Caramelized Red Onion Puree

Step by step photos?…ummmm…

Since the serious post is done now we can be….well, the same as usual I suppose. Funny? Eh. I’m back with another: “You Need A Recipe For This? Why I Make This All-“. One of those recipes that more of a technique and a use for the end result of that technique. You see posts about caramelizing onions quite often, the best one I saw admitted that they often lie about the time they take. Downplaying it as you can imagine. You’re looking at almost an hour, depends on the amount of onions, size of the pan etc. I never  really had much use for caramelized onions until I found they were delicious, but making a single batch can be a hassle. Making a large batch would have necessitated Jack sitting down to a hearty bowl of onions. So, I didn’t bother. Cooking onions this way was something other people did. We miss so much when we don’t try, don’t we, dear reader?

So, what changed my mind? What made me go for it and would I eat the hearty bowl of alliums?! Yes, Karem and, wait, what were the questions? I had a shed full of onions as you surely remember, no? Well, shame! I grew the reds for someone who then realized they didn’t need a few dozen red onions. So, rather than waste them I thought I should try a large scale caramelization, but what would I do with my puree? I Naturally knew ahead of time, I might be an idiot, but I’m not stupid. Gravy! Or, at least as an additional flavour boost to sauces. Had I just made a sauce from these then its uses would be very limited, this, if not limitless, is much more versatile.

The amounts listed are vague by necessity. The amount of onions you have will change how much oil you need. You could use yellow onions of course, I imagine they’d get crispier than the red. These are a sturdier onion, beautiful contrasting rings of pale pink and reddish-purple through out. I grew them, of course I’ll be proud of them. What you want is chunks of onion, no need to be too exact or fine in your preparations, well coated in oil. They should swim in it. It’ll evaporate and when the onions are at the sweated stage there will be enough moisture for the next step. I like sharing these simple recipes as they can be daunting in their simplicity. I’d have shied away from trying it if I didn’t have so many onions. But when you see the recipe with any ostentation just simple truth it makes it much more accessible. At least I hope it does. Just be patient, don’t crack up the heat thinking it’ll work better, slow and low at first, boring as you can imagine, then a little higher with more waiting. Blend it and then freeze it and you’re set for flavoursome sauces and gravies through the Winter! Or until you run out. That’s it for me, see you again soon, dear reader.

Ingredients

Red Onions, Peeled and Chopped
Butter and Olive Oil in Equal Amounts as Needed
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Method

1. Add the Olive Oil and Butter to a non-stick pan and heat on high until the butter has melted. Add the Red Onions and stir everything together, making sure that the Onions are coated completely. Ensure that there is enough Butter and Oil to completely smother the Onions. This will help prevent burning. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until Onions have sweated down and are soft and slightly translucent.

2. Turn up the heat a little until the onions start to sizzle. Now cook, stirring more frequently to prevent burning, until the onions start to turn golden brown and start to smell sweet. Will take about 15-20 minutes. When the Onions are browned and just starting to stick to the pan add everything to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Either freeze in ice-cube trays or in containers.

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Saving For The Future

It was more rot than ripen. Or perhaps rot then ripen.

What? No, not our future. I mean, I love you dear reader, like a rhetorical device, you mean a quantifiable amount to me. If we were  on a sinking ship, why, that’d be terrible! Why would you do that to me?! You can’t tie Jack down with thoughts of the future of humanity! I just care about plants. That might be a lie, but possibly not as much as would be reassuring. Now we’re not taking filthy lucre, nor clean cold hard cash, no, all that is dross, says he without very much of it. We’re talking seeds! We could be taking recipes, but I’m in a rut, well, I’m in a rut and playing a murder mystery game and that’s hijacked my brain. Give it time, all things in time. Like these chilies, what a wonderfully masterful segway ruined by a run on sentence…where was I?

No tittering at my handwriting! Please!

