Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Corny Contest

"What's in Season" article from the third week in August:        
    Hopefully you have gotten a chance to attend the 165th Muskingum County Fair this week.  If not, you still have time.  This means that on Saturday we will once again be holding Farmers’ Market downtown on Third Street.  We had many customers tell us they drove to the fairgrounds last weekend before they remembered we were not there, so be sure to remind your friends.
            On Monday night my mom, my friend Becky, and I participated in the potato peeling contest at the fair.  I thought mom stood a good chance at winning; after all, she had to help peel potatoes for a family of twelve growing up.  Her bucket was pretty full when time was up, but surprisingly, she did not place.  Becky and I weren’t even close.  Tuesday night here at home we had a little contest of our own.  If you have been reading the column all season you will remember that I challenged my cousin’s wife, Kelley, to a corn husking contest.  Kelley is my cohort when it comes to canning and freezing.  It is so much quicker and more fun to have a good friend help you do these tasks.
            We competed to see who could husk the most ears of corn in sixty seconds.  Amazingly, we had to declare a tie.  We ended up with the same amount of cobs, twice.  We even inspected the cobs to see who got their ears cleaner and they were the same.  We each did five ears.  My dad got in on the first round and he lost and gave up.  He claims we gave him “junky” ears though.
We put up 10 dozen ears of corn in about an hour and a half.  We have a pretty good system to get it done that quickly.  Here is how we do it:  Husk the corn and put it in a large kettle of boiling water for five minutes.  Remove it from the boiling water and dunk it in ice water to stop the cooking.  This process is called blanching.  To remove the corn from the cob we slice it off with an electric knife.  This is a real time saver.  Once the corn is cut off the cob put it into quart freezer bags.  We put 4 cups into each bag and yielded 18 bags from our 10 dozen ears.  Be sure to label all the bags with the date so when they get buried in the bottom of the freezer you will know how old it is.
There is still plenty of sweet corn for sale at Farmers’ Market and I’m sure you can find a farmer who will sell you a large quantity to put up in the freezer as we did.  Here’s a good side dish you can make with your fresh corn (or use your frozen corn to make it this winter.)  This is from my friend Dr. Maggie Somple.
Corn Pudding 
·        ¼ cup sugar
·        3 tablespoons flour
·        2 tsp. baking powder
·        1 ½ tsp. salt
·        6 large eggs
·        2 cups whipping cream
·        ½ cup butter, melted
·        6 cups fresh corn kernels (about 12 ears)
Combine first 4 ingredients.  Whisk together eggs, whipped cream, and butter.  Gradually add sugar mixture.  Whisk until smooth; stir in corn.  Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13”x9” baking pan.  Bake at 350º for 45 min. or until golden brown.  Let stand 5 min.

Becky and I in the pizza eating contest at the fair.

Mom, Becky, and I in the potato peeling contest.

Mom weighing in.

Becky and I are next--none of us placed.  Of the three of us, mom had the most, then me, then Becky.

Janelle double fisting the corndogs at the fair.  That has nothing to do with the article, but I had to put this in to tease her!

These pictures are of some of my prize winning flower arrangements at the fair.  All the flowers are from my garden.  Apparently, I forgot to take pictures of my prize winning vegetables.

Red and green glads and red, yellow, and green zinnias in Grandma Julia's coffee pot.

Red zinnias in the shape of 165 to celebrate the "165th Muskingum Co. Fair"

Pastel arrangement--a bit of everything--zinnias, glads, spider flowers, love-in-a-mist, cosmos . . .

This one got "Best of Show."  The theme was "harvest" and I had to use fresh vegetables in it.

Here's a better picture I took if it at home.  It had eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, zinnias, dill, purple basil, sage, and more!

Kelley shucking corn.

Kelley and I blanching corn.  Two pots of boiling water on the stove and a large bucket of ice water to cool them.

Dad chilling the wine in the corn bucket! (Of course, this event required a bottle of wine--Kelley and I drank the whole thing.)

Cutting the kernels off the cob with electric knives.

Kernels that we cut off the cob.  Once the bowls were full we filled up our freezer bags.


