Putting this produce season to good use (have I become a farmer?)

by Melody on September 14, 2011

We ended up with a ton of produce last week from our garden, my friend Monica’s garden and our weekly CSA pick-up.  I spent the better part of 2-3 days dicing, roasting, blanching, peeling and freezing several different things to get a head start on the fall/winter season.

My friend Monica gave us what can only be described as a boatload of tomatoes.  I decided to try my hand at homemade marinara sauce.  I blanched, peeled, seeded and diced all the tomatoes and threw them in the crock pot with onion, garlic and tons of different spices.  I let them simmer away all day and then used my immersion blender to create a slightly chunky sauce.

We ate some for dinner the night they were done cooking and I froze the remaining sauce.  To be perfectly honest, it was a lot of work even using the crock pot.  However.  The flavor.  Oh my heavens.  It’s possible that my taste buds revolted against all the flavor.  It was wonderful and smoky and delicious and I will be forever ruined from eating jarred sauce again.

My husband picked up a butternut squash from our CSA last week and I used it a few different ways.  I chopped up about 14 ounces of uncooked squash and used it to make a double batch of Butternut Squash Muffins. We ate half for breakfasts and lunches and froze the other half.

I roasted the remaining squash and once it was done, scraped the squash away from the skin.  I threw it all in the blender with a little bit of water and made puree.  I spread some on the grilled cheese sandwiches we had that night and froze the remaining puree.  I’ll use it to add to muffins, breads and even pasta sauce.  We picked up another squash this week, so I’m looking for new and creative ways to use it!

Monica also gave me some green bell peppers that I was never going to be able to use before we left for Seattle, so I diced them up and flash froze them for use in baking down the road.

Last but not least, I made a batch of homemade refried beans.  I was making a ridiculously delicious, completely homemade version of 7-Layer Dip and had all the ingredients for these beans so threw them in the crockpot the morning before I needed the dip.  After the beans cook all day, I mash them up in the crock pot and freeze in ice cube trays.  Once the cubes are frozen, I throw them in a gallon freezer bag and pop out a few cubes as I need them.

This recipe is actually from Emilie’s aunt and my kindergarten teacher.  I told you, Emilie and I go way back.

HOMEMADE REFRIED BEANS

Put all ingredients in crock pot in the morning:

(2) 16 oz bags pinto beans
1/2 lb raw bacon, chopped
(6) chopped garlic cloves
(8) cups water
2 T. chicken bouillion

I usually cook for 8-9 hours.  Add more water throughout the day if they get too dry.

I love knowing that we are using everything we have instead of letting food go to waste.  How do you stretch your produce this time of year?  Are you a canner or a freezer?

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