaves

2 cups of white rice

2 tablespoons of butter

6 slices of bacon – diced

1 medium onion – chopped

whipping cream

fresh dill

salt & pepper

Prepare the rice according to the package directions.  Meanwhile fry bacon, after 5 minutes add 1 tablespoon of butter and chopped onion. It is done when the bacon is crisp. Pour the bacon and onions, over the rice. Add a generous amount of freshly chopped dill and stir to combine. Now is a good time to season with salt and pepper.  Add a 1/4 cup of whipping cream, stirring until it all becomes creamy.

Beet leaf holubtsil filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

Place a beet leaf on a cutting board and trim the bottom part straight across to remove the stem. Place a generous teaspoon of filling on the trimmed edge of the beet leaf and roll it towards the tip. Gently place the roll in a greased/buttered baking dish. Repeat until you have used all the leaves and filling.

Beet leaf holubtsi on Nutmeg Disrupted

*They are not rolled like cabbage rolls when in when making cabbage rolls you tuck the edges in when rolling. It is fine to leave the edges of the beet leaf holubtsi open.

Beet leaf holubtsi on Nutmeg Disrupted

Pour whipping cream and a few teaspoons of shaved onion over the rolls just until lightly covered. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chive Blossom Vinegar

When I moved up north the yard I ended up with was in dire need of much love and tlc. It truly required a complete redo from the trees and shrubs right down to the lawn. Everything had to go. The only original section of the yard is a tiny 1×3 foot section in the back which is now my herb and bulb starting garden. And that is strictly because of the chives that grow there.

Growing chives in the Nutmeg Disrupted garden.

I love to use them in everything and it is always the first taste of spring to come from my yard.

Somewhere last summer I seen a picture of a bottle of deep magenta colored vinegar made from chive blossoms. Seriously, a genius idea. And I immediately headed out back to pluck a handful of pungent purple flowers.

Fresh chives with blossoms on Nutmeg Disrupted

I gave them a quick rinse then allowed them to air dry.

 

Chive blossoms for vinegar on Nutmeg Disrupted

I filled a jar full of blossoms and covered them with regular white pickling vinegar. Store someplace dark for 2 weeks.

Steeping chive blossom vinegar on Nutmeg Disrupted

Strain and bottle.

It is fantastic! The blossoms give the vinegar an almost sweet onion aroma and the flavor is rich, tangy pure onion goodness.

vinegar

 

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Grow Room 101. Indoor gardens.

Grow Room 101. Indoor gardens.

My dream job would be to run an indoor grow space year round and sell fresh herbs and vegetables to local chefs.

Gardening indoors under lights

Living in northern Alberta makes for a very short growing period with gardens usually going into the ground around the 18th of May and the first hard frost usually by the second week of September. That is roughly 16 weeks. To have a heartier harvest I start my seeds in January and plant semi mature plants outside during the first week of June. Depending on conditions, that may not even be enough of a head start for fully ripe crops of peppers, tomatoes and melons.

With such a short season,  growing indoors is a fantastic alternative. With a little bit of thought and good planning you can recreate mother nature in an indoor space and grow successfully year round. It does cost a bit to set up your grow room but with the capability of growing home grown produce year round you will be saving money and have an endless healthy, chemical free supply of some of the best vegetables herbs and fruits available.

This is just a quick run down of what it takes to put together a grow space. If you have any questions about what is discussed here or anything I did not cover please leave a comment or shoot me an email! Talking about grow spaces and indoor gardening is one of my passions and I would love to hear from you.
You have a few things to consider when putting together your grow room.
The space I am talking about below is based on an 10×10 foot room. That is some serious gardening!
You will need 2 lights for your space.
The first is a Metal Halide. Metal halides are the most efficent source of white light availble on the market. They come clear or phosphor coated. Go with the clear. The coating changes the specturm a bit. Clear is better.
Next you will need a HPS – High Pressure Sodium light. They are also one of the most efficent lights available.
Those 2 lights combined will give you the perfect light spectrum for your grow area.
I used strictly 1000 watt bulbs. Yes that is a lot of light. Your $$$ value is best spent on the 1000 watt systems.
You could go with 400 watts with each bulb/system,  but considering the cost of each system will be very close to the price of 1000 watt systems,  the 600 watt jump with each bulb seems to make sence for getting the best bang for your buck.
Look at it this way – Would you rather garden under full sun, or a cloudy day?
I love 1000 watt lights. They are amazing for indoor gardening!
Do you need 1000 watt lights? Perhaps, that is one of your choices.
Now we need to discuss shades.
You NEED big round 4 foot shades. They are an absolute must. They push 100% of your light down and out.
They increase the light intensity substantially. Try and find shades that are white on the inside, the more light reflection the better. Both lights will need a shade. They are cheap, so be sure you get them. They make all the difference in the world.
Using a 1000 watt metal halide with a small 2 foot shade and no reflective walls give you and effective growing area of only 36sq feet.  Using that same light with a 4 foot hood and flat white walls your effective growing area has now increased to 100 square feet. Big shades mean much more powerful light.
Next thing to look at is your space. What is on the walls? You have a few choices.
Lets talk reflection of light.
If you are painting I do suggest the use of flat white paint.
Using a flat white will bring the reflectiveness of the wall space back into the growing area by 85 – 93%
Want to kick that up even more.
There is a white agricultural plastic on the market. It is black on one side, white on the other. We are talking 90 – 95% reflection of light back into the space!
Any farm supply store will carry it. It is used for silage.
Bonus, it protects your walls from any moisture.
Now we need to discuss light coverage.
Each bulb emits a different spectrum which affects the growth of the plants differently.
As with any plants it will grow towards the lights. But we want even growth.
Now you could go in and rotate your plants every few days, which works. For a while.
But to really make it the ultimate indoor grow space you want to emulate the rise and fall of the sun.
To do this you need a light rail/tracking unit.
I promise, this is the last thing you need to buy.
But again, it really is a must. With using a light rail/tracking unit to move the light you will have an increase of 25 – 35% of light coverage with using one light rail to move the lights over the garden. With just simply moving the lights over the garden it emulates enough light as if you were actually using 3 bulbs.
Now that is getting the absolute most of your space, money and light.
You will need to make the rail that you hang the lights off of then attach it to the tracking unit. It slowly goes back and forth over the garden. Get creative here, you should be able to find a nice light metal bar at your local building supply store.  Even some plactic pvc pipe with the lights at each end is sufficient. And it works like a charm. This will give your room an amazing amount of useable light.
We need to go over movement of air.
These lights are hot and it is imperative that you have a fan in your grow space. Just as it is outdoors, you need to have air movement in your indoor garden. Not only will it reduce humidity and cool the space, plants do much better and grow stronger when there is a breeze present.
Also as a final thought, just kind of  be aware of where you have been before entering your room.
Like say you were at a greenhouse and were touching plants, maybe bought a few. Wash up before going into your room. Even change your clothes.. Because like outdoors those little bastards like spider mites love warm sunny grow rooms. And to battle them is just a nightmare. No need for extra work.