Those are chilies grown from saved seeds which I’ve again saved. I’ve made a habit of grabbing whatever seeds I could as you just never know what will be successful and the more you plant the greater a chance you have of getting something. These actually did much better this year. Whether it was the large pot, comfrey tea or genetics I have no idea, but they were absurdly hot, I could eat them but you could smell the capsicum a room away, and worth saving for another year. There are seeds like this where inbreeding isn’t an issue, I like these kinds of plants for seed saving as I’m not planning ahead and being careful of cross-pollination. Maybe someday I’ll have my own squash variety, but for now I’ll just buy the seeds online and grab whatever I can from the garden at the year’s end.

I almost missed the larger ones.

I should make mention of the hurricane. We were extremely lucky to have avoided much of the damage, it was nerve-wracking to experience and the loss of life is tragic, I would never make light of any aspect of it, but I feel that sharing a humorous anecdote isn’t out of the bounds of propriety. Now, I did have one brief moment of terror, you can imagine how I felt looking at my, well, not to be too honest, my slightly aged, just slightly makeshift greenhouse, sigh, enough putty to fill a drum, having to face a hurricane. This is my baby and a replacement is naught but a fever dream. When the storm started to make its presence know, well, the door fell off…yeah, nothing dramatic, fell down like a drunk and just lay there. So out I dashed, dashing, shhhh, it’s my story, and literally shoved it back and kicked it into place, somehow managed it pop it right into the warped frame. It would blow off again so I grabbed, seriously I picked it up like an idiot, but it was stormy and I was slightly panicked, the wheelbarrow, turned it over and wedged it against the door and the wooden edging.

Hefting a wheelbarrow into the air during a hurricane is like a chapter of my autobiography.

It held. Sadly the door was warped slightly, just a gap, but here’s the really weird part: Ophelia knocked some old junk off of our shed, we’d missed it in the preparations, and one of them was this plastic covering for plugs and wires, that just fit onto the frame and sealed the gap and as a bonus there was some rubber running so I can seal up the window more. Ill winds and all that. Aside from that everything else was fine, we didn’t even lose electricity. I’ll always remember the extremely polite storm that broke a door and supplied me with the means to fix it. Until later, dear reader.

Softly, The Garden Slumbers….I SAID SOFTLY

Yes, dear reader, it’s that time of year when the garden commences its repose, ever

“HEY! WHAT’S GOING ON?!”

Er, well, some plants having begun a little later sleep the sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care at a later da


“LOOK WHAT I MADE!”

Oh, come on! Yes, this is Jack’s garden and much like him it doesn’t know the meaning of the word die. Sadly I haven’t the energy to tend it properly, but I’ll still have plenty to admire next year and for the coming months there’ll be a splash of colour here and there. I’m healing well and when the true Winter hits, though it’s close now, I’ll stick to planning rather than pottering. It’ll only take a few months to heal, the garden will be there when I’m ready to return. Let’s have a look and see what we can see, dear reader.

The plant was all but dead. I hope it’s okay inside.

One of the neighbour’s roses. I think they weren’t small, just stunted.

Either a freak colouration or a different clematis from the small purple.

Nasturtiums never die.

Ever. No matter how much I kick and stand on them.

I walked past this a lot before I noticed it.

Hah, I can save bulbs after all. Indoor plant again.

There are so many begonias stuffed in there. At least five varieties.

Bottomless buckets will be the fad of 2018.

Grown in terrible soil and badly composted plant matter.

I have rose cutting growing from this. No idea where they’ll go.

The little rose that should’ve died a year ago.

The flowers in Naru’s garden never stop blooming.

Sunchokes apparently.

No this is a different pink rose, probably, there are dozens.

The small white one sets so many roses at a time.

A different yellow, don’t be roseist.

 

We Want That Bam Bam Jack

“Isn’t that an indoor pl” Shhhh! It doesn’t know that!

The twenty fourth squash. It’s probably the last.

Bird. A birdy bird. An avian invader. I don’t know what type.

