Friday, 5 October 2012

The fable of the ant and the grasshopper is playing itself out in my home...

Written by Linda Gauthier

As I've said, I have had a busy couple of weeks,

so I thought I'd show you some of the fruits of my labour.

This is only some of what I've been doing. I have made frozen fruits and veggies, frozen purees: peach, pear and concord grape,  (oh so good) for Sorbets.  In this assortment, we have peaches, plums, pears, all sweet and some pickled, some flavoured with Sea Cider(brand name), Rum-Runner Apple Cider (a local cider) or Epicure Selections Rum Butter.  I've made Vanilla Vodka Pears, Rum Butter Peaches.  Spiced Crab Apples using Epicures Selection Mulling Spices in the syrup.  I have also made Jalapeno Plum Jelly. Yummy!!!. Salsa, both tomato and fruit, used Epicure Poco Picante Salsa Mix, or the Fresh Salsa Mix. I've also made flavoured vinegars. 

As well as pickled peppers, and candied peppers. Great on Brie.
Pickles galore, jams and jellies, and all sorts of tomato preserves.   You'll be hearing about them in the coming months.  This is all part of my strategy to eliminate food additives from my diet.  If I can't pronounce it, I'm trying not to eat it.  I'm also trying very hard to eat as many local foods as possible.

I have dehydrated plums for prunes and grapes for raisins.  Quick yummy snacks, frozen grapes for sweet treats when the need arises. 
This next week I'm canning salmon and baked beans and soup for quick meals.  I'm using a pressure cooker for the vegetables, such as tomatoes and tomato sauces, and of course for the fish and soups etc.

It is always best to preserve these items in this manner, rather than risk spoilage by processing in a water bath.  A water bath just   does not reach a high enough heat to ensure the food will not spoil.
Canning with sugar or sugar syrups or vinegar with at least a 7% acidity, or salt, all help to preserve the food and the heat of a water bath is sufficient.

However, vegetables, soups, fish, meat, etc, are not high in acid, do not usually have a high salt content, or high quantities of vinegar in them when canned, hence the need for pressure cooking.

So onto what I was originally going to talk to you about, the recipe for Tom Yum Goong Soup.

In an earlier blog I mentioned a lot of my cooking is influenced by Asian tastes.  Right now, I'm mad about Lao or Vietnamese cooking.

I believe a part of this, is the fact that the flavours are so fresh and the recipes are very easy, but the taste is complex.  Another reason is the area I live in. It has an abundance of Asian style restaurants, with wonderful food, but I can't afford to eat out everyday, and I can't afford to hire a cook either, so whats a girl to do -- learn how to do it herself, of course!

With a few simple ingredients, you can have dinner on the table in a few minutes, and your stomach full with a healthy, and very flavourful meal.

Tom Yum Goong Soup (my version)
I added some chicken meat balls along with the prawns

Tom Yum Goong soup is a traditional Asian soup.  The flavour is fresh with the mild taste of fish, curry, and limes.  It is the result of  the combination of the fish stock from the shrimp bodies, lime leaves, and the Tom Yum Curry paste, which you can find in most supermarkets' Asian or foreign food sections.
The recipe for Tom Yum Curry paste is here, if you can't locate any, or feel like making your own.
As you can see, I've added to my recipe, as I always do.  I feel a recipe is your guide, but not a hard and fast rule.  I always add my own embellishments, such as bean sprouts, cilantro, sometimes meat, etc.  
Recipes in baking use hard and fast rules because it is more chemistry than flavouring to taste, as in cooking.  Cooking is an adventure and if you have fun with it, you never know where you'll end up.

The following are the Epicure Selections products I used in this recipe.  I didn't mention it in the recipe earlier, but at the last minute I used some Lemon grass to help with the flavour.

The following could also be used:

These are the products from Epicure selections which I used in my canning:

Well I'm going to sign off on this and I'll talk to you soon.

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