 

 

 

 

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Salsa

Salsa

It was the summer of bumper crops in the Nutmeg Disrupted gardens. By gardens,  I mean flower beds and numerous containers. The “garden garden” was covered with grass a few years back because of time constraints with work and travel.

I miss my garden. The original garden I first started with turned into a 4000 square foot growing oasis. I had huge tubs set around the perimeter to collect rain and to help make the task of watering not quite such labor intensive work. And it was easier on the well  Each row was mulched with layers of newspaper which I then covered with a thick layer of freshly cut grass, which was topped up weekly. I was cutting 7 acres so there was always a fresh supply.

Then in the fall the garden would be put to bed for the winter with a thick layer of leaves. The complete farm was surrounded by trees, by time you raked and loaded the 20th truckload you stop counting!

Then in the sping a farmer from over by Radway would come with his magic tractor sized tiller and for $30 turn it all into 2 feet deep of  pure black gold!

Gosh I miss that garden!

But downsizing does not mean you can not have success. With a bit of creativity and good gardening practices you can have a fantastic harvest from limited space.

I start my seeds under lights in the winter. Being in northern Alberta I like to get a bit of a jump on the growing season. Espically for things like peppers, tomatos and celery. My growing season is relatively short and you never know if those super hot temperatures will be acheived so the more mature the plants are the better success for a bountiful harvest is possible.

Tomato plants from the Nutmeg DIsrupted gardens, Grande Prairie Alberta      Tomatos from the Nutmeg DIsrupted gardens, Grande Prairie Alberta

This year I grew tomatos in containers and in the 2 flower beds out back. It was an extremely early Spring followed by a record breaking summer. And my garden showed it. Off of 8 tomato plants I harvested well over 100 pounds of tomatos.

The salsa recipe is a combination of a few recipes.  Having never made salsa before I am extremely impressed with how it turn out. The depth of flavor is just fantastic. Tangy and smokey with a nice freshness to it. I did a few different takes on the recipe making one mild and one with a nice kick of heat.

A bumper crop of tomatos from the Nutmeg Disrupted gardens

 

fresh tomatos for salsa

Salsa

24 cloves of garlic – minced

20 large tomatos – diced

2 large red onions – chopped

1/2 teaspoon of dried corriander

1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of chili powder

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of pepper

4 tablespoon of honey

2 tablespoons of dried parsely

1/4 teaspoon of celery salt

1 cup of vinegar

*additions for hot salsa

*3 habanero pepper

*5 red thai chili peppers

*1 serrano pepper

Processed hot peppers for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

If you have a food processor do use it to chop the hot peppers. Beware of the pepper fumes when removing the lid if the processor. If you are chopping by hand wear gloves if you can. If not be aware of the hot pepper oils on your skin. Wash immediately after prep. Hot pepper oils can burn.

 

Straining tomatos for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted      Tomato water, making salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

Place the chopped tomatos into a colander over a bowl. Allow to drain for 15 minutes to remove some of the tomato water. You would be suprised at how much water you collect.

Fresh garlic for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted      Fresh ingredients for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

In a large pot combine all the ingredients and stir well to mix completely.

Slow simmer for up to 2 hours on medium heat stirring occasionally. Cook until desired flavor and consistancy is acheived.

Canning fresh salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted      Processing salsa in a hot water bath on Nutmeg Disrupted

Ladle the salsa into hot jars. Clean the rims of the jars with a clean cloth. Add rings and tighten until just finger tight. Place all the filled jars into a hot water bath and process for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Fresh made salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

 

 

 

 

 

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