Dear reader, dear, dear reader, you and I go quite a way back don’t we? We don’t? All you dear readers look the same to me. Anyway, I’m still here, still healing too, my gardening activity is restricted to prodding things with the tip of my boot and taking photos. It’s very strange to walk when you’re able to stand upright without effort, to turn suddenly without toppling. When all this has healed I’l have a new lease on life. The other surgeries aren’t too far in the future, but for now I focus on healing. I know the diet is the biggest help, but I also need to remember to slow down, I overdid it and ended up in bed early, well, early for me, just because it was too much effort to stay up. I’ll learn, I’m doing everything right and getting the best results. They don’t call me Jack Sit Down You Moron for nothing….wait.

The roses continue to bloom.

Dead-heading is very effective.

They’re getting absurdly tall too.

I have been clothes shopping, but at my height the options aren’t very varied, but what’s refreshing is that I never have to change my sizes again. I’ve been through this both ways, in losing and gaining, and I have hated every minute of it, not now though. I have more choice than I had and I’m sticking to what I feel comfortable
in, if anyone dares to tel me how to dress then they’ll be promptly told to stop. If they insist they’ll see a very dark side of dear Jack. This is my journey, my life, I’m learning that. It’s taken a long time to learn it, but I’m getting there. I’ve seen so much in this world, dear reader, so much  I wish I could forget, so from now I’m searching for every joy that I can find, however small. I put this words down here as a reminder to myself and maybe to show someone else, who might be struggling, another point of view. Getting a little deary, ummm. Hey,, look! Flowers!

So many pink roses.

It’s trying so hard to ripen!

SO VERY HARD!

There are pumpkins appearing in the shops, but they’re just carving pumpkins. I hope that the young woman selling the Hokkaido Pumpkins will have them again this year. I have so many recipes it’ll difficult to do anything new. To be honest I don’t have enough energy to do a dinner daily and to make something new. Not to say I won’t, but I look at all the recipes neglected on the site and I realise no matter how many recipes I post they’ll be worthless unless they’re reaching people. I’m still trying to undo the damage Photobucket caused, but it’s slow, tedious and impossible to fully fix. I’ll just do what I can, that’s enough, right, dear reader?

No red chillies yet.

The basil has reached its end. I’ll see if I can get a few seeds.

They fall off fast, but they’re nice to have so late in the year.

The fuschia continues to flower.

Strawberry Korma

Sadly it isn’t pink.

Okay, first things first, or rather last things first. You’ll probably rush past this in your haste to be away from the strange concoction  and that’s a shame, this is honestly the nicest korma I’ve made. It reminds me of a jar I bought when I could still eat nightshades, but more flavoursome and creamy. So, yeah, don’t just dismiss it as weird, you’re lucky I try this things on myself first. There was no  choice of not finishing, no waste because if I do I don’t eat, but thankfully things worked out. Let’s break down just what this is and if it really matches a korma.

So, I’ll do this by ingredients. First the tomatoes are a no go, so instead I went for strawberries, for sweetness and a slight tartness, sugar for pure sweetness and lemon juice for the acid kick. It worked really well, you’ll know you’re eating strawberries, but ignore that and focus on the other flavours and you’ll find they’re really good here, they bring all the other elements into balance and let’s face it, it’s no stranger than using a tomato since it’s just one berry for another. Now I’m not saying that you could use a huge tub of strawberries in-place of tomatoes, but some savoury recipes adapted and crafted with them in mind are pretty amazing. Next we went diary free. The coconut cream is really rich and creamy by itself, but combine it with cashew butter and it’s like velvet in your mouth. Why cashew? Well, it’s usually ground almonds in Korma, right? They’re a bit gritty and if I use nut butter it’ll be creamy, but if I used almond butter the flavour is much stronger than when using the mild ground almonds so instead I went for the mild sweetness of cashew butter. The rest s just the usual mild spices. The method is pretty simple. You could freeze this easily.

I liked this curry, it was more of a dare  than something I thought would be worth sharing, but I know from experience that the recipe untried can often be the best. You remember the Savoury Raspberry Sauce? Delicious on steak. Seriously, it was almost like ketchup, but so much better, when I get some more raspberries I’ll crack open my seedless jelly, the last sadly, and make up a few more portions. They freeze brilliantly and only need to go into the microwave to be ready to serve. I think fruit used in savoury dishes is the key to a greater variety of meals when on a very restricted diet. I can’t count the variations of nomato sauce recipes I’ve seen when searching for something new in nightshade free food. It’s the reason I try all this. It’s tiresome to just see the same complacent recipes over and over, worst still when they just can’t be  made to work for your diet. So, yeah, a strawberry curry. An oddity? Looking at Google the only other is a Japanese commercial version. So, let’s say it’s unique. See you later, dear reader.

Ingredients

1 Chicken Breast, Chopped
160ml Coconut Cream
1/2 Yellow Onion, Roughly Chopped
50g Strawberries
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 Tbsp Ginger, Minced
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Cashew Butter
1 Tsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
1/2 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1/4 Tsp Ground Cardamom
1/4 Tsp Ground Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/8 Tsp Ground Cloves

Can be frozen.

Method

1. Heat 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a pot and when hot add Onion, Garlic and Ginger, mix and let cook for 5-10 minutes, on a medium heat, or until soft.

2. Add Coconut Cream, Strawberries, Spices, Sugar and Lemon Juice and then stir together, bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. When 5 minutes is up add to Blender and return to pot when smooth. Add the Cashew Butter and bring to a boil, mix until Cashew Butter has melted, then add Chicken and reduce to a medium simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes. Increase heat if a thicker Sauce and uncover is desired, but be careful of burning.

Probably the last squash. One shy of two dozen.

My first ever homegrown blackberry. Yes, just the one. Don’t be greedy.

Crab Apple Jelly

Update: New photos.

I stewed the apples with rosemary and it is incredible once it sets.

A little looser this time. You just have to guess the water.


The small one was my tester for this. I’ll get better photos the next time.

Major surgery lends one the patience of a Buddha, all is illusion, dear reader, nothing matters, but seeing as how Jack isn’t a Buddhist, inaction is starting to have a very real effect on his nerves. So, I’m putting my frustration into jelly making. It lends a new twist to the phrase bottling up your feelings, doesn’t it? All jesting aside, I’m still taking it slow, but as this is mostly waiting around here’s no fear of over-exerting myself. This recipe is still in its infancy, but it’s good to use, it comes with a caveat though: It’s vague in the manner of ingredients. How much crab apples you have will vary wildly, how much juice you’ll extract is anyone’s guess. You just use what you ave then part way use a handy ratio to figure it out, it’s simple so have no fear. The only other issue is how much pectin is in your apples, my jelly was really thick  and the juices were syrupy before starting. Yours might not be the same, but it’ll be delicious regardless. Less sweet than jam, but versatile as a sweet or savoury condiment.

So, you’re surely saying to yourself that Jack knows his apple jellies, how worldly he is in regards crab apple and its jellified state. Yeah…I ate it for the first time today and this is my first time making it. So, take that as you will, I have my name to live up to, you can’t be of all trades if you can’t do everything, right, dear reader? I know a little about crab apples and I’ve been honing my jam skills, so I’m not that well informed, but I’m far from ignorant. I even had a friend who loves this stuff try it and she said it was just right. So, let’s get crabby, shall we?

I bought this on a whim, but it’s coming in useful. Cheesecloth would probably work fine.

This is a recipe that is just there to use up what would otherwise be a worthless fruit. You can make a pectin stock from crab apples too, but with pectin being commercially available I don’t think it’s practised by many other than the most devoted jam makers. I’m not sure what kind I’m even using, they’re small oval orange apples. They make a pink hued jelly so it’s pretty if not that transparently clear. I’m not sure that store-bought apples would work here, they might, but it’d be a waste. You throw away so much pulp, thankfully I have a composter, and end up with very little juice. It takes along time for the juice to filter through, so be patient and don’t squeeze. Or do and possibly get cloudy jelly, it’s not that big a deal. As I said above this is all vague. The water I used was a little above the level of the apples resting in a dry pot, so if you’re stuck: Add apples, mark the pot, by eye not with a marker!, and add water to that level, the apples will bob up and down so you could end up adding too much if you’re not careful. You just boil them, making sure they don’t burn. Simple.

For a while we weren’t even sure these were apples.

Once you start making the jelly it’s mostly like jam, mine set very quickly, some recipes say to boil for hours. I took five minutes and tested it and it was just right. Pectin levels probably vary and it may depend on the amount you make. I’d say err on the side of small batches rather than a huge pot. When I make my second batch I’ll be trying a rosemary variation, I’ll need to split it up as I want a plain pot too. There’s not much I can say here, be observant and take your time, don’t panic if it doesn’t set up, you’re not really wasting much as you’ll only be wasting some sugar. The lemon juice measure is a guess, but it worked for me. I’m sorry so much of this is just guesswork, but as it’ll depend largely on your apples it has to be. It’s a fun way to make use of crab apples and an enjoyable way to waste a few hours. If it works you’ll end up with a tasty jelly, different from jam, that can either be eaten or gifted. If it fails then just toss it in the compost bin. If you don’t have one, then your neighbours, if they don’t have one, well, throw it at them, they should be saving the Earth! See you later, dear reader.

Ingredients

Crab Apples
Sugar As Needed
Lemon Juice

Optional: Butter to Dissolve Scum.

Method

1. Wash fruit, dscard any rotting fruit and place into a wide-bottomed pot. Cover with water until Apples are just covered. Boil until Apples are soften and mushy. Mash with a potato masher. Pour into a Jam-bag and let drip overnight into a bowl. Do not squeeze.

2. When the dripping has stopped measure out the Juice. For every 10 Parts of Juice add 7 Parts Sugar. So for 100ml of Juice use 70g Sugar. Place a small plate in the Freezer.

3. Add Juice, Lemon Juice, about 15ml for 150ml Fruit Juice, and Sugar to a large bottomed pot and cook uncovered, stirring as necessary to prevent burning, on a low heat, do not let simmer, until Sugar has dissolved. Run a wooden or silicone spoon down the bottom of the pot to see if any Sugar crystals remain.

4. Add Butter, if using, to the pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring as needed, then remove from heat and remove the plate from the freezer. Drop a little of the Jelly onto the plate and if it firms up slightly and is tacky to the touch then the Jelly is ready. If not boil again and retest until Jelly consistency is right. Texture will depend on the type of apples used.

7. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the warm Jelly into the prepared Jars while they’re hot and over with a wax lid then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.

8. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.

Sudden Bouts of Jack

I’m happy to report that the drain is out, I’m untethered, unfettered, free. Things seems to be progressing well, I can now potter around the garden without fear of getting tangled and I can go walking with little fear of unobservant pedestrians. I would make a comment about the ubiquity of phone users, but they and their Luddite counterparts seems to come in equal measure. People are clumsy, but now I don’t have to flinch and hurt myself. I’m taking it easy, there might be a new recipe coming. I made a sample of what is probably crab apple jelly, we’re pretty sure it’s edible, kidding, that it’s made with apples we just don’t know the variety. They seem to have set, but I’ll leave it for a few days and report back when I have a larger size. It was made with just normal sugar, but as the liquid was fairly thick to start with there should be enough pectin. I added the necessary lemon too. I also made my Thai Basil and Strawberry Jam. The big strawberries don’t break up and tend to float, but the whole thing is delicious and I like its quirky appearance. The basil is starting to turn bitter so it was time to use it. Not very thrilling, but I do have photos to share. Take it easy, dear reader.

The last of the jam for a while.

This obliging butterfly waited for me to get my camera.

I think it’s a red admiral.

I finally dead-headed the roses.

Bare-root roses do well in bottomless buckets.

The fun of dual coloured dahlias is what ratios they’ll have.

Roses fed with cheap feed and sprayed with expensive pesticides.

This one is my favourite.

The eryngium is starting again…okay, the sea holly is starting again.

Late blooming roses.

Here dieth squash, we hardly knew ye.

This one didn’t get the memo and is trying to set fruit.

I don’t think I planted this.

Little roses.

Imagine this next year!

The geraniums are finally coming into their own.

Begonia.