See You Downtown

 "What's in Season" article from the second week in August: 

     For the next two weekends Farmers’ Market will be changing locations.  The 165th Muskingum County Blue Ribbon Fair will be taking place at the fairgrounds, so market will be held downtown on Third Street in front of the Freight Shops.  The time will be the same: 9:00 am - noon.  For some, having market downtown will bring back memories of when downtown was a bustling place on Saturdays and the farmers would bring their goods in town to sell.  I wish I had been around to see it like that.
            It seems like the fair rolls around each year right when the glut of the tomatoes are on.  Last year I had a friend visiting from Europe during the fair and I told him he would have to help me pick tomatoes before I would take him to the fair.  A ticket to the fair is pretty cheap wages for a days work in a hot tomato patch but it worked; we got the patch picked and still had time to go to the fair and participate in the potato peeling and pie eating contests that evening.
            I have more tomatoes “than you can shake a stick at,” as my dad would say.  I don’t know what that saying means, but find myself using it a lot.  I have all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Did you know they don’t just come in red?  The little cherry tomatoes are just the cutest things and it is so nice when a mother buys a pint for her kids because she says they eat them just like candy.  Really, they are just as appealing as candy and so much better for them.
            My aunt and uncle have a dinner party club with their friends.  They meet once a month at each others’ houses for dinner and the ladies try out new recipes.  This is one that my aunt Monica made last year using cherry tomatoes.  When my cherry tomatoes were ready this year, her friends recalled this dish and were still raving over it, so I knew I had to get it from her.
Slow-Baked Tomatoes with Garlic and Mint
·        3 pints cherry tomatoes
·        ¼ to ½ cup olive oil
·        7 cloves garlic, peeled and split lengthwise
·        1 bunch fresh mint
·        1-2 tsp. coarse salt
·        1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
·        Toasted slices of bread such as a baguette
·        Goat cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 325º.  Place tomatoes in ceramic baking dish in a single layer.  Coat with  olive oil.  Toss in garlic, mint, salt, and pepper.  Bake, uncovered, for 45-60 min or until skins split and soften but tomatoes still retain their shape.  Serve, hot, warm, or at room temp.  Spoon over slices of toasted bread with goat cheese. 
Tomatoes before putting them in the oven.

After roasting them--Yummy!

My goddaughter, Cecilia--so sweet!

Hard at work!

Janelle and friend picking cherry tomatoes.

Jud and Cecilia in the tomato patch (pole beans on the right)--what a jungle it has become!

Lovely little tomatoes!

The first of the larger heirloom tomatoes.

Farmers’ Market is just Peachy

"What's in Season" article from the first week in August:

The busy season has set in at Farmers’ Market.  A wide variety of local produce is coming on strong.  The farmers’ tables are getting fuller and fuller each week.  In fact, if you enjoy photography, I would carry along a camera to snap some pictures of all the colorful produce.  In my opinion, a nice display of fruits and vegetables is as picturesque as a bouquet of flowers.  Last week one girl was trying out her pricey new camera and was delighted when I invited her out to the farm to take more photos. 
One of the prettiest displays you will see at market this time of year is the lovely baskets of local peaches.  Just the sight of them will make your mouth water.  I have a feeling a lot of the customers eat at least one peach on the ride home.  There are so many good ways to enjoy them.  Homemade ice cream with fresh peaches sliced overtop—doesn’t that just sound like the essence of the perfect summer treat? 
I have been trying to figure out when I am going to have time to start canning peaches.  This is something I try to do every year so that we can enjoy some of that summer goodness in the winter.  Although, my family says I’m stingy with them, mostly bringing them out on special occasions.  I’m surprised I enjoy canning peaches at all, because I have a vivid memory of my mother and her cousin canning peaches when I was little.  They bought two bushels of peaches and decided to can them all in one night.  Of course, it took them half the night to get through all of those peaches.  Being the youngest kid of the bunch and having no playmates my age, that night seemed to be one of the longest of my life.  I think my mom was sick of canning peaches after that night as well because I don’t ever remember her doing that again. 
Fresh tomatoes aren’t the only thing you can make into fresh salsa.  Here’s a quick and tasty salsa recipe made from fresh peaches. (adapted from It is good with tortilla chips or served atop fish, chicken, or pork.
Peach Salsa
  • 4 ripe but firm yellow peaches, chopped (skin on or off, your choice)
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped onions
  • 2-3 jalapenos, chopped (stem, seeds and ribs discarded)
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Put the chopped peaches, onions, and jalapeños in the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Pulse 2-3 times, just enough to get most the pieces small—don’t overdo it.  Place salsa into a bowl and cover. Let stand for an hour before serving to give the ingredients time to meld.  Makes about 2 cups.

Early Summer Garden Pictures

Here are some pictures of my garden around the beginning of July:

Harvesting my garlic.

Green tomatoes!

Lots of garlic

Pumpkins and winter squash are just sprouting out of their holes.

Watermelon and cantaloupe patch

Green peppers are almost ready to pick.

Pretty purple hot peppers.

Peppers plants



Sweet potatoes



Cosmos, Glads, Canna lilies, and zinnias

Dried beans are growing

Tomato patch

Another view of the tomatoes

Pole beans are starting to climb


Green bean patch--you can see my succession plantings.  The oldest plants, which are just starting to produce beans, are on the left.  Beans that are just sprouting are on the right--and everything else in between.

The first green beans!

Bachelor buttons

Cabbage plants

Swiss chard

Corn--almost knee high?