Food · Recipe

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Shrubs

For March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, we had the option of choosing between making a jelly or making a shrub. Since making a shrub has been on my agenda for a while, I decided to go with that option. We already have quite a few jars of grapes jelly canned so it was nice to have the option to try something else.

So exactly what is a shrub? There are a couple of different beverages that go under this category – one being liquor mixed with sugar and citrus, the other being what we are going to focus on. Popular during the American Colonial area, a shrub (also known as drinking vinegar) is a combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar left to infuse for a few days to create this wonderfully sweet/tart liquid. The resulting liquid can be added to cocktails, sparkling water (for a healthy drink that gives you the feel of soda), salad dressing, or really anything you can think of. It was developed as a way to help preserve berries and fruits at the end of season.

Food in Jars recommends a ratio of 1:1:1one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a handful of fruit – easy enough, right?

March isn’t exactly the best month around here for fresh, local fruit. It’ll be another month or so before strawberries start popping up in the fields and our fruit trees have only just began to bloom. That’s sort of a bummer to me as it feels a bit like cheating to purchase fruit from the grocery store.

I already knew that I wanted my shrub to have ginger. I love ginger (in fact, I just purchased plants a few days ago to grow my own ginger to get fresh-fresh ginger). I combed the grocery store looking for the best looking fruits before settling on a mixture of blueberries and blackberries. Robb loves both of those berries so I knew that he would enjoy eating what I didn’t use.

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In a quart mason jar, I added one cup of berries and one cup of organic cane sugar, muddling them together. Then I added 1 cup of vinegar. In any other circumstance, I would have used apple cider vinegar, but I had a bottle of homemade peach vinegar in my pantry that I had purchased from my local farmer’s market a few months ago.

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I gave everything a quick stir and grated about a 1.5 -inch piece of ginger on top. Stirring one more, I covered the jar with a lid and stuck it in the fridge.

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After two days in the fridge, I did a quick strain (to get out more of the pulp, you’ll probably want to use cheesecloth or something similar). The leftover berries went straight to the chickens! I packaged my finished shrub in a leftover Kombucha bottle.

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Eager to try it out, I poured a glass of water and added a bit of my shrub – yum! I want to pick up some sparkling water for next time, but I loved the almost kombucha-like taste of this shrub.

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Food · Life

Farmer’s Market Haul 12/10/2016

This will be my last farmer’s market post of the year. While there is one more Saturday market before Christmas – I won’t be able to attend because of a previous engagement. The Edenton Farmer’s Market will start back up in January with an indoor market on the second and fourth Saturdays of January, February, and March. I’m going to try to be a vendor at least once a month to help continue to showcase my brand (and with plans to create something deliciously edible soon).

I did super good, spending wise, at the market this time. I spent $39.48, slightly under my $40 goal.

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So here is what I purchased from the farmer’s market:

  • Hot Italian Sausage – Will be used in spaghetti soon
  • 2 mini loaves of banana/pineapple/walnut bread
  • 3 bars of soap from a vendor that supported me in return
  • a handmade winter hat ornament (only $1!!)
  • 4 pack of oreo truffles
  • 3 rabbit ears for the dogs
  • Package of English walnuts
  • More garlic!!
  • Beets (I’m think Chioggia because of how they looked when I cut into them – see below)
  • Baby bok choy
  • Mustard Greens
  • Kale
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I stayed at my mom’s house the weekend and spotted this precious moment – the animals coexisting peacefully for once. Mom’s dog was being a bit mischievous and was sleeping on her bed when I snapped this photo.

I also volunteered in the kitchen the Cupola House on Saturday evening, making sure the wassail and cookies remained stock for the guests who wondered in while on the Edenton Candlelight Tour. The Cupola House is one of my favorite houses (I swear I saw a ghost in it when I was in elementary school) and the reason why I started studying herbs (they have a huge herb garden in the back). Even though I met some wonderful people, the major perk was being able to bring home a bag of cookies and a gallon of wassail!

 

Last but not least – I finally have a photo from Alaska for y’all.

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This photo (of my boyfriend and I) is from our trip to Alaska in October – when we went fishing more specifically. I’m finally getting around to going through my photos and selecting some for the blog.
Food

Farmer’s Market Haul 12/3/16

I definitely went over my $40 budget this time. I ended up spending $50.50! But in my defense, there was a new vendor this week that had some awesome goodies. Also in my defense, I was working as a vendor myself so while I spent money, I made money. 🙂

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So here is what I got from the Edenton Farmer’s Market:

  • Homemade Peach Vinegar – I love this! She also had homemade red wine vinegar available as well but I had to make the tough choice between the two.
  • Rabbit’s ear chew for a dog
  • Tasty truffles
  • Carrots
  • Two kinds of sweet potato (Burgundy and… another kind)
  • Pickled Okra
  • Amish butter – Yes, it is a brick of butter. I let it soften over the weekend and divided into small rounds and froze those rounds so I can use what I need.
  • Sample of a shave oil to try (I love the smell already – lavender and sandalwood)
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These pickled okra did not make it past the weekend. They were delicious and I wish now that we had put up more okra.
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Belle enjoying her rabbit’s ear.
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This interesting looking vegetable is a Sunchoke a.k.a. a Jerusalem Artichoke. I have a whole post coming soon about it.

Along my discounted pork roast that I purchased at the grocery store the other day (encrusted with the lamb rub I purchased a while back from the farmer’s market), I decided to toss a bunch of vegetables in to roast. So in the pan below, there are carrots, sunchokes, turnips, garlic, sweet potato, butternut squash (all from the farmer’s market), along with potatoes and onions. I added a bit of vegetable broth in the bottom as well.

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Friday night, I ventured to downtown Elizabeth City for the SPCA’s second annual cookie extravaganza. Located in an old jewelry store,  there are cookies EVERYWHERE. For $5, you get to pick out any dozen cookies that are available. I stumbled across this event randomly last year but make it a point to attend this year.

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Food

Farmer’s Market Haul 11/12/2016

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I went to the Edenton Farmer’s Market last week and managed to stay under my goal for $40 finally. I spent $19 on produce, $5.50 on bread, and $9.83 on meat for a grand total of… $34.33 – yay me!

What I got for my money:

  • Beets
  • Asian Bekana (pictured to the left)
  • Bullhorn Peppers
  • Bok Choy (pictured in the middle)
  • Turnips
  • Butternut Squash
  • Garlic (I still have a few bulbs in my pantry from a few weeks ago, but I love garlic)
  • Sourdough Bread
  • Ground Beef
  • Beef Kidney

I don’t quite have a plan yet for anything, other than pickling the beets (yum). The Bekana (Bukana?) is a new one for me. Doing a little research shows that it is sort of an Asian green? I decided that is how I will use it. I found a mixture of recipes showing it cooked and raw so I have a bit of variety.

The beef kidney is something that I’ve never purchased before but I thought that it would be a nice little treat to mix in with the dog food. Ideally, I would like to make all of my dog food from scratch. Not today but maybe one day.

If you’re paying close attention to the picture, you may have noticed that there is a bit of ginger that I haven’t mentioned. One of my friends harvested a small batch of ginger and gave me one of the roots. I used that last night to make my fresh ginger soda. Check back tomorrow for more information and a step by step for my ginger bug.

Food · Life

Farmer’s Market Haul 10/22/16

Saturday morning, a few weeks ago, I found myself as a vendor beside Ollie of Somerset Farms at the Edenton Farmer’s Market. Now, I’ve known Ollie for years (I even dined at her house a few weeks ago – pictures forthcoming, along with pictures from my Alaska trip, really), along with the rest of her family. They are great people and you really can’t beat their delicious certified organic produce.

Being next to Ollie was a delight and my downfall. I spent all of my money at her table. See, when I go to the Farmer’s Market, I usually like to limit myself to $40. If I spend anymore than $40, I tend to purchase more than what I need and end up wasting produce. I only went $5 over budget this time however and am rationalizing by the fact that the mushrooms I purchased took up almost half of my budget.

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So here is what I got from the Edenton Farmer’s Market for $45.

  • Garlic – 4 bulbs total. We love garlic (in fact, we planted a few bulbs from Somerset Farms in our garden a few weeks ago) – plus, garlic is good for you!
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Beets (Robb doesn’t really like beets, then again, he never thought he really liked Radishes either until he tried some of mine over the Summer)
  • Radishes
  • Ground Lamb
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Bullhorn Peppers – I went over my budget to purchase these, but I had been eyeballing them all morning.
  • Lamb Rub Spice – Ollie creates these delicious spice and tea blends. I’m a fan. I picked up this particular rub to go with some lamb purchased from her quite a few months ago.

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The good thing is that I had a plan on utilizing everything! I dehydrated most of the mushrooms on Saturday night for use throughout the Winter. The lamb and garlic, along with a few mushrooms I saved out and some of the kale, went towards a more traditional Shepherd’s Pie. Last week, I roasted the beets, peppers, and radishes, serving them with halibut flown home from Alaska.

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On another note, please check out The Southern Belle’s Garden – I’m in the process of revamping it so that I can utilize it more as a business page and a place where you can buy my products online. I have my salves currently up and will be uploading a delicious Elderberry Syrup for sale shortly. My goal is to have almost all of my current inventory listed there by the end of the week, which means that I need to get on the ball taking some stock